There is undoubtedly a growing interest among Muslim educators and parents to think more deeply about the process of schooling. Through continued immigration of Muslims from the East to the West and those in the West traveling to reconnect with the East, we now live in a world where there is a greater awareness of what schools are like globally.
Muslim educators in Dubai are now influenced by British standards of education; Islamic schools in Chicago use curriculum for Islamic Studies from South Africa; American Muslim educators develop curriculum for Islamic schools in Singapore, and Muslim educators from Bosnia, Egypt, and Canada met in Germany to discuss the nuances of classical Islamic education.
I didn’t make these up. And I could keep going.
What I am trying to say is simple: we need a space for educators — Muslim or not — to create a global conversation about education within the Islamic tradition.
There is no doubt that there are hundreds of full-time Islamic schools (Muslim schools for the UK folks) across Europe, North America, and Australia. There are thousands of supplementary weekend and evening schools in the same places. There are madrassas (Qur’anic schools) — pesantran for those in Indonesia — across the globe.
And then there are schools, some explicitly “Islamic” and others, government schools or private schools across the Middle East and South Asia that don’t teach religion across the curriculum but they do teach Islam in some capacity. Let’s also not forget that there are publicly funded state schools that teach Islam as a religion in places like Austria and Germany.
The question is, what is Islamic education? Is it a curriculum of teaching Islam to children or is it a way, a pedagogy, an approach to teaching modeled after Prophet Muhammad (s)? Or is it both? Or is it more than both?
In all the examples mentioned above of the types of schools, the question of what Islamic education is (and can be) is central.
We need a conversation — an intellectual, global, diverse, open, and educated dialogue so that we can harness each other’s energies.
There are numerous curriculum initiatives happening everywhere, from pockets of the United States to Qatar. Islamic schools are implementing self-study school improvement plans. Individual schools are trying to figure out best practices for teaching, develop policy manuals, and character development programs.
But we do all of this in silos.
And that’s precisely what we’d like to address with this blog, insha’Allah. Our aim is to:
- Connect you to other educators working to improve Islamic schools
- Provide experienced, credible, and relevant ideas to think about the work you do in Islamic schools
I invite you to help get this conversation started by commenting below and posting the types of topics you feel should be had in a conversation such as this.