A plan to teach young Muslims they can be citizens
04 December 2008. New citizenship lessons challenging the notion that there is any conflict between being a good Muslim and a good citizen are starting to be taught in after school madrassahs or mosque supplementary schools across the UK.
Around 30 madrassahs (buildings used for teaching Islamic theology and religious law) in East and West London, Bristol, Bradford/Kirklees, Leicester and Oldham/Rochdale are piloting the new materials. Through class discussion, role play and written exercises, the children aged 7-14 are learning through Islamic tradition, the importance of tolerance and respect, how to be better neighbours, the importance of volunteering and how to play an active part in their schools and communities.
This follows a package of measures announced in July by Communities Secretary Hazel Blears responding to calls from Muslim communities to support the promotion of citizenship and shared values and to stop Islamic theology being distorted by those who seek to divide communities.
Speaking on a visit to the Aziziye Education Centre, a Turkish Mosque and Madrassah in Stoke Newington, Communities Minister Sadiq Khan said: "Improving young Muslims understanding of Islam and its compatibility with wider shared values through their mosque supplementary schools has been identified by the British Muslim community as an important way of building resilience to extremist ideologies.”
Schools Minister Sarah McCarthy-Fry said:
"Pupils will be able to discuss citizenship-related issues in an atmosphere of mutual respect. They will learn more about their rights, responsibilities, duties and freedoms and about laws, justice and democracy. Through these lessons, young people will improve their understanding of how Islamic values and tradition mirror closely the shared values of tolerance, respect, courtesy and understanding that we all aspire towards."
Taught alongside or through traditional lessons on the Qur’an and supported by quotes from the Hadith (Islamic scripture) the lessons draw out the compatibility of Islam with wider shared values.
The topics explored, through 20 lesson plans will help to reinforce to young Muslims the teachings of Islam, that they can be Muslims and citizens of the country where they live and that there is no contradiction between being British and being Muslim.
The new lessons for madrassahs under the Islam and Citizenship Education project build on existing community led work and reinforce the citizenship curriculum within Islam.
While the impetus behind the project has come from the Muslim community, the Government has supported an independent educational organisation – the Schools Development and Support Agency – to work with scholars, educational experts and mosque school teachers to develop the new citizenship materials and training packages.