Debates over faith-based schools have resurfaced in recent years, due largely to an increase in Islamic schools in the West and concerns regarding their role vis-a-vis social cohesion. Such debates typically occur in the public and political realms, with less academic attention to the issue. This study addresses this gap by focusing on Islamic schools in the US and England. The article draws on extensive qualitative data collected over 20 months at three Islamic schools to understand the experiences of Muslim students and their families. Contrary to popular perceptions, the findings suggest that Islamic schools can facilitate the participation of Muslims in mainstream institutions by equipping them with the cultural capital needed to navigate in non-Muslim arenas. Paradoxically, the findings also indicate that attending Islamic schools does not necessarily translate into greater levels of religiosity among Muslim youth; in some cases it even turned them away from the religion.
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- faith schools
- Islamic schools
- social cohesion