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Teaching Religion, Teaching Truth

Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives

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Edited By Jeff Astley, Leslie J. Francis, Mandy Robbins and Mualla Selçuk

Religious educators today are called upon to enable young people to develop as fully-rounded human beings in a multicultural and multifaith world. It is no longer sufficient to teach about the history of religions: religion is not relegated to the past. It is no longer sufficient to teach about the observable outward phenomena of religions: religion is not restricted to practices, artefacts, and buildings observable in the outside world. It is also necessary to take seriously what religions believe about themselves, and what religions believe about other religions.
Seen from the inside, religions deal in the currency of truth. For the religions themselves, truth matters. Truth-claims can lead to harmony and peace, but they may also engender discord and violence. What ultimately counts is how one set of truth-claims confronts or embraces the truths claimed by other, different voices. Therefore those who teach religion cannot avoid dealing with the theology of religions.
In this collection of original essays, religious educators shaped by both Christian and Islamic worldviews discuss the problems and opportunities that now face educators and believers alike, as they are confronted by the challenge of teaching religion and teaching truth. The discussion nurtured at the sixteenth conference of the International Seminar on Religious Education and Values is here developed further, to stimulate wider reflection and shape good local practice.

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Part II - Islamic Studies 91

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Part II Islamic Studies Mualla Selçuk 6 How Can Islamic Pedagogy Promote an Understanding of ‘Individualized Religion’? Introduction Religions, including Islam, understandably endorse unalterable basic theo- logical principles and beliefs. However, the believers of any religion also carry a religious culture, which includes social and historical contexts. Religion and culture are therefore inevitably interrelated. In particular, the view that arises from the fundamental sources of Islam and the common understanding formed within history calls for a religion that is present in all spheres of social life. In our day, however, what belongs to the religious domain and what may be left to the individual are matters of controversy. Islamic pedagogy faces the tension between preserving religious identity, on the one hand, and responding to the demands of modernity, on the other. Claims over the inf lexibility and universality of Islam with regard to its contextual, indigenous, and ephemeral dimensions confront educa- tors as challenges that must be dealt with in Islamic pedagogy. Will these challenges continue to suppress religious education, or will the field be able to open up new thinking within contemporary pedagogy? In the process of answering this central question I will explore the relationship between Rabb-abd (God-human being), as well as the Islam- sharia (Islam-Islamic law) relationship. I shall introduce the Qur’anic term hikmah (Wisdom) as a working element of individualized religion. I also of fer the messages of the Qur’anic Meccan verses for shaping the content of religious education. I hope this chapter will contribute...

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