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Education in the Arabian Peninsula during the first half of the Twentieth Century

The Transformation of Education in the Hijaz, 1925–1945

William Ochsenwald

Résumés

Centré sur le développement de l'enseignement public et privé dans les centres urbains du Hedjaz au cours des vingt premières années de contrôle saoudien, cet article fait le point sur les relations entre enseignants et administrateurs, les activités des écoles privées, les croisements entre enseignement religieux et séculier, les réformes et l'expansion de l'enseignement pour les garçons. La Première Guerre mondiale et le régime hachémite, les ressources économiques et humaines limitées, la diversité linguistique des élèves, l'impact de la Dépression et celui de la Seconde Guerre mondiale ont mis le développement de l’enseignement à l’épreuve. Malgré ces problèmes, le Hedjaz saoudien a connu des développements notables en ce qui concerne les matières enseignées (notamment les langues étrangères), la formation des enseignants, l'administration et le financement du secteur. Les changements ont impliqué la mise en relation avec le système éducatif égyptien, mais l'Arabie saoudite a conservé son indépendance en matière de politique éducative.

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Introduction1

  • 1 An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, Unive (...)

1While most histories of education in the Arab world assume that the basic model for comparison should be the educational experiences of Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, a more nuanced examination of education in the Arab world would expand these geographic horizons to include other Arab countries, in particular Saudi Arabia. This adds the experience of an independent Arab and Muslim state to those Middle Eastern countries that in the 1920s and 1930s were controlled or dominated by the West.

  • 2 The use of the term Wahhabi, after the Hanbali religious reformer Muḥammad b. ‛Abd al-Wahhāb, was (...)

2Most studies of Saudi history during the reign of King ʽAbd al‑ʽAzīz have concentrated on the Najd region of central Arabia, the original home of the Saudi dynasty and the Wahhabi2 religious movement, while emphasizing the personal role of the king in bringing about dramatic changes. By mobilizing recent historiography and little‑known Arabic‑language publications, this article seeks alternative approaches, designed first to re‑center attention from Najd to the western coastal region of the Hijaz, the home of the two holy cities of Mecca and Medina, an area whose experiences became crucial to the subsequent formation of Saudi education. The article also draws attention to the under‑appreciated contributions of the private sector, which provided a crucial supplement to government schools in the pre‑oil era, a role that private schools are fulfilling once again in the 21st century. In the process of sketching a general picture of Saudi education in the Hijaz from 1925 to 1945, the article also points to the conflicted interaction between the teaching of religion and of secular subjects, as well as the complex relationship between the Hijazis, Najdis, and foreign Muslims who comprised the teaching staff and education administrators.

3This article will establish a historical record of numerous changes in Saudi education even before the advent of the enormous revenues from oil. From the beginning of Saudi rule in 1925 to the end of World War II in 1945 the Hijaz, and particularly its major cities of Mecca, Medina, and Jeddah, experienced twenty years full of alterations. Substantial educational reforms took place despite limited financial resources, social and religious resistance, the varied cultural and linguistic backgrounds of the population, and the priority given by the new Saudi administration to consolidating its power at the expense of all other projects.

4For the most part the Saudi regime rejected Western concepts of secularism, nationalism, and education for women, as well as many established Hijazi educational practices. Instead, the government heavily emphasized Wahhabi and Salafī religious values in education. Saudi education was deeply affected by the complex intermixture of Hijazis, Najdis, and settled foreign Muslims, both Arabs and non‑Arabs, who collectively created an unusual and diverse educational zone.

  • 3 Determann, 2014. Hijaz, as a part of the Egyptian Eyalet, was under Ottoman domination between 151 (...)

5An analytical framework will be employed that allows the early 20th‑century Saudi Hijaz to be compared easily to the region’s earlier and later history. In this sense the article follows Jőrg Matthias Determann’s analysis of local Saudi historians who, from the 1920s to the 1970s, emphasized perennialism, that is, the fact that regions such as the Hijaz had existed long before the Saudis, having been ruled by the Ottoman Empire for centuries and then the independent but short‑lived Hashemite kingdom.3 It is therefore important to examine briefly the pre‑Saudi educational experience before turning to the period between 1925 and 1945.

Education before the Saudi Conquest 4

  • 4 For a lively view of education in the Hijaz just before the Saudi period see Bogary, 1991, and Sub (...)
  • 5 Maghribī, 1402/1982, p. 123–128; Shalabī, 1987, p. 85–86. For a detailed discussion of Kairanwi, s (...)

6Before the advent of Saudi rule in 1925 the two Hijazi groups most interested in education were male pilgrims from abroad who stayed after the conclusion of the hajj to study in Mecca and Medina, and merchants engaged in international commerce. Study groups (ḥalaqāt) in the two Ḥarams were supplemented by Sufi study circles and by religious schools such as the Ṣawlatīyya in Mecca, that had been set up by Raḥmatullāh Kairanwi, an Indian cleric, in 1874, al‑Fakhrīyya school, founded in 1879 which was dependent on donations from India, and the ‘Ulūm al‑Shar‘īyya madrasa in Medina.5

  • 6 Maghribī, 1402/1982, p. 128–130.
  • 7 Dohaish, 1978, 129; Farquhar, 2017, p. 38–40.
  • 8 Freitag, 2015, passim.

7Indigenous Hijazis, especially nomads, villagers, and people living in small towns, usually had minimal interest in formal education. Informal education featuring on‑the‑job training involved learning from families and was widespread. However, a need for literacy in Arabic was greater than one might find in other parts of the Arabian Peninsula because of the importance of dealing with pilgrims on the hajj. Some foreign pilgrims, government officials, and pilgrim guides could use other languages in addition to Arabic. However, few Hijazis knew English or French, which were the primary international languages6 after the end of Ottoman rule in 1916 (1919 in Medina) but they could use Ottoman Turkish in their interaction with Ottoman officials. Even though many urbanites closely followed news likely to affect the visits of foreign pilgrims, it seems that there was little interest in the secular culture of the rest of the world. Nevertheless, some private schools had been established in late Ottoman times as modified kuttābs,7 and in 1905 the Ottoman authorities even licensed a private school in Jeddah, al‑Falāḥ madrasa, which established a branch in Mecca in 1911.8

8Literacy was not necessarily a prerequisite for education, since oral transmission of knowledge, including such skills as the memorization of the Qur’an and the reciting of poetry, were valued. However, literacy became even more desirable after the end of Ottoman control because of an increased need for both locally‑trained state administrators to work for the government of the Kingdom of the Hijaz and internationally‑oriented businessmen.

  • 9 Ochsenwald, 1984, p. 17; Dohaish, 1978, p. 12; Duguet, 1932, p. 72, 104.

9Toward the end of the independent Hashemite kingdom in the mid‑1920s the target audience for education, i.e., the school‑age male population in the three largest towns in the Hijaz, was quite small. The total population of the Hijaz was perhaps 600,000, including nomads but not foreign hajîs who were just visiting temporarily. Mecca probably numbered between 60,000 and 80,000 persons. Medina and Jeddah each had a population of less than 30,000.9 The school‑age male population of the three cities was perhaps around 20,000. Of these, non‑native speakers of Arabic, especially Javanese and Indians, comprised an unknown but substantial part.

  • 10 Al-‛Uthaymīn, 1419/1998, p. 326; Ahmed, 2015, p. 106–107.
  • 11 Al-Anṣārī, 1414/1993, p. 350–352; Dohaish, 1978, p. 203–261; ‘Abdallāh, 1402/1982, p. 78–80.
  • 12 Farquhar, 2017, p. 41–42.

10Education in the Hashemite period from 1916 to 1925 was poorly funded by the government and therefore depended largely upon the generosity of private individuals, groups, and waqfs (charitable endowments).10 Most elementary private schools continued as before, when the Hijaz was part of the Ottoman Empire, while new state schools were built and organized, using traditionally‑trained local teachers and some educators brought in from Syria.11 Reforms to teaching methods in the Meccan Ḥaram that had been decreed by the Sharīf Ḥusayn b. ‘Alī in 1913 continued in effect.12 However, the poverty of the Hijaz, the tumultuous relationship between Ḥusayn and Great Britain, the growing conflict between the Hashemites and the Saudis, and the multiple problems associated with securing the hajj may have all led to a relative neglect of education and other categories of civil administration expenditure before Saudis conquered the Hijaz.

