Muslim schools: Meeting the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development standards October 2014
The Department for Education has published non-statutory advice Improving the spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development of pupils – Departmental advice for independent schools and academies/free schools to help independent schools understand their obligations under the standards relating to a school’s provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development (SMSC). The advice sets out the aims of each of the standards in part 2, summarised here in a table format. There is a great emphasis on ‘active’ promotion of the standards. New SMSC standards came into effect 29 September 2014.
A commitment to make changes to strengthen the SMSC standard was included in the Government’s Prevent strategy. In line with this commitment, sub-paragraphs 5(1)(a)(ii) and (iii) have been amended to clarify existing requirements on schools. In addition, new sub-paragraphs 5(1)(a)(vi), 5(1)(b) and 5(1)(c) are intended to ensure that schools:
- encourage pupils to respect specified fundamental British values;
- do not promote extremist views, or partisan political views, through their curriculum and/or teaching, and
- offer pupils a balanced presentation of views when political issues are brought to their attention.
This advice should not be read as guidance on how to pass an inspection. Ofsted and the three independent inspectorates publish their inspection frameworks, which set out how schools are assessed against the standards, and schools may wish to refer to these documents and the associated resources which explain what inspectors look for in assessing compliance with this standard.
Schools should remember that the standards are statutory and constitute basic requirements for independent schools. Good and outstanding practices are characterised by well planned provision resulting in regular and wide-ranging experiences for all pupils, commensurate with their age, that prepare them well for life in modern multicultural Britain.
Islamic principles and values that support these standards
The Qur’an affirms the diversity of God’s Creation, the principles of enjoining good and forbidding evil, social justice, care for the created environment. Man has been given free will, and therefore is responsible for his own spiritual and moral decisions, that is to submit, or not, to the Will of God. As a khalifah (trustee) of God on earth, man’s responsibility is to ensure that God’s Creation continues its progression so that His Attributes are more and more perfectly expressed in the physical world. For this purpose, man is expected to use his ability to learn, reason, choose, create and build.
Diversity and tolerance
O men! Behold, We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, God is all-knowing, all-aware [Qur’an 49:13].
There shall be no coercion in matters of faith [Qur’an 2:256].
And [thus it is] had thy Sustainer so willed, all those who live on earth would surely have attained to faith, all of them; dost thou, then, think that thou couldst compel people to believe [Qur’an 10:99]
Say: ‘O you who deny the truth! I do not worhip that which you worship, and neither do you worship that which I worship. And I will not worship that which you have [ever] worshipped, and neither will you [ever] worship that which I worship. Unto you, your moral law, and unto me, mine!’ [Qur’an 109: 1-6].
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), during his Last Sermon in Minâ, said: “O people! Your Lord is one Lord, and you all share the same father. There is no preference for Arabs over non-Arabs, nor for non-Arabs over Arabs. Neither is their preference for white people over black people, nor for black people over white people. Preference is only through righteousness.” Then he said: “Have I conveyed the message?” and the people declared that he had. [Hadith: Musnad Ahmad (22391)].
But when you are greeted with a greeting [of peace], answer with an even better greeting, or [at least] with the like thereof… [Qur’an 4:86]
A kind word and the veiling of another’s want is better than a charitable deed followed by hurt, … [Qur’an 2:263]
Allah is not kind to him who is not kind to people. (Hadith: Bukhari, Muslim)
Humility and modesty
‘And turn not thy cheek away from people in [false] pride, and walk not haughtily on earth: for, behold, God does not love anyone who, out of self-conceit, acts in a boastful manner. Hence, be modest in thy bearing, and lower thy voice: for, behold, the ugliest of all voices is the [loud] voice of asses…’ [Qur’an 31:18-19].
For [true] servants of the Most Gracious are [only] they who walk gently on earth, and who, whenever the foolish address them, reply with [words of] peace [Qur’an 25:63].
Obeying the law of the land
O you who have attained to faith! Be true to your covenants! [Qur’an 5:1].
Citizenship (and visa) is called in Islamic legal terms a “covenant of security” (aqd al-aman). For over a thousand years, Muslim scholars have rigorously affirmed the binding nature of the covenant of security.
Sanctity of life
Because of this did We ordain unto the children of Israel that if anyone slays a human being–unless it be [in punishment] for murder or for spreading corruption on earth–it shall be as though he had slain all mankind; whereas, if anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all mankind [Qur’an 5:32].
O you who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in upholding equity, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of God, even though it be against your own selves or your parents and kinsfolk. Whether the person concerned be rich or poor, God’s claim takes precedence over [the claims of] either of them [Qur’an 4:135].
Behold, God enjoins justice, and the doing of good, and generosity towards [one’s] fellow men … [Qur’an 16:90]
But [remember that an attempt at] requiting evil may, too, become an evil: hence, whoever pardons [his foe] and makes peace, his reward rests with God – for verily, He does not love evil-doers [Qur’an 42:40]
‘O my dear son! Be constant in prayer, and enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong, and bear in patience whatever [ill] may befall thee: this, behold, is something to setone’s heart upon! ‘ [Qur’an 31:17].
Abū Hurayrah relates that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “I have only been sent to perfect good moral character.” [Hadith: Musnad Ahmad (8595)].
Patience in adversity
And most certainly shall We try you by means of danger, and hunger, and loss of wordly goods, of lives and [of labour’s] fruits. But give glad tidings unto those who are patient in adversity– who, when calaminty befalls them, say, ‘Verily unto God do we belong and, verily, unto Him we shall return.’[Qur’an 2: 155-157]
You shall most certainly be tried in your possessions and in your persons; and indeed you shall hear many hurtful things from those to whom revelation was granted before your time, as well as from those who have come to ascribe divinity to other beings beside God. But if you remain patient in adversity and conscious of Him– this, behold, is something to set one’s heart upon [Qur’an 3:186].
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Associated resources (external links)