Call for Papers

Special Issue on Islamic education in Scandinavia

Education plays a crucial role in the maintenance, preservation, and survival of religious systems. Indeed, it would not be overstating it to say that religious education/instruction lies at the very heart of all religions. For members of a majority religion, the transmission of religious traditions to future generations differs from that of those belonging to a minority religion. Majority society is, in one way or another, “marinated” in the majority religion (Berglund 2013). Hence, certain religious values and narratives are “transmitted” through state institutions, official media, traditions, cultural expressions, and so on – although formal education is also necessary for long-term survival. Yet, for minorities, the opportunity to teach their religion to future generations is far more limited and thus urgent: if not somehow taught, the religion will eventually disappear. This is the reason that Islamic education is of such great concern to many Muslims in Europe. Whereas they cannot rely on state institutions to ensure the continuity of their religious community or to manage this sufficiently, Muslim minorities often depend on networks and institutions outside the state. Numerous Muslim children, teenagers, and even adults attend privately run supplementary classes on Islam in the afternoons or on weekends, while others attend private schools or are taught at home. Within the last decade, and increasingly during the Covid ongoing pandemic situation, the number of online and often transnational teaching opportunities has also risen. 

Meanwhile, the increased alertness towards Islamism and Muslims since 9.11 2001 and islamist terror attacks in European cities, has made Islamic education a concern of most European governments; a practice to be controlled and surveyed for fear of rising Islamism, while on the other hand still ensuring minorities their constitutional right to religious freedom. This balance between providing religious freedom to and controlling religious minorities explains why Islamic religious education (IRE) has become a topic of intense public debate. People are concerned that their state is doing either too little or interfering too much when it comes to shaping the spiritual beliefs of private citizens. State strategies have ranged from sponsoring Islamic education in public schools, providing state funding for religious schools, organising state-supervised training of teachers of Islam, monitoring curricula and teaching practices in Muslim private schools to forgoing such Islamic education entirely – with policies varying according to the national ideology of secularism and political culture (Taylor 1998; Mannitz 2004). 

In the Scandinavian countries, the issue of Islamic education has been handled in both similar and different ways. All three countries are characterized by strong welfare states that require the right to interfere in the lives of their citizens, in order to ensure social security, equality and cohesion across social groups. This encompasses high demands of ‘integration’ of the minority population including accommodation to the majority’s stance to secularism and religion (Gullestad 2002; Rytter 2019). Across the three countries, there are yet differences in the role of religion in families, civil society and schools, in the political reception of Muslim migrants, in how the teaching of religion, including Christianity and Islam, is named, organized and practiced in public schools, in the possibility of and rules for public funding of Muslim free schools and Muslim organizations and the way schools, mosques and organizations are surveilled by the state.

In this special Issue of TIFO, we call for papers on Islamic Education in the Scandinavian Countries, that illuminate how the teaching of Islam as well as the children, youth, parents and teachers engaged in this, are affected by the specific Scandinavian context and the rules, practices and debate relating to Muslim minorities transmission of Islam to the next generation. This includes papers on Islamic education in public schools, but also in private Muslim schools, Mosque schools, Muslim organisations, in the everyday of families and in online courses. 


Deadline for abstract (500 words): 25 April 2022

Deadline for first draft: December 2022

Final draft to us to peer review: 15 Mars 2023

Publication: fall 2023

Guest Editors: 

Amina Selimovic

Jenny Berglund

Laura Gilliam

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Questions about this special issue can be addressed to the guest editors.