The Art of Memory

:
Islamic Education and its
Social Reproduction
DALE F. EICKELMAN
New York University

Far from being immutable, humanity is in fact involved in an interminable process
of evolution, disintegration and reconstruction; far from being a unity, it is in fact
infinite in its variety, with regard to both time and place. Nor do I mean simply that
external forms of life vary. . . . Rather I mean that the fundamental substance of
[men's] way of conceiving the world and conducting themselves in it is in a constant
state of flux, which itself varies from place to place (Durkheim 1977: 324).

The study of education can be to complex societies what the study of
religion has been to societies variously characterized by anthropologists as
'simple,' 'cold' or 'elementary.' Recognizing this potential, sociologists and
social anthropologists have recently indicated a renewed interest in the
study of how schooling, especially higher education, implicitly defines and
transmits a culturally valued cognitive style, 'a set of basic, deeply interiorized master-patterns' of language and thought on the basis of which other
patterns are subsequently acquired (Bourdieu 1967: 343; see also Cole,
Gay, Glick and Sharp 1971). To place such a concern in the context of more
traditional anthropological interests, Bourdieu compares the cognitive
style implicitly learned at the Sorbonne to that transmitted by Bororo
elders. He sees the verbal manoeuvres learned by students in preparing for
the lecon at the Sorbonne as furnishing 'a model of the "right" mode of
intellectual activity' for the French context. The dualistic method of the
lecon, in which the traditional 'two views' on any subject are established, is
I wish to thank Jon Anderson, Thomas O. Beidelman, Karen Blu, Christine Eickelman,
Clifford Geertz, Raymond Grew, Roy P. Mottahedeh, Najmi Muhammad and Martin Trow
for comments on an earlier version of this paper, written in 1976-77 at the Institute for
Advanced Study, Princeton. Field research in Morocco from October 1968 to June 1970 and
in the summers of 1973 and 1976 was made possible by grants from the Social Science
Research Council. With the exception of titles of books, the transliteration is of colloquial
Moroccan Arabic. Arabic names and terms are generally transliterated in full upon their first
occurrence only. Unless otherwise noted, only the singular form of Arabic glosses is indicated,
with -s added for plurals. The phrase 'the art of memory' in the title is borrowed from Yates
(1966), the most thorough discussion of the implications of 'mnemonic culture' in the
European context of which I am aware.

485

486

DALE F. EICKELMAN

subsequently applied to the discussion of a wide range of intellectual
problems to the exclusion of alternative, less culturally valued approaches.
Bourdieu compares this cognitive style to Bororo cosmology as interpreted
by their dominant elders to form the pattern for the dualistic spatial layout
of their villages and the distribution of their houses (Bourdieu 1967:
338-39, 350).
Bourdieu characterizes the cognitive style learned at the Sorbonne and
that of Bororo elders to be equally 'formal and fictitious' (1967: 339). His
use of these terms carries significant implications for one of the principal
problems of the sociology of knowledge, that of how symbolic representations of the world are related to the social order. For Bourdieu, there is no
inherent relation between a specific pattern of thought and the social
contexts in which it is found. Each may be in a significant tension with the
other, but never fully congruent. This notion of 'fictitiousness' stands in
sharp contrast to an anthropological tradition, still very much alive, which
presumes a direct, one-to-one correlation between ideology and social
action (e.g., Durkheim 1915; Mauss 1966; Evans-Pritchard 1940; Lienhardt 1967; Douglas 1973).
However questionable such an assumption of correspondence may be
when applied to 'simple' societies, it is decidedly inadequate when applied
to those which are complex, internally differentiated and historically
known (Eickelman 1977a,b). Emile Durkheim clearly recognized this in his
largely neglected Evolution of Educational Thought (1977), which is why I
refer to a renewed interest in the study of education. Durkheim's other,
more widely known studies on education stress primarily its integrative, or
'correspondence' aspects. The analysis in Evolution, in contrast, suggests a
'nether' side of Durkheim's thought which has been largely ignored until
recently because it was out of step with prevailing sociological currents
(Cherkaoui 1976).1 Durkheim argues in this study that changes in ideas of
knowledge in complex societies and the means by which such ideas are
transmitted result from continual struggles among competing groups
within society, each of which seeks domination or influence. Durkheim
considered educational systems, like other social institutions, to be tied to
prevailing social structures, but did not regard such ties as determinate.
Thus the forms of knowledge shaped and conveyed in educational systems
are partially autonomous and must be considered in relation to the social
distribution of power. Such assumptions have only recently been taken up
in the study of specific educational systems (e.g., Bourdieu 1973; Bourdieu
and Passeron 1977; Young 1971; Bernstein 1977: 174-200; Colonna 1975).
The purpose of this article is to explore the alternatives to 'correspon1

The fact that Evolution was the last of Durkheim's major works to be translated into
English is indicative of its neglect, as is the omission of all reference to it in E.K. Wilson's
introduction to the English translation of Moral Education (1973).

ISLAMIC EDUCATION AND ITS SOCIAL REPRODUCTION

487

dence' theory through the description and analysis of the cognitive style of
Islamic learning, the institutions of higher learning, and the social context
of both, as they existed in Marrakesh in the 1920s and 1930s, just before the
effective collapse of traditional educational institutions there. The relatively sudden decline of traditional higher learning in Morocco during this
period makes it a particularly appropriate setting for considering the
specific, and variable, links between concepts of knowledge, the institutional context in which such concepts are conveyed, and the adaptation to
change of each of these elements. In particular, Islamic education as
practiced in Morocco was in some ways intermediate between oral and
written systems of transmission of knowledge. Its key treatises existed in
written form but were conveyed orally, to be written down and memorized
by students. This article considers how the 'intellectual technology,' or
forms of transmission of knowledge available in a society shape and
accommodate social and cultural change. By so doing, ways are suggested
further to refine the debate over the 'great divide' in modes of thought, or
cognitive styles, between societies which possess systems of writing and
those which do not (Goody 1968, 1977).
A complementary goal, one which I hope justifies the 'thick' description
(Geertz 1973) in which my argument is necessarily presented, is to place the
comparative study of higher education in a broader context than that of
Europe and North America, the locus of most such studies (e.g., Stone
1974). With the expansion of European hegemony over most of the world
in the last two centuries, non-Western institutions of higher learning have
tended to collapse or to be eclipsed by their Western-based counterparts, so
that comparative studies dealing with non-European institutional forms
have necessarily been relegated to social historical analyses (e.g., Weber
1958:416^4; Wilkinson 1964, 1969; Dore 1965). The study presented here
is no exception, but because it deals with a relatively recent period it has
been possible to complement printed and manuscript sources with intensive interviews of persons in the milieu of traditional learning in the 1920s
and 1930s. These interviews have been especially important in the Islamic
context. The principal written sources, including teaching licenses (ijdza-s)
and traditional biographies and autobiographies of men of learning, follow
highly stylized conventions which themselves are a product of Islamic
education. These conventions severely limit the information which such
sources convey concerning how the eductional process actually worked, no
matter how thorough their analysis (e.g., Makdisi 1961).
ISLAMIC EDUCATION: RECENT POLITICAL AND HISTORICAL
CONTEXTS

Although the exact timing of decisive European influence has varied,
traditional Islamic education had been drastically altered in most regions

