This paper intends to present a detailed analysis concerning the Muslim faith school in London. An attempt is made to understand the historical and socio-cultural factors impacting the issue of Muslim faith school. The various issues faced by the Muslim faith schools have been touché upon. The case for and against Muslim faith school in context of its implication of social cohesion and unity has been analysed. Muslim faith schools have been analysed in the context of various theories like liberalism, communitarian, multi-culturist and the case for and against Muslim school has been presented in this paper.
Muslims population and the various issues incidental to it has become a central point of several debates like the “wearing of the veil” to the “British origin Muslims role in jihad across the world” to “under age marriage among the Muslims” to “Islam phobia” to “the segregation and seclusions encouraged in the Muslim faith schools” and several such related topics over the course of the last decade in the United Kingdom. The life of a Muslim in a multi-cultural society of United Kingdom is peculiar on account of several factors like underlying characteristics of Islam vis-à-vis its co-existence and confluences with the other cultures, especially the Western thought process; the alienation of Muslim on account of the divergent thought processes and rigid religious norms and last but not the least, the constant internal tug of war and conflicts faced by the Muslim youth with their conservative counterparts of the older generation. As a result of migration of the Muslim from various parts of the world during the course of the last couple of decades, United Kingdom has literally become a collage of the Muslims from across the world. It is essential to understand the recent history of immigration and composition of Muslims in Great Britain so as to interpret and analyse the subject under consideration. Karen (2013) argues that there are indications supported by statistics that Islam shall certainly become one of the dominant religion in over the course of the next decade as fairly indicated by the Government census in the year May, 2013. Ansari (2002) points out that even though Islam, as a religion appears homogenous on the surface, the underlying truth is something else. This is because there are several ethnic Muslim communities in United Kingdom who owe their allegiance to different thought process and divergent Muslim value systems.
At the end of the year 2013, the total Muslim population in UK was approximately 3.3 Million which constituted 5.2% of the total population. (Karen, 2013) It has been observed that the media has portrayed Muslims of Great Britain as a topic of considerable concerns, especially recently. To this end, the mainstream media has projected negative images of Islam and Muslims in Great Britain (Ameli, Maredi, Ahmed et el, 2007)
As argued by Ansari (2002) this total Muslim population contains several sub-sects like Sunnis who constitute the numerical majority and several minorities like Ismaili and Shi’a who are considered as relatively liberal in comparison to the Sunnis. As against the Shias and Sunnis, there is an altogether different class of Muslims who represent the spiritual and mystical element of Islam, namely the Sufis. Ansari (2002) also point out that aside to the foregoing Muslim communities, there are certain other Muslim communities like Ahmadis who are looked down upon by the other Muslims on account of their divergent thought process. Ansari (2011) states that Ahmadi movement was influenced from the United States of America as it comprises of relatively small number of members who actively propagate the principle of independence self-reliance to the black community. The Ahmadi movement has greatly influenced the Black urban population as it has led to a development in the sense of self-esteem among the Black Muslim converts. (Ansari, 2002) Various cities of United Kingdom like Liverpool, Cardiff, South Shields and London’s East End witnessed the settlement of Muslims that could be termed as permanent settlement during the middle of the 19th century (Ansari, 2002). After the Second World War came to an end, Muslims from various corners of the world immigrated to the United Kingdom. Since the Second World War, Muslims have migrated to Britain in relatively much larger numbers. Among the Muslim immigrants, majority of them were from Bangladesh and Pakistan. Ansari (2002) further points out that that Muslim in smaller number also migrated from certain parts like Malaysia, Africa, Cyprus, In addition, smaller Muslim communities from a variety of regions, including parts of Africa, Cyprus and Malaysia. Further, off lately Muslims from Europe and the Middle East also settled in the United Kingdom.
