Fatima al-Fihri

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Fatima Muhammad Al-Fihri Al-Quraysh founded the Qarawiyyin (French: al-Karaouine) mosque and madrasa in Fes, Morocco in 859 CE.[1] The madrasa is still in operation today as the University of Qarawiyyin (is sometimes dubbed the "world's oldest university"), and the mosque is one of the largest in North Africa.[2][3][4]

Al-Fihri was the daughter of a wealthy merchant, and had been educated.[1] The family was part of a large migration to Fes from the town of Qayrawan (in modern Tunisia), which lent its name to the mosque and madrassa.[5] Mariam, Fatima's sister, was the sponsor of the Al-Andalus mosque, also in Fes. Both were part of a larger tradition of women founding mosques.[6]

Despite being founded by a woman, the madrassa did not admit women until the mid-20th century.[7]


  1. ^ a b Kenney, Jeffrey T.; Moosa, Ebrahim (2013-08-15). Islam in the Modern World. Routledge. p. 128. ISBN 9781135007959. 
  2. ^ 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.

  3. ^ Joseph, Suad; Najmabadi, Afsaneh (2003-01-01). Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures: Economics, education, mobility and space. Brill. p. 314. ISBN 9789004128200. 
  4. ^ Swartley, Keith E. (2005-01-01). Encountering the World of Islam. Biblica. p. 74. ISBN 9781932805246. 
  5. ^ Gates, Jr., Henry Louis (ed.). Dictionary of African Biography 6. pp. 357–359. ISBN 9780195382075. 
  6. ^ Kahera, Akel; Abdulmalik, Latif; Anz, Craig (2009-10-26). Design Criteria for Mosques and Islamic Centres. Routledge. p. 81. ISBN 9781136441271. 
  7. ^ Bano, Masooda; Kalmbach, Hilary (2011-11-25). Women, Leadership, and Mosques: Changes in Contemporary Islamic Authority. BRILL. p. 573. ISBN 9004211462. 

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