I think it was being recommended as a text for the IB's English A1 course by the worthy gentleman who brought it to my attention, but I can't see it working in that context. It's far too complicated on the level of plot and the characterisation doesn't leave much for analysis of the sort beloved by examiners as it's almost deliberately two dimensional, simply I suppose to cope with the plethora of characters stepping through the pages. But in terms of giving a sense of the Islamic culture of the period I suppose it'd work well. One gets a genuine feeling for the textures of everyday life despite the somewhat elevated background of some of Hasan's acquaintances. By the end we're hobnobbing with a couple of popes.
There's a worthy sort of message involved as well. Hasan is a tolerant sort - he has to be to keep his head really - and it's easy to see that Mr Maalouf rightly believes the world would be a better place if we could all just get along. But the very real nastiness involved when we don't is powerfully conveyed also, so the novel gets beyond the merely platitudinous. The question is whether this might be historically accurate. Could a convinced believer of the period (Muslim in Hasan's case) genuinely see beyond the boundaries of his faith to recognise the merits of those of others? I'm no expert, but from what little I know I suspect he or she could and with no enormous difficulty. Much like today, for those of intelligence, curiosity and goodwill.