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...leading by example, the Prophet made the first institution of Islam, the first mosque he built in Madinah, into an institution of learning. ...
Figure 1. Aristotle teaching astronomy. The Arab scientific tradition was greatly influenced by the work of the classical Greek scholars, whose “natural philosophy” represented a complete system of knowledge that encompassed both the physical sciences and metaphysics, and upon which the scholars of the Islamic tradition commented extensively. © Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul (Source)
Figure 2. Quranic verse, inscribed on the shoulder blade of a camel (Source)
The Qur’an, re-currently, urges the faithful to acquire knowledge that would bring them closer to God and to His creation. Many verses command this act as follows:
Say [unto them, O Muhammad]: Are those who know not? But only men of understanding will pay heed (39: 9)
And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: behold, in that are signs indeed for those who reflect (45: 13)
The Qur’an uses repetition in order to imbed certain key concepts in the consciousness of its listeners. Allah (God) and Rab (the Sustainer) are repeated 2,800 and 950 times respectively in the sacred text; Ilm comes third with 750 mentions.
The Prophet (Pbuh) commanded knowledge upon all Muslims, to seek it at all times:
Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.”
“Seeking knowledge is a duty upon every Muslim male and female.”
“Whoso pursues the road of knowledge, God will direct him to the road of Paradise. Verily, the superiority of a learned man over a mere worshipper is like that of the full moon over all the stars!”
Again, leading by example, the Prophet made the first institution of Islam, the first mosque he built in Madinah, into an institution of learning.
According to Al-Ghazali:
The Prophet regarded any day as lost in which he did not increase in that knowledge that would draw him closer to his Lord.”
The Prophet of Islam, in the words of Scott, said:
Teach science; whoever teaches it fears God; whoever desires it adores God; whoever speaks of it praises God; whoever diffuses it distributes alms; whoever possesses it becomes an object of veneration and respect. Science preserves us from error and from sin; it illuminates the road to Paradise; it is our protector in travel, our confidant in the Desert, our companion in solitude. It guides us through the pleasures and the sorrows of life; it serves us alike as an ornament among our friends and as a buckler against our enemies; it is through its instrumentality that the Almighty raises up those whom he has appointed to determine the good and the true. The memories of such men are the only ones, which shall survive, for their noble deeds will serve as models for the imitation of the great minds that shall come after them.”
Following these commands and traditions, Muslim rulers insisted that every Muslim child acquired learning, and they gave considerable support to institutions and learning in general.
It was this great liberality [says Wilds] which they [the Muslims] displayed in educating their people in the schools which was one of the most potent factors in the brilliant and rapid growth of their civilisation. Education was so universally diffused that it was said to be difficult to find a Muslim who could not read or write.”
In Muslim Spain, according to Scott, there was not a village where
The blessings of education’ could not be enjoyed by the children of the most indigent peasant, and in Cordova were eight hundred public schools frequented alike by Moslems, Christians, and Jews, and where instruction was imparted by lectures. The Spanish Muslim received knowledge at the same time and under the same conditions as the literary pilgrims from Asia Minor and Egypt, from Germany, France, and Britain.”
Figure 3. Abd-ar-Rahman III in his court receiving an ambassador in Medina Azahara, Còrdoba (Source)
And in the great Muslim Mosque of Cordova, Scott maintains, both Jews and Christians attained to acknowledged distinction as professors. So high was the place of learning that both teachers and pupils were greatly respected by the mass of the population; and the large libraries ‘collected by the wealthy landed and merchants showed that learning—as in the Italian Renaissance (six hundred years later)—was one of the marks of a gentleman.’
In scarcely any other culture [Pedersen holds] has the literary life played such a role as in Islam. Learning (ilm), by which is meant the whole world of the intellect, engaged the interest of Muslims more than anything…. The life that evolved in the mosques spread outward to put its mark upon influential circles everywhere.”
