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Fatima al-Fihri–15 Centuries of Female Scholarship

In this series, Shaykha Tamara Gray narrates the stories of great Muslim women through the centuries, who excelled in fields of Islamic knowledge, science, and philanthropy. This segment features Fatima al-Fihri from the 3rd century.

Fatima al-Fihri was a great visionary, living in modern-day Morocco. After receiving a large sum of money through inheritance, she planned and built the Al-Qarawiyyin university and mosque.

She did her work in phases, beginning in the month of Ramadan. Firstly, she built a well for the future construction workers, showing that she had a good sense of labour justice and ethical work. After the well was built, she moved on to building the rest.

The project took two to three years. After Ramadan ended, Fatima continued fasting every day, saying that she had begun the project fasting, and wanted to complete it while fasting.

Al-Qarawiyyin University still runs today, thanks to Fatima’s hard work, organisational skills, and insightful planning. It remains the oldest degree-granting university in the world, which laid the groundwork for modern-day institutions. Every time we come across a university or similar educational institution, we should remember Fatima al-Fihri and her dedication.


With gratitude to Shaykha Tamara Gray and Rabata.


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