ENGLISH: ‘ISLAMIC STUDIES’ IN AUSTRALIAN UNIVERSITIES – AN ANALYSIS FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF LOCAL TRAINING OF IMAMS
Imams have an important role in community leadership and development and they accordingly need appropriate education and training to enable them to effectively perform their role. This is not only required to prepare them in providing leadership in religious matters but also in terms of positively impacting the overall direction of community in accordance with broader national interests. This literature review paper reviews the various perspectives related to Islamic studies tertiary education options for Australian Imams in local universities. The study notes that ‘Islamic studies’ as a discipline has evolved over the decades in Australia and internationally and there are a number of different approaches towards Islamic studies education. While reviewing the course structures and scopes of courses, it is identified that most of the current courses are not suitable to meet the needs of training the Imams. Accordingly, students go to other avenues for meeting their educational needs. In order to ensure better integration with local culture, values, and national priorities, existing university programs need to be explored and other options, including supplementary courses for foreign qualified Imams, may need to be explored. The paper concludes with suggestions regarding future research which can evolve the current body of knowledge on ‘Islamic studies’ education and local training options for Imams.