Ansari (2002) is of the view that in the decade of 1950, the Muslim immigration was insignificant on account of the decreased demand for labour force in that decade. However, the decade of the 1960 saw a dramatic rise in the Muslim population as the news of the enactment of Commonwealth Immigration At, (1962) spread rapidly across the globe. The characteristic feature of this act was that it restricted the automatic entry of the citizens of the Common Wealth. Ansari (2002) explains that the decade of 1960 was marked with the sense of unification and cohesion among Muslims of different ethnicity. This is because Muslims from various ethnic groups overlooked various divisive factors like language, nationality, political values and united on the common basis of religion (Ansari 2002). During that era, Muslims from various ethnic groups were just settling in and united to establish temporary mosques, and deliberate upon issues affecting them and concerning their welfare. With the advent of 1970, various Muslim communities started establishing their separate identities on the grounds of race, language and ethnic background. The separate groups that were formed during the 1970 focused upon supporting each other, and establishing and improving education institutes to promote their school of thoughts and values, and seeking subsidies at all level of political organization. (Ansari 2002)
As the number of Muslims grew, there was a consequent increase in the number and network of mosques. Mosque has always played a central role in the social and religious life of a Muslim. The life of a devout Muslim revolves around the mosque. Various phases of a Muslim life mandate heavy dependence on Mosque. A mosque therefore influences every aspect of a Muslims’ life. Ansari (2002) argues that Muslims made effort to improve their organization structure and effectively bargaining with the government so as to tackle various issues faced by them. Ansari (2002) further elucidates that with the improvement in the organization skills and increase in the bargaining power, Muslims made various representations to the government for the purpose of gaining political recognition. The organizations that Muslims formed in the UK were similar to those that they formed in the region from which they emigrated. (Ansari 2002) quotes the statistics which states that around the year 1990, the number of Muslim based organization were around 950 and the number of Muslim mosques were around 839 were at least 839. Even though these Muslim organizations and mosques tried adapting to the national interest of United Kingdom, each of these organizations was not entirely successful. The era from the 1960 to 1990 also witnessed the establishment of many Muslim faith based schools in the United Kingdom.
Prior to analysing the various issues related to the Muslim faith based school, it is imperative to understand the nature, history and tradition of faith based schools in the United Kingdom. In this regard, United Kingdom is known to sponsor and support faith schools historically. It is a well-known fact that religion has been an integral part of school and education system in the United Kingdom. Berkeley (2008) points out that out of the total state sponsored and state maintained schools, faith based schools approximately constitute one-third of them. The total number of faith based school as of now is about 6900. A large majority of faith based school are there in the primary sectors as 91% of the faith based schools comprises of the foregoing sector. Further, these schools are assigned voluntary-aid status (Berkeley 2008).
Berkeley (2008) further states that the biggest share out of the total number of faith based school is that of Church of England. This is because the Church of England represents 4642 schools. The second in line is the Roman Catholic Church with 2038 schools under its umbrella (Berkeley 2008). The third in line in terms of the numerical strength is the Christian faith based school which are 88 in number. Thereafter, Jewish, Methodist and Muslims and Sikhs also have faith based school that is supported by the State. Hindus also started a faith based school in the year 2008 (Berkeley 2008). Aside to the foregoing schools, even Geeks have one faith based school, namely Greek Orthodox Primary School. There is also one Seventh-day Adventist secondary school and one Greek Orthodox primary school.
Berkeley (2008) further elaborates that the number strength of the faith based school does not have any co-relationship with the relative proportion of the religious population that the school represents. There are several factors why faith based schools are in greater demand in each and every community. Berkeley (2008) points out that some of the reasons why there has been an increasing demand for faith based school is as follows:
- Every community intends to change its social status through the tool of education. However, poverty and inequality is the biggest factor that hinders access to education. Faith based school helps the deprived community to overcome this hurdle and access education.
- Immigrants coming from various corners of the world harbour a keen desire to adhere to their religious and cultural origin. This desire leads to the establishment of various faiths based schools by the immigrant communities. Further, faith based school also leads to increased integration among the respective immigrant community.
- There is an ever increasing demand for education that is driven by faith by various community based organization.
- Religious needs of any community changes with time. This change in the religious needs also leads to establishment of the faith based religious school.
