This approach may yield some positive results, but ultimately it suffers from one huge handicap: people can read the Qur’an outside school. What’s more, the absence of this material from government textbooks can be used by Islamic hardliners as evidence that the government has apostatized, and must be replaced by one that is more loyal to Islamic principles.
As I have pointed out before, certainly the creation of any genuinely and lastingly moderate Islam depends on the success of efforts to deemphasize various Qur’anic passages, as well as some elements of the Sunnah — and a complete reevaluation of Islamic jurisprudence. Some commentators point to the fact that for centuries — notably, although not universally, in central Asia, Eastern Europe, and West Africa — jihad supremacism largely lay dormant and even dropped out of the Muslim consciousness. But simply to point out that that happened is not enough anymore, precisely because jihadists are using chapter and verse of Qur’an and Sunnah to teach their vision of Islam to cultural Muslims.
That’s why it is no longer enough for Morocco to stop teaching these verses. The verses will still remain, and can be taught by someone else. Morocco needs to keep teaching these verses, and explain why they cannot and must not be taken literally now or in the future. They have to be explicitly rejected, and a non-literalist Islam constructed.
But also because of the mainstream character of literalism within Islam, this will be very, very difficult.
“Morocco: Government Omits Koranic Verse From Textbooks,” from AKI, with thanks to Sr. Soph:
Rabat, 5 Oct. (AKI) – The Moroccan education ministry has decided to scrap a Koranic verse from textbooks on Islamic education, along with a hadith – traditions relating to the words of the Prophet Mohammed important to determine the Muslim way of life – and the photo of a hijab-clad girl, the Dubai-based DPM news agency reported on Thursday. Education minister Al-Habib Al-Maliki reportedly told the Moroccan parliament the move was aimed at preventing the rise of fundamentalism among youths.
The Koranic omitted verse reads: “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent and to draw their veils over their bosoms…”
The scrapped hadith quoted the Prophet as cursing men and women who crossed-dressed, DPM said.
The decision to remove the picture of the hijab-clad young woman reportedly followed strong pressure from women’s rights groups.
Morocco approved in 2004 one of the most progressive laws on women’s and family rights in the Arab world.
It has also started promoting changes to school curricula – reportedly scrapping references to ‘jihad’ in Islamic textbooks, among other things – following the 9/11 attacks on the US, DPM says.