I’m sure the majority of Muslim educators in the West have often wondered what makes their Islamic schools stand out from the traditional, secular educational system that is already in place. Is it a sense of pride in students that are well-behaved, that they are high academic achievers, or that they may go on to attend the finest universities?
Or could it be something even more meaningful and harder to measure quantitatively? This is one of the main questions that Professor Tariq Ramadan asks in the following lecture (embedded below), which he gave at Oxford University recently. Sometimes, he states, just adding the Islamic component is not enough. One must identify the Islamic principles and objectives on which an institution of learning functions.
As you view the 34 minute talk, take special note of the other relevant questions that he raises:
- What are Islamic schools in the West doing to produce students that are dignified and globally responsible citizens that are able to contribute positively to their societies? In other words, what is the added value of Islamic education, and why is the concept of integration simply not enough?
- How necessary are the processes of evaluation and assessment in ensuring that we are improving the Islamic educational system in the West?
- Why must the Islamic principles of Tawheed and Tarbiyya be emphasized in order to become effective in meeting our objectives?
- What is meant by a total body approach to Islamic education, or an education of both the mind and the heart?
Professor Ramadan excellently endeavors to shed light on both the ideas for and challenges to establishing an educational system based on Islamic principles.
One such principle that I found to be most relevant was that we must teach our students to be autonomous; having a sense of self-reliance once the essential knowledge is taught.
We want our children, Ramadan asserts, to be courageous enough to make the right choices and speak the truth when they are faced with the challenges of the real world. Do you agree?