Ignoble Tradition: Egyptian Youth Indoctrinated in Jihad Hatred

Edward W. Lane in Turkish garb


What forces might be fully unleashed beyond Egypt’s borders if the Mubarak government is replaced by one far less inclined toward restraining its denizens?

A recent detailed study of Egyptian children’s textbooks, revealed their explicit inculcation of anti-infidel jihad hatred. For example, explicit sanctioning for jihad-related beheadings is provided in a seemingly pedestrian manner,

Studies in Theology: Tradition and Morals, Grade 11, (2001) pp. 291-92:

…This noble [Qur’anic] Surah [Surat Muhammad]… deals with questions of which the most important are as follows: ‘Encouraging the faithful to perform jihad in God’s cause, to behead the infidels, take them prisoner, break their power, and make their souls humble – all that in a style which contains the highest examples of urging to fight. You see that in His words: “When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield strike off their heads and, when you have laid them low, bind your captives firmly. Then grant them their freedom or take a ransom from them, until war shall lay down its burdens.”

Commentary on the Surahs of Muhammad, Al-Fath, Al-Hujurat and Qaf, Grade 11, (2002) p. 9:

…When you meet them in order to fight [them], do not be seized by compassion [towards them] but strike the[ir] necks powerfully…. Striking the neck means fighting, because killing a person is often done by striking off his head. Thus, it has become an expression for killing even if the fighter strikes him elsewhere. This expression contains a harshness and emphasis that are not found in the word “kill”, because it describes killing in the ugliest manner, i.e., cutting the neck and making the organ – the head of the body – fly off [the body].

Although chilling to our modern sensibilities, particularly when being taught to children, these are merely classical interpretations of the rules for jihad war, based on over a millennium of Muslim theology and jurisprudence. And the context of these teachings is unambiguous, as the translator makes clear:

[the] concept of jihad is interpreted in the Egyptian school curriculum almost exclusively as a military endeavor… it is war against God’s enemies, i.e., the infidels… it is war against the homeland’s enemies and a means to strengthening the Muslim states in the world. In both cases, jihad is encouraged, and those who refrain from participating in it are denounced.

Teaching Egyptian school children anti-infidel jihad hatred is clearly a long, ongoing , and ignoble tradition even within the modern era. As the scholar E. W. Lane reported after several years of residence in both Cairo and Luxor (initially in 1825-1828, then in 1833-1835),

I am credibly informed that children in Egypt are often taught at school, a regular set of curses to denounce upon the persons and property of Christians, Jews, and all other unbelievers in the religion of Mohammad. [Lane, E.W. An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians, New York: Dover Publications, 1973, p. 276.]

Lane’s nephew Edward Stanley Poole (who edited the 1860 re-issue of his uncle’s classic work), was provided such a prayer, which he translated, below, from a contemporary 19th century Arabic text, containing a typical curse on non-Muslims, recited daily by Muslim schoolchildren:

I seek refuge with God from Satan the accursed. In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. O God, aid El-Islam, and exalt the word of truth, and the faith, by the preservation of thy servant and the son of thy servant, the Sultan of the two continents (Europe and Asia), and the Khakan (Emperor or monarch) of the two seas [the Mediterranean and Black Seas], the Sultan, son of the Sultan (Mahmood) Khan (the reigning Sultan when this prayer was composed). O God, assist him, and assist his armies, and all the forces of the Muslims: O Lord of the beings of the whole world. O God, destroy the infidels and polytheists, thine enemies, the enemies of the religion. O God, make their children orphans, and defile their abodes, and cause their feet to slip, and give them and their families, and their households and their women and their children and their relations by marriage and their brothers and their friends and their possessions and their race and their wealth and their lands as booty to the Muslims: O Lord of the beings of the whole world.*

The modern scholar of Islamic civilization, S.D. Goitein, warned [Goitein, S.D. Commentary, January 1949, “Cross-Currents in Arab National Feeling”, p. 161] more than a century later, in 1949, speaking of the Arab world generally, in particular Egypt:

Islamic fanaticism…is now openly encouraged…writers whose altogether Western style (was mentioned earlier) have been vying with each other for some time in compiling books on the heroes and virtues of Islam…What has now become possible in educated circles may be gathered from the following quotation from an issue of the New East, an Arab monthly periodical describing itself as the “organ of the academic youth of the East”:

“Let us fight fanatically for our religion; let us love a man-because he is a Moslem; let us honor a man- because he is a Moslem; let us prefer him to anyone else-because he is a Moslem; and never let us make friends with unbelievers, because they have nothing but evil for us.”

And a decade afterward, in 1958, Lebanese Law Professor Antoine Fattal, a noted scholar of the legal condition of non-Muslims living under the Sharia, lamented,

No social relationship, no fellowship is possible between Muslims and dhimmis…Even today, the study of the jihad is part of the curriculum of all the Islamic institutes. In the universities of Al-Azhar, Nagaf, and Zaitoune, students are still taught that the holy war is a binding prescriptive decree, pronounced against the Infidels, which will only be revoked with the end of the world.. [Fattal, Antoine. Let Statut Legal de Musulmans en Pays’ d’Islam, Beirut, 1958; pp. 369, 372]

Sadly, fifty years after Fattal made his observations, the sacralized hatred of jihad is still being inculcated as part of the formal education of Muslim youth in Egypt, the most populous Arab country. Muslim Brotherhood spokespersons—beginning with the Ikhwan’s founder Hassan al-Banna—have consistently made plain how they would channel such jihadism, starting, but hardly ending with the jihad genocide of the Jews of  neighboring Israel.


* Lane, E.W. Modern Egyptians, p. 575. Edward Stanley Poole includes the following explanatory note, accompanying his (i.e., Poole’s) English translation of the Arabic prayer:

My friend Mr. Burton (who, in the course of his long residence in Egypt, has acquired an ample fund of valuable information respecting its modern inhabitants, as well as other subjects), has kindly communicated to me an Arabic paper containing the forms of imprecation to which I have alluded in a note subjoined to p. 276 of this work. They are expressed in a “hezb” (or prayer) which the Muslim youths in many of the schools of Cairo recite, before they return to their homes, every day of their attendance, at the period of the “ ’asr  ” except on Thursday, when they recite it at noon; being allowed to leave the school on this day, at the early hour of the “duhr”, in consideration of the approach of Friday, their Sabbath and holiday.

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