Teachers' perspectives on the education of muslim students: A missing voice in Muslim education research

Sarfaroz Niyozov, Gary Pluim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


This article builds on an extensive review of the comparative and international literature on teachers' perspectives on the education of Muslim students in public, Catholic, and Islamic schools. Bringing the teachers' voices and practices to the attention of researchers, policy makers, and general readers, the authors emphasize the centrality of teachers' roles in the education of Muslim students, highlight the constructive and positive work that teachers do, and point out the challenges they face and the support they need in fulfilling their moral and intellectual duties. We situate teachers' perspectives in the context of the upsurge of global interest in Islam and Islamic education and the increase in Muslims' challenges to multiculturalism and the existing education system dominated largely by Eurocentric, Hellenic-Judeo-Christian heritage and modernist values. The article examines and challenges the research, media and publicly produced contradictory and overlapping statements about Western teachers' work with Muslim students. Predominantly pessimistic, these pronouncements implicate teachers in (1) racism and Islamophobia; (2) an unwillingness and inability to include Muslims' historical and contemporary contributions and perspectives into the existing school curricula; (3) a lowering of expectations about their Muslim students and channelling them into non-academic streams; (4) cultural and religious insensitivity; and (5) an overall lack of knowledge about Islam and Muslims. The article problematizes these observations by engaging with them conceptually and methodologically, and by bringing counter-points from research. The article concludes by proposing a balanced portrayal of teachers' work and the inclusion of teachers' perspectives to improve policy, research, and practice in educating Muslim students within a multicultural society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)637-677
Number of pages41
JournalCurriculum Inquiry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


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