Every place, from the mosque to the hospital, the observatory, to the madrassa was a place of learning. Scholars also addressed gatherings of people in their own homes. Al-Ghazali, al-Farabi, and Ibn Sina, amongst many more, after teaching in public schools, retired to their private libraries and studies, and continued teaching `those fortunate enough to be invited.’
This universality and thirst for knowledge were unique in those days and for quite long after. The mosque played a leading role in this. For Tibawi the association of the mosque with education remains one of its main characteristics throughout history. For Scott, the school became an indispensable appendage to the mosque. From the start, the mosque, Wardenburg explains, was the centre of the Islamic community, a place for prayer, meditation, religious instruction, political discussion, and a school. And anywhere Islam took hold, mosques were established and basic instruction began. Once established, such mosques could develop into well known places of learning, often with hundreds, sometimes with thousands of students, and frequently contained important libraries. By 900 nearly every mosque had an elementary school for the education of both boys and girls. Children usually started school at five, one of the first lessons in writing was to learn how to write the ninety-nine most beautiful names of God and simple verses from the Qur’an. After the rudiments of reading and writing were mastered, the Qur’an was then studied thoroughly and arithmetic was added. For those who wanted to study further, the larger mosques, where education was more advanced, offered instruction in Arabic grammar and poetry, logic, algebra, biology, history, law, and theology. Although advanced teaching often took place in madrassas, hospitals, observatories, and the homes of scholars, in Spain, teaching took place mostly in the mosques, starting with the Cordova mosque in the 8th century.
Figure 4. Children memorising the Quran, Jamia Masjid mosque, Srirangapatna, India. (Source)
The basic format of mosque education was the study circle, better known in Islam as `Halaqat al-ilm‘ or in brief: Halaqa. Halaqa, spelled Halka in the new edition of the Encyclopaedia of Islam, is defined as `a gathering of people seated in a circle,’ or, `gathering of students around a teacher. Visiting scholars were allowed to sit beside the lecturer as a mark of respect, and in many Halaqat a special section was always reserved for visitors. Al-Bahluli (d.930) a magistrate from a town in Iraq went down to Baghdad, accompanied by his brother, to make a round of such study circles. The two of them came upon one where a scholar `aflame with intelligence,’ was taking on all comers in various fields of knowledge. Ibn Battuta recorded that more than five hundred students attended the halaqat of the Umayyad mosque. The Mosque of ‘Amr ibn al ‘Asi near Cairo had more than forty halaqat at some point, and in the chief mosque of Cairo, there were one hundred and twenty halaqat. The traveller, geographer, Al-Muqaddasi, reports that between the two evening prayers, as he and his friends sat talking, he heard a cry `Turn your faces to the class’ and he realised he was sitting between two classes; altogether there were 110. During the halaquats, whilst teachers exercised authority, students were still allowed, in fact, encouraged to discuss and even challenge and correct the teacher, often in heated exchanges. Disputations, unrestricted, in all fields of knowledge were known to take place on Friday in the study circles held around the mosques, and `no holds were barred.’
Figure 5. Colonnade abutting the eastern hall, Zaytuna Mosque, Tunisia (Source)
Teaching and learning in most large mosques became, according to Mackensen, `a fully fledged profession,’ and the mosque school took on the semblance of an academy or even a university later on. So important centres of higher learning, indeed, that many of them still exist today as the oldest universities in the world. Amongst these, al-Qayrawwan and al-Zaytuna in Tunisia, Al-Azhar in Egypt, and al-Karrawiyyin (Qarrawiyyin) in Fez, Morocco. As places of renown, they attracted great names of Muslim scholarship, either as students, or teachers, or both. Many among the graduates of the mosques of Muslim Spain were Ibn Rushd, Ibn al-Sayigh, and Ibn Bajja. In Basra (Iraq) Al-Khallil ibn Ahmad gave lectures on philosophy at a mosque, and one of his students was Sibawaih who later became one of the most renowned Arabic grammarians of all times. From the beginning of the 12th century until our time, `the glory’ of the Karrawiyyin, it is held, was its body of scholars (ulamas). Among the scholars who studied and taught there were Ibn Khaldun, Ibn al-Khatib, al-Bitruji, Ibn Harazim, Ibn Maymoun, and Ibn Wazzan. Al-Azhar attracted Ibn al-Haytham, Al-Baghdadi who taught medicine at the end of the 12th century, whilst Ibn Khaldun taught there towards the end of the fourteenth century.
