Jihad is Back in the Textbooks

Jihad is Back in the Textbooks

The KPK government has made a bold move of deciding to re-introduce Quranic verses on Jihad in the textbooks for elementary and secondary levels, undoing the efforts of moderation undertaken by Awami National Party, who after facing much ordeal, removed them in their last tenure. ANP bought about these changes after consultation with scholars and in reaction to the wave of terrorism and militarism plaguing the region.

I wonder why it still surprises people that in a country which has had a long-drawn history of exploitation of religion; topics like Jihad are deliberately kept out as a part of the de-radicalization strategy.



The rationale is pretty simple to grasp: children should not be taught a textbook version of controversial or sensitive topics at the early stages of their academic careers.

In fact in my humble opinion, inclusion or non-inclusion of religious topics like Jihad in the curriculum bears little importance since what really matters is the religious knowledge and scholarly aptitude of the teachers who initially mold and ultimately define the opinion of the students. Although there is in no harm in teaching students a topic like Jihad but only if it is assisted by a proper contextual analysis.



And we all know very well how often that happens. Religion is a very sensitive and volatile topic here in Pakistan and any issue mixed with it immediately becomes political and can never completely cast off its shadows. General Zia-ul-haq as a part of the Islamization strategy did the same in his tenure and made quite a few changes in the way things run in the country.



Modification of academic curriculum was a part of his wider strategy which along with other initiatives ended up altering the delicate balance of the social fabric of Pakistan. Many of the problems that the country faces can be traced back to the time period of Zia.

Given our history, the question which naturally surfaces is that if PTI really aims to bring about an educational revolution in the country, why would it start off with such a controversial issue? Why would it neglect the other zillion problems stifling the education sector and focus on this particular issue which creates a rift between the right and left wings in Pakistan.

At the risk of being called a skeptic, I hold that this move by the KPK government is nothing but a hoax. Don’t get me wrong, I strongly believe in education paving the way for success for Pakistan but, I also believe that this is not how a genuine effort to improve the education system in the country looks like. If PTI actually wants to champion the education reforms in Pakistan instead of isolating one factor, it should adopt a comprehensive strategy to revamp the entire sector.



It can modify the curriculum of textbooks as a first step but it should rather focus on something more neutral like, correcting the dates of historical events in the Pakistan Studies books perhaps? Or it can pick any other matter like developing an accountability system to check how allocated education budget is being spent or how curriculum can be used as a tool of the wider de-radicalization strategy or how it can deal with the issue of ghost schools and teachers.



The pool of issues to choose from is very deep, there is an entire range from minor to major issues plaguing the education sector of Pakistan which given their gravity either require immediate or long-term solutions.

If political parties are only enticed by controversy and juicy news then I dare suggest this, do something about the thousands of fatherless children of sex workers who can’t get higher education because of the absence of a B form and the stigma attached.



If not, then publically support Malala’s cause of advocating for girls education and denounce efforts of extremists targeting and killing our young ones in cold blood for their love of books and learning. By God, that’s too high a price to pay!

This madness and radicalization runs very deep in our country. We continue to persecute minorities, degrade our women, and maintain a false sense of honor, all in the name of religion.



And if the debate about improvement of education in Pakistan is restricted to inclusion or non-inclusion of Jihad in the textbooks then I think our downfall in the near future is inevitable.  The only way forward is to stop hiding behind the cover of religion to hide our inadequacies and failures and take concrete steps with the assistance of professionals to improve our deploring state of affairs.

Shaheera Syed

A Public Administration graduate student from NUST School of Social Sciences and Humanities

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  • Anonymous

    Let the textbooks be finalized before you comment on them. Im sure the media, as always, has blown this out of proportion. I personally do not think that mention of JIhad in textbooks is a bad thing. People mis-use the the notion of Jihad. So dont you think it is better to address Jihad through school textbooks in an appropriate way as opposed to remaining silent and letting others misuse the idea of jihad.

    • NASAH (USA)

      Once Jihadism is canonized by the beardless Maulana Imran Khan Zahmatullah Allaih (Allah’s burden on KP) — in the backward text books of a backward KPK of the Purana Pakistan — no use “commenting” on them — praising Jihad in the school text boos is — “a very very bad thing”.

