January 12, 2016


Let's tap into Islam's heritage of critical education to defeat extremism in schools (Abdullah Sahin, 12 January 2016, The Guardian)

My research has revealed three types of "religiosities". The first is an exploratory religious identity, mostly observed among female and younger age groups who want the relevance of Islam to be demonstrated rather than merely asserted; the second is a "diffused identity" where Islam only functions as a cultural sentiment; the third is a "foreclosed" religiosity, rendering individuals vulnerable to radical voices. In response, I've developed a critical and reflective Islamic education programme to meet the changing needs of British Muslim children.

Various Muslim faith leaders and teachers have now been trained in this programme. The evidence shows it offers a practical model for addressing the foundations of radicalisation among British Muslim youth, and enables direct action at community level. Beyond primary prevention, this model should also be part of the rehabilitation of returning foreign fighters and others who have undergone Islamic indoctrination.

The kind of inclusive religious education provided in many community schools would complement such an approach by enabling students, including young Muslims, to develop a contextual understanding of Islam and its contemporary expressions. Instead of surveillance, schools need to encourage collaboration between RE teachers and Muslim educators. This would help pupils to be better informed about Islam and build competence among Muslim students to challenge rigid interpretations of their own religion. [...]

Islamic extremism can be defeated by robust and competent internal Islamic intervention. The struggle against extremism needs to include a measured, long-term educational response where Muslim communities, without being stigmatised, can join wider civil and educational efforts to counter it.

Posted by at January 12, 2016 2:49 PM