Islamic Philosophy of Education and Western Islamic Schools: points of tension

In Farideh Salili & Rumjahn Hoousain (eds.), Religion in Multicultural Education. IAP. pp. 41-70 (2006)
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In this chapter, I elaborate an idealized type of Islamic philosophy of education and epistemology. Next, I examine the crisis that Islamic schools face in Western societies. This will occur on two fronts: (1) an analysis of the relationship (if any) between the philosophy of education, the aspirations of school administration, and the actual character and practice of Islamic schools; and (2) an analysis concerning the meaning of an Islamic curriculum. To the first issue, I argue that there exists a disjuncture between Islamic educational ideals (as expressed by Muslim philosophers of education), the aspirations of school administrators, and the manner in which Islamic schools operate in practice. Concerning the second item, I argue that Islamic schools, notwithstanding their own insistent claims, must struggle to define what an Islamic education entails that is uniquely distinctive to Islamic schools. Finally, I argue that Islamic educators need to encourage open-minded discussions concerning issues on which there is no settled opinion. I illumine this discussion by drawing upon minority Muslim voices that encourage further dialogue and debate. Above all else, this chapter is an attempt to highlight the challenges that Muslim educators in the West face as they aim to reconcile an idealized caricature of Islamic philosophy of education with the on-the-ground needs of Muslim children socialized in a non-Islamic society.

Author's Profile

Michael S. Merry
University of Amsterdam


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