Z. Şeyma Arslan: Training of Imams and Teachers for Islamic Education in Turkey
291 Z. Şeyma Arslan Tra i n i n g o f I m a m s a n d Te a c h e r s fo r I s l a m i c E d u ca t i o n i n Tu r ke y Training Imams or religious education teachers in countries like Tur- key – countries that have a significant Muslim population and Islamic tradition – not only means training religious functionaries, but also producing Islamic knowledge. Although Imams, teachers of religion, and religious scholars (ulema) carry out a social service, they also hold authority on the basis of religious knowledge. In the case of Turkey, following the reign of the Ottomans, the form of this traditional struc- ture changed after the Republican period. While Turkey is a secular nation state, it also has a rich historical legacy and dominant Mus- lim population and produced its religious educational institutions in a neither entirely Western nor fully traditional way. The search for middle ground between the idealized Westernization of the modern Turkish Republic and the traditional Islamic heritage has engendered today’s Islamic discourse (which has been described as “moderate”), along with the structure of contemporary religious educational insti- tutions. 292 Z. Şeyma Arslan T h e B a c k g r o u n d T h e Tr a n s f o r m a t i o n o f E d u c a t i o n a l I...
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