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    Islamic religious education and the debate on itsreform post-September 11
    SAEED, ABDULLAH (University of New South Wales Press, 2005)
    The place of Islam and Muslims in the West has been a source of much debate in the post-September 11 era, not least in the area of Islamic education – an area seen by some Western commentators as a major source of anti-Western attitudes, and a breeding ground for terrorism. Such simplistic views of Islamic religious educational systems and institutions ignore the complex history of Islamic education and the diverse forms that it has taken across different times, places and cultures. This chapter from the book Islam and the West: Reflections from Australia explores the development of Islamic religious education over time, tracing its growth and decline in the pre-modern period and moves towards reform in the modern era. This is followed by a discussion of the generally simplistic perception, held particularly among Western commentators post-September 11, 2001, that Islamic religious education is closely linked to terrorism. Saeed notes that the hijackers involved in the 2001 attacks were not graduates of traditional Islamic education, a fact overlooked by many commentators. Although many prominent Muslim academics and scholars have been working to reform Islamic education over the past century, Saeed argues that these efforts may well have been hindered rather than helped by the authoritarian and coercive forms of reform which are being called for by some commentators in the West. In fact, the war on terror may well be the biggest stumbling block to the reform of Islamic religious education.
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    Creating a culture of human rights from a Muslim perspective
    SAEED, ABDULLAH (Multi-Faith Centre, Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 2006)
    In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, issues of human rights have drawn an increasing amount of international attention. Some people view traditional understandings of Islamic law, particularly in areas such as gender rights and freedom of religion, as contradicting values accepted by many today as universal human rights. In response to this view, Abdullah Saeed examines the ideas of human dignity and the importance of context in understanding Islamic law as it relates to the creation of a culture of human rights from a Muslim perspective. This paper, presented in 2005 at the international symposium Cultivating Wisdom, Harvesting Peace at Griffith University, Brisbane, argues that it is necessary to recognize and highlight the fact that many human rights, which are seen today as universal, may well be supported by the foundation texts of Islam. Saeed explores the importance of contextualizing Islamic laws in order to understand their intended meaning; the need to reinterpret traditional understandings which appear to conflict with today’s human rights; and the interpretative and practical possibilities found in foundational texts and the tradition of Islamic thought which can be drawn on to formulate a philosophy of human rights in the modern period.