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University of Al Karaouine

University of Al Karaouine

Overview
The University of Al-Karaouine or Al-Qarawiyyin (other transliterations of the name include Qarawiyin, Kairouyine, Kairaouine, Qairawiyin, Qaraouyine, Quaraouiyine, Quarawin, and Qaraouiyn) is a university
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 located in Fes
Fes
Fes or Fez is the second largest city of Morocco, after Casablanca, with a population of approximately 1 million . It is the capital of the Fès-Boulemane region....

, Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

 which was established in 1947. Its origins date back to 859, when it was founded as a mosque school or madrasa. The madrasa has been (and still is) one of the leading spiritual and educational centers of the Muslim world
Muslim world
The term Muslim world has several meanings. In a religious sense, it refers to those who adhere to the teachings of Islam, referred to as Muslims. In a cultural sense, it refers to Islamic civilization, inclusive of non-Muslims living in that civilization...

.

The Al-Karaouine madrasa played a leading role in the cultural and academic relations between the Islamic world and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 in the middle ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

.
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Encyclopedia
The University of Al-Karaouine or Al-Qarawiyyin (other transliterations of the name include Qarawiyin, Kairouyine, Kairaouine, Qairawiyin, Qaraouyine, Quaraouiyine, Quarawin, and Qaraouiyn) is a university
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 located in Fes
Fes
Fes or Fez is the second largest city of Morocco, after Casablanca, with a population of approximately 1 million . It is the capital of the Fès-Boulemane region....

, Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

 which was established in 1947. Its origins date back to 859, when it was founded as a mosque school or madrasa. The madrasa has been (and still is) one of the leading spiritual and educational centers of the Muslim world
Muslim world
The term Muslim world has several meanings. In a religious sense, it refers to those who adhere to the teachings of Islam, referred to as Muslims. In a cultural sense, it refers to Islamic civilization, inclusive of non-Muslims living in that civilization...

.

The Al-Karaouine madrasa played a leading role in the cultural and academic relations between the Islamic world and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 in the middle ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

. The cartographer Mohammed al-Idrisi (d. 1166), whose maps aided European exploration
Age of Discovery
The Age of Discovery, also known as the Age of Exploration and the Great Navigations , was a period in history starting in the early 15th century and continuing into the early 17th century during which Europeans engaged in intensive exploration of the world, establishing direct contacts with...

 in the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 is said to have lived in Fes for some time, suggesting that he may have worked or studied at Al Karaouine. The Madrasa has produced numerous scholars who have strongly influenced the intellectual and academic history of the Muslim and Jewish worlds. Among these are Ibn Rushayd al-Sabti (d. 1321), Mohammed Ibn al-Hajj al-Abdari al-Fasi (d. 1336), Abu Imran al-Fasi
Abu Imran al-Fasi
Abu Imran Yaqub al-Fasi was a Moroccan, Maliki writer born in Fes to a Zenata Berber family.He is regarded a saint by later Sufi mystics. He played an important role in the history of the Almoravid dynasty. It was his teaching in Qayrawan that first stirred the Sanhaja. He wrote a commentary on...

 (d. 1015), a leading theorist of the Maliki
Maliki
The ' madhhab is one of the schools of Fiqh or religious law within Sunni Islam. It is the second-largest of the four schools, followed by approximately 25% of Muslims, mostly in North Africa, West Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and in some parts of Saudi Arabia...

 school of Islamic jurisprudence, Leo Africanus
Leo Africanus
Joannes Leo Africanus, was a Moorish diplomat and author who is best known for his book Descrittione dell’Africa describing the geography of North Africa.-Biography:Most of what is known about his life is gathered from autobiographical...

, a renowned traveler and writer, and Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

.

The Al Karaouine institution is considered by the Guinness book the oldest continuously operating academic degree
Academic degree
An academic degree is a position and title within a college or university that is usually awarded in recognition of the recipient having either satisfactorily completed a prescribed course of study or having conducted a scholarly endeavour deemed worthy of his or her admission to the degree...