many centers of Islamic learning were compelled to introduce such Western devices as formal curricula. descriptions of 'reformed' institutions cannot be taken as reliable indicators of the nature of Islamic education prior to 'organization' or 'modernization. Consequently. . had an equivalent detrimental impact. formally appointed faculties. generally leaving Islamic schools to those of a modest and rural origin (e. The 'organization' of the Qarawiyln mosque-university in Fez occurred under French auspices in 1931 while the counterpart of the Qarawiyin in Marrakesh. at first only for specialized military training but rapidly expanding in scope.g. 'Uthman (1935). such as Algeria. Peretie (1912). Yet the establishment of European-style institutions.. pi. In contrast. and budgets subject to external governmental control.2 Moreover. In other countries Islamic education was not so directly undermined in the nineteenth century. Earlier in the century. Reid 1977: 351.' although such studies provide significant insight into the contradictions involved in attempts at reform (e. the Yusufiya mosque-university. those few Moroccan students 2 A number of excellent ethnographic accounts depict higher education in Morocco at various periods from the late nineteenth century through the 1930s. Such 'organization' (nizdm)—use of terms implying 'reform' was deliberately avoided—was imposed upon the famous Azhar mosque-university of Cairo between 1872 and 1896 (Arminjon 1907: 13-48. but to date there are no published anthropological or social historical accounts available. Marty (1924). and (indirectly) as-Susi (1961). Because the graduates of such schools were ill prepared to assume positions of significance in colonial Algerian society. Fischer 1976). 'ulamd) in Egypt. the revenues from pious endowments upon which Islamic education depended had already been undermined (Hourani 1970: 52). Michaux-Bellaire (1911). until recently Islamic education in Morocco survived relatively intact. EICKELMAN from the time of Bonaparte's invasion of Egypt in 1798. 1958. Snouck Hurgronje (1931: 153-212) provides a brief but valuable ethnographic account of higher education in Mecca in 1884-85. For a general bibliographical survey of sources on Islamic education. the colonial power deliberately destroyed the financial base of Islamic education so that by the 1880s all that remained of higher education was a few schools of poor quality.g. as a means of weakening the political strength of Islamic men of learning {'dlim. 357). new subjects.. Islamic education without competing institutional forms survived in the Yemen until the 1950s. was only subject to 'organization' in 1939. Such schools quickly attracted students of the more privileged social strata and other more ambitious students. entrance and course examinations. Islamic education was increasingly regarded by Algerian Muslims themselves as inferior to that provided by the French in official colonial schools (Colonna 1975). 1949. Berque (1938. As for studies elsewhere.DALE F. To meet the threat of Europeanstyle institutions. 1974). These include Delphin (1889). see Waardenburg (1974). In some cases. For this reason it is important to specify the historical context in which such education is described. Heyworth-Dunne 1968: 395-405).

is also the starting point for the mastery of the religious sciences. pi. The 'static and finite sum of statements' (Hodgson 1974:438) conveyed by education constitutes the religious sciences ('Urn. D. most of the 3 The terms 'primary' and 'secondary' elite in this context refer to function rather than to any organized group or class. many individuals who were students in this period are still socially and politically active as a 'secondary elite' (Mosca 1939)—those who allow the rulers to rule.ISLAMIC EDUCATION AND ITS SOCIAL REPRODUCTION 489 sent to Europe in the nineteenth century returned to find themselves largely ignored and isolated.E. The primary elite is today almost exclusively constituted by Moroccans bilingual in French and Arabic. 'ulum). the colonial administrations established by both the French and the Spanish in 1912 were based upon an indirect rule which at first drew heavily upon the traditionally educated elite to fill the ranks of the judiciary. Writing specifically of medieval Islamic civilization. For instance. to implement the rural tax. Marshall Hodgson states that education was 'commonly conceived as the teaching of fixed and memorizable statements and formulas which could be learned without any process of thinking as such' (1974: 438. 4 This is the contextual meaning of the term among contemporary Moroccan men of learning. They also constitute the most culturally valued knowledge (cf.). italics mine. the needs of an expanding precolonial government were met by drawing upon those educated at the Qarawiyin or the Yusufiya (Burke 1976: 218). in psychological treatises of the 'A bbasid period the term implies'the faculty of memory. Similarly. Rosenthal 1970). To facilitate this task. and to act as scribes in other sections of the local and central administrations. where former Yusufiya students continue to exercise an administrative.' I am grateful to Roy Mottahedeh for pointing out this alternative usage. THE ART OF MEMORY: THE IDEA OF ISLAMIC KNOWLEDGE The cultural idea of religious knowledge has remained remarkably constant over time throughout the regions of Islamic influence. This is particularly the case for Marrakesh and its hinterland. The paradigm of all such knowledge is the Quran. In other sociohistorical contexts its meaning differs. political and economic hegemony (Leveau 1976:93. instead.3 The social networks of influence and patronage formed in part by such persons have remained relatively intact. the totality of knowledge and technique necessary in principle for a Muslim to lead the fullest possible religious life. its accurate memorization in one or more of the seven conventional recitational forms is the first step in mastering the religious sciences. Despite the sudden decline of the mosque-universities in the 1930s. leading to a temporary reinvigoration of these institutions. considered by Muslims literally to be the word of God. 'Mnemonic domination' (malaka l-hifd)* the memorization of key texts just as the Quran is memorized. The last phrase raises the crucial issue of the meaning of 'understanding' associated with such a concept of knowledge. . 116).

More recently. can still be capable of considerable flexibility. educated Muslims consider all bodies of knowledge which elucidate the 'high words' (kldm 'dlya) of the Quran and the traditions of the Prophet to comprise the religious sciences. Normatively speaking. indicating perhaps an impatience with the unfamiliar principles upon which traditional Islamic education is based. a Western scholar has written of the 'stifling dullness' of Islamic education (L. Islamic education fares no better in the hands of Western-educated Muslims. owing to the necessity of memorization. the interesting issue is the circumstances under which redefinitions in what is considered to be the 'proper' scope of . Writing with a firsthand knowledge of the Qarawiyin of sixty years ago. Even Ibn Khaldun (d. Once this shifting is recognized. the emphasis in transmitting this knowledge is conservational. 1406) noted that the role of memory was stressed more in Morocco than elsewhere in the Islamic Middle East. Brown 1972: 31) and another. but only five in Tunis (Ibn Khaldun 1967: II. it is not surprising that contemporary Muslim and European scholars have expressed the most extreme opinions about Moroccan traditional education. a distinguished French historian and Arabist noted the 'astonishing' (to a European) domestication of the memory involved in Islamic higher education. In practice. see also Hussein 1948). not much attention has been given to a more critical analysis of how such a system of knowledge is affected by its mode of transmission and its linkages with other aspects of society.490 DALE F. Thus. 430-31). EICKELMAN standard treatises used by Moroccan men of learing are written in rhymed verse. learning could be characterized as 'prismatic' (Roy Mottahedeh. especially in Morocco. Historians and sociologists have tended to take at face value the ideological claim in Islam of the fixed nature of religious knowledge. who write of it as a 'purely mechanical. Even during the 'classical' period of Islamic civilization. He claimed that it deadened the student's sense of inquiry to the point that the knowledge and comportment of twentieth-century men of learning could be assumed 'without fear of anachronism' to be exact replicas of their predecessors of four centuries earlier (Levi-Provengal 1922: 11). claims that it 'defies all [sic] pedagogical technique' (Berque 1974: 167). as is characteristic of many traditions of religious knowledge. Two general propositions can be made concerning the form of Islamic knowledge. there is a considerable variation over time and place throughout the Islamic world as to the exact bodies of knowledge to be included in the religious sciences. The first is that an intellectual tradition which emphasizes fixity and memory. personal communication): the interpretation and elaboration of the religious sciences constantly shifted. monotonous form of study' (Zerdoumi 1970: 196. It took sixteen years to acquire sufficient mastery of texts to teach on one's own in Morocco. Given this emphasis.C. Consequently.

although subjects which began to be emphasized (or reemphasized) after the 1920s as components of a 'new' orthodoxy included Quranic interpretation (tafsir). In Morocco. are tolerated so long as they do not explicitly contradict the principles of Islamic law. These have significant parallels in form with the religious sciences and are also presumed to be contained by fixed. and merchants and financiers quite capable of dealing with contemporary economic and entrepreneurial activities. He drew two parallel lines on a sheet of paper—another word derivative from the same root as shra' means 'path'—and said that everything within the two lines was shra'. including music and oral poetry. grammar. Some innovations are contrary to Islamic law but many others. memorizable truths. jurisprudence and to a lesser extent the prophetic tradition {hadith) had been among the most central of the religious sciences until the early twentieth century. ma 'rifa is the term used to refer to knowledge not encompassed by the religious sciences. (kaldm). It was explained to me by a Moroccan in the following terms. and the ways in which changes are perceived. In a similar way. or those who received a classical training in France. with an emphasis upon studies in Greek and Latin. former students of the Yusufiya and the Qarawiyin have become not only scholars. The second proposition is that the cognitive style associated with Islamic knowledge is tied closely to popular understandings of Islam in Morocco and has important analogues in nonreligious spheres of knowledge. but nonetheless share the assumption that religious knowledge is fixed and knowable and that it is known by men of learning (see Eickelman 1976: 130-38. All activities not explicitly within the body of knowledge encompassed by the lines constituted innovation (bidd').) As for secular knowledge. for example. such as religious brotherhoods or certain governmental reforms. popular oral poetry in North Africa . Most Moroccans do not possess exact knowledge of this law. Thus the notion of Islamic law (shra') encompasses both religious law in its jural sense and law as a code for personal conduct. but politicians and ministers of state who have played important roles in Morocco in recent years.ISLAMIC EDUCATION AND ITS SOCIAL REPRODUCTION 49I the religious sciences is brought about. it includes knowledge related to commerce and crafts. it was no more so than the products of the English public school in the Victorian era. This formal congruence has served to enhance the popular legitimacy of religious knowledge and its carriers in Morocco but at the same time has limited the pace and range of change in Islamic education. and a knowledge of pre-Islamic and early Islamic poetry. If the compass of religious studies appears unduly narrow. As Clifford Geertz (1976: 1488-96) has recently pointed out. theology. The hyperbolic assertion of an earlier generation of scholars that Islamic education deadens all sense of inquiry is hard to reconcile with such transformations. rhetoric.

