A Muslim Woman Founded World's Oldest Continuously Operating University

Taxila University, the world's first known university, was founded in 600 BCE in what is now Pakistan. This university ceased to exist in 500 CE. University of Al Quaraouiyine, started by a Muslim woman in North Africa, is believed to be the world's oldest university that has been in continuous operation since its founding 859 CE.

University of Al Quaraouiyine
University of Taxila:

University of Taxila, the  world's oldest known university, was founded in 600 BCE  in the Kingdom of Gandhara, in Ancient India, but now in Pakistan. It was not a university in the modern sense of the word. It did not have any infrastructure like classrooms nor did it provide housing for its teachers or students. There was no established system of schooling or curriculum in Taxila. Taxila followed no system of examinations, and did not award degrees to its students.

The town of Taxila flourished between 600 BCE and 500 CE. Dozens of subjects were taught at the university including religion, language, philosophy, politics, warfare, music and commerce. Minimum  admission age was 16.  Over 10,000 students studied there, including students from many nations around the world.

University of Al Quaraouiyine:

University of Al Quaraouiyine (also spelled al karaouine) was founded by Fatima Al Fihri in 859 CE in Fez, Morocco. It is believed to be the world's oldest continuously operating university.

Al-Fihri, born in Kairouan (Qayrawan) in what is now Tunisia, was a well-educated daughter of a wealthy merchant. Her family migrated to Fez where she started the world's oldest continuously operating university named after her place of birth.

The University started as a madrassa affiliated with a mosque. It had the basic infrastructure and systems associated with modern universities. It had a formal curriculum, administered examinations and awarded degrees. It became part of the foundation of the glory days of the Islamic Civilization.

The University currently has staff and faculty of over 1000 and it has over 8000 students enrolled. The list of its most distinguished alumni include Ibn Khaldun, widely regarded as the forerunner of the modern disciplines of historiography, sociology, economics, and demography. Other notable alumni are Jewish philosopher Maimonides,  Muslim philosopher Ibn Rushd (Averroes) and Muslim geographer Mohammad Al-Idrisi.

The world's second oldest continuously operating university is Al Azhar in Cairo, Egypt established in 970 CE.

Universities in Europe:

University of Bologna, the oldest university in Europe, was established in 1088 CE, more than two centuries after  University of Al Quaraouiyine was founded by Fatima Al-Fihri in Fez, Morocco.

Then came Oxford University in 1096, Salamanca University in 1134, Paris University in 1160 and Cambridge University in 1209.

World Changing Inventions/Discoveries:

While the concept of universities has had the biggest impact on the world, there are several other innovations and-or discoveries by Muslims that have changed the world. A short list includes coffee, Algebra, marching band and camera. Here is a video about the top 5 Muslim inventions that changed the world:

https://youtu.be/CC6CkdsuN-k




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Rise and Fall of the Islamic Civilization

Pakistani Woman Leads Global Gender Parity Campaign

Muslims Have Few Nobel Prizes

Ibn Khaldun: The Father of Modern Social Sciences

Obama Speaks to the Muslim World

Lost Discoveries by Dick Teresi

Physics of Christianity by Frank Tipler

What is Not Taught in School

How Islamic Inventors Changed the World

Jinnah's Pakistan Booms Amidst Doom and Gloom

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
#Hindutva scientists claim ancient #India discovered/invented all modern #science and #Technologies from #rockets, #airplanes, #computers, plastic surgery and #stemcells https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/07/india-scientists-claim-ancient-hindus-invented-stem-cell-research-dismiss-einstein

At this year’s (Indian Science) congress, the head of a southern Indian university cited an ancient Hindu text as proof that stem cell research was discovered on the subcontinent thousands of years ago.

“We had 100 Kauravas from one mother because of stem cell and test tube technology,” said G. Nageshwar Rao, vice chancellor at Andhra University, referring to a story from the Hindu epic Mahabharata.

Rao, who was addressing school children and scientists at the event, also said a demon king from another centuries-old Hindu epic had two dozen aircraft and a network of landing strips in modern-day Sri Lanka.

“Hindu Lord Vishnu used guided missiles known as ‘Vishnu Chakra’ and chased moving targets,” added the professor of inorganic chemistry.

Event organisers tried to hose down the remarks, saying it was “unfortunate” the prestigious event had been derailed by controversy.

“We don’t subscribe to their views and distance ourselves from their comments. This is unfortunate,” said Premendu P Mathur, general secretary of Indian Scientific Congress Association.

“There is a serious concern about such kind of utterances by responsible people.”


