The Kurdish Medrese in Ottoman and Republican Times

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


In Ottoman times, Kurdish medreses existed alongside the official Ottoman medreses; they were distinguished by the precedence of the Shafi‘i rather than the Hanafi school of law and the use of Kurdish as the language of instruction. After the medreses were formally closed by the Republican government in 1924, some Kurdish medreses continued operating inconspicuously. In the course of the past century, the numbers of these medreses and their students have declined and expanded in response to the political climate. In addition to religious subjects, traditional Kurdish literature was also cultivated in these vernacular schools. Medrese-trained meles (mullahs) have been influential in Kurdish rural society as organic intellectuals. In the past two decades, both the secular Kurdish movement and its Islamist competitors as well as the Justice and Development Party government have made overtures to the meles and the medrese environment to win the hearts and minds of the Kurdish population.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Religion in Turkey
EditorsCaroline Tee, Fabio Vicini, Philip C. Dorroll
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780197625330
ISBN (Print)9780197624883
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Feb 2024

Publication series

NameOxford Handbooks
PublisherOxford University Press


  • Islamic education
  • Madrasa
  • Ottoman Empire
  • Republican Turkey
  • Kurdistan
  • Kurds
  • Kurdish literature
  • Kurdish nationalism


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