Turkey plans to establish an Islamic university with a broader Muslim curriculum

Dec 25, 2014

Religion News Service photo by Michael Kaplan

By Michael Kaplan

As Turkey’s political and economic influence rises across the Muslim world, the historically secular state could soon become a center for religious learning, too.

The country’s state-sanctioned religious body, the Religious Affairs Directorate, has announced plans to establish an international Islamic university in the country’s cultural capital, Istanbul.

Mehmet Gormez, head of the Religious Affairs Directorate, said the institution would rival the influential seats of Islamic learning in Egypt, Malaysia, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

“I have been working on the issue for three years and see that the curriculums of these universities do not help in providing solutions to problems faced by Muslims,” Gormez told the Hurriyet Daily News, an English-language paper in Turkey, as he announced the plans.

A number of other factors are at play. Political unrest continues to sweep Egypt and Syria, once hubs for Islamic learning, and more students are turned off by Saudi Arabia’s more literalist interpretation of Islam.

There are already a number of international studies programs, begun in 2006, that cater specifically to students of Turkish origin.

Suleyman Derin, a professor of Sufism at Turkey’s second-largest university, Marmara University, said the country’s Arabic programs are improving, too, as an increasing number of Syrian scholars driven out of their homes by war in Syria are now finding posts at Turkish universities.

Unlike many of the long-standing Islamic institutions, which emphasize the study of Islam’s legal thought, Turkey’s religious studies programs blend modern social sciences education with a broad study of classical Islamic texts.

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19 comments on “Turkey plans to establish an Islamic university with a broader Muslim curriculum

  • It would have been nice if he listed the problems he thinks face muslims in the modern world, and his plan(s) to address them within a university in Istanbul. Clicking on the details link reveals not much beyond what is mentioned here, with the specific omission of any STEM courses. The author of the original piece could perhaps do a follow-up, and ask this exact sort of question. If there is no STEM education within his university, what does he suggest for students interested in those areas ? (Purses lips, shakes head.)

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  • dawkins once said that we he came from, scholars were people who have read more than one book. now here’s a whole university which is going to be establish on the basis of one book!! laughable. and …. just what is islamic learning??

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  • The path Turkey is on since a couple of years scares the hell out of me. It’s turning into an islamic totalitarian regime* and that’s a crime against humanity -as a whole, not only against Turkish people.

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  • Lorenzo Dec 26, 2014 at 4:23 am

    The path Turkey is on since a couple of years scares the hell out of me. It’s turning into an islamic totalitarian regime* and that’s a crime against humanity – as a whole, not only against Turkish people.

    It is probably a similar effect to the let’s have a pro-American wish-thinkers’ democratic revolution and get some back-handers, “aid/development payments, modern weapons etc. – by showing we are friends of NATO so Xtian faith-heads and Islamic faith-heads can smugly denigrate and undermine secular government, in the deluded belief that theocracy is wonderful!

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  • The reason for no STEM studies is that outcomes are based in Real World Problem Solving, where this university is only interested in basic navel gazing and how better to trick simple people out of their Freedoms, Freewill and Money mainly the money

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  • I’m currently an undergraduate student of engineering at a Turkish privet university in Istanbul, this school in particular is under great influence of the ruling party; therefore, the focus on Islamic studies is very clear and the environment at school is very far away from the image of secular Turkey that we have known before, it’s rather a very strict Islamic environment… I can say that I’m stuck at this school as irreligious collage student, and they are very much ruining my collage years…

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  • The current AKP government led by Erdogan is obsessed with instilling piety and Islamic observance into every aspect of Turkish life. Half the country’s population is against this, while the other half doesn’t object. This is the unfortunate outcome of democracy in the country!

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  • 15
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    … just what is islamic learning??

    It’s the politically correct, Islamaphobia-phobic, Western well-to-do liberal’s approved euphemism for “Islamic indoctrination”.

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  • 16
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    Erdogan is like the General Franco of Turkey, a country that is quickly turning into a SINO (secular in name only) country. I read an article recently about a young man who was imprisoned for criticizing Erdogan publicly and calling him corrupt.

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  • Yes, that’s par for the course. Erdogan hates any kind of criticism and is progressively increasing his ‘legal’ powers to stifle adverse comment of any kind.

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