Downplaying Jihad in Jordan’s Educational Curriculum, 2013- 2017

Kirk Sowell


The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is often thought of as a relatively liberal Muslim country - the quintessential “moderate Arab Muslim ally”. However, Jordan has paradoxically made a disproportionate contribution to the phenomenon of modern Islamist terrorism, both in terms of leading figures and foot soldiers. On a per capita basis, Jordan has made a very strong contribution to terrorist groups such as al-Qaida and Islamic State. Jordan is also a country which from its foundation has had a weak sense of identity. This article takes as its premise that Jordan’s own heavily Islamic, quasi-jihadist education system has aggravated the identity problem, making Jordan more vulnerable to recruitment. It examines three versions of the core curriculum Islamic studies textbook used in universities to both provide a baseline for how Islam is conceived and show that Jordanian authorities recognised that this was a problem. The textbook used up to 2014-2015 set forth a classical Islamic view of the role of the state and jihad as a means of expanding Islamic rule, a view much closer to the world view of al-Qaida than the modern Jordanian state. A new 2015-2016 edition made substantial changes, de-emphasizing jihadist-friendly teachings. A 2017-2018 edition has completed the transformation, finally bringing the university Islamic curriculum in line with the “tolerant, moderate” vision Jordan’s leaders espouse.

Full Text: PDF HTML

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.


Perspectives on Terrorism is  a journal of the Terrorism Research Initiative and the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies

ISSN  2334-3745 (Online)

Disclaimer, Terms and Conditions