University of al-Qarawiyyin
ⵜⴰⵙⴷⴰⵡⵉⵜ ⵏ ⵍⵇⴰⵕⴰⵡⵉⵢⵢⵉⵏ
|Type||Madrasa and center of higher learning for non-vocational sciences (before 1963)|
State university since 1963
|Established||859 (as a mosque)|
1963 (as a state university)
|Language||Arabic, Tamazight, French|
The University of al-Qarawiyyin (Arabic: جامعة القرويين; Berber : ⵜⴰⵙⴷⴰⵡⵉⵜ ⵏ ⵍⵇⴰⵕⴰⵡⵉⵢⵢⵉⵏ; French: Université Al Quaraouiyine), also written Al-Karaouine or Al Quaraouiyine, is a university located in Fez, Morocco. It was founded as a mosque by Fatima al-Fihri in 859 and subsequently became one of the leading spiritual and educational centers of the historic Muslim world. It was incorporated into Morocco's modern state university system in 1963 and was officially renamed "University of Al Quaraouiyine" two years later. The mosque building itself is also a significant complex of historical Moroccan and Islamic architecture encompassing elements from many different periods of Moroccan history.
Scholars consider that the Qarawiyyin was effectively run as a madrasa until after World War II and distinguish this status from the status of "university" (similiar to how Christian seminaries are not classified as a university), which many view as a distinctly European invention. They date the transformation of the madrasa of al-Qarawiyyin into a university to its modern reorganization in 1963. Some sources, however, such as UNESCO and the Guinness World Records cite the Qarawiyyin as the oldest university or oldest continually operating higher learning institution in the world.
Education at al-Qarawiyyin University concentrates on the Islamic religious and legal sciences with a heavy emphasis on, and particular strengths in, Classical Arabic grammar/linguistics and Maliki Sharia, although lessons on other non-Islamic subjects are also offered to students. Teaching is still delivered in the traditional methods. Students are seated in a semi-circle (halqa) around a sheikh who prompts them to read certain texts, asks them questions, and explains difficult points to them. The university is attended by students from all over Morocco and Muslim West Africa, with some also coming from further abroad. Women were first admitted to the institution in the 1940's.
The Arabic name of the university, جَامِعَةُ الْقَرَوِيِّينَ pronounced [ʒaːmiʕtu lqarawijiːn] means "University of the People from Kairouan (القَيْرَوَان [alqajrawaːn])," the provenance of Fatima al-Fihriya's family in Tunisia . The presence of the letter Qoph (ق), a voiceless uvular plosive which has no equivalent in European languages, as well as the ويّي ([awijiː]) triphthong in the university's name, in addition to the French colonization of Morocco, have introduced a number of different orthographies for the Romanization of the university's name, including al-Qarawiyyin, a standard anglicization; Al Quaraouiyine, following French orthography; and Al-Karaouine, another rendering using French orthography.
History of the institution
Foundation of the mosque
In the 9th century, the city of Fes was the capital of the Idrisid Dynasty, considered to be the first Moroccan Islamic state. According to one of the major early sources on this period, the Rawd al-Qirtas by Ibn Abi Zar, Al-Qarawiyyin was founded as a mosque in 859 by Fatima al-Fihri, the daughter of a wealthy merchant named Mohammed Al-Fihri. The Al-Fihri family had migrated from Kairouan (hence the name of the mosque), Tunisia to Fes 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.:48–49 Similarly, her sister Mariam is also reputed to have founded the Al-Andalusiyyin Mosque the same year.
This foundation narrative has been questioned by some modern historians who see the symmetry of two sisters founding the two most famous mosques of Fes as too convenient and likely originating from legend.:48–49:42 Ibn Abi Zar is also judged by contemporary historians to be a relatively unreliable source. Moreover, one of the biggest challenges to this story is a foundation inscription that was rediscovered during renovations to the mosque in the 20th century, previously hidden under layers of plaster for centuries. This inscription, carved onto cedar wood panels and written in a Kufic script very similar to foundation inscriptions in 9th-century Tunisia, was found on a wall above the probable site of the mosque's original mihrab (prior to the building's later expansions). The inscription, recorded and deciphered by Gaston Deverdun, proclaims the foundation of "this mosque" (Arabic: "هذا المسجد") by Dawud ibn Idris (a son of Idris II who governed this region of Morocco at the time) in Dhu al-Qadah 263 AH (July-August of 877 CE). Deverdun suggested the inscription may have come from another unidentified mosque and was moved here at a later period (probably 15th or 16th century) when the veneration of the Idrisids was resurgent in Fes and such relics would have held enough religious significance to be reused in this way. However, Chafik Benchekroun argued more recently that a more likely explanation is that this inscription is the original foundation inscription of the Qarawiyyin Mosque itself and that it might have been covered up in the 12th century just before the arrival of the Almohads in the city. Based on this evidence and on the many doubts about Ibn Abi Zar's narrative, he argues that Fatima al-Fihri is quite possibly a legendary figure rather than a historical one.
Some scholars suggest that some teaching and instruction probably took place at the Qarawiyyin Mosque from a very early period:453 or from its very beginning.:287:71 Major mosques in the early Islamic period were typically multi-functional buildings where teaching and education took place alongside other religious and civic activities. It appears that the al-Andalusiyyin Mosque, in the district across the river, also served a similar role up until at least the Marinid period, though it evidently never equaled the Qarawiyyin's later prestige.:453 Nonetheless, it is unclear at what time the Qarawiyyin Mosque began to act more formally as an educational institution, in part because of the limited historical sources that pertain to its early period. The most relevant major historical texts like the Rawd al-Qirtas by Ibn Abi Zar and the Zahrat al-As by Abu al-Hasan Ali al-Jazna'i do not provide any clear details on the history of teaching at the mosque,:453 though al-Jazna'i (who lived in the 14th century) mentions that teaching had taken place there before his time.:175 Otherwise, the earliest mentions of halaqat (circles) for learning and teaching may not have been until the 10th or the 12th century. The historian Abdelhadi Tazi indicates the earliest clear evidence of teaching at al-Qarawiyyin in 1121.:112 Moroccan historian Mohammed Al-Manouni believes that it was during the reign of the Almoravids (1040–1147) that the mosque acquired its function as a teaching institution. Historian Évariste Lévi-Provençal dates the beginning of the madrasa and teaching to the Marinid period (1244–1465).
In the 10th century, the Idrisid dynasty fell from power and Fes became contested between the Fatimid and Cordoban Umayyad caliphates and their allies. During this period, the Qarawiyyin progressively grew in prestige. At some point the khutba (Friday sermon) was transferred from the Shurafa Mosque of Idris II (today the Zawiya of Moulay Idris II) to the Qarawiyyin Mosque, thus granting it the status of Friday mosque (the community's main mosque). This transfer happened either in 919-18 or in 933, both dates which correspond to brief periods of Fatimid domination over the city, which suggests that the transfer may have occurred on Fatimid initiative.:12 In any case, the mosque and its learning institution continued to enjoy the respect of political elites, with the mosque itself being significantly expanded by the Almoravids and repeatedly embellished under subsequent dynasties. Tradition was established that all the other mosques of Fes based the timing of their call to prayer (adhan) according to that of the Qarawiyyin.
Apogee during the Marinid period
Many scholars consider that the Qarawiyyin's high point as an intellectual and scholarly center was in the 13th-14th centuries, when the curriculum was at its broadest and its prestige had reached new heights after centuries of expansion and elite patronage.:141 Among the subjects taught around this period or shortly after were traditional religious subjects such as the Qur'an and Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) as well as other sciences like grammar, rhetoric, logic, medicine, mathematics, astronomy and geography.:455 By contrast, some subjects like alchemy/chemistry (al-kimiya) were never officially taught as they were considered too unorthodox.:455
Starting in the late 13th century, and especially in the 14th century, the Marinid dynasty was responsible for constructing a number of formal madrasas in the areas around the Qarawiyyin's main building. The first of these was the Saffarin Madrasa in 1271, followed by the al-Attarine in 1323 and the Mesbahiya Madrasa in 1346. (A larger but much later madrasa, the Cherratine Madrasa, was also built nearby in 1670.) These madrasas taught their own courses and sometimes became well-known institutions in their own right, but they usually had much narrower curriculums or specializations.:141 One of their most important functions seems to have been to provide housing for students from other towns and cities – many of them poor – who needed a place to stay while studying at the Qarawiyyin.:137:110:463 Thus, these buildings acted as complimentary or auxiliary institutions to the Qarawiyyin itself, which remained the center of intellectual life in the city.
The Qarawiyyin also compiled a large selection of manuscripts that were kept at a library founded by the Marinid Sultan Abu Inan Faris in 1349. The collection housed numerous works from the Maghreb, al-Andalus, and the Middle East. Part of the collection was gathered decades earlier by Sultan Abu Yusuf Ya'qub (ruled 1258–1286) who persuaded Sancho IV of Castile to hand over a number of works from the libraries of Seville, Cordoba, Almeria, Granada, and Malaga in al-Andalus/Spain. Abu Yusuf initially housed these in the nearby Saffarin Madrasa (which he had recently built), but later moved them to the Qarawiyyin. Among the most precious manuscripts currently housed in the library are volumes from the famous Al-Muwatta of Malik written on gazelle parchment, a copy of the Sirat of Ibn Ishaq, a 9th-century Qur'an manuscript (also written on gazelle parchment),:148 a copy of the Qur'an given by Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur in 1602, a copy of Ibn Rushd's Al-Bayan Wa-al-Tahsil wa-al-Tawjih (a commentary on Maliki fiqh) dating from 1320,:143 and the original copy of Ibn Khaldun's book Al-'Ibar (including the Muqaddimah) gifted by the author in 1396. Also recently rediscovered in the library is a ijazah certificate, written on deer parchment, which some scholars claim to be the oldest surviving predecessor of a Medical Doctorate degree, issued to a man called Abdellah Ben Saleh Al Koutami in 1207 CE under the authority of three other doctors and in the presence of the chief qadi (judge) of the city and two other witnesses. The library was managed by a qayim or "conservator" who oversaw the maintenance of its collection.:143 By 1613 one conservator estimated the library's collection at 32,000 volumes.
Students were male, but traditionally it has been said that "facilities were at times provided for interested women to listen to the discourse while accommodated in a special gallery (riwaq) overlooking the scholars' circle." The twelfth century cartographer Mohammed al-Idrisi, 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-Qarawiyyin. The madrasa 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. Pioneer scholars such as Al-Idrissi (d.1166 AD), Ibn al-Arabi (1165-1240 AD), Ibn Khaldun (1332-1395 AD), Ibn al-Khatib (d. 1374), Al-Bitruji (Alpetragius) (d. 1294), and Ibn Hirzihim (d. 1163) were all connected with the madrasa either as students or lecturers. Some Christian scholars also visited the al-Qarawiyyin, including the Flemish Nicolas Cleynaerts (d. 1542):252 and the Dutchman Golius (d. 1667), as well as Gerbert d'Aurillac who later became Pope Sylvester II.:138 (Although the story of Gerbert's visit to Fes is viewed as a legend by some modern scholars.)
Decline and reforms
The Qarawiyyin underwent a general decline in later centuries, along with the relative decline of Fes itself. The strength of its teaching stagnated and its curriculum decreased in range and scope, becoming focused on traditional Islamic sciences and Arabic linguistic studies. Even some traditional Islamic specializations like tafsir (Qur'anic exegesis) were progressively neglected or abandoned. In 1788-89, the Alaouite sultan Muhammad ibn Abdallah introduced reforms which regulated the institution's program, but which also imposed stricter limits and excluded logic, philosophy, and the more radical Sufi texts from the curriculum. Other subjects also disappeared over time, such as astronomy and medicine. In 1845 Sultan Abd ar-Rahman carried out further reforms, but it's unclear if this had any significant effect in the long-term. Between 1830 and 1906 the number of faculty decreased from 425 to 266 (of which, among the latter, only 101 were still teaching).:71
By the 19th century, the mosque's library had also suffered from decline and neglect. Over time, a significant portion of its collection was lost, most likely due to laxer supervision and to books not being returned by borrowers.:472 By the beginning of the 20th century, the collection had been reduced to around 1600 manuscripts and 400 printed books, though many valuable historic items were nonetheless retained.
20th century and transformation into state university
At the time Morocco became a French protectorate in 1912, al-Qarawiyyin had witnessed a decline as a religious center of learning from its medieval prime. However, it had retained some significance as an educational venue for the sultan's administration. The student body was rigidly divided along social strata; ethnicity (Arab or Berber), social status, personal wealth and the geographic background (rural or urban) determined the group membership of the students who were segregated on the teaching facility as well as in their personal quarters. The French administration implemented a number of structural reforms between 1914 and 1947, cinluding the institution of calendars, appointment of teachers, salaries, schedules, general administration, and the replacement of the Ijazah with the shahada alamiyha, but did not modernize the contents of teaching likewise which were still dominated by the traditional worldviews of the ulama. At the same time, the student numbers at al-Qarawiyyin dwindled to a total of 300 in 1922 as the Moroccan elite began to send its children instead to the new-found Western-style colleges and institutes elsewhere in the country. In 1931 and 1933, on the orders of Muhammad V, the Qarawiyyin's teaching was reorganized into elementary, secondary, and higher education.
The Qarawiyyin also played a role in the Moroccan nationalist movement and in protests against the French colonial regime. Many Moroccan nationalists had received their education here and some of their informal political networks were established thanks to this shared educational background.:140, 146 In July 1930, the Qarawiyyin participated strongly in the propagation of Ya Latif, a communal prayer recited in times of calamity, to raise awareness and opposition to the Berber Dahir decreed by the French authorities in May of that year.:143–144 In 1937 the mosque was also one of the rallying points (along with the nearby R'cif mosque) for demonstrations in response to a violent crackdown on Moroccan protesters in the nearby city of Meknes, which ended with in French troops being deployed across Fes el-Bali and at the mosques themselves.:387–389:168
In 1947, al-Qarawiyyin was integrated into the state educational system, but it was only by royal decree after independence, in 1963, that the madrasa was finally transformed into a university under the supervision of the ministry of education. Women were first admitted to the university during this time as well (in the 1940's). The old madrasa was shut down and the new campus established at former French Army barracks. While the dean took its seat at Fez, four faculties were founded in and outside the city: a faculty of Islamic law in Fez, a faculty of Arab studies in Marrakech and a faculty of theology in Tétouan, plus one near Agadir in 1979. Modern curricula and textbooks were introduced and the professional training of the teachers improved. Following the reforms, al-Qarawiyyin was officially renamed "University of Al Quaraouiyine" in 1965.
In 1975, the General Studies were transferred to the newly founded Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University; al-Qarawiyyin kept the Islamic and theological courses of studies. In 1973, Abdelhadi Tazi published a three-volume history of the establishment entitled جامع القرويين (The al-Qarawiyyin Mosque).
In 1988, after a hiatus of almost three decades, the teaching of traditional Islamic education at the madrasa of al-Qarawiyyin was resumed by king Hassan II in what has been interpreted as a move to bolster conservative support for the monarchy.
Education and curriculum
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Education at al-Qarawiyyin University concentrates on the Islamic religious and legal sciences with a heavy emphasis on, and particular strengths in, Classical Arabic grammar/linguistics and Maliki law, although a few lessons on other non-Islamic subjects such as French, English are also offered to students. Teaching is delivered in the traditional method, in which students are seated in a semi-circle (halqa) around a sheikh, who prompts them to read sections of a particular text, asks them questions on particular points of grammar, law, or interpretation, and explains difficult points. Students from all over Morocco and Islamic West Africa attend the Qarawiyyin, although a few might come from as far afield as Muslim Central Asia. Even Spanish Muslim converts frequently attend the institution, largely attracted by the fact that the sheikhs of the Qarawiyyin, and Islamic scholarship in Morocco in general, are heirs to the rich religious and scholarly heritage of Muslim al-Andalus.
Most students at the Qarawiyyin range from between the ages of 13 and 30, and study towards high school-level diplomas and university-level bachelor's degrees, although Muslims with a sufficiently high level of Arabic are also able to attend lecture circles on an informal basis, given the traditional category of visitors "in search of [religious and legal] knowledge" ("zuwwaar li'l-talab fii 'ilm"). In addition to being Muslim, prospective students of the Qarawiyyin are required to have memorized the Qur'an in full as well as several other shorter medieval Islamic texts on grammar and Maliki law, and in general to have a very good command of Classical Arabic. It is a common misconception that the university is open only to men; it is open to both men and women. Women were first admitted into the university in the 1940s.
Architectural history of the mosque
Early history (9th-10th centuries)
The mosque was founded in the 9th century but its present form is the result of a long historical evolution over the course of more than 1,000 years. The original building, whose traces are preserved in the layout of the current mosque, occupied much of what is today the central area of the prayer hall, south of the courtyard.:119 It had a rectangular floor plan measuring 36 by 32 metres, covering an area of 1520 square metres, and was composed of a prayer hall with four transverse aisles running roughly east–west, parallel to the southern qibla wall.:135 It probably also had a courtyard of relatively small size, and the first minaret, also of small size, reportedly stood on the location now occupied by the wooden anaza (at the central entrance to the prayer hall from the courtyard). Water for the mosque was initially provided by a well dug within the mosque's precinct.
As the city of Fes grew and as the mosque increased in prestige, the original building was insufficient for its religious and institutional needs. During the 10th century, the Umayyad Caliphate of Cordoba (in Spain/Portugal) and the Fatimid Caliphate (in Tunisia) constantly vied for control over Fes and Morocco, seen as a buffer zone between the two. Despite this uncertain period, the mosque received significant patronage and had its first expansions. The Zenata Berber amir Ahmed ibn Abi Said, one of the rulers of Fes during this period who was aligned with the Umayyads, wrote to the Caliph Abd al-Rahman III in Cordoba for permission and funds to expand the mosque. The caliph approved, and the work was carried out or completed in 956. This work expanded the mosque on three sides, encompassing the area of the present-day courtyard to the north and up to the current eastern and western boundaries of the building. It also replaced the original minaret with a new, larger minaret still standing today. Its overall form, with a square shaft, was indicative of the subsequent development of North African (Maghrebi) and Andalusian minarets. (Similar work was also carried out under Abd al-Rahman III at the same time on the other great mosque of Fes, the Andalusian Mosque.)
The mosque was again embellished when the Amirid ruler al-Muzaffar (son of al-Mansur) led a military expedition to Fes in 998. The embellishments included a new minbar and a new dome topped by talismans in the shape of a rat, a serpent, and a scorpion, but none of these works have survived.
The Almoravid expansion (12th century)
One of the most significant expansions and renovations was carried out between 1135 and 1143 under the patronage of the Almoravid ruler Ali Ibn Yusuf, and the current form of the mosque owes much to this work. The prayer hall was extended by dismantling the existing southern (qibla) wall and adding three more transverse aisles, bringing the number of these from 7 to 10, while essentially replicating the format of the existing arches of the mosque. This expansion required the purchase and demolition of a number of neighbouring houses and structures, including some that were apparently part of the nearby Jewish neighbourhood (before the existence of the later Mellah of Fes). The new expansion of the mosque involved not only a new mihrab (niche symbolizing the direction of prayer) in the middle of the new southern wall, but also the reconstruction or embellishment of the prayer hall's central "nave" (the arches along its central axis, in a line perpendicular to the southern wall and to the other rows of arches) leading from the courtyard to the mihrab. This involved not only embellishing some of the arches with new forms but also adding a series of highly elaborate cupola ceilings composed in muqarnas (honeycomb or stalactite-like) sculpting and further decorated with intricate reliefs of arabesques and Kufic letters. Lastly, a new minbar (pulpit), in similar style and of similar artistic provenance as the famous (and slightly earlier) minbar of the Koutoubia Mosque, was completed and installed in 1144. Made of wood in an elaborate work of marquetry, decorated with inlaid materials and intricately carved arabesque reliefs, it marked another highly accomplished work in a style that was emulated for later Moroccan minbars
Elsewhere, many of the mosque's main entrances were given doors made of wood overlaid with ornate bronze fittings, which today count among the oldest surviving bronze artworks in Moroccan/Andalusian architecture. Another interesting element added to the mosque was a small secondary oratory, known as the Jama' al-Gnaiz ("Funeral Mosque" or "Mosque of the Dead"), which was separated from the main prayer hall and dedicated to providing funerary rites for the deceased before their burial. This annex is also decorated with a muqarnas cupola and a number of ornate archways and windows.
Embellishment under subsequent dynasties (later 12th century and after)
Later dynasties continued to embellish the mosque or gift it with new furnishings, though no works as radical as the Almoravid expansion were undertaken again. The Almohads (later 12th century and 13th century) conquered Fes after a long siege in 1145–1146. Historical sources (particularly the Rawd al-Qirtas) report a story claiming that the inhabitants of Fes, fearful that the "puritan" Almohads would resent the lavish decoration placed inside the mosque, hurriedly covered up some of the most ornate carvings and decorations from Ali ibn Yusuf's expansion near the mihrab.:25–26 Although French scholar Henri Terrasse suggests this operation may have been carried out a few years later by the Almohad authorities themselves. The Almoravid ornamentation was only fully uncovered again during renovations in the early 20th century.
However, under the reign of Muhammad al-Nasir (ruled 1199-1213) the Almohads did add or upgrade a number of elements in the mosque, some of which were nonetheless marked with strong decorative flourishes. The ablutions facilities in the courtyard were upgraded, a separate mida'a (Arabic: ميضأة) or ablutions room was added to the north (of which only the rough layout has survived today), and a new underground storage room was created. They also replaced the mosque's grand chandelier with a new and more ornate one in bronze, which Henri Terrasse described as "the largest and most beautiful chandelier in the Islamic world," and which hangs in the central nave of the mosque today.
The Marinids, who were responsible for building many of the lavish madrasas around Fes, made various contributions to the mosque. In 1286 they restored and protected the 10th-century minaret, which had been made from poor-quality stone that was deteriorating, by covering it with whitewash. At its southern foot they also built the Dar al-Muwaqqit, a chamber for the timekeeper of the mosque who was responsible for determining the precise times of prayer. The chamber was equipped with astrolabes and other scientific equipment of the era in order to aid in this task. Notably, a number of water clocks were built for it, the last of which, built on the orders of Sultan Abu Salim Ali II (ruled 1359-1361), is still partly preserved today. The galleries around the nearby courtyard (sahn) were also rebuilt or repaired in 1283 and 1296–97, while at the entrance from the courtyard to the prayer hall (leading to the central nave of the mihrab), a decorative wooden screen, called the anaza, was installed in 1289 and acted as a symbolic "outdoor" or "summer" mihrab for prayers in the courtyard. At the central outer entrance to the courtyard from the north, the gate called Bab al-Ward ("Gate of the Rose"), a decorative cupola and dome was installed over its vestibule in 1337, still visible today (with minor restorations). A number of ornate metal chandeliers hanging in the mosque's prayer hall also date from the Marinid era. Three of them were made from church bells which Marinid craftsmen used as a base onto which they grafted ornate copper fittings. The largest of them, installed in the mosque in 1337, was a bell brought back from Gibraltar by the son of Sultan Abu al-Hasan, Abu Malik, after its reconquest from Spanish forces in 1333.
Lastly, the mosque's library was officially founded by Sultan Abu Inan in 1349 (750 AH), as dated by an inscription over its doorway.:64 This first Marinid library was located at the mosque's northeastern corner (as opposed to the library's current southern location). In 1361, Sultan Abu Salim added to it a room which was built above and over the adjacent street and which was dedicated to readings of the Qur'an.:64
Saadian and Alaouite period
The Saadians further embellished the mosque by adding two prominent pavilions to the western and eastern ends of the courtyard, each of which sheltered a new fountain. The famous Saadian sultan Ahmad al-Mansur was responsible for building the first pavilion to the east in 1587–88, while the western pavilion was added under his son, Muhammad al-Sheikh al-Ma'mun in 1609. The pavilions emulate those found in the Court of Lions of the Alhambra palaces (in Granada, Spain). This was the last major addition to the mosque's architecture. The Saadian sultan Ahmad al-Mansur also built a new room for the library on the south side of the mosque (around the library's current location), which was connected to the mosque via a door in the qibla wall. The Alaouite dynasty, which has ruled Morocco from the 17th century onward, continued to effect minor additions and regular maintenance on the mosque, including another ribbed cupola in the central nave. The present library building, continuously updated, now dates mainly from a major expansion and modification in the 20th century, particularly in the 1940s.:174
Architectural description of the mosque
Successive dynasties expanded the Qarawiyyin mosque until it became the largest in Africa, with a capacity of 22,000 worshipers. The present-day mosque thus covers an extensive area of about half an hectare.:136 Broadly speaking, it consists of a large hypostyle interior space for prayers, a courtyard (sahn) with fountains, a minaret (at the courtyard's western end), and a number of annexes in addition to the main mosque itself.
