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Basic school in Islamic education.

The kuttab was originally attached to a mosque, and the school taught children and new converts to be true believers of Islam. In the morning, students would recite and memorize passages from the Qurʾan. In the afternoon, they would learn to write, study Islamic prayers and rituals, and, particularly in the Arab East, study Arabic grammar and poetry.

Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, secular studies were introduced in many kuttabs, especially in cities, where they faced competition from new Western-style primary schools. In 1926, the Republic of Turkey abolished the kuttabs and instituted secular education and society.

Throughout the Middle East, most religious education is now taught in government schools, but kuttabs have remained an important vehicle of rural education, particularly in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

see also qurʾan.

elizabeth thompson