The Al Masjid Al Munawwarah Islamic Centre in Coventry is a humble building with a growing community originally from Zanzibar. Yet, on Saturday, December 7th, its newly painted walls, rose bouquets and festive table settings were harbingers that something special was afoot. That evening, the community welcomed civic leaders, learned clergy, and I, a Jewish rabbi, to an awards ceremony for the madrassah teachers who had just received accreditation in teaching excellence. It will probably never hit the news cycle, but what is occurring in this centre, and in humble faith centres around England, is remarkable and transformative.
Supported by Imam Farooq Mulla and Sarvat Mulla, of the Strengthening Faith Institutions Programme, madrassah and faith supplementary school teachers around the country are taking their skills to the next level with rigorous teaching accreditation. This accreditation, which is overseen by the National Resource Centre for Supplementary Schools, ensures the parents that their children are receiving a quality education with modern pedagogical methods seamlessly interwoven with traditional faith values. The awards ceremony at the centre honoured both the women and the men who had devoted their time to teaching young people and for creating a professional supplementary school for religious understanding and critical thinking. The news cycle may never note this brief event, but I believe its long-term impact on our society is indeed worthy of great note.