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The medrese is located southwest of the city centre of old Mardin. The altitude of the Kasımiye is about 975 metres (3,199 ft).
The medrese was begun sultan Al-Zahir Majd al-Din 'Isā ibn Dāwūd (or İsa Bey) of the Artuqid dynasty, rulers of an Anatolian beylik. However, he was killed in a battle against the Karakoyunlu in 1407, before the building was fully constructed. The construction was resumed after the city fell to the Akkoyunlu Turkmens. Kasım, a son of Akkoyunlu sultan Mu'izz-al-Din, is credited with completing the medrese in 1445.
The main building is rectangular. The entrance through an ornamented portal is from the south. In the courtyard there is a pool. The water source is a funnel in the wall that represents birth. The water from the pool drains through a narrow slit that represents death and sırat (in Islamic belief a narrow bridge on hell which leads to paradise) . The classrooms surround the pool. The classroom doors are kept deliberately low to ensure students would bow reverently before their teachers as they entered.
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