      • M.Idrees

        How stupid you are, Nasah. When Jihad has been praised in the Holy Quran who the hell you are to condemn it publishing in other texts, a stupid like you need not to comment on that and is neither required as well. Good luck for your slavery like life in USA. Just keep washing their (Americans) laundries and toilets and enjoy.

  • ahsan

    i agree with the blogger in the sense that we should name it democratic republic of pakistan, or something similar…
    calling it an islamic republic confuses both our SO CALLED firends and foes… its an identity crisis of whether we are muslims first or pakistani first, we ourselves are confused, what else can we teach our children except confusion itself?
    young age brain-washing can be reduced by removing jihad from our text books, not taking your kiddos to even jumah/eid prayers or ashura proceedings should follow in the similar spirit i presume!


    Jihadistan — Mulla Imran’s “Naya Pakistan”! — Mulla Imran is a jihadi wolf under shaved sheepskin.

  • SkepticismKills

    We are Muslims first and then Pakistanis. Basing your identity on geographical basis is not an intelligent notion. However basing it on your belief system does carry meaning. Iqbal best summarized this : Muslim hain hum watan hai sara jahan hamara.
    When emaan has penetrated one’s soul, all land will belong to ALLAH. and what’s his is our’s.
    I agree with the blogger partly when she says:
    ” there is in no harm in teaching students a topic like Jihad but only if it is assisted by a proper contextual analysiS”

    • harry

      First try to be a good human being. Being a good Muslim will follow.

  • Farooq Hashmi

    “Many of the problems that the country faces can be traced back to the time period of Zia”.
    In the present context, no other statement is truer than the one the writer has made in her article. Needless to say that all the major inextricable socio-political problems______ terrorism, sectarianism, religious intolerance and the religious charlatan’s misinterpretation of the religious dictates,etc._____ from which Pakistan is struggling to wriggle out, were handed down from Zia’s immoral regime. The word ‘jehad’ in its maulvianic connotation, is simply sowing the seeds of terrorism,and no wonder the students of today will be the terrorists of tomorrow. In view of the wide-spread sectarian anxiety in the interiors of Pakistan and the threats surrounding the country,the jingoist terminology in the text-books needs to be expunged and the bellicose verbiage in the class-room lectures held in leash.
    The current curricula at all level of education in Pakistan,neither promise a lucrative future to the present generation of the students,nor does it have its roots in the ethos of the country’s civil society. Ruthless injustice is done to the subject of history. In the course of our academic days in Pakistan, every other day it was hammered down into our brains that during their rule, the rulers had accomplished a number of, ‘pro bono publico’ projects as building inns, hospitals, schools, almshouses, shelter-homes and orphanages,etc.but in actual observation, they are no more than a myth because unlike the existence of their magnificent tombs and palaces, not even the testifying remnants of those welfare monuments are traceable anywhere.

    • S Nasrullah

      True, Gen Zia had introduced the Hudood Ordinance, which was his brain child and was never mooted or mustered by the religious scholars. The Law of Evidence in Islam rest on the authentication of a version of an episode based on deposition of two respectable men of honor, and in exceptional circumstances the verification by a solitary witness, with proven antecedents, who swears by Allah would suffice. However, the contention : ” The word ‘jehad’ in its maulvianic connotation, is simply sowing the seeds of terrorism,and no wonder the students of today will be the terrorists of tomorrow. In view of the wide-spread sectarian anxiety in the interiors of Pakistan and the threats surrounding the country,the jingoist terminology in the text-books needs to be expunged and the bellicose verbiage in the class-room lectures held in leash” is a travesty of truth.

      There is no such thing as maulvianic connotation. In Quran, the term and its application have been detailed in simple form. Jehad in its virulent form of participating in a Holy war, is conditioned upon factors the compliance of which is vital and its declaration is made by the Head of the Shoora or Grand Mufti.