-granting university
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 in the world. However, this claim on precedence appears to confound the distinct nature of madrasas and medieval universities which followed very different historical trajectories until the former were expanded to the later in modern times
Modern history
Modern history, or the modern era, describes the historical timeline after the Middle Ages. Modern history can be further broken down into the early modern period and the late modern period after the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution...

, and fails to take into account that the Islamic Ijazah
Ijazah
An ijazah is a certificate used primarily by Sunni Muslims to indicate that one has been authorized by a higher authority to transmit a certain subject or text of Islamic knowledge...

 certificate deviated in concept and procedure from the medieval doctorate
Doctorate
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

 out of which modern university degrees
Academic degree
An academic degree is a position and title within a college or university that is usually awarded in recognition of the recipient having either satisfactorily completed a prescribed course of study or having conducted a scholarly endeavour deemed worthy of his or her admission to the degree...

 evolved. In 1947, it was reorganized to become a university.. Before it was known simply as "Al-Qarawiyin".

Madrasa


The Al-Karaouine madrasa is part of a mosque
Mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...

, founded in 859 by Fatima al-Fihri
Fatima al-fihri
Fatima al-Fihri was the daughter of Mohammed al-Fihri, with whom she migrated to Fes, Morocco from Qairawan, located in present-day Tunisia and came earlier from west Arabia of Fihrids family origin...

, the daughter of a wealthy merchant named Mohammed Al-Fihri. The Al-Fihri family had migrated from Kairouan
Kairouan
Kairouan , also known as Kirwan or al-Qayrawan , is the capital of the Kairouan Governorate in Tunisia. Referred to as the Islamic Cultural Capital, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city was founded by the Arabs around 670...

 (hence the name of the madrasa), Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

 to Fes
Fes
Fes or Fez is the second largest city of Morocco, after Casablanca, with a population of approximately 1 million . It is the capital of the Fès-Boulemane region....

 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
Mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...

 suitable for her community.

In addition to a place for worship
Worship
Worship is an act of religious devotion usually directed towards a deity. The word is derived from the Old English worthscipe, meaning worthiness or worth-ship — to give, at its simplest, worth to something, for example, Christian worship.Evelyn Underhill defines worship thus: "The absolute...

, the mosque soon developed into a place for religious instruction and political discussion, gradually extending its education to a broad range of subjects, particularly the natural sciences. In 1957, King Mohammed V
Mohammed V of Morocco
Mohammed V was Sultan of Morocco from 1927–53, exiled from 1953–55, where he was again recognized as Sultan upon his return, and King from 1957 to 1961. His full name was Sidi Mohammed ben Yusef, or Son of Yusef, upon whose death he succeeded to the throne...

 introduced mathematics, physics, chemistry and foreign languages.

History


The madrasa gained the patronage of politically powerful sultan
Sultan
Sultan is a title with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic language abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", and "dictatorship", derived from the masdar سلطة , meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who...

s. It compiled a large selection of manuscripts that were kept at a library founded by the Marinid
Marinid
The Marinid dynasty or Benemerine dynasty was a Zenata Berber dynasty of Morocco. The Marinid dynasty overtook the Almohads in controlling Morocco in 1244. They controlled most of the Maghreb from the mid-14th century to the 15th century and supported the Kingdom of Granada in Al-Andalus in the...

 Sultan Abu Inan Faris
Abu Inan Faris
Abu Inan Faris was a Marinid ruler. He succeeded his father Abu al-Hasan ibn Uthman as sultan of Morocco in 1348. He died strangled by his vizier in 1358.- History :...

 in 1349. Among the most precious manuscripts currently housed in the madrasa library are volumes from the famous Al-Muwatta of Malik
Malik ibn Anas
Mālik ibn Anas ibn Mālik ibn Abī 'Āmir al-Asbahī is known as "Imam Malik," the "Sheikh of Islam", the "Proof of the Community," and "Imam of the Abode of Emigration." He was one of the most highly respected scholars of fiqh in Sunni Islam...

 written on gazelle parchment
Parchment
Parchment is a thin material made from calfskin, sheepskin or goatskin, often split. Its most common use was as a material for writing on, for documents, notes, or the pages of a book, codex or manuscript. It is distinct from leather in that parchment is limed but not tanned; therefore, it is very...

