On Being a Muslim Teacher in England The Role of Faith and History in Educational Reflections
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This article charts a new area in Muslim educational thought by providing insights into perspectives held by Muslim primary state-school teachers in England regarding teachers and teaching. It attempts to explore themes, in the context of education, related to the evolving relationship between faith and professionalism. Drawing on data from research conducted using a life-history approach to discover the experiences of these teachers, it examines the dynamics of teacher identity and the role of faith in schooling. The findings indicate that faith is important to these teachers in relation to their work, although fundamental distinctions exist about its role. “Ideal teachers” are conceptualized in terms of the religion and teaching. From a teacher’s perspective, their narratives give the perception that from various standpoints, Muhammad (ṢAAS) is considered as an ideal teacher and a model. Their interpretation of the meaning of being a Muslim teacher reflects a heterogeneous understanding, and it affects some of their thinking in the classroom. The article concludes, cautiously, that for these Muslim teachers, while the centrality of faith is significant in their lives, there does not appear to be a necessary transference of being a Muslim and having a faith position into being a teacher. Apparently, their foremost concern is teaching, and successful teaching is achieved by maintaining their integrity and that of the children they teach. Some teachers among them are able to meet their faith requirements through the guidelines provided by their faith. Guidelines from faith perspectives need to be understood by school leaders in order to assist teachers from all communities to be comfortable with their faith in a school environment.