      In our own Western societies, tiny tots are taught Sex in the class room and does it make everyone of them sex crazy? Today, the world acknowledges the fact that the more educated one is the more well informed one becomes and the more one gets to know the substance of a topic, the better one is able to assimilate, analyse and distinguish between the good and the evil. Besides, the blogger only mentioned that Quranic Ayah have been included in the text books. I have heard sermons in the mosque where in the verve and flow of one’s oratory, one indulges into exuberances not necessarily with reference to the context. By the way, what we call Mahmood Ghaznavi as a Intrepid, Valiant Muslim Hero, the Indian curriculum dubbed him as Villain and highwayman. There is a perspective which delusionally images an impression depending on which angle you are focused on.

      • Farooq Hashmi

        Qur’aanic injunctions are the word of Allah(swt), hence infallible. Interpretation of Qur’aanic verses is an exercise of human-mind. hence fallible. As Qur’aanic injunctions are the divine revelation, to utter a word against them is a heresy. As the interpretation of Qur’aanic injunctions,and the writing of exegeses of the Holy Qur’aan, are not a heresy but a religious venture of the human mind,every person has a right to do that job the way his intellect permits him.
        To call spade a spade, the maulvionic version of ‘jehad’ has let loose hell on innocent human-beings. In the modern-day political panorama, the concept of ‘jehad’ has changed from a holy war against evil to the naked savagery of terrorism brought on innocent human-beings_______babies, children, frail old women and men. Sane people do not label cold-blooded mass killing of innocent human-beings as ‘jehad’,but the taliban and their camaraderie-in-the-closet do.When the old cock crows,the young cock learns. Jehad lessons to the students of early age are prone to nourish a very dangerous concept of jehad in their minds. The impression,the Jehad lessons are going to shape in the impressionable minds of the tender-aged students is that wanton killing of human-beings is jehad and that ‘terrorism’ is only an other name of ‘jehad’. The KPK will be better off if lessons on ‘jehad’ are transferred from the lower-grade curricula to those of the grade-10

      • NASAH (USA)

        Mahmood Ghaznavi was a lootera who specialized in breaking Hindu hearts by demolishing Hindu places of worship and looting their wealth.

        For us Muslims it may not be a big deal — because we love to demolish each others masjids — but for the Hindu masses Mahmood’s criminality was devastating.

        Mahmood was also a cheapskate thief — because he cheated Firdausi of his hard earned money — Mahmood broke Firdausi heart too.

        Mahmood did all this thievery in the name of Jihad — Mahmood was the first Taliban of the subcontinent.

        • M.Saeed

          Following the Hindu agenda of Muslim bashing with gutter-drenched hands!
          Was Alexander “the great” because of his submission to the Hindu-gods and refusing all the gold of Himalayas?

          • NASAH (USA)

            I am sure the Punjabis of the day did not bestow “the great” title on Alexander — they fought his army so hard they made it useless for further conquest of India.

            There is no denying we Muslims have bashed lots of communities wherever we went.

            A tad of self introspection will go a long way to remove the rabies virus of FANATICISM that convulses OUR entire systems.

        • harry

          The absence of positive performance was compensated with boastful pride of the ability to destroy. That is perhaps an inherited attitude when our orators in Pakistan proudly talk of what we destroyed: our ancestors destroyed Indian idols and kings followed by the recent smashing of the peaceful Buddha; recently we destroyed the Soviet Union, we have pushed America to disaster, we shall destroy India, Europe and every system of “Jahiliah”, including our own systems
          and people in Pakistan and Afghanistan. This mindset hardly ever asks: what did we create or build?


  • Gohar

    Actually, not just Jihad (means ‘Continuous Struggle’), the whole holy Quran (the guide) should be included in the curriculum starting at least 3rd grade to 12th Grade…and that would clarify the circumstances at which a true Muslim should act not only on ‘jihad’ in wars but jihad in whole life of a Muslim ..

