Saturday, 27 December 2008

Fatima Al-Fihri

The University of Al-Qarawiyin is located in Fes, Morocco. It is recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as being the oldest continuously operating institution of higher learning since its establishment in 859 CE. Regarded as "one of the leading spiritual and educational centers of the Muslim world," Al-Qarawiyin has turned out many influential scholars including Abu Abdullah Al-Sati, Abu Al-Abbas al-Zwawi, Ibn Rashid Al-Sabti, Ibn Al-Haj Al-Fasi, Abu Madhab Al-Fasi and Leo Africanus.

Al Qarawiyin University is part of a mosque which was founded by the daughter of the wealthy merchant Muhammad Al-Fihri, Fatima Al-Fihri and her sister Maryum. Their family had migrated from Al Qayrawan, a holy city in Tunisia, to Fes in the early 9th century, hence the name of the university. Both sisters were well educated, and when they inherited a large sum of money from their father Fatima vowed to spend her entire amount on building a masjid for the Qayrawan community which had settled in the western district of the city.

Masha'Allah this story is a wonderful example to show the role of women in building Islamic society and their great contribution to the Ummah. The masjid developed into a place for religious and political education, gradually encompassing a range of diverse subjects such as natural sciences - math, physics, chemistry, and foreign language studies were introduced in 1957 by King Muhammad V.

In medieval time the university played a leading role in culture & knowledge exchange between Europe and the Middle East. The mosque was expanded over the centuries until it became the largest in North Africa, accommodating more than 200,000 worshipers.

The University of Al-Karaouine or Al-Qarawiyyin (Arabic: جامعة القرويين‎) (other transliterations of the name include Qarawiyin, Kairouyine, Kairaouine, Qairawiyin, Qaraouyine, Quaraouiyine, Quarawin, and Qaraouiyn) is a university located in Fes, Morocco. Founded in 859, the university is one of the leading spiritual and educational centers of the Muslim world and is considered the oldest continuously operating institution of higher learning in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Al Karaouine University played a leading role in the cultural and academic relations between the
Islamic world and Europe in the middle ages. One of the greatest non-Muslim alumni of the university was the Jewish philosopher and theologian Maimonides (1135-1204), who studied under Abdul Arab Ibn Muwashah. The cartographer Mohammed al-Idrisi (d. 1166), whose maps aided European exploration in the Renaissance is said to have lived in Fes for some time, suggesting that he may have worked or studied at Al Karaouine. The university has produced numerous scholars who have strongly influenced the intellectual and academic history of the Muslim world. Among these are Ibn Rushayd al-Sabti (d. 1321), Mohammed Ibn al-Hajj al-Abdari al-Fasi (d. 1336), Abu Imran al-Fasi (d. 1015), a leading theorist of the Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence, and Leo Africanus, a renowned traveler and writer.

"Compared with the great mosques of Isfahan or Istanbul, the design is austere. The columns and arches are plain white; the floors are covered in reed mats, not lush carpets. Yet the seemingly endless forest of arches creates a sense of infinite majesty and intimate privacy, while the simplicity of the design compliments the finely decorated niches, pulpit and outer courtyard, with its superb tiles, plasterwork, woodcarvings and paintings."

The Muslim Heritage website has more details about the history and the beautiful architecture of the mosque. Follow this link:

[Source: Wikipedia]

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