Scott and McNiesh (2012) state that the history of faith based school in the United Kingdom is very old as the origin of the first faith based school can be traced to the 6th century. During that time, the faith based schools were governed by monasteries and cathedrals. The primary intent of the faith based school was to train young boys for serving religion by initiating them into priesthood. Scott and McNiesh (2012) argue that religious organization played a pivotal role in providing education with the advent of the 16th century. During the period between the 16th and the 19th Century, many students and schoolmasters were expected to be in holy orders. (Scott and McNiesh (2012) It is worth taking of the fact that those who dissented established their own set of schools so as to provide education to the students who were not inclined to ascribe to any religious order. Scott and McNiesh (2012) give an example of Joseph Lancaster who took steps to constitute Royal Lancastrian Society with the sole intent of providing education to the poor and downtrodden. Scott and McNiesh (2012) further point out that the motto of Lancaster was that education should be governed by Christian principles. However, it should not have sectarian influence. It is worth taking note of the fact that approximately 7000 students passed from the foregoing schools from 1788 to 1811. However, none became (Quakers Scott and McNiesh (2012). Subsequently, the “National Society for Promoting Education” was constituted in the year 1811. The reason for the constitution of this society was to establish a school in every constituency/parish of England and Wales. Scott and McNiesh (2012) further point out that in the year 1830, the first Methodist school was established. Further, in the same year, the Catholic Poor School Committee was established.
The new Local Education Authority led to the integration of the managed by the state and the church managed schools in the year 1870. The he establishment and running of the faith based schools got a further boost in the year 1944. This is because in because foregoing year, The Education Act was enacted. The characteristic feature of this Act was that it permitted the running and operation of the faith based schools in two different capacities, namely voluntary controlled schools and voluntary aided schools with pre-dominantly religious character. (Scott and McNiesh 2012).
Scott and McNiesh (2012) further argue that in the year 1732, the first faith based Jewish school was established. As of now, there are many Jewish schools in cities like Birmingham, Manchester, North West London etc. It is imperative to note that the faith based schools that are funded by the State are not strictly orthodox. McNiesh explains the ratio of the state funded school to those that are strictly orthodox. To this end, the ratio of the maintained to strictly orthodox was 70:30. To this end, Berkeley (2008) explains that the first set of Muslim faith schools emerged merged in the 1950s and 1960s whereas the Hindu based faith school opened around 2008. Scott and McNiesh (2012) point out that the first Sikh faith based state funded school opened in London, Hillingdon in the year 1999.
As stated above, the first Muslim faith based schools opened around 1950 and 1960. The Islamia Primary School located in the city of Brent, North London and the Al Furqan Primary School located in Sparkhill, Birmingham, were the first two schools that became state maintained (Berkeley, 2008). The advent of the Muslim faith based school can be directly linked to the extent of immigration. To this end, Berkley (2008) points out that emergency and growth of Muslim faith schools has been directly proportional to the migration of South Asian Muslims around the year 1950 and 1960. Since then, independent faith schools linked to mosques and charities have grown, supported by funding from Berkley (2008) points out that during the decade of 1950 and 1950 the Muslim faith based schools were run independently by gaining support and financial aid from local communities and mosques. The primary reasons for the growth of the Muslim faith schools stemmed out of the faith based concerns like providing secure and safe social environment to those girls who have reached puberty while pursing studies, to encourage religious studies and education that had the foundation of Islamic faith, to provide training for the establishment for the class of religious leaders for the future generation, and also to provide meaningful opportunities to poor South East Asian immigrants including Bangladeshi Muslims and Pakistani Muslims. Berkley (2008) further points out that there has been a marked increase in the number of Muslim faith schools. To this end, the number of schools has increased to around 115. Berkley (2008) points out that this can be considered as a marked increase in the number of Muslim faith based school as in terms of numeric growth, the increase has been almost six folds since 1990. Berkley further points out that since the year 2001, the UK government has taken considerable steps to integrate the Muslim faith based schools into the main stream by declaring them as state maintained and extending financial and state support. The UK Government has also extended financial support to Association of Muslim Schools that was founded in the year 1993 to integrate Muslim Schools into the mainstream.
