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Reforms in the Field of Religious Education in Uzbekistan: Reality and Prospects

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Reforms in the Field of Religious Education in Uzbekistan: Reality and Prospects

At the new stage of our country’s development, on the initiative of the head of our state, large-scale reforms and updates are being carried out in the religious and educational spheres. In particular, significant efforts are being made to restore and develop our national traditions and values, honor the memory of our ancestors, and beautify holy places, shrines, and mosques. These initiatives aim to strengthen the spiritual and cultural fabric of our society, ensuring that our heritage is preserved and passed down to future generations.
Since 2017, several new religious educational institutions have been established, including the Mir Arab Higher Madrasa, the School of Hadith Science, and the Imam Termizi Madrasa. These institutions play a crucial role in providing high-quality religious education, fostering a deeper understanding of Islamic teachings, and promoting scholarly research. They also contribute to the broader goals of religious tolerance, intercultural dialogue, and social cohesion in our diverse society.
By investing in religious education and infrastructure, Uzbekistan is not only preserving its rich cultural and spiritual legacy but also positioning itself as a center of Islamic learning and scholarship in the region. These reforms represent a forward-looking vision that balances respect for tradition with the needs of contemporary society.
The prerequisite and basis for carrying out new reforms, long-term planning and bringing the education system in the religious and educational sphere to a qualitatively high level was the decree of the President of Uzbekistan dated April 16, 2018 “On Measures to Fundamentally Improve the Activities of the Religious-Educational Sphere”.
According to the decree, efforts are focused on honoring the great scholars who deeply studied the true essence of the Holy Qur’an and Hadiths, the scientific and theoretical foundations of Islamic knowledge, and who made incomparable contributions to world civilization. These scholars thoroughly mastered the vast scientific heritage of our compatriots and trained specialists capable of conducting scientific research in the religious field. They also imparted the noble universal values of Islam to our people, especially the younger generation.
To achieve these goals, higher and secondary special religious educational institutions, religious organizations, and scientific research centers under the jurisdiction of the Office of Muslims of Uzbekistan have been restructured. This restructuring aims to train specialists who are well-versed in both religious and secular sciences, can resist ideological attacks, and reject foreign ideas from various currents, based on modern requirements for religious workers. A new continuous system has been formed, ensuring continuity and coherence between these institutions.
Taking into account the religious education system in accordance with the traditional Hanafi madhhab and Maturidi teachings that have developed in our country over the centuries, and considering the experience of leading foreign religious higher educational institutions, the curriculum and science programs of higher and secondary special Islamic educational institutions in our republic have been further improved, ensuring the integrity of education.
In accordance with the Resolution of the President of Uzbekistan dated August 11, 2020, approving the “Road Map” for Supporting the Study of Imam Moturidiy and Teaching of Moturidiy in 2020-2024, a new special course “Teaching of Moturidiy and Modern Dogmatic Views” was introduced into the curriculum of religious educational institutions.
According to “The Concept of Development of the Higher Education System of the Republic of Uzbekistan until 2030”, starting from the 2020-2021 academic year, full-time students of the Tashkent Islamic Institute have been transferred to a credit-module system, the curricula have been revised; the volume of repetitive and not directly related to the specialty subjects was reduced, and the volume of specialized subjects was increased.
In accordance with the decree of the President of Uzbekistan, the International Islamic Academy of Uzbekistan was created on the basis of the Islamic Academy of Uzbekistan and the Tashkent Islamic University. In addition to the activities of the Center for Advanced Training of Religious Workers at the Academy, the creation of its regional branches in the Republic of Karakalpakstan, Samarkand, Namangan and Surkhandarya regions is of particular importance in the field of religious education.
An International Research Center at the International Islamic Academy has also been created in Uzbekistan. In recent years, large-scale reforms have been carried out in the religious and educational sphere in Uzbekistan, and the activities of this center will undoubtedly play an important role in the in-depth study of the legacy of the great scientist of the Islamic world Imam Maturidi, in educating the younger generation in the spirit of noble human ideals, in the formation of ideological immunity .