at 5 The only estimate of the number of these schools in any region is a 1955 census conducted in Spanish Morocco: 3. A further parallel is in the model for the transmission of knowledge. but approximate estimates are essential to indicate the scope of traditional education. This means that there was a Quranic school for every 279 persons. and then usually outside the context of the mosque school (msid). Knowledge of crafts is passed from master to apprentice in an analogous fashion. For the 1920s and 1930s it appears reasonable to assume that 4 per cent of the adult male population was literate.5 Most Moroccan males and a fair number of girls. in wider social contexts than those provided by the milieu of learning itself or by the abstract manipulation of memorized materials in 'classroom' situations. as is still the case. just as effective public speech involves both the skillful invocation of Quranic phrases and the more mundane but memorizable stock of knowledge drawn from poetry and proverbs. allowing for regional variations. Since none of these schools was supported by the government. Brown 1976: 107).492 DALE F. Virtually every urban quarter and rural local community maintained a mosque school. Noin 1970: I. only at later stages did more advanced students learn to read and write. Marshall Hodgson. literacy almost necessarily implied schooling. with any knowledge or skill acquired in a manner independent from such a tradition regarded as suspect. it is reasonable to assume a similar proportion of schools to the population in the 1920s and 1930s. by characterizing it as not involving 'any process of thinking as such.000 in 1950 (Valderrama 1956: map opposite p.' implicitly evaluated Islamic education in terms of Western pedagogical expectations. . 155. I shall argue in contrast that the measure of'understanding' appropriate to Islamic knowledge is its use. Geertz 1968: 45-59. H. 111-12). and perhaps 10 to 20 per cent of the adult male urban population (Hart 1976: 183. The religious sciences in Morocco and throughout the Islamic world are thought to be transmitted through a quasi-genealogical chain of authority which descends from master or teacher {shaykh) to student (tdlib) to insure that the knowledge of earlier generations is passed on intact. although schooling did not necessarily imply literacy. These analogues in forms of knowledge suggest how Islamic education is appropriately to be evaluated. 33). THE QURANIC PRESENCE: THE SOCIAL PARADIGM OF 'UNDERSTANDING' Any analysis of Islamic education must convey a sense of how many persons were educated and who they were. for which a teacher {fqih) was contracted on an annual basis to teach and to perform certain other religious services for the community (Eickelman 1976: 97. Religious learning was popularly respected. often creative. The first years of study consisted of memorizing and reciting the Quran. let alone the literacy rates of earlier periods. yet Quranic schools were characterized by a high rate of attrition.292 fora population estimated at 917. EICKELMAN takes this shape. Until half a century ago. Contemporary literacy is difficult to measure.

although the consequences of the form of pedagogical action upon modes of thought have only begun to be critically explored. No printed or manuscript copies of the Quran were used in the process of memorization.). ranging in age from four to sixteen. as has been implied by some scholars. discussed below.g. each student recited for the fqih the verses of the previous day. Yet such potential mnemonic cues were not systematically developed.g. Part of the reason was the lack of printed or manuscript books. Students did recall being able to visualize the shape of the letters on their slates and even the circumstances associated with the memorization of particular Quranic verses and other texts.e. The child then spent the rest of the day memorizing these verses by reciting them out loud. a. perhaps for the implicit reason that their use would associate extraneous images with the original word of God and thus dilute its transmission. The Islamic emphasis upon memory is not unique in itself. What is remarkable about the use of memory in the context of Islamic education in Morocco is not the performance of 'prodigious' mnemonic feats—such 'feats' were fully paralleled in Europe (Yates.. but an equally significant factor. Students were not grouped into 'classes' based either on age or on progress in memorization. Rather. Accompanying such techniques was the notion that mnemonic knowledge was 'purer' than that communicated through writing (Notopoulos 1938: 478). Elaborate mnemonic systems developed in classical Greece and Rome which facilitated memorization through the regular association of material with 'memory posts. visual cues and markers were absent but aural ones existed.6 A typical fqih had between fifteen and twenty students in his charge at any time. so that here I only outline what appear to be some of the salient problems that will be pursued in later research. .c.b.ISLAMIC EDUCATION AND ITS SOCIAL REPRODUCTION 493 least in towns. The following morning. The importance of these issues became clear to me only after completing the fieldwork on which this account is based. Michaux-Bellaire 1911). Although students deny the existence of mnemonic devices and classical treatises which stress the importance of memory likewise mention none (e. Both of these features are congruent with the essentially fixed concept of knowledge which is at the base of Islamic education and. Students who recited correctly washed their slates so that the next set of verses could be written on them. it is the insistence by former students of the absence of devices to facilitate memorization. then a. a recent psychological study suggests that patterns of intonation and rhythm serve as mnemonic markers (Wagner 1978: 14). is the cultural concept of learning implicit in Islamic education.' visual images such as the columns of a building or places at a banquet table (Yates 1966: 2-7). as well as systematically reciting verses that had been previously learned. Two features consistently associated with Islamic education are its rigorous discipline and its lack of explicit explanation of memorized material. Ibn Khaldun 1967: III). The formal features of Quranic schools have been frequently described (e. with the recitation of new material added to that already learned (i. 1966). Memorization was thus incremental. Most students left before they acquired literacy and few remained the six to eight years that were generally required to memorize the entire Quran. In practice. then a.. attended Quranic schools long enough to commit to memory a few passages of the Quran. Each morning the fqih wrote the verses to be memorized on each student's wooden slate (liih).b. at least in the 6 The process and context of memorization deserve more careful attention than they have received in earlier accounts of Islamic education.

'Reason' {'qal) is popularly conceived as man's ability to discipline his nature in order to act in accord with the arbitrary code of conduct laid down by God and epitomized by such acts of communal obedience as the fast of Ramadan (see Eickelman 1976: 130-38). Former students explained that the fqih (or the student's father. Explicit explanation was considered a science in itself to be acquired only through years in the advanced study of exegetical literature (tafsir). like the unchanging word of God itself. Such punishments were normatively intended to induce a respect for accurate Quranic recitation. When a father handed his son over to a fqih. students were slapped or whipped when their attention flagged or when they repeated errors. he did so with the formulaic phrase that the child could be beaten as the fqih saw fit. This underlying popular attitude toward learning is one of the reasons why it is inappropriate to see Islamic education as a 'high tradition' grafted upon or independent of more popular implicit understanding of religion and society as has been done by an earlier tradition of Orientalist scholarship. . the measure of understanding was implicit and consisted of the ability to use particular Quranic verses in appropriate contexts. It should be kept in mind that the grammar and vocabulary of the Quran are not immediately accessible to speakers of colloquial Arabic and are even less so to students from Berber-speaking regions. the associated concept of reason.494 DALE F. nor did it occur to them to do so. Former students emphasized that throughout the long process of memorizing the Quran they asked no questions concerning the meaning of verse. In practice. Thus a firm discipline in the course of learning the Quran was culturally regarded as an integral part of socialization. Their sole activity was memorizing proper Quranic recitation. Former students readily admitted that they did not comprehend what they were memorizing until fairly late in their studies (cf. In the 1 The Senegalese novelist Cheikh Hamidou Kane (1963: 3—38) provides the only account of which I am aware that manages to convey the mixture of pious respect for the exact recitation of the word of God and affection for their students associated with the severe attitude of Quranic teachers toward their students. Instead.7 Moreover. EICKELMAN Moroccan context. were merely transmitted by him. The same notion popularly applied to beatings which apprentices received from craftsmen (m'allrriin dyal l-harfa). even among themselves. students were told that any part of their bodies struck in the process of Quranic memorization would not burn in hell. An informal attempt to explain meaning was considered blasphemy and simply did not occur. Waterbury 1972: 32). 'Understanding' (fahm) in the context of such concepts of learning was not measured by any ability explicitly to 'explain' particular verses. when he participated in supervising the process of memorization) was regarded as only the impersonal agency of the occasional punishments which.

