McDonough, Memon, & Mintz (eds.), “Discipline, Devotion, and Dissent”

This December, Wilfrid Laurier University Press will publish Discipline, Devotion, and Dissent: Jewish, Catholic, and Islamic Schooling in Canada edited by Graham P. McDonough (University of Victoria), Nadeem A. Memon (Islamic Teacher Education Program and Wilfrid Laurier University), and Avi I. Mintz (University of Tulsa). The publisher’s description follows.

The education provided by Canada’s faith-based schools is a subject of public, political, and scholarly controversy. As the population becomes more religiously diverse, the continued establishment and support of faith-based schools has reignited debates about whether they should be funded publicly and to what extent they threaten social cohesion.

These discussions tend to occur without considering a fundamental question: How do faith-based schools envision and enact their educational missions?Discipline, Devotion, and Dissent offers responses to that question by examining a selection of Canada’s Jewish, Catholic, and Islamic schools. The daily reality of these schools is illuminated through essays that address the aims and practices that characterize these schools, how they prepare their students to become citizens of a multicultural Canada, and how they respond to dissent in the classroom.

The essays in this book reveal that Canada’s faith-based schools sometimes succeed and sometimes struggle in bridging the demands of the faith and the need to create participating citizens of a multicultural society. Discussion surrounding faith-based schools in Canada would be enriched by a better understanding of the aims and practices of these schools, and this book provides a gateway to the subject.

Fadel on Church and State in Islam

Mohammad Fadel (University of Toronto Law) has posted Seeking an Islamic Reflective Equilibrium: A Response to Abdallahi A. An-Na’im’s Complementary, Not Competing, Claims of Law and Religion: An Islamic Perspective. The abstract follows.

Professor ‘Abdallahi Na’im argues that there can be no conflict between religion and the state because religion and politics are part of different normative orders, and thus it is not conceivable that a conflict can arise between them. I argue that Na’im’s solution to the problematic relationship of religion to state shares the same conceptual terrain as separationism in American constitutional law, a position which has grown increasingly untenable as a result of the increasing religious pluralism in the United States and the expansion of the government into areas of life in a manner that would have been inconceivable even one hundred years ago. More importantly, revealed religions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam provide their adherents with their own conceptions of justice that sometimes do conflict with the results of secular lawmaking. I argue that instead of seeking a further separation of religion from the state, on the grounds that the former is irrelevant to the latter, it would be more useful to judge both the claims of religion and the claims of the state from the perspective of the normative concerns of justice. From this perspective, religion can serve as an important source of normative values that can criticize unjust political outcomes. At the same time, however, religion cannot claim for itself immunity from the claims of justice. Instead, a reflective equilibrium between the claims of religion and the claims of the state should be the goal. I conclude with a couple of examples from historical Islamic law illustrating both the resources that Islamic law provides in furthering a more just legal system, and interpretations of historical Islamic doctrines in a fashion that is consistent with the kind of reflective equilibrium that should be the goal of legal reflection in a politically liberal state.