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Palestinian Textbooks: Textbooks Calls for Jihad and Martyrdom

(November 2003)

Following the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority began to devise new schoolbooks that showed a relative change in content and direction. MEMRI's 2001 study of Palestinian schoolbooks, "Narrating Palestinian Nationalism," found that the Palestinian textbooks produced after Oslo reflected a general attempt to lessen the virulence of anti-Israel venom, as direct incitement significantly declined while a serious effort was made to enhance values such as democracy and freedom. [1]

By 2003, however, a newly-printed textbook produced by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Education titled "Islamic Culture," intended for students in the 11th grade, shows a return to incitement for Jihad and martyrdom. [2] The following are excerpts from the textbook:

The Role of the State in Islam

(Page 98): "[One of] the State's tasks is to strengthen the ties between the people and their Creator… to defend the religion and protect it from [heretical] innovators and doubters… to prepare the nation for Jihad and to defend the country from its enemies… to increase the nation's level of knowledge… because implementing the religious duties and knowing the necessary religious commands requires some amount of knowledge and education."

(Page 104): "The nation should support the ruler in anything that prompts progress… In external matters [the nation should assist] through Jihad, while in the domestic arena it should help through… industrial, agricultural, moral, and social revival… and by adhering to the religious laws…"

Jihad and the Propagation of Islam

(Page 208): "Islam is Allah's religion for all human beings. It should be proclaimed and invite [people] to join it wisely and through appropriate preaching and friendly discussions. However, such methods may encounter resistance and the preachers may be prevented from accomplishing their duty… then, Jihad and the use of physical force against the enemies become inevitable…

"Jihad is an Islamic term that equates to the term war in other nations. The difference is that Jihad has noble goals and lofty aims, and is carried out only for the sake of Allah and for His glory… [By contrast] wars by other nations are mainly waged because of wickedness, aggression, love of domination, expanding influence, looting properties, murder, and the fulfillment of ambitions and desires, such as the war that the Western countries waged to exploit Islamic countries for imperialistic purposes, to control their Muslim citizens and to rob their resources and richness…"

(Page 209): "In Mecca, Allah's Messenger called [to join] Islam by using evidence and proofs… His weapons and those of his companions at that stage of spreading the message [of Islam] were perseverance and restraint. After the Prophet's migration to Al-Medina, and the emergence of an Islamic society in it, there was no escaping the fight against aggression and the polytheists… Following that, the duty of Jihad was imposed on all Muslims…

"Allah's Messenger practiced Jihad during his sojourn in Al-Medina, his companions and followers followed in his footsteps.

"However is Jihad a personal duty [Fardh 'Ein] that each Muslim is required to fulfill personally, or is it a collective duty [Fardh Kifaya]? It is likely a collective duty. If some Muslims fulfill it, then it is not required of the rest as long as [the acts of those who waged it] are sufficient… [however] if no one practices Jihad, then all Muslims are guilty of negligence.

"Jihad becomes a personal duty in the following three cases:

  1. "When Muslims are attacked. When the enemy is present in a Muslim country, it is the duty of the [Muslim] citizens of that country to fight the enemy and chase them away. If they are unable [to do so], the personal duty [of Jihad] passes on to their neighbors, until the enemy is defeated and destroyed…
  2. "In the case of a general call to arms. When a Muslim ruler declares it, or calls a specific group, it is the duty of Muslims to answer the call…
  3. "Whoever attends a battle, it is his duty to fight the enemy and to partake in the battle and not to be delinquent…"

(Pages 210-211): " Types of Jihad:

  1. "The physical Jihad - Participation [in battle] against the enemy. To fight him directly with weapons, and with actual participation in the battle and with self-sacrifice for the sake of Allah. This is the ultimate requisite from a [believer]. Allah promised anyone who participates personally in Jihad for His sake Paradise, or that He will return him safely to his family with great spoils.
  2. "The material Jihad – He who wages such a Jihad gives some of his money in order to equip Muslim armies with various weapons, necessary supplies, land, sea and air transportation, and anything else that those who wage Jihad need in order to defeat the enemy, to glorify Allah's name, and to strengthen His faith. Included in the material Jihad is the construction of military installations, fortifications, strongholds, airports, and seaports, that are necessary for the Muslim armies, as well as health centers and hospitals for the soldiers of Jihad and their families, and granting money to those who implement Jihad and to their families.
  3. "The Jihad of ideas - Jihad accomplished by mouth and pen and by providing irrefutable evidence against enemies and inviting them [to recognize] Allah. This Jihad includes preaching, writing, singing, etc.
  4. "Jihad accomplished through… contact with Jihad participants and through participation in acts related to Jihad such as transporting soldiers and their provisions, serving them water and food, taking care of the wounded and guarding a [military] position.

"The Islamic nation today is in urgent need [of reviving] the spirit of Jihad in its sons, [by using] all types of Jihad and to concentrate all its resources on strengthening Allah's religion and to force His enemies [to surrender]."

