March 4, 2009: A detailed rebuttal by the local homeowners’ associations, analyzing and refuting the Fairfax County’s plan for the Islamic Saudi Academy Popes Head Road campus: ISASEreview
September 2008: Heritage Foundation: Ryan O’Donnell and James Phillips, “Textbook Appeasement: The State Department and the Islamic Saudi Academy”
The most problematic texts involve passages that are not directly from the Koran but rather contain the Saudi government’s particular interpretation of Koranic and other Islamic texts. Some passages clearly exhort the readers to commit acts of violence, as can be seen in the following two examples:
* In a twelfth-grade Tafsir (Koranic interpretation) textbook, the authors state that it is permissible for a Muslim to kill an apostate (a convert from Islam), an adulterer, or someone who has murdered a believer intentionally: “He (praised is He) prohibits killing the soul that God has forbidden (to kill) unless for just cause…” Just cause is then defined in the text as “unbelief after belief, adultery, and killing an inviolable believer intentionally.” (Tafsir, Arabic/Sharia, 123)
A twelfth-grade Tawhid (monotheism) textbook states that “[m]ajor polytheism makes blood and wealth permissible,” which in Islamic legal terms means that a Muslim can take the life and property of someone believed to be guilty of this alleged transgression with impunity. (Tawhid, Arabic/Sharia, 15) Under the Saudi interpretation of Islam, “major polytheists” include Shi’a and Sufi Muslims, who visit the shrines of their saints to ask for intercession with God on their behalf, as well as Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists.
The overt exhortations to violence found in these passages make other statements that promote intolerance troubling even though they do not explicitly call for violent action. These other statements vilify adherents of the Ahmadi, Baha’i, and Jewish religions, as well as of Shi’a Islam. This is despite the fact that the Saudi government is obligated as a member of the United Nations and a state party to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and other relevant treaties to guarantee the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. The statements include the following:
“Today, Qadyanis [Ahmadis] are one of the greatest strongholds for spreading aberration, deviation, and heresy in the name of religion, even from within Islamic countries. Thus, the Qadyani [Ahmadi] movement has become a force of destruction and internal corruption today in the Islamic world…” (“Aspects of Muslim Political and Cultural History,” Eleventh Grade, Administrative/Social Track, Sharia/Arabic Track, 99)
“It [Baha’ism] is one of the destructive esoteric sects in the modern age… It has become clear that Babism [the precursor to Baha’ism], Baha’ism, and Qadyanism [Ahmadism] represent wayward forces inside the Islamic world that seek to strike it from within and weaken it. They are colonial pillars in our Islamic countries and among the true obstacles to a renaissance.” (“Aspects of Muslim Political and Cultural History,” Eleventh Grade, 99-100)
“The cause of the discord: The Jews conspired against Islam and its people. A sly, wicked person who sinfully and deceitfully professed Islam infiltrated (the Muslims). He was ‘Abd Allah b. Saba’ (from the Jews of Yemen). [___]* began spewing his malice and venom against the third of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs, ‘Uthman (may God be pleased with him), and falsely accused him.” (Tawhid, Administrative/Social Sciences Track, 67)
(*The word or words here were obscured by correction fluid.)
Sunni Muslims are told to “shun those who are extreme regarding the People of the House (Muhammad’s family) and who claim infallibility for them.” (Tawhid, Arabic/Sharia 82; Tawhid, Administrative/Social Sciences Track, 65) This would include all Shi’a Muslims, for whom the doctrine of infallibility is a cardinal principle.
Other problematic passages employ ambiguous language, and the textbook authors do nothing to clarify the meaning.
A ninth-grade Hadith textbook states: “It is not permissible to violate the blood, property, or honor of the unbeliever who makes a compact with the Muslims. The blood of the mu’ahid is not permissible unless for a legitimate reason…the mu’ahid is an unbeliever who contracts a treaty with a Muslim providing for the safety of his life, property, and family.” (Hadith, Ninth Grade, 142-3)
The passages about the mu’ahid are most troubling for what they leave out. They address the protected status of an unbeliever in a Muslim country, but are silent on whether unbelievers living in non-Muslim countries are afforded the same protections of “blood, property, or honor.” Such an omission, taken together with the outright incitement to violence and vilifying language noted above, could be interpreted as tacitly condoning violence against non-Muslims living in non-Muslim countries.
The Commission would urge the textbook authors to put more context into some sections of the textbooks to avoid any perception that they could be encouraging violence. For example, one passage that requires clarification is the following explication of the Koranic phrase, “Respond to God and His Messenger when He calls you to that which will give you life.” (Q 8:24)
Although this Koranic passage does not in itself invoke the term jihad, the Saudi textbook authors write:
“In these verses is a call for jihad, which is the pinnacle of Islam. In (jihad) is life for the body; thus it is one of the most important causes of outward life. Only through force and victory over the enemies is there security and repose. Within martyrdom in the path of God (exalted and glorified is He) is a type of noble life-force that is not diminished by fear or poverty.” (Tafsir, Arabic/Sharia, 68 )
While there are various meanings of the term jihad, including an internal struggle of the soul, none are given in this brief discussion, which also includes an emphasis on the importance of power or force over one’s enemies and discusses “martyrdom” with approval. Such an ambiguous interpretation can be perceived as giving the verse a militant connotation, potentially justifying acts of violence, which should not be left without elucidation in a textbook that is aimed at children who are still learning the main tenets of religion.
More broadly, the analysis of the ills of the Muslim world that is offered in the ISA textbooks—that it was strong when united under a single caliph, a single language (Arabic), and a single creed (Sunnism), and that it has grown weak because of foreign influence and internal religious and ethnic divisions—is identical to some of the exclusionary ideological arguments used by extremists to justify acts of terror.
In the Commission’s view, these troubling passages should be modified, clarified, or removed altogether from the next edition of the textbooks in order to bring the books at this Saudi government school into conformity with international human rights standards.
Washington Post, May 21, 2006, by Nina Shea: This is a Saudi Textbook (After the Intolerance is Removed)