Historical Figures

Fatima el Fihriya, founder of the first university

Fatima al-Fihriya , nicknamed Oum al Banine (The mother of two sons ) is the founder of the el-Qaraouiyyîn mosque, the oldest university in the world still in operation.

The el-Qaraouiyyîn mosque

Born in the 9th century, Fatima is from Kairouan in Tunisia. Very young, she emigrated with her family to Fez, in northern Morocco. His father, Muhammad Al-Fihri, is a wealthy merchant. When she and his sister Maryam inherit his fortune, they decide to spend their inheritance in community service to honor their father's memory.

In 859, Maryam directed the construction of the Andalusian Mosque, while Fatima el Fihriya undertook to enlarge the el-Qaraouiyyîn mosque, which was to be the largest in North Africa. She had all the construction materials extracted from a nearby plot and made a vow to fast every day until the work was finished.

Within the religious and cultural center of Fez, the el-Qaraouiyyîn mosque also functions as a university and becomes the first in history. It teaches, among other things, religion, grammar, medicine, mathematics, and produces great thinkers, theologians, philosophers or astronomers.

Fatima el Fihriya died in 880. Al Quaraouiyine University, which she founded, is still active today.

Useful links

Fatima al-Fihriya, founder of the oldest university in the world
The Wikipedia page of Fatima al-Fihriya