The Qarawiyyin's exterior does not generally present a monumental appearance and is integrated with the dense urban fabric around it. By one count there are 18 separate gates and entrances distributed around its perimeter. The gates vary from small rectangular doorways to enormous horseshoe arches with huge doors preceded by wooden roofs covering the street in front of them. While the doors are generally made of wood, some of the gates have extensive ornate bronze overlays crafted during the Almoravid period. The most ornate and best-preserved examples include the doors of the principal northern gate, Bab al-Ward (which opens onto the courtyard), the western gate called Bab Sbitriyyin (whose current doors, however, are replicas replacing the originals now kept by the Dar Batha Museum), and the southwestern gate Bab al-Gna'iz which leads to the Jama' al-Gna'iz or Funeral Mosque. The much more monumental northwestern gates of the mosque, Bab al-Shama'in (or Bab Chemaine) and Bab al-Maqsura, also have heavy bronze fittings, including some ornate knockers, which date from the Almoravid period.
Adjacent to Bab al-Ward, on its west side, is another doorway, Bab al-Hafa ("Gate of the Barefooted"), from the Almohad era, which is distinguished by a small water channel across the floor just inside it. This water allowed for worshipers entering the mosque to wash their feet on the way in, helping with initial ablutions.
Also next to the mosque is a tower known as the Borj Neffara (برج النفارة , "Tower of the Trumpeters"), an observation tower that is sometimes confused as a minaret but was actually part of another Dar al-Muwaqqit (timekeeper's house).:150
The prayer hall (interior)
The interior hypostyle prayer hall takes up most of the mosque's area. Like the interior of most traditional mosques in Moroccan architecture, it is a relatively austere space, with mostly plain walls, wooden roofs, and rows upon rows of arches. The main area, south of the courtyard, is a vast space divided into ten transverse aisles by rows of arches running parallel to the southern wall. The southern wall of this hall also marks the qibla or direction of prayer for Muslim worshipers. The central axis of the prayer hall, perpendicular to the qibla wall, is marked by a central "nave" running between two extra lines of arches along this axis, perpendicular to the other arches. This nave leads towards the mihrab: a niche in the qibla wall which symbolizes the direction of prayer, and in front of which the imam usually leads prayers and delivers sermons. This overall layout (a hypostyle hall with a central nave emphasized against the others) is a familiar layout for North African mosques generally.
The mihrab area, which dates from the Almoravid (12th-century) expansion, is decorated with carved and painted stucco, as well as several windows of coloured glass. The mihrab niche itself is a small alcove which is covered by a small dome of muqarnas (stalactite or honeycomb-like sculpting). The central nave that runs along the axis of the mihrab is distinguished from the rest of the mosque by a number of architectural embellishments. The arches that run along it are of varying shapes, including both horseshoe arches and multi-lobed arches. Instead of the plain timber ceilings, most sections of the nave are covered by a series of intricate muqarnas ceilings and cupolas, each slightly different from the other, as well as two "ribbed" dome cupolas (similar to the domes of the Great Mosque of Cordoba and Cristo de la Luz Mosque in Toledo) dating from the Almoravid and Alaouite periods. Many of the muqarnas compositions are further decorated with intricate reliefs of arabesques and Arabic inscriptions in both Kufic and cursive letters. Additionally, there are several elaborately carved bronze chandeliers hanging in the nave which were gifted to the mosque during the Almohad and Marinid eras; at least three of which were made from bells (probably church bells) brought back from victories in Spain.
To the right of the mihrab is the minbar (pulpit) of the mosque, which could also be stored in a small room behind a door in the qibla wall here. The minbar is most likely of similar origins as the famous Almoravid minbar of the Koutoubia Mosque, made by a workshop in Cordoba not long after the latter and installed in the Qarawiyyin Mosque in 1144 (at the end of the Almoravid works on the mosque). It is another exceptional work of marquetry and woodcarving, decorated with geometric compositions, inlaid materials, and arabesque reliefs.
Aside from the embellishments of the central nave, the rest of the mosque is architecturally quite uniform, but there are some minor irregularities in the floor plan. For example, the arches in the western half of the prayer hall are shorter than those of the eastern half, and some of the transverse aisles are slightly wider than others. These anomalies have not been fully explained but they appear to have been present since the early centuries of the mosque; they may be due to early reconstructions or alterations which have gone unrecorded in historical chronicles.
The courtyard (sahn) is rectangular, surrounded by the prayer hall on three sides and by a gallery to the north. The floor is paved with typical Moroccan mosaic tiles (zellij) and at the center is a fountain. From outside the mosque, the courtyard is accessed by the main northern gate, called Bab al-Ward, whose vestibule is covered by a Marinid-era white dome which is fluted on the outside and covered in painted and carved stucco on the inside. Opposite this gate, situated on the mihrab axis, is the central entrance to the interior prayer hall, guarded by a carved and painted wooden screen called the anaza which also acted as a symbolic "outdoor" or "summer" mihrab for prayers taking place in the courtyard. (These features are visible to visitors standing outside the gate.) Both this entrance to the prayer hall and the outer gate across from it have facades decorated with carved and painted stucco.
At the western and eastern ends of the courtyard stand two ornate Saadian pavilions each sheltering another fountain. The pavilions have pyramidal domes and emulate the pavilions in the Court of Lions in the Alhambra (Spain). They are decorated with carved wood and stucco, mosaic-tiled walls, and marble columns. Behind these pavilions are extensions of the main prayer hall divided into four naves by rows of arches. The gallery and arched hall on the northeastern sides of the courtyard are a prayer space reserved for women.
