A journey into Islam : reflections of a non-Muslim teacher in an Islamic school
Kirchner, Julie A.
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This ethnographic study focuses on the educational system offered to the Muslim community by the Islamic Foundation School (also referred to herein as "IFS") in Villa Park, Illinois. While education in the United States and the decline of moral values have been topics of heated discussion both locally and nationally, this growing community of Chicago area Muslims has experienced none of the difficulties so often found in public schools. Therefore, it is the goal of this thesis to discover how the Muslim community educates its children and why it has chosen to do so in a school of its own. The researcher was given the unique opportunity to directly participate in the lives and education of Muslim children on a daily basis. This thesis is intended to communicate the observations of a non-Muslim by providing a detailed insight into the child-rearing, educational methods and traditions of those served by the Islamic Foundation School and to discuss why the IFS experiences little or none of the disciplinary, truancy, and other social problems that affect nearly all public schools. Information was gathered not only from direct observation but also through personal interviews, parent conferences, books about Islam, articles, photographs, curriculum guidelines, and participation in Muslim community functions. The researcher has gathered a substantial amount of data on a topic which has previously not been researched from the perspective offered here. This study encourages educators to understand why many Muslims seek an alternative to the public schools in the U.S. and how they see the Muslim style of education as beneficial to their children's development. Perhaps it will also prompt some readers to reconsider their stereotypical views of the Muslim community.