The New Educational Order of the Saudi Hijaz

  • 13 Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 136.

11The new rulers noted that the Hijaz lacked many of the prerequisites for a successful formal education system. Education was hindered by the need to recover from the negative consequences of World War I, the many problems arising from the Hashemite regime of 1916–1925, the difficulty of adjusting to the new Saudi ruling system, and general illiteracy. Most important of all was a shortage of money for government schools or to provide subsidies to private schools. Government spending on education in 1925–1926 was about £5,700 or 56,650 Saudi riyals.13 In 1927 national spending on education was only about 2 per cent of total revenue. Expenditures for education in the late 1920s increased substantially, but in the 1930s spending on education decreased as the world‑wide Great Depression severely reduced revenue from pilgrims. In 1938 total state revenues were only about £1.3 million and the government was desperately short of money. New funds from oil exploration and production in eastern Saudi Arabia briefly helped government income before the advent of World War II decreased both oil revenues and income from the pilgrimage. However, during the World War II era foreign aid compensated for this by boosting government income.

  • 14 Ochsenwald, 2009, p. 75–89.

12Nevertheless, formal education for youths was espoused by the new ruler, King ‘Abd al‑‘Azīz, who had established Saudi and Wahhabi control of the Hijaz.14 He dominated a centralized provincial administration and usually made the major decisions, including those affecting education ‑ although his direct role in this domain was fairly limited.

  • 15 Ahmed, 2015, p. 173.
  • 16 Steinberg, 2002, p. 279; Umm al-Qurā (hereafter UQ) Number 97, 22 October 1926, p. 1; Al-Salmān, 1 (...)

13On 15 March 1926, the Mudīrīyyat al‑Ma‛ārif al‑‛Umūmīyya (General Directorate of Education) was established in Mecca by royal order. In August 1926, the general administrative rules for the Saudi Kingdom of the Hijaz included regulations for this directorate, which was to be responsible for educational matters (except for military training). A Ma‘had al‑‘Ilmī al‑Sa‘ūdī (first called al‑Ma‘had al‑Islāmī al‑Sa‘ūdī, the Saudi Islamic Institute) was also created to train the school teachers. From then on, students numbered between 40 and 45 per year and were drawn from both the Hijaz and Najd, and some students received generous stipends from the state.15 In October, the king ordered the creation of a hay‛a ‘ilmīyya (religious knowledge organization) with its headquarters in Mecca to supervise teaching, select instructors, and oversee the choice of texts in the Grand Mosque (Ḥaram) of Mecca. This organization was chaired by the then chief Qāḍī, ‘Abdallāh b. Bulayhid (1867–1940); its members consisted of the Director of General Education, the director of the Ma‘had al‑‘Ilmī al‑Sa‘ūdī, the director of the private al‑Falāḥ madrasa, and the deputy chief Qāḍī.16

  • 17 Shalabī, 1987, p. 278, 281.
  • 18 Steinberg, 2002, p. 290.

14In late July 1927, the king issued a decree establishing a Majlis al‑Ma‛ārif (Council of Education) to regulate education and to advise the director of education, who was its chairman. A decade later, a new set of administrative rules issued in March 1938 made it clear that the directorate was in charge of all aspects of civilian education in all parts of the now‑unified Saudi Kingdom.17 The directors of education supervised all government and private schools. Hijazi personnel remained dominant in the local administration until at least 1945, but curricula and education in general were also to a degree under the supervision of the religious judiciary.18

  • 19 Ibid, p. 291; Shalabī, 1987, p. 135; Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 47.
  • 20 Al-Anṣārī, 1414/1993, p. 420.
  • 21 Ibid., p. 422. Al-Salmān, 1419/1999, p. 41, gives slightly different numbers for Medina kuttābs.
  • 22 Al-Rasheed, 2010, p. 95; Shalabī, 1987, p. 137; Freitag, 2015, for a thorough discussion of the al (...)
  • 23 Shalabī, 1987, p. 137; Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 89, lists secondary madrasas, including their locati (...)

15The directorate or mudīrīyya witnessed expanding enrollments, though starting from a low base. In Saudi Arabia in 1926 there were only ten madrasas plus four private schools with about 700 students.19 In 1930 the director of the ibtidā`īyya (primary) madrasa in Medina reported to the director of education in Mecca that there were only nine kuttābs in all of Medina: three government and six private ones. The three government kuttābs were inside the Prophet’s Mosque and two of the private ones were near the Prophet’s Mosque. In all nine kuttābs there were a total of 389 students, with 225 students in the government kuttābs.20 By 1937–38 there were still only nine kuttābs in Medina but their enrollment had increased modestly to 434 students.21 Graduates of the kuttābs who continued their education after graduation either studied in a madrasa or with a cleric in the Prophet’s Mosque. As of 1936, the number of schools had grown: there were in the entire kingdom 26 state schools (plus one new school that opened in Mecca that year) and 22 non‑government schools; the largest enrollment among all these 49 schools was the al‑Falāḥ non‑government school in Mecca with about 800 students.22 All the madrasas and other government schools together enrolled around 4300 students in 1936.23

  • 24 Trial and Winder, 1950, p. 125; Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 47.

16The madrasas were concentrated in the chief cities: Mecca contained six madrasas – all named after members of the Saudi royal family; three or four were in Medina; and two were in Jeddah. Smaller towns such as Wajh or Rābigh had one madrasa each, as did some towns in ‘Asīr. New schools outside the Hijaz were constructed from 1936 through 1941, though such construction came to a halt from 1942 until 1944. Increasing oil revenues enabled construction to resume in 1945. As of 1945 there were about 57 government elementary schools and 10 private elementary schools in all of Saudi Arabia. All 10 private schools and most government elementary schools were located in the Hijaz, as were all of the secondary schools.24

  • 25 Shalabī, 1987, p. 152–153; Bārūm, 1419/1999, p. 360. Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 64 says secondary madr (...)

17There were more lower level schools than upper level ones. In the elementary school (kuttāb) students would memorize and recite the Qur’an, gain knowledge of the basic principles of religion, and learn to read. Government introductory schools consisted of two types: (1) the taḥḍīrīyya (preparatory level) which lasted three years and took students at the age of six or even as early as five years old, and (2) the ibtidāī (primary level), which lasted four years. However, in 1938–1939 the two levels were limited to six years total rather than seven and then merged, first under the name of amīrīyya schools, and then in 1942, they became known as ibtidā’īyya. Secondary education lasted five or six years.25 Government schools with a set curriculum thus provided a full range of educational opportunity for young Hijazi males.

The Recruitment of Arab Foreigners as Teachers and Experts

18The need for qualified educators was urgent when the Ma‘had al‑Islāmī (and then the Ma‘had al‑‘Ilmī) was created, but how to train them on a large scale, and especially in secular curricula? The Saudi government had no choice but to look for expert educators outside the country, namely in Syria and Egypt.

  • 26 Dohaish, 1978, p. 204; Shalabī, 1987, p. 284.

19The directors of education, who were in this period almost all from outside Najd, also had had in many cases substantial experiences beyond the Arabian Peninsula. The first mudīr or director of education was the Hijazi Ṣāliḥ b. Bakr Shaṭṭā (b. 1884 or 1885), a teacher in the Meccan Ḥaram and a prominent official. He was soon succeeded, in January 1926, by the more influential Muḥammad Kāmil al‑Qaṣṣāb (also referred to as Kāmil Aḥmad al‑Qaṣṣāb), a Syrian born in Damascus in 1873. He had been a supporter of the Hashemite rebellion of 1916 against the Ottomans and was assistant deputy minister of education under King Ḥusayn. After Qaṣṣāb fled French‑controlled Syria he returned to Mecca, where he secured a position with the new Saudi regime despite his earlier political sympathies.26

  • 27 A teachers’ training college had been founded in Medina by the Ottomans in 1909, but it had very f (...)
  • 28 Farquhar, 2017, p.52, suggests that students and their families strongly rejected the Wahhabi goal (...)
  • 29 In the 1950s religious high schools with this name were founded in Saudi Arabia based on an Egypti (...)
  • 30 Diplomatic relations were cut after the June 1926 attack by the tribal Ikhwan on the Egyptian Maḥm (...)
  • 31 Farquhar, 2017, p. 53, 56; Steinberg, 2002, p. 290; Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 66–69, 77.

