Ricky Bains: Dar al-Ulums & Higher Education Institutes
Abstract: Graduates of the traditional ‘Ālimiyyah program delivered in the UK have typically found the lack of accreditation for their courses limiting. Students who graduate from a dars-e- nizami are left with very narrow options when progressing on to university higher educationor the workplace. Attempts at accreditation of the dars-e-nizami have failed, and options for validated Islamic Studies degrees are usually available from ‘hybrid institutions’. This paper will present empirical qualitative data gathered from students who are part of an alternative model achieved through a partnership between a Dār al-‘Ulūm and validated Higher Education Institute. This model also circumvents concerns around whether a ‘confessional/theological’ or ‘religious studies’ approaches is one that should be encouraged. A focus group comprising 10 students from the very rst cohort who are studying the dars-e-nizami alongside a BA in Islamic Studies with Arabic was conducted. The ‘student voice’ has largely been missing from discourse on British Dār al-‘Ulūms, this primary data provides an insight into three broad themes concerning student experiences and beliefs namely; student motivation, navigating faith and criticality, and beliefs about the processes of teaching and learning.