The world’s oldest university and library was created by a Muslim woman – and is now being restored by another.
[N.B. The Qarawaiyyin University is the longest standing university and remains open since the time of its establishment in the 8th century. Guinness World Records describe it here]
In the year of 859, Fatima Al-Fihri Al-Quraysh founded and built the world’s oldest library, mosque and university. It stands to this day in the city of Fez in Morocco, and the school she founded is still in operation today as the university of Qarawaiyyin. Further to this, the mosque too is one of the oldest and largest in the region.
Fatima Al-Fihri was the daughter of a rich merchant who utilised all her inheritance to create the legacy that she did. She wanted to create a place that would not only serve as an educational centre for Moroccans, but for the entire region. It remains open till this day, with Fihri’s name becoming the namesake for a plethora of educational scholarships for universities around the world.
Canadian Moroccan architect, Aziza Chaouri who grew up in the region, is now restoring the library. She talks of how her own grandfather studied in the library and she hopes that restoring it will allow younger generations of Moroccan’s to be able to do the same.