02 August 2021

Engaging with media is one of those impossible dilemmas. To not engage means our voice is missing and risks an imposed voice.

Engagement however is invariably bumpy as it demands an educative process, both for us, and for those minority of journalists, brave enough to explore stories beyond the usual tropes.

The article in The Australian is reflective of this bumpy educative process.

Firstly, it was a pleasant surprise that The Australian would show interest in the new book in Islamic Education. Secondly, it shouldn’t be lost that the journalist held most noble intentions to reveal the efforts of those in Islamic schooling to navigate the space between honouring tradition, meeting community expectations, and leading innovative practice in contemporary schooling. She also went above and beyond, reviewing the book, engaging us respectfully, and making the effort to visit the Islamic College of Brisbane.

Sadly, the Headline was misleading (likely the work of editors rather than the journalist). As we know, a dominant metanarrative that is strongly reinforced in socio-political discourse is that Islam is backward, archaic, or counter to modernity, and this headline was reminiscent of this.

Islamic schools do Not need to bring teaching up to date any more than all schools must engage in ongoing renewal of educational practices.

What we wouldn’t want the Headline to take away from is the innovative and inspiring practice of Islamic school educators locally and all around the world.

Finally, in many ways the book reflects the maturation of Islamic schooling as a global community. The effort of the book is demonstrative of the fact that as a form of schooling in contemporary sites of education, we have existing strengths, skills, talents and resources; and that we are most capable of leading innovative practice that advances not only our field but benefits the broader field of education, biithnillah.