Thus the measure of understanding was the ability to make appropriate practical reference to the memorized text. Green 1976: 218-21). recite specific chapters of the Quran if asked to do so.8 Students' families and (at later stages of learning) peers were integrally involved in the learning process. education was free. For colonial America. They could not. elder brothers or other close relatives in their education..' for education was still a means to social mobility. see Bailyn (1960). The notion of cultural capital implies more than the possession of the material resources to allow a child to spend six to eight years in the memorization of the Quran. A recurrent feature in interviews with men of learning and others who successfully memorized the Quran is the participation of their fathers. Many contemporary Western pedagogical concepts tend to treat education as a separable institutional activity. it also implies a sustained adult discipline upon the child. as-Susi 1961: XIII. an idea inappropriate to learning in the traditional Islamic context. In practice. On such occasions they heard adults incorporate Quranic verses into particular contexts and gradually acquired the ability to do so themselves. but had to begin with one of the sixty principal sections (hizb-s) into which the Quran is divided for recitational purposes. memorization of the Quran was accomplished primarily by the children of relatively prosperous households or by those whose fathers or guardians were already literate.ISLAMIC EDUCATION ANDITS SOCIAL REPRODUCTION 495 first few years of Quranic school. . Yet most students were compelled to drop out after a short period in order to contribute to the support of their families or because they failed to receive parental support for the arduous and imperfectly understood process of learning.g. just as originality was shown in working Quranic references into novel but appropriate contexts. Firmer control was achieved as students accompanied their fathers. I say 'primarily. post-Quranic education (cf. asking them to recite regularly and disciplining them in case of inattention or error. students recalled that they had little control over what they recited. for instance. 35-36. Knowledge and manipulation of secular oral poetry and proverbs in a parallel fashion was also a sign of good rhetorical style (Geertz 1976: 1492). other relatives and occasionally their fqih to social gatherings. as well as to recite specific sections of the Quran without regard for the order in which they had memorized it. especially if a poorer student managed to progress despite all obstacles through higher. Aside from small traditional gifts by the parents of children to the fqih. The high rate of attrition from Quranic schools supports the notion that mnemonic 'possession' can be considered a form of cultural capital (Bourdieu 1973: 80). 8 Such notions have also hampered the study of education in Western historical contexts. The formal written biographies (tarjama-s) of men of learning regularly relate anecdotes concerning parental sternness (e.

The three to five years characteristically spent in this all-male environment.168). fqihs and students often were the only strangers who could travel in relative safety through tribal regions without making prior arrangements for 'protection. most advanced students continued for at least a few years at one of the numerous madrasa-s (lit. 10 Until the late nineteenth century.in which Quranic verses and other memorized materials were used. was an intense socializing experience. formal education did not involve being systematically taught to read and write outside the context of the Quran.9 In the precolonial era. only the more standard texts tended to predominate in rural madrasas: the Ajarumiya. others were village mosques with adjoining lodgings for the shaykh and his students. if at all. students of each region also made collective visits to surrounding villages each year after harvest to collect donations of grain and animals. 222. In the larger towns throughout Morocco. Waterbury 1972: 30). In rural areas. Such madrasas were an essential intermediate stage when Arabic was a student's second language. EICKELMAN 101. albeit frugally. 1 ' From the sixteenth through the early nineteenth century. who were supported. Students frequently developed close ties with their shaykhs. by gifts of food from villagers and tribesmen.'' 9 Like other technical terms. who could often introduce them to scholars elsewhere in Morocco. 10 Most students attended madrasas (often several in succession) within their region of origin. there was no ambiguity in referring to them by title only. With these donations. those wishing to pursue their studies could begin to sit with the circles of men of learning and their disciples that met regularly in the principal mosques (see Laroui 1977: 196-97. Brown 1976: 77). just as they acquired a demonstrated 'understanding' of the Quran through social situations. this set him apart from ordinary society even without additional studies. it refers only to the most outstanding scholars of any generation. students then camped together and feasted for a week or longer.496 DALE F. at least partially removed from their families and communities of origin. Michaux-Bellaire 1911: 437). Students acquired such skills. the Alfiya and the Tuhfat. Again there was no fixed progression of studies. Michaux-Bellaire 1911: 436. even for urban students from wealthy families. A short description of these texts will indicate the nature of the material memorized. The first is a concise treatise . many religious lodges (zawya-s) in rural regions were also centers for more advanced learning (Eickelman 1976: 39. In some regions these madrasas were only clusters of tents. 1899. Since these texts were memorized by all educated men. 'place of studies') scattered throughout the country as late as the early decades of this century (Moulieras 1895. 60. and with fellow students. 249). hdfid is subject to contextual variation. 199-201. A student became a 'memorizer' (hdfid) once he knew the entire Quran. from relatives or older students apart from their studies in Quranic schools (Berque 1974: 167-68).' This liminality was more pronounced in rural than in urban milieus. As for the early twentieth century. Moreover. This practice ceased with the disorders which accompanied increasing European penetration (Aubin 1906: 78-79. Among highly educated Moroccans. although serious students advanced their knowledge of Arabic and memorized basic commentaries on grammar and jurisprudence in this milieu.

the Yusufiya was smaller in scale than its Fez counterpart and for most of its existence tended to attract students and scholars only from the hinterland of Marrakesh and Morocco's south. the Yusufiya milieu contained roughly 400 students. constituted an institution in the basic sense of a field of activity whose members shared subjectively held ideas and conventions as to how given tasks should be accomplished. were concentrated in space which was shared with the wider community for purposes of worship and other gatherings. Finally. village teachers. 1324). given by 25 shaykhs (Marty 1925: 345). 1274) is a grammar of 1. their teachers were only transient members of the community of learning. so compact that its comprehension requires elaborate commentaries. its title being an adjectival form of the name of author. 59).618 students in 1930-31 (French Protectorate 1931:245). to a more limited extent. Lesson on grammar.13 The Yusufiya.800. most persons participated in the mosque-university (jdmi'a) milieu long enough to give it stability in terms of its participants and their relations with wider society. like those of its counterpart in Fez. the even more limited number who eventually could claim to be men of learning is readily apparent. Of two major centers of learning.ISLAMIC EDUCATION AND ITS SOCIAL REPRODUCTION 497 THE YUSUFIYA! A PROFILE OF HIGHER ISLAMIC LEARNING The scope of traditional higher education was considerably more restricted than that of Quranic education. French secondary education for Moroccan Muslims accounted for 505 students in 1924-25 and 1. when it rivaled Seville and Cordoba in Muslim Spain. the year of the first reliable census in the French zone of Morocco. 12 In comparison. 1426) Tuhfat al-Hukkam is a handbook of practical law with 104 chapters and 1. Marrakesh first emerged as a major center of learning in the twelfth century. the period of immediate concern in this article. 32). there were approximately 1. 13 The Qarawiyin had 700 students in the early 1920s with roughly 40 lesson circles meeting regularly. The mosque-university's use of space indicates its lack of sharp separation from the rest of society. 12 Since most students left their studies after a few years to become merchants. so these students constituted a minuscule 002% percent of the population. like the Qarawiyin. The activities of the Yusufiya. The country's total population (including the zone of Spanish influence) was 5. .000 verses. Often its memorization was begun by writing its verses on the lower part of a student's slate before he had completed memorization of the Quran. By the late 1920s and early 1930s. In 1931. In following centuries its reputation as a center of learning rose and fell with the political vicissitudes of the city itself. Although students and. Six to eight shaykhs met daily with students in roughly ten lesson circles (halqa-s). The AIJTya of Ibn Malik (d. 30. notaries and the like. Thus it thrived early in the nineteenth century and again reached national prominence with the residence of the sultan there almost continuously from 1895 to 1901 (Burke 1976: 42. Ibn Ajarum (d.200 students in Morocco's two mosque-universities.679 verses. Ibn 'Aslm's (d.000 (Noin 1970:1.

