Islamic Education in Syria: Undoing Secularism

Joshua M. Landis *)

*) Penulis adalah Assistant Professor of History and School for International and Area Studies di University of Oklahoma, e-mail: Artikel ini disajikan dalam Seminar “Constructs of Inclusion and Exclusion: Religion
and Identity Formation in Middle Eastern School Curricula” di Watson Institute for International Studies Brown University, November 2003.


Pendidikan Islam di Syiria adalah bagian dari strategi besar negara tersebut menuju nation-building. Sejalan dengan kebijakan pemerintah untuk mengeliminasi semua perbedaan di antara bangsa Syiria, pengajaran Islam di
sekolah menanamkan ajaran Islam Sunni kepada semua muslim Syiria tanpa memandang suku. Namun, kurikulum agama ini berkebalikan dengan agenda pemerintah menuju sekularisme. Kurikulum agama Islam mengajarkan
ketidaksetaraan di antara bangsa Syiria yang beragama Islam dan non-Islam. Ketidaksetaraan ini, yang menyebabkan perlakuan yang berbeda terhadap non-muslim, menjadikan mereka merasa tidak nyaman, dan pada akhirnya
gelombang imigrasi ke negara lain pun terus terjadi.

Kata Kunci: Pendidikan Islam, sekularisme, non-muslim.

Islamic Education in Syria: Undoing Secularism1

Islamic education in Syrian schools is traditional, rigid, and Sunni. The Ministry of Education makes no attempt to inculcate notions of tolerance or respect for religious traditions other than Sunni Islam. Christianity is the one exception to this rule. Indeed, all religious groups other than Christians
are seen to be enemies of Islam, who must be converted or fought against. The Syrian government teaches school children that over half of the world’s six billion inhabitants will go to hell and must be actively fought by Muslims. Jews have their own status. The Jewish religion – the Torah and the Jewish prophets – are considered divine – but the Jewish people, who, it is claimed, deny their prophets, are fated to go to hell and must be eliminated.

At first view, one might expect Syria to promote a liberal and tolerant view of religious difference in its religion curriculum. The reasons for this are many. Syria has been ruled by leaders belonging to a religious minority, the Muslim Alawi sect, for 40 years and is home to many religious minorities both Christian and Muslim. It plays a commanding role in the politics of Lebanon, a
country in which no more than 20% of the population is Sunni Muslim. Most importantly, Syria has been good to its minorities, who enjoy greater security and opportunity than in any other Arab country. Nevertheless, Syria has chosen not to follow a path of religious liberalism. Instead, it has pursued an integralist policy of nation-building for the last 40 years under the Ba‘th Party. The Asads have struggled to be good Sunnis, not to make Sunnis into good liberals.

Read more: 12-Islamic Education in Syria – joshua m landis


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