  • Iftikhar Sadeed Khan

    I don’t know what is all this fuss about. Every one should know about Jehad from early age. Jihad is not just about fighting with weapon for goodness sake.
    We all grew up in early 80s and 90s reading Islamiat and Pakistan studies with topics about Jehad in it.
    Reading about jehad in our texts books has turned no one in to a terrorist, at least not me.
    So please get rational and get life. You don’t have any objection about sex education being taught at extremely early age to children but have extreme views about Jehad in Texts books, which in my view do no harm to anyone.
    Show us one person who has turned to Terrorism because of our texts book?

  • Poovhen

    A girl’s long term and primary focus should be family. Education should aim at that goal. A party’s long term and primary focus should be welfare of its people. A religion’s long term and primary focus should be to promote justice and piety.

  • M.Saeed

    Literal meaning of Jihad is “Struggle”, especially for a noble cause. Several Ahadith highlight the importance of Education and classify the struggle of parents in raising and decorating their children with education to become “honourable” heads of the generations emanating from them, as “Jihad” of such parents.


    Jihad should return to KP curriculum — after all what is PTI and its Imran Khan without Jihad — if not a Taliban.

  • SAB

    I will quote a British politician quote which I read in RD read some decades ago in quotable quotes” To destroy a nation, you don’t have to fight it, just dont let its people read their books”. A question to writer” Have you read your BOOK from cover to cover????”. What did you get from it? just picking up one word and writing an article is not wise.

  • Abdul Malik

    Jihad is the need of the day. Jihad against corruption, jihad against fast spreading prostitution, jihad against porn sites that injecting poison in our young generation.

  • Farooq Hashmi

    Another seventy-eight precious lives lost, another one hundred forty-six people injured.This time the victim of the Taliban’s naked barbarism are Christians, the poorest of the poorest minorities of Pakistan.

    Today I woke up to the heart-rending TV news that two suicide bombers, having sneaked into the congregation of a Peshawar church, blew themselves up killing seventy-eight of the worshipers and injuring one hundred forty-six of them.The ‘Jund-ullah’______ an offshoot of the Taliban______ has owned the charge of having the church-goers given a blood-bath.What was the reaction of the government high-ups and the political time-servers to that blood-curdling news?The answer is that it was no other than issuing the traditional perfunctory statements, framed in rhetorical phraseology, that they do on such occasions, in addition to some monetary gags. The same old few stereotyped words of condemnation by them, the same old eye-wash of half-a-million of valueless scraps of papers,branded as “currency-bills”, to each of the bereaved families and two hundred thousand of the same to each of the injured persons ,and over and above that, the politicians’ shameless attempt to fish in troubled waters through finding faults with one another’s policy with regard to the Taliban issue.

    Now let’s flip the coin to see the other side of it. Some politicians are head over heels in “love” with the Taliban,and are eager to bring it to a dialog tablet to wean it of suicide-bombing.To ill-luck of Pakistan, its politicians infatuated with the love of the Taliban, fail to realize that the Taliban has nothing to do with Pakistan’s integrity,its democracy,its judiciary,its political heritage and its eco-political institutions,etc. Its sole aim is to do away with Pakistan so that it could implant in its territory a caliphate of esoteric form. In view of the filthy designs of the Taliban whither is the “dialog”?As carrot has failed to correct the ragtag gangsters of the Taliban. stick is needed to discipline them,and it must be used with full force.We should never be taken in by “dialog”. Dialog is the booby-trap whereon if the Pakistani authorities step,it will explode with brisance.”Dialog” is the other name of giving the Taliban time for reorganizing itself so that it could hit Pakistan more forcefully.

  • Danyal Akhlaq

    Great Move KPK!
    Go get a life lady! ‘Jihad’ is our pride and you don’t have any right to give your crap views about it.

  • M.Saeed

    We need to start a noble struggle to get rid of all types of terrorists.
    We need to start a noble struggle to establish real and honourable freedom for enjoying human rights.
    We need to start a noble struggle to stop those who kill others who challenge them for any reason.
    We need to start a noble struggle to eradicate killers of Karachi.
    We need to start a noble struggle to eradicate feudalism.
    We need to start a noble struggle to cleanse and sanitise the law enforcing agencies of the country.
    We need to start a noble struggle to establish honesty of purpose in all walks of our life.
    We need to start a noble struggle to separate religion from Politics.
    We need to start a noble struggle to provide universal education for all and legislation to ensue that.
    We need to start a noble struggle to uproot and eradicate corruption for good and ensure it does not re-emerge.
    We need to start a noble struggle to cultivate and breed at all levels, the implementation of merits in selections.
    We need to start a noble struggle to establish and enforce due work ethics and appropriate rewards.

