In honor of international woman’s month, I wanted to shed some light on one of my inspirations, Lady Fatima al Fihri. A brilliant woman from Tunisia who lived with her father Muhammad Al Fihri (a successful businessman) and sister Maryam al Fihri(another amazing woman). Both sisters were well educated ,pious, and respected women of their time. Many say that they were of high social class and may even be considered princesses. The family had traveled to Fez, Morocco for business and decided to settled there. When arriving in Fez, Lady Fatima noticed that there was a need for an institution in which the community could gather and learn knowledge to benefit from. There father had left Fatima and her Maryam with a great inheritance. Fatima invested this money to build this institution known as Al Qarawwiyin, a place that would and still is serving generations to come. It became an inspirational magnet for people from all over the world and many historic figures have studied and contributed from this institution,library,and mosque.
Fatima believed that this community resource can be utilized to serve for the betterment and advancement of humanity, a sadqah jariyah*. Al Qarawwiyin, the 1200 year old university took two years to construct and many subjects such as math,chemistry,astronomy, and social sciences are taught there. This blessed place contributed towards the advancement in global society and became the place of study for many scholars,theologians, and scientists. The university is still a place where people go to seek knowledge, the location of study was moved to another place in the Fez and the actual site was closed to the public (due to the deteriorating infrastructure). It begun restoration in 2012 by a Canadian- Moroccan architect who also is a Muslim woman known as Aziza Chaouni. Chaouni contributed with great effort towards this historical magnificence, the library now has solar panels, air conditioning (to protect the books), and other types of new infrastructure. The institution is open to the public which also includes a cafe and an exhibition room. There are many old manuscripts and about 4000 rare books located in the library which are currently being restored. This gift of light and knowledge has and will inspire people till the end of time. May we all get to be more like Fatima al Fihri, this honorable woman and appreciate the value of knowledge,service,and dedication that she has given to the world.
*sadqah jariya is a form of ongoing charity in Islam that benefits mankind such as planting a tree, opening up a hospital, or raising an orphan
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Peace,Love, and Light xx