In April, the University of North Carolina Press will release “What Is a Madrasa?” by Ebrahim Moosa (University of Notre Dame). The publisher’s description follows:
Taking us inside the world of the madrasa–the most common type of school for religious instruction in the Islamic world–Ebrahim Moosa provides an indispensable resource for anyone seeking to understand orthodox Islam in global affairs. Focusing on postsecondary-level religious institutions in the Indo-Pakistan heartlands, Moosa explains how a madrasa can simultaneously be a place of learning revered by many and an institution feared by many others, especially in a post-9/11 world.
Drawing on his own years as a madrasa student in India, Moosa describes in fascinating detail the daily routine for teachers and students today. He shows how classical theological, legal, and Qur’anic texts are taught, and he illuminates the history of ideas and politics behind the madrasa system. Addressing the contemporary political scene in a clear-eyed manner, Moosa introduces us to madrasa leaders who hold diverse and conflicting perspectives on the place of religion in society. Some admit that they face intractable problems and challenges, including militancy; others, Moosa says, hide their heads in the sand and fail to address the crucial issues of the day. Offering practical suggestions to both madrasa leaders and U.S. policymakers for reform and understanding, Moosa demonstrates how madrasas today still embody the highest aspirations and deeply felt needs of traditional Muslims.
In March, Brill Publishing will release “Issues in Religion and Education: Whose Religion?” edited by Lori G. Beaman and Leo Van Arragon (University of Ottawa). The publisher’s description follows:
Issues in Religion and Education, Whose Religion? is a contribution to the dynamic and evolving global debates about the role of religion in public education. This volume provides a cross-section of the debates over religion, its role in public education and the theoretical and political conundrums associated with resolutions. The chapters reflect the contested nature of the role of religion in public education around the world and explore some of the issues mentioned from perspectives reflecting the diverse contexts in which the authors are situated. The differences among the chapters reflect some of the particular ways in which various jurisdictions have come to see the problem and how they have addressed religious diversity in public education in the context of their own histories and politics.
In February, Springer Publishing will release “The Changing World Religion Map: Sacred Places, Identities, Practices and Politics” edited by Stanley D. Brunn (University of Kentucky). The publisher’s description follows:
This extensive work explores the changing world of religions, faiths and practices. It discusses a broad range of issues and phenomena that are related to religion, including nature, ethics, secularization, gender and identity. Broadening the context, it studies the interrelation between religion and other fields, including education, business, economics and law. The book presents a vast array of examples to illustrate the changes that have taken place and have led to a new world map of religions.
Beginning with an introduction of the concept of the “changing world religion map”, the book first focuses on nature, ethics and the environment. It examines humankind’s eternal search for the sacred, and discusses the emergence of “green” religion as a theme that cuts across many faiths. Next, the book turns to the theme of the pilgrimage, illustrated by many examples from all parts of the world. In its discussion of the interrelation between religion and education, it looks at the role of missionary movements. It explains the relationship between religion, business, economics and law by means of a discussion of legal and moral frameworks, and the financial and business issues of religious organizations. The next part of the book explores the many “new faces” that are part of the religious landscape and culture of the Global North (Europe, Russia, Australia and New Zealand, the U.S. and Canada) and the Global South (Latin America, Africa and Asia). It does so by looking at specific population movements, diasporas, and the impact of globalization. The volume next turns to secularization as both a phenomenon occurring in the Global religious North, and as an emerging and distinguishing feature in the metropolitan, cosmopolitan and gateway cities and regions in the Global South. The final part of the book explores the changing world of religion in regards to gender and identity issues, the political/religious nexus, and the new worlds associated with the virtual technologies and visual media.
Next month, Routledge Press will publish “Making European Muslims: Religious Socialization Among Young Muslims in Scandinavia and Western Europe” edited by Mark Sedgwick (Aarhus University, Denmark). The publisher’s description follows:
“Making European Muslims” provides an in-depth examination of what it means to be a young Muslim in Europe today, where the assumptions, values and behavior of the family and those of the majority society do not always coincide. Focusing on the religious socialization of Muslim children at home, in semi-private Islamic spaces such as mosques and Quran schools, and in public schools, the original contributions to this volume focus largely on countries in northern Europe, with a special emphasis on the Nordic region, primarily Denmark. Case studies demonstrate the ways that family life, public education, and government policy intersect in the lives of young Muslims and inform their developing religious beliefs and practices. Mark Sedgwick’s introduction provides a framework for theorizing Muslimness in the European context, arguing that Muslim children must navigate different and sometimes contradictory expectations and demands on their way to negotiating a European Muslim identity.