It is now imperative to consider the issues faced by the Muslim faith based schools in United Kingdom. There are several concerns emanating out of the operating and functioning of the Muslim schools. To this end, it is worth considering the findings and reports of the Office for Standard in Education (Ofsted). Prior to considering the foregoing, it is worth knowing about the Ofsted. In this regard, Ofsted is the “Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills” (“Who we are and what we do: Ofsted). Ofsted is an independent organization that reports directly to the Parliament. It is also known to be impartial. Ofsted carries out several inspections and is responsible for regulating the services that are dedicated towards providing care and education skills to learners and children. Ofsted carries out inspection every week and thereafter publish the report of such inspection on their website. Richardson (2014), a BBC correspondent on religious issues, reported the findings of the inspection carried out by Ofsted recently. The inspection reveals a number of problems and issues faced by Muslim faith schools.
The key findings concerning the problems/issues faced by the Muslim faith schools on the basis of the inspection carried out in six Muslim Schools, as follows (Richardson, 2014) : (a) The focus of Muslim schools are primarily on Islamic teachings. To this end, Muslim schools rely very heavily on Islamic teachings. This posed a serious threat to the principles of tolerance and secularism. (b) The Muslim faith schools are failing to fulfil the basic needs of children that is imperative for the development of a well-rounded personality; (c) the mode of management of the schools are below the normally accepted benchmarks and the management does not have the necessary inclination, expertise and bandwidth to raise the standards of the Muslim schools; (e) there is a very high risk of radicalization on account of the fact that the curriculum is very narrow and primarily focuses upon the religious teachings; (f) there is a very high degree of possibility that the pupils of these schools may get influenced by extremist thought processes; (g) the extent of teachings about other faiths and culture is very highly limited; (h) There is a high level of concern about the British society’s cohesiveness and the ability of the faith schools to impart necessary values in the students that enable them to become a law abiding UK citizens (i) there are concerns to the effect that British values are at risk due to the radicalization of people from the Muslim community; (j) Students in the Muslim school consider it inappropriate to learn about any other culture and are not given enough lessons in arts and humanities like music, literature, art, drama etc. (k) Pupil in Muslim schools have very narrow views about women in general to the extent that many pupil are of the view that women are only supposed to do domestic work and take care of the family while the men is supposed to be the breadwinner of the family; (l) Students are not provided with broad based curriculum that can be labelled as balanced; (m) As the curriculum is narrow, there is a very high possibility that the students may not be able to develop the values of respect for the rule of law, freedom, democracy, secularism, equality of gender, British values and thought process; (m) students will always have insufficient understanding of the mode of life of people from other community; (n) there are not enough precautions to keep the children safe from the influence of radical thought processes as most of the books in the library of Muslim schools are in Arabic. (o) As most of the texts are in Arabic, and Islam is the primary focus, the mode of learning is by rote and repetition. There is not enough room for the development of rational thought process or scientific enquiry. (p) the boys and girls in Muslim schools are segregated, both, in the classrooms as well as in the outdoor play areas. This may lead to the development of gender inequality and extremist thought process.
Janson (2008) quotes the position of the Council of Europe on the issue of social cohesion. To this end, Janson (2008) explains that the Director General of Social Cohesion of Europe Council provides for an inclusive definition of the term “Social Cohesion”. To this end, it has been stated that the term “Social Cohesion” can be considered as a concept that seeks to ensure that each and every citizens should be ensured certain fundamental rights, including social, economic and political without any discrimination whatsoever and on the footing of equality. In order to ensure the foregoing, the necessary principles and values should be actively promoted and propagated. The Director General of European Council further asserts that social cohesion, as a concept, is a reminder of the fact that we should all be aware of and pay keen attention to the need for avoiding any kind of discrimination, exclusions and inequality. Further, the Council of Europe does not view social cohesion as a concept that can be viewed as homogenous in the sense of adhering to the same cultural norms, values and thought process. The European Council is of the view that social cohesion forms the bedrock of any multicultural society. (Council of Europe 1998, p.1355)
The European council further explains that the meaning of the term “social cohesion acquires new layers in accordance with the region in which it evolves. Further, from an operational and strategic perspective, the term “social cohesion” means and includes any and all steps taken for the purpose of ensuring that the citizens of the country are provided with equal opportunity to access and achieve for themselves:
- The necessary facility to secure for their basic needs of food, clothing and shelter; (b) right to live with dignity and confidence in between the diverse race; (c) right to protect their legal rights; (d) right to progress and achieve their goals and aspiration in life (Council of Europe, 2001: 5)
Janson (2008) further refers to the writings of Regina Berger-Schmitt who pointed out the two fundamental dimension of the concept of social cohesion. To this end, the two dimensions are as follows:
- The dimension of “inequality” can rightly be called as the first dimension of the concept of social cohesion. The primary purpose of social cohesion is to ensure equality at all levels by promoting the value of equal opportunities for all for the purpose of reducing disparity at social, economic and political level.
