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History, Remembrance and Religious Education

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Edited By Stephen G. Parker, Rob Freathy and Leslie J. Francis

How should the Holocaust be taught in schools, and to what end? What role should religious education play in recounting and remembering this human catastrophe? How has the nature and purpose of religious education changed and developed over time? What contribution should religious education make to identity formation, particularly regarding the role of memory, heritage and tradition? The scholarly reflections in this volume, drawing upon historical, theoretical and empirical perspectives, provide insights into past, present and potential future developments in religious and values education in a range of national contexts, including Germany, Israel, Norway, Canada and South Africa. The chapters fall under three headings: fostering a culture of remembrance; historical perspectives on religious education; and history, tradition, memory and identity. Together they form a unique collection of international perspectives upon these interlocking themes.
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16 Hifz and Huffaz Within the Islamic Tradition: Religious, Cultural and Educational Considerations

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Within the traditional Muslim community, huffaz – those people who have committed the whole of the Arabic Qur’ān to memory through a process known as hifz – are highly esteemed. Non-Muslims generally, however, know little about either the hifz process or the lives and experiences of huffaz, whether male (hafiz) or female (hafiza). Drawing from his own ethnographic fieldwork within a boys’ hifz class and then, later, amongst a group of contemporary huffaz living in Britain, the author explains the origins and significance of Qur’ānic memorization and recitation within Islam before outlining key elements of the hifz process itself. He then outlines the impact of becoming a hafiz/hafiza on the life of a Muslim, including social demands and expectations. In order to place the above in a wider context, the author highlights how an understanding of hifz highlights some key elements of Muslim tradition, notably the aural and oral nature of the Qur’ān and the role and nature of transmission within Islamic culture. Given the often negative stance taken toward memorization in contemporary western culture, the chapter ends with a consideration of the nature and significance of memorization as a mode of learning both within Islam and the wider non-Muslim community. ← 341 | 342 →

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