Another quality prized by men of learning was the ability to compose verses for particular occasions. in addition to occasional gifts of grain. or training in the rhetorical style considered essential for men of learning. The publicly accessible activities of the mosque-university did not provide the full range of knowledge. several older and respected shaykhs served as informal spokesmen for their colleagues on various occasions. Younger shaykhs simply began to teach with the implicit consent of established men of learning and students. These circulated constantly in oral and written form. The lack of formal appointment meant that those shaykhs of lesser reputation had to be especially scrupulous about comporting themselves and commenting on texts in ways expected both by the milieu of learning and the wider public. administration. Most such poetry drew 14 This is a second contextual meaning of the term. its former teachers related with amusement the frustrated efforts of French colonial officials to determine who were its 'responsible' leaders and to treat it as a. The activities of higher learning were integrally related to and limited by the values and expectations of wider society in numerous ways. In fact. that of the principal marabout of Marrakesh. teachers small stipends from pious endowments designated for their support. and at least one shrine. These conventions included the deliberate rhyming of words and phrases and the use of a classicized diction that avoided the intrusion of colloquial or 'common' ('dmmT) syntax or phrases. corporate entity analogous to a medieval European university. religious lodges. including poetry. but not all. The formal speech of men of learning was replete with allusions to classical texts and used stylistic conventions that were far removed from ordinary speech. Teachers were not formally appointed. Only the hostels (madrasas) for rural students were reserved exclusively for the purposes of scholars. as well as in some of the smaller mosques. although some held royal decrees (ddhir-s) providing them with recognition and specified emoluments. Because of their recognition by the wider community. entrance or course examinations. or unified sources of funds. .498 DALE F. Although teachers did not act as a collectivity. Recognition brought most. tribesmen. olive oil and clothing from pious townsmen. 'Abd al-'AzIz Tabba. The ability of certain men of learning to control such distributions and to exercise influence on other occasions did much to consolidate their reputations. students and onlookers met regularly in the Yusufiya (Ibn Yusif) mosque. history and literature. curriculum.14 The Yusufiya had no sharply defined body of students or faculty. one of the largest and most central in Marrakesh. in addition to that of 'school' in rural contexts. the sultan and his entourage. EICKELMAN circles of teachers. such individuals exercised a de facto control over the distribution of gifts given by wealthy or powerful individuals to the community of learning.

17 During the 1920s.' Students solicited contributions from townsmen. 16 At earlier periods in both Marrakesh and Fez there was an annual 'Carnival of the Students. These occasions involved the students of each mosque-university as a collectivity. Significantly. those from wealthier and more prestigious families were in a position to invite shaykhs to their homes and to arrange for formal or informal tutoring. They continued to be enmeshed in their families' ties of kinship. 18 The two reformist shaykhs were Bu Shu'ayb DukkatI (1878-1937) and Mukhtar as-Susi (1900-63). implicit criteria for success and in which essential skills were not fully embodied in formal learning. friendship and patronage. DukkalT was from a rural family which included several generations of men of learning. Each student was on his own to discern those persons and ideas that were significant in the world of learning and to create a constellation of effective personal ties with which to function. This practice had virtually disappeared among younger townsmen. Student carnivals ceased in the mid-1920s in Fez and even earlier in Marrakesh. especially those who came from families of learning. most students of rural origin still shaved their heads and as a sign of humility toward their shaykhs did not wear turbans. Later he gained . but these still had to be learned and were expected of educated men. the existing elite was favored. Nonetheless. who in general adopted the fez as a sign of modernity. some rural students. Since he was aware that he was documenting a world of learning that was not being transmitted to a younger generation. Moreover. had substantial initial advantages in securing meaningful ties. 16 Students became 'known' as such through their comportment and acceptance by persons in the community of learning. especially those from wealthy or powerful families. Rural students generally were at an initial disadvantage. often achieved distinction as scholars.18 15 As-SusT's voluminous writings provide particularly useful anthologies of these conventions. Such students often attended the public lesson circles of the mosques and shrines only irregularly. and a student was proclaimed 'sultan' for the duration of the outing held each spring (Cenival 1925). Students from Marrakesh itself. He first gained attention in Marrakesh at the age of thirteen by reciting all of STdi KhalTl's Mukhtasar (a standard treatise on Malik! jurisprudence) before Sultan Hasan I (reigned 1873-94) and showing a precocious command of classical Arabic. the attribute of'student' in itself did not form a basis for meaningful collective action. two of the most influential reformist shaykhs of the early twentieth century were of rural origin.ISLAMIC EDUCATION AND ITS SOCIAL REPRODUCTION 499 upon stock formulae. Since all students from Marrakesh itself continued to live at home. 15 As in any educational system with diffuse. most of the literary allusions in the writings which he cites are fully annotated. 17 and so were often treated rudely when they ventured beyond the immediate confines of the mosque-university and the hostels in which all but the most wealthy 'outsider' (afdqi) students were lodged. but the forms of organization which emerged were weak and dissolved at the end of the carnival. as were several of the other leading shaykhs of the Yusufiya. not through any formal procedures. They were easily distinguished from townsmen by clothing and an awkward comportment (by urban standards). for example.

They were conducted by the shaykhs regarded as the most senior and conventional. Leading shaykhs were publicly treated with deference and respect as they walked through the streets. and (3) acquiring sponsorship by established men of learning. In 1929 he returned to Marrakesh. Almost all of the lesson circles which met in the daytime were held in the Yusufiya mosque itself and concerned the most traditional and accepted texts of jurisprudence. at the age of thirty-two. The third person is used both for preparing an account of one's own life and that of others. . where he came into contact with most of the later leaders of the nationalist movement.500 DALE F. where his father was a leader in the DarqawT religious order. although a few were also conducted by shaykhs who lectured in the daytime at the Yusufiya. The ability to prepare such a document is one of the attributes of men of learning. including participation in student literary circles. The first and third spheres are familiar elements in accounts of Islamic education. only learning derived from one's shaykhs was mentioned. Lesson Circles. in asking several Moroccan men of learning to prepare short written autobiographies. As-SusT was from a family of learning in the Sus region of Morocco's south. (2) peer learning. EICKELMAN Students acquired the necessary knowledge and personal contacts to achieve reputations as men of learning through three overlapping spheres of activity: (1) the lesson circles. where he was a student of DukkalT. Evening lesson circles were usually held only in shrines. and it was not unusual for gifts to be offered them by pious townsmen and villagers. Thus. grammar and rhetoric. From 1923 to 1927 he was at the Qarawiyin. their hands were kissed. where his lesson circles were highly popular among students. the importance of peer learning was repeatedly stressed. 19 Tarjama signifies both biography and autobiography. in conformity with culturally explicit assumptions concerning the proper acquisition and transmission of learning. In 1910. 19 Yet in interviews and discussions. He studied at a rural madrasa in the Sus and from 1919 to 1923 at the Yusufiya. he was appointed Qadl of Marrakesh and later became Minister of Justice (JirarT 1976:9-18). The emphasis in the following analysis indicates how these spheres of learning fitted together and shaped the adaptation of Islamic education to new social circumstances. Khatibi and Kably 1974: 4CM1). These were conventionally devoted to less established subjects and texts and were generally conducted by reformist shaykhs and those of reformist sympathies. since traditional Arabic sources have stylistic conventions that render them almost entirely silent on informal patterns of learning. The conduct of lesson circles in these settings. The spatial and temporal setting of lesson circles is highly significant in suggesting the relation of forms of knowledge to society at large. The French grew suspicious of his growing influence and in 1935 assigned him to forced residence in his native village (Touimi. indicated popular support of and respect for the activities of learning but also imposed certain implicit constraints upon what was learned and the conduct of the lessons. where they were in general accessible to the nonstudent public at all times. As another indication further recognition in his studies at Mecca and Cairo. Peer learning is not. religious lodges and smaller mosques.

