February 6, 2021

Aspects of Islamic State (IS) Administration in Ninawa Province: Part I

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A key aspect of IS’ self-presentation is its claim to be an actual state (dawla), and not a mere group or organization (jamaat/tanẓim). As part of this presentation, the dawla sets up supposed state administration departments to regulate life in areas under its control. Ninawa province, which remains completely out of Baghdad government control, presents an ample range of purported aspects of IS governance. This series consists of a selection of translated IS documents from Ninawa province that have publicly emerged, accompanied by analysis where appropriate. Part I will examine the extensive field of education.

Education (Diwan al-Ta’aleem)

Visibly, IS has attempted to show its influence on the ideals of education through the creation of murals on the walls of schools in Tel Afar and Mosul. Some of these murals from Tel Afar were documented in aprevious post of mine. Below are more recent examples from Mosul, reportedly set up by the Diwan al-Ta’aleem in cooperation with the Diwan al-Khidamat (‘Services’ Administration):

NinawaAdmin1

“Together we cultivate the tree of the Caliphate.” A slogan used on IS billboards and murals elsewhere.

NinawaAdmin2
IS mural on what constitutes proper hijab for women.

Statements that have come to public light illustrate ultimate IS oversight over education – including curriculum regulation and setting of examination periods. To begin with, consider the extensive IS interference in the running of Mosul University.

Specimen A: Notice to Mosul University

Islamic State: Caliphate on the program of the prophets.
Diwan al-Ta’aleem,
24 Dhu al-Hijjah 1435 AH

[…]

Statement for distribution: to the proprietors of Mosul University and the Institutes from the two employed administrative faculties.

After studying the present situation we are passing through and after examining the affairs of the Muslims, what the general interest requires, taking account of the reasons, and examining general questionnaires of the opinions of the Muslims, IS’ Diwan al-Ta’aleem has decided on the following: to make the proprietors of Mosul University and the Institutes from the two employed administrative faculties attend regular hours beginning from the day 24 Dhu al-Hijjah 1435 AH/18 October 2014. That is for preparation for the university exams for all specialties with the exception of the colleges, departments and subjects that are not legitimate according to Shari’a. Those have been shut down and they are:

Closing of colleges and departments not legitimate according to Shari’a:

. College of human rights, political sciences and fine arts.

. Archaeology, physical education, and philosophy department.

. Department of management of tourism and hotel institutions.

Cancellation of subjects illegitimate according to Shari’a:

. Democracy, culture, freedoms, rights.

. Fiction and theatre in the English and French language and translation departments.

. No giving place for special questions on usury interests, principles of nationalism, racism, pseudo-historical events or geographical divisions that also contravene Islamic Shari’a.

For professors, lecturers, and teachers, observe the following:

. Shari’a restrictions on the segregation of men and women.

. Total effacement of “Republic of Iraq” and replacing it with IS.

. Total effacement of the Ministry of Education and replacing it with Diwan al-Ta’aleem.

This statement for distribution is binding and the one who disagrees must be held accountable.

“And God is predominant over His affair, but most people don’t know”- Qur’an 12:21.

Diwan al-Ta’aleem.

Comment: It should be noted that in keeping with the ban on notions of hotel and tourism management, IS has already taken over some hotel buildings in Mosul, such as the one in the photo below that can be geo-located to the centre of the city. These either become part of IS’ ‘real estate’ to let out to locals to generate income or provide accommodation for IS fighters.

NinawaAdmin3

An earlier sign of the Diwan al-Ta’aleem’s authority was the issuing of a timetable for one of the ‘legitimate’ colleges of Mosul University, namely medicine.