Another speaker, a scientist from a university in southern Tamil Nadu state, also raised eyebrows by questioning the breakthroughs of Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein.

India is no stranger to prominent figures citing ancient Hindu texts like the Puranas and Vedas as ironclad evidence of the country’s technological prowess.

India’s minister for higher education Satyapal Singh last year said Darwin’s theory of evolution was wrong, and vowed to change the national school curriculum to reflect that.

The minister hails from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which rules 17 of India’s 29 states and territories outright or through alliances.

BJP leader and prime minister Narendra Modi in 2015 pointed to Hindu scriptures as proof that plastic surgery existed in ancient India.

Science minister Harsh Vardhan last year said ancient Greeks took credit from India for early mathematical principles and misquoted Stephen Hawking as praising the Vedas for discoveries greater than Einstein’s theory of relativity.

The Breakthrough Science Society, an Indian-based educational charity, said it was “astounded and even horrified” at the remarks made at an academic summit.

“Puranic verses and epics are poetic, enjoyable, contain moral elements and [are] rich in imagination but [are] not scientifically constructed or validated theories,” the group said in a statement Sunday.

“Such a hallowed assembly of scientists has been misused to make false and chauvinistic claims about ancient India.”

Riaz Haq said…
Medieval #Muslim scholar Ibn Khaldun’s words of wisdom: “Blindly following ancient customs and traditions doesn’t mean the dead are alive but it means that the living are dead”

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1297921646666199040?s=20
Riaz Haq said…
1000 Years Before #Darwin, #Islamic Scholars Wrote About Natural Selection. "Al-Jahiz appears to have had not just evolutionary ideas, but many ideas that could be said to be related specifically to the process of evolution by natural selection” https://www.vice.com/en/article/ep4ykn/a-thousand-years-before-darwin-islamic-scholars-were-writing-about-natural-selection via @vice

In the summer of 1837, Charles Darwin drew a rudimentary sketch in his notebook, lines of ink that branched out from another. This tree-like doodle would come to represent his theory of evolution by natural selection, a way to visualize how plants and animals adapt in response to their environments. On the top of the page, Darwin scrawled the words, "I think."

When many students are taught about evolution they learn about Darwin, how he observed bird beaks on the Galápagos Islands, and pieced together one of history's most significant biological puzzles.

But this narrative, focusing on a singular person's "I think," omits a long history of humans contemplating how organisms change over time. Evolutionary musings have existed before Darwin, and some professors and museums are now striving to include that neglected history in curriculums and exhibitions.

Recently, New York University professor James Higham tweeted about how he updated the lectures of his class on primate behavioral ecology, geared to upper-level undergraduates. They now "properly acknowledge Islamic scholarship in this area—especially that of Al-Jahiz (781-869 CE)," Higham wrote. "It seems clear that something like evolution by natural selection was proposed a thousand years before Darwin/Wallace." (The naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace independently proposed the theory of evolution by natural selection around the same time as Darwin.)

Higham told VICE News he wasn’t taught about Al-Jahiz in his own training; he knew of Al-Jahiz vaguely as a theologian, writer, and scholar, but not a biologist.

“I was struck by the extent to which Al-Jahiz appears to have had not just evolutionary ideas, but many ideas that could be said to be related specifically to the process of evolution by natural selection,” Higham said in an email. “This seems to have included ideas such as competition over finite resources, adaptation in response to the environment, and speciation over time as an outcome.”
Riaz Haq said…
In Hasidic Enclaves, Failing Private Schools Flush With Public Money
New York’s Hasidic Jewish religious schools have benefited from $1 billion in government funding in the last four years but are unaccountable to outside oversight.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/11/nyregion/hasidic-yeshivas-schools-new-york.html


The Hasidic Jewish community has long operated one of New York’s largest private schools on its own terms, resisting any outside scrutiny of how its students are faring.

But in 2019, the school, the Central United Talmudical Academy, agreed to give state standardized tests in reading and math to more than 1,000 students.

Every one of them failed.

Students at nearly a dozen other schools run by the Hasidic community recorded similarly dismal outcomes that year, a pattern that under ordinary circumstances would signal an education system in crisis. But where other schools might be struggling because of underfunding or mismanagement, these schools are different. They are failing by design.

The leaders of New York’s Hasidic community have built scores of private schools to educate children in Jewish law, prayer and tradition — and to wall them off from the secular world. Offering little English and math, and virtually no science or history, they drill students relentlessly, sometimes brutally, during hours of religious lessons conducted in Yiddish.

The result, a New York Times investigation has found, is that generations of children have been systematically denied a basic education, trapping many of them in a cycle of joblessness and dependency.

