Muslim supplementary classes and their place within the wider learning community : a Redbridge-based study
Using his own professional experiences and fieldwork in the north-east of London as a starting point, the author suggests that the time is now right to consider the place of Muslim supplementary education in a wider social and educational setting. He suggests that four factors support this: the growing public interest in the emergence of British Islam; the continuing debate about the efficacy of traditional forms of Islamic education; the increasing use of networking within the educational community; and the growing official recognition of the contribution made by supplementary schooling. Following a review of a wide range of relevant literary material, the author draws on a number of life-story interviews in order to portray the reality and variety of British Muslims' experience of Islamic education. The outcomes of ethnographic fieldwork are then used to describe and analyse what takes place in a British maktab (elementary mosque school). This includes a detailed explanation of how and why the Qur'an is learned, particularly by those individuals who are training to become huffaz (those who have committed the whole Qur'an to memory). The ways in which Muslim supplementary schools might form part of the wider social and educational community are then explored together with factors that might block or encourage the creation of such an ideal. Analysis includes a review of existing organisational attempts to promote the work of supplementary schooling. A case is also presented for the reappraisal of the role of memorisation as a distinct form of learning. The thesis ends with a concluding statement, focusing on the ideal of maktabs and mainstream LEA schools working together to mutual benefit, and a number of recommendations aimed at researchers and those involved in both Muslim and wider community schooling.