Al Quaraouiyine University, Morocco, the oldest in the world [founded in 859 AD]
Al Quaraouiyine University, Fez in Morocco West African, is the world’s oldest continuous operating university.
It is no wonder, with its tradition of invention and education, that Africa holds oldest university in Morocco, which is run continuously.
The University of Al Quaraouiyine, Fez, was founded way back in 859 AD by a Tunisian woman, Fatima al-Fihri. Al-Fihri spent her generous inheritance on building a huge mosque with an associated school (madrasa).
The mosque, which has a capacity of 22, 000 worshippers, is still the largest in Africa, and the university is still going strong today, largely due to the generosity of some very wealthy people over the centuries.
The university attracted investment because of its tradition of high educational standards.
Gifts from wealthy donors were spent on accumulating a huge collection of manuscripts, eventually housed in a library built by Sultan Abu Inan Faris in 1349.
From an early date, the university’s expertise in secular subjects including rhetoric, grammar, mathematics, and astronomy saw it attract leading lights from beyond the Islamic world.
In a model of religious tolerance and openness that we would do well to imitate today, the eventual Pope Sylvester II studied there in the late 10th century, and the Jewish philosopher Maimonides a century later.