Next month, Oxford will publish The House of Service: The Gulen Movement and Islam’s Third Way, by David Tittensor (Deakin University, Australia). The publisher’s description follows.
David Tittensor offers a groundbreaking new perspective on the Gülen movement, a Turkish Muslim educational activist network that emerged in the 1960s and has grown into a global empire with an estimated worth of $25 billion. Named after its leader Fethullah Gülen, the movement has established more than 1,000 secular educational institutions in over 140 countries, aiming to provide holistic education that incorporates both spirituality and the secular sciences.
Despite the movement’s success, little is known about how its schools are run, or how Islam is operationalized. Drawing on thirteen months of ethnographic fieldwork in Turkey, Tittensor explores the movement’s ideo-theology and how it is practiced in the schools. His interviews with both teachers and graduates from Africa, Indonesia, Central Asia, and Turkey show that the movement is a missionary organization, but of a singular kind: its goal is not simply widespread religious conversion, but a quest to recoup those Muslims who have apparently lost their way and to show non-Muslims that Muslims can embrace modernity and integrate into the wider community. Tittensor also examines the movement’s operational side and shows how the schools represent an example of Mohammad Yunus’s social business model: a business with a social cause at its heart.
The House of Service is an insightful exploration of one of the world’s largest transnational Muslim associations, and will be invaluable for those seeking to understand how Islam will be perceived and practiced in the future.
On February 25, the CUNY Institute for Education Policy in New York will host what looks to be a fascinating discussion on tax credits for primary and secondary education–including education in religious schools. Past CLR Forum Guest Ashley Berner (left), the Institute’s Deputy Director, will be one of the panelists. Here’s a description:
For most Americans, “public education” has meant the traditional neighborhood school. That once-unassailable image is changing, however, as states and districts have begun to sanction a wider array of schools such as magnets and charters, and new school funding mechanisms such as tax credits and vouchers – stirring up controversy in the process.
There are important arguments on each side. To its defenders, the dominant model reflects democratic governance structures, advances citizenship formation, is ideologically neutral, and should be preserved with minor adjustments. Innovators, for their side, believe that the expansion of educational options yields better academic outcomes and more diverse classrooms, extends choice to more families, advances pluralism, and aligns the United States’ school system with those of other democratic nations.
New York is now considering a bill that creates an Education Investment Tax Credit to stimulate up to $300 million in charitable donations for public classrooms and for K-12 scholarships for students to attend Catholic, Jewish and other private schools. Please join us for a lively discussion of the bill’s benefits and limitations in light of international education systems.
For details, please click here.
This month, Routledge will publish Education, Religion and Diversity: Developing a New Model of Religious Education by L. Philip Barnes (King’s College London, UK). The publisher’s description follows.
The challenge of diversity is central to education in modern liberal, democratic states, and religious education is often the point where these differences become both most acute and where it is believed, of all curriculum subjects, resolutions are most likely to be found.
Education, Religion and Diversity identifies and explores the commitments and convictions that have guided post-confessional religious education and concludes controversially that the subject as currently theorised and practised is incapable of challenging religious intolerance and of developing respectful relationships between people from different communities and groups within society.
It is argued that despite the rhetoric of success, which religious education is obliged to rehearse in order to perpetuate its status in the curriculum and to ensure political support, a fundamentally new model of religious education is required to meet the challenge of diversity to education and to society. A new framework for religious education is developed which offers the potential for the subject to make a genuine contribution to the creation of a responsible, respectful society.
Education, Religion and Diversity is a wide-ranging, provocative exploration of religious education in modern liberal democracies. It is essential reading for those concerned with the role of religion in education and for religious and theological educators who want to think critically about the aims and character of religious education.
In August, Palgrave Macmillan will publish Religious Education in a Multicultural Europe: Children, Parents and Schools, edited by Emer Smyth (ESRI), Maureen Lyons (U. College Dublin), and Merike Darmody (ESRI). The publisher’s description follows.
