The name Fatima crowns the annals of history with the distinction of establishing the world’s very first university. Yes, it was a Muslim woman who pioneered this effective model of higher learning coupled with the issuance of degrees of various levels.
Fatima al-Fihri migrated with her family from Qayrawan in present-day Tunisia to the city of Fez in Morocco in the early ninth century during the rule of the Idrees II, who was both an extraordinary ruler and a devout Muslim. Fes at the time was bustling as the metropolis of the “Muslim West” (known as al-Maghrib), and held the promise of fortune and felicity. Having become one of the most influential Muslim cities, it boasted a rich combination of religion and culture, both cosmopolitan and traditional. Idrees II reestablished the city on the left bank of the River Fez. This is where Fatima was to settle and get married.