Reforms in Islamic Education

9-10 April 2011

Report of a Conference on Reforms in Islamic Education jointly organised by the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre of Islamic Studies (Cambridge) and the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World (Edinburgh)

Download the Reforms in Islamic Education report.

What is Islamic education? What is the reality behind the heated debates over the role of “madrasas”? Does Islamic education lead to greater segregation, or does it further the cause of genuine pluralism? Can faith-based education nurture critical thinking? What should the relationship be between Islamic educational institutions and the state, or the national curriculum?

This is the report of a conference which tackles these fundamental questions. It examines the dynamics affecting Islamic education internationally. The conference, held at the University of Cambridge in April 2011, brought together leading scholars and practitioners who presented case studies ranging from Sweden to Malaysia, from Egypt to the United States, from Britain to Indonesia, from Morocco to Germany.

Islamic education is built on two distinctive ideas: that the acquisition of knowledge is both a lifelong pursuit and a religious duty; and that there must be a correlation between knowledge and action for the welfare of the Muslim community and humanity in general. Yet there is a widespread perception that Islamic education is under pressure from different quarters to reform itself. This report takes a wider view, examining the historical context and the internal dynamics and debates that are driving change. It highlights the different political and social contexts facing Islamic educational institutions across the world and the opportunities these present – from the politics of integration to discourses about modernisation.