To try and sum up extremism in one word or reason will ultimately lead to a vast generalization. But the main reason behind the cause of extremism is the educational curricula, because this lays the foundations that shape one’s thoughts. So when these curricula teach extremism, extremists will be born.
Secondly, education is the wide arena where one can negatively or positively reach and influence millions of Muslim students across the world.
Morocco has recently joined other countries who’ve promised to correct their school curricula. King Mohammad VI personally chaired the council of ministers to discuss the educational curriculum and instructed the minister of national education and the minister of endowment and Islamic affairs to review religious teachings and textbooks in Moroccan schools.
So will Morocco succeed in what other governments who’ve attempted to resolve defects in the educational system failed?
What is new here is that Morocco has said it has decided to rewrite its curricula, so that the nation will have Muslim students who believe in Islamic values which call for “centrism, moderation, tolerance and co-existence with different cultures and civilizations.”
Islam is a large religion which people can take whatever they want fromAbdulrahman al-Rashed
Students will thus, on the basis of religious conviction, graduate from school believing in tolerance and respecting others from different sects, religions and cultures.
Islam is a large religion which people can take whatever they want from. This is what happened during the past three decades when Islam was hijacked by those who said the religion was in danger and must go into a state of war.
Ideological groups with political ambitions have cultivated and promoted this idea. Many people supported these groups, and this is how we have reached the current situation of chaos, where there are wars with Shiites, Sunnis, Alawites, Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus.
This is why Islam and Muslims became the enemies of most of the world’s people. Can’t Islam be like other religions where its believers live with others and co-exist with other religions?
Morocco’s Royal Palace said the strategy to reform education would last for years - until 2030. If the Moroccans can write a curriculum which conveys Islam’s great humanitarian teachings and noble morals, then this curriculum is worthy of being a guide to all other Islamic countries who suffer from the problem of how and what to teach about Islam to their Muslim students.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Feb. 8, 2016.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.