Join the Global Conversation About Islamic Education

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:

  1. Connect you to other educators working to improve Islamic schools
  2. 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.

Nadeem Memon

About Nadeem Memon

Dr. Nadeem Memon serves as Director of Education for Razi Education. He holds a Ph.D from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto on the history and philosophy of Islamic schooling. He also serves as Program Director for the Islamic Teacher Education Program, a project of Razi Education.
Click here to read more posts by Nadeem.


  1. Salaam Respected Brother Nadeem
    Indeed Allah chooses the best people among his slaves for the services we need most in our society.
    May Allah reward you in abundance for sharing the same though which has been troubling my mind why we have different curriculum when our Islam is one,although our aproach can be different in delievering it.
    I thank you for bringing this to our educators attention.
    I am with you for this cause. May Allah give us taufeeq.
    let me know how can we be part of your vision.
    Our teachers in Australia urgently need your PD and ongoing islamic studies pedagogy support.
    Keep up the great work.
    Allah is with the sabireen.

  2. Great write up, Dr. Memon! You certainly have presented some food for thought and I commend you for doing this. I think the recent article about book content at an East End Madrassah in Toronto will make more people aware of what they are teaching and how appropriate is the material they are using. Not to mention how it may be viewed by non-Muslims. Good idea to not re-invent the wheel. Islamic educators can certainly harness knowledge and wisdom from each other. We can work harder, but we must also work smarter! I will share your blogs with others who subscribe to the Ontario Association of Islamic Schools. Keep up the good work!

    • Thank you to all of you for getting this conversation started! Br. Naseem, I agree, the need to consider curriculum questions is urgent and our plan is to definitely continue to address this as one of our threads. Sr. Anela, the need for us harness energies will hopefully be facilitated with a forum like this. Similarly, Br. Belal, we hope that this becomes our moderated forum of sorts by extending the mailing list approach with more consistent things to think about.

      Looking forward to the continued dialogue and ideas.

  3. Assalamu alaikum Br. Nadeem,

    May I suggest that ITEP create a dedicated moderated mailing list or forum for such a space, where any teacher interested in Islamic education could pose a question or issue for intellectual discussion? Such mailing lists are plentiful and are very beneficial – and easy to setup. :)

    Jazaakillahu khairan for your efforts.

    Best regards,
    Belal

  4. Sorry for the typing error.
    The sentence “May Allah reward you in abundance for sharing the same though … should read as
    “May Allah reward you in abundance for sharing the same thought..”

  5. Assalamu Alaikum,
    Great questions !
    I hope we will use the conversation to share some of the reasons that we have variations. I realize that it might seem better to have only one but I think that because most of the schools are young everyone is striving to create their system to the best of their ability and to please Allah(S).
    Inshallah at the core of every school is Islam. I realize that some schools have at their core an academic program and Islam is added as a layer on that. I am not comfortable with that model. From there i would like to think each school is focused on an outcome such as raising children who can practice Islam in a world where that may be a challenge.
    So, if schools articulate their intended outcomes and evaluate and write up systematically how they are doing, inshallah there will be more and more data for others to look at they determine what works. I believe many schools are doing a great job at developing their schools we just need to know about their success and challenges so we can learn from them. We need to tell our own story. Wasalam, Seema

    • Absolutely Dr. Seema, we need to tell our own story. To build on that, we need to share our current stories. This would be a wonderful place to build on the discussion with global stories of Islamic schools — weekend, full-time, home school, etc. I know there are many nuances from Australia to South Africa and even between neighbors like Canada and the U.S. Tell us about what your school uses for teaching Islamic studies, what’s working, what’s not, and what’s needed.

  6. Salam,
    A much needed initiative Dr. Memom.
    Please include us in this conversation.
    Webinars + google group are recommended.
    Hoping there is also space for part time / weekend schools.
    Jazakom Allah
    Maggie

    • Weekend schools are definitely part of the conversation! Great ideas and we plan to keep the webinars coming insha’Allah. We are getting a really solid global response on the webinars so please keep ideas coming on topics you’d like to see addressed.

  7. Hi,

    There is certainly a greater concern among parents living in the West for Islamic education. I am about to start a Phd in Ireland on this topic and therefore I would appreciate to learn from other educators in the field so that we can do work together to contribute something to the Ummah and by Allah’s help provide a better educational future for our kids. Count me in!

  8. The work Dr. Nadeem Memon is extremely important. Yes, let us proceed with sincere and serious discussions. For the last 3 months we’ve been analyzing and elaborating on the Tarbiyah Project Document of the late Dawud Tauhidi, Rahmah Allah ‘Alayh. This has been taking place On-line at Tarbiyah Project Wikispaces. Discussion topics have included: Tawhid, Tarbiyah Principles, Educational Aims, Transdisciplinary Approaches to Curriculum, Concept-based Curriculum, and Unified Frameworks. The discussions are continuing. You’re more than welcome to join in.

    • Excellent! Thank you for this link and invitation because there have been many people that have been inquiring about how to stay connected to developments with the Tarbiyah Project.

  9. It really is time for a conversation about this. I recommend that you create a Wiki or open a section/school on Wikiversity dedicated to Islamic Education. Initial content could focus on differing objectives and theory, followed by lists of (or links to) available primary sources.
    The website link above seems to have trouble in Chrome browsers, but should work in Firefox. It outlines a plan for developing structured community-based education opportunities, largely modeled upon traditional premodern schools. I’m currently helping with a project to develop a “traditional Islamic” (basics of the religion) educational curriculum in English to function as an accessible resource for Muslims or non-Muslim scholars. I can be contacted there through the comments area.