The form of lesson circles conveyed the notion of the fixity of knowledge by minimizing active student contributions and by providing no checks upon what students understood. only the oral transmission of knowledge was regarded as culturally legitimate in the Moroccan context. As with Greek and Latin literature in medieval Europe. so as not to suggest a public challenge to his scholarship (see also Delphin 1889: 28). The shaykh interrrupted the student's reading only to correct errors of vocalization and to deliver his commentary. the introduction of printed texts had little impact upon the form of the lesson circles. however. More significantly. the content of speech and the order in which material is arranged are not seen 'as the result of the acts of anybody in particular. knowledge acquired exclusively from the study of books was regarded as unreliable. their presence placed implicit restrictions upon the introduction of unfamiliar material in lesson circles. but the symbolic base of the educational process was still a set of texts which took years to memorize and even more time to use actively in discourse. at a high level of rhetorical formality.ISLAMIC EDUCATION AND ITS SOCIAL REPRODUCTION 501 of respect. so as to prevent the accretion of errors (Reynolds and Wilson 1974). few students acquired even this experience. usually in private as the shaykh prepared to leave the mosque or shrine. Only the student chosen as reader (sdrid) of the text to be commented upon took an active role. shaykhs could introduce a wide latitude of material into their commentaries. many merchants and craftsmen regularly attended lesson circles for the religious merit they felt such participation would bring. 20 No questions were asked during these sessions and students rarely took notes or made annotations in the printed copies of texts which a few possessed. except that it ideologically deflected attention from awareness of historical and contextual transformations. 20 Part of this system of teaching can be attributed to the lack of printed texts until the late nineteenth century. despite the fact that few of them could follow the classical Arabic in which they were presented. Nonetheless. and anything which deviated from popular expectations of what was 'proper' for such activities. In practice. the form of commentaries did not limit subject innovation and adaptation to change. In itself. Former students explained that deference and propriety toward their shaykhs prevented their openly raising any issues. Moreover. As Bloch has observed. the transmission of a text entailed taking it by dictation from someone reputed to know its proper form. informal discussions between teachers and students. As this task was rarely rotated. Such form is of course congruent with the paradigm of mnemonic (and popularly legitimate) learning. Questions had to be placed indirectly. Propriety of form obliged shaykhs to adhere to the rhetoric of classical Arabic and to comment only upon the texts of others. The necessity always formally to comment upon the texts of others constrained both reformist and other shaykhs to stress that they spoke less for themselves than for their roles as transmitters of a fixed body of knowledge. . but of a state which has always existed' (1975: 16). Significantly.

Thus there were no significant practical opportunities for students to use the concepts or materials they sought to learn under the guidance of their shaykhs. but reformist teachings fit well within the 'prismatic' nature of Islamic learning. In Morocco at least. Snouck Hurgronje 1931: 190). Peretie 1912: 334-45). that latter-day Islamic higher education in Morocco was a 'decayed' remnant of earlier periods. 167-68). EICKELMAN as former students emphasized. which limited its accessibility to the same select few who participated in traditional Islamic education. this pattern is only one of several that Islamic education has taken. There is no reason to presume. Reformist shaykhs. In other countries lesson circles sometimes were arenas for long-term dialogues between teachers and their students (e. The fact that most lectured only after the sunset prayers. informal contact with their shaykhs to discuss specifically textual matters was exceptional. each of which is appropriately analyzed in its particular context. Former students of the period enthusiastically spoke of the reformist shaykhs as having 'liberated' (harrar) them from what they regarded as commentaries upon a narrow range of subjects that had remained unchanged for three or four hundred years. the educational process was never fully encompassed within the public activities of lesson circles. Thus there were several patterns of Islamic education. A parenthetical comment is essential here. a time set . and classical poetry and literature (addb). history. lectured within the range of popularly expected locales and times.g. Such hyperbolic claims accurately reflect the attitude of students. A comparison of lists of texts commented upon at different periods from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth century indicates regular variations in both subjects and texts (Delphin 1889: 30-41. Reformist shaykhs sought to introduce new material into lesson circles and to draw students into a critical questioning of the relation of Islam to contemporary society (Merad 1971).502 DALE F. Berque 1949. although it has often incorrectly been assumed to be normative for the entire Islamic world. the principal achievement of the reformers of the 1920s was to introduce material into lesson circles that men of learning earlier had privately acquired in the houses of the elite: Quranic exegesis. Intra-Islamic differences noted by Ibn Khaldun have already been mentioned. A description and analysis of the context of their lesson circles and the extent to which they were innovative indicate the constraints which the public and religious conception of valued knowledge placed upon the potential for adaptation. knowledge continued to be legitimized by indicating how it fitted within the religious sciences. Nonetheless. In practice. The reformers argued that these topics were as much a part of the religious sciences as those subjects that had been taught conventionally in Morocco prior to their time (as-SiisI 1961: IX. It also had to be conveyed in classical Arabic. to seek legitimacy for their teachings. theology. as many scholars have.

I observed his conduct for some time. below is an excerpt from an interview in which a retired Qadi. especially during the earlier years of their studies. Finally. who never spoke unless it was necessary. To indicate the significance of such learning in the earlier years of studies. At the house of one of these shaykhs. reformist shaykhs enjoyed a considerable following. One of these was an elder brother who had entered the Yusufiya several years earlier and who thus was able to arrange introductions for this younger brother to several of his former teachers. poorer student to share his rooms at the madrasa in which he was staying. who were frequently backed by public support and that of the political authorities. it is given at length: [My roommate] was a great man of learning. 2 ' In Morocco it provided what public lesson circles could not—an active engagement with and practice in the comprehensison of basic texts. peer learning had special importance since such students were usually even more cut off than their urban counterparts from initiating informal contacts with their shaykhs. The Quran was always on his lips. Because the interview contains an excellent normative description of how men of learning are described. . Peer learning has been neglected in the study of many educational systems because it is characteristically informal. despite the silence of traditional sources. So I gave him the key to one of my rooms and said it was his. Within the restricted group of mosque-university students. I wanted nothing in return except the opportunity to speak with him about the books I was reading. For most rural students. He lived from the daily bread given rural students and from the daily 8 francs he received for reciting [the Quran] at a mosque. McLachlan describes a similar neglect in the study of colleges in early nineteenth-century America. who was sixteen when he first arrived at the Yusufiya in 1928.ISLAMIC EDUCATION AND ITS SOCIAL REPRODUCTION 5O3 aside for the more peripheral religious sciences or for less established shaykhs. In the context of the lesson circles. described how he invited an older. 2 ' The overall neglect of the importance of peer learning in studies of Islamic education is still remarkable. signaled to all but their immediate followers that their teachings were not symbolically as central as the 'core' components of the religious sciences taught during the day at the Yusufiya. Peer Learning. despite the fact that the core of learning at this period was 'an extraordinarily intense system of education by peers' (1974:474). the Qadi encountered the man who later became his roommate. despite the active opposition of many of the more traditional shaykhs. and in locales such as religious lodges and smaller mosques. I spoke to him and said that I was a beginner [in the religious sciences] and wanted someone to live with me who could help me in my studies. The Qadi was from a rural family that had produced several judges and men of learning. the reformists did nothing to make their teachings accessible to a wider audience or fundamentally to change prevalent understandings of the forms in which valued knowledge was conveyed.

one former student showed me a notebook containing one which he presented in 1932. but without understanding what I read. As an indication of these speeches. student literary circles were weak in organizational form and frequently dissolved. We worked alone for the first several months that we lived together. This was the real learning that I did in my years at the Yusufiya. students who had been there for years asked me to read with them. books on subjects such as history. This additional learning and the practice necessary to acquire competent rhetorical style took place through a complementary form of peer learning—the small. EICKELMAN What I had been doing until I met him was memorizing books. 53. however. so that participants took turns in delivering speeches which were subjected to the criticism of the group. the student defended Marrakesh by describing its physical beauty. was sufficient only to acquire modest positions as notaries or village teachers. Then. both past and contemporary. at least for those who used such knowledge in a more than iconic fashion. Only a few students acquired the wider range of knowledge considered essential for men of learning. Participants in such circles read and discussed the Moroccan literary magazines (e. The aim of the speech was to defend Marrakesh against the charge that it was not a major cultural center because so many of its inhabitants were Berber-speakers and because it had a smaller community of learned men than Fez. Moroccan newspapers and those of the Arab East (banned by the French). 66). These literary circles flourished especially with the rise of the pro to-nationalist movement in the late 1920s. ephemeral literary circles to which a large number of the more successful students belonged. after the sunset prayers. As was the case with other aspects of higher Islamic education. Heyworth-Dunne 1968: 13.504 DALE F. and usually met daily. its great poets and men of letters. . 40. but similar groups existed in earlier periods as well and were by no means unique to Morocco (Delphin 1889: 27. In alliterative. confirming the lack of a sharp dichotomy in the early 1930s between a reform-minded Islam and a more . Most were relatively small. geography. rhymed prose. Relations among members of these circles approached equality. Majallat al-Maghrib) that had begun to emerge during this period. of a dozen or so members. poetry and their own compositions.. These literary circles provided a training ground for speaking and writing within the conventions of formal Arabic. The speech further enumerates the major marabouts (sdlihin) associated with Marrakesh. For seven years I lived with [him]. but it was in reading texts with [my roommate] and with other students and in explaining them to each other that most of the real learning went on.g. . This was the terminal stage of learning for all but a few students. They saw that I was a serious student and wanted to study with me. Of course I learned much at the lesson circles. Knowledge of basic texts in themselves. . although I was a newcomer to Marrakesh.

