ABOUT THE PROJECT
In 2012, as part of its commitment to improving the engagement of theological colleges with the Muslim-Christian interface, the Centre for Muslim-Christian Studies commissioned a survey of the teaching of Islam in theological colleges in the British Isles. The report is now available and has been the basis of several workshops and consultations. It has been particularly timely as the Church of England develops its Common Awards programme.
The project is now expanding to look not only at the teaching of Islam to Christian students but also the teaching of Christianity in Islamic colleges.
How to Get a Copy
An executive summary of the report can be downloaded by clicking the button. An electronic copy of the full report is available for free by emailing your request to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want a hard copy there is a small charge for printing and postage
What is the Scope?
This research focuses on the British Isles (including Ireland) and has sought to engage with as wide a range of theological, Bible and mission training colleges as possible; including traditional Protestant institutions across the spectrum from high Anglican to evangelical and Pentecostal. It has also looked at new developing vocational and part-time initiatives. The report draws on data from over 40 colleges.
The next stage of the project is to survey the students themselves in order to understand their needs and the process they go through in reflecting on Islam. This will provide valuable feedback for teachers.
It is hoped that the project can then be extended to survey the teaching of Christianity and other faiths in Islamic colleges in Britain.
In addition CMCS continues to be involved in providing teaching support in various contexts around the world including Nigeria and Lebanon.
What are the Aims?
The initial aims of the research are to:
- Provide an overview of the teaching and general awareness of Islam in British theological institutions;
- Compile a summary of all the courses and modules offered on Islam and related topics;
- Investigate who teaches Islam to whom;
- Determine whether an awareness of and interest in Islam remains a specialism or is being integrated across the curriculum;and
- Explore the challenges and obstacles facing the teaching of Islam in theological institutions.
The further aims are now to:
- Explore the student experience whilst studying Islam in British theological colleges;
- Inform the ongoing discussion of how the teaching of Islam to Christian students can be improved; and
- Work with the Church of England and Durham University to ensure that the teaching of Islam and Muslim-Christian relations is fully into the new Common Awards programme.
It is then hope to:
- Provide an overview of the teaching and general awareness of Christianity in British Islamic colleges;
- Contribute to the formation of a database of Christian and Muslim lecturers who can teach in different contexts; and
- Organise a summer school bringing together Christian and Muslim theological students.
What is the Need?
Christian students and ordinands preparing for all types of ministry will inevitably encounter Islam and Muslims during their careers whether or not they are working in the Middle East or in rural Britain. There is therefore a pressing need to ensure that all Christian graduates have at least a basic knowledge of Islam and an understanding of how to respectfully engage with Muslims.
For many years theological colleges have equipped their students for ministry in its encounter with secularism. This polarity has now been transformed by the re-emergence of religion into public life. Islam, however, provides a different sort of challenge which theological teaching must take into account, whether it is in church history, Christology or ethics. Islam impacts on every area of Christian theology and theological curricula need to reflect this by integrating an awareness of Islam into every discipline and not treating it solely as a specialism.
It is also true that Muslim students at Islamic colleges need to be adequately taught and equipped to understand and engage positively with other faiths. Most British madrassas have so far been isolated from main stream western education and have taught Christianity only for the most polemical of purposes. There is a need to encourage better teaching of all religions and Christianity in particular in order to improve community relations.
Dr. Richard McCallum
Richard is currently a Research Fellow at the Centre for Muslim-Christian Studies and is also engaged in the Inter-faith Impact research project. He is involved in teaching at theological colleges and is currently planning a joint summer school for Muslim and Christian theology students. In addition he speaks on various topics connected to the sociology of religion and provides inter-cultural training for companies working in the Arab world.