Historic Moroccan University attracts global students for Islamic studies

Historic Moroccan University attracts global students for Islamic studies
Photo: Al Qarawiyine university in Fès / Source: Creative Commons Abdel Hassouni

The al-Qarawiyyin University in Fez is one of the world’s oldest learning institutions, according to the Guinness World Records. Known for its Islamic teachings, it is also renowned for having the world’s oldest library containing Islamic manuscripts treasured by historians.

According to Africanews, these distinctions make it a top draw for international students seeking an education focused on Islamic thought. More than 12 nations are represented at the school, according to the school’s website.

The institution was founded as a mosque in the mid-ninth century by Fatima al-Fihri, the daughter of a wealthy Muslim woman from Tunisia. It quickly became a leading educational center for Islamic scholars. In 1965 it officially became a University. 

While the school is best known for Islamic studies, it wasn’t always that way, according to Driss Fassi Fihri, the vice-president of al-Qarawiyyin University.

"It was historically a university with specializations in all areas of education," he told Africanews. Today the University offers programs in fields as varied as politics, medicine and finance.

Firhi said the biggest challenge the university faces is retaining its traditional heritage while modernizing and making use of new technologies to attract students in the 21st century. 

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