The Global Association of Islamic Schools

July/August 2022

The world has seen a proliferation of Islamic schools since the first World Conference on Islamic Education held in Makka (1977). One vital task still remains: to create a unified global body of Islamic school associations, organizations and educators. 

Inspired by this need, Zaffar Ahmed (principal, Al Falaah College, Durban, South Africa) reached out to nine Islamic schools associations across the world and arranged a Zoom conference to be held on Nov. 22, 2021. A general working group, along with a steering committee, was then established to bring all Islamic school associations, organizations and schools together under the Global Association of Islamic Schools’ (GAIS) banner. 

The steering committee comprises Zaffar Ahmed (, Sufia Azmat (executive director, Council of Islamic Schools in North America; vice president, Weekend Islamic Schools Educational Resources), Abid Siddiq Omerson (trustee, Omerson Educational Trust) and Yahya Van Rooy (upper-elementary principal, Next Generation School, Dubai; director of community development, Islamic Schools League of America).

GAIS aspires to co-create the future of Islamic education by uniting and empowering the global K-12 Islamic school community. Current membership includes representatives from Australia, Belgium, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa, Turkey, the UAE, the U.K. and the U.S.

This body envisions a world in which Islamic schools will impact their communities positively by educating students to embody ihsan (moral, spiritual and intellectual excellence). It seeks to bring Islamic schools together in order to build global solidarity and promote a culture of excellence by providing thought leadership, networking opportunities and research-based standards for a holistic and relevant education. 

As of this writing, three webinars have been dedicated to connecting scholars who are conducting research in the field of Islamic education with educators in Islamic schools. These webinars have been attended by 250 participants worldwide.

Global Conference on Islamic Education

GAIS is now organizing the next global conference on Islamic education, which will be held in Istanbul during 2025. This date was selected to commemorate the 50th hijri anniversary of the first such event held in Makkah during 1977.

The second World Conference on Muslim Education (WCME) was held in Islamabad (1980) under the aegis of Quaid-i-Azam University, the Ministry of Education (Pakistan) and King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah. The third WCME, held in Dhaka (1981), dealt with developing textbooks for all levels. The fourth conference, held in Jakarta (1982), concentrated on teaching methodologies and teacher education courses. The fifth conference, hosted by Egypt’s Muslim Youth Organization (1987), reviewed the previous conferences’ achievements and failures and discussed how to implement the recommendations. The sixth conference was hosted by South Africa’s Association of Muslim Schools (1996). Both the seventh (2009) and eighth (2010) conferences were held in Malaysia.

The Conference’s planning committee intends to visit Istanbul during October 2022 to meet with possible partners, conduct school visits, identify a suitable venue and plan for the ninth conference, to be held during 2023. 


What did you think about this article? Send comments and story pitches to horizons@isna.netIslamic Horizons does not publish unsolicited material.