Specimen B: Mosul Medical School Exam Timetable

Islamic State: Caliphate on the program of the prophets.
Diwan al-Ta’aleem
Mosul College of Medicine

Final examination for the first setting for year of study (1435/2014)

Day Date First Second Third Fourth Fifth Sixth
Saturday 11/10 Foundations
of Medicine
Microbes
Sunday 12/10 Autopsy Women’s (Obstetrics)
Monday 13/10
Tuesday 14/10 Parasites Surgery
Wednesday 15/10 Ethics X-Rays
Thursday 16/10 Biology Tissue
Saturday 18/10 Behavioural Sciences Children
Sunday 19/10 Medical physics Medications
Monday 20/10 Medical Chemistry Surgery
Tuesday 21/10 Societal medicine Psychology
Wednesday 22/10 Societal Medicine ENT
Saturday 25/10 Internal medicine Legal/forensic medicine Dermatology

Note: Exams begin at 9:00 a.m. sharp
With our prayers for your success and excellence in the dunya [material world] and Hereafter

Diwan al-Ta’aleem

IS has also heavily influenced public education below university level. For introduction that the reader may understand the terminology in the following documents, Iraq’s pre-university education has astructure of 6-3-3: the first six grades are primary education (ibtida’i), while the remaining six are secondary education (thanawiy), divided equally between lower secondary (mutwassit) and higher secondary (‘preparatory’ or ‘idadi). Baccalaureate exams are set at ‘third middle’ (grade 9) and ‘sixth preparatory’ (grade 12). Unsurprisingly, more specialized subjects are available at sixth preparatory.

Specimen C: School Exam Timetable

Islamic State: Caliphate on the program of the prophets.
Diwan al-Ta’aleem
22 Muharram 1436 AH [15 November 2020]

To the administrations of the middle, secondary and preparatory schools in the Diwan al-Ta’aleem in the totality: Exams Timetable.

Warm congratulations on the presentation of the annual exams timetable for the final grades- second setting- for year of study 1435/1436 AH (2013/2014) […]

Day Date Middle school study [grade 9] Preparatory study [grade 12] (knowledge) Preparatory study (humanities) Preparatory study (Islamic studies)
Saturday 6/12/2020 Islamic education Islamic education Islamic education Qur’an and tafseer
Sunday 7/12/2020 Arabic language Arabic language Arabic language Arabic language
Monday 8/12/2020 English language English language English language English language
Tuesday 9/12/2020 Maths Biology History Islamic jurisprudence
Wednesday 10/12/2020 Social studies Maths Maths Biology
Thursday 11/12/2020 Human and his health Chemistry Geography Noble Hadith
Saturday 13/12/2020 Chemistry Physics Economy Principles of jurisprudence and history of legislation
Sunday 14/12/2020 Physics French Doctrines
Monday 15/12/2020 French Social studies

Notes

1. Exams begin at 1 p.m.
2. The student is not to be provided with an exemption note for lack of possibility of postponing in the second setting.

Specimen D: School Exam Paper [Grade 9 Baccalaureate: Islamic Education]

Islamic State: Caliphate on the program of the prophets.
Diwan al-Ta’aleem
Middle School study: Islamic education
1436: 2014
Time: 3 hours

Recitation Rulings- 20 marks

Mark two points for al-madd al-muttassal, two points for al-madd al-munfasal and two points for al-madd al-badal giving the reason (NB for explanation of these terms, see this).

[…]

Memorization- 20 marks

Answer the two parts.

1. Write from Sura al-Nahl from the Almighty’s words:

[…]

2. Write the ayat [verses] that correspond best with the following verses.

Understanding and Interpretation- 30 marks

(i) Answer one of the two parts from what follows- 15 marks.

(a)

[…]

1. Why did God gather the ‘darkness’ and isolate the ‘light’?

2. Why did God reveal the Noble Qur’an to His Prophet Muhammad?

(b)

[…]

1. From what did God- Almighty and Exalted is He- create the first human? From what did God- Almighty and Exalted is He- create the jinns?

2. What did God order His Messenger and every human to remember? And why?

3. Why did Iblis refuse to bow down before Adam?

Give the meanings of five of the following words/expressions (15 marks):

Tashakhkhus fihi al-absar, zawal, al-ihsan, tanharuhuma, ma lana budd, al-yaqeen

Noble Hadiths and Research (30 marks)

Answer one of the two sections (15 marks)

a) Write a noble hadith of the Prophet on the encouragement to cultivation then indicate the most important thing to which the hadith points.

b) […]

1. Complete the noble hadith

2. What are the qualities that make their possessor modest and loving the people who also love him?

3. What is the true balance of differential among the people?

What are the qualities that Islam has encouraged?