In Marrakesh. Carriers of religious knowledge regarded themselves as legitimate spokesmen for Islam and were popularly regarded as such. The narrow range of actions undertaken by participants in lesson circles suggests the restricted vision of public responsibility associated with the Islamic tradition of 'gentlemanly' education. Students with ties to urban and rural notables were warned in advance by their relatives to stay removed from the 'troubles. protests organized against this proclamation were overtly political and ocasionally violent. stimulated at least in part by the fact of European political dominance. challenged many aspects of Islam as it was locally understood both popularly and in educated circles. sharply circumscribed since the advent of colonial rule. not to seek to alter the shape of society. protests took traditional and nonviolent forms such as public communal prayers similar to those made in cases of drought or other natural disasters.' Participants in several literary circles nonetheless took action which could at least formally be construed as nonpolitical. however. The practical influence of men of learning.' Most of the speech consists of conventional platitudes. demonstrations were rapidly quelled. One such action was for students individually to persuade (to avoid suspicions of organized group activity) the men who gathered each evening in the town's mosques to recite the Quran in unison instead of separately. diction. including Fez. Reformist teachings offered no alternative to the accepted popular notion of social inequality as a 'natural' fact of the social order. Some literary circles. firmly under the control of its pasha. as had been the practice. but they fell short of offering ideological and practical alternatives to the existing social order. The speech concludes by exuberantly labeling Marrakesh the 'Baghdad of the Maghrib. by which the French formally extracted certain Berber-speaking regions of Morocco from the jurisdiction of Islamic law courts. but its content. This event had repercussions throughout the Islamic world as a symbol of the efforts of European colonial powers to weaken Islam. Many of these prayers were organized by literary circles. Reformist Muslim intellectuals in North Africa. in order to symbolize the unity of Islam. This was especially the case after the 'Berber Proclamation' of 1930. Hajj Thami al-Glawi. nor did they elaborate a wider notion of social responsibility to men of learning than that of perfecting their own understanding of religious knowledge and . especially those influenced by reformist ideas. A man of learning's primary responsibility was to acquire religious knowledge and to use it in prescribed ways. temporarily reemerged with this event. and syntax reflect a style mastered only by the traditionally educated.ISLAMIC EDUCATION AND ITS SOCIAL REPRODUCTION 5O5 popular form in which local maraboutic beliefs were considered to be an integral part of Islam (see Eickelman 1976: 211-30). were concerned to a limited extent with undertaking political action for the benefit of the wider Islamic community. In some Moroccan cities. In general.

as a marker of participation in the milieu of learning. Social recognition as a man of learning is an attribute which is used variously according to social context. however. those who were older and more powerful and who always had their hands kissed in the street. Eickelman 1976: 126-30). There were no explicit criteria by which such recognition could be achieved. As one former student remarked. EICKELMAN communicating it to relatively restricted circles (Merad 1971: 193-227. What counted was sponsorship and active recognition by established men of learning and the effective use to which an individual could put such ties as well as those with other persons of influence. Keddie (1972). but these ties are not exclusive ones and overlap with social bonds created on other bases. 22 The majority of students rarely used religious knowledge in more than an iconic fashion. In Morocco such persons constitute a social type rather than a distinct group which has sharply defined boundaries or which acts collectively now or did so in the past (Brown 1976: 75-81. . When I asked former students about the fact that most left their studies prior to 22 Although this discussion applies primarily to Morocco. Such documents specified the texts or subjects studied and the qualifications of the teacher. Lapidus (1967). Eickelman 1976: 89-91.506 DALE F. Hey worth-Dunne 1968: 67-69). of signaling the completion of studies was for a student to ask each of his shaykhs for a 'teaching license' (ijdza). Hourani (1968). teaching licenses were only as good as the reputations of their writers and the facility with which their bearers could use them (cf. Just as there were no formal markers of entry to this milieu. cf. there were none upon leaving it. so education could not assume the function of 'certification' so closely associated with modern Western institutions. Sponsorship. Among the important analyses indicating the range of variation in these roles are Bulliet (1972). Only a few students managed to acquire reputations as men of learning. Mottahedeh (1975). Since the world of learning was not a closed community. Moroccan men of learning of the generation of the 1930s have significant ties with each other created in part through common schooling. and Green (1976). one sought ijazas from those shaykhs who 'had God's blessings in the religious sciences and feared God the most. Baer (1971). 183-89). One means.' In practice. support in nonlearned environments could also be decisive in acquiring a reputation for learning. In Morocco and throughout the Islamic world. I think it is useful in reconsidering the social roles of Islamic men of learning in other cultural contexts. so many were prepared as mere courtesies for educated rural notables and not to possess them could in some circumstances be a mark of higher status. Burke 1976: 218. many outstanding students claimed that they deliberately did not ask for such documents. Students remained in the milieu of learning for as long as they chose or were able to do so.

its sudden decline can be explained by a relatively straightforward conjunction of events. rich and poor. In discussing their years at the mosque-university. the Yusufiya still exists as a branch of the Qarawiyin. French organization meant in effect that the retained faculty became salaried civil servants and subject to governmental control.23 23 The Qarawiyin. several leading teachers at the Qarawiyin chose to leave it in 1931 for elsewhere in the country. although not in the narrowly occupational sense of the term. except perhaps association with the sultan's entourage. most replied that they were concerned primarily with the acquisition of the religious sciences. although some faculty and students remained until it was informally closed after independence in 1956. Knowledge of the religious sciences was of course essential at some level in order to function as a Qadi. Those teachers remaining in the organized institution suffered a significant loss of popular prestige. a notary. These ties often were of use later in facilitating commercial. political and entrepreneurial activities. Officially. No other preparation. This was to be expected. there was often a formal expression of regret but none of failure attached to such attribution. As mentioned earlier. continues to exist. now integrated into the national university system. virtually ceased. undertaken primarily to curb their powerful symbolic and practical roles as centers of popular protest against French rule. The frequency with which such ties were mentioned suggests an implicitly shared conception of career. First was the French 'organization' of Morocco's two principal mosque-universities. A similar exodus occurred from the Yusufiya when organization was imposed on it in 1939. higher Islamic education quickly lost its former vitality. given the cultural emphasis upon such valued knowledge. Acquiring such knowledge also provided the consociational base from which a wide range of extralocal political. gifts to them by pious Moroccans. When I asked former students what were their goals at the time of their studies. most emphasized the opportunities they created to secure ties with persons within and outside the community of learning.ISLAMIC EDUCATION AND ITS SOCIAL REPRODUCTION 5O7 acquiring scholarly recognition. at least so long as there were no major alternatives to Islamic higher education. a scribe with the government or a teacher in the religious sciences. although since independence . including the Yusufiya and mosques in smaller towns. economic and social activities could be undertaken. Rather than teach in an 'organized' milieu. Acquiring the religious sciences additionally implied participation in social networks with persons drawn from different backgrounds and regions of Morocco and thus with actual or potential access to a wide range of centers of power. enabled a person to acquire such a wide range of potential associations. KNOWLEDGE AND SOCIAL CHANGE When such alternatives developed on a wide scale in the 1930s.

508 DALE F. The number of urban students had dropped to a handful by 1935. have been allowed to continue to draw their salaries until they reach retirement age. of whom about 150 were from Marrakesh itself. . Moreover. The more interesting. By the 1930s the French had completed a network of schools for the sons of notables. question is why this collapse had no direct impact upon the basic popular and learned paradigm of valued knowledge as fixed and memorizable. They had major problems of personnel and failed to recruit the children of Moroccan notables. almost none of whom were from prominent rural or urban households. Why did the effective collapse not result in any major concerted action. primarily in Arabic (Damis 1974). on the part of men of learning? This issue directly involves the relation of in 1956 it has possessed no formal students or working faculty. Studies in a mosque-university ceased to be an effective means of social advancement. the Morroccan elite ended a period of indecision and began increasingly to enroll their children in these schools. I was told in Marrakesh in 1976. 300 students were from Fez itself while 419 were from outlying regions. seven years after reform. As important as such schools were as an ideological expression on the part of those who backed them. Although no exact figures are available for Marrakesh. Islamic institutions became the least attractive option open to Moroccan Muslims in colonial society. 24 By the late 1930s. their educational impact was minimal. only 100 students were from Fez while 800 were of rural origin (Berque 1938: 197). In a context analogous to what Colonna (1975) has described for Algeria. predominantly rural (Marty 1924: 337). The consequence was to leave mosque-universities primarily to poor students of rural origin. After the defeat of'Abd al-Krim's Riffian Republic in 1926. Islamic education had begun to be regarded with disdain even by those who took part in it during earlier periods because of the lack of'analysis and synthesis' in its content (Berque 1974:173-79). 24 Estimates of the number of students of rural and urban origin at the Qarawiyin. for which figures are available. EICKELMAN Another major factor was the increasing availability of schools run by the French. especially since at least in principle the social reproduction of such knowledge was necessary to make available the word of God for the guidance of the Islamic community. In 1924. By 1938. who saw their children's futures and their own increasingly tied to the training and certification which only French schools could provide. and difficult. or reaction. significant numbers of Moroccan graduates from French schools were available by the mid-1930s to fill the new posts of the colonial bureaucracy and other key roles in colonial society which remained open to Muslims. informants estimate that there were roughly 400 students at the Yusufiya in the early 1930s. A few faculty. Such a criticism implicitly compared the style and content of Islamic education with that at least ideally available in schools provided by the French. Concerned Moroccan bourgeoisie and men of learning sought to create 'Free Schools' that were independent of French control but adopted some European subjects and pedagogical methods to provide alternative education. indicate the impact of these changes.

