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Canadian Islamic Schools

Canadian Islamic Schools: Unravelling the Politics of Faith, Gender, Knowledge, and Identity

Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Canadian Islamic Schools
    Book Description:

    Based on eighteen months of fieldwork and interviews with forty-nine participants,Canadian Islamic Schoolsprovides significant insight into the role and function that Islamic schools have in Diasporic, Canadian, educational, and gender-related contexts.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8750-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. 1 Staying on the ‘Straight Path’: A Critical Introduction to Islamic Schooling
    (pp. 3-46)

    The opening verse of the Holy Qur’an and the passage quoted above speak to the practice of staying on the ‘straight path,’siratul mustaqeemin the Arabic language – that is, on the path of righteous knowledge and behaviour. This is often termed in Islamic discourse a ‘middle path,’ one of moderation, balance, peace, and justice. This is the path that Muslims are enjoined to follow, and the invocation of being guided to this path is repeated more than twenty times a day during the opening verse of the five daily prayers. The repeating of this invocation and the search for...

  5. 2 Framing the Analyses: An Examination of the Discursive Frameworks
    (pp. 47-74)

    The following chapters are informed by the discursive understandings presented here as critical frameworks for engagement with ongoing debates and dialogues in Islamic education, as well as for the narrative inquiry based on the empirical, ethnographic data. This chapter situates the analyses in this study within these specific conceptual and ideological frameworks. I use the term ‘discursive frameworks’ to indicate the particular lenses I have used for examining the data in this study. I use this term rather than ‘theoretical framework’ in order to highlight a difference in the epistemological approach. In contrast to the way in which theoretical frameworks...

  6. 3 Research Methodology: A Crucial Ethnographic Approach
    (pp. 75-94)

    According to Anderson (1989), critical ethnography emerged as a result of ‘the dissatisfaction with social accounts of “structures” such as class, patriarchy and racism in which real human actors never appear’ (p. 249). This dissatisfaction led to the development of critical ethnography, which is ‘sensitive to the dialectical relationship between the social structural constraints on human agency actors and the relative autonomy of human agency’ (p. 254). Critical ethnography can also be a means to unsettle and unravel the status quo by invoking critical theory and political transformation (drawing on the work of Paulo Freire and others) and by focusing...

  7. 4 The Role and Function of Islamic Schools in the Canadian Muslim Diaspora
    (pp. 95-152)

    This chapter examines the sociological and ideological role performed by Islamic schools in the Canadian Muslim diaspora. The narratives of students, parents, teachers, and administrators provided insights into the various functions of Islamic schools. The salient themes that emerged from the interviews and participant observations I conducted over eighteen months of fieldwork showed that Islamic schools make the following sociological and ideological contributions:

    They provide a social and spiritually based alternative to secular public schools.

    They ‘protect’ students from negative influences (i.e., rather than isolating and ‘ghettoizing’ students).

    They rehabilitate and resocialize ‘wayward’ students (i.e., through a process of cultural...

  8. 5 Embodied Practices: Schooling and the Politics of Veiling
    (pp. 153-184)

    In this chapter, ‘gendered Islamophobia’ and the politics of veiling are examined through a narrative analysis of eighteen female students. Sixteen of the girls attended the Al Rajab high school, two attended middle school at Al Safar. They ranged in age from fourteen to nineteen and were of South Asian, Arab, Somali, and Caribbean backgrounds. Islamic school became a safe haven where these students had freedom from racialized and Islamophobic stereotypes. This was particularly important for girls who adhered to Islamic dress codes outside of school, which visibly marked them as Muslims. These girls constructed their identities in opposition to...

  9. 6 Islamic Schooling and the Construction of Gendered Identities and Gender Relations
    (pp. 185-228)

    This chapter focuses on Islamic schools as sites for the construction of gendered Islamic identities and sensibilities. It also explores how Muslim girls construct notions of gender and religious identity from within Islam. The conceptual/discursive framework used for this aspect of the study borrows from a post-structuralist feminist analysis that is informed by Foucault’s interest in how subjectivities are discursively constructed. Post-structuralist feminist theorizing however often seems to circumvent issues of race, as if spaces of subjectivity are somehow transcendent of racialized ontologies. By not interrogating the intersectionality of race and gender, such analyses have a limited and ultimately impoverished...

  10. 7 The Islamization of Knowledge and Social and Political Praxis in Islamic Schools
    (pp. 229-260)

    This chapter explores the Islamization of knowledge and praxis in Islamic schools. Issues related to integrating Islam into the largely Eurocentric secular curriculum mandated by the Ontario Ministry of Education are examined through the narratives of Islamic educators, administrators, parents, and students. Teachers at Islamic schools share their strategies for Islamizing knowledge in their lessons and discuss how Islamic knowledge and values inform other areas of educational praxis. Particular attention is paid to how current global events and social justice concerns are addressed in the curriculum of Islamic schools as a means to promote spirituality through social and political activism....

  11. 8 The Politics of Teaching and Learning in Islamic Schools
    (pp. 261-306)

    This chapter explores the politics of teaching and learning in Islamic schools by examining the curricular and pedagogical strengths and challenges identified by the various educational stakeholders. The primary challenges for Islamic schools are social, organizational, and economic. The narratives of teachers, students, and parents highlight the pressing issues facing these under-resourced independent community-based schools.

    As independent institutions, Islamic schools do not receive funding beyond the tuition they charge (which, at the four schools in this study, ranged from $250 to $300 per month). Nevertheless, many parents at Al Safar spoke highly of the academic standards at their school, which...

  12. 9 Weaving the Strands of Discourse and Praxis: Mapping Future Directions for Islamic Schools
    (pp. 307-328)

    I began this study by stating that I support the ideal of Islamic schooling, though not necessarily the present realities of many Islamic schools. I have witnessed a great deal through this research that has made me hopeful that the ideal is worth pursuing. At times, however, I fear that realizing this ideal will mean swimming against the strong tide of puritanical and patriarchal religious authority. My goal was to provide an ethnographic account of these schools that allows the participants, as primary stakeholders, to situate their experiences and speak to the realities they have encountered. I mean this study...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 329-338)
  14. References
    (pp. 339-350)
  15. Index
    (pp. 351-369)