Many countries in the Muslim world face demands to reform the curriculum in K-12 and in higher education settings. IIIT’s Advancing Education in Muslim Societies (AEMS) initiative contributes to this effort to equip students with 21st century skills while ensuring that the universal Islamic values are part of the curriculum. IIIT aims to inform decisions on the curriculum in K-12 and higher education using a human development approach to prepare students for meaningful living grounded in rich Islamic and universal teachings. This is necessary as the curriculum in most Muslim countries considers religious education an important part of the education system.  Furthermore, many Muslim societies offer education through Qur’anic Schools in addition to formal education offered by state-funded institutions. For some students who cannot access the state-funded schools in the more urban areas, Quranic schools serve as their only form of education (Abu-Nimer & Nasser, 2017). It is important for any curriculum reform efforts in these societies to take this into account, and make sure that all areas of the curriculum are addressed in different types of educational settings. The curriculum in schools and higher education can integrate Islamic and universal values and support the agenda of the 21st century skills such as problem solving and meaning making.

Reading Materials

  • Abu-Nimer, M., & Nasser, I. (2017). Building peace education in the Islamic educational context. International Review of Education, 63(2), 153-167.

“Following the events of 9/11, many misconceptions entered the policymaking platform with regard to the need for education reforms in the Muslim world. Based upon Western cultural and societal norms and increased skepticism of the role of religion in violence, these assumptions have triggered a strong wave of calls for a top down approach to reform formal state schools in predominantly Muslim countries. These calls often meet with resistance at national and community levels. This article seeks to examine these misconceptions and investigate why educational reform efforts through top-down frameworks which are especially motivated by countering violent extremism or terrorism have had only limited success. Many major international intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and governments have invested time and effort into education measures aiming to build peace and coexistence in Muslim countries, but they have been unable to build a relationship of trust with community leaders and school authorities. The authors argue that the main reason for defiance is reformers’ failure to closely examine the cultural context of their chosen setting and work with existing tools and local institutions. Illustrating their point with a case study of an intervention carried out in informal Qur’anic schools in Niger, West Africa, the authors offer an alternative method which fosters changes from within. They argue that this model has a better chance of sustainability and could thus be used as the basis for future ,” (p. 153).

“Life today is exponentially more complicated and complex than it was 50 years ago. This is true for civic life as much as it is for work life. In the 21st century, citizenship requires levels of information and technological literacy that go far beyond the basic knowledge that was sufficient in the past. With a host of challenges facing our communities, along with instant connectivity to a global society, civic literacy couldn’t be more relevant or applicable to the curricula in our schools. Global warming, immigration reform, pandemic diseases, and financial meltdowns are just a few of the issues today’s students will be called upon to address. Today’s students must be prepared to solve these challenges. In addition, workforce skills and demands have changed dramatically in the last 20 years. The rapid decline in “routine” work has been well documented by many researchers and organizations. At the same time, there has been a rapid increase in jobs involving nonroutine, analytic, and interactive communication skills. Today’s job market requires competencies such as critical thinking and the ability to interact with people from many linguistic and cultural backgrounds (cultural competency).” (p. 5)

“The number of faculties and universities offering Islamic traditional sciences or studies has slowly increased over the past decades. However, the Islamic community has not felt their graduates’ impact other than as teachers or religious personnel. In fact, if the criteria used to assess Islamic education is the growth of a genuine, original, and adequate Islamic thought or intellectualism, then most of these institutions have failed to provide such an education. I examine the goals and curriculum of higher Islamic education and the conditions conducive for the growth of intellectualism. I argue that poor pedagogy, which does not offer teaching methods that encourage critical and ethical thinking, contributed to the state of affairs. Further, I argue that the basic problem is the inadequate conceptualization of knowledge as regards Islamic epistemology in the curriculum and the lack of academic freedom. I assert that the issue of what knowledge is most valuable for today’s intellectual and ethical Muslims has not been resolved and that this affects the curriculum structure and, inevitably, the programs of Islamic traditional sciences. The need to reintroduce Islamic philosophy into the curriculum is one of this article’s major arguments.” (p. 92)

“The P21 Framework for 21st Century Learning was developed with input from educators, education experts, and business leaders to define and illustrate the skills, knowledge, expertise, and support systems that students need to succeed in work, life, and citizenship. The Framework continues to be used by thousands of educators and hundreds of schools in the U.S. and abroad to put 21st century skills at the center of learning. All elements of the Framework are critical to ensure 21st century readiness for every student. When a school, district, or state builds on this foundation, combining knowledge and skills with the necessary support systems of standards, assessments, curriculum and instruction, professional development, and learning environments, students are more engaged in the learning process and graduate better prepared to thrive in today’s digitally and globally interconnected world.” (p.1)

The aim of this article is to highlight a conceptual framework of a well-balanced personality in the light of an Islamic point of view. The article begins with an explanation on the nature of human beings as the underlying concept on which the entire assumption of human personality is based. Further discussion will focus on the types of personality ‒ that is, nafs al-ammārah, nafs al-muţmainnah, and nafs al-lawwāmah. In this regard, the spiritual development process is about the continuous effort of the animal soul to subordinate itself to the power of the rational soul.1 Meanwhile, the educational process ‒ in particular, its methods and the curriculum content ‒ is discussed as an element of intervention in developing good personality traits. The exposition of this article’s writing is derived from scholarly and original sources of knowledge ‒ that is, the Holy Qur’ān and the tradition of the Prophet (ṢAAS), as well as the writings of Muslim scholars to verify and elucidate some of the relevant matters.