by N. M. GUARIGLIA
The Muslim community of believers is the best in the eyes of God, and we must make it the same in the eyes of men by force… We must fight the unbelievers. When I grow up, I intend to carry out jihad in every possible way.
– Nine-year-old madrasa student, Northwest Pakistan
When the Soviet Red Army captured Berlin in May 1945, the last Germans to surrender were the Hitler Youth. Most of these young boys chose to fight to the death. For their entire cognizant existence, all they had known was Aryan supremacy, hatred of inferiors, and subservient allegiance to the Führer. The Nazis were not the first to use children in combat, nor have they been the last. Excluding North America, to this day the depraved practice of child soldiery has continued on every inhabited continent.
Before a child’s life is destroyed in this manner, an adult must destroy the child’s mind. The apparent ease with which this can be done is chilling. It requires the devious task of using a child’s weakness to eradicate his natural-born strengths. Children’s strengths are evident. They are curious and question everything. They are not born blindly adhering to a political or religious doctrine. They are eager to befriend others regardless of differences. They are not born hateful and vindictive.
But this innocence is their vulnerability. Children trust adults with their safety. They believe as truth whatever adults tell them to be true. As such, they are not aware of the fact that they are being conscripted against their will. A child will endure an adult’s seminar and unknowingly emerge with a contaminated character. The most prevalent contemporary example of such evil is Saudi Arabia and its religious indoctrination of children throughout the world’s mosques and madrasas.
Even if international affairs were placid, the Saudi royal family’s global propaganda would constitute an egregious offense to supporters of human rights. International affairs, however, are not placid. There is a bit more urgency to the matter. Saudi Arabia is on the other side-and at the forefront-of an ideological conflict that has for decades shown its potential to bend the trajectory of the human condition violently downward.
The Saudis are the chief masters of jihadist ideology. Although the threat of international terrorism comes from multiple and diverse sources, the Saudis stand alone as worldwide propagators of the jihadists’ most noxious creed: the Wahhabi-Salafist cult within Islam’s Sunni denomination.
Wahhabi-Salafism is the puritanical faith of al-Qaeda and its network of affiliates. Indeed, the rivalry between Saudi King Abdullah and the late Osama bin Laden was merely fraternal; a simple tactical dispute amongst coreligionists otherwise of like-mind. It is evocative of the power struggle between Stalin and Trotsky, as the late Laurent Murawiec once observed. In this analogy, King Abdullah is Stalin: defend the homeland and use it as a base for global ideological conquest. Whereas bin Laden and the al-Qaedists are Trotskyite: perpetual revolution at all costs.
Al-Qaeda has its sympathizers within the Saudi kingdom, as well. A poll conducted some years ago by the Saudi internal intelligence bureau found that 95% of Saudi males between the ages of 25 and 41 held a positive view of Osama bin Laden. More recently, studies show continued Saudi tolerance of radical Islam. Though this was once perceived as a threat to the Saudi regime, the Saudi royals have mastered the art of triangulation. The Saudis will arrest al-Qaeda operatives from time to time, in order to assuage American concerns. But they will also covertly assist al-Qaeda-ideologically and materially-so long as they divert their barbarism away from the kingdom.
This is the Middle East’s dirty little secret: regimes that “like” us have populations that hate us, whereas regimes that hate us have people that generally like us. The clearest indication of whether or not a new generation of people will hate the United States is what they are learning in school as children. Dr. Arnon Groiss compiled, translated, and edited the Saudi schoolbooks that are used within the kingdom itself, and his exhaustive study sheds much light.
At first glance, education within Saudi Arabia defies caricature. Girls are not banned from education, as in the Taliban’s Afghanistan. There are, in fact, more female students than male students. Consequently, there are more female schools than male schools. There are some 28,000 public schools in Saudi Arabia, 16,600 of which are female schools (the regime requires a separation of boys and girls). The decades-long Saudi emphasis on education has brought literacy rates for women up from 2% in 1970 to 70% today; 15% to 91% for men. Though controlled by the state, education is not compulsory-the state even pays most of the tuition.