- Another dimension of the concept of social cohesion is the social capital dimension. This dimension concerns itself with strengthening the social bonds and relationships by promoting tolerance and embracing the differences (Berger-Schmitt, 2002: 404–405)
In light of the above explanations, it can be reasonably concluded that the term social cohesion refers to the concept of promoting social equality/strengthening social relations/ensuring equality of opportunity at social, economic and political level in a multicultural and multi ethnic society. Let us now examine the various factors adversely influencing social cohesion in a modern multi-cultural and multi ethnic society. To this end, Hickman, Crowley and Mai (2008) explain the various kinds of social units and its implications on the nuances of social cohesion as follows:
- Family: At the family level, the value of social cohesion is adversely impacted on account of the pressures created by various financial demands, hectic work life, faced pace life style and consumerism. The foregoing issues drastically curtail the chances of improving social relationships and forming social groups. On account of promotion of individualism, parental authority has been weakening dramatically and the new immigrants from various minority communities, including Muslims harbour fear that their community will suffer the same lot.
- Education: Even though educational institutes should ideally be a place that promotes social interaction and social cohesion, it often happens otherwise. Schools often become a ground of tension between the already settled residents and the new immigrants. New immigrants pose many challenges to the already established school settings. They also provide the existing schools with new opportunities. However, the phenomena of “settled backlash” is often witnessed vis-à-vis the new immigrants and this often restricts the social mobility and consequent educational and economic development. It also leads to the segregation of education system of establishment of much faith based schools often fail to promote the true values of social cohesion.
- Work- The inequalities practiced at offices and work places on the basis of race and nationality often acts against social cohesion. It has been observed that many a times, segregation practices are implemented at food manufacturing and processing plants through the means of stark differentiation in pay scales of the new migrant labours and the existing population. Further, there are also differential practices with respect to shift timings, and accommodation facilities. More often than not, bullying and discriminatory practices are followed towards new immigrants and this often leads to social segregation rather than promoting social cohesion.
- Deprivation: Social cohesion is also greatly impacted by shortage of resources. When a particular area is already facing shortage of resources consequently leading to unequal distribution of the existing resources among the already settled community, the addition of new migrant force is only viewed with contempt and resentment by the existing community as the already existing short resources will be require to be distributed with the new migrant force consequently leading to further scarcity.
In light of the above factors, the faith schools that comprise of pupil who are already facing challenges in social cohesion on account of issues highlighted above have a greater responsibility in promoting social cohesion. This sense of greater responsibility is, unfortunately is more often than not, lacking in faith schools. Let us now examine the Muslim faith schools vis-à-vis its influence on social cohesion and equality
As against the general perception of the Muslim faith school’s role in adversely affecting social cohesion and equality, there is another line of argument against it. To this end, (Conway, 2009) has vociferously argued that any idea or perception that Muslim faith schools are serious threat to the principles and values of social cohesion and unity must be out righty dismissed as it is not supported by true and accurate facts. To this end, there are some Muslim scholars who are of the view that the principle professed by Islam are fundamentally against the western thought process and values, there are other scholars like Mohamed Charfi who think otherwise. (Charfi, 2005; Conway 2009) Conway (2009) further points out that Islam is open to multiple interpretations like any other religion of the world. There is various variety and types of Islamic thought process and there are many values in Islam that are common and compatible with many other religion of the world. To this end, Islam and the values professed in the Muslim faith schools are highly compatible with the idea of democracy, brotherhood and liberalism is compatible. Islam, like any other religion can accommodate diverse thought process and the same principle is reflected in the Muslim faith schools. Conway (2009) illustrates this point by quoting Rafaqat Hussain and Muhammad Mukadam. To this end, both of them have suggested that there are many Muslim faith schools where modern and liberal versions of Islam is practiced and professed. Any young British Muslim kid who attends modern liberal Muslim faith school will certainly be able to learn modern British values more effectively in an atmosphere which is compatible to his thought process. Such Muslim kids will certainly not adhere to extremism as they will be inculcated with a right mix of liberal Islamic values and modern democratic British values. Further, it is highly unlikely that these kids would get brainwashed into adopting and adhering radical extremist values that calls for violence against the non-Muslims. They will certainly not accept the fact their religion propagates and promotes extremism. The foregoing point was also supported by Paul Goodman who is the Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion.