20As for the Ma‘had al‑‘Ilmī al‑Sa‘ūdī, it was first directed by the Syrian reformist `ālim Muḥammad Bahjat al‑Biṭār (d. 1976). Biṭār had hired 40 Syrian teachers who had graduated from the teacher training school there, and had appealed for teachers from Egypt and Syria to come to Mecca to constitute the faculty.27 But as they were to use a curriculum that included both religious and modern secular subjects, the foreigners aroused opposition from the Wahhabi ulama, who encouraged families to boycott the school. The boycott was so successful that the Ma‘had al‑Islāmī closed after just one academic year,28 and many of the foreign teachers were fired. It was, though, reopened in 1928 and renamed the Ma‘had al‑‘Ilmī al‑Sa‘ūdī.29 Staff included Hijazis and Najdis, but also teachers from Syria, Morocco, Ethiopia, West Africa, India, and of course Egypt. The Egyptian Ḥasan al‑Bannā, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, was a teacher and was invited in 1928 to come to the Ma‘had, but ultimately did not do so. Diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Egypt were suspended between 1926 and 193630 but, after their restoration, many teachers came once more from Egypt.31

  • 32 Farquhar, 2017, p. 49–50 briefly discusses the various directors of education; also see Duhaysh, 1 (...)

21Perhaps as part of a general firing of Syrians, Qaṣṣāb was dismissed by the King after serving only one year as director of education. The Meccan Mājid al‑Kurdī (1877–1931), founder of the Mājidiyya Press in 1909, then served briefly as director of education, and in mid‑1928 the Egyptian‑born Ḥāfiẓ Wahba added the directorate of education to his other duties, though his deputy Muḥammad Amīn Fūda assumed much of the responsibility for managing the directorate. Fūda, a Meccan who had taught in several schools and, as the deputy chief qadi, had been a member of the hay`a `ilmīyya, became director of education in his own right in 1930, holding that post for about three years, when he was transferred to the judiciary. Ibrāhīm al‑Shūrā (b. 1904) an Egyptian graduate of the Dār al‑`Ulūm and a former director of the Ma‘had al‑‘Ilmī al‑Sa‘ūdī, then became the director of education. He was succeeded in early 1936 by Muḥammad Ṭāhir al‑Dabbāgh, who held that position until 1945.32

  • 33 Ochsenwald, 2009, p. 81.
  • 34 Shalabī, 1987, p. 287–288; Trial and Winder, 1950, p. 132. Farquhar, 2017, p. 49, points out that (...)

22Dabbāgh (born in 1890 or 1891, died in Cairo 1959) had studied in Alexandria, Egypt, and in the Meccan Ḥaram. He taught at the Ḥaram as well as at the al‑Falāḥ private madrasa. After the Saudi conquest and because of his service in the Hashemite administration and involvement in anti‑Saudi conspiracies, he fled to Egypt.33 He then moved on to Java where he directed a school. He returned to Saudi Arabia in 1935. He was the author of several school textbooks and favored the establishment of a Boy Scout program linked to the school system.34 Dabbāgh began important program initiatives and the construction of new schools.

Religion in Higher Education

  • 35 For example, Muḥammad Naṣīf (1885–1971): see Freitag, 2017, p. 295–301.

23In 1925 there was no form of higher education in the Hijaz other than religion‑based education. From the beginning of Saudi rule a few Wahhabi ‘ulama‑s were named to educational posts in the Hijaz, and basic Wahhabi principles had to be taught there. Although there were some prominent Hijazis and resident foreigners who were already inclined toward Wahhabism,35 in order to spread Wahhabi religious practices widely in the Hijaz, control of teaching in the Meccan and Medinan Ḥarams seems to have been crucial.

  • 36 Steinberg, 2002, p. 280; Commins, 2006, p. 93–94; Mouline, 2011, p. 154; Al-Salmān, 1419/1999, p.  (...)
  • 37 Steinberg, 2002, p. 566–567.

24In mid‑1927 the new chief Qāḍī of the Hijaz, ‘Abdallāh b. Ḥasan Āl al‑Shaykh (1870–1959), was named director of education for both the Mecca and Medina Grand Mosques. He recommended to the king persons to be appointed as imams and instructors, and oversaw the curriculum and the selection of reading materials in associated schools. He also banned home schooling and tried to purge Sufis and other non‑Wahhabis from teaching in the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina.36 The government’s Directorate of Education paid salaries to the instructors at the Grand Mosques and subventions to students, but all other supervision was in the hands of the ulama. After Wahhabi belief became mandatory for all teachers in all venues in October 1926, many non‑Wahhabi ulama taught at home, even though this practice was officially forbidden.37

  • 38 Al-Salmān, 1419/1999, p. 65; Shalabī, 1987, p. 134, 143; ‘Abdallāh, 1402/1982, p. 42–43; Duhaysh, (...)

25The curriculum mandated in 1925–1926 for the Ḥaram consisted of tawḥīd, opposing innovation, tafsīr, hadith, fiqh (taught according to the four Islamic schools), sermons, and guidance. Also, in 1926 the new regime outlined its basic principles of education, including the value of propagating knowledge of the chief elements of the Islamic faith through the teaching of fiqh, the Arabic language, tawḥīd, and related subjects.38

  • 39 Shalabī, 1987, p. 144–145; Willis, 2017, p. 359; Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 96.

26Religious education sometimes had practical as well as theological consequences. A royal decree in 1928 established a special training program for guides (muṭawwafūn) in the Meccan Ḥaram, after pilgrims complained about their ignorance. The one year of study included guidebooks and the basic principles of the faith. A certificate of completion of this program was to be a prerequisite for employment as guides.39

Curriculum, Religion, and Teaching Methods

  • 40 UQ, 10 September 1926, page 1; see also Shalabī, 1987, p. 151 and Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 32.
  • 41 Trial and Winder, 1950, p. 121–133.

27One of the major issues facing educators in the Saudi Hijaz was the inclusion of secular subjects in a classroom curriculum that was overwhelmingly tilted toward religion. This could be seen in the first curricular program outlined in 1926, which called for an emphasis on religious subjects and the formation of personal character, though it also suggested inculcating an Arab spirit and a national (waṭanī) orientation.40 Twenty years later, the program of study for 1947–1948 still maintained the preponderance of religion. The curriculum called for a course of study with thirty‑four hours per week of instruction, and about 80 per cent of the time was devoted to religion and Arabic language.41 Despite this seeming continuity, several alterations in curriculum were in fact made in the intervening years.

  • 42 Shalabī, 1987, p. 103–104, 151–152; Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 49.
  • 43 Jarman, 1990, vol. 2, p. 411–412; E 6016/367/91 Norman Mayers (Jeddah) to Austen Chamberlain, 3 Oc (...)

28As early as 1929, only three years after the first curricular program, a royal decree had added a mandate for teaching some secular subjects. New regulations for government schools added to the study of religion, Arabic language, handwriting, and arithmetic, the subjects of foreign language(s), foreign handwriting, geometry, drawing, geography, and Islamic history,42 with rigid requirements for the length of each lesson and the intervals between them. An example of the curriculum in practice was the program of study in the elementary school in Jeddah, re‑opened in 1926. Courses included Qur’an, hadith, writing, reading, and arithmetic; in the upper classes, there were three lessons per week for the English language, which merchant families were eager to have taught.43

  • 44 Steinberg, 2002, p. 291; Shalabī, 1987, p. 151–152.
  • 45 Steinberg, 2002, p. 291–292; Mouline, 2011, p. 156; Al-Yassini, 1985, p. 50; Wahba, 1964, p. 49–52 (...)
  • 46 Steinberg, 2002, p. 293. Doumato, 2000, p. 82, points out that the shortage of funds was another f (...)

