The challenge to a global model of education : the case of Muslim private schools in South Africa.
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The modern system of education is less than two centuries old. It is premised on secularism. It is the outcome of theological and philosophical debates as much as of the politics and power interests of the 16th and 17th centuries. The past two decades have witnessed the emergence of Islamic schools in Europe, the United States and South Africa. The initial aim of these schools was to provide an Islamic environment to the learners. During the 80s their focus contoured to the process of Islamization. This project was initiated in the US by Muslim academics including Isma'il al-Faruqi, Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Fazlur Rahman as a response to the secularization of Muslim society, including its educational institutions. Since then seven international conferences have been held in various parts of the Muslim World. The International Institute of Islamic Thought and the Association of Muslim Social Scientists have joined hands in the effort to Islamize education. The first five conferences laid the theoretical and philosophical foundation of education. The sixth conference was held in South Africa and took the form of workshops to drive the Islamization project at school level. The outcome of the sixth conference was a concrete set of Islamized syllabi, which could be implemented in Muslim schools. The South African schools were chosen to do the field-testing; this provided me with the impetus for this research. The aim is to determine the extent to which Muslim independent schools in South Africa can be viewed as challenging the secular model of education through the process ofIslamization.