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Fatima al-Fihri

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Title: Fatima al-Fihri  
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Subject: Protofeminism, Women in Arab societies, Islamic feminism
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Fatima al-Fihri

Fatima Muhammad Al-Fihri Al-Quraysh ( فاطمة محمد الفهري, nicknamed Oum al Banine "mother of the children", died 880)[1] founded the Qarawiyyin (French: al-Karaouine) mosque and madrasa in Fes, Morocco in 859 CE.[2] The madrasa is still in operation today as the University of Qarawiyyin (is sometimes dubbed the "world's oldest university"), and the mosque is one of the largest in North Africa.[3][4][5]

Al-Fihri was the daughter of a wealthy merchant, and had been educated.[2] The family was part of a large migration to Fes from the town of Qayrawan (in modern Tunisia), which lent its name to the mosque and madrassa.[1] Mariam, Fatima's sister, was the sponsor of the Al-Andalus mosque, also in Fes. Both were part of a larger tradition of women founding mosques.[6]

Despite being founded by a woman, the madrassa did not admit women until the mid-20th century.[7]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ Lulat, Y. G.-M.: A History Of African Higher Education From Antiquity To The Present: A Critical Synthesis Studies in Higher Education, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005, ISBN 978-0-313-32061-3, p. 70:
    As for the nature of its curriculum, it was typical of other major madrasahs such as al-Azhar and al-Qarawiyyin, though many of the texts used at the institution came from Muslim Spain...Al-Qarawiyyin began its life as a small mosque constructed in 859 C.E. by means of an endowment bequeathed by a wealthy woman of much piety, Fatima bint Muhammed al-Fahri.
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