29Wahhabi ulama were suspicious of the introduction of secular subjects and foreign languages into the curriculum.44 In June 1930 ulama protested to the director of education Ḥāfiẓ Wahba about the curriculum. They issued a fatwa opposed to teaching the idea of the rotation of the earth, technical drawing, geography, and foreign languages, claiming that such subjects would weaken religion. The King and Wahba rebuked their protest, saying that Islam favored knowledge, not ignorance.45 However, the Hijaz government created a de facto compromise: the ulama exerted some control over the curriculum, but modern sciences were also taught.46

  • 47 Shalabī, 1987, pp.106, 152, 153. For instance, English language lessons took only 12 per cent of t (...)
  • 48 See Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 50, 56 for a detailed list of subjects and the number of periods devote (...)
  • 49 Cobbold, 1934, p. 103; UQ, 860, 13 June 1941, p. 2; Van der Meulen, 1957, p. 113.

30Among the secular subjects, the teaching of foreign languages posed grave difficulties. Initially it was difficult to find enough qualified teachers of foreign languages. Still another curricular problem, especially salient in Mecca, was the diversity in languages spoken at home – many families viewed Arabic itself as a ‘foreign’ language. Perhaps for all these reasons, in 1930–1931 the curriculum was modified, so that very young students would no longer be required to study drawing, geography, and history; instead, they were to concentrate on religion, Arabic language, and, to a much lesser extent, arithmetic. The original other subjects, including English language study, were still required for older students, though considerably more time was still devoted to religion and Arabic language than to other topics.47 Subsequent changes to the curriculum retained the primacy of religion and Arabic language.48 The nature of this compromise was seen in the early 1930s in Medina, where young schoolboys studied the Qur’an and sharia; English language lessons were reserved for older students in the higher grades. School teachers hired in 1941 to work in Abhā were expected to teach Qur’an, basics of Islam, arithmetic, and calligraphy. While this division of curricular subjects was acceptable to the ulama they may be presumed to have been unhappy with the imported textbooks from Egypt used in the Hijaz that said the earth was round.49

  • 50 Farquhar, 2017, p. 59–61.
  • 51 See Dahlan, 2016, p. 89–95.

31While the curriculum studied was certainly pedagogically important, perhaps even more crucial for both government and private schools were methods of teaching and discipline. Rote memorization was the key method used in classes, even at the advanced level. However, the Ma‘had al‑‘Ilmī al‑Sa‘ūdī in the 1930s changed its methods of teaching prospective teachers so as to encourage them to rely very little on memorization and instead to encourage students to undertake analysis, understanding, and extrapolation from known techniques.50 However, the degree to which this new approach was actually implemented is unclear. Most teachers enforced extremely strict discipline, including corporal punishment. A heartfelt plea against repression and treating children like animals was voiced in 1940 by a Saudi educational reformer.51

  • 52 Suba’i, 2009, p. 61–63.

32Only after a student passed examinations in a subject could he proceed onward to the next level of study. In all subjects except mathematics and calligraphy, final examinations were administered orally rather than in written form.52

33Schools opened six days a week, with a holiday on Fridays. There was no extended vacation despite the extreme heat of the summer in the Hijaz. There was no recess during the day, even though young students were often restless. However, schools had lengthy vacations during the fasting lunar month of Ramadan and particularly during the month of the pilgrimage. Individualized instruction was not easily possible. Boredom was endemic among students.

  • 53 Trial and Winder, 1950, p. 131; Farquhar, 2017, p. 57–58.
  • 54 Farquhar, 2017, p. 58–64.
  • 55 Ibid., p. 63–64.

34In the early 1930s student teachers of the Ma‘had al‑‘Ilmī al‑Sa‘ūdī (training school) studied chiefly religion but also some secular subjects including geography, English, natural sciences, and pedagogy. By 1945 the program of study still heavily emphasized religious topics and Arabic, but did also include pedagogy, history, literature, geography, geometry, arithmetic, and drawing.53 Pedagogy was apparently based on Egyptian models with coverage of practical teaching, the theory of teaching, and psychology – probably a result of the influx of faculty from Egypt. Literature included the study of modern Hijazi and Egyptian writers, including, in the latter case, nationalists and the religious reformer Muḥammad ‛Abdūh. History lessons involved Islamic and Saudi developments but also European events such as World War I and the League of Nations mandate system.54 Egyptian teachers, many of whom had graduated from al‑Azhar in Cairo, provided a broader array of topics than those involved in traditional Najdi teaching, but also reinforced the prestige of Wahhabi theology by teaching it themselves.55

  • 56 Al-Anṣārī, 1414/1993, p. 406, 414–415.

35Graduates of the Ma‘had could not expect great salaries after their graduation. Both government and private schools suffered because of the shortage of cash. For example, the total spent on teachers’ salaries in Medina in 1927–1928 was only £107 while a mere £174 went for repairs and upkeep. In preparatory madrasas, teachers of the first level received 550 to 600 qurūsh per month. Teachers in kuttāb‑s received only about 220 qurūsh per month.56 In 1930/1931 teachers’ salaries were reduced by 10% to 15%. Because of the shortage of funding during World War II, in 1944 teacher retirement pensions were cut.

  • 57 Farquhar, 2017, p. 52; Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 74–75.
  • 58 Determann, 2014, p. 96; Samin, 2015, p. 26.

36Nevertheless, the graduates followed a variety of subsequent careers. Most became teachers but some also served in other government positions. Also, some graduates were sent at government expense to Egypt for advanced study. Graduate placement from the Ma‘had’s specialized section to train religious judges, which existed only from 1933 to about 1936, ended when the section itself came to a halt because of a lack of student demand.57 Some graduates from the main program were also placed as teachers in private schools, since staff in those schools had to have a license or permission from the Ma‘had before they were entitled to teach. An outstanding example of a graduate from the Ma‘had was Ḥamad al‑Jāsir, a famous Saudi historian and scholar who had studied there in 1930–1934. Al‑Jāsir subsequently became a primary school teacher in Yanbu` before going to Cairo for advanced education.58

  • 59 Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 84–85.

37The Ma‘had was so successful that similar institutions were established in Jeddah and Medina in 1943. The Medina branch enrolled about 50 students initially and was directed by a graduate of al‑Azhar; by 1944 its enrollment had grown to 100, and most of the teachers were Egyptians.59

Private Schools60

  • 60 Unfortunately, I have not been able to consult on this subject Al-Ḥaydarī, Dakhīl Allāh, al-Ta‛1īm (...)
  • 61 Shalabī, 1987, p. 85–86.
  • 62 Dohaish, 1978, p. 150; ‘Abdallāh, 1402/1982, p. 100–101.

38Non‑government, private schools played a crucial role in education in the Saudi Hijaz, but their existence challenged the state’s monopoly of teaching and, in particular, opened the door to alternative views of Islam. They were situated in the cities of Mecca, Medina, and Jeddah. Prominent examples included al‑Ṣawlatīyya, which had 575 students by 1936 and the al‑Fakhrīyya school, which was precariously dependent on donations from India. In 1936 it had 371 students.61 In the same year the al‑Falāḥ school in Jeddah reached an enrollment of 510, and had a new branch that was established in Ṭā’if in 1935 – all were supported financially by the prominent merchant Muḥammad ‘Alī Riḍā Zaynal (1882/1883–1969) and his relatives, who also gave financial aid to graduates who sought additional education in India.62

  • 63 Sedgwick, 2005, p. 91
  • 64 Shalabī, 1987, p. 118; ‘Abdallāh, 1402/1982, p. 118–123.

39Foreign‑sponsored schools in Mecca were usually directed by scholars from abroad who had settled in the Hijaz. One example was the influential Malay scholar and ālim, Muḥammad Shāfi`ī b. Muḥammad Ṣāliḥ, a Sufi leader, who taught Malay Muslims in his own Meccan home, not in a mosque, using Malay (not Arabic) as the language of instruction.63 The Sumatran ālim Muḥsin al‑Mūsāwī founded the Dār al‑‘Ulūm al‑Dīnīyya in 1935, with about 170 students, though this number increased substantially in the next two years. The school depended upon gifts and support from what is today Indonesia and Malaysia but, in 1941, a decline in donations induced the Mudīrīyya to grant it 600 riyals per year. It trained students from all over Southeast Asia to become judges, muftis, imams, and preachers, but starting in 1938 many graduates went to al‑Azhar in Cairo for advanced study.64

  • 65 Ahmed, 2015, p. 107
  • 66 Steinberg, 2002, p. 282.
  • 67 Shalabī, 1987, p. 122.

