The Literature of Catechism from Tanzimat Era to the Republican Period (1839-1922)

This article is about the history of ilmihal (catechism) literature written in a span of eighty years between the Tanzimat (Imperial Edict of Reorganisation) in 1839 and the end of the Ottoman State in 1922. The ilmihal literature, in this paper, has been covered under three categories, namely 'ilmihal books for schools', 'popular ilmihals' and finally 'ilmihals on single issues. The number of ilmihal books for schools increased remarkably especially after the First Constitutional Era (1. Meşrutiyet). For the period in question, around two hundred ilmihal books were published. Although some of this literature were of high-quality, the majority was not suitable to be used as textbooks of whose content was repetitive of each other. The main reasons for the increase in the number of ilmihal for schools may be cited as follows: The need for textbooks due to the opening of new schools based on the European model, the insufficiency of existant ilmihal books and the search for writing more qualified ones, frequent change in the curriculum, and the publishers’ motives for taking their share from the book market. A big chaos dominated this period with regard to textbooks, authors, and finally teachers. As an outcome, the ministers of education were severely criticised especially in the newspapers and digests published in the Second Cosntitutional Era (2. Meşrutiyet).


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