Taken by itself. this explanation based on material interests is insufficient. 1935) prepared during this period reiterate the themes that while the entire world is changing. in spite of what he calls their 'confused ideal of social justice' (Leveau 1976: 93).Yet these same individuals sent their sons to French-run schools rather than mosque-universities or even the independent 'Free Schools' set up in major cities. Traditionally educated Moroccan intellectuals were acutely aware of the major transformations that their society was experiencing as a consequence of colonial rule. Unlike neighboring Algeria. Although men of learning did not form a class or an organized group either in the preprotectorate period or after the inception of colonial rule in 1912. where the influence of the traditional elite was systematically destroyed. . Despite the radical shift in forms of education. Traditional men of learning. From the inception of the protectorate the French sought to engage the support of this elite by preserving their material interests and by integrating them in the system of indirect rule. A partial explanation for the inaction of men of learning is the fact that colonial rule posed no direct threat to their material interests. they figured significantly among both rural and urban notables. has failed almost completely to do so. a French scholar writes of the preponderant influence of traditional men of learning who. with Fez and Marrakesh still asleep and their men of learning dying one by one. the elite managed in general to confer their status upon their descendants (Waterbury 1970. shared a conception of society ordered through concrete. It does not account for the continued popular respect enjoyed by men of learning. social networks and obligations. not by groups and classes.g. Bourdieu and Passeron 1977). a system which functioned with a high measure of success until the severe economic and political dislocations which accompanied the Second World War. the Maghrib remains in ignorance.. the principal response of reformist intellectuals to this perceived crisis was merely to seek to persuade those who already possessed an understanding of the religious sciences to accept the 'new orthodoxy' which they advocated. albeit shifting. The teaching licenses which scholars such as Mukhtar as-Susi (e. The French protectorate (and the Spanish) presented no direct challenge to this conception of the social order. in Morocco they were given administrative and political preferment and their children were given preferential access to French education. exposed to Western education and influenced by cosmopolitan Western life styles. have managed to retain real popular support while a more 'modern' bureaucratic elite.ISLAMIC EDUCATION AND ITS SOCIAL REPRODUCTION 509 knowledge to society in the Moroccan context and the way in which value is placed on various bodies of knowledge and its carriers. like other Moroccans. Yet in practical terms. cf. In an excellent study of the rural notables of Morocco in the 1960s.

' just as did the notion that valued knowledge was accessible to all men of learning. Abdallah Laroui (1974: 19-28). at least in principle. but there was no developed tradition of specialization associated with this tradition of learning. or for that matter to a Muslim one that has received a Western-style education with its accompanying implicit values. but there was no developed tradition in which they were able to shape these sentiments or guide the direction of social change. The consequence was that innovations of content tended to suffer the same fate as innovations in societies without developed traditions of writing. which also possessed implicit notions of social inequality. EICKELMAN The ideal of social justice held by traditional men of learning is 'confused' only when analysts seek to consider it in Western categories. English and Chinese. What of the limitations of form of Islamic knowledge and its associated intellectual technology? The notion that the most valued knowledge was fixed by memorization in the first place limited the number of texts which any individual thoroughly could 'possess. They could on occasion serve as iconic expressions of popular sentiment. liberals and clerics. Weber 1958). they need not be fully explicit.510 DALE F. These premises are perhaps most effectively delineated through comparison with two contrasting traditions of 'gentlemanly' education. who divides modern Arab intellectuals into three types: technocrats. Students of public schools in Victorian England were instilled with a sense of equity or 'fair play. . but two implicit premises of it have already been indicated—the notion of inequality as a natural fact of the social order and a highly restricted sense of social responsibility. Albert Hourani (1970: viii) has pointed out the general scholarly inattention to the impact upon society of those thinkers who chose to reject a significant dialogue with Western thought. The affinity between popular conceptions of valued knowledge and those conveyed in Islamic education explain the continuing popular legitimacy of such forms of knowledge and. Because the ideologies of this latter type are popularly shared.' leadership and public spirit which had its analogues in political life. of its carriers. There was no expectation in Morocco that Islamic men of learning should constitute an ideological vanguard. Nor could 2S In a critique of his own study of Arab intellectuals. This critique is confirmed indirectly in the work of a Western-educated Moroccan intellectual. This makes them all the more difficult to convey to a Western audience.25 A full discussion of the world view of traditionally educated Moroccan intellectuals and its relation to popular conceptions of the social order is beyond the scope of this paper." his term for the products of traditional Islamic education. He largely succeeds in portraying the dilemmas of the first two Western-influenced types in their confrontation with Western social and political ideals and search for "authenticity.' but conveys only an unconvincing stereotype of the "clerics. A range of materials could be and were introduced. while in China men of learning were considered to possess exemplary moral virtues which suited them for positions of authority (Wilkinson 1964. Men of influence in the milieus of learning could to a limited extent introduce new materials. but innovations suggested by others had little chance of taking hold. even in times of major social upheaval.

with their bias toward favoring members of the elite. major changes in educational systems take a long time to have a widespread impact. but it did not tend to become more elaborate in form. as is certainly the case for the word of God as recorded in the Quran. Those who can interpret what Islam 'really' is can now be of more variable social . Yet the number of individuals who are able to demonstrate 'possession' of such knowledge is rapidly diminishing. this is no longer the case. The concept of knowledge as fixed and memorizable truths is still concretely demonstrated in Moroccan society by men who have memorized the Quran and its proper recitation. There was no room in this tradition for disciplinary competences to be carved out and elaborated by smaller communities of men of learning. To the present. but the lack of concrete embodiment of this premise in the carriers of such knowledge indicates a major shift. instead of allowing an elaboration of form and content at least partially autonomous from generally accepted forms. knowing little of Islamic law beyond the bilingual French and Arabic handbooks prepared by the Ministry of Justice. and associated texts are still mnemonically carried by the last generation of traditionally educated men of learning. This shift may not be consciously recognized. In the past. The shift of religious knowledge from that which is mnemonically 'possessed' to material that can only be consulted in books suggests a major transformation in the nature of knowledge and its carriers. which from a sociological point of view is decidedly not the case (Eickelman 1974).ISLAMIC EDUCATION AND ITS SOCIAL REPRODUCTION 5II forms of knowledge proliferate. just as many Muslim intellectuals claim that the French colonial experience had little impact on the belief and practice of Islam. but implied in it is the notion that their replacements are little more than bureaucratically appointed specialists who carry neither the authority nor the sense of legitimacy that they regard themselves as having possessed in the past. as elsewhere. the central ideological problem was that of justifying any change of form or content in terms of its essential replication of past forms. One consequence is that the older generation of men of learning consider their younger replacements as essentially ignorant. since knowledge was considered to be fixed and memorizable. It may still be ideologically maintained that religious knowledge is memorizable and immutable. this collapse of the 'technology' of intellectual reproduction has had no pronounced impact. This notion appears largely to be popularly shared. One possible consequence of this shift is that socially recognized carriers of religious learning are no longer confined to those who have studied accepted texts in circumstances equivalent to those of the mosqueuniversities. Since the collapse of Islamic education in the 1930s. the memorizable truths of Islamic education were passed from generation to generation. Moreover. The accuracy of this appraisal is not at issue here. The body of knowledge shared by men of learning of any generation shifted over time.

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