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A case study into how Muslim stakeholders in England perceive Islamic education at their Islamic school.

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Hussein, Yasmin 


A Case Study into How Muslim Stakeholders in England Perceive Islamic Education at their Islamic School


Islamic schools in Britain (and the West) are of increasing interest to Muslim parents given their loss of trust and confidence in mainstream schooling. However, questions arise as to the authenticity, quality and practice of Islamic schools. This situation undermines the Muslim community’s efforts to offer quality, holistic educational services to children and young people and also risks portraying Islamic education inaccurately and is particularly problematic given the widespread hostility the sector faces. This study sought to examine these issues further using a qualitative, illustrative case study of one independent Muslim secondary school in a disadvantaged community in England and to understand how Muslim stakeholders at this school understood and delivered an ‘Islamic education.’ Their perceptions were then considered against the literature on education in Islam using a dialogic relationship between the field data and the literature, thus enabling the themes, findings and recommendations to emerge. The field study focused on semi-structured interviews to allow the voices of Muslim teachers, parents, policy makers and students to be heard. Focus groups, lessons observations and documentary analysis were also used.

This study found that although most stakeholders struggled to articulate a conceptual understanding of education in Islam, their schooling approach nevertheless seemed to reflect basic Islamic principles, particularly an appreciation of human dignity, a stress on staff role modelling virtuous, peaceful behaviour, a passion for teaching and student learning and the encouragement of public service. Students appeared to be happy, motivated, characterful learners who were contributing positively as British Muslims to British society. Despite the school’s meagre resources and unqualified staff, it secured higher achievement results than peer state schools locally and nationally. Its model of Islamic schooling seemed to reflect a transformative, grassroots, ecosystem, promoting active learning, characterful behaviour, piety - and also peace - at the individual, family and community levels. The literature makes clear that the education of Muslims globally is in crisis, however, this study discusses one apparently successful example of Islamic schooling in the UK. It offers new knowledge (including conceptual tools and practical guidance) and contends that the Islamic philosophy and practice of education offers a valuable ethical, holistic, educational alternative to contemporary schooling and thus deserves greater attention as a legitimate part of the British schooling landscape.





Byers, Richard


peace and Islam, British Islamic schools, Islamic education


Doctor of Education (EdD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge