Fatima Muhammad Al-Fihri Al-Quraysh founded the Qarawiyyin (French: al-Karaouine) mosque and madrasa in Fes, Morocco in 859 CE. 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.
Al-Fihri was the daughter of a wealthy merchant, and had been educated. 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. 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.
Despite being founded by a woman, the madrassa did not admit women until the mid-20th century.
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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.
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