Institut für den Nahen und Mittleren Osten



current project hmimnat

The religious education and training constitutes one of the cornerstones of the new policy of restructuring the religious field” launched in Morocco in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Casablanca on May 16, 2003. In parallel to the traditional educational system devoted to transmitting religious knowledge (‘ilm), which include madrasa ‘atîqa, mhadara and even modern universities (Islamic studies departments), a special training program was created in 2005 to form religious leaders (male and female). Ten years later, the program has been extended and institutionalized into a formal broader structure that is Mohammed VI Institute for Imams, Murshidines and Murshidates Training. Officially started working in March 2015, it opens its doors to Moroccans as well as to foreigners coming particularly from several African -and even European- countries. This development comes actually to reflect a significant shift occurred at the level of the official ideological discourse that has been gradually moved from a status of introversion that previously hide behind slogans of “singularity”, localism, and “uniqueness” of “Moroccan religiosity” in the face of “extraneous” ones, in implicit reference to wahabism; to a defensive status in which Moroccan religiosity has been distinctively promoted as an “exportable” model claimed to be distinguished by centrism and moderation and assumed to be successful in immunizing against radicalism and violent extremism in the mid- and long-terms. Taking benefit of ten years of local training experience, the Imams training program has been elaborated based on new pedagogical perceptions and modern curricula inspiring a vision of Islam known, after September 11 events in some western countries, as “the radical middle way”. The program aims to form enlightened open-minded religious leaders who believe in cultural values and neoliberal principles pertaining to the modern state. Accordingly, a binary distinction has been emerged between “good imam”& “bad imam” to denote the difference between the imam who acts as a negative element transmitting hatred and extremist ideology within the community, in contrast with the one who tries to reconcile traditional religious principles with secular and civil options, and which turned into an agent of peace, unity and harmony in the community or country he belongs to or operating in. This research project aims to shed light on training of Imams in Morocco focusing on the contextual conditions, the ideological reference, pedagogical approaches, curriculum, and contents that all together shape the transmission of this type of knowledge. In dealing with the topic under consideration, a public policy analysis approach will be adopted. The ambition is to demystify, critically examine, and assess the training program’s strengths and weaknesses through objective analytical tools far away from both the technical perspective that is based on a purely didactic-cognitive approach; and the politico-ideological discourse frequently advertise it, nationally and internationally, as “best practice” and key part of a “leading” counter-radicalization strategy that should be shared with other countries.