Panorama by John Ware - British Schools, Muslim Rules

The development of autonomous and awesome Islamic educational facility is important. Translating a dream into an institutional reality is difficult though. Confounding factors for UK experimentation and consolidation include some important internal, external and boundary issues. Last night's Panorama/Policy Exchange Report/Govism gives a good picture of the external posture.

It was like riding a poorly conceived rollercoaster through a car crash.

The concept appeared to be to string together wierd exceptions to 'prove' a general rule and propel idiotic Policy Exchangism into policy and public conciousness to justify a new Due Diligence Unit in the Department for Education, castrate/frustrate Islamic institutional possibilities and assert a peculiar idea of 'narrative of british patriotism' into educational reproduction.

In late 2010 how much rehashed, soap operatic footage can you broadcast on Panorama and maintain journalistic credibility? Some of the stuff John Ware cut and pasted together was 8 years old!  I am not a particular fan of Shayk Haytham Haddad, but the randomly edited snippet shown of him from the internet, used to denigrate a primary school in ilford (he spoke at one of their fundraising dinners) was really telling. The method known as 'guilt-by-interpolating-levels-of interdependancy-that-dont-stand-up-to-scrutiny-but-prey-on-peoples-ability-to-forget-and-be-superficial'.

This particular specimen 'recruits' a young saudi to go 'under cover' to find some books for his brother. In another act of credibility raising, he drives to Liecester, parks outside an institution, pervily captures lots of footage of young niqabis and goes on the internet to check a fatwa website. jeepers.

How can you talk segregation and fail to mention the power differentials. Why do so many Muslim parents feel that white british institutions are so exclusivist and unresponsive? Is it a mistaken perception?

BTW. Who goes to saudi run supplementary schools anyway?

Internally i feel its sad at how idealistic and intellectually able folks end up bogged down in administration and conservative forces when they start working in Islamic Schools.


thegoodgarment said...

My mother worked for a number of years in a (full time) Islamic school in Oz that received that Arab money. Lessons in hand chopping were never on the agenda. The main problem was serious behavioural problems on the part of students and a generally unimaginative curriculum (and no music!). Quite an "us and them" sort of attitude. Most didn't get into university, though probably would have in the state system (which is of a much better standard than in the UK because of numbers). Their Quranic recitation was impeccable though.

I showed her this blog by the head of the "ex-Muslim" organization, who used to teach at Islamia


She said a lot of it looked familiar.

It was all pretty depressing for her, coming from a 70s style freeschool Ivan Illych/Idries Shah perspective, generating little Tailors ... into an environment that constrains more than anything else. In the end she gave up and went for the elite money over in Kazakhstan.

Anyway, I'd argue the Panorama programme misses the point. ALL schools are teaching us to cut hands and feet -- in some form or another -- all are enforcing unquestioning obedience to some kind of law. Muslim schools are pretty bad examples (the one near us boasts that they don't allow picture books with faces in them, a boast that makes me feel quite queazy, sort of a nightmare world for me as a parent).

But all schools teach us to cut hands and feet and, even worse, make us consent to a world in which hands mean hands and feet mean feet -- what they ought to be teaching us is exactly what "cutting" and what "hands" and "feet" REALLY mean :)

That can only occur in temporary autonomous tailorite madrasses.

Shak said...

I gave up ten minutes into the show.

Fugstar said...

its a bit sad. i think most erm ... cultured muslims take the path of your mum.

This makes the health of these institutions worse. but then you cant consign yourself to a creative scrap heap just to keep unity right? passive tawhesion was never goign to work.

When one hand of the ummah starts bashing its head over and over with a frying pan its the duty of other constituents to disarm the offender and give him a drum no?

the ummah as a one man band.

Lets make curriculums for music that inspire and equip.

thegoodgarment said...

Here is a quote from the prospectus of our local Muslim school (well regarded by Ofsted and the community) on Music and Arts:

"As an Islamically faith-based school we carefully check all subjects by the guidelines of the Qur’an and Sunnah. It is for this reason that we do not promote learning through music. Do your children draw pictures of living animals? We endeavour to avoid this. Where it is unavoidable we try to use 'stick-images' or delete facial features on images. "

So much of how my daughter relates to the world is through her depiction of it in her drawings. And her music. She's typical like that: sound and vision are the basis for creativity, and creativity is charity and charity is the essence of the cosmos, the essence of Allah's Love.

