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The Madrassa

Posted by Allison Craig on
The Madrassa

The Madrassa

The Madrassa is the ancestor of European schools for higher education. It is an institution, either state-owned or private, specialized in education, as indicated by the Arabic root of the word darasa which means to study. The madrassa used to train Ph.D. in religious sciences and mainly in Islamic law. It included lodgings for the teachers and for their students, in order to promote permanent communication between the master and the disciple who used to pray together. whose interests were rarely distinct and who were united by the love for knowledge

This institution played a key role in the intellectual and religious life of the medieval cities of Islam. It spread general and specialized knowledge. It organized the pedagogical foundations of traditional disciplines and endowed theology grammar, rhetorics and logics with their consecrated didactic form, entailing thus the flourishing of intellectual confrontations, ancestor of the disputations of la Sorbonne or Oxford.

Protohistoric of the madrassa would reveal the close links entertained at a Carly stage between the mosque (masjid) and the educational structures. The prophet used to hold sessions in the mosque of Medina during which he answered the questions of the first faithful. It was in a word the first madrassa whose history will later on go through three phases:

  • Its advent in Khurassan towards the year one thousand,
  • Its propagation during the Xlth and xlilth centuries and finally,
  • It is blooming as from the xillth century.

In the Muslim West, in the Maghreb, the madrassas first appeared in the XIllth century and were introduced to Nasrid Andalusia thanks to the role played mainly by the Merinid dynasty.

In the Maghreb, the madrassa Shammaiya of Tunis is founded in 1949, the madrassa Salarin in Fez is edified by the Merinid Abou Youssouf Yacoub in 1971: it is followed in the XIVth century by several madrassas in Fez, in Sale, in Sabta, in Meknes, and in Marrakesh.

The structure and form of the madrassa as we can find in the Fassi pattern show that the design tends towards more regularity.

The evolution of this structure and form will go through various phases. The first madrassas are built starting from an axis linking the entrance gate to the prayer hall (oratory) this is the case of the madrassa Sahrij (1321-23) and its annex. the Sba’yn and the Attárin (1323-25), both built under the reign of Abou Said Otmán.

A second axis, perpendicular to the first, and a secondary courtyard were first introduced in the madrassa Mesbahiya (1346) built under the reign of Abou el-Hassan.

The third phase illustrated by the madrassa Bouananiya, built by Abou Inân (1350-1355) is characterized by two perpendicular axes regular design. The first axis linking the entrance gate to the oratory, the second connecting the square side rooms between them; this layout reproduces the cruciform sketch that shows the eastern influence.

The Saâdians on their part built in Marrakesh the madrassa Ben Youssef which was different from the previous ones by the abundant number of its lodgings. This building actually houses fifty-one cells on each of its floors.

On its part, the Alaouite dynasty bequeathed to contemporary generations two beautiful madrassas in Fez, the madrassa Charratîn founded in the XVIlth century and that of Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah in the XVIIIth century.

The madrassa of the Hassan II Mosque is part of this tradition. It covers four thousand, eight hundred and forty square meters and includes a basement and two stories. The madrassa, built back onto the qibla wall takes the semi-circular shape of the mihrab section. This layout is commonly used in the Middle East and in the eastern Maghreb.

However, while abiding by the tradition of the music and that of religious education, the madrassa of the Casablanca Morocco mosque provides theology students with modern learning methods means, namely a specialized library and multipurpose rooms for seminars, colloquia, and conferences that are all equipped with sophisticated audiovisual means.