40In Medina, non‑Arabs established private schools to teach the memorization of the Qur’an, reading and writing, and introductory fields of knowledge. In 1922 under the Hashemite regime, Aḥmad al‑Fayḍābādī founded the Dār al‑‘Ulūm al‑Shar‛īyya madrasa in Medina with financial support from donations given by pilgrims from India and other countries.65 It continued to operate in the Saudi period of rule under the direction of his brother, and educated young men who built important careers, like the famous local historian, editor, and publisher, ‘Abd al‑Quddūs al‑Anṣārī (1906–1983). From 1926 to 1931 the Madrasa al‑Niẓāmīyya, with the Indian ālim ‛Abd al‑Bāqī Faranjī Maḥall as director and supported by the Sultan of Hyderabad in India, employed Hanafi ulama from South and Central Asia, but in 1931 the madrasa was required to use Saudi Wahhabi instructors for the teaching of tawḥīd.66 A private school established in Medina by Muṣṭafā Ṣabrī and ‛Abd al‑Raḥmān al‑Madanī in 1935 with an enrollment of about 125 students taught even the poor and orphans, which meant that the school had to subsist on donations rather than student fees.67

  • 68 Ahmed, 2015, p. 83–88.

41Perhaps the most influential private school in Medina was the Dār al‑Ḥadīth, whose library was founded in 1931 by Aḥmad al‑Dihlāwī, an Indian teacher at the Prophet’s mosque. A branch of the Dār al‑Ḥadīth was established in Mecca in 1932. The madrasa in Medina was founded in 1944. Both the library and the madrasa had extensive links to pro‑Wahhabi ulama from West Africa, India, and Egypt. While some secular subjects were taught, the chief goal of the institution was to train Wahhabi ulama.68

  • 69 Shalabī, 1987, p. 128. However, Shalabī points out that these statistics are somewhat questionable (...)

42Between them, the twenty‑two private schools in the Hijaz had about 5300 students enrolled in 1936. Of those 5300 students about 1250 attended kuttābs, with about 4050 attending more advanced schools.69 The grand total of all students in all types of schools, government and non‑government, in 1936 was about 9,600. Of that total then, more than one‑half attended non‑government private madrasas and kuttābs. This preponderance of students in private schools demonstrated the critical importance of private education for the Hijaz.

  • 70 It is unclear how rigorously the requirement for directors of schools to be Saudis was applied. Th (...)
  • 71 Shalabī, 1987, p. 114; ‘Abdallāh, 1402/1982, p. 87–89.

43In 1938, the year when vast reserves of oil were discovered in an American‑owned well in Dhahran along the Persian Gulf coast, the Mudīrīyya issued revised regulations for its own operations and also for private schools, including the provision that every school must be Muslim in character and the director of each school must be a Saudi. This meant that schools operated by resident non‑Saudis as well as any hypothetical foreign missionary schools would not be permitted.70 The programs of study followed in private schools had in general to coincide with the prescriptions of the Mudīrīyya, unless a special exemption was sought. The regulations for private schools included a provision that fiqh must be taught, though it could be offered according to any one of the four Islamic madhhabs, not just the Hanbali/Wahhabi approach.71

  • 72 Shalabī, 1987, p. 92; Dohaish, 1978, p. 252–253; ‘Abdallāh, 1402/1982, p. 105–106.
  • 73 Freitag, 2015, p. 2.

44The curriculum in the private schools in fact did differ somewhat from that offered in the government schools. In the private al‑Falāḥ schools from 1917/1918 onward, the curriculum included the religious sciences, Arabic language and literature, geography, sports, arithmetic, bookkeeping, geometry, and algebra. In 1928/1929 some new subjects were included: basic sciences, health, the social sciences, and English language,72 and by 1935 a course in civic instruction had been added.73

  • 74 Fees varied from five, three, or two riyals per student per month. Shalabī, 1987, p. 121.
  • 75 Ibid., p. 123.
  • 76 Maghribī, 1402/1982, p. 128–129. English language lessons were also available from tutors. For mor (...)

45Teaching foreign languages such as English was the special purpose of some private schools, including an evening school established in Mecca in 1936 by Aḥmad Mu’min. This madrasa taught English and also, on demand, Urdu and Persian, while charging substantial fees. Another similar Meccan school established in 1938 was the Madrasat al‑Thaqāfa al‑Asāsīyya, where lessons were given during the day and at night in both English and Arabic.74 English was first taught in Medina in 1937 by a graduate of the University of Bristol (England) in an evening school branch of the Madrasat al‑Najāḥ.75 In Jeddah, there was a considerable demand for English‑speakers by foreign companies and diplomats, who brought in employees from India, Egypt, and Sudan.76

  • 77 Al-Anṣārī, 1414/1993, p. 415.

46Funding for non‑governmental schools for the most part came from private sources, though these were occasionally supplemented by gifts from King ‘Abd al‑‘Azīz. The government also directly subsidized some private schools, as in Medina in 1927–1928.77 Many private schools lacked sufficient funding, especially during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The revenues that did accrue came from waqfs, donations from local merchants, and from Muslims in India and elsewhere. Despite financial stringency, some poor students received monthly stipends from schools. The success of the private schools was evident in that many of their graduates in the 1920s–1930s and later became prominent Saudi government officials, merchants, and literary figures.

Education for Girls and Alternative Education

47An issue that cut across the government–private divide and that also related to religious and cultural strictures was education for girls and for students needing alternative educational opportunities. Considerable confusion has existed among scholars about the beginnings of formal school education for girls in Saudi Arabia. In fact, some girls in the Hijaz, mostly from elite families, did receive education even before the creation of a government agency specifically dedicated to that purpose.

  • 78 Shalabī, 1987, p. 248.
  • 79 Dohaish, 1978, p. 175.

48While government schools in the Saudi Hijaz during the period from 1925 to 1945 were just for boys, some girls did attend private schools, thus obtaining an education outside the home.78 This situation had also existed in the pre‑Saudi Hijaz, where girls had studied in all‑female kuttābs.79 In the major Saudi Hijazi towns girls also attended lessons in private homes with female teachers. Girls would learn sections of the Qur’an, a degree of literacy, and arithmetic. Some girls were also sent outside of the home by their families to learn weaving.

  • 80 Shalabī, 1987, p. 249–251.
  • 81 Jayyusi, 2006, p. 40–41.
  • 82 Dohaish, 1978, p. 258; Al-Rasheed, 2013, see especially Chapter 2 ‘Schooling Women: The State as B (...)

49A call for government‑sponsored female education at the beginning of Saudi control of the Hijaz was made by the male author Muḥammad ‘Awāḍ (1906–1980), who wrote on behalf of the modernization of women as a way to strengthen the umma, the Arab nation, and the Hijaz, but also by ‘Abd al‑Majīd Shabukshī, who published an essay on this issue in 1935.80 In 1936 Aḥmad al‑Sibā‘ī (1905–1984)81 similarly appealed for the education of girls as a way of reducing ignorance and helping in the education of children, but he encountered a great deal of opposition to this proposal from men in Mecca. In addition, those men favoring education for women were themselves divided on the question of the scope of such education: some argued for limiting education to matters pertaining to faith and family, while others advocated opening all fields of study to women. Societal and governmental response to arguments for educating women was negative, and there were not yet foreign women tutors hired to teach the daughters of rich families, so affluent Saudi families in the 1930s who visited Egypt and Lebanon would sometimes place their daughters in schools in those countries.82

  • 83 Al-Salmān, 1419/1999, p. 50; for a private kuttāb for girls in Medina, founded in the early 1920s, (...)
  • 84 Shalabī, 1987, p. 252–255; Farquhar, 2017, p. 208, ft. 24.