It is nothing short of psychosis (bordering of criminal) to orphan the children to creativity in such a way. If they are cut off from the gamelan and the gallery at an early age, they will find it very difficult to learn these languages later.

And if you want to get ummatic about it: it means the future is lost, because without creativity the ummah will continue to get crushed by itself and outer forces. They will just be worker drones without queen bees. So not just psychotic, but also bad future planning.

Nevertheless: I have no solution. If I went down the street and explained this clearly to their head teacher, I'd be told I am not a Muslim. All I can do is keep my kids practicing their arts. You ought multiply and do the same, brother. If you can't keep the hand from beating the pan over the head alone, multiply your own personal princess army to do it for you :P

Fugstar said...

shall we do it sometime? see what occurs? not in the spirit of demonisation like ware and com but nasihah.

Diana Harris has spent some time looking at this.


thegoodgarment said...

You mean, perhaps as IMASE, go to the head teacher and make a case for letting their kids draw pictures of animals? I guess it might be an interesting experience ... but surely Quixotic? Do you know anyone as a friend at one of these kinds of schools?

And on an integrationist tip ... I am unsure about the "naturalness" of Harris' practical suggestions for sensitiveness and stealth -- all that stuff about music in single sex classes, utilizing Islamic poetry for compositions, singing and computers instead of instruments etc.

That's a good way to work if you think the Muslims in this country are like some kind of endangered panda that needs its own indigenous bamboo and a natural habitat in order to thrive. It's a zookeeper approach. And certainly many Muslims treat their own community in such a way -- that's part of what is going on with some Islamic schools.

But that's not how it ought to work -- I mean, that's not how Allah made Islam to work. Allah didn't give us a panda, Allah gave us a "becoming".

Muslims are sent here to spread Islam (not the religion or its practices, but the concept of Tawhid, to add to the spirituality that has always existed in this Island since the times of the druids).

When Islam came to Java, it didn't act like an endangered species. It "integrated" like a vine (actually I believe Islam IS a Vine) onto the structures already there, growing onto the poetry, the mythology and the music that was central to that society, highlighting the Tawhid that was there already.

So the first thing was to get the Gamelan involved, because the orchestra is the metaphor for Javanese society -- the Gamelan is the Javanese mind. The saints who brought Islam also innovated new forms of Gamelan and even brought it into the Mosque, using it in the Azan.

I imagine similar stories could be told of Islam's "real" entry into Bangladesh, stories that are in these troubled times censored and ignored as mere early syncretism prior to the advent of "real" Islam.

Anyhow, from a zoological perspective, her recommendations for sensitivity are fine. From the Islam-as-a-Vine perspective, they are the opposite of what is necessary.

More music: the whole Western canon in fact. Some Islamic poets, for sure. Definitely the different scale systems and cyclical modes of India and Indonesia, and the polyrhythms of Africa -- for all children. But, specifically for the "Muslim" kids, also more Shakespeare, Donne, Blake. Purcell, Handel and John Dowland and the Beatles. Download it all to the kids. Then nurture the kids to find Islam within that art: because it is there. That will be a foundation -- a British Muslim ought to be the Hafiz, the guardian, of the British culture -- just as the first Muslims in Java became the Dhalangs, the leaders of the Gamelan. Nurture them to think about ways in which they, as the buds of that Vine, might enwrap it, so the branches grow strong here and then bear fruit.

fug said...

neat ideas. for a start i think its about content design at first, then launching stuff and seeing who turns up.

harris stuff is about endangered fossilised culture because thats what multi culturalism became in unimaginative hands.

In Bangladesh celebration of syncreticness is a secular triumphalist refrain. The cultural field is creative, if dominated by the religiously less animated.

Exceptions include Hyder Husyn: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZxPB2Vfwp0
and numerous folks and classical live traditions. like baul.

but its all about post colonial ummahtic folk rock really.