(DIS)Locating Meaning: Toward a Hermeneutical Response in Education to Religiously Inspired Extremism

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A key epistemological assumption in the ideologies of many of the groups termed extremist is that there is an unmediated access to a Divine Will. Driven by this assumption, and facilitated by several other factors, a range of coercive actions (including violence) to force others into submission to the perceived Will of God are seen as justified by some of these groups. A consideration of how religion is discussed in various contexts, from seminaries and schools to media and policy discourses, shows that this assumption about unmediated access to Divine Will is widely shared and that most children grow up socialized into it. In this paper, Farid Panjwani argues that challenging this assumption through educational settings can help young people acquire critical capacities that may lead to a critique of extremist narratives, thereby decreasing their attractions. In this regard, the paper draws upon a range of theoretical ideas, for example, the hermeneutical tradition (in particular the work of Hans-Georg Gadamer), as well as historical and textual examples, to make a case for a rethinking of religious education to develop more critical capacities among the students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-461
Number of pages10
JournalEducational Theory
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • Divine Will
  • Hans-Georg Gadamer
  • Islam
  • extremism
  • hermeneutics


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