The renown of such places attracted large numbers of students. They flocked to Medina, one of the earliest and more advanced schools, which was connected with its chief mosque. Al Karrawiyyin attracted scores of students from all over Morocco, the rest of North Africa, Andalusia and even the Sahara. Here, they were generally housed by the successive Moroccan dynasties and the people of Fes. In the ninth century, in the department of theology at Cordova, alone, four thousand students were enrolled, and the total number in attendance at the ‘University’ reached almost eleven thousand. And on the eve of the British occupation, in Al-Azhar, were already 7600 students and 230 professors.
In the early Islamic era, the mosque was used for the teaching of one or more of the Islamic sciences and literary arts, but after the mid ninth century, more and more came to be devoted to the legal sciences. Scientific subjects were also delivered, and included astronomy and engineering at Al-Azhar, medicine also at Al-Azhar and the mosque of Ibn Tulun in Egypt. At the Karrawiyyin, there were courses on grammar, rhetoric, logic, elements of mathematics and astronomy, and possibly history, geography and elements of chemistry. At Qayrawwan and Zaytuna in Tunisia, alongside the Qur’an and jurisprudence were taught grammar, mathematics, astronomy and medicine. At al Qayrawwan, in particular, classes in medicine were delivered by Ziad. B. Khalfun, Ishak B. Imran and Ishak B. Sulayman, whose works were translated by Constantine the African in the 11th century. They were taught in the first faculty of medicine in Europe: Salerno, in the South of Italy, which became the first institution of higher learning in Latin Europe. At the Mosque of ‘Amr, the Muslim traveller-geographer al-Muqaddasi (from al-Quds) reports that between the two evening prayers, the mosque was crowded with classes in law, the Qur’an, literature and wisdom (philosophy or ethics). Whilst in Iraq, pharmacology, engineering, astronomy and other subjects were taught in the mosques of Baghdad, and students came from Syria, Persia and India to learn these sciences.
Figure 6. Interior of Al-Azhar mosque (Source)
The mosques gradually took on wider functions on top of learning. Tracing this evolution, Makdisi states that in the tenth century there was a flourishing of a new type of college, combining the masjid with a khan or inn to lodge law students from out of town. The great patron of this second stage in the development of the college was Badr ibn Hasanawaih (d. 1014/1015), governor of several provinces under the Buyids, and to whose name 3,000 masjid-khan complexes were credited over the thirty-year period of his governorship. The reason for the masjid-khan complex, Makdisi explains, was that the student of law had to pursue over a long period, usually four years for undergraduate studies alone, and an indeterminate period for graduate studies, often as many as twenty years, during which the graduate disciple assisted the master in teaching. The masjid could not be used for lodging, except under special circumstances, the inn or khan thus became the lodging place of the staff and students and was founded in proximity to the masjid. The madrasa, which will be considered at a further stage, was, according to Makdisi, the final stage in the development of the Muslim college, combining the teaching function of the masjid with the lodging function of the khan. This follows a tradition long established by the Prophet whose mosque was connected to a building which served as a school and as a hostel for poor students and out of towners.
