By M. S. Qais

There are more than 28092 universities in the world at present. But Jamia al-Qarawiyyin (جامعة القرويين Al Qurouiyine) has got the distinction of being the oldest in the world. According to the UNESCO record, this university did not remain closed even for a day during a span of the last 1200 years. This university has been the first so far as offering of degree is considered. There is a mosque connected with the university. The mosque has the capacity of 1200 persons to offer prayers.

Renowned personalities like Abdur Rahman bin Khuldūn (Abū Zayd ‘Abd ar-Raḥmān ibn Muḥammad ibn Khaldūn; popularly known as Al-Khaldūn, 1332-1406), Lisan Al-Din Ibn Al-Khatib (1313-1374) et al and some non-Muslim scholars illuminated their hearts and minds with learning and knowledge in this university. Guinness Book of Records (now Guinness World Records) speaks of the university as being the first in the world. This university is situated in Fez, Morocco. Foundation of this university was laid by a wealthy lady, Fatima al-Fihri bint Md. Fabria in 245 Hijri (859 AD). Daughter of a wealthy merchant, Fatima spent her own money and got it built within a period of 18 years. It is notable that during this period Fatima observed fasting continuously. Fatima’s sister contributed her money for the mosque connected with the university. It can be rightly said that the world’s first university was built by Muslim women. Despite this, allegation is made that Muslims did nothing in the field of education.

The westernised liberal and narrow-minded persons allege that Muslim’s contribution to the field of education is nil. I don’t know if such prejudiced and biased persons have ever gone through the history of Cordova (Qurtoba in Arabic) in Spain where institutions of learning were well bloomed and flourished while the European nations were engulfed in the darkness of illiteracy. No right thinking person can deny this truth.

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