The Education of North American Muslim Parents and Children: Conceptual Change As a Contribution to Islamization of Education

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Four points of investigation are needed to develop a theoretical model for the Islamization of education in the context of the pluralistic societies of N. America. (1) The dynamics by which Muslims have arrived at a view of Islam that causes them to practice it in a particular way, (2) the variation in the conception and practice of Islam between the immigrant parents and their offspring, on one hand, and between the immigrant and the native Muslims, on the other, (3) the extent to which Muslims perceive the Western secular view to be in conflict with their own view as reflected in their adjustment process and in their transmission of the "Islamic" heritage, and (4) the ability of the educators to design programs that can reconcile the conflict, apparent or real, between the Islamic and the Western views of life and education.

The underlying assumptions are that in addition to the historical development of the Islamic conceptual ecology and its secular Western counterpart, the Muslims of N. America also have a distinct history and a living experience to be investigated. Moreover, understanding the subject matter, Islam, requires an investigation of the documents pertaining to it, namely al-Qur'an and the books of hadith. This investigation is a must for understanding (1) the variation in meanings given to the present ideas, (2) the relative stability or change in the conception and practice of the Islamic tenets over time, and (3) the new conception(s) and approach(s) to "Islamized education."

The aim is to determine (1) the Muslims' synthesis of all the factors (such as religion and faith, moral and cognitive development, socioanthropological demands, and pedagogical approaches) that have been secularized because of specialized approaches to human learning, (2) the level and type of awareness that the faithful individual has about human and revealed knowledge, (3) whether the individual is operating within the central concept of Islam, i.e., Tawhid (Oneness of God as the Source of knowledge and value), or within another concept that is outside of Tawhid that entails duality and secularity in education, and (4) whether or not curriculum designers are able to distinguish between Islam as the underlying value system and Islam as the subject matter as well as the encompassing social milieu.

The curriculum specialist developing programs for Muslim communities in pluralistic societies must keep in mind (1) the governing ideology (the belief system) and the authority (experts) who determine the type of "Islamic" knowledge, (2) the level of the experts'/learners' awareness of the relationship between their own conception of the ideology and the forces that govern their drawing of values and codes and, hence, the practice of the faith, and (3) the structure and means by which he or she can move from the Islamic philosophical system into an Islamic pedagogical system.

Three basic conditions, therefore, are essential for a program design and for a theoretical model of the Islamization of education: (1) to understand the Islamic educational pedagogy vis-a-vis the Western pedagogy, (2) to adopt an eclectic view of curriculum and to incorporate it with the reconstruction of religious thought in Islam(3) to keep in mind the epistemological, familial and contextual compositions and their effect on attitudinal and conceptual change of the learner.

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Copyright 1990, Association of Muslim Social Scientists. See also:


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The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences. (1990: 7, 3; 385-402)

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