A recent National Review article carried an analysis of the textbooks used for the 2008-2009 school year by the Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA), the Virginia school founded by a decree of Saudi King Fahd in 1984. The authors state they were not persuaded that problems with the curriculum had been solved. Their specific criticisms included:

  • Jihad is a central tenet of Islam and is raised multiple times in the Koran. Saudi textbooks describe jihad as "the summit of Islam" and "one of the most magnificent acts of obedience to God," and endorse its militant form for both defensive and aggressive purposes. ISA's new texts, however, make no mention of militant jihad, not even as a defensive measure. And they make only a single passing reference to the alternative view of jihad. (Buried toward the end of a twelfth-grade text is a two-line reference to the "greater jihad" — the obligation "to do jihad against Satan, selfish desire and capriciousness.") At a time when many Muslim radicals proclaim the merits of militant jihad, ignoring the issue almost completely will not suffice to orient students toward the peaceful interpretation. One must wonder whether the books were even intended to do such a thing.

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