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Ottoman Madrasas: the Multiple Lives of Educational Institutions in Eighteenth-Century Syria1

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Nineteenth- and twentieth-century students of educational institutions in Damascus have disparaged the Ottoman period as one of decline. This article challenges the assumptions and the conclusions of these historians by looking at the status of Islamic colleges, madrasas, during the eighteenth century. Though the construction of madrasas in the eighteenth century did not rival the "golden age" of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, all phases of Damascus' history as a center of Islamic education should be put in the context of alternating periods of ups and downs. Within such a context the Ottoman period in general and the eighteenth century in particular emerge as much more vibrant than historians once assumed.

Affiliations: 1: Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville


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