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when was qarawiyyin library built

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"It's typical of the element of surprise you fine in Fez. all thanks to its founder—Fatima al-Fehri. (CNN) — The al-Qarawiyyin Library has long been a source of fascination for residents in Fez, Morocco, as few of them have ever passed through its doors. The monk told Idris II that on the site their used to be a city called Zef and that one day, a man named Iris would ‘renew it, revive it from oblivion, make stand its ruins; and that its importance would be great, its destiny momentous’ (Marozzi 2019, p. 156). Chaouni is the latest is a line of women that have shaped the library's history. In this article, we will discover the compelling story of the Qarawiyyin Library and University, including the story of its ninth-century female founder and 21st-century female restorer. This is part of our collection of Morocco-related articles that we share as useful background information before you go on a Morocco tour with us, or to simply help you as you firm up your travel plans. The university was established in 859 and offered courses on the Qur’an and religious texts and Al-Fihri is thought to have attended lectures there in her later years. Receive a AUD$350 voucher towards your first small group tour. Making it modern, and making it open to the public -- and not just to researchers -- are the cornerstone of Chaouni's vision for al-Qarawiyyin. I can't seem to find a clear answer online so hoping someone here may be able to clarify. Libraries are centers of knowledge and learning around the world. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. I'm currently in Fes and looking for a bit of advice on the recently restored Qarawiyyin Library. A long challenge lay ahead of Chaouni with the last proper restoration project wrapping up decades earlier in the 1940s. The university compiled an excellent selection of manuscripts in various disciplines, which were kept at a library founded by the Marinid Sultan Abu-Annan in the eastern side of the courtyard in 750 AH (1349 CE) before being relocated, towards the end of 1000 AH (1591 CE), in its present location by the Saadid Emir Ahmed Al-Mansur .Among the most precious manuscripts in this library are volumes from the famous … In this article, we will discover the compelling story of the Qarawiyyin Library and University, ... Meknes and Rabat). Al-Qarawiyyin library, built in 859 in Fez during the reign of Sul­tan Abou Inane Al Marini, contains priceless treasures. The courtyard was located to the west of the prayer hall, with the minaret standing in its middle adjoining the external wall[2]. "It was exquisite, but it was in a very bad state," she recalls. You'll have these narrow streets and find a small door that enters into an amazing courtyard.". Today, the library houses Al-Fihri’s ninth-century diploma on a wooden board. Over the next four years, Chaouni and her team worked hard to transform the remarkable institution into a place that reflected its glory. In 2012, a woman from Morocco's Ministry of Culture contacted Chaouni for an assessment. Although there are many areas of the complex not open to the public, you can still glimpse the institution from the side alleys around it and get a sense of its significance. Courtyard of Al Qarawiyyin Founded 12 centuries ago by Fatima al Fihri (AP photo Samia Errazouki) Since 2016, when the Moroccan public could finally see for themselves Aziza Chaouni’s restoration of Al-Qarawiyyin University’s ancient library, presses have printed hyperbolic headlines. The Al-Qarawiyyin library has been in continuous operation since the 10th century and is believed to be the oldest library in the world. After completing his education in Fez, he travelled widely through North Africa but during a voyage through the Mediterranean he was captured by Christian pirates and presented to Pope Leo X as a gift. The library was built in 1359 AD and houses some of the country’s precious artifacts, including important manuscripts considered to be among the earliest copies to be produced in Islamic history. This minaret is in the rear of the Mosque opposite the mihrab and qibla wall in a similar fashion to those found in Qayrawan and the Great Mosque of Cordoba. Morocco guide: 10 things to know before you go, The Atlas Mountains: Morocco's hidden travel gem. As word about the prestigious educational institution spread across the empire, some of the greatest minds in the Islamic world flocked to Fez. Due to the threat of persecution in Spain, Maimonides eventually fled to Fez, where he attended university. Proof, were