Who is Fihri?
Before John Harvard, Leland Stanford, and Roger Babson, there was Fatima al-Fihri. The world's first university was created by this forgotten woman in history.
Born in Qayrawan in northeastern Tunisia, Fatima al-Fihri inhereted a large amount of money following her father's death. She decided to reinvest the money into the community and established the University of al-Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco, named after her hometown.
Qarawiyyin quickly became a community gathering place for symposiums, debates, and academia. The coursework eventually expanded to include grammar, mathematics, medicine, music, and astronomy. Soon, the university established teaching chairs and began conferring degrees upon its successful students. Al-Fihri also accumulated a vast library. One of the oldest in the world, it has over 4,000 ancient manuscripts.
Early algebra was created at al-Fihri's university, and several influential figures, including Pope Sylvester II studied at Qarawiyyin. In fact, he is credited with introducing Arabic numerals (the ones that we still use today) to the rest of Europe.
Now, over 1,000 years after its establishment in 859 AD, the University of al-Qarawiyyin is still a fully operational university. Al-Fihri's university became a model for higher education that the rest of the world still follows today, a testament to her lasting impact on educational access.
FIHRI was established to honor Fatima al-Fihri's legacy.