Segregated by gender, the Hasidic system fails most starkly in its more than 100 schools for boys. Spread across Brooklyn and the lower Hudson Valley, the schools turn out thousands of students each year who are unprepared to navigate the outside world, helping to push poverty rates in Hasidic neighborhoods to some of the highest in New York.

The schools appear to be operating in violation of state laws that guarantee children an adequate education. Even so, The Times found, the Hasidic boys’ schools have found ways of tapping into enormous sums of government money, collecting more than $1 billion in the past four years alone.

Warned about the problems over the years, city and state officials have avoided taking action, bowing to the influence of Hasidic leaders who push their followers to vote as a bloc and have made safeguarding the schools their top political priority.

“I don’t know how to put into words how frustrating it is,” said Moishy Klein, who recently left the community after realizing it had not taught him basic grammar, let alone the skills needed to find a decent job. “I thought, ‘It’s crazy that I’m literally not learning anything. It’s crazy that I’m 20 years old, I don’t know any higher order math, never learned any science.’”

To examine the Hasidic schools, The Times reviewed thousands of pages of public records, translated dozens of Yiddish-language documents and interviewed more than 275 people, including current and former students, teachers, administrators and regulators.

The review provided a rare look inside a group of schools that is keeping some 50,000 boys from learning a broad array of secular subjects.

The students in the boys' schools are not simply falling behind. They are suffering from levels of educational deprivation not seen anywhere else in New York, The Times found. Only nine schools in the state had less than 1 percent of students testing at grade level in 2019, the last year for which full data was available. All of them were Hasidic boys’ schools.

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan's Islamic seminaries pair science with the Quran
Pakistan has thousands of private madrassas that have been criticized for not teaching secular subjects to students who graduate with limited job prospects. Some later join militant groups.



https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-South-Central/2014/0415/Pakistan-s-Islamic-seminaries-pair-science-with-the-Quran

Anwarul Haq, a frail, bespectacled cleric, sits before a class of attentive students in Darul Uloom Haqqania, one of Pakistan’s many madrassas, or Islamic seminaries. His class of 1,400 students is the most senior of 4,000 enrollees at Darul Uloom, an hour's drive from Peshawar.

The students follow a 500-year-old curriculum adopted across South Asia. The oversized book used in Mr. Haq's class, a collection of ahadith, or sayings attributed to the prophet Muhammad, is centuries old and written in Arabic. Commentary written in Urdu in present-day India fills the margins. 

“This country was built on Islam, the idea of following God's teachings. Here we are learning how to do that,” says Haq.

What students learn, and don’t learn, in thousands of such private seminaries is a matter of concern for Pakistan’s government. Under a national security policy unveiled last month, Pakistan aims to bring madrassas under tighter state control, update their curricula to tone down extremist views, and introduce subjects like mathematics and science. The goal is to turn out graduates capable of getting decent jobs who won’t be tempted to join the Taliban or other militant groups.

“Graduates stand in between two worlds,” says Nafisa Shah, a lawmaker from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League. When they don't get jobs, she says, “they become vulnerable [to recruitment by militants].” 

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In Darul Uloom’s computer lab, nearly 350 students use dozens of old desktop computers for classes on how to type, or surf the web. By contrast, only 39 percent of government schools in Pakistan have electricity. Three million children never attend a single class, according to an official 2011 survey. Critics say the focus on regulating madrassas ignores the broader failure of Pakistan's leaders to invest in primary education. 

Computer literacy
The school's computer literacy course was started nearly 15 years ago in response to demands by students. Most students also sign up for extra classes in science or mathematics that use the same curriculum taught in government schools, says Haq.

Most graduates from Darul Uloom work as clerics, but hundreds have had successful secular careers. Muneer Alam is among them: he graduated in 2003 with an advanced degree in Islamic law, then went to medical school and became an endocrinologist. He now runs a clinic outside Rawalpindi. “People see Islamic education as an obstacle, but it isn't,” he says.


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Ammar Khan Nasir, an expert on modernizing Islamic studies who teaches at Al-Sharia Academy, a university in Gujranwala, says madrassa curricula need to be updated so students understand the modern nation-state. But he warns this alone isn’t enough to staunch the recruitment of militants in war-torn tribal areas near the Afghanistan border.

“They study the same curriculum that was in place 500 years ago," he says. What's changed, he adds, is what they hear in their spare time, a vitriolic narrative that pits the West and the Pakistani state against Islam. [Editor's note: The original version misidentified Mr. Nasir's university and wrongly attributed a direct quote to him.


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