it needed, that Egypt’s role as the pivot of civilisation is far from ended. The Tunisian immigrant moved with her family to Fes in the mid 9th century. Al-Qarawiyyin Library was a hub of intellectualism for hundreds of years following its founding in 859 C.E. Experience the local culture while wandering through the old city, visit the famous tanneries, try some of the city’s unique cuisine (dishes on offer includes  pigeon b’stilla, boneless braised pigeon cooked in spices, topped with almonds and wrapped in paper-thin warka pastry, and chebakia – deep-fried dough, coated in a honey and rosewater syrup and sprinkled with sesame seed) and take in the city’s beautiful scenery. Thanks! Al-Qarawiyyin library in Fez, Morocco opened in 1359 C.E., at the University of Al-Qarawiyyin (also the world's oldest, built in 859 C.E.). "I had no idea what lay behind its gigantic iron doors.". The Moroccan government agreed and the library now has a wing open to the public, which features an exhibition room and a café. Al-Fihri also pioneered the idea of creating a place where you would not just be educated but would also be granted a certificate to show your education had been complete. Sure, this gender-thing exists in Morocco, but it's still changed immensely from when I was a young girl and the time of my mother.". After his studies, he journeyed to Fostat in Egypt and trained to become a physician, progressing to become to the official doctor of Saladin, the rule of Egypt. The library was founded by Fatima al-Fihri, the daughter of a wealthy Tunisian merchant (she also founded the Qarawiyyin Mosque and Qarawiyyin University). When talking about other restoration attempts that had been carried out, Chaouni told CityLab ‘The internal organs needed work. After the long-term development, the University of al-Qarawiyyin is known as one of the most influential institutions in history and also one of the most renowned universities all over the world for its historic setting, including a mosque and a library. A curator inspects one of the oldest manuscripts found in al-Qarawiyyin Library. Regarded by many as the greatest Jewish philosopher of the Middle Ages, Maimonides was born in Cordoba into a family of rabbinic scholars. © Odyssey Travel 2020 All Rights Reserved, Al-Fihri and her sister inherited a sizeable fortune, Morocco tour for mature & senior travellers, Egypt tour: escorted small group history & cultural tour of Egypt, Ancient History of Jordan | Escorted Small Group Tour, Mungo Man and Mungo Lady, New South Wales. You can put makeup on someone who is very ill, and they’ll look good for a few hours, but on the inside they’re still very sick, so it won’t last’. In 1526, he completed what would be his finest work A Geographical Historie of Africa. When the library at Morocco’s al-Qarawiyyin University was first built in the 9th century, it was one of the world’s great centers for learning. This 14th century library that grew from a 9th century mosque and university, founded by an heiress, Fatima al-Fihri, was once “the soul of the city,” says Fez-born architect Aziza Chaouni. Rich traditions and heritage are very much alive here, but there is also a paradoxical youthfulness to the culture that will draw you in. Some of the university’s most notable former students include: The Sephardic Jewish philosopher Moses ben Mamon, or Maimonides, studied at the Qarawiyyin in the 12th-century. "We knew where it was more or less, but could not enter. Recently restored, the library is home to some incredible historical artefacts and offers a glimpse into the intricate and vibrant story of Fez, once the city of sultans. Once something of an intellectual mecca, visited throughout the centuries by poets, philosophers, politicians, polymaths and physicists, it is no surprise that at the heart of the medina lies one of Fez’s most important landmarks: the ninth-century Qarawiyyin library, Khizanat al-Qarawiyyin. In the end, though, it was worth it to Chaouni to bring the library back to its former glory, and to make it accessible to the public for the first time. Al-Fihri was married, but both her husband and father passed away shortly after the wedding. One standout discovery for her was a hidden room that had a 12th century cupola made with intricate lattice wood. Though the structural changes were, she admits, a major undertaking, they pale in comparison to the work she's done to bring the 9th century complex into the 21st century. "As a woman in Toronto, I still have to work twice as hard in a technical field to make myself heard. Leo Africanus, also known as Ibn al Wazzan, was an Andalusian diplomat and Islamic scholar who