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Curricula and educational process in Mamluk Madrasas

Curricula and educational process in Mamluk Madrasas

By Hatim Mahamid

Education Research Journal, Vol. 1:7 (2011)

Abstract: This study examined and discussed about the process of education in Egypt and Syria during the Mamluk Era (1250 – 1517). It presented the array of learning activities that affected the lives of both the students and teachers; the learning methods and materials utilised; the curricula; the schedules of study days and holidays, etc. The student went through different stages, gradually moving up from the basic elementary (kuttab) to the final stage (muntahun), at the end of which the student was entitled to receive a graduation certificate (ijaza). The study examined also the changes in these activities, in light of the developments occurred in the Mamluk state in general.

Excerpt: The teaching methods that were common during this period varied widely, and depended on the teachers, the subjects and the material under study. By examining the biographies of the ulama from the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods in Egypt and Syria, a number of teaching methods can be discerned. These methods were primarily: hearing and listening (sama‘), reading (qira’a), dictating (imla’), comparing (muqabala), reading out orally and loudly (istihdar/hifz ghayban), and research (bahth/tahqiq), argumentation and discussion (munaqasha).

The lesson was usually taught in three steps: opening statements, the body of the lesson, and a summary. Although the teachers themselves determined the teaching methods they would use, appropriate for the subject matter and the required material, sometimes waqf owners were the ones who set the internal conditions of the teachers’ lessons or the material to be studied. The letters of appointments for teachers included a lot of information about teaching and the conditions set for the teachers during the lessons, e.g. teaching methods, type of materials to be used, the teacher’s expertise and specialty, his competence and qualifications, and his religious views. The appointments also included orders concerning training that the teachers had to fulfil, particularly orders concerning teaching methods, type of material studied and relationship with students. Thus, judging from the recommendations that al-Qalqashandi set for teachers, different teaching methods were used, depending on the subject matter and study material utilized.

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