UK religious studies textbooks and the notion of Jihad: an analysis using the works of Ibn Taymiyyah

Hussain, Nouman (2023) UK religious studies textbooks and the notion of Jihad: an analysis using the works of Ibn Taymiyyah. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis explored the potential influence of Ibn Taymiyyah’s educational methodology on radicalisation and/or de-radicalisation issues and how his literature could be used to educate youth on the dangers of misunderstanding Jihad and terrorism using the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GSCE) Religious Education curriculum. In 2014, the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an offshoot of al-Qaeda, introduced a new level of threat to society; hence, concern surrounding radicalisation through education within the Muslim community is rife. Governments and think tanks have failed to find a robust and long-term solution to the problem. Potential solutions, such as Prevent, do little to detect extremism and can even drive the Muslim community into further alienation.

Many academics have come to identify the medieval Muslim scholar, Ahmed Ibn Abdul Haleem Ibn Taymiyyah (1263 – 1328CE), as a principal source for the radical ideas that are embedded in ISIS’s ideology, asserting that his educational literature promotes acts of terrorism. Others, however, refute the claim, arguing that he has been grossly misunderstood, if not intentionally misquoted, by some terrorist advocates and organisations. No one has attempted to critically deconstruct the educational philosophy of Ibn Taymiyyah, all the while comparing it to the propaganda literature of prominent Muslim terrorists, referred to herein as the Khawarij, in order to assess these claims. Research has also shown that terrorist propaganda often focusses on luring youth as they are impressionable and, in general, lack sufficient knowledge to withstand the propaganda. Hence, in this thesis, Ibn Taymiyyah’s literature, especially directed at the topic of Jihad and related topics, was firstly explored using a theological and historical lens. It was then compared with the literature of pertinent Muslim terrorists in order to assess whether his literature is at the root of the problem of extremism and radicalisation.

This study established that Ibn Taymiyyah proffered a holistic view of Jihad that expounded on the different intentions, types and conditions which vastly contrasted with the Khawarij understanding of Jihad . It has also been made apparent that his works have been grossly misquoted and much of what he taught about the conditions and other important elements of Jihad have been ignored when terrorists refer to his work. Further to this, the topic of Jihad in GCSE Religious Studies textbooks used in England was investigated using content analysis to ascertain what is being taught. This research concluded that content within the Religious Studies textbooks regarding the definition and objectives of Jihad is inadequate and in fact might even exacerbate problems related to a proper understanding of Jihad . Students could be left with an ambiguous concept of Jihad that not only fuels Islamophobia but, even more detrimentally, has potential to fuel radicalisation in students prone to such ideologies. It is recommended that each examination board needs to re-examine these textbooks and work to improve them in order to produce ones with accurate information based on theological and historical evidence. Authors need to reassess the way they approach the topic and the examination boards can use Ibn Taymiyyah’s arguments, presented in his literature on Jihad , to provide a more accurate and holistic understanding of Jihad.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
L Education > LC Special aspects of education
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: McKinney, Professor Stephen and Lovat, Professor Terence
Date of Award: 2023
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2023-83928
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2023 16:42
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2023 16:44

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