50Saudi private kuttābs for girls existed in Mecca, Medina, and Jeddah. In Mecca, the kuttābs for girls included, in addition to the Ṣawlatīyya section for girls, the kuttābs of Fāṭima al‑Baghdādīyya and Āmina al‑Jāwīyya. Some kuttābs were sponsored by madrasas.83 Muḥammad `Ārif al‑Banghālī (Bengali) founded a small school in 1939, with a section for girls (taught by Muḥammad `Ārif’s wife), besides a section for boys and a section for Qur’an memorizers. In 1943 a private ibtidā’īyya (primary) school for girls was opened in Mecca by a Sumatran Muslim couple, who had to agree to place it under the control of the Dār al‑‘Ulūm al‑Dīnīyya. The school depended on government subsidies supplementing fees paid by the students’ families. In Medina, four madrasas to teach girls the Qur’an, literacy, and the basic elements of arithmetic were founded between 1929 and 1939. All their directors were women.84 In Jeddah in 1935 the al‑Falāḥ school’s section for teaching girls had a substantial enrollment, including some girls from poor families. Several other less distinguished private schools for girls also existed in Jeddah.

  • 85 Dohaish, 1978, p. 251, notes that the Fakhrīyya private school in Mecca in the 1920s, before Saudi (...)
  • 86 Military education and the medical school will not be discussed in this article.

51In addition to schools for girls, there were also a few alternative educational institutions for male students. Most schools, both government and private, were oriented toward young age groups with little provision for alternative approaches to education or training. No formal training existed for trades or handicrafts, such as tailoring or engraving.85 Military schools and a specialized medical school also existed, but military activities fell outside the scope of the education directorate and the medical school apparently did not last long.86

  • 87 Regulations treated a village school located far from a major town as being in the category of Bed (...)
  • 88 Farquhar, 2017, p. 51, discusses an evening school offered in 1927 by al-Ma‘had al-Islāmī in Mecca
  • 89 Steinberg, 2002, p. 286; UQ, 807, 7 June 1940, p. 1; Shalabī, 1987, p. 157–158; ‘Abdallāh, 1402/19 (...)

52Some types of non‑traditional schools did exist, including schools for villagers and night schools.87 Village schools with fewer than sixty students had a four‑year program, rather than the six years in towns, and such schools opened for only nine months and had shorter classes than those in the cities. A government‑backed evening school in Mecca that specialized in teaching English language existed for only two years before closing for lack of interest among students. Evening schools for youngsters in both Mecca and Medina were added, with the first such government‑run classes being presented in 1927.88 The official newspaper Umm al‑Qurā pointed out the need for night schools for adults as early as 1932, arguing that such schools in Mecca could be staffed by graduates of al‑Ma‘had al‑‘Ilmī al‑Sa‘ūdī. The first night school for adults in the Saudi era was founded in Mecca by ‘Abdallāh Khūja (Khoja), probably in the early 1930s. It was a private school but it soon came under the control of the Mudīrīyya. The school was open to all males no matter their age or nationality, and no fees were charged. Other night schools were in operation by September 1932. A school for adult illiterates also operated in Medina by 1936. However, Umm al‑Qurā in June 1940 was still discussing the need to expand evening schools. The Mudīrīyya had also established in Mecca in 1936 a series of public evening lectures on teaching delivered by its chief inspector, Muḥammad Shaṭṭā.89

  • 90 Shalabī, 1987, p. 119; ‘Abdallāh, 1402/1982, p. 123–127.

53A school for orphans that depended on charitable donations provided alternative educational opportunities. In 1936 the former director of public security in Mecca opened a school in rented facilities for male orphans aged between eight and twelve years old, and in 1939 the king presided over the opening of a new building dedicated specifically for the school’s use.90

  • 91 Shalabī, 1987, p. 140.

54The children of Bedouin were not included in the various government and private schools until a few halting measures were taken in the 1930s and 1940s. Thanks to the initiative of a member of the ulama in Yanbu`, the king ordered the opening there in 1935 of a school for Bedouin children.91 It enrolled about 100 students drawn from nearby tribes. In late 1945 the brothers ‘Alī and ‘Uthmān Ḥāfiẓ founded a school in the desert near Medina to teach Bedouin children; this became a government school later, in 1960–1961.

  • 92 Ibid., p. 141; Vassiliev, 2012, p. 131; Abū ‘Alīya, 1396/1976, p. 273–274.

55Another atypical, though much more privileged, type of student secured a special school in 1942, when Prince Fayṣal and his wife, Princess ‘Iffat, established a boarding school for the children of amirs and other eminent families, first located in Ṭā’if and then in Jeddah. The teaching staff consisted mainly of Egyptians, while the curriculum included Wahhabi‑based religion, mathematics, geography, and foreign languages. Graduates went abroad for advanced study.92

Education for Saudis Overseas

  • 93 Shalabī, 1987, p. 105, 129–130.

56During the Ottoman era, some Hijazi students had travelled abroad to India for religious studies or for English‑language instruction. The independent Hashemite regime, for its part, refused to sponsor students for advanced study abroad, perhaps fearing that they might be overly influenced by their foreign experiences. The experiences of students sent abroad were discussed in an early Hijazi Saudi novel, a book written by ‘Abd al‑Quddūs al‑Anṣārī, published in 1930. This work discussed the merits of indigenous schooling inside Saudi Arabia versus education abroad. In the 1930s the question of foreign study was still in debate; it was supported by some articles in the Saudi journal awt al‑Ḥijāz arguing that for modern advanced education it was necessary to send students abroad to other Arab countries.93 Such arguments ignored the likelihood that returning Saudi students might have been exposed to secularism, nationalism, and differing interpretations of Islam.

  • 94 See Teitelbaum, 2018.
  • 95 Determann, 2014, p. 17; Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 33–34, 106ff. Nallino, 1938, p. 128, asserts that s (...)
  • 96 Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 108. A section of al-Azhar had been reserved for Hijazi students at least a (...)

57The Saudi administration chose Egypt as a particularly apt place for Saudi students to study. Egypt was close to Saudi Arabia and it was an Arab Muslim state, so in the Saudi era it became the chief destination for student foreign study groups. The Saudi government’s first group of fourteen students, all from the Hijaz, was in Egypt from late 1927 through 1931 despite numerous strains in Saudi–Egyptian diplomatic relations.94 All student expenses were paid by the Saudi government. In 1936, after a five‑year suspension, the advanced schooling of male students abroad resumed, with three assigned to the College of Sharia in al‑Azhar University, and seven sent to the Dār al‑‛Ulūm.95 Because of World War II, the departure of the third mission was delayed until early 1942.96 Every year when the students returned to Jeddah there was a ceremony of celebration; later, those who had not yet graduated would return to Egypt after their vacation ended.

  • 97 Maghribī, 1402/1982, p. 131; Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 106–107.

58Judging by the fame and careers of many of the students sent overseas, their studies were often successful. The first group of students sent to Egypt included ‘Abdallāh al‑Ṭarīqī (al‑Ṭurayqī; d. 1997), who subsequently was influential in Saudi oil policy.97

  • 98 Trial and Winder, 1950, p. 130; Al-‘Uthaymīn, 1419/1998, Part II, 4th edn, p. 328; Bārūm, 1419/199 (...)

59Students sent abroad often needed extra training, especially in English language and science, so the director of education al‑Dabbāgh founded a preparatory school in Mecca in 1937, the Madrasat Taḥḍīr al‑Bi‘thāt (School for preparing foreign student missions), a rare government school at the secondary level. The school initially took in students, chiefly from the Hijaz, who had graduated from al‑Ma‘had al‑‘Ilmī al‑Sa‘ūdī or middle schools. Eventually, in the late 1930s, the administration of the Ma‘had merged with the administration of the Bi‘thāt. The period of study for the Bi‘thāt, initially for three years, was later extended to five years. The difficult curriculum included physics and chemistry as well as history and geography, with an eye to graduating students who could study medicine or engineering. In 1940 the regime of study was relaxed somewhat, so that a student could graduate either with a degree in adab (general culture, including literature) or in the sciences, and the student was free to pick his own future special area of study.98

  • 99 Al-Anṣārī, 1414/1993, p. 424–425.