(Page 213): "Jihad is one of life's needs. A nation cannot defend its religion and uphold its honor and its motherland if it does not have the power to do so. This is why Islam imposed [the duty] of Jihad on the Muslim nation when [a Muslim] society and state emerged in Al-Medina…"

Propagating Islam

(Page 214): "Allah instructed the Muslims to convince people [with the message of Islam] in a wise way, by appropriate preaching and friendly discussions, so that the spread of Islam is achieved through intellectual persuasion, inner gratification and serenity and not through compulsion as Allah said 'There is no compulsion in religion…' [Koran 2:256]

"[However], when the despots confront Islamic preaching, prevent the preachers from bringing the good tidings [of Islam] to the people, build roadblocks and obstacles in preachers' way, and prevent the word from reaching their people - then Jihad becomes the only means to remove these obstacles, which deprive people of their freedom of choice and prevent the propagation of Islam. Allah's Messenger instructed those who wage Jihad not to initiate war against their enemies [as a first option], but to offer them Islam, and if they refuse it - to suggest to them to pay Jizya [tax imposed on non-Muslims under Muslim rule]… and if they refuse again, to fight them.

"Jihad is considered a way to strengthen the nation and [to secure] its victory in an armed struggle when it uses all its resources, efforts and capabilities for its sake… Jihad is also considered a source of welfare and prosperity for the Muslims. After realizing victory, he who wages Jihad returns to his family high-aspiring with his head high up, thanking Allah for his grace. If he is blessed with Shahada [martyrdom] and honor, his soul returns to its Creator to live a different life, content with the rewards and honor bestowed upon it, a life of grace thanks to Allah, as the Koran says [3:169-170] 'Do not consider those who died in the cause of Allah as dead, rather as alive at their lord sustained…'"

(Page 215): "The Islamic nation needs to spread the spirit of Jihad and the love of self-sacrifice [Shahada] among its sons throughout the generations, and especially when materialism is uppermost in people's minds and they abandon Jihad while the enemy desires [to exploit] them… It is clear that the respect and power of the Islamic nation are linked to the preservation of a strong Jihad spirit. When this spirit declines and the nation has no power to help its weak elements and to defend itself from its enemies, then the nation is attacked from the outside, the aggressors desire it, they humiliate it, plunder its resources, kill its people, conquer its land and live there in immorality."

The Risks of Ignoring Jihad

(Page 304): "A. Enemies occupy Muslim lands, their resources are plundered, their blood is spilled, their honor tarnished and as a result they [the Muslims] live a life of disgrace and oppression. B. Losing the great reward that Allah promised those who wage Jihad and the Shuhada [martyrs]. C. Severe punishment on Judgment Day."

(Page 305): "Allah instructed the faithful to partake in Jihad in all circumstances, be it easy or hard, when they are few or many, at times of prosperity or need, when they are strong or weak. Their Jihad should be through self-sacrifice or material for the sake of glorifying Allah's name. This is the way to enjoy this world and to succeed in the Hereafter."

The Punishment for Abandoning Islam

(Page 155): "The logical reason for executing a person who abandons Islam is the following: There is nothing in Islam that comes in contrast to human nature. Whoever joins Islam after recognizing its truth and after tasting its sweetness and then abandons it - is in fact rebelling against truth and logic. Like any other regime, Islam has to protect itself therefore this punishment [execution] awaits the person who abandons it, because he is spreading doubt about Islam…

"Abandoning Islam is a crime that warrants a severe punishment… [The phases of punishment are]:

  1. "Urging [the sinner] to recant immediately…
  2. "Warning him of the implications of his persistence in abandoning Islam, namely warning him that he will be executed.
  3. "Execute the sinner if he persists in [his decision to] abandon Islam…"

Christian Missionary Activities

(Page 252): "Missionaries are one of the Western institutions used for intellectual invasion of the Muslim world. They tried to get the Muslims out of Islam by weakening the faith in their hearts and accepting the Western way of life. Outwardly they call for adopting the faith of Jesus, but in reality they try to facilitate the Western intellectual invasion of the Islamic countries… The missionary organizations throughout the Islamic world tried to weaken the faith in the hearts of the Muslims, to spread secular ideas to replace Islamic ideology and to pave the way for the occupation of Islamic countries and strengthening Imperialism in them…

"The missionary movement left deep impressions in Islamic life, such as:


  1. "Admiration and adoption of the Western way of life… Materialistic and exploitative Western criteria and values and their understanding of life was common to the point that many Muslims yearned for it and turned to Western culture and literature.
  2. "Weakening the Islamic spirit of the young generation as a result of weakening the faith in their hearts and the acceptance of contagious Western ideas and principles. Capitalist, Communist, and atheist ideas spread among the Muslims…
  3. "Giving the educational system in the Islamic countries a Western flavor. The missionaries, with the help of Imperialism, were able to turn their philosophy and culture into educational foundations in many Islamic countries. Western history and culture became the main source of education and science-learning for Muslim children…
  4. "Defamation of Islamic history and the life-histories of the Muslim Khalifs, and presenting Islamic history as [a series of] wars, conflicts, civil wars, revolutions, battles over power, and repression of citizens… "Faulting Islam, its Messenger, and the truth of his prophecies, and spreading misleading ideas, such as the claim that Islam expanded by the sword and by coercion. Also, faulting the divorce laws and polygamy and depicting Islamic legal punishments as inhumane."

[1] See MEMRI Special Report No. 6, December 2, 2001.

[2] Islamic Culture for Eleventh Grade, issued by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Education and approved by the Jordanian Ministry of Education, 2003.

Sources: MEMRI