Teaching Classic Islamic Texts in Modern Settings: The In-Class Struggle

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Eltigani Abdelgadir Hamid

Abstract

An assumption is often made that there is a link between extremism and
the study of some classical Islamic texts. This article examines that claim
by exploring the influence of classical Islamic texts on the extreme
behaviour of Muslim students. Analysing the journals of twelve
American Muslim students, wherein they recorded their responses to
selected authentic texts, this study unexpectedly finds that the active
thinking of 60 percent of the students was not significantly stimulated
after studying these texts. The 40 percent of students who were
stimulated were those who had pre-existing knowledge and experiences
developed within Western educational and intellectual traditions rather
than Islamic traditions. Thus, it would appear that much of the
contemporary criticism of classical texts is in fact misplaced—any text
can work remarkably well given the proper methods of teaching and
environment. Criticism, if any, should be levelled at the broader, specific
political and/or intellectual ferment within which texts are positioned.

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Keywords

Authentic Texts
extremism
madrassa
reading strategy

Section
Articles in English
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