Beez Neez
Skipper and First Mate Millard (Big Bear and Pepe)
Wed 22 Oct 2008 22:28

Mosques, a Uni and a Tomb

There are 700 mosques in Fes, just chose a couple to put on the blog.
Features common to all mosques. Small black shapes are representative of ants, yellow bees !!!!! hard working, busy, team workers and sacred. Bear releasing a money spider I caught on the wind, twice round the head, passed on and now released against the Cedar wood door, Kufic calligraphy represent verses from the Qur'an, Large patterns have meanings, original marble from Italy.


Sahrij Medersa

The city of Fez has always been known to be a city of mystery, culture and hidden architectural treasures. As many other cities in Morocco have modernized to accommodate the growing tourism industry, Fez has withdrawn into its traditions. This has made the city a Moroccan gem of mosques, high walls and narrow passageways, almost as if it has been lost in time. One of the attractions to Fez is its Medersas, of which the Sahrij Medersa is very popular amongst tourists. The Merenid Sultans were responsible for the construction of the first Moroccan Medersas. Their influence and the creative capabilities of the Andalousian Arabs can be seen in the detailed mosaics and stuccos that adorn both the Andalousian Mosque and the Sahrij Medersa. All medersas, including the Sahrij Medersa, were created as Islamic educational facilities where the Qur’an, medicine, astronomy, mathematics and Arabic was taught to students. As a Koranic School, the Sahrij Medersa also featured boarding rooms for students who came to the school from surrounding villages and towns.



Us by the pool, ( damage seen behind us ) stand at either end and you think you are at the deeper end, a stick proves same depth. "what you see is not always true or to be believed" a teaching to the students.

Built in the year 1321, the Sahrij Medersa’s name was derived from a pool that is located within the medersa, and in the Arabic language “Sahrij” means “pool”. The most recognized features of the medersa are the white and green minarets that can be seen on top of the structure. As with most medersas, the Sahrij Medersa’s courtyard is paved and the interior has some of the most exquisite cedar wood and stone carvings. Even the mosaics were chosen and designed with religious connotations. An interesting fact about the tiles is that each colour represents something. For instance, the colour green is for Islam, white is for purity, black indicates depth, yellow is symbolic of wealth and the color blue represents the sky. The medersa does still function as an educational facility and often times the students, some from Ghana, can be heard practicing their verses. Repairs and renovations have been ongoing in all the medersas in Fez. Sadly, tourists and visitors have been removing the ancient and delicate mosaic tiles from the original masterpieces as souvenirs. Such damage and plundering of these historical buildings is a direct attack on the history and culture of the city. Restoration work is slow, as much time is spent on the smaller details and long-term survival of the medersas. The Sahrij Medersa is not only a structure of historical importance but, a religious institution.

The Medersa Bou Inania

The Medersa Bou Inania ( Arabic: المدرسة البوعنانية‎ - Al-madrasa Al-abū `inānīya ) in Fes, is a medersa ( Islamic learning centre ) funded by Abu Inan Faris. It has the same name and the same founder as the Medersa Bou Inania in Meknes.



Main "altar" always facing East. Boys prayer room, non echo. Women's has pretty stained glassed windows. If you cannot wash your hands before prayers, rub them over with a stone.

Because of the unreligious reputation of Abu Inan Faris, with over 300 sons and a tendency to murder all his opponents atrociously, the religious leaders of the Karaouine Mosque advised him to build his Medersa on the garbage dump of the city. The medersa became one of the most important religious places of Fes and Morocco, gaining the status of Grand Mosque.



The courtyard, Minaret, main entrance and a holy man. Outside along the walls are nail heads to guide the blind to prayer. A white flag is hoisted on the top of the Minaret for the deaf.

The University of Qaraouiyine

The University of Al-Karaouine or Al-Qarawiyyin take your pick how you pronounce this one. ( Arabic: جامعة القرويين‎ ) (other transliterations of the name include Qarawiyin, Kairouyine, Kairaouine, Qairawiyin, Qaraouyine, Quaraouiyine way too many vowels, Quarawin, and Qaraouiyn) is a university located in the Fes Medina. Founded in 859, the university is one of the leading spiritual and educational centers of the Muslim world and is considered the oldest continuously operating institution of higher learning in the world by the Guiness Book of Records.

