When considering of the oldest universities on the earth, in all probability the primary ones that come to most individuals’s minds are Oxford and Bologna, however in line with UNESCO and the Guinness World Records, Al-Qarawiyyin University (additionally written as Al-Karaouine) is the “oldest present, and continually operating instructional establishment on the earth.”
Founded in 859 A.D. by Tunisian-born Fatima al-Fihri in Morocco’s Fez, the college isn’t solely the oldest larger training establishment on Earth but additionally the primary to be founded by a woman, and a Muslim one at that. Fatima used her inheritance from her service provider father’s wealth to discovered the college which began as an related college – generally known as a madrasa – and a mosque that finally grew into a place of upper training. It additionally launched the system of awarding levels in line with completely different ranges of examine in a vary of fields, resembling spiritual research, grammar and rhetoric. Though the college first targeted on spiritual instruction, its fields of examine shortly expanded to incorporate logic, drugs, arithmetic and astronomy, amongst many others.
Thanks to the big selection of matters and the top quality of training it provided, students and college students from everywhere in the Muslim world visited and enrolled within the establishment. Its reputation turned so overwhelming that the college launched a strict choice system, requiring college students to know the Quran by coronary heart and have a good information of Arabic in addition to normal sciences. Sultans of the period supported the college with subsidies, items and particularly books and manuscripts. This led to al-Qarawiyyin University having a number of libraries in its primary and facet buildings, housing numerous influential works for its period. The historic library is open to the general public to this present day and exhibits al-Fihri’s unique diploma, which was chiseled onto a picket board again within the day. The library presently hosts greater than 4,000 beneficial manuscripts in a vary of fields, together with historic copies of Islam’s holy ebook, the Quran. Some of those valuable texts embody the 14th-century work of “Al-Muqaddimah” and an unique copy of “Al-‘Ibar” by the well-known Muslim historian Ibn Khaldun, a pioneer in sociology. Other items such because the well-known “Al-Muwatta” – the earliest assortment of hadith texts (the Prophet Muhammad’s sayings) gathered by Malik, thought of to be one of many first authorized texts to include each hadiths and fiqh, Islamic jurisprudence.
Just as it’s common in trendy universities, al-Qarawiyyin held common debates and symposia, selling the change of information and growth of science. The college itself was founded on the idea of upper training as we all know it in the present day. Al-Fihri’s concept was to create a social house enabling mental exchanges for progressive studying and instructing. It wouldn’t be improper to say that Fatima’s concepts and imaginative and prescient influenced many universities throughout Europe. With its skilled and institutional studying construction – beforehand unseen and unparalleled – echoed throughout the European continent within the following centuries. European nations had been fast to see the immense potential behind this idea of studying and shortly founded their very own establishments. Among probably the most notable of those are the University of Bologna, which was founded in 1088 in Italy, and the University of Oxford which was founded in 1096 within the United Kingdom.
Throughout its historical past, the college has been the place of students well-known to this date, resembling 12th-century cartographer Mohammed al-Idrisi, whose maps helped the European exploration through the Renaissance. Despite the truth that the college was a gathering level for college students of Islamic research, it additionally attracted folks from different religions as properly. One of the Christian students visiting al-Qarawiyyin was Pope Sylvester II (946-1003), who was identified to have a ardour for arithmetic and astronomy.
The college, nevertheless, was solely added to Morocco’s college system in 1963. Contrary to widespread misconceptions, each men and women may attend the college. In 1965, the establishment was formally named the University of al-Qarawiyyin as a substitute of the quick al-Qarawiyyin. At the start of the 1990s, its scholar physique shrank considerably on account of curiosity in newer, Western-style universities.
To this present day, the college retains its conventional methods of instructing college students by sitting in a semi-circle, referred to as halqa, across the sheik or the teacher.