3 Aralık 2014 Çarşamba

An Anecdote on the Fate of the Ottoman Madrasas*

Madrasas are one of the most important type of institutions in the Ottoman State. Academic research conducted on these institutions will provide important clues regarding the political, legal, scientific, and religious structures of the Ottoman State, and furthermore how and to what extent these structures changed over time. For each system functioning properly, after a while, problems in this system are no longer considered a problem to be handled due to the lack of paying required attention to its sub-systems, namely institutions. As a result, it is inevitable that the institution starts malfunctioning. However, when the malfunctioning reaches a certain level where it disturbs society, reformation starts in order to improve the current status of the corrupted institution. It seems that madrasas faced a similar fate. So  what caused the malfunctioning of madrasas?

Many articles regarding the reformation of madrasas were published in magazines and newspapers in the late era of the Ottoman State. One of them reported a conference about reformation of the  syllabus  of the madrasas, in which Shaykh al-Islam (grand mufti) Musa Kazim answered  the question of a madrasa student “All right, how can we make a living?” and Musa Kazim Efendi replied, “We will consider this problem. This does not pertain to you.  Be sure that  your income is high. But this income is at the hand of some people. If all the waqfs (Muslim pious foundation) dedicated to the students are given to the students, I think each receives 3 lira, if there are 5000 students. Furthermore, people certainly help you.  Hopefully you put forth your best effort” [1].

Incomes from the waqfs would have met the needs of both madrasas and their students. Economic problems  had negative effects on both mudarris (professor) and students. In fact, the issue can be traced back to the Celali revolts (16th century). During the social and economic crisis, poor parents sent their children to madrasas, which they considered the best place for their children in terms of sheltering and accommodations. Because madrasa students were draft exempt, this increased the number of applicants to the madrasas. All of  these, in turn, caused the madrasas to exceed their capacity [2].

As pointed out by Musa Kazim Efendi, waqfs of the madrasas were dedicated to other areas, probably  due to the fact that the madrasas fell out of favor. However,  if there is not being able to support oneself, it is not difficult to understand  why teaching and learning are not effective.


* Yazının Türkçesine buradan ulaşılabilir.

[1] Musâ Kâzım, "Kelam Kitaplarının Asrın İhtiyaçlarına Göre Düzeltilmesi ve Yazımı, Müslümanlar Arasındaki Farklı Mezheplerin Birleştirilmesi, Medreselerdeki Eğitim Öğretimin Islahı", Yazan. Eşref Edip, Sad. Hulusi Arslan, Hikmet Yurdu, Cild 3, Sayı 5, s. 393-407, Ocak-Haziran 2010. The article can be downloaded here. The original version of this article was published under the title of “Kütübü Kelâmiyyenin İhtiyâcât-ı Asra Göre Islah ve Te’lîfi, Beyne’l-Müslimîn Mezâhib-i Muhtelifenin Tevhîdi, Medreselerde Tedrîsâtın Islâhı” in Sırat-ı Müstakîm 52 (p. 403-406), 53 (p.5-6), 54. (p.22-23).

[2] Similar complaints regarding the situation of madrasas can be seen in Bayan al-Haqq. Ramazan Boyacıoğlu, "Beyanü'l-Hak'ta Ulema, Siyaset ve Medrese", Cumhuriyet Üniversitesi İlahiyat Fakültesi Dergisi, Cild 2, Sayı 1, 1998. This article can downloaded here.

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