Education in the Middle East
Gülen Movement [Literary Excerpt]
Despite media reports in the West that often link Islamic education with radical Islam, there are varieties of modern Islamic education. One such example is the Gülen movement. It has inspired the creation of hundreds of schools funded by Turkish entrepreneurs who are members of the Gülen movement, motivated by Islamic principles but offering nonreligious education, whose students often excel in academic achievement, science competitions, and university admittance rates. Founded in Turkey by Fethullah Gülen and now active in over 50 countries, the Gülen movement is an offshoot of Said Nursi's (1879-1960) Nurcu movement and derived from an understanding of Islam shaped by the secular Turkish context and by ideas formed in conservative Islamic circles. The Gülen movement seeks to implement Islam at an individual level rather than a state level, emphasizes science education rather than religion alone, and conducts interfaith dialogues. Some Turkish secularists believe that he is trying to transform Turkey into an Islamic state under the guise of peacefulness and goodwill, so Gülen lives in self-imposed exile in the U.S. Education of children in the Middle East, like anywhere in the world, is an arena in which larger social issues play out.
Fethullah Gülen, "The Significance of Reading," November 26, 2004 Fethullah Gülen: Understanding and Respect, http://www.fethullahgulen.org/religious-education-of-the-child/1888-the-significance-of-reading.html (accessed July 1, 2010). Annotated by Heidi Morrison.
Primary Source Text
One of the most important subjects in educating your child is "books and reading." Children should have a target of learning how to read and write, they should not want to be led, but rather promote themselves to the level of a guide. To know why you read is as important as reading itself.
Let us think about the following questions: "What is knowledge? What is the purpose of knowledge? Why do people read books? What is the target that we desire to reach by reading and understanding something?"
If a person learns the complex and confusing rules and principles of mathematics, but ignores their practical applications or never thinks of improving their knowledge with theories and hypotheses then they cannot be considered as having realized their goal.
Likewise, if we learn all the basic principles of medicine, but do not put this knowledge to use, not even examining a single patient, it is doubtful whether we will be able to keep up our knowledge, not to mention the fact that we have wasted our knowledge.
In short, knowledge in which we do not find anything that relates to ourselves or to someone else is, obviously, of no use to anyone.
How to Cite This Source
Heidi Morrison, "Education in the Middle East," in Children and Youth in History, Item #459, http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/teaching-modules/459 (accessed January 26, 2015).
- Primary Sources
- Ijazahs (Diploma) [Calligraphy]
- Ibn Khaldun's Study of History (1377 CE) [Literary Excerpt]
- 'Abd al-Latif al-Baghdadi's Autobiography [Personal Account]
- Illustration from The Maqamat of al-Hariri [Painting]
- Devshirme System [Gravure]
- Ottoman Decree, 1856 [Legal Document]
- British Parliamentary Papers [Official Documents]
- "Girls' Education is the Basis of Civilization and Moral Refinement" 1907 [Magazine Article]
- Taha Hussein, Minister of Education [Motto]
- Education in Post-Colonial Algeria [Newspaper Article]
- Gülen Movement [Literary Excerpt]
- Education in a Warzone [Podcast]