In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
There are approximately 1.6 million Muslims in Britain. They form the country's largest religious minority and come from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Although three quarters of British Muslims are of South Asian origin, there are also significant numbers of Muslims from North Africa and the Middle East, Central and Eastern Africa, Eastern Europe, Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan. In addition, there are significant numbers of British White and African-Caribbean converts to Islam.
Islam and Muslims are thus part of the mosaic that comprises modern Britain, with half of the Muslim population being British born. There are over 400,000 Muslim pupils in school education, of whom approximately 96% are in the maintained sector. The faith commitments of Muslim pupils and their families encompass all aspects of everyday life and conduct, including daily life in school. It is important therefore, that educators and schools have good understanding of how they can respond positively to meeting the needs of Muslim pupils.
Many of our schools have a cherished tradition of fostering an inclusive ethos which values and addresses the differences and needs of the communities they serve. We are convinced that with a reasonable degree of mutual understanding and goodwill, even more progress can be made in responding positively to the educational aspirations and concerns of Muslim pupils and their parents. The current climate, in which there is much negative portrayal of Islam and Muslims requires that this be given greater priority and impetus to ensure that Muslim pupils are appropriately accommodated for and become an integral part of mainstream school life and thereby of society as a whole.
Comprehensive information and guidance of this nature is long overdue. Its purpose is to promote greater understanding of the faith, religious and cultural needs of Muslim pupils and how they can be accommodated within schools. It also provides useful information and guidance and features of good practice on meeting these needs.
One of the recommendations made by the Runnymede Trust report (1997) on 'Islamophobia-a challenge for us all' was that Local Authorities should work with schools to develop guidelines on the issues concerning Muslims. Many of the areas highlighted by the report have been addressed within this document.
We trust that this information and guidance will become a useful reference point for local authorities, schools, governors and teachers in recognising, understanding, and endeavouring to respond positively to the needs and concerns of Muslim pupils and parents. It is also recommended to Muslim parents to further their understanding of school practices and what they can reasonably expect from schools.
Finally, we hope that this guidance is helpful in serving the purpose for which it is intended, Insha-Allah (God Willing).
Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari Tahir Alam
Secretary General Chair of Education Committee