Fatima al-Fihri

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Fatima Muhammad Al-Fihri Al-Quraysh ( فاطمة محمد الفهري, nicknamed Oum al Banine "mother of the children"[citation needed], died 880[citation needed]), daughter of a wealthy businessman, in 859 founded a mosque and madrasa in Fes, Morocco (then under Idrisid rule). The madrasa came to be one of the most notable institutions of this kind; it is still in operation today, since 1963 as the University of Qarawiyyin, and is sometimes dubbed the "world's oldest university".[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][page needed]

The Al-Fihri family belongs to the Fihrids Quraysh tribe who migrated from Mecca in the Arabian peninsula (modern day Saudi Arabia) to north Africa, later had migrated to Fes from Abbasid-ruled Kairouan (now in Tunisia; hence the name of the mosque) in the early 9th century, joining a community of other migrants from Kairouan who had settled in a western district of the city.

Fatima and her sister Mariam, both of whom were well educated, inherited a large amount of money from their father. Fatima vowed to spend her entire inheritance on the construction of a mosque suitable for her community.


  1. ^ "The Kairaouine Mosque". Rough Guides. Retrieved 9 August 2012. and vies with Cairo's Al-Azhar for the title of world's oldest university 
  2. ^ Petersen, Andrew: Dictionary of Islamic Architecture, Routledge, 1996, ISBN 978-0-415-06084-4, p. 87 (entry "Fez"):

    The Qarawiyyin Mosque, founded in 859, is the most famous mosque of Morocco and attracted continuous investment by Muslim rulers.

  3. ^ Meri, Josef W. (ed.): Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, A–K, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-96691-7, p. 257 (entry "Fez")
  4. ^ Lulat, Y. G.-M.: A History Of African Higher Education From Antiquity To The Present: A Critical Synthesis Studies in Higher Education, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005, ISBN 978-0-313-32061-3, p. 70:

    As for the nature of its curriculum, it was typical of other major madrasahs such as al-Azhar and al-Qarawiyyin, though many of the texts used at the institution came from Muslim Spain...Al-Qarawiyyin began its life as a small mosque constructed in 859 C.E. by means of an endowment bequeathed by a wealthy woman of much piety, Fatima bint Muhammed al-Fahri.

  5. ^ "Qarawiyin". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 9 August 2012. The Qarawīyīn Mosque is the centre of a university that was founded in AD 859 
  6. ^ Joseph, S, and Najmabadi, A. Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures: Economics, education, mobility, and spaaace. Brill, 2003, p. 314.
  7. ^ Swartley, Keith. Encountering the World of Islam. Authentic, 2005, p. 74.
  8. ^ Illustrated Dictionary of the Muslim World, Publisher: Marshall Cavendish, 2010 [1] p.161
  9. ^ Civilization: The West and the Rest by Niall Ferguson, Publisher: Allen Lane 2011 - ISBN 978-1-84614-273-4

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