The publication of this would see him established as one of the leading rabbinical thinkers of his time. Proof, were it needed, that Egypt’s role as the pivot of civilisation is far from ended. This article was inspired in part by a chapter in Justin Marozzi’s book Islamic Empires: Fifteen Cities that Define a Civilisation entitled ‘Fez – the Athens of Africa’published by Allen Lane in 2019, as well as other articles linked throughout. Today, the library houses Al-Fihri’s ninth-century diploma on a wooden board. 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. "The heritage needs to live. 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. Her father left his wealth to both Fatima and her sister, his only children. 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. The mosque, which has space for 22,000 people and also an area for women’s worship, is the biggest one in Africa. 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. The proximity of mountain ranges meant that the climate in Fez was considered more temperate than other parts of North Africa (though the it does still get very hot in summer!). Read on to learn more about this spiritual and cultural powerhouse and the role it has played in shaping the Fez we know today. A long challenge lay ahead of Chaouni with the last proper restoration project wrapping up decades earlier in the 1940s. What she hadn't anticipated was the many secret nooks that lay behind boarded up walls and doors. Inside the building, which was founded in 859, are priceless manuscripts including a ninth-century copy of the … It opened in 2002 and houses eight million books, four museums and a planetarium, amongst other state of the art facilities. Receive a AUD$350 voucher towards your first small group tour. The first is that al-Qarawiyyin was built by a woman, which challenges the common assumptions about women’s contributions to Muslim civilization. It is not only a library that is open to the public, but is also as a modern day homage to the ancient Library of Alexandria. In this article, we will discover the compelling story of the Qarawiyyin Library and University, ... Meknes and Rabat). "It was this extremely refined and unusual type of roof that was hidden away," she recalls. 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. In 2012, a woman from Morocco's Ministry of Culture contacted Chaouni for an assessment. The collection housed numerous works from the Maghreb, al-Andalus, and the Middle East. It was this big, mysterious place," recalls Aziza Chaouni, a Fez native and the architect who has overseen al-Qarawiyyin's restoration. Worth a visit FEZ - Nestled in a labyrinth of streets in the heart of Morocco's ancient city of Fez, stands the world's oldest working library. There is the opportunity to visit our Morocco, Jordan or Iran tours before embarking on this tour of Egypt. The University of Al-Qarawiyyin’s library is considered the oldest library … 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. In the early 9th century, they left Tunisia to settle in Fez, along with many other migrants. Al-Fihri was married, but both her husband and father passed away shortly after the wedding. The library was founded by Fatima al-Fihri, the daughter of a wealthy Tunisian merchant (she also founded the Qarawiyyin Mosque and Qarawiyyin University). Having over 4000 manuscripts, many of which date back to the 9th century. Al-Qarawiyyin Library was a hub of intellectualism for hundreds of years following its founding in 859 C.E. 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. 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.). He was forced to be a slave of the Pope, he freed him after a year after converting him to Christianity. The project of collecting manuscripts and housing scholars... See full answer below. After years of neglect, the library is undergoing extensive renovation as part of a renewal program that will restore the Medina, Fes’ walled pedestrian historic district built in the late 8th, early 9th century. 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. This library is located in Alexandria, Egypt. 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’. While in Fez, he composed Mishneh Torah, a 14-volume text on Jewish law. Often described as ‘the man who invented modern history’ and ‘the father of philosophy’, the North-African historian is known for developing one of the first nonreligious philosophies of history in his ground-breaking work Muqaddimah. It can't be thought of as this mummy we need to preserve. Qarawiyyin library holds written wonders Friday 02/12/2016. "I was lucky that it was a lady from the Ministry who heard of me. Over the centuries, rain water poured off the roof of the neighboring mosque and infiltrated the library. Thanks to the confluence of two rivers, the city had a seemingly never-ending supply of water and it was close to quarries, from which building supplies could be sourced. "As a woman in Toronto, I still have to work twice as hard in a technical field to make myself heard. The complex is made up of a library, mosque and university, making the university the first degree-granting institution in the world. 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. They were intelligent and pious women and rather than squandering away the money, they sought to invest it back into the community somehow. "It's typical of the element of surprise you fine in Fez. When their father died, Fatima used her inheritance to create the library and mosque. 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 … "We were always discovering things as we were ripping out walls," she says. 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. The Tunisian immigrant moved with her family to Fes in the mid 9th century.