The three boys in the photograph belong to a group of Israeli boys who came together at the Western Wall in Jerusalem in 2008 for a mass bar mitzvah celebration. The orthodox social service organization Colel Chabad arranged the celebration for orphans and needy families. Several prominent Israeli rabbis participated in the celebration of this important Jewish rite of passage to adulthood.... Read More »
Despite efforts to resist, by the end of the 19th century, almost all of the Middle East had fallen under the control of European powers. Whether in the form of a protectorate or colony, European powers made changes to the indigenous educational system that impacted children.
Europeans offered European-style education to a very small elite group of Middle Eastern students and this... Read More »
Census data is one way for historians to better understand the lives of average people who otherwise might be largely invisible to scholars. This excerpt from the 1910 census conducted by the Hapsburg Monarchy. The census data was collected for most towns and cities throughout the Monarchy every few years from between 1880 and 1910. It covers occupation, disease, language, and literacy for men... Read More »
The devshirme system began in the late 14th century. Christian boys were recruited by force to serve the Ottoman government. The boys were generally taken from the Balkan provinces, converted to Islam, and then passed through a series of examinations to determine their intelligence and capabilities. In special palace schools, they learned Arabic, Persian, Turkish, math, calligraphy,... Read More »
In some regions of the Middle East today, conflict impacts students' daily educational experience. Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, militants have targeted educational establishments, thousands of academics have fled the country, and up to 70% of schools have been closed. People in this region maintain their high regard for education in the face of adversity, as this podcast relates.
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In the immediate aftermath of independence, post-colonial governments in the Middle East prioritized education as a cornerstone for economic growth. This included revamping the curriculum, turning classrooms, in many instances, into battlegrounds in political and ideological fights. When Algeria obtained its independence from France in 1962, for example, after 132 years of colonization,... Read More »
Hadith are reports about what the Prophet Muhammad said or thought. They provide Muslims with a sense of how Muhammad applied the guidelines of the Koran to daily life. They are based on the memories and stories of those who knew the Prophet and were recorded a few generations after his death. Women in the Prophet’s family are acknowledged as legitimate authors of these religious texts, and... Read More »