, the Sirat Ibn Ishaq, a copy of the Qur'an given to the madrasa by Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur in 1602, and the original copy of Ibn Khaldun
Ibn Khaldun
Ibn Khaldūn or Ibn Khaldoun was an Arab Tunisian historiographer and historian who is often viewed as one of the forerunners of modern historiography, sociology and economics...

's book Al-'Ibar. Among the subjects taught, alongside the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 and Fiqh
Fiqh
Fiqh is Islamic jurisprudence. Fiqh is an expansion of the code of conduct expounded in the Quran, often supplemented by tradition and implemented by the rulings and interpretations of Islamic jurists....

 (Islamic jurisprudence), are grammar
Grammar
In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules that govern the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented by phonetics, semantics,...

, rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

, logic
Logic
In philosophy, Logic is the formal systematic study of the principles of valid inference and correct reasoning. Logic is used in most intellectual activities, but is studied primarily in the disciplines of philosophy, mathematics, semantics, and computer science...

, medicine
Medicine
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

, mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

, astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

, chemistry
Chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

, history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

, geography
Geography
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...

 and music
Music
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

.

Al-Karaouine played, in medieval times, a leading role in the cultural exchange and transfer of knowledge between Muslims and Europeans. Pioneer scholars such as Ibn Maimun (Maimonides
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

), (1135–1204), Al-Idrissi (d.1166 AD), Ibn al-Arabi (1165-1240 AD), Ibn Khaldun
Ibn Khaldun
Ibn Khaldūn or Ibn Khaldoun was an Arab Tunisian historiographer and historian who is often viewed as one of the forerunners of modern historiography, sociology and economics...

 (1332-1395 AD), Ibn al-Khatib
Ibn al-Khatib
Lisan al-Din ibn al-Khatib was a poet, writer, historian, philosopher, physician and politician from Emirate of Granada. Some of his poems decorate the walls of the Alhambra in Granada.He was born at Loja, near Granada...

, Al-Bitruji (Alpetragius), Ibn Hirzihim
Ibn Hirzihim
For the teacher of Ash-Shadhili see Abu Abdallah ibn HarzihimSidi Ali ibn Harzihim or Abul Hasan Ali ibn Ismail ibn Mohammed ibn Abdallah ibn Harzihim/Hirzihim was born in Fes, Morocco and died in that same city in 559/1163. He was a Sufi teacher, leader of a Ghazalian zawiya in Fes and was the...

, and Al-Wazzan were all connected with the madrasa either as students or lecturers. Among Christian scholars visiting Al-Karaouine were the Belgian Nicolas Cleynaerts
Nicolas Cleynaerts
Nicolas Cleynaerts , Flemish grammarian and traveller, was born at Diest, in Brabant....

 and the Dutchman
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 Golius.

Architecture of the mosque


Successive dynasties expanded the Al Karaouine mosque until it became the largest in North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

, with a capacity of more than 20,000 worshipers. Compared with the great mosques of Isfahan or Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

, the design is austere. The columns and arches are plain white; the floors are covered in reed mats, not lush carpets. Yet the seemingly endless forest of arches creates a sense of infinite majesty and intimate privacy, while the simplicity of the design complements the finely decorated niches, pulpit and outer courtyard, with its superb tiles, plasterwork, woodcarvings and paintings.

The present form of the mosque is the result of a long historical evolution over the course of more than 1,000 years. Originally the mosque was about 30 meters long with a courtyard and four transverse aisles. The first expansion was undertaken in 956, by Umayyad
Umayyad
The Umayyad Caliphate was the second of the four major Arab caliphates established after the death of Muhammad. It was ruled by the Umayyad dynasty, whose name derives from Umayya ibn Abd Shams, the great-grandfather of the first Umayyad caliph. Although the Umayyad family originally came from the...

 Caliph of Córdoba, Abd-ar-Rahman III
Abd-ar-Rahman III
Abd-ar-Rahman III was the Emir and Caliph of Córdoba of the Ummayad dynasty in al-Andalus. Called al-Nasir li-Din Allah , he ascended the throne in his early 20s, and reigned for half a century as the most powerful prince of Iberia...

