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The IIIT’s Advancing Education in Muslim Societies (AEMS) project has undertaken a study on “Mapping the Terrain” of education in Muslim Societies. The study emerged in order to, first, carry the legacy of IIITs intellectual work in education and, second, address the gaps in knowledge on values-based education as part of the human development approach.


With a long-term goal of contributing to the knowledge of human civilizations and how they can imagine a future of prosperity, justice, and peace; this goal is accomplished through conducting evidence-based/empirical research and generating new knowledge on the state of universal Qur’anic values and ways in which they influence the path of human development and states of consciousness in Muslim societies. The results of the study are intended to be made available for use by researchers, policy makers, education change agents, and others.


This study is unique in its approach and scope, as it includes more than 25,000 participants and covers 13 countries and one republic within a country. With its focus on schools, universities, and the stakeholders around them, this initiative elevates human development through education as a goal in itself and as a method of achieving the goal of peaceful living for humanity. It also brings the voices of youths and young adults to the forefront of the education reform agenda. This is of particular importance as the next generations in many Muslim societies are responding to the current geopolitical conditions with resistance and resilience with no authentic assessment of their struggles and ways to ensure their futures beyond employment and citizenship. The goal of the human development is to reach the states of higher consciousness and live according to values shared by all people.


A thorough examination of the literature and the universal Qur’anic values led to the selection of constructs such as empathy, forgiveness, and moral reasoning, among others. These values resonate with Muslims and non-Muslims alike and are central to human development and well-being. Questions remain about how the youth perceive these values and how adults infuse them and reason around them when challenged by everyday adversities and economic hardships.


The study is intended to be an on-going annual research project that will provide a space for dialogue and intellectual debates on aspects of education and human development that have practical implications for policy, assessment and pedagogy. The wide distribution of the results and the availability of the data sets will certainly encourage these conversations.


A thorough selection process of the study methods, design, and conceptual framework conducted by the research team – whose members have a diversity of expertise and academic preparation – ensures that all the components of the study are conducted with sensitivity to local conditions and ensure the selection of existing instruments that are reliable and valid in international contexts. The collaborations with local research teams in each location also ensure input from researchers in each country.




A report has been produced based on the results of the first annual empirical research on “Mapping the Terrain” of education in Muslim societies. The results of the analysis of this large-scale quantitative study suggest complex yet extremely important lessons on the values selected and their importance. The results also provide lessons on the research methods used and their success and challenges. This report also shares the conceptualizing of the study, especially its human development approach and the results of the first annual data collection of Mapping the Terrain.


When placing forgiveness and community mindedness as outcome variables and empathy and moral reasoning as predictors of participants’ scores on those among individuals in the study, it is assumed that there is a high possibility of confirming that and especially the positive direction of the predictions in the model. This equation is further enhanced by three additional variables that are suggested to promote the outcomes religiosity, sense of belonging, and sense of self-efficacy.


The results of the study confirm the model and the power of empathy (more than moral reasoning) to enhance the tendencies to forgive and become more community minded as part of the collective in Muslim societies. Demographic variables among the various target groups (students in K-12 and higher education, teachers, administrators, and parents) such as gender and education did not play significant roles in determining the results of the study.

The report on the results of the first year of study (2018-2019) will soon be available for download.