University of Al-Karaouine
The University of al-Qarawiyyin, also written Al-Karaouine, is a university located in Fez, Morocco.
It is the oldest existing, continually operating higher educational institution in the world according to UNESCO and Guinness World Records and is occasionally referred to as the oldest university by scholars.
For well over twelve hundred years Al-Qarawiyyin has been one of the leading spiritual and educational centers of the Muslim World.
It was founded in 859 C.E., by a young princess named Fatima Al-Fihri who migrated with her father Mohammed Al-Fihri form Qayrawan (Tunisia) to Fes. The family joined a community of other migrants from Qayrawan “Qayrawaniyyins”, who settled in a western district of Fes.
Fatima and her sister Mariam, who were well educated and brought up with religious devotion, inherited a large amount from their father who was a successful businessman. Fatima vowed to spend her entire inheritance on building a mosque suitable for her community.
Because of its location, the mosque became known as Al-Qairawaniyyin Mosque, slowly shortened into Al-Qarawiyyin. Originally the mosque was built to be a medium size, about 30m long with four transversal aisles. The courtyard was located to the west of the prayer hall, with the minaret standing in its middle adjoining the external wall. This minaret is in the rear of the Mosque opposite the mihrab and qibla wall in a similar fashion to those found in Qayrawan and the Great Mosque of Cordoba. Briefly, Al-Qarawiyyin had the religious function of any mosque as well as the teaching of the traditional Islamic sciences – hadith, tafsir, fiqh.