The caveat, however, is the curriculum. The curriculum is almost exclusively Koranic. This is not a Medieval Latin Mass, where lingual or literary ignorance of the congregants is expected. No, the Saudi regime mandates its subjects to be able to read the Koran-but that’s it. Mathematics and the sciences are taught infrequently, begrudgingly, and only within the context of Islamic preeminence. All books that enter Saudi Arabia must be scrutinized by the government, and can be rejected if the royals decide. Private schools must adhere to the government-approved Wahhabi curriculum.
The Saudi Ministry of Education mandates stringent Islamic studies for students of all ages, dividing the country’s syllabus into five theological topics: 1) Koranic recitation, or tajwid; 2) Koranic commentary, or tafsir; 3) “Prophetic sayings,” or the study of the Hadith; 4) Islamic jurisprudence, or fiqh; and 5) Wahhabi monotheistic doctrine, or Tawhid. Students will read the Koran until they are able to recite it cover to cover.
Proselytization starts at an early age. Saudi children in first grade are instructed to repeat “Allah is my Lord; Muhammad is my prophet. I am Muslim; I love my religion.” Another recitation: “I prayed every day with my father in my mosque. I pray five prayers every day. I worship only God, who has no partner.” This seems harmless enough; in tone, it is almost indistinguishable from the lesson plans of a Midwestern Sunday school class. But consider the guidelines of the Siyasat al-Ta’lim, the official Saudi state education policy laid out in a government document with 236 clauses:
- “Calling for [conversion to] Islam in all parts of the earth, with wisdom and good religious exhortations, is the duty of [both] the State and the individual…”
- “The purpose of education is to understand Islam completely and correctly…”
- “Jihad in God’s cause is a firm religious duty, a norm to be followed and an existing necessity. It is to continue [so] until the Day of Resurrection.”
- “Promoting the spirit of loyalty to Islamic law [Shari’ah] by disavowal of any system or principle contradicting Islamic Law, and by producing upright action and behavior in accordance with its general and comprehensive rules.”
- “Awakening the spirit of Islamic jihad in order to resist our enemies, reclaim our rights, return our [past] glories, and perform the duties of the Islamic mission.”
- “Preparing the student for jihad in God’s cause, spiritually and physically.”
Saudi textbooks condemn alcohol, sodomy, magic, and sorcery (hence the hatred of Harry Potter). They reject parliamentarianism and democracy, as well as the mingling of boys and girls. Non-Islamic holidays are considered blasphemous; Valentine’s Day is banned, as is the color red in the weeks before the February holiday.
There are proud, nationalistic mentions of Saudi Arabia’s unique role in defending Islam and spreading Islamic law throughout the world. But Saudi children are forewarned: “It is not permissible to stage a revolt against those in charge, nor desist from obeying them-even if they are oppressive-nor pray against them.” For apostates, or Muslims who convert out of the faith, the “punishment in this world is death, if he does not repent.” In the hereafter, his punishment is “staying forever in the fire of Hell.”
The superiority of Islam is engrained into the minds of early teens. “Muslims are the leaders of the world,” the children must narrate over and again during language exercises. Seventh-grade Saudis are told that the unbelievers “shall burn in the fire of Hell… they are the vilest of creatures.” Koranic commentary, one of the five subject matters of Saudi education, declares to ninth-grade students: “The religion of Islam is the true religion and any other religion is false. The religion of Islam is lofty and triumphant over all [other] religions”
As with all tyrannies, the Saudi royals fear their own people. As with all dictators, the royals therefore create imaginary external enemies in order to maintain internal submissiveness. An eighth-grade book titled Geography of the Muslim World states, “There is no doubt that the Muslims’ power irritates the infidels and spreads envy in the hearts of the enemies of Islam-Christians, Jews and others-so they plot against them… harass them, and seize every opportunity in order to eliminate the Muslims.” Prohibited is “befriending the infidels or revealing the Muslims’ secrets to them.” It is “not permitted to ask for [God’s] forgiveness, nor pray, for the sake of the infidels and polytheists… it is not permitted to befriend the infidels by loving [them] or helping [them] against the Muslims.” It is permitted, though, “to destroy, burn, and demolish the infidels’ castles, as well as anything that strengthens them against the Muslims, if it contributes to the Muslims’ victory and to the infidels defeat.”
Read more: Family Security Matters