Standardizing Islamic Studies

By Khan, Samana | Islamic Horizons, March/April 2012 | Go to article overview

Standardizing Islamic Studies


Khan, Samana, Islamic Horizons


Educators stress the need for Islamic schools to come under the same umbrella.

EARLY IMMIGRANTS TO THE U.S. AND CANADA QUICKLY recognized the need to teach children the basics of Islam. Across the nation, many dedicated their time to establishing schools, curricula and books to educate a new generation growing in the West. Islamic education has graduated from makeshift classrooms in basements to more than 600 weekend and 230 full-time schools nationwide. Many parents and educators alike have asked, "Where do we go from here? And how do we continue to raise the bar of Islamic education?"

Tasneema Ghazi offers a glimpse into the next steps.

Q: You were among the first to establish Islamic schools in North America, develop an Islamic studies curriculum, and research and write approved Islamic textbooks. What direction does Islamic education need to take as we move forward?

A: Now that schools and resources have been established, we realized that, going forward, we needed to create learning benchmarks in order to progress. For example, when teaching subjects like math, science, language arts, etc., teachers follow state and national standards in curriculum development. Having an approved set of standards ensures that all students statewide and even nationwide are learning relatively the same content based on their cognitive ability within each grade.

Q: Have efforts been made to apply a similar approach in establishing curriculum standards for Islamic studies?

A: Yes. I have personally worked with a team of educators, researchers and scholars to help develop national standards for Islamic curriculum. We started by first finding the commonalities within Islamic textbooks from various publishers. Then we looked for commonalities among Islamic curriculum from several schools in North America. With guidance from scholars we created a curriculum map based on the data collected. Eventually, sets of standards and competencies have been created for Islamic studies subjects: Quranic Studies, Sirah (Life of the Prophet), Aqidah, Fiqh, Akhlaq and Islamic social studies.

Q: How can parents assure that their child's school is utilizing this resource?

A: The best way to monitor whether or not students are learning is by implementing an assessment instrument like the Islamic Studies Standardized Tests (ISST).

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