Culture, Religion and Language in Middle Eastern Universities

By Landau, Jacob M. | Judaism: A Quarterly Journal of Jewish Life and Thought, Spring 1996 | Go to article overview

Culture, Religion and Language in Middle Eastern Universities


Landau, Jacob M., Judaism: A Quarterly Journal of Jewish Life and Thought


While the foundation and development of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem are unique in the cultural history of the Jewish People in Eretz-Israel, they exhibit striking similarities with regard to the development of other institutions of higher education in Turkey and several Arab countries. These universities were not religious institutions transformed into secular ones. Rather, the new secular universities were one of the signs of change of large parts of the Ottoman Empire and its successor states in the years immediately following the First World War.

These secular universities - Jewish, Arab, or Turkish - were vehicles of modernization in large parts of the Middle East, with national habits and traditions. Frequently, these Middle-Eastern universities were foci of nationalist activity, with teachers and students providing both leaders and supporters of patriotic movements. This was expressed most clearly in their emphasis on the cultural heritage - of which the most decisive characteristic may well have been an ardent commitment to the respective national language.

By contrast, religion and tradition in the region prior to the war led to the founding in 1863 of the Protestant Syrian College, while the College St. Joseph was established some twelve years later as the Catholic response to the Protestants. In time, these universities became full-grown secular institutions of higher learning and research, even though a religious element continued to be present in varying dosages. Neither at any time turned against religion, which maintained its position in the curriculum and in the pervading cultural ambiance. This is true, also, of official institutions of higher education in the late Ottoman Empire. In such university-like high schools as the Mulkiye, set up in Istanbul in 1859 to prepare civil servants, the School of Medicine and the School of Law, founded there in 1901 and 1912, respectively, religious instruction was also provided. The same held true of the first Ottoman university, Istanbul University, which was established in 1900. Although the curriculum was modern and followed West European models, there seems to have been little, if any, movement away from the traditional Islamic outlook. Much of this applies, also, to the Egyptian University, which was set up in Cairo as a private institution in 1908, and became a state university only in 1925.

While in religious institutions religious-secular tensions were non-existent, for practically all the teachers and students were observant, in secular institutions such tensions were minimal - a situation radically different from the present one. This situation was characteristic of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as well, during its establishment in 1925 and in the years immediately following. Of course, it was no coincidence that the first academic division set up at the University was the Institute of Judaic Studies. The focus on such traditional branches of study as the Bible, the Talmud, Jewish history, Hebrew literature and language, and similar subjects was not fortuitous. The approach differed from that of the yeshivot, however, where these fields were studied in traditional ways. At the Hebrew University, all these were approached in light of recent scholarly research - linguistic, historical, geographic, and literary. As in other universities in the Ottoman and post-Ottoman Middle East, many of the professors in the Hebrew University's Institute of Judaic Studies were observant. Nonetheless, they all also practiced the critical evaluation of their texts, including the Bible. In this, they differed from most Arab universities, which to the present have been reluctant to approach the study and teaching of the Koran critically. Still, the emphasis on Judaic studies at the Hebrew University, during its formative years, resembled the attitude prevalent in Turkish and Arab universities, during their early years, in their special favoring of the study of the cultural legacy of their respective civilizations. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Culture, Religion and Language in Middle Eastern Universities
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.