Glasgow, 21 Jumadil Awwal 1434/1 April 2013 (MINA) – Filling an important void in their educational process, the Muslim community in Scotland’s largest city of Glasgow is awaiting the opening of their first Islamic school.
“We think this is a very positive thing and we hope it will be a very successful center of learning,” a spokesperson for the Glasgow Community Education Association (GCEA) told Scotsman on Sunday, March 31
Muslims have floated plans to build the first Islamic school in Glasgow with donations from parents, businessmen and community members.
Materializing the dream, the GCEA brought Abbotsford House, a B-listed former state school in Gorbals, for £400,000.
“We can confirm that the building has been purchased, and we are now focused on getting the project moving forward,” the GCEA spokesperson said.
“We support denominational schools in Scotland and we think they’ve always had a contribution to make towards the private and public sector in education in Scotland and we are a part of that.”
The new school is planned to be named The Islamic Institute to offer private secondary education to boys and girls, as well as a nursery.
The GCEA’s website asks for donations to help fund the school.
A fundraising dinner was held last week to raise funds for the school, and a women-only bazaar is to be held in Govanhill on Monday.
“The GCEA has purchased Abbotsford House at a total price of £400,000 with the intention of opening an Islamic Secondary School (Boys and Girls) and Nursery,” a GCEA posting on Facebook states.
“Please donate generously and remember you will not only be investing in your children but also in your own Akhirah [afterlife],” the Facebook posting continues.
“Take advantage of this great opportunity to be able to give Sadaqah Jaariyah (Perpetual Charity) before it’s too late. This will be the first successful Islamic secondary school in all of Scotland!”
But some Scottish Muslims have raised concerns about obstacles to the Islamic school project.
“They should have made sure that all the systems were in place before they purchased the building, but they’ve gone ahead and done that already,” a community member in Glasgow said.
“The problems with previous schools was that the people involved had no experience – they’d never run a school before. They were all businessmen.”
Previous attempts to establish Islamic secondary schools in Scotland have been unsuccessful.
Both the Iqra Academy in Glasgow and the Imam Muhammad Zakariya School for girls in Dundee closed after receiving negative inspection reports.
The Iqra Academy, which shut in 2003, was criticized by inspectors for devoting too much time to Islamic subjects and maltreating girls.
But more recently, the Qalam Academy has been set up in Glasgow’s Pollokshields, and an independent Islamic Educational Institute is providing primary education.
Glasgow lawmaker Hanzala Malik said the success of the school would depend upon the organization behind it.
“There is always room for improvement when it comes to education and, in terms of religious schools, there are many around the world,” he said.
“In Catholic schools, for example, people tend to feel that education levels are slightly better because discipline levels are better.
“But the most important issue here is not whether it is a religious school or a secular school, but whether the pupils going to the school will benefit from it.”
There are already a number of Islamic secondary schools in England.
They include the Darul Uloom Islamic High School in Birmingham dubbed the “Eton of Islam”.
Scotland is home to more than 500,000 Muslims, making up less than one percent of the population.
Muslims are the second largest religious group in the country, which has thirty mosques. (T/P08/E1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)