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In Islam, there are two kinds of learning: the knowledge of religion and the knowledge of human and physical bodies. As with any other religion, this refers to religious and secular education.

Madrasa is the Arabic word for any kind of educational institution, whether secular or religious, and whether it is a school, a college, or a university. In Western countries, the term is usually used to refer to a religious school or college for the study of the Islamic religion, although other subjects may also be studied.

Islamic studies refers to the study of Islam. It may be an umbrella term for religious sciences pursued by Islamic scholars, or it might be a field of academic research into the Islamic religion, culture, and traditions, depending on perspective.

Islamic studies includes traditional Muslim thought, including Islamic theology (kalam) and Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), as well as other fields of study that would be considered secular in the West, such as Islamic science and Islamic economics. Topics of study might include the history of Islam and Islamic civilization, Islamic jurisprudence, theology, and philosophy, as well as language studies, modern history, legal history, and sociology.

Literally, the term madrasa is defined as "a place where learning and studying takes place." In Arabic, it means the same thing as a school in American English. It can refer to the equivalent of an elementary school or secondary school, as well as to a college or post-graduate school.

However, in English the term madrasa is usually used in reference to an Islamic institution. Typically, an Islamic school offers two basic programs of study: a course of memorization of the Quran and a course that trains the successful student to become an accepted scholar in the community. The regular curriculum includes courses in Arabic, Quranic interpretation, Islamic law, logic (mantiq), Muslim history, and a study of the hadiths. Some madrasas include courses in Arabic literature, English, and other languages. Science and world history may also be included.

People of all ages may attend, and some go on to become imams, which could require as much as twelve years of study.

Men are generally educated separately from women, and women account for a much smaller percentage of the student population than men.

Historically, Muslims were pioneers in education in many ways. Commanded by the Quran to seek knowledge, the Muslim world was the scientific center of the world in the Middle Ages, and Christian, Jews, and Muslims all participated in the flourishing of science, art, medicine, and philosophy up until the 10th or 11th centuries.

A series of wars and the subsequent Crusades distracted greatly from Muslim educational endeavors, and the Mongol invasions led to the burning of the most prestigious libraries in the Islamic world. Then, when the Muslims took steps to revive their system of education, they made the mistake of adopting the Western secular system, which separated religious and secular studies. While this system worked well in the West, where governments tended to be secular, but it was not a good choice for the Islamic world, where government and religion cannot be so easily disconnected.

Islamic studies may also refer to a study of the Islamic religion, culture, traditions, and civilization conducted through a non-Islamic institution, such as a state or private university. While madrasas are more likely to teach only the theological viewpoints of the denomination or sect to which they belong, secular Islamic programs often include a study of the various Islamist groups, movements, or denominations, and are often taught by non-Arabs and even by scholars who do not identify theologically as Muslims. Such Islamic scholars are sometimes referred to as Islamicists, and the program of Islamic studies is sometimes referred to as Oriental studies. Several universities in North America and Europe offer academic degrees in Islamic studies, in which students study Arabic and are able to read Islamic texts in the original language.

Topics related to Islamic education and instruction are the focus of this category, whether taught internally by Islamic institutions or through secular colleges and universities. Topics such as the history of Islamic education, or and evaluations of Islamic studies, may also be submitted to this category. Websites representing local madrasas should be submitted to the appropriate Local & Global category, however.



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