In this regard, regular training seminars are organized with the participation of well-known professors, mature specialists, scientists, imams, religious leaders, and youth leaders at the training center of the International Islamic Academy of Uzbekistan and its regional departments. Today, the conditions provided for the quality education of students at the International Islamic Academy of Uzbekistan are sufficient to prepare them as highly qualified personnel in various fields including Islamic studies, religious studies, Islamic history and source studies, psychology of religion, Islamic economics, international relations, pilgrimage tourism, and oriental languages. Serious attention is given to the creation of these conditions.
Currently, the faculties of "Islamic Economy and International Relations", "Classical Eastern Philology" and "Islamic Studies" are operating in the International Islamic Academy of Uzbekistan.
In addition to these faculties, various specialized departments have been established at the International Islamic Academy of Uzbekistan, including: Islamic Economy and Finance, Pilgrimage Tourism” “International Relations and Social Sciences”, “Modern Information and Communication Technologies”, “Arabic Language and Literature al-Azhar”, “Uzbek Language and Classical Oriental Literature”, “Foreign Languages”, Psychology and Pedagogy of Religion”, “Islamic Studies and Islamic Civilization Study (ICESCO)”, “Islamic History and Source Studies (IRCICA)”, “Religious Studies and Comparative Study of World Religions (UNESCO)".
The main workforce of the International Islamic Academy of Uzbekistan comprises a total of 194 professors and teachers, among whom there are 28 doctors of science and 97 candidates holding either a doctorate or a PhD degree, reflecting a scientific potential of 77.1%.
In 2023, the Academy achieved remarkable success by securing the 1st place in terms of scientific potential and the 2nd place overall in the national ranking of higher educational institutions within the republic.
The academy offers 6 specialties, including Islamic History and Source Studies, Quran Studies, Hadith Studies, Fiqh, Word Science, Theology, Classical Eastern Literature and Source Studies, Religious Studies, and Psychology of Religion. These specializations encompass phenomena related to religion in society, the relationship between religion and society, the national idea, and mental characteristics in the fight against ideological attacks. Leveraging the rich scientific and spiritual heritage of our esteemed ancestors, extensive research is conducted on the works of scholars from our country to promote it widely.
The Scientific Council established under the International Islamic Academy of Uzbekistan oversees the defense of more than 20 doctor of science and doctor of philosophy degrees each year within the specialized fields.
Currently, the Source Treasury of the International Islamic Academy of Uzbekistan houses a significant collection, including 460 manuscripts, 1,521 lithographs, and over 13,000 modern edition books, totaling 5,710 titles.
During this period, a 2-volume extended catalog of 300 manuscripts was published. Volume 1 comprises 150 manuscripts with extended descriptions of 393 works, while Volume 2 contains 150 manuscripts with extended descriptions of 504 works
In recent years, "Historical and comparative analysis of religious and mystical symbols in Uzbekistan", "Religious xenophobia and its manifestations in the era of globalization", "The factor of religion in the formation of the social identity of the information society", information on the terrorist organization "ISIS" dedicated to theology and modern issues related to it. attack and ways to eliminate it", "Religious-spiritual processes related to cyberspace and Islam", "Culture of tolerance is a factor of prevention of extremism", "Social and historical content of missionary work and specific aspects of its manifestation in Uzbekistan", "Islamic custom in modern Uzbek families and studies such as "evolution of traditions" have been carried out. "Comparative analysis of the history and evolution of ascetic views in Christianity and Islam", "Religious and social foundations of medical issues in Christian and Islamic sources", "The role of Jewish communities in social and cultural processes in Central Asia", "The harmony of ideas of tolerance in world religions", "Goddess in Zoroastrianism" functions and socio-historical essence" is one of the effective researches carried out in this direction.