Figure 7. The central portal of the Quaraouiyine mosque from the ablutions courtyard (Source)
Assistance for students in the various mosques was substantial. At the Karrawiyyin, for instance, students were not only exempt from paying fees but were also given monetary allowances periodically. Bayard Dodge states that, there, the students lived in residential quadrangles, which contained two and three story buildings of varying sizes, accommodating between sixty and a hundred and fifty students, who all received a minimal assistance for food and accommodation. The number of students at al-Azhar was always high, Al-Maqrizi mentioning 750 foreign students from as distant lands as the Maghreb and Persia at one time residing in the mosque, in addition to students from all parts of Egypt. Bayard Dodge states that those students who did not have homes in Cairo, each was assigned to a residential unit, which was endowed to care for him. Generally, the unit gave the resident students free bread, which supplemented food given to them by their families, whilst better off students could afford to live in lodgings near the mosque. Every large unit also included a library, kitchen and lavatory, and some space for furniture. On his visit to Damascus, the traveller, Ibn Jubair (1180s) reported the high number and varied facilities for foreign students and visitors at the Umayyad Mosque, prompting him to declare that `Anyone in the West who seeks success, let him come to this city (Damascus) to study, because assistance here is abundant. The chief thing is that the student here is relieved of all worry about food and lodging, which is a great help.’
Rulers played a major part in the endowment of mosques for education purposes. At the Karrawiyyin were three separate libraries, the most prestigious of which being the Abu Inan Library, founded by the Merinid Sultan, al-Mutawakkil Abu Inan. An avid reader and collector, the Sultan deposited in his newly founded library books on various subjects that included religion, science, intellect and language, and he also appointed a librarian to take charge of the affairs of the library. In Tunisia, when the Spaniards occupied Tunis between 1534 and 1574, they ransacked its mosques and libraries, and removed many of the precious books and manuscripts. The Ottoman Turks subsequently expelled the Spaniards, and restored and expanded the Zaytuna mosque, its libraries and madrassa, and made it again a high centre of Islamic culture. In Cairo, in 1365, the Mamluk prince, Yalbagha al-Umari, ordered that each student at the mosque of Ibn Tulun be given forty dirhams and one irdab of wheat every month. The Mamluks also paid the salaries and stipends to large numbers of teachers and students. This trend was particularly encouraged by Sultan Husam al-Din Lajin, who restored the Mosque of Ibn Tulun in the Qatayi district of Cairo, paying salaries for professors and stipends for students, and having the royal physician Sharaf al-Din Muhammad Ibn al-Hawafir deliver in it lectures on medicine.
Figure 8. Fountain and Minaret of Mosque of Ibn Tulun, Cairo, Egypt (Source)
The following tale enlightens us greatly on education and Muslim life of then. When Ibn Tulun ruled Egypt (868-884), some students attended the class of a professor who dictated daily such a small portion of tradition that their money ran out before the class was finished, and they had to sell everything they had to buy food. After starving for three days, they resorted to begging. None of them wanted to face such disgrace, though. So they cast the lot, and the one who lost went into a corner of the mosque where they lived and asked God to be released from this shame. Just then a messenger came from Ibn Tulun with money for he had been warned in a dream to help them; there was also a message that he would visit them in person the next day. To avoid this honour, which might have been thought as a desire for personal glory, the students fled from Cairo that night. Ibn Tulun bought the whole of that ward and endowed the mosque with it for the benefit of students and strangers residing in it.
In more than one respect Islam influenced Europe and subsequently the rest of the world with its system of education, including universality of learning, and the methods of teaching and granting diplomas. Makdisi shows this, and raises some crucial points in this respect. Amongst others, Islam influenced the West and the course of university scholarship in terms of academic freedom of professors and students, in the doctoral thesis and its defence, and in the peer review of scholarly work based on the concensus of peers. The open scholarly discussions in the mosques surely accounted for much of that in times when scientific intolerance ruled elsewhere, and any free scholarly thought was punished with burning at the stake when it went too far against dogma. The influence also came in the form of the many translated books of Islamic scholars which formed the core of European education in their first universities (Montpellier, Bologna, Paris, Oxford…), which all were founded in the twelfth-thirteenth centuries. The influence can also be seen in other respects, too long, and too detailed to go into here, and which both Makdisi and Ribera explain in intricate detail.