  10. Thank you Dr. Nadeem for touching on a topic whose time has come. I teach Weekend school and have personally felt that traditional methods of teaching in a classroom setting is not producing desired results. Since Islam is a way of life, I feel that it should be taught the same way our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw) did. It is as much about action as it is about theory. Through the actions of Parents, guardians, family members, and friends we ought to provide an environment to our students and young ones that cultivate Islamic practices in their lives. I totally agree with the concept of bringing together various sources of Islamic scholarship to a central mouthpiece where ideas are shared, discussed and formulated into concrete steps.

  11. Great discussion! I’ve been looking for something like this for quite sometime. I agree with the idea of creating a usergroup to make conversation flow much easier.
    Youcef, is there anyway we can get in touch. I’d love to hear what your research proposal will address. I’m also beginning a phd program in this field.

    Salaam

  12. Assalam alaykum
    this is wonderful. Please create a space that is more accessible, though, to conversation. The blog is great, but conversation should take place on a wiki or on a forum – it is more accommodating of multiple threads and ideas and easier to invite others to be a part of.
    The idea of a mailing list is important too. We need to make sure all those who can contribute and who want to benefit are involved inshaAllah.

    • Absolutely! We have an online forum for those who have completed the Islamic Teacher Education Program and will work on ways to create an open forum as well. Something like this is very important for a truly global conversation. That said, if you have any ideas of what would make such a forum effective in terms of its structure, please feel free to post ideas.

  13. Assalam alaikom,
    Thank you Dr Nadeem jazakom Allah kheir. It’s a great idea.
    Even though we’re a great number of educators in the field we’re all spreadout.
    InchAllah we can be more successful by exchanging the knowledge of how to raise great leaders.

  14. السلام عليكم ورحمة الله

    May Allah keep all of us blessed throughout the holy month of Ramadan.

    Dr. Nadeem, I have been following various educational related articles, web notes, etc from your side for last few months.

    My special research interest is Curriculum of Islamic Education. I completed my PhD from the prestigious International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). And the topic reads, ‘a proposed framework for the curriculum of Islamic Education: Implication for the curricula of Islamic Religious Higher Education Institutions in Kerala, India.’

    A major part of the study was an indepth literature review including both Arabic and English sources.

    I do always follow up various curriculum model, including the one by late Daud Tauhidi. I remember doing a presentation on Tarbiya Project during my coursework.

    This just to show my interest, and see how discussions are happening over there!

    Also I am happy to go through various comments made above. By the way which blog are you talking about.

    Currently I am working as an Assistant Professor (Curriculum and Instruction) at Faculty of Education, UNIVERSITI TEKNOLOGI MALAYSIA.

    A brief background

    I am Shafeeq Hussain, originally from India with a deep traditional and modern education. I had opportunity to do under the auspices of Darul Huda Islamic University (DHIU), Kerala, India. It started in 1986.

    DH admits 11 year old students, and they are instructed in all Islamic sciences plus all the modern subjects at the special secondary level. The same students then go to post secondary, degree and PG levels. There are quite a number of DH branches in different part of Kerala, and a few outside Kerala. PG is done only in DH main campus.

    Having completed such an in the same campus, I joined IIUM for Master’s and PhD.

  15. I like it, c’mon let’s be unity to promote islamic values in education, i like you all my brotehr and sister. i hope we can to take correspodance with you.
    this is my email : hidayat_upi@hotmail.com, FB: hidayat@upi.edu, Twitter :hidayat_upi@hotmail.com

    Thank you

  16. it is nice idea to be developed and spread among islamic scholars. In kerala, India we are experiencing huge no of experiments for the upgradation of imparting islamic education with modern subjects.

  17. Asalam alaykm .
    Dr Nadeem May Allah bless you for the work you are doing.
    I would also like to be added in this conversation .
    I have a bachelors in islamic edu.and have worked on edu since 1987 .
    I wonder if this conversation did develope ? Please do keep me informed.

  18. Dec. 9, 2014
    In the name of Allah, the most gracious and the most merciful
    Younger Brother Doctor Nadeem Memon,
    Peace be on you and your efforts for last 12 years Mashaa-Allah.We got lot of global Islamic educational information based on your research and writing, Mashaa-Allah!

    Time has come now for muslim educators of Islamic schools and post-secondary institutes locally and globally in each continent have our:
    1. Board of Islamic schools in county, province, state, nation
    2. Develop common curriculum, policy and procedure for both Islamic faculty and Academic faculty
    3. Train our untrained teachers at reasonable fees
    4. As muslims # have been increasing raise funds from each provincial or federal level national govt by political lobbying
    5. Prepare our muslim children as future responsible citizens to produce more muslim scholars, policymaker, educators and Islamic Schools, Colleges and centers and Islamic centers.
    You alone can not do this job but with your leadership quality need to collaborate with other potential educated muslim experienced professional educators convene in conference, seminars, meetings regularly to achieve above goals.

    Do you know in last 30 years of evolving Islamic schools we could not produce provincial Ontario one umbrella of all Islamic Schools under one board of education called Federation or League or Board of Islamic Schools in Ontario and Ontario Muslim Children Aid Support Service to fight for govt funding.

    So please stop moving for money and come back to Ontario, Canada and get above jobs accomplished in homeland Canada and America then go for making petro dollars in Dubai.

    Life is too short brother. Let us get united by younger and adult two generations of all major muslims or Islamic organizations in Canada and get above educational issues mentioned above.

    Sincerely,
    Toowhid Noman

  19. Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!
    My dear respected brothers and sisters once again may Allah azza wa jal bless you all for the good work you doing for the cause of Allah azza wa jal.
    Br Nadeem, is there any follow up on these discussions as how to move forward in getting a global networking amongst the Islamic Educators?

    Barakallahu feeka

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