The minaret was constructed in the 10th century by the Umayyad caliph of Cordoba, and overlooks the courtyard from the west. It was constructed in local limestone of relatively poor quality and was covered in whitewash by the Marinids in the 13th century in order to protect it from deterioration. It has a square shaft and is topped by a dome, as well as a parapet from which the muezzin historically issued the call to prayer (adhan). The full structure is 26.75 meters tall. One curious feature of the minaret is the lower window on its southern facade, which is shaped like a "triple" horseshoe arch, elongated vertically, which is unique to this structure. On the minaret's southern side, just above the gallery of the courtyard, is a room known as the Dar al-Muwaqqit, devoted to determining the times of prayer in a precise manner.
The funerary annex (Jama' al-Gnaiz)
A number of annexes are attached around the mosque, serving various functions. The northwestern edge of the building is occupied by latrines. Behind the southern qibla wall, to the west of the mihrab axis, is an area known as the Jama' al-Gnaiz ("Funeral Mosque", or sometimes translated as "Mosque of the Dead"), which served as a separate oratory reserved for funerary rites. This type of facility was not particularly common in the Islamic world but there are several examples in Fez, including at the Chrabliyine and Bab Guissa Mosques. It was kept separate from the main mosque in order to preserve the purity of the latter as a regular prayer space, which in principle could be soiled by the presence of a dead body. This oratory dates back to the Almoravid period and also features embellishments such as a muqarnas cupola and a number of ornate archways in varying forms.
Also behind the southern wall of the mosque, but to the east of the mihrab axis, is the historic library of the mosque and university. It is sometimes cited as the world's oldest library that has remained open to the present day.:147 (Though the library of Saint Catherine's Monastery in Egypt is also claimed to be older.) The first purpose-built library structure was added to the mosque by the Marinid sultan Abu Inan Faris in 1349 CE, though it was located at the mosque's northeastern corner instead of to the south. This first structure still exists today, embedded near the women's section of the mosque, and consists of a square chamber measuring 5.4 meters per side. Its entrance is covered by a wooden screen from the Marinid period which features an inscription carved in cursive Arabic above the doorway recording Abu Inan's foundation of the library.:64
The current library building dates in part from a Saadian construction by Ahmad al-Mansur (late 16th century), who built a chamber called al-Ahmadiyya just behind the qibla wall. Most of the building, however, now dates from a major 20th-century expansion commissioned by King Mohammed V which started in 1940. This expansion included the current grand reading room, which measures 23 metres long and features an ornately-painted wooden ceiling, and also added an entrance outside the mosque which made it accessible to non-Muslims. This new library expansion was inaugurated in 1949. The library complex underwent another major restoration in recent years led by Aziza Chaouni and was set to reopen in 2016 or 2017.
Status as world's oldest university
Some sources, most notably UNESCO, consider the Qarawiyyin to be the "oldest university in the world". By comparison, UNESCO describes the University of Bologna (founded in 1088 and usually recognized as the oldest medieval European university) as the "oldest university of the Western world". (Italy's recent nomination of historic Bologna to UNESCO World Heritage status nonetheless refers to its university as the oldest in the world.) Various historians and scholars also refer to the Qarawiyyin as the world's oldest existing university.:137 The claim is also published by Guinness World Records under its entry for "Oldest higher-learning institution, oldest university", where it describes the Qarawiyyin as the "oldest existing, and continually operating educational institution in the world" while the University of Bologna is described as the "oldest one in Europe". In a similar vein, the Encyclopædia Britannica dates the Qarawiyyin University's foundation to the mosque's foundation in 859 and generally considers that "universities" existed outside Europe before the advent of the European university model. Other sources also refer to the historical or pre-modern Qarawiyyin as a "university" or an "Islamic university".
Many scholars, however, consider the term "university" (from Latin universitas) to be applicable only to the educational institutions that initially took form in medieval Christian Europe, arguing that the first universities were located in Western Europe with those of Paris and Bologna often cited as the earliest examples. The modern Western university model is thus widely argued to descend from this European tradition, even if other models of higher education existed in other parts of the world. Accordingly, some scholars consider that al-Qarawiyyin operated essentially as an Islamic madrasa (Arabic: مدرسة) until after World War II. Jacques Verger says that while the term 'university' is occasionally applied by scholars to madrasas and other pre-modern higher learning institutions out of convenience, the European university marked a major disruption between earlier institutions of higher learning and were the earliest true modern university. Many scholars likewise consider that the University was only adopted outside the West, including into the Islamic world, in the course of modernization programs or under European colonial regimes since the beginning of the 19th century. Organization at the pre-modern al-Qarawiyyin differed from both that of European universities and that of other Muslim institutions at Al-Azhar (in Cairo) and Al-Zaytouna (in Tunis) in that there was no defined scholastic year, registration was not imposed, duration of the studies were not fixed, and there was no examination to ratify studies. (Although students were expected to attend courses for a minimum of five years and would receive a certificate called a ijazah if they were proven to have reached a high level of expertise.:457) These scholars therefore date al-Qarawiyyin's transformation into a university to its modern reorganization in 1963. In the wake of these reforms, al-Qarawiyyin was officially renamed "University of Al Quaraouiyine" two years later.
Among opposing views, Yahya Pallavicini claims that the university model did not spread in Europe until the 12th century and that it was found throughout the Muslim world from the founding of al-Qarawiyyin in the 9th century until at least European colonialism. As mentioned above, the Encyclopædia Britannica states that universities had existed in parts of Asia and Africa prior to the founding of the first medieval European universities, but it does not suggest that the latter were descended from Islamic universities. Some scholars, noting certain parallels between such madrasas and European medieval universities, have proposed that the latter may have been influenced by the madrasas of the Muslim world, in particular via Islamic Spain and the Emirate of Sicily. Other scholars have questioned this, citing the lack of evidence for an actual transmission from the Islamic world to Christian Europe and highlighting the differences in the structure, methodologies, procedures, curricula and legal status of the "Islamic college" (madrasa) versus the European university.