Figure 9. Al Ma’mun sends an envoy to the Byzantine Emperor Theophilos (Source)
As a conclusion, and to answer those countless of scholars, who blame the decline of Muslim civilization on Islam rather than on the occupation and devastation of its centres of learning (Cordova, Baghdad, Seville, and others,) by Crusaders and Mongols, this essay has shown that Islam and knowledge went together, closely, and from the very early stages. Other than the urge of the Qur’an and the sayings of the Prophet, the concrete symbol of Islam, the Mosque, was the centre of learning. And, indeed, until now, in most parts of the Islamic world, the word Jamaa means at once both mosque and school, even when they are separate buildings, most often distant from each other. Finally, ‘Jamia’, the word for university in Arabic derives from Jamaa, mosque. No similar derivation exists in any other language or culture. There is no better association between Islam and higher learning than this.
-M. Alwaye: `Al-Azhar…in thousand years.’ Majallatu’l Azhar, English Section 48; July 1976: 1-6.
-Al-Bakri, Massalik, 24; Ibn Abi Usaybi’a, Uyun al-anba, ed., and tr. A. Nourredine and H. Jahier, Algiers 1958, 2.9, in Encyclopedia of Islam, vol iv; pp. 29-30.
-J. Berkey: The Transmission of knowledge in Medieval Cairo, Princeton University Press, 1992.
-H. Djait et al: Histoire de la Tunisie (Le Moyen Age); Societe Tunisienne de Difusion, Tunis.
-M.J. Deeb: Al-Zaytuna; in The Oxford Encyclopaedia of the Modern Islamic World; ed; J.L. Esposito; Oxford University Press; 1995; vol 4.
-B. Dodge: Muslim Education in the Medieval Times; The Middle East Institute; Washington D.C; 1962.
-Encyclopaedia of Islam, new Edition, Volume 3, Leiden, Brill, 1971.
-Al-Khuli, Ali Muhammad al-Shadhili, Dawr al masajid al- tarikhi fi al-tathqif al-Ilmi, Cairo: Wazarat al-Awqaf, 1961.
-Rom Landau, The Karaouine at Fes, The Muslim World 48 (April 1958): pp. 104-12.
-R. Le Tourneau: Fes avant le protectorat; Societe Maroccaine de Librairie et d’Edition, Casablanca, 1947, pp. 453-471.
-R. Le Tourneau: Fes in the age of the Merinids, tr., from French by B.A. Clement, University of Oklahoma Press, 1961.
-R.S. Mackensen: `Background of the History of Muslim libraries.’ The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures 51 (January 1935); pp. 114-125. See also issue 52 (October 1935) pp. 22-33, and 52 (January 1936); pp. 104-10.
-George Makdisi: The Rise of Humanism in Classical Islam and the Christian West; Edimburg University Press, 1990.
-George Makdisi: Islamic Schools, Dictionary of the Middle Ages, vol 11; Charles Scribners and Sons, 1988.
-Al-Maqrizi, Ahmad Ibn Ali. Al-Mawaiz wa Alitibar fi dhikr al-Khitat wa-Al-athar. Edited by Ahmed Ali al-Mulaiji. 3 Vols. Beirut: Dar al Urfan. 1959.
-M. Nakosteen: History of Islamic origins of Western Education, 800-1350; University of Colorado Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1964.
-J. Pedersen: The Arabic Book, tr. Geoffrey French, Princeton University Press; Princeton, New Jersey, 1984.
-J. Pedersen: `Some aspects of the history of the madrassa’ Islamic Culture 3 (October 1929) pp. 525-37.
-E. Levi Provencal: Nukhab Tarikhiya Jamia li Akhbar al-Maghrib al-Aqsa, Paris: La Rose, 1948.
-J. Ribera: Dissertaciones y opusculos, 2 vols, Madrid, 1928.
-M. Sibai: Mosque Libraries, an historical study; Mansell Publishing Ltd; London and New York; 1987.
-S.P. Scott: History of the Moorish Empire in Europe, J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia and London, 1904, vol 3.
-A. Tazi: La Mosque Al-Quaraouiyyine, 3 vols, ed Dar al-Kitab Allubnani, Lebanon, 1973.
