The House of Knowledge (Arabic: دار العلم, romanizedDār al-ʿIlm) was an ancient university of the Fatimid Caliphate (today's Egypt), built in 1004 CE as a library and converted by the Fatimid Imam-Caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah to a state university in the same year.[1]

The House of Knowledge allowed men and women to study at the university free of charge, studying subjects from Quran, Hadiths, Fiqh, Astronomy, Science, Mathematics and Philosophy.

The House of Knowledge eventually overtook Baghdad’s House of wisdom as number 1 learning centre in the world.

The 15th-century historian al-Maqrizi records that "The House of Wisdom in Cairo did not open its doors to the public except before the furnishing, decoration and beautification of all the doors and corridors, and many servants were appointed. And the number of shelves in forty cabinets, each one of them could accommodate about eighteen thousand books. And (the shelves) were open, and books accessible to everyone. And one who wants a book, then the book can be easily found by him. If a book cannot be found by oneself, one can seek the help of hired handlers."

In keeping with the Islamic tradition of knowledge, the Fatimids collected books on a variety of subjects and their libraries attracted the attention of scholars from around the world. The Imam-Caliph al-Hakim was a great patron of learning and provided paper, pens, ink and inkstands without charge to all those who wished to study there.[2]

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References

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  1. ^ Bengoechea, Isabella (November 10, 2016). "Cairo's Lost House of Wisdom: The Great Cultural Legacy of Egypt". Culture Trip. Retrieved January 6, 2023.
  2. ^ Virani, Shafique N. (2007). The Ismailis in the Middle Ages: A History of Survival, A Search for Salvation. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 92.