. The prayer hall was extended and the minaret
Minaret
A minaret مناره , sometimes مئذنه) is a distinctive architectural feature of Islamic mosques, generally a tall spire with an onion-shaped or conical crown, usually either free standing or taller than any associated support structure. The basic form of a minaret includes a base, shaft, and gallery....

 was relocated, taking on a square form that served as a model for countless North African minaret
Minaret
A minaret مناره , sometimes مئذنه) is a distinctive architectural feature of Islamic mosques, generally a tall spire with an onion-shaped or conical crown, usually either free standing or taller than any associated support structure. The basic form of a minaret includes a base, shaft, and gallery....

s. At this time it became a tradition that other mosques of Fes would make the call to prayer only after they heard Al Karaouine. In the minaret of the Al-Karaouine mosque there is a special room, the Dar al-Muwaqqit
Dar al-Muwaqqit
The Dar al-Muwaqqit is a room in the minaret of the Al-Karaouine mosque in Fes, Morocco. It was the chamber of the muwaqqit, the officer charged with the regulation and maintenance of the clocks and with communicating the correct times of prayer to the muezzin. The most important object of the Dar...

, where the times of prayer are established.

The most extensive reconstruction was carried out in 1135 under the patronage of the Almoravid ruler sultan Ali Ibn Yusuf
Ali ibn Yusuf
Ali ibn Yusuf was the 5th Almoravid king he reigned 1106–1143.-Biography:Ali was recognized as the heir of his father Yusuf ibn Tashfin in 1102. He succeeded his father upon his death in 1106. Ali ruled from Morocco and appointed his brother Tamin ibn Yusuf as governor of Al-Andalus...

 who ordered the extension of the mosque from 18 to 21 aisles, expanding the structure to more than 3,000 square meters. The mosque acquired its present appearance at this time, featuring horseshoe arches and ijmiz frames decorated with beautiful geometrical and floral Andalusian art, bordered with Kufic calligraphy.

In the 16th century, the Saadis
Saadi Dynasty
The Saadi dynasty of Morocco , began with the reign of Sultan Mohammed ash-Sheikh in 1554, when he vanquished the last Wattasids at the Battle of Tadla....

 restored the mosque, adding two patios to the northern and southern ends of the courtyard.

Famous alumni


Allal al-Fassi
Allal al-Fassi
Muhammad Allal al-Fassi , was a Moroccan politician, writer, poet and Islamic scholar.-Politics:He was born in Fes, Morocco, and founded the nationalist Istiqlal party which was a driving force in the Moroccan struggle for independence from French colonial rule...



Leo Africanus
Leo Africanus
Joannes Leo Africanus, was a Moorish diplomat and author who is best known for his book Descrittione dell’Africa describing the geography of North Africa.-Biography:Most of what is known about his life is gathered from autobiographical...



Abd el-Krim el-Khattabi

Ibn Khaldun
Ibn Khaldun
Ibn Khaldūn or Ibn Khaldoun was an Arab Tunisian historiographer and historian who is often viewed as one of the forerunners of modern historiography, sociology and economics...



See also


  • Dar al-Muwaqqit
    Dar al-Muwaqqit
    The Dar al-Muwaqqit is a room in the minaret of the Al-Karaouine mosque in Fes, Morocco. It was the chamber of the muwaqqit, the officer charged with the regulation and maintenance of the clocks and with communicating the correct times of prayer to the muezzin. The most important object of the Dar...

     (the 'clock-house' of Al-Karaouine)
  • List of universities in Morocco
  • Madrasah
    Madrasah
    Madrasah is the Arabic word for any type of educational institution, whether secular or religious...

  • List of oldest madrasahs in continuous operation
  • Education in Morocco
    Education in Morocco
    -Overview:Morocco gained independence from the French in 1956 and since then the Government of Morocco has embarked to implement comprehensive reforms in education and technical vocational training. Despite facing economic challenges in the 1990s and early 2000, the government continued concerted...


External links