    And, we need to start a noble struggle to——-the list is too long to accommodate here but, just replace “noble struggle” with the purposely desecrated word “Jihad” and see how well it describes its real meaning!


    Belief kills — skepticism renews refreshes. Alhamdullillah!

    Islam is NOT what the Taliban is practicing.

    • Gohar

      …Islam is what NASAH (USA) is practicing in US.

  • HE MAN

    Human beings always learn from the past experiences and mistakes but JAHIL JANWAR never learns. Stupid Blind Donkeys that is why Allah is also kicking them on daily basis.

    • M.Saeed

      Animals never learn from experience?
      Have you never seen a donkey-internee attached to every other donkey-cart in Karachi?
      Humans are God’s ultimate creation and those who reject their learnings are just imposter “Khachras” like those occasional horses in multi-horse coaches who just gait along while others do the pulling.


    Jihad does need to be part of the KPK curriculum — there are still some churches left in KPK.

    • Anonymous

      NASAH Sb

      Sarcasm is unbecoming (certainly in this case) when a whole population gets painted with the same brush…..just reaffirms the stereotypes.


    For the 5th grade it should have read — “katrina took off her helmete and her SHAVED hairs fell over her shoulder”

  • M.Saeed

    So you reject the “Mini-Pakistan” being held by India?
    It is no secret that the Kashmiri students in Srinagar call Indian held Kashmir a part of Pakistan, often fly Pakistani flags in their gatherings and watch Pakistani channels that reach them from Pakistan defying all borders.
    Better pray they “never come to India”—–including their captive mother-land.

  • M.Saeed

    Very correct but, what you have explained is for those who want to know the truth.

    Those who made Taliban, Jihadis, Militants etc., out of their own “Freedom Fighters” are not ignorant. They are the thankless inhuman who forget their saviours the next day, to save their “insult in being thankful” to their lesser mortal outcasts.

    Freedom fighters who fought and disintegrated USSR, the dreaded monster that gave the real terror to the world, without the world getting its hands dirtied, are now the most dreaded terror. Why?

    Are they not the products of utter neglect instead of a reward in real “thank you”?

  • Anonymous

    Raj ji

    We just need to return to the original meaning of the word – which is not negative by any sense as you know.

  • Anonymous

    How does one convey that when almost everyone across the board wants an eye for an eye – and without discriminating between the eyes taken – unfortunately turning the other cheek is generally a textbook message today!

  • M.Saeed

    Jihad literally means “struggle” against all anti-human ills and what the comment here states is: “Jihad is the need of the day”.
    Obviously, it needs to be launched in its true letter and spirit against all ant-humans.
    Even India needs Jihad of its own against all vices bedevilling it.
    Killings of innocent humans is “Anti-Islamic” and strictly forbidden in Islam.
    Terrorists who kill for their own nefarious agenda have already been declared out of Islam by Muftis of the world.

    • Crusader

      now a days Jihad only means slaughter of non-muslims!

      • M.Saeed

        But the cruel history tells somehing exactly opposite!

        Following excerpt from a historic reference might open some eyes:

        “—With the Crusaders advancing in to knocked down villages surrounded by burnt down fields without any cattle or poultry, with the wells sanded over, the Crusaders were ingenious in deciding to make a sustaining and appetizing meal of the enemy they vanquished on the battlefield”.

  • M.Saeed

    You seek the answer which you cannot live with. What you cannot live with is not habitable . Perhaps with genuine will, you will find the answer gradually without noticing and live along your own discovered answer in time. But, the bottom line is: “genuine will to find the real, unbiased truth”.


    Talking of hallucinations — by the way Nasrullah — whom have you met on your recent travels abroad — the Queen of England?