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Islamic Education in Secular Societies

In Cooperation with Sedef Sertkan and Zsófia Windisch

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Edited By Ednan Aslan and Margarete Rausch

Through history, Islam was the dominant religion and source of legitimation for ruling entities in diverse contexts where cultures and religions thrived in harmony. Today, the presence of Muslims as citizens in secular societies poses challenges, either by belonging to minorities in Western countries with long secular traditions or by comprising minority or majority populations in post-communist East European and Central Asian societies, where secular values are being revised. As Muslims reconceive the role of religion in their lives in those contexts, Islamic education acquires importance. It assists the young, especially adolescents, in learning to identify more fully with local realities with the intention of building sense of inner connectedness through which they may truly take part in and be of service to society. The contributors to this volume explore how the religious and secular, as well as the traditional and modern intersect in Islamic educational institutions that benefit Muslims and their societies by averting extremism and promoting cohesion.

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I I I -ISLAMIC EDUCATION AND SECULARISM IN POST-COMMUNIST SOCIETIES

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- I I I - I S L A M I C E D U C AT I O N A N D S E C U L A R I S M I N P O ST- CO M M U N I ST S O C I E T I E S 185 A B ST R A C T A new era of international relations began with the end of the Cold War when the fall of the Soviet Union marked the end of the bipolar and the beginning of a mono-polar system under US leadership. In these new circumstances, Turkey initiated a program of multidimensional diploma- cy in its hinterlands, especially in the Balkans, which has had important consequences in the domains of politics, culture, and education. At the beginning of the 1990s, Turkish non-government organizations, under the leadership of Fethullah Gülen, realized their first educational invest- ments and activities in this region. Although these initiatives have made significant contributions to the development of the educational system in various countries of the Balkan region, they have sometimes been charac- terized by deficiencies. At the beginning of the 21st century, with the rise to power of Prime Minister Erdoğan’s party, a new era in Turkish educa- tional investments in the Balkans began. In addition to support from the Gülen movement, the Turkish government led by Erdoğan has stimulat- ed and supported the activities of other Turkish non-government organi- zations, which have been active...

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