Fatima Muhammad Al-Fihri (? – 880) (فاطمة محمد الفهري, nicknamed Oum al Banine, meaning the mother of the kids) was a Muslim woman chiefly known as the founder of the world's first academic degree-granting institution of higher education, which is still in operation today as the University of Qarawiyyin in Fes, Morocco.
Fatima Al-Fihri was the child of Muhammad Al-Fihri, a wealthy businessman from Fihrids family. She migrated along with her father from the cityKairouan located in present-day Tunisia to Fes located in current day Morocco. She also had a sister called Mariam.
The construction of the Qarawiyyin mosque
After Fatima and Mariam inherited their deceased father's fortune, they decided to support the construction of mosques or educational institutions such as the Qarwiyyin mosque as a Waqf or Sadaqah Jariya for their deceased father. In 859, Fatima founded the world's first Academic degree-granting institution of higher education, which is still in operation today as the University of Qarawiyyin in Fes, Morroco. The University of Qarawiyyin was regarded as being a major intellectual centre in the Mediterranean that its excellent reputation even led Gerber of Auvergne to study at it. Auvergne later went on to become Pope Sylvester II and has been given the credit of introducing Arabic numerals & the zero to the rest of Europe.
Her sister Mariam is said to have been responsible for the construction of the Al-Andalus (Andalusian) Mosque in Fes .
FSTC Limited, Wednesday 20 October 2004.
Muslims Weekly, Commentary, Jawed Anwar, 4 April 2005.