Saudi society
Outsiders perceive Saudi society as conservative - Reuters Reuters

Saudi Arabia has decided to introduce the concept of jihad at the intermediate school level in order to teach Islamic principles and duties to young students in the kingdom.

The ministry of education hopes the proposal will be widely welcomed by parents and educationists in the kingdom.

The ministry says the plan is to instil the "correct concept of jihad" in students.

"Textbooks will include all relevant information on jihad including a definition when it becomes a duty, and the role of women. The information on jihad was developed by the ministry's curriculum development project for intermediate-grade fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) textbooks," spokesperson of the education ministry Abdullah al-Dukhaini told Arab News.

The spokesperson said that the education will facilitate students in understanding Islam and help them play their "role" in society.

The curriculum will be produced by extracting ideas from various sources. Experts from a range of fields will be involved in preparing the course material.

"Saudi curriculum is prepared by experts who have specialised knowledge and is reviewed by a Shariah committee from the board of senior scholars, universities and specialised colleges," added al-Dukhani.

Speaking about the aggression related to jihad, the spokesperson said: "Saudi Arabia is not an aggressive country and will only get involved in conflict to defend itself."

He said that only the ruler has the right to "raise the banner of jihad" and not individuals or Muslim groups.

The perception outside the country is that oil-rich Saudi Arabia is conservative. It is officially illegal for women to drive a vehicle in the country. Saudi officials had recently introduced a system of SMS alerts to bar women from leaving the kingdom without their partners' consent.