'Islamic' education between state and community: Frameworks and new directions

Document Type

Book Chapter




Jenny Berglund

Publication (Name of Journal)

European perspectives on Islamic education and public schooling


Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


Equinox eBooks Publishing




It is often not clear what one means by Islamic Religious Education and hence, the relationship between Public Schooling and IRE can vary significantly across countries. This lack of clarity also results in varied public discussions and reactions to the idea. The paper will outline at least three meanings of IRE. These include: one, IRE as religious instruction which is in many ways rooted in the historical tradition of teaching Islam to Muslims; two, IRE as education inspired by Islamic tradition which is reflected mainly in what are calls schools with Islamic religious character (or faith schools) whereby a range of subjects are taught within what is often seen by its proponents as Islamic epistemological framework; three, as education about Islamic/Muslim traditions which comes closest to the non-confessional model of teaching religions. It will be argued that at least in the first and second sense of the IRE, the actual teaching is predominantly of a particular denomination within the landscape of Islamic religion and not of a broad and diverse Islamic tradition. This fact is often not recognized in discussions about IRE. The paper will seek to explore how the relationship between IRE (in the above noted senses) and mainstream (more suitable in the UK context than public schools) schools has evolved over time.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.