When you think of the first university in the world you probably think of Oxford, Cambridge or Harvard. You may be surprised to know that it is El Karaouin University located in Fez, Morocco, North Africa founded by Fatima El Fahria.

Fatima El Fahria is a daughter of a rich merchant. When he passed away she decided to share her inheritance with her community, offering an eternal donation: Education.

This Muslim woman did not only donate her money but also dedicated her time and power to build El Karaouin Mosque and University, so eager to make this project successful she kept fasting all through the days of construction (fasting is one of the devotions Muslims do for blessing in their work).

The university opened its doors to Muslims, Jewish and Christians and had as alumni some of the great world changers such as Ibn Khaldoun, one of the greatest Muslim philosophers, Al Idrissi a geographer, Allal El Fassi a Moroccan politician and Fatima El Kabbaj a member of the Moroccan Supreme Council of Religious Knowledge. This historical institute still welcomes students from all around Morocco offering different majors (Mathematics, Medicine, Islamic studies and grammar …) giving the chance for the world to have a higher education since 859 AD.

This is what I call a heroic action, and doing so Fatima El Fahria has made the history, becoming the honorable saint among Moroccans.

Next time when you think of World’s Change Makers think of Fatima El Fahria!

One thought on “Fatima El Fahria, the founder of the oldest University in the World”

  1. Hi Fatima, I really love this. Fatima El Fahria’s generosity mirrors what we still see in the world that can give hope to the future. Women, far more than men, volunteer their time to others, sacrificing much, and pass their educational (and any other inheritance – remembering that many women don’t inherit financially but give what little they have) on to the community. Aid programs often focus on women as they know that an investment in a woman is an investment in the community, and that a child’s educational future is linked always to the mother’s educational level.

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