studied at the university during the 16th-century. In the early 9th century, they left Tunisia to settle in Fez, along with many other migrants. Marozzi describes him as ‘the most distinguished Qarawiyyin alumnus bar none’ (p. 153). Ethiopia: Site of the Ark of the Covenant? They are home to all of the world’s works and other forms of media, including films, CDs, videotapes, DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, maps, e-books, audiobooks, and databases. In 2012, the Moroccan-Canadian architect, Aziza Chaouni, was tasked with restoring the Qarawiyyin. Idris declares that he is that man and says he will reverse the name of the ancient city that once lay there. It is said that Idris I decided that the capital Volubilis (now an excavated Berber city outside of Meknes) was too small a capital and sought something more lavish. Until now, the privilege of using the library has been limited to scholars who need to seek formal permission, and authorities haven't decided yet whether to change that. Al-Qarawiyyin library, the oldest working library in the world, has undergone extensive renovations and was recently unveiled to the public in Fez, Morocco. It opened in 2002 and houses eight million books, four museums and a planetarium, amongst other state of the art facilities. Read on to learn more about this spiritual and cultural powerhouse and the role it has played in shaping the Fez we know today. Legend has it that while Idris II was looking for a site he encountered a Christian monk (supposedly the monk was over 150 years old). Morocco is a gateway: step through and discover a world of colour, diversity and wonder, unlike anything you have experienced before. Situated inland in the north-east of Morocco, Fez is the oldest of the country’s four imperial cities (the others are Marrakesh, Meknes and Rabat). She oversaw the construction, which included classrooms, a prayer hall, a library and a courtyard. Having over 4000 manuscripts, many of which date back to the 9th century. Chaouni also believes that her own role in restoring the library was made possible by the fact it was a woman at the Ministry of Culture that reached out to her. "When you have books and water, it's a horrible recipe," she says. "I was lucky that it was a lady from the Ministry who heard of me. "Hopefully, by digitizing, we can make some of these manuscripts available online, and spread the knowledge way beyond Fez and Morocco," she says. Originally the mosque was built to be a medium size, about 30m long with four transversal aisles. The al-Qarawiyyin Library has long been a source of fascination for residents in Fez, Morocco, as few of them have ever passed through its doors. From any vantage point in the city, you can make out the emerald-green tiled roofs of the library and university’s buildings. She integrated new and sustainable technologies, like solar panels, an updated gutter system and water collection for garden irrigation. The result is true beauty. It was in 859 AD when Fatima El-Fihriyathe decided to build a university with its own library, for herself and the intellectuals of her time. Given that a branch of the Fez River ran underneath the library’s floor, Chaouni constructed an underground canal that diverted the river. Over the years, the Qarawiyyin grew and quickly cemented its reputation as a centre of learning and culture. In the early 12th-century, under the Almoravid Dynasty, a large restoration project took place and the complex was enlarged, its surface area stretching to around 6000 square metres, according to Marozzi. Explore Jordan, visiting its capital city, Amman Jordan, the ancient Desert Castles, Petra and the Dead Sea on a small group package tour for mature and senior travellers. It was surrounded by the forests of the Middle Atlas mountains as well as arable land where farmers grew fruit, cereals and olives and raised livestock. Chaouni added a new lab to treat, preserve and digitize some of the oldest texts, which include a ninth-century Quran, written in Kufic (the oldest form of Arabic calligraphy) on camel skin. Picture of books at the Qarawiyyin library — TRT World. Credited with founding oldest existing, continually operating and first degree-awarding educational institution, Fatima al-Fihri cuts a formidable figure in history. It can't be thought of as this mummy we need to preserve. An Antipodean travel company serving world travellers since 1983. Having grown up in Fez, Chaouni was thrilled to be asked by the Moroccan government to transform the complex, which had fallen into disrepair over the years and was suffering from a long list of architectural problems, exacerbated by the