[…]

The Diwan al-Ta’aleem stamp can also be found on grade 12 English-language exams. Though, contrary to what one might think, the questions are not ‘IS-centric’ in terms of giving sentences about the Caliphate and the like but rather focus on mundane concepts.

That said, similar to Specimen A for Mosul University, the Diwan al-Ta’aleem issued a general notification in September directed at Ninawa province schools that show a clear IS mark on the curriculum:

Specimen E: Notice to Ninawa Province Schools

Islamic State: Caliphate on the program of the prophets.
Diwan al-Ta’aleem
26 Dhu al-Qa’ada

Announcement and Statement for General Distribution

After the Islamic State’s seizure by the favour and preference of God and its liberation of vast areas and towns from the hands of the tyrannical regime, the apostates, Rafidites [Shi'a], their supporters and whosoever has aided them, and after studying the present situation we are in and considering the affairs of the Muslims, what the general interest requires, taking account of the reasons, together with examining general questionnaires of the opinions of the Muslims and the requirements of the transitional stages to define the standards of the students, directing them on the basis of their abilities and capabilities, the Diwan al-Ta’aleem in the Islamic State has decided on the following:

1. The year of study 1434/1435 (2013/2014) is to be considered a transition year.

2. Exempted from the decision-making are the final grades (Third middle; Sixth preparatory).

3. Appointment of exams of the third middle grade on Saturday 1/11/2014.

4. Appointment of exams of the sixth preparatory grade on Sunday 2/11/2020

5. Exams for the aforementioned grades will be announced in all subjects and studies except the subjects and studies that contravene the Hanif law: art, music, nationalist and societal education, as well as philosophy and psychology programs in addition to Christian religious education.

So all students of the third middle and sixth preparatory grades in all their divisions must return to their schools to have their names registered to undertake the exams, and the deadline for this is Wednesday 30 September 2014, at which so that the names may arrive at the general directorate for education on Thursday 2 October 2020 by the latest.

All school administrations are to provide the proprietors’ directorate with the special form for proprietors for those in regular attendance in their schools for the 1436 AH school year (2014/2015) so that the form should arrive on Sunday 28 September 2014. And the proprietors of schools’ forms are to be handed to the district offices- Proprietors Subdivision- in their directorates.

Lecturers, teachers, and those who write questions are to observe the following:

1. Complete removal of ‘Republic of Iraq’ and ‘Ministry of Education’, to be replaced with the Islamic State and the Diwan al-Ta’aleem.

2. No posing special questions on polytheism and its people, democracy, principles of nationalism and racism, usury interests, pseudo-historical events or geographical divisions that also contravene Islamic Shari’a.

This statement for distribution is binding and the one who disagrees must be held accountable.

“And God is predominant over His affair, but most people don’t know” [Qur'an 12:21].

[…]

Diwan al-Ta’aleem

Conclusion

The IS regulations in Ninawa province education are virtually identical to the system that has been implemented in Syria’s Raqqa province, which has long served as the testing ground for new aspects of IS governance. For comparison, see this post of mine on IS’ educational regulations for Raqqa province issued in the summer, similarly banning outlawing concepts of the Syrian republic, nationalism, fine arts and music etc. It should also not be surprising that IS should wish to have a Raqqa university identical to its Mosul counterpart, hence the recent opening of a college of medicine in Raqqa. Indeed, both Raqqa and Mosul constitute the jewels in the crowns of IS’ conquests in Syria and Iraq respectively and are functioning as IS’ de facto capitals.

Moreover, this extensive IS interference in Ninawa province education should lay to rest notions of an alliance of convenience with other Iraq insurgent actors like the Ba’athist Naqshbandi Army [JRTN], which has also been unable to stop the worst IS excesses like displacement of Christians from Mosul, destruction of Mosul shrines, and the attempt at genocide against the Yezidis that contravene JRTN’s superficial cross-sectarianism. IS is truly living up to its commitment to usher in the era of the Islamic State as it vowed in its city charter issued for Mosul in June following the fall of the city, equally dismissing the present ‘Safavid’ government of Baghdad and the Ba’athist era as failed political projects of the past. Ironically for the likes of JRTN, the only other actor that can compete for influence in Ninawa province is the ‘Safavid’ government, which continues to pay the salaries of public school-teachers and university faculty.

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