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Despite various conflicting assertions in mass media, religious literature and daily conversations, Turkish art education, on curricular, instructional and research levels, remains mute on the issue of 'the lawfulness of figurative representation' in Islam. By reviewing the history of aniconism, the avoidance of naturalistic figurative representation in the Turkish context, and presenting an overview of the transition from the visual traditions of the Ottoman Era to the Eurocentric practices of the Republic Era, I problematize the choices that shaped the current negligent attitude of Turkish art schooling toward the historically rooted aniconic tendencies. I include an interdisciplinary overview of the origins of aniconism in the general cultural context of Islam which intents to serve as an expansive knowledge base upon which art educators can build scenarios for relevant instruction. Through in-depth conversational interviews with ten middle school students from differing backgrounds, I provide readers with a qualitative account of student understandings on figurative art in relation to various understandings of Islam in Turkey.