60A detailed example of the career of a Saudi student sent overseas can be seen in the life of Muḥammad ‘Abd al‑‘Azīz b. Muḥammad ‘Alī al‑Rabī‘ of Medina (1926–1982). He graduated from a kuttāb in Medina, then went to Mecca where he studied at the Ma‘had al‑‘Ilmī al‑Sa‘ūdī before entering the Madrasat Taḥḍīr al‑Bi‘thāt. In 1943 he was selected, despite his youth, as a teacher at a madrasa in Medina. Later he went to Egypt where he ultimately graduated from the Dār al‑‘Ulūm in Cairo with a license to teach language, literature, and Islamic studies, and then he secured a diploma in education and psychology from Alexandria University in 1951. He had a distinguished career in educational administration in Medina as well as being a prominent author and founder of several literary and sports clubs there.99

Conclusions

  • 100 Shalabī, 1987, p. 90; Commins, 2006, p. 125; Freitag, 2015, p. 3.
  • 101 Idem.

61As late as 1948 only about 3 percent of national government spending was on education. However, with increasing revenues from oil, salaries and general expenditures after 1945 did increase substantially.100 In the Hijaz, education was already a priority: when merchants in 1945 asked the king’s treasurer, ‘Abdallāh Sulaymān, to add a special new customs duty of one percent per item for goods landed in Jeddah, the resulting income was used for the al‑Falāḥ schools.101

62This study of the period from 1925 to 1945 permits the revision of earlier approaches to the history of Saudi Arabia and education. Although the Najd was politically dominant, it was the Hijaz that was by far the most important region for educational development. The story of formal in‑class education in Saudi Arabia from 1925 to 1945 is necessarily the story of education in the Hijaz. Other regions of Saudi Arabia, including the sites of newly‑discovered oil assets, lagged far behind the Hijaz in this period. The experiences of educators in the Hijaz therefore might be assumed to have had a significant role in the formation of policy in other Saudi regions; however, the wide economic, religious, social, and cultural variations among Saudi areas makes this assumption one that needs much further investigation.

63While important decisions in regard to education, particularly those involving the role of religion, were made by King ‘Abd al‑‘Azīz personally, he seems to have delegated most of the running of schools and the formation of policy to specialists, particularly male Hijazis and some foreign Arab Muslims. Even though the state was severely hampered by a shortage of funds and trained teachers from 1925 to 1945, before the advent of large‑scale oil revenues, substantial improvements to education were nevertheless made by the new regime. Much of this change must be attributed to contributions by the private sector, including resident foreigners, who played a major role in education. For instance, more than one‑half of students in 1936 attended private schools, which provided also a beginning in the education of girls. Both government and private schools created some alternative educational venues for diverse students.

  • 102 In 1926 King ‘Abd al-‘Azīz encouraged several notables to establish a committee for the writing of (...)

64More research is needed on the precise content of textbooks, particularly those dealing with religion.102 Little is known as yet about the impact of rigorous education on the moral values and ethical behavior of students, while the absence of freedom of expression in society and the presence of rote learning probably inhibited the development of independent thinking among Saudi pupils.

  • 103 Farquhar, 2017, p. 58–64 has some important discussion of this topic, but more research is needed (...)

65Further research is also needed in order to compare Saudi education with the experiences of other Arab countries, especially Egypt, during this period. The influence and example of Egypt were particularly great in personnel, policy, and textbooks, and the student missions to Egypt increased Egyptian pedagogical influence.103 However, Saudi Arabia’s refusal to allow state schools to teach girls, its extreme emphasis on religious instruction, its political reluctance to allow student demonstrations, and its relative disinclination to include secular subjects in the curriculum differentiated it from Egypt and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The advanced religious education centered around the two Ḥarams also differentiated Saudi experiences from most of the other Arab states, though useful comparisons could be made with al‑Azhar and Egyptian educational policy.

66Government control of education and curriculum was most important in the two ḥarams, where divergent Muslim interpretations were discouraged. In public and private schools the teaching of secular subjects and concepts was gingerly fostered, though religion in all its aspects and Arabic language study continued to dominate the school day.

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Notes

1 An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, United Kingdom, on 21 September 2016. I thank especially Mr. Maan Talal Al Dabbagh for his useful comments on the paper.

2 The use of the term Wahhabi, after the Hanbali religious reformer Muḥammad b. ‛Abd al-Wahhāb, was officially banned by King ‛Abd al-‛Azīz in 1929. Mouline, 2011, p. 20–21.

3 Determann, 2014. Hijaz, as a part of the Egyptian Eyalet, was under Ottoman domination between 1517 and 1867 (with an interruption during the French occupation from1798 to 1801, and the first Saudi rule from 1806 to 1813), and then a full Ottoman province until 1916, when the Sharîf of Mecca, Husayn b. ‘Alî, declared himself King of the Hijaz.

4 For a lively view of education in the Hijaz just before the Saudi period see Bogary, 1991, and Suba’i, 2009. For general works on pre-Saudi education see Ochsenwald, 1984, especially Chapter 4: Learning and Law; Dohaish, 1978; al-Shāmikh, 1393/1973; and Farquhar, 2017, especially Chapter 1: Transformations in the Late Ottoman Hijaz.

5 Maghribī, 1402/1982, p. 123–128; Shalabī, 1987, p. 85–86. For a detailed discussion of Kairanwi, see Alavi, 2015, p. 185–191.

6 Maghribī, 1402/1982, p. 128–130.

7 Dohaish, 1978, 129; Farquhar, 2017, p. 38–40.

8 Freitag, 2015, passim.

9 Ochsenwald, 1984, p. 17; Dohaish, 1978, p. 12; Duguet, 1932, p. 72, 104.

10 Al-‛Uthaymīn, 1419/1998, p. 326; Ahmed, 2015, p. 106–107.

11 Al-Anṣārī, 1414/1993, p. 350–352; Dohaish, 1978, p. 203–261; ‘Abdallāh, 1402/1982, p. 78–80.

12 Farquhar, 2017, p. 41–42.

13 Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 136.

14 Ochsenwald, 2009, p. 75–89.

15 Ahmed, 2015, p. 173.

16 Steinberg, 2002, p. 279; Umm al-Qurā (hereafter UQ) Number 97, 22 October 1926, p. 1; Al-Salmān, 1419/1999, p. 65; Shalabī, 1987, p. 78, 143.

17 Shalabī, 1987, p. 278, 281.

18 Steinberg, 2002, p. 290.

19 Ibid, p. 291; Shalabī, 1987, p. 135; Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 47.

20 Al-Anṣārī, 1414/1993, p. 420.

21 Ibid., p. 422. Al-Salmān, 1419/1999, p. 41, gives slightly different numbers for Medina kuttābs.

22 Al-Rasheed, 2010, p. 95; Shalabī, 1987, p. 137; Freitag, 2015, for a thorough discussion of the al-Falāḥ schools.

23 Shalabī, 1987, p. 137; Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 89, lists secondary madrasas, including their location, student enrollment, and number of teachers. For slightly different numbers of schools and students, see Nallino, 1938, p. 125–126.

24 Trial and Winder, 1950, p. 125; Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 47.

25 Shalabī, 1987, p. 152–153; Bārūm, 1419/1999, p. 360. Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 64 says secondary madrasa schooling was for five years, changing to six years in 1946.

26 Dohaish, 1978, p. 204; Shalabī, 1987, p. 284.

27 A teachers’ training college had been founded in Medina by the Ottomans in 1909, but it had very few students and was short-lived. Dohaish, 1978, p. 90–91, 245.

28 Farquhar, 2017, p.52, suggests that students and their families strongly rejected the Wahhabi goals, instruction, and doctrine, and therefore refused to attend the Ma‘had. A thorough examination of the Ma‘had may be found in Farquhar, 2017, p. 50–65. Also see Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 67–68.

29 In the 1950s religious high schools with this name were founded in Saudi Arabia based on an Egyptian model. Farquhar, 2017, p. 50, refers to this school as the Saudi Scholastic Institute.

30 Diplomatic relations were cut after the June 1926 attack by the tribal Ikhwan on the Egyptian Maḥmal, or pilgrimage caravan. See Teitelbaum, 2018.

31 Farquhar, 2017, p. 53, 56; Steinberg, 2002, p. 290; Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 66–69, 77.

32 Farquhar, 2017, p. 49–50 briefly discusses the various directors of education; also see Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 32–35.