Religion and schooling has become a controversial issue across Europe. But we know little about how these tensions are experienced by children and their families. This groundbreaking book draws on an innovative, comparative study to examine how religious and/or secular beliefs are formed at school and in the family in five countries with very different educational systems (Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Malta, and Scotland). New information on how schools and families influence the development of children’s religious identities is presented by placing the experiences of primary school children at the centre of the research, yielding fresh insights into their perspectives on religion and schooling. The book adopts a multidisciplinary perspective, thus providing a more holistic perspective on the processes at play. Importantly, it offers insights into key policy issues concerning the place of religion in the school system, illuminating current debates around religion and multiculturalism across Europe.
Last month, the University of Hawaii Press published The Language of Secular Islam: Urdu Nationalism and Colonial India by Kavita Datla (Mount Holyoke College). The publisher’s description follows.
During the turbulent period prior to colonial India’s partition and independence, Muslim intellectuals in Hyderabad sought to secularize and reformulate their linguistic, historical, religious, and literary traditions for the sake of a newly conceived national public. Responding to the model of secular education introduced to South Asia by the British, Indian academics launched a spirited debate about the reform of Islamic education, the importance of education in the spoken languages of the country, the shape of Urdu and its past, and the significance of the histories of Islam and India for their present.
The Language of Secular Islam pursues an alternative account of the political disagreements between Hindus and Muslims in South Asia, conflicts too often described as the product of primordial and unchanging attachments to religion. The author suggests that the political struggles of India in the 1930s, the very decade in which the demand for Pakistan began to be articulated, should not be understood as the product of an inadequate or incomplete secularism, but as the clashing of competing secular agendas. Her work explores negotiations over language, education, and religion at Osmania University, the first university in India to use a modern Indian language (Urdu) as its medium of instruction, and sheds light on questions of colonial displacement and national belonging.
Grounded in close attention to historical evidence, The Language of Secular Islam has broad ramifications for some of the most difficult issues currently debated in the humanities and social sciences: the significance and legacies of European colonialism, the inclusions and exclusions enacted by nationalist projects, the place of minorities in the forging of nationalism, and the relationship between religion and modern politics. It will be of interest to historians of colonial India, scholars of Islam, and anyone who follows the politics of Urdu.
Apropos of Erwin Chemerinsky’s illiberal proposal to close down all private and religious schools, here is a liberal argument for accommodation of the educational preferences of (some) religious and other “perfectionist” groups: The Educational Autonomy of Perfectionist Religious Groups in a Liberal State, by Mark Rosen. The influence of Rawls on Rosen’s work is very substantial, but Rosen departs from Rawls in several interesting ways. Arguments like Rosen’s are not the only way to think about issues of educational pluralism (and it seems to me that Rosen’s piece has nothing to say about the educational autonomy of non-perfectionist groups, such as one might find at your typical secular private school). For a different approach, see this earlier post on Ashley Berner’s essay. But, like Berner’s essay, Rosen’s is a serious and thoughtful attempt to grapple with these problems. Here’s the abstract.
This Article draws upon, but reworks, John Rawls’ framework from Political Liberalism to determine the degree of educational autonomy that illiberal perfectionist religious groups ought to enjoy in a liberal state. I start by arguing that Rawls mistakenly concludes that political liberalism flatly cannot accommodate Perfectionists, and that his misstep is attributable to two errors: (1) Rawls utilizes an overly restrictive “political conception of the person” in determining who participates in the original position, and (2) Rawls overlooks the possibility of a “federalist” basic political structure that can afford significant political autonomy to different groups within a single country. With these insights, I argue that some, though not all, religious Perfectionists are consistent with a stable liberal polity, and explain why foundational Rawlsian premises require that Perfectionists be accommodated to the extent possible.
My ultimate conclusions are that liberal polities ought to grant significant autonomy to those illiberal groups that satisfy specified conditions, and that the autonomy of such “eligible” illiberal groups is subject to two further constraints, which I call “well-orderedness” and “opt-out.” The autonomy to which eligible Perfections are entitled includes the authority to educate their children in a way that provides a fair opportunity for the groups to perpetuate themselves. The constraint of well-orderedness, however, permits the State to impose educational requirements that facilitate peace and political stability. Accommodating eligible illiberal groups, subject to these constraints, is an instantiation of liberal commitments, not a compromise of liberal values.