-A.L. Tibawi: Islamic Education, Luzac and Company Ltd, London, 1972.
-K.A. Totah: The Contribution of the Arabs to Education; Bureau of Publications, New York: Columbia University, 1926.
-A.S. Tritton: Materials on Muslim education in the Middle Ages, Luzac and Company, London.
-Wan Mohd Nor Wan Daud: The Concept of Knowledge in Islam; Mansell: London and New York; 1989.
-J. Waardenburg: Some institutional aspects of Muslim higher learning, NVMEN, 12, pp. 96-138.
-E.H. Wilds: The Foundation of modern Education, Rinehart & Co., 1959.
 Wan Mohd Nor Wan Daud: The Concept of Knowledge in Islam; Mansell: London and New York; 1989; p. 32.
 S.P. Scott: History of the Moorish Empire in Europe; J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia and London, 1904; vol 3; p. 214.
 Al-Ghazali: Fatihat al-Ulum (Cairo 1904), p. 3; G.E. Von Grunebaum: Islam (Greenwood Press, Publishers, 1961), p.111.
 S.P. Scott: History; op cit; vol 3; 518-9.
 E.H. Wilds: The Foundation of modern Education, Rinehart & Co., 1959, p. 216
 S.P. Scott: History of the Moorish Empire in Europe, op cit; vol iii, at pp. 467-8.
 F.B. Artz: The mind, The Mind of the Middle Ages; Third edition revised; The University of Chicago Press, 1980, p.151.
 J. Pedersen: The Arabic Book, Tr. Geoffrey French, Princeton University Press; Princeton, New Jersey, 1984, p. 37.
 M. Nakosteen: History of Islamic origins of Western Education, 800-1350; University of Colorado Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1964, p. 48.
 A.L. Tibawi: Islamic Education, Luzac and Company Ltd, London, 1972; p. 24.
 S.P. Scott: History, op cit, p.467.
 J. Waardenburg: Some institutional aspects of Muslim higher learning, NVMEN, 12, pp. 96-138; at p. 98.
 F.B. Artz: The Mind, op cit, p. 150.
 Ibid; pp. 150-1.
 J. Waardenburg: Some institutional, op cit, p. 101.
 Encyclopaedia of Islam, new Edition, Volume 3, Leiden, Brill, 1971, p. 95.
 M. Nakosteen: History, op cit; p. 45.
 George Makdisi: The Rise of Humanism in Classical Islam and the Christian West; Edinburg University Press, 1990, pp. 210-1.
 Ibn Battutah in K.A. Totah: The Contribution of the Arabs to Education; Bureau of Publications, New York: Columbia University, 1926, p. 45.
Al-Maqrizi, Ahmad Ibn Ali. Al-Mawaiz wa Alitibar fi dhikr al-Khitat wa-Al-athar. Edited by Ahmed Ali al-Mulaiji. 3 Vols. Beirut: Dar al Urfan. 1959, vol 3, p. 203.
 A. Metz: Die Renaissance des Islams; p. 170; in K. Totah: The Contribution; op cit. p. 43.
 In A. S. Tritton: Materials on Muslim education in the Middle Ages, Luzac and Company, London; p. 100.
 M. Nakosteen: History; op cit, p. 45.
George Makdisi: The Rise of humanism, op cit, p. 210.
 Ibid, p. 211.
 Mackensen, R. Stellhorn. `Background of the History of Muslim libraries.’ The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures 51 (January 1935) 114-125, p 123. See also issue 52 (October 1935) pp. 22-33, and 52 (January 1936): pp. 104-10.
 B. Dodge: Muslim Education in the Medieval Times; The Middle East Institute; Washington D.C; 1962; p. 25.
 Al-Khuli, Ali Muhammad al-Shadhili, Dawr al masajid al- tarikhi fi al-tathqif al-Ilmi, Cairo: Wazarat al-Awqaf, 1961, pp. 17 and 31; in M. Sibai: Mosque Libraries; op cit, p. 33.
