Rethinking Islamic Education in Facing the Challenges of the Twenty-first Century (2005)*

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Rosnani Hashim



The Muslim ummah, as a world community, faces many challenges at the threshold of the new century. The fateful event of 9/11 has revealed yet another facet of the problems plaguing Muslim society: the existence of radical, or what some media have labeled “militant,” Muslim groups. Despite the Muslim world’s condemnation of the 9/11 terrorist attack, the United States considered itself the victim and thus launched its “war against terrorism” against the alleged perpetrators: the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Iraq, which was alleged to be building weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and assisting al-Qaeda, became the second target. Iran would have become the immediate third target if the international community had supported the Bush administration’s unilateral declaration of war against Iraq. But it did not, for the allegations could not be proven.

*This article was first published in the American Journal of Islamic Societies 22, no. 4 (2005): 133-145

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1 For more details on this, see Rosnani Hashim, “American Images of Islam and
Muslims, September 11, 2001, and Their Impact on Muslim Society,” in L. Hein and
D. Yui (eds.), Crossed Memories: Perspectives on 9/11 and American Power (Tokyo:
CPAS, The University of Tokyo, 2003), 30-53.
2 All thirteen men in the first group of suspected Kumpulan Militan Malaysia members
detained under the Internal Security Act between December 9, 2001, and
January 3, 2002, have been sent to the Kamunting detention center for two years.
See The New Straits Times, 15 March 2002.
3 See International Crisis Group, “Pakistan: Madrasas, Extremism, and the Military,”
ICG Asia Report, no. 36 (Islamabad/Brussels), 29 July 2002.
4 For changes in school textbooks in the Middle East, see “Sweeping Reforms in
Qatari Schools,” Star, 9 March 2003. Qatari leaders have warned of an American-led
campaign to rewrite textbooks, change time-honored teaching methods, and cut
back on the amount of religion in the curriculum.
5 Ibid.
6 See S. Jayasankaran, “A Plan To End Extremism,” in Far Eastern Economic Review,
26 December 2002 2 January 2003.
7 See “SAR UMNO Tidak Dikecuali [UMNO’s SAR Is No Exception],” Utusan Malaysia,
14 February 2003.
8 “Students Taught To Hate Other Muslims,” New Straits Times, 14 February 2003.
9 The New Straits Times, 15 August 2002.
10 Ibid.
11 Interview with Karen Armstrong in July 2002, published in Al-Ahram, no. 593, Cairo.
12 Anna Kuchment and Sam Seibert, “School by the Book,” Newsweek International, 11
March 2002.
13 Ibid.