The earliest date of formal teaching at al-Qarawiyyin is also uncertain. The most relevant major historical texts like the Rawd al-Qirtas and the Zahrat al-As do not provide any clear details on the history of teaching at the mosque.:453 In the Rawd al-Qirtas, Ibn Abi Zar mentions the mosque but not its educational function. Al-Jazna'i, the 14th-century author of the Zahrat al-As, mentions that teaching had taken place there well before his time, but with no other details.:175 Otherwise, the earliest mentions of halaqat (circles) for learning and teaching may not have been until the 10th or the 12th Century. Moroccan historian Mohammed Al-Manouni believes that it was during the reign of the Almoravids (1040–1147) that the mosque acquired its function as a teaching institution. French historian Évariste Lévi-Provençal dates the beginning of the madrasa and teaching to the later Marinid period (1244–1465). Another Moroccan historian, Abdelhadi Tazi, indicated the earliest evidence of teaching at al-Qarawiyyin in 1121. Upon reviewing the evidence in Abdelhadi Tazi's work, Abdul Latif Tibawi states that:
This is considerably later than the beginning of instruction at the al-Azhar under the Fatimids. So it is very difficult to sustain the claim that the University of Qarawiyyin is the "oldest university", and not only in the Muslim world! The mosque school or college did not assume the name of university until 1960 when in a ceremony Muhammad V invested it with that dignified title.
A number of well-known philosophers, scholars, and politicians in the history of Morocco and the western Mediterranean have either studied or taught at the Qarawiyyin since its founding. The most notable persons are listed here.
List of alumni:
- Gerbert of Aurillac (946–1003), scholar and the later Pope Sylvester II (though his travels to Fez and attendance at the Qarawiyyin is considered a legend by other scholars)
- Muhammad al-Idrisi (1100–1165), geographer
- Maimonides (1135/1138–1204), Jewish philosopher
- Ibn Arabi (1165–1240), Sufi philosopher
- Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406), historian and philosopher
- Nicolas Cleynaerts (1495–1542), Flemish grammarian and traveler
- Leo Africanus (1494–1554), author
- Imam al-Bannani (1727–1780), faqīh (Muslim jurist)
- Ahmad ibn Idris (1760–1837), Moroccan Sufi scholar
- Muhammad al-Kattani (1873–1909), writer and political leader
- Abd el-Krim el-Khattabi (1882–1963), Morocan political and military leader
- Allal al-Fassi (1910–1974), Moroccan politician
- Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din al-Hilali (1893–1987), translator
- Abdullah al-Ghumari (1910–1993), faqīh (Muslim jurist)
- Fatima al-Kabbaj (1932–), Member of High Council of Knowledge (Islamic council) Notably, one of the first few women to be admitted.
- Dar al-Muwaqqit (the "timekeeper's house" in Moroccan mosques)
- Borj Neffara (observation tower next to the mosque)
- List of universities in Morocco
- Education in Morocco
- History of Medieval Arabic and Western European domes
References and notes
- Lulat, Y. G.-M.: A History Of African Higher Education From Antiquity To The Present: A Critical Synthesis, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005, ISBN 978-0-313-32061-3, pp. 154–157
- Park, Thomas K.; Boum, Aomar: Historical Dictionary of Morocco, 2nd ed., Scarecrow Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-8108-5341-6, p. 348
al-qarawiyin is the oldest university in Morocco. It was founded as a mosque in Fès in the middle of the ninth century. It has been a destination for students and scholars of Islamic sciences and Arabic studies throughout the history of Morocco. There were also other religious schools like the madras of ibn yusuf and other schools in the sus. This system of basic education called al-ta'lim al-aSil was funded by the sultans of Morocco and many famous traditional families. After independence, al-qarawiyin maintained its reputation, but it seemed important to transform it into a university that would prepare graduates for a modern country while maintaining an emphasis on Islamic studies. Hence, al-qarawiyin university was founded in February 1963 and, while the dean's residence was kept in Fès, the new university initially had four colleges located in major regions of the country known for their religious influences and madrasas. These colleges were kuliyat al-shari's in Fès, kuliyat uSul al-din in Tétouan, kuliyat al-lugha al-'arabiya in Marrakech (all founded in 1963), and kuliyat al-shari'a in Ait Melloul near Agadir, which was founded in 1979.
- Belhachmi, Zakia: "Gender, Education, and Feminist Knowledge in al-Maghrib (North Africa) – 1950–70", Journal of Middle Eastern and North African Intellectual and Cultural Studies, Vol. 2–3, 2003, pp. 55–82 (65):
The Adjustments of Original Institutions of the Higher Learning: the Madrasah. Significantly, the institutional adjustments of the madrasahs affected both the structure and the content of these institutions. In terms of structure, the adjustments were twofold: the reorganization of the available original madaris and the creation of new institutions. This resulted in two different types of Islamic teaching institutions in al-Maghrib. The first type was derived from the fusion of old madaris with new universities. For example, Morocco transformed Al-Qarawiyin (859 A.D.) into a university under the supervision of the ministry of education in 1963.
- Petersen, Andrew: Dictionary of Islamic Architecture, Routledge, 1996, ISBN 978-0-415-06084-4, p. 87 (entry "Fez"):
The Quaraouiyine Mosque, founded in 859, is the most famous mosque of Morocco and attracted continuous investment by Muslim rulers.
- Terrasse, Henri (1968). La Mosquée al-Qaraouiyin à Fès; avec une étude de Gaston Deverdun sur les inscriptions historiques de la mosquée. Paris: Librairie C. Klincksieck.
- 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 Quaraouiyine, though many of the texts used at the institution came from Muslim Spain...Al Quaraouiyine 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.
- Shillington, Kevin: Encyclopedia of African History, Vol. 2, Fitzroy Dearborn, 2005, ISBN 978-1-57958-245-6, p. 1025:
They consider institutions like al-Qarawiyyin to be higher education colleges of Islamic law where other subjects were only of secondary importance.
Higher education has always been an integral part of Morocco, going back to the ninth century when the Karaouine Mosque was established. The madrasa, known today as Al Qayrawaniyan University, became part of the state university system in 1947.
- Pedersen, J.; Rahman, Munibur; Hillenbrand, R.: "Madrasa", in Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd edition, Brill, 2010:
Madrasa, in modern usage, the name of an institution of learning where the Islamic sciences are taught, i.e. a college for higher studies, as opposed to an elementary school of traditional type (kuttab); in mediaeval usage, essentially a college of law in which the other Islamic sciences, including literary and philosophical ones, were ancillary subjects only.
