Keywords: Madrasas, hadith, sira, usul al-din (principles of the faith), akhlaq, maktabs, fiqh (jurisprudence), kalam (theology), Islamisation, ribats (monastic colleges), Dar al-Ilm, adab, ulama, tafsir.

Abstract: In the contemporary period, the persistence of the dual system of state and madrasas education in many Muslim countries has raised for policymakers the dilemma of what form Islam ought to assume as a pedagogic category in these contexts. At one extreme, in the syllabi of traditionalist madrasas , we find Islam being deployed as an overarching epistemological framework within which all other forms of knowledge are subsumed.

At the other end, predominantly in state and private schools, Islam is presented as one discipline among a range of others. Between these two extremes lie other modes that approach Islam from interdisciplinary or ancillary perspectives.

This paper proposes to examine, using constructs from the sociology of the curriculum, the political and epistemological implications of the integrative and disciplinary modes of pedagogic Islam pertaining to contrasting Muslim contexts where tensions between these two forms of education have given rise to polarised discourses on the curriculum in the post-colonial period.

The enquiry will attempt to draw inferences from this analysis on the relationship between the political project of the modern Muslim nation-state, discursive posturings by competing interests, and epistemological forms of Islam as school knowledge, leading to considerations of curricular reform that can assign a progressive role to Islam in the education of young Muslims.


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Dr Shiraz Thobani

Head of the Department of Curriculum Studies

Dr Shiraz Thobani is the Head of the Department of Curriculum Studies at the Institute of Ismaili Studies. He holds a Ph.D in Education from the University of Cambridge, where he undertook a sociological and policy study of Islam as school knowledge in the English education system. He did his undergraduate degree at University of Toronto, and completed a Masters degree in Religious Education at the Institute of Education, University of London. His MPhil degree at Cambridge was based on Educational Research and Methodology.


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