 Encyclopedia of Islam: Vol IV, p. 633.
 Rom Landau, The karaouine at Fes, The Muslim World 48 (April 1958): pp. 104-12; at p. 105.
 Encyclopedia of Islam, Vol I, pp. 816-7.
 F.B. Artz, The Mind, op cit, p. 151.
 For details on Al-Qarrawiyyin, see:
-Abd El Hadi Tazi: La Mosque Al-Quaraouiyyine, 3 vols, ed Dar al-Kitab Allubnani, Lebanon, 1973.
-R. Le Tourneau: Fes avant le protectorat (Societe Maroccaine de Librairie et d’Edition, Casablanca, 1947, pp. 453-471).
 Encyclopedia of Islam, Vol IV, p. 633.
 S.P. Scott: History, op cit, p. 467.
 Baedeker’s Egypt, 1929. David and Charles, Newton Abbot, 1974; p. 60.
 George Makdisi: Islamic Schools, Dictionary of the Middle Ages, vol 11; Charles Scribners and Sons, 1988; p. 65.
 M. Alwaye: `Al-Azhar…in thousand years.’ Majallatu’l Azhar: (Al-Azhar Magazine, English Section 48 (July 1976: 1-6; in M. Sibai, Mosque Libraries, op cit, p 30.
 J. Pedersen: `Some aspects of the history of the madrassa’ Islamic Culture 3 (October 1929) pp. 525-37, at p. 527.
 R. Le Tourneau: Fes in the age of the Merinids, tr from French by B.A. Clement, University of Oklahoma Press, 1961, p. 122.
 H. Djait et al: Histoire de la Tunisie (le Moyen Age); Societe Tunisienne de Difusion, Tunis; p. 378.
 Al-Bakri, Massalik, 24; Ibn Abi Usaybi’a, Uyun al-anba, ed. and tr A. Nourredine and H. Jahier, Algiers 1958, 2.9, in Encyclopedia of Islam, Vol IV, pp. 29-30.
 In A.S. Tritton: Materials, op cit, p. 100.
 Al-Khuli: dawr al-masajid, op cit, p. 20, in M. Sibai, Mosque Libraries, op cit, p. 30.
 G.Makdisi: Islamic Schools, op cit, p. 65.
 W.M.N. Wan Daud: The Concept of Knowledge, op cit, p. 36.
 J. Waardenburg: `Some institutional..’ op cit, p. 109.
 Bayard Dodge: Muslim Education, op cit, p. 27.
 Encyclopedia of Islam, Vol I, p. 816.
 Bayard Dodge: Muslim Education, op cit, pp. 26-27, in particular.
 Ibn Jubair in K. Totah: The Contribution of the Arabs, op cit, p. 45.
 M. Sibai: Mosque Libraries, an historical study; Mansell Publishing Ltd; London and New York; 1987; p. 55.
 E. Levi Provencal: Nukhab Tarikhiya Jamia li Akhbar al-Maghrib al-Aqsa, Paris: La Rose, 1948; pp. 67-68.
 M.J. Deeb: Al-Zaytuna; in The Oxford Encyclopaedia of the Modern Islamic World; ed: J.L. Esposito; Oxford University Press; 1995; vol 4; p. 374.
 Al-Maqrizi, Ahmad Ibn Ali. Al-mawaiz wa Alitibar fi dhikr al-Khitat wa-Alathar. Edited by Ahmed Ali al-Mulaiji. 3 Vols. Beirut: Dar al-Urfan. 1959; vol 3, pp. 222-3.
 J.Berkey: The Transmission of knowledge in Medieval Cairo, Princeton University Press, 1992; pp. 52-4.
 Ibid; p. 52.
 In A.S. Tritton: Materials, op cit, p. 78.
 In G. Makdisi: The Rise of humanism, op cit; especially the last chapters.
 Ibid, p.350.
 J. Ribera: Dissertaciones y opusculos, 2 vols, Madrid, 1928.