- Meri, Josef W. (ed.): Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, A–K, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-96691-7, p. 457 (entry "madrasa"):
A madrasa is a college of Islamic law. The madrasa was an educational institution in which Islamic law (fiqh) was taught according to one or more Sunni rites: Maliki, Shafi'i, Hanafi, or Hanbali. It was supported by an endowment or charitable trust (waqf) that provided for at least one chair for one professor of law, income for other faculty or staff, scholarships for students, and funds for the maintenance of the building. Madrasas contained lodgings for the professor and some of his students. Subjects other than law were frequently taught in madrasas, and even Sufi seances were held in them, but there could be no madrasa without law as technically the major subject.
- Tibawi, A. L. (1980). "Review of Jami' al-Qarawiyyin: al-Masjid wa'l-Jami'ah bi Madinat Fas (Mausu'ah li-Tarikhiha al-Mi'mari wa'l-Fikri). Al Qaraouiyyine: la Mosquée-Université de Fès (histoire architecturale et intellectuelle)". Arab Studies Quarterly. 2 (3): 286–288. ISSN 0271-3519. JSTOR 41859050.
there is very little to distinguish it from other institutions that go under the general description of madrasa
- Sabki, A'ishah Ahmad; Hardaker, Glenn (1 August 2013). "The madrasah concept of Islamic pedagogy". Educational Review. 65 (3): 343. doi:10.1080/00131911.2012.668873. ISSN 0013-1911. S2CID 144718475.
Traditionalist curriculum is conventionally focused and is naturally open to diverse influences that also represent a traditional Islamic way (Nadwi 2007). For example many madrasah teachers are versed in Islamic pedagogy but also in modern university pedagogic developments such as behaviourist, cognitivist and the more recent constructivist styles. Al-Qarawiyyin University, in Morocco, represents such an institution that is grounded in a traditional madrasah education but for example continues to adopt ancillary subjects and modern technologies such as mobile learning.
- Makdisi, George: "Madrasa and University in the Middle Ages", Studia Islamica, No. 32 (1970), pp. 255–264 (255f.):
In studying an institution which is foreign and remote in point of time, as is the case of the medieval madrasa, one runs the double risk of attributing to it characteristics borrowed from one's own institutions and one's own times. Thus gratuitous transfers may be made from one culture to the other, and the time factor may be ignored or dismissed as being without significance. One cannot therefore be too careful in attempting a comparative study of these two institutions: the madrasa and the university. But in spite of the pitfalls inherent in such a study, albeit sketchy, the results which may be obtained are well worth the risks involved. In any case, one cannot avoid making comparisons when certain unwarranted statements have already been made and seem to be currently accepted without question. The most unwarranted of these statements is the one which makes of the "madrasa" a "university".
- Verger, Jacques: "Patterns", in: Ridder-Symoens, Hilde de (ed.): A History of the University in Europe. Vol. I: Universities in the Middle Ages, Cambridge University Press, 2003, ISBN 978-0-521-54113-8, pp. 35–76 (35):
No one today would dispute the fact that universities, in the sense in which the term is now generally understood, were a creation of the Middle Ages, appearing for the first time between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. It is no doubt true that other civilizations, prior to, or wholly alien to, the medieval West, such as the Roman Empire, Byzantium, Islam, or China, were familiar with forms of higher education which a number of historians, for the sake of convenience, have sometimes described as universities.Yet a closer look makes it plain that the institutional reality was altogether different and, no matter what has been said on the subject, there is no real link such as would justify us in associating them with medieval universities in the West. Until there is definite proof to the contrary, these latter must be regarded as the sole source of the model which gradually spread through the whole of Europe and then to the whole world. We are therefore concerned with what is indisputably an original institution, which can only be defined in terms of a historical analysis of its emergence and its mode of operation in concrete circumstances.
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The Muslim community maintained, favoured, and organized the institutions for higher education that became the new centres for the diffusion of Islamic knowledge. These centres were places where teachers and students of that time would meet and also where all intellectuals would gather and take part in extremely important scientific debates. It is not a coincidence that around the 9th century the first university in the world, the Qarawiyyin University in Fez, was established in the Muslim world followed by az-Zaytuna in Tunis and Al-Azhar in Cairo. The university model, that in the West was widespread starting only from the 12th century, had an extraordinary fortune and was spread throughout the Muslim world at least until the colonial period.
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Thus the university, as a form of social organization, was peculiar to medieval Europe. Later, it was exported to all parts of the world, including the Muslim East; and it has remained with us down to the present day. But back in the Middle Ages, outside of Europe, there was nothing anything quite like it anywhere.
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The university is a European institution; indeed, it is the European institution par excellence. There are various reasons for this assertion. As a community of teachers and taught, accorded certain rights, such as administrative autonomy and the determination and realization of curricula (courses of study) and of the objectives of research as well as the award of publicly recognized degrees, it is a creation of medieval Europe, which was the Europe of papal Christianity...
No other European institution has spread over the entire world in the way in which the traditional form of the European university has done. The degrees awarded by European universities – the bachelor's degree, the licentiate, the master's degree, and the doctorate – have been adopted in the most diverse societies throughout the world. The four medieval faculties of artes – variously called philosophy, letters, arts, arts and sciences, and humanities –, law, medicine, and theology have survived and have been supplemented by numerous disciplines, particularly the social sciences and technological studies, but they remain nonetheless at the heart of universities throughout the world.
Even the name of the universitas, which in the Middle Ages was applied to corporate bodies of the most diverse sorts and was accordingly applied to the corporate organization of teachers and students, has in the course of centuries been given a more particular focus: the university, as a universitas litterarum, has since the eighteenth century been the intellectual institution which cultivates and transmits the entire corpus of methodically studied intellectual disciplines.
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In many respects, if there is any institution that Europe can most justifiably claim as one of its inventions, it is the university. As proof thereof and without wishing here to recount the whole history of the birth of universities, it will suffice to describe briefly how the invention of universities took the form of a polycentric process of specifically European origin.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Al-Qarawiyyin.|
- ISESCO: Fez 2007 
- UNIVERSITE QUARAOUIYINE - Fes (French)
- Al Qaraouiyine Rehabilitation at ArchNet (includes pictures of the interior, the minbar, and other architectural elements)
- The minbar of the al-Qarawīyīn Mosque at Qantara-Med (includes pictures of the minbar and the mihrab area)