Constitutionalism and the Madrasas: A Traditional Institution's Struggle for Survival in the Face of Modernization
The education system in general and religious education in particular were two of the most important questions to be solved during the modernization process, which was accelerated by the Tanzimat reforms. These questions were not yet solved by the time the Second Constitutional period started in 1908. Ignored for decades, the madrasas began to fight for survival much more intensely than they had done in the earlier periods. In this connection, a series of reform programs were launched, and new projects for madrasas were designed. These were done with the purpose of re-constructing the religious education while at the same time preserving the traditional system. The madrasa curricula were re-organized with the addition of modern courses. The overall aim of all these reforms was to help the madrasa return to its central place in the Ottoman education system. However, all these efforts and the reforms launched for the madrasa system were not effective enough to prolong its life. Eventually, the madrasas were closed down in 1924, before reaping the fruits of the reforms that had been undertaken during the Second Constitutional period, each of which was a product of a mixture of vast knowledge and rich historical experiences. Despite this, however, these experiences were useful in terms of the emergence and development of the Religious High Schools and Schools of Divinity, which replaced the madrasas during the Republican period.
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