Located in Fes, Morocco, the University of al-Qarawiyyin is said to be the oldest existing university in the world. The school was founded in 859 AD by Fatima al-Fihri — yes, a Muslim woman. For years its library – one of the oldest in the world and home to historic Islamic manuscripts – has been hidden from the public and neglected. But now it’s ready for primetime, and is getting a much needed restoration from architect Aziza Chaouni who specializes in restoring historic buildings in a sustainable fashion, and holds degrees from Harvard and Columbia.
According to AP, “from calligraphic designs on the walls to ceramic patterns on the floors and wooden carvings on the ceilings, the fingerprint of almost every ruling dynasty since the 9th century can be seen in the architecture.”
The library houses a collection of manuscripts written by important scholars such as Ibn Khaldun’s “Muqadimmah. Other texts include a 9th-century Quran written in Kufic calligraphy, and a manuscript on the Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence by Ibn Rochd. The manuscripts will now be housed in a secure room, with strict temperature and humidity control.
For even more on the subject, be sure to check out: World’s Oldest University Was Founded By A Muslim Woman .