made by Paul Goodman, Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion. To this end, Mr Goodman expressed that any Muslim who is well versed with the true meaning and values professed by Islam is not likely to be drawn to the social evils of terrorism. Further, a state funded Muslim Schools instil greater degree of confidence in Muslim students about their sense of Muslim identity. This, in turn, helps them inter-mingle with other communities with confidence and consequently promote better cohesion (Tinker 2006). A state funded Muslim school is required to adhere to large number of rules and regulations. It is also subject to inspection. Consequently, a state funded Muslim School enables a Muslim student to have the best of both the worlds, namely they get instilled with British values as well as the moralistic doctrine of Islam (Tinker, 2006).
It support of the argument for Muslim faith school, it is imperative to note that a community school does not always contain conducive atmosphere for the education of a Muslim pupil in an environment that is conducive to his or her upbringing and cultural values. There are other reasons why Muslim faith schools are better than community schools for Muslim kids. This is because community schools do not contain certain basic facilities and amenities that are required by a Muslim student. The provision of these facilities and amenities are indispensable in order to instil a sense of equality and fair play in Muslim pupil and also with a view to assure him that his religious values are respected in the multi-cultural society. Let us examine the shortcomings of the community schools that further strengthen the argument for Muslim faith schools:
- Right to Worship: The right to worship as per one’s faith is a fundamental right for any democracy. In a multicultural democracy of United Kingdom, this right becomes all the more important. In order to promote social cohesion, it is essential to ensure that every Muslim kid is allowed to worship as per his or her religious values. The foregoing provision is applicable to even those schools in which the percentage of Christian population is miniscule. There provision is however not mandatory for non-Christians and it is optional for them to participate in these prayers. However, as a lot of Muslim parents are ignorant about these provisions, or are concerned about their children feeling isolated in case they ask them to withdraw, they remain quiet about it, against their wish. Further, the community schools do not provide for any other form of collective prayers that are in line with the religious values of Muslims. Community schools thus practice religious inequality and thereby the value of social cohesion is disadvantaged. As against this, Muslim faith school contains collective prayer facility as per the values of Islam. This instils a sense of confidence and equality among the British Muslim kids thereby promoting social cohesion.