Scientific, practical, and innovative projects play a crucial role in enhancing the effectiveness of research in various fields. To this end, the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation of the Republic of Uzbekistan has funded an innovative project at the International Islamic Academy of Uzbekistan titled "Creation of the ’Religions of the World’ electronic program and mobile application based on research of the history, teachings, sources, and traditions of religions."
As part of this project, extensive research has been conducted, resulting in the preparation of separate monographs on 11 world religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Confucianism, Daoism, Shintoism, Sikhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These monographs aim to provide comprehensive insights into the history, teachings, and traditions of each religion, contributing to a deeper understanding of global religious diversity.
This project represents a significant effort to promote interfaith dialogue, cultural understanding, and knowledge exchange on a global scale.
Taking into account the increasing interest and demand for the science of religious studies, in order to bring the field to the level of modern requirements, to provide and improve it with new generation literature, study guides and textbooks, "Gnestological principles in the theological teaching of Ibn Sina", "The spread of Islam in East Asia and its regional features", monographs "History, religious belief and culture of ancient Afghanistan", "Comparative religious studies" and "Islamic philosophy", textbooks "Religious-philosophical teachings of Southeast Asia", "Comparative study of religious sources", "Religious processes in cyberspace", "History of World Religions", "Culture of Religious Tolerance" educational manuals were written.
To showcase the cutting-edge research of young scientific researchers to the public, the scientific journals “The light of Islam” (Islam Ziyosi), “Islamic thought” "Islom Tafakkuri" and “Moturidity” (Moturidiylik) are being published. It’s worth noting that the journal "The light of Islam " is recognized as one of the five most active journals on the unique platform of scientific journals of republican higher education institutions -
The International Islamic Academy of Uzbekistan is committed to upholding its status and achieving leading positions at the international level through a wide range of innovations. In recent years, the academy has significantly expanded its cooperation with prestigious foreign higher education institutions, research centers, and international organizations. Consequently, the participation of academy professors and young researchers in international conferences, scientific seminars, and international grants has become more active. Simultaneously, there has been an increase in the involvement of foreign professors, students, and doctoral candidates in the educational process of the academy, along with their growing interest in conducting scientific research in our country.
Today, the International Islamic Academy of Uzbekistan has signed memorandum agreements with 43 foreign higher education institutions and research centers.
The academy places significant emphasis on nurturing students’ talents and purposefully organizing their free time. Each student’s participation in classes, activity level, and mastery of subjects are thoroughly analyzed. In close cooperation with subject teachers and group leaders, the quality of students’ education and the effectiveness of the educational process are established.
Students have ample opportunities to learn professions and engage in sports. Extracurricular Clubs such as "Linguistics" (Arabic, English, Russian), "Psychological Training," "Calligraphy," "Computer Literacy," "Web Designer," "Dutorchilar," (students playing the “dutar”) "Piano," "Violin," and "Art" allow students to acquire modern knowledge and skills while showcasing their talents. Sports clubs including "Volleyball," "Table Tennis," "Basketball," "Mini Football," "Chess and Checkers," and "Badminton" promote physical health among young people.
Faculty members and employees of the academy actively participate in various propaganda activities to ensure social and spiritual stability and improve the religious situation in the country. Meetings and lectures on topics such as "Islam as the Religion of Enlightenment," "There Is No Salvation Except through Science," and "An Enlightened Society Condemns Ignorance" reinforce concepts of peace, tranquility, loyalty to the Motherland, and prevention of negative vices like religious extremism, terrorism, and radicalism among the youth.
In summary, preserving our centuries-old national and religious values, learning from the invaluable heritage of our ancestors, and educating young people to be exemplary individuals based on this heritage are vital for ensuring a stable socio-spiritual environment in society. Recent establishments such as the Center of Islamic Civilization, International Islamic Academy of Uzbekistan, Mir Arab Higher Madrasah, and international research centers dedicated to scholars like Imam Bukhari, Imam Termizi, and Imam Moturidi serve to study and promote our rich scientific and historical heritage.