“The university brings out all abilities, 

including incapability.”

–Anton Chekov

 

University of Al-Karaouine is considered as the oldest continuously operating, a degree-granting university in the world. Both UNESCO and Guinness World Records have declared it the oldest academic institution in the world. Located in Fes, Morocco, this university originally was a mosque founded in 859 by Fatima al -Fihri, a woman. Later on, the mosque developed into one of the leading natural sciences’ universities.

The architecture of the academy is simple yet beautifully designed, decorated with Andalusian art bordered with Kufic calligraphy. The university library is home to numbers of precious manuscripts including historic copies of the Qu’ran.

Over the centuries, the university became a key spiritual and educational centre in the Muslim world. In the beginning, the madrasa focused on religious instruction and Qu’ran memorization, but later expanded into Arabic, music, Sufism, medicine and astronomy.

The University of Al-Karaouine reminds us that it was neither Oxford nor Cambridge that first set the stage for university learning, but a mosque’s madrasa that, over a millennial ago, set those gears in motion.