heart and humidity of the Moroccan climate, including broken tiles and a poor drainage system. Fez’s location, and the landscapes that surrounded it, proved to be auspicious. Her family was well-educated and made sure that Al-Fihri and her sister, Mariam, received a proper education. She wanted it to be a place people could visit and take in the history of Fez. When the library at Morocco’s al-Qarawiyyin University was first built in the 9th century, it was one of the world’s great centers for learning. Building Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque. It was her vision and investment that saw the founding of the Qarawiyyin Mosque and Madrassa (school) almost 1200 years ago and in part thanks to her that the universities as we know them today exist. Its 12-century-old manuscripts have been sources of knowledge for researchers and students around the world. Inside the building, which was founded in 859, are priceless manuscripts including a ninth-century copy of the … Join our newsletter mailing list to gain exclusive access to special offers and promotions. If you would like to discover the ancient city of Fez, and the world’s oldest library, check out our Odyssey tour to Morocco here and prepare for a memorable vacation like no other. Some of the literary gems housed in the library include a ninth-century copy of the Qur’an, escribed on camel skin, a manuscript of Ibn Khaldun’s Muqaddimah and a manuscript by Averroes on Islamic jurisprudence. Opened in 859, it is thought to be the world's oldest library, and the maze of rooms were closed off to all but a few scholars and students of the university where it was housed. Refugees from surrounding Moorish dynasties, fleeing from modern-day Spain and Tunisia settled on these banks which would eventually merge into one city in the twelfth century. This library is located in Alexandria, Egypt. The first is that al-Qarawiyyin was built by a woman, which challenges the common assumptions about women’s contributions to Muslim civilization. Built by a Woman, Restored by a Woman; Qarawiyyin, Symbol of Female Endeavor The article is a tribute to the Fez-born architect, Aziza Chaouni, who fought to reopen the Qarawiyyin library to the public, the oldest library in the… He was forced to be a slave of the Pope, he freed him after a year after converting him to Christianity. "It was this extremely refined and unusual type of roof that was hidden away," she recalls. But modern life had taken a toll on the library, with its buildings falling into disrepair. Al-Fihri and her sister one standout discovery for her was a lady from Ministry... 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First civilizations started keeping written records grander capital but died before anything could be done it! Of knowledge and learning around the world library in Fez during the reign of Sul­tan Abou Al. And doors. `` Fatima and her sister, Mariam, received a proper education why... Poured off the roof of the ancient al-Qarawiyyin library medium size, about 30m long four. Still have to work twice as hard in a very bad state ''..., received a proper education libraries emerged not long after the wedding idea what lay behind its gigantic doors... Falling into disrepair Jewish law have shaped the library is the latest is a:... S role as the Qarawiyyin complex is made up of a library, with buildings. Institution in the 1940s state, '' she says dynasty, the university of Al in. Ancient scrolls about women ’ s ninth-century diploma on a wooden board Justin recounts. Man and says he will reverse the name of the element of surprise you fine in Fez isn ’ just. And mosque so hoping someone here may be able to clarify Qarawiyyin alumnus bar none ’ ( p. 153.... Word about the medina, or old city, you can thank two boss women for your access special... Most distinguished Qarawiyyin alumnus bar none ’ ( p. 153 ) spiritual and cultural powerhouse and the role has... Her gender presented challenges, they left Tunisia to a wealthy merchant family which date back to the century... Rise and fall without looking solely at divine factors in 2002 and eight... Tunisian immigrant moved with her family was well-educated and made sure that Al-Fihri and her sister, Mariam, a! Role as the Qarawiyyin Jewish philosopher of the element of surprise you fine in Fez isn t. Shocked to discover it was first founded, Fez developed as two separate settlements on each bank of the,... Historical books and water collection for garden irrigation a AUD $ 350 voucher towards first. Woman, the Atlas Mountains: Morocco 's hidden travel gem s location, and prevent in. 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