Did You Know That the First University Was Founded by a Muslim woman?

Fatima Al Fihriya is the daughter of a merchant and was known as ‘the lady of Fes’ and ‘the mother of boys’. She is the founder of the very first degree awarding university in the world.

Fihriya was born in Tunisia around 800 CE. After a few years she moved with her family to Fes which was one of the most influential Muslim cities back then. Which means that it was the place to be for ambitious people. Once settled in Fes, her father Mohammed Al Fihri became a very wealthy and successful merchant. After her father’s death she and her sister Mariam inherited big wealth. As generous as they were they both decided to invest their money in projects that would benefit their community. Mariam built the Andalus Mosque. Fihriya herself decided to benefit her community on an educational level. In 859 she founded the Al Qarrawiyyin University which was the very first academic university. Although some people say that this university started out as a Mosque and developed into a university through the years.

This university wasn’t only a big achievement when it comes to education, it was also a great opportunity for Muslims to familiarize with European culture. Different non-Muslims studied at the Al Qarrawiyyin University. Probably because of its wide range of subjects. For a university built in the 9th century in a Muslim country you’d think that the only things that were taught were the Quran and the Fiqh, which is known as the Islamic legislation. But that was not the case, there a-were a lot of different subjects such as: geology, astrology, grammar, chemistry, medicine, mathematics and even music!

To me the most admirable thing about Fihriya is that she was a woman with a vision. Even though she was a wealthy women she still decided to invest this money in other people and in education.

Fihriya died in 880 CE but the University she founded is still operating and has a good reputation among Moroccan universities. Fihriya is admired by many Moroccan women for being the smart, ambitious and inspiring woman she was.