Al Karaouine University played a leading role in the cultural and academic relations between the Islamic world and Europe in the middle ages. One of the greatest non-Muslim alumnus of the university was the Jewish philosopher and theologian Maimonides (1135-1204), who studied under Abdul Arab Ibn Muwashah. The cartographer Mohammed al-Idrisi (d. 1166), whose maps aided European exploration in the Renaissance is said to have lived in Fes for some time, suggesting that he may have worked or studied at Al Karaouine. The university has produced numerous scholars who have strongly influenced the intellectual and academic history of the Muslim world. Among these are Ibn Rushayd al-Sabti (d. 1321), Mohammed Ibn al-Hajj al-Abdari al-Fasi probably Mo to his mates (d. 1336), Abu Imran al-Fasi (d. 1015), a leading theorist of the Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence, and Leo Africanus, a renowned traveler and writer.


The University of Al-Karaouine is part of a mosque, founded in 859 by Fatima al-fihri, the daughter of a wealthy merchant named Mohammed Al-Fihri. The Al-Fihri family had migrated from Kairouan (hence the name of the university), Tunisia to Fes in the early 9th century, joining a community of other migrants from Kairouan who had settled in a western district of the city. Fatima and her sister Mariam, both of whom were well educated, inherited a large amount of money from their father. Fatima vowed to spend her entire inheritance on the construction of a mosque suitable for her community. In addition to a place for worship, the mosque soon developed into a place for religious instruction and political discussion, gradually extending its education to a broad range of subjects, particularly the natural sciences. In 1957, King Mohammed V introduced mathematics, physics, chemistry and foreign languages.

The university gained the patronage of politically powerful sultans. It compiled a large selection of manuscripts that were kept at a library founded by the Marinid Sultan Abu Inan Faris in 1349. Among the most precious manuscripts currently housed in the university library are volumes from the famous Al-Muwatta of Malik written on gazelle parchmant, the Sirat Ibn Ishaq, a copy of the Qur'an given to the university by Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur in 1602, and the original copy of Ibn Khaldun's book Al-'Ibar. Among the subjects taught, alongside the Qur'an and Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), are grammar, rhetoric, logic, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, history, geography and music.

Al-Karaouine played, in medieval times, a leading role in the cultural exchange and transfer of knowledge between Muslims and Europeans. Pioneer scholars such as Ibn Maimun (Maimonides), (1135-1204), Al-Idrissi (d.1166 AD), Ibn al-Arabi (1165-1240 AD), Ibn Khaldun (1332-1395 AD), Ibn al-Khatib, Al-Bitruji (Alpetragius), Ibn Hirzihim, and Al-Wazzan were all connected with the university either as students or lecturers. Among Christian scholars visiting Al-Karaouine were the Belgian Nicolas Cleynaerts and the Dutch Golius. History reports on Lyautey, the French general who led the French "civilising Mission" in Morocco by calling al-Karaouine "the Dark House".

Architecture of the mosque

Successive dynasties expanded the Al Karaouine mosque until it became the largest in north Africa, with a capacity of more than 20,000 worshipers ( a lot of shoes ). Compared with the great mosques of Isfahan or Istanbul, the design is austere. The columns and arches are plain white; the floors are covered in reed mats, not lush carpets. Yet the seemingly endless forest of arches creates a sense of infinite majesty and intimate privacy, while the simplicity of the design compliments the finely decorated niches, pulpit and outer courtyard, with its superb tiles, plasterwork, woodcarvings and paintings.




The present form of the mosque is the result of a long historical evolution over the course of more than 1,000 years. Originally the mosque was about 30 meters long with a courtyard and four transverse aisles. The first expansion was undertaken in 956, by Umayyad Caliph of Cordoba, Abd-ar-Rahman III. The prayer hall was extended and the minaret was relocated, taking on a square form that served as a model for countless North African minarets. At this time it became a tradition that other mosques of Fes would make the call to prayer only after they heard Al Karaouine.



Non-Muslims can nip round the corner from the women's part to put coins in the petition slot. Hand held flat over the slot, the other aloft, make your wish.

The most extensive reconstruction was carried out in 1135 under the patronage of the Almoravid ruler sultan Ali Ibn Yusuf who ordered the extension of the mosque from 18 to 21 aisles, expanding the structure to more than 3,000 square meters. Some accounts suggest that Ali Ibn Yusuf employed two Andalusian architects who also built the central aisle of the Great Mosque of Tlemcen, Algeria, in 1136. The mosque acquired its present, Cordoban appearance at this time, featuring horseshoe arches and ijmiz frames decorated with beautiful geometrical and floral Andalusian art, bordered with Kufic calligraphy. In the 16th century, the Saadis restored the mosque, adding two patios to the northern and southern ends of the courtyard.


The Merinid Tombs look down on the city.


All in all fascinating, intricate designs and they make a change from Cathedrals