Fez: rejuvenating the glory of Islamic civilization

By Badrudheen Ali El Farthawi


Fez, the spiritually and culturally rich capital of the Kingdom of Morocco is one of the jewels in the crown of the Arab Andalusia civilization of western Muslims. This historical place has some historical records of series of violence often heroic and sometimes holy. Unfortunately, we cannot see the miracle contribution of this Moroccan city in academic chronicles. It has a wealthy account of famous cities like Baghdad, Cordoba and Samarqand to introduce the Islamic civilization. But Fez, the Athens of west was the best model for any nation. It had shown a well established educational system through universities and thousands of madrassas (moral schools for the Muslim students), which denotes the cultural boom of this city which not only demonstrates the cultural heritage of Islamic civilization, but scientific and administrative educational skill.


The city was founded on a shore of the Jawahar River by Idris in 789. The name is probably taken from the word fezez, the old name for the middle atlas mountain near the city. The name is also known of a Berber tribe living in the South of Fez. Today fezaz is the name of a small town. Fez is the historic city and the ancestral past of the Moroccan state in terms of its civilization. It remains as the core of intellectual, spiritual and creativity centre of dialogues among civilizations. It is blessed with the one of the oldest university of the world so called Quarouiyyne. Its ancient medina was chosen later as the world heritage site by UNESCO in 1981. The city was a true symbol of peaceful atmosphere having two million people. It was surrounded by beautiful forests, exotic gardens and food grains like grapes and olives. It was a beautiful panorama of greeneries which was really pleasant to the eyes and minds.

Fez retains many monuments which reflect different Muslim civilizations founded there, such as The wall with 12 doors. There are also thousands of old buildings with Andalusian architecture. The city was also well known for its various psychiatric centers. Among them the most famous one is Faraj centre.

Fez is also the hometown for many madrassas, where numerous renowned scholars were trained among them. Many famous scientists in Arab and the western world had carried their education from those Madrassas. The eminent scholars and academicians squeezed knowledge from Fez like Gilbest aurilall, pope (from 999 to 1003) under the brand name Silvester 2nd was one who added the zero to mathematics and carried the knowledge to Europe. Similarly, Ibn Khaldun, the father of Sociology and a veteran scholar ever lived in the world was also a pupil who went to the east and became a doctor of Salahuddeen Ayyubi. Ben al khatib is another example for the educational brilliance of Fez who was the Andalusian poet and the man of letters. It has also been documented Shafie el Idrisi and Zohr studied there.


Fez is also the homeland for 222 old mosques which are the evidence of the successive Muslim civilizations. The prominent among them are the Quarouiyyne, Al – Andalus and Al – Hamra. The Quarouiyyne was built by Fathima Bent Mohammed El Fihri in 859 or in 51 years after the city of Fez was founded. It continued as both mosque and university for a period spanning 1000 years making it the oldest university of the world. This university has contributed considerably in the formation of the personality and Muslim identity to preserve Arabic language, through its diverse methodologies, which involved both religious science and modern sciences. Thus its influence was a far reaching in the Arab world and even in many parts of Europe. The city has a reputation among the citizens of West Africa. The sacred museum of Ahmed al Tijaini, the founder of Tijaini brotherhood wasattracted by thousands of pilgrims from this land.


In my opinion Fez is the great example for Islamic civilization happened in the world. But we can’t see about this great FEZ as a distinguished city like Baghdad. The entire society disregards its precious innovation and contributions into the Islamic civilizations. Thus new generation but the almost people are unknown about it. If we could argue that Fez, the Athens of Africa is a notable model in the Islamic civilization, it may be the upmost contribution from a Islamic virtue.


Badrudheen Ali El Farthwavi is doing a special intensive course from Madeenathunnor College of Islamic Science.

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