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Schooling Islam

Schooling Islam: The Culture and Politics of Modern Muslim Education

Robert W. Hefner
Muhammad Qasim Zaman
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 276
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    Schooling Islam
    Book Description:

    Since the Taliban seized Kabul in 1996, the public has grappled with the relationship between Islamic education and radical Islam. Media reports tend to paint madrasas--religious schools dedicated to Islamic learning--as medieval institutions opposed to all that is Western and as breeding grounds for terrorists. Others have claimed that without reforms, Islam and the West are doomed to a clash of civilizations.

    Robert Hefner and Muhammad Qasim Zaman bring together eleven internationally renowned scholars to examine the varieties of modern Muslim education and their implications for national and global politics. The contributors provide new insights into Muslim culture and politics in countries as different as Morocco, Egypt, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. They demonstrate that Islamic education is neither timelessly traditional nor medieval, but rather complex, evolving, and diverse in its institutions and practices. They reveal that a struggle for hearts and minds in Muslim lands started long before the Western media discovered madrasas, and that Islamic schools remain on its front line.

    Schooling Islamis the most comprehensive work available in any language on madrasas and Islamic education.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3745-8
    Subjects: Religion
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments (pp. vii-viii)
  4. A Note on Transliteration and Spelling (pp. ix-x)
  5. Contributors (pp. xi-xiii)
  6. CHAPTER 1 Introduction: The Culture, Politics, and Future of Muslim Education (pp. 1-39)
    Robert W. Hefner

    Since the Taliban rolled into Kabul on September 26, 1996, Western media have grappled with the question of the nature of Islamic radicalism and its relation to religious education.¹ Several commentators were quick to place much of the blame for the radicals’ rise on madrasas, religious schools devoted to the study of Islamic traditions of knowledge. A widely cited article in theNew York Times Magazinereported that in Pakistan, “There are one million students studying in the country’s 10,000 or so madrasas, and militant Islam is at the core of most of these schools” (Goldberg 2000). Other commentators suspected...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Madrasas Medieval and Modern: Politics, Education, and the Problem of Muslim Identity (pp. 40-60)
    Jonathan P. Berkey

    In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Western public has become aware of many things of which, before that date, it was blissfully ignorant. One recent development in the Islamic world which has caught the eye of Western reporters is the increasing prominence of institutions of religious education, usually known as madrasas, particularly in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but also in India, Egypt, and indeed throughout the Islamic world. Journalistic attention to this topic has been remarkable. A Lexis-Nexis search of newspaper reports for the year following September 11, 2001, reveals hundreds of separate articles devoted...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Tradition and Authority in Deobandi Madrasas of South Asia (pp. 61-86)
    Muhammad Qasim Zaman

    The sort of education that madrasas of South Asia do or ought to provide has been much debated between and among the religious scholars associated with them, government officials, and other observers since at least the late nineteenth century (Zaman 2002, 60–86; 2005, 73–82). These debates have intensified in recent years, especially in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, but many of their themes are not new. Critics have argued with some consistency that the texts that comprise the curriculum of the madrasas were written many centuries ago, and the issues they address and the manner in which...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Madrasas and Minorities in Secular India (pp. 87-106)
    Barbara Metcalf

    The institutions in India labeled as “madrasa” vary enormously. But the humble school described in my epigraph does illuminate several aspects of the prevailing context in which Muslims and their madrasas operate in India. Most Muslims in India, at about 140,000,000 representing some 13.4 percent of the population as a whole (India 2001), live in an atmosphere of distrust. Their madrasas are particularly suspect, as true of India’s best known madrasa, the Dar al-‘Ulum in the small northern town of Deoband, and the shabby Jamia Arabia Shamsul Uloom in Delhi described here. Most Muslims in India are poor. Most Muslims,...

