This paper examines two sets of interrelated issues informing contemporary discussions on Islam and education that take place within both Muslim majority and minority contexts. The first set of issues concerns the academic conceptualisation of the study of education within diverse historical and contemporary Islamic cultural, intellectual, political, theological and spiritual traditions. After a critical examination of the current literature, the paper suggests that ‘Islamic Education Studies’ offers a distinctive academic framing that incorporates an interdisciplinary empirical and scholarly inquiry strategy capable of generating a body of knowledge and understanding guiding the professional practice and policy development in the field. Lack of conceptual clarity in various current depictions of the field, including ‘Muslim Education’, ‘Islamic Pedagogy’, ‘Islamic Nurture’ and ‘Islamic Religious Pedagogy’, is outlined and the frequent confusion of Islamic Education with Islamic Studies is critiqued. The field of Islamic Education Studies has theological and educational foundations and integrates interdisciplinary methodological designs in Social Sciences and Humanities. The second part of the inquiry draws attention to the lack of new theoretical insights and critical perspectives in Islamic Education. The pedagogic practice in diverse Muslim formal and informal educational settings does not show much variation and mostly is engaged with re-inscribing the existing power relations shaping the society. The juxtaposition of inherited Islamic and borrowed or enforced Western secular educational cultures appears to be largely forming mutually exclusive, antagonistic and often rigid ‘foreclosed’ minds within contemporary Muslim societies. The impact of the educational culture and educational institutions on the formation of resentful Islamic religiosities and the reproduction of authoritarian leadership within the wider mainstream Muslim communities have not been adequately explored. The study stresses the need to have a paradigm shift in addressing this widely acknowledged educational crisis. The formation of a transformative educational culture remains the key to being able to facilitate reflective and critical Muslim religiosities, and positive socio-economic and political change in Muslim majority and minority societies. This inquiry explores a significant aspect of this crisis by re-examining the degree to which Islamic and Western, liberal, secular conceptions and values of education remain irreconcilably divergent or open to a convergent dialogue of exchange, reciprocity and complementarity. The originality of the paper lies in offering a critical rethinking of Islamic Education through mapping the main relevant literature and identifying and engaging with the central theoretical issues while suggesting a new academic framing of the field and its interdisciplinary research agenda.
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