33 Ochsenwald, 2009, p. 81.

34 Shalabī, 1987, p. 287–288; Trial and Winder, 1950, p. 132. Farquhar, 2017, p. 49, points out that Dabbāgh had been a Hijazi nationalist. Also see Bārūm, 1419/1999, 357–384.

35 For example, Muḥammad Naṣīf (1885–1971): see Freitag, 2017, p. 295–301.

36 Steinberg, 2002, p. 280; Commins, 2006, p. 93–94; Mouline, 2011, p. 154; Al-Salmān, 1419/1999, p. 65–66, notes that supervision of teaching in the Ḥaramayn continued to be linked to the Chief Judge until his death; for a list of teachers, see Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 116. For a vivid description of how such purges were attempted see Ahmed, 2015, p. 20–27, 169–171.

37 Steinberg, 2002, p. 566–567.

38 Al-Salmān, 1419/1999, p. 65; Shalabī, 1987, p. 134, 143; ‘Abdallāh, 1402/1982, p. 42–43; Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 113–114.

39 Shalabī, 1987, p. 144–145; Willis, 2017, p. 359; Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 96.

40 UQ, 10 September 1926, page 1; see also Shalabī, 1987, p. 151 and Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 32.

41 Trial and Winder, 1950, p. 121–133.

42 Shalabī, 1987, p. 103–104, 151–152; Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 49.

43 Jarman, 1990, vol. 2, p. 411–412; E 6016/367/91 Norman Mayers (Jeddah) to Austen Chamberlain, 3 October 1926.

44 Steinberg, 2002, p. 291; Shalabī, 1987, p. 151–152.

45 Steinberg, 2002, p. 291–292; Mouline, 2011, p. 156; Al-Yassini, 1985, p. 50; Wahba, 1964, p. 49–52. However, Shalabī, 1987, p. 106, dates this incident to 1927, not 1930.

46 Steinberg, 2002, p. 293. Doumato, 2000, p. 82, points out that the shortage of funds was another factor in curbing new curriculum offerings.

47 Shalabī, 1987, pp.106, 152, 153. For instance, English language lessons took only 12 per cent of the school day.

48 See Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 50, 56 for a detailed list of subjects and the number of periods devoted to each subject each year.

49 Cobbold, 1934, p. 103; UQ, 860, 13 June 1941, p. 2; Van der Meulen, 1957, p. 113.

50 Farquhar, 2017, p. 59–61.

51 See Dahlan, 2016, p. 89–95.

52 Suba’i, 2009, p. 61–63.

53 Trial and Winder, 1950, p. 131; Farquhar, 2017, p. 57–58.

54 Farquhar, 2017, p. 58–64.

55 Ibid., p. 63–64.

56 Al-Anṣārī, 1414/1993, p. 406, 414–415.

57 Farquhar, 2017, p. 52; Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 74–75.

58 Determann, 2014, p. 96; Samin, 2015, p. 26.

59 Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 84–85.

60 Unfortunately, I have not been able to consult on this subject Al-Ḥaydarī, Dakhīl Allāh, al-Ta‛1īm al-Aḥlī fī al-Madīna al-Munawwara min 1344 ilā 1408, Medina: Nādī al-Madīna al-Munawwara, 1412/1996.

61 Shalabī, 1987, p. 85–86.

62 Dohaish, 1978, p. 150; ‘Abdallāh, 1402/1982, p. 100–101.

63 Sedgwick, 2005, p. 91

64 Shalabī, 1987, p. 118; ‘Abdallāh, 1402/1982, p. 118–123.

65 Ahmed, 2015, p. 107

66 Steinberg, 2002, p. 282.

67 Shalabī, 1987, p. 122.

68 Ahmed, 2015, p. 83–88.

69 Shalabī, 1987, p. 128. However, Shalabī points out that these statistics are somewhat questionable. For a different set of numbers including the whole kingdom, see Nallino, 1938, p. 127.

70 It is unclear how rigorously the requirement for directors of schools to be Saudis was applied. There were no missionary schools in the Hijaz in the Ottoman, Hashemite, or Saudi period.

71 Shalabī, 1987, p. 114; ‘Abdallāh, 1402/1982, p. 87–89.

72 Shalabī, 1987, p. 92; Dohaish, 1978, p. 252–253; ‘Abdallāh, 1402/1982, p. 105–106.

73 Freitag, 2015, p. 2.

74 Fees varied from five, three, or two riyals per student per month. Shalabī, 1987, p. 121.

75 Ibid., p. 123.

76 Maghribī, 1402/1982, p. 128–129. English language lessons were also available from tutors. For more on the teaching of English, see Farquhar, 2017, p. 61.

77 Al-Anṣārī, 1414/1993, p. 415.

78 Shalabī, 1987, p. 248.

79 Dohaish, 1978, p. 175.

80 Shalabī, 1987, p. 249–251.

81 Jayyusi, 2006, p. 40–41.

82 Dohaish, 1978, p. 258; Al-Rasheed, 2013, see especially Chapter 2 ‘Schooling Women: The State as Benevolent Educator’; Shalabī, 1987, p. 81, 250; Suba‘i, 2009, p. 113; Commins, 2015, p. 52.

83 Al-Salmān, 1419/1999, p. 50; for a private kuttāb for girls in Medina, founded in the early 1920s, see Al-Anṣārī, 1414/1993, p. 352. Also see Abū ‘Alīya, 1396/1976, p. 244.

84 Shalabī, 1987, p. 252–255; Farquhar, 2017, p. 208, ft. 24.

85 Dohaish, 1978, p. 251, notes that the Fakhrīyya private school in Mecca in the 1920s, before Saudi rule began, did have such a training program, though it had to be ended for lack of funds. In 1947 the government opened a manual training school in Jeddah. An evening school for typists opened in 1948.

86 Military education and the medical school will not be discussed in this article.

87 Regulations treated a village school located far from a major town as being in the category of Bedouin schools. Shalabī, 1987, p. 123, 156; Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 46, 57.

88 Farquhar, 2017, p. 51, discusses an evening school offered in 1927 by al-Ma‘had al-Islāmī in Mecca.

89 Steinberg, 2002, p. 286; UQ, 807, 7 June 1940, p. 1; Shalabī, 1987, p. 157–158; ‘Abdallāh, 1402/1982, p. 110–113.

90 Shalabī, 1987, p. 119; ‘Abdallāh, 1402/1982, p. 123–127.

91 Shalabī, 1987, p. 140.

92 Ibid., p. 141; Vassiliev, 2012, p. 131; Abū ‘Alīya, 1396/1976, p. 273–274.

93 Shalabī, 1987, p. 105, 129–130.

94 See Teitelbaum, 2018.

95 Determann, 2014, p. 17; Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 33–34, 106ff. Nallino, 1938, p. 128, asserts that students had also been sent to the American University of Beirut.

96 Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 108. A section of al-Azhar had been reserved for Hijazi students at least as early as 1886.

97 Maghribī, 1402/1982, p. 131; Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 106–107.

98 Trial and Winder, 1950, p. 130; Al-‘Uthaymīn, 1419/1998, Part II, 4th edn, p. 328; Bārūm, 1419/1999, p. 361–362; Duhaysh, 1407/1987, p. 80–83.

99 Al-Anṣārī, 1414/1993, p. 424–425.

100 Shalabī, 1987, p. 90; Commins, 2006, p. 125; Freitag, 2015, p. 3.

101 Idem.

102 In 1926 King ‘Abd al-‘Azīz encouraged several notables to establish a committee for the writing of textbooks on theology and law, but apparently there were no results from this effort. Commins, 2015, p. 160. As of the 1930s at least one textbook used in the government schools written by a Hijazi teacher had been published, but more information is needed on the authors of textbooks as well as their contents.

103 Farquhar, 2017, p. 58–64 has some important discussion of this topic, but more research is needed to confirm many of his points.

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William Ochsenwald, « The Transformation of Education in the Hijaz, 1925–1945 », Arabian Humanities [En ligne], 12 | 2019, mis en ligne le 12 mars 2020, consulté le 28 mars 2020. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/cy/4917 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/cy.4917

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