- Prayer facilities: Another shortcoming of community school in meeting the religious requirements of the minority community is the failure to provide facilities related to prayer room for Muslims during lunch time. There are several researches that indicate that Muslim parents are badly let down by the absence of this most basic facility at the community school and consequently feel wronged by the practices. Further, another area where there was unequal treatment on the basis of religion was that the Christmas holidays were relatively longer in comparison to holidays for Muslim festivals. This was despite the fact that at many places, Muslim constituted majority of the population. (Woodward, 1993, Tinker, 2006)
- Communal Showers: Another major area of concern is the lack of separate shower facility on account of the existence of communal showers. To this end, Muslim parents are not open to having a common changing facility during the sports lessons as publicly changing clothes amounts to gross violation of Islamic moral codes. Further, parents would want their kids to follow their system of personal hygiene and would want schools to provide water in school toilets to clean themselves. Nevertheless, the lack of these basic facilities concerning personal hygiene concerns parents and is viewed upon as a sign of inequality and lack of respect for the individual choices and thought process. This further acts against social cohesion in community school (Woodward, 1993; Tinker, 2006)
- Dress: Another major area of concerns for Muslim parents is the dress code in the community schools. Many community schools do not permit Muslim girls to wear headscarves. The reasons and excuses for not giving approval for the usage of headscarves ranged from it violating the uniform code t causing health hazards. Jilbab of full length is still widely opposed in a lot of community schools. Tinker (2006) further points out that in a recent case, a Muslim girl was deprived of her basic rights related to attending school for over a period of two years on account of her insistence on wearing jilbab. To this end, the Muslim girl was of the view that she should have been allowed to wear the jilbab in accordance with her right to respect her religious sentiments. A ruling was given in favour of the girl by the Appeal Court. The Appeal Court rightly held that the school grossly violated the human right of the student by forcing her against her freewill to adhere to the school uniform policy. The school was eventually compelled to change their uniform policy so as to allow the Muslim girl to wear jilbab. Further, even during the swimming classes, Muslim girls face issues as they would like to prefer swimming costumes that completely cover them. (Haw, 1994; Molokotos Liederman, 2000; Tinker, 2006)
- Halal Meet: Another major cause of concern and the consequent inequality in food habit is the absence of halal meet. This is viewed as serious concern by Muslim Students as there is a strict guideline in Islam to eat only halal meet. (Hampton, 1992; Tinker, 2006). Even though some schools are now trying to adhere to this requirement, there is no specific policy by the government and Muslims are consequently supposed to depend upon the whims of the Headmasters of the particular schools.(Mabud, 1992; Tinker, 2006). Thus, the lack of respect for food habit promotes inequality and works adversely against social cohesion.
- Discrimination: There are several researches that support and substantiate the view that Muslims face a lot of discrimination in community schools from fellow students as well as teachers. indicates that (Basit 1997; Tinker, 2006) To this end, there are several stereotypes that calls for discriminatory views about Muslim girls. To this end, Basit (1997) points out that there is a misleading presumption that South Asian Muslim children are victims of cross culture and find themselves being pulled by confusing cultural norms. Further, there is a general presumption that Muslim girls suffer from a lack of self-esteem and that (Basit,1997; Abbas, 2002, Tinker, 2006). This consequently leads to lesser expectations from Muslim girls. (Archer, 2002; Abbas, 2004). Shain (2000) noticed that South Asian girl students are under a pressure of using different kinds of strategies so as to avoid being stereotyped. Further, a research study conducted by the Home Office Research Study in the year 2001 also discovered that there was a very high level of discrimination was being perpetrated by both the schools and the teachers. concluded that both (www. homeoffice. gov. uk, 25/03/05; Tinker, 2006)
- Curriculum: Tinker (2006) points out that many Muslim faith schools are opposed to the principles set out in the Education Reforms Act (ERA). The ERA mandates the syllabus of the community schools to accurately reflect the United Kingdom’s religious tradition while factoring in the teachings and principles of the other religious communities present in Great Britain. (DIES, 1989, section 8 (3)). However, a vast majority of Muslims are opposed to this requirement. This is because Muslim faith schools believe that this is primarily a philosophy that propagates Christian thought process and thereby asserts the Christian superiority over Islam. While some Muslim faith school are of the view that the education syllabus should aim at propagating and reflecting the underlying equality of each religion equally rather than asserting the superiority of one religion over the other. (Ipgrave, 1990; Hewer, 2001; Wardekker and Miedema, 200, Tinker, 2006); there are certain Muslim schools who adopt a very narrow sectarian approach by stating that they simply cannot accept the recommendation as they do not believe that all the religions are equal. In their view, this concept is not valid, as it undermines and negates the centrality of their religion and value systems. To take an example, in the year 1990, the Muslim Groups issued a statement vociferously condemning the secular principles and assumptions of the new syllabus. (Nielson, 1989; Tinker 2006). Further, there are other areas of curriculum that are not acceptable to the Muslim faith schools. These areas include the teachings related to evolutionary principles and theories as a part of the science stream; the history syllabus that is Europe centric; the co-education system wherein people from both the genders are allowed to inter-mingle freely during the physical exercise classes and the teaching of other European languages as against teaching Muslim kids their mother tongue. (Hewer,