  10. CHAPTER 5 The “Recentering” of Religious Knowledge and Discourse: The Case of al-Azhar in Twentieth-Century Egypt (pp. 107-130)
    Malika Zeghal

    In the aftermath of 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan, channels of Islamic education in the Muslim world have started to attract new interest. The role that the Deobandi ‘ulama played in the Taliban regime in Afghanistan explains the development of this new and public interrogation around the place and function of Islamic education (Metcalf 2002, xxi–xxv). This new public media inquiry, while first focused on the Indian subcontinent, has progressively expanded to madrasas and religious education in the Muslim world in general. A by-product of recent political events, this interest converges today with a shift in the academic...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Madrasas in Morocco: Their Vanishing Public Role (pp. 131-148)
    Dale F. Eickelman

    The core meaning of madrasa in Arabic, “place of study,” has powerful popular connotations in Morocco. As elsewhere in the Muslim majority world, madrasas have played an important cultural and institutional role in the Moroccan religious, political, and social imagination. Historically and in different contexts, a madrasa in Morocco is a place where the young first learn to memorize and recite the Qur’an. Moroccans also know such places asmsids(a colloquial contraction ofmasjid, “mosque”) and as kuttabs. The term equally signifies places of advanced religious learning, transmitting, and interpreting the word of God since the early Islamic centuries....

  12. CHAPTER 7 Islam and Education in Secular Turkey: State Policies and the Emergence of the Fethullah Gülen Group (pp. 149-171)
    Bekim Agai

    Talking about Turkey within the context of Islamic education presents a significant challenge, as the Turkish example shows how higher Islamic learning developed in one of the most secularized Muslim countries. Despite its unique relationship between state and Islam, which makes Turkey very different from its neighboring states, the country forms a microcosm with very different international Islamic trends within one country.

    The closure of all medreses—the Turkish word for madrasas—in 1924 did by no means indicate the end of Islamic education in the country. Religious education in its various forms has never ceased to be provided, be...

  13. CHAPTER 8 Pesantren and Madrasa: Muslim Schools and National Ideals in Indonesia (pp. 172-198)
    Azyumardi Azra, Dina Afrianty and Robert W. Hefner

    The October 2002 bombings in Bali, Indonesia, in which more than two hundred people died, raised concerns in Indonesian and Western policy circles about the possible involvement of some of Indonesia’s modern Islamic schools (madrasas) and traditionalist boarding schools (pesantrens) in promoting religious radicalism. Police investigations traced the Bali bombers back to a small pesantren in Lamongan, East Java. Some of the staff and students at the Lamongan school, investigations revealed, had studied with Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, the spiritual head of the al-Mukmin pesantren in Ngruki, Central Java, and a man identified by intelligence analysts as theamirof the...

  14. CHAPTER 9 The Transformation of Muslim Schooling in Mali: The Madrasa as an Institution of Social and Religious Mediation (pp. 199-223)
    Louis Brenner

    In Mali the term madrasa, or médersa as it is known in local French usage, has a very specific meaning that reflects much about the history of the institution in the country. Madrasa denotes a Muslim primary school that offers a combined secular and Islamic studies curriculum and employs “modernized” pedagogical methods. The first madrasas appeared in the 1940s when Mali was still the French colony of Soudan Franҫais. Two of these initial schools were tiny, semirural institutions that could barely be distinguished from local Qur’anic schools, except by the pedagogical aims of their founders, which included the introduction of...

  15. CHAPTER 10 Islamic Education in Britain: Approaches to Religious Knowledge in a Pluralistic Society (pp. 224-241)
    Peter Mandaville

    As a minority faith community in a highly pluralistic cultural environment, the United Kingdom’s Muslim population has faced a unique set of challenges relating to the issue of Islamic education and its place in British society. A phenomenon, predominantly, of postcolonial migration, the presence and public perception of Islam in the UK is intrinsically enmeshed within a wider set of debates relating to questions of citizenship, identity, and the integration of ethnic and religious minorities. National education systems and curricula have, of course, always represented key crucibles for the making of citizens. To use Benedict Anderson’s evocative language, schools constitute...

  16. CHAPTER 11 Epilogue: Competing Conceptions of Religious Education (pp. 242-268)
    Muhammad Qasim Zaman

    The various chapters in this volume have elucidated facets of an evolving Islamic education, its practices and institutions, in a number of cultural and political contexts. How those associated with such institutions articulate their goals is a question implicit in many of these discussions, as are their conceptions of Islamic learning, the practices they seek to inculcate through it, and the contestations that rival conceptions, institutions, and practices—and the diverse contexts in which they are embedded—sometimes lead to. In this epilogue, I address these issues with reference to two additional sets of examples: the Shi‘i madrasas of Iran...

  17. Index (pp. 269-277)