List of Islamic seminaries

This is a list of Islamic seminaries throughout history, including the operational, historical, defunct or converted ones. This list includes mainly madrasa in the Western context, which refers to the specific type of religious school or college for the study of the Islamic religion and Islamic educations, though this may not be the only subject studied. It also includes sectarian or regional variants which have distinct characteristics and traditions, though serves the identical purposes as seminary, namely Hawza of Shi'a Islam, Nezamiyeh in the medieval Persia, Darul Uloom which has roots in South Asia, Qawmi in Bangladesh, pesantren in Indonesia, and pondok in Malaysia and Southern Thailand. This list does not include institutions which are not religious seminaries, but have an Islamic identity or charter, or devoted to sciences and arts usually associated with Islamic culture and history, namely Islamic University.

University of Al Quaraouiyine in Fes, the oldest existing, continually operating and the first degree awarding educational institution in the world according to UNESCO and Guinness World Records.[1][2]
The Registan and its three madrasahs. From left to right: Ulugh Beg Madrasah, Tilya-Kori Madrasah and Sher-Dor Madrasah.

List of Islamic seminariesEdit

The listings are in alphabetical order by country.


Bosnia and HerzegovinaEdit











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List of oldest Islamic seminariesEdit

Year Current Location Name Other notes
737   Tunis, Tunisia University of Ez-Zitouna For centuries, Qirwan was the early centre of learning and intellectual pursuits in Tunisia and North Africa in General. Starting from the 13th century, Tunis became the capital of Ifriqiya under Almohad and Hafsid rule.This shift in power helped Ez-Zitouna to flourish and become one of the major centres of Islamic learning, and Ibn Khaldun, the first social historian in history was one of its products. The flourishing university attracted students and men of learning from all parts of the known world at the time. Along with theology; mainly the Qur'an, the university taught jurisprudence, history, grammar, science and medicine.When it comes to books and libraries, Ez-Zituna libraries were the richest among North African counterparts. It had several collections totaling in the tens of thousands of books. One of its libraries, el-Abdaliyah included a large collection of rare and unique manuscripts. The manuscripts covered almost all subjects and sciences, including grammar, logic, documentations, etiquette of research, cosmology, arithmetic, geometry, minerals, vocational training, etc.
859   Fes, Morocco University of Al Quaraouiyine Founded by Fatima al-Fihri, originally as a mosque. 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. 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 Dutchman Golius. Among the subjects taught, alongside the Qur'an and Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), are grammar, rhetoric, logic, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, history, geography and music. It is considered the oldest university in the world by some scholars,[4][5] and the oldest continuously-operating degree-granting institution in the world by the Guinness Book Of Records,[6] although some dispute this claim.[7]
970-972   Cairo, Egypt Al-Azhar University Founded by the Fatimid dynasty of Egypt, this university served as a center for Arabic literature and Sunni Islamic learning. The college (Jami'ah) had faculties in Islamic law and jurisprudence, Arabic grammar, Astronomy, Islamic philosophy, and Logic. The Al-Azhar is considered by some as the world's second oldest surviving degree-granting institute.[citation needed] According to the Encyclopedia of Islam, Al-Azhar was a religious university, a madrasa and center of higher learning.[8]

In the 1950s, Al-Azhar underwent significant change, with new regulations and reform resulting in an expanded role.[9] In 1961 it became a modern university when many modern secular faculties were added, such as medicine, engineering and agriculture.

1065   Isfahan, Iran Nizamiyya Nizamiyya: This series of universities was established by Khwaja Nizam al-Mulk in the eleventh century in what is now present-day Iran. The most celebrated of all the Nizamiyya schools is Al-Nizamiyya of Baghdad, established in 1065 in Dhu'l Qa'da and that remains operational in Isfahan. But, this was just one of many Nizamiyyah schools — others were located in Nishapur, Amul, Mosul, Herat, Damascus, and Basra. The Nizamiyya schools served as a model for future universities in the region, and al-Mulk often is seen as responsible for a new era of brilliance which caused his schools to eclipse all other contemporary learning institutions.

Baghdad, Iraq

Mustansiriya Madrasah Mustansiriya Madrasah was a medieval-era scholarly complex that provided a universal system of higher education. It was established in 1227 CE and was named after and built by the Abbasid Caliph al-Mustansir in Baghdad, Iraq. The Madrasa taught many different subjects, including medicine, math, literature, grammar, philosophy, and Islamic religious studies. However, the major focus of education was Islamic law. It became the most prominent and high-ranking center for Islamic studies in all of Baghdad. Madrasas during the Abbasid period were used as the predominant instrument to foster the spread of Sunni thought as well as a way to extend the founder's pious ideals. The architecture of the Madrasa was also an important example of Islamic architectural development in Baghdad. The Madrasa has experienced several periods of decline and reemergence throughout its history. The most significant degradation to the Madrasa's architecture and position within Baghdad was the Mongol Siege of Baghdad (1258). Today, the Madrasa is in a state of restoration as is it being overseen by the Directorate of Antiquities in Iraq.

It is currently a part of the Al-Mustansiriya University, and is located on the left bank of the Tigris River. Adjacent landmarks include the Saray souq, the Baghdadi Museum, Mutanabbi Street, the Abbasid Palace, and Caliph's Street.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Oldest University
  2. ^ "Medina of Fez". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. UNESCO. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
  3. ^ "About Us". Jamia Madania Angura Muhammadpur.
  4. ^ Esposito, John (2003). The Oxford Dictionary of Islam. Oxford University Press. p. 328. ISBN 0-19-512559-2.
  5. ^ Kettani, M. Ali. Engineering Education in the Arab World. Middle East Journal, 1974, 28(4):441.
  6. ^ The Guinness Book Of Records, Published 1998, ISBN 0-553-57895-2, p. 242
  7. ^ Some sources claim that University of Bologna is the oldest in the world.
  8. ^ Jomier, J. "al- Azhar (al-Ḏj̲āmiʿ al-Azhar)." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman , Th. Bianquis , C.E. Bosworth , E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2010, retrieved 20 March 2010:

    This great mosque, the 'brilliant one' one of the principal mosques of present-day Cairo. This seat of learning...regained all its activity—Sunnī from now on—during the reign of Sultan Baybars...Al-Azhar at the beginning of the 19th century could well have been called a religious university; what it was not was a complete university giving instruction in those modern disciplines essential to the awakening of the country.

  9. ^ Skovgaard-Petersen, Jakob. "al-Azhar, modern period." Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE. Edited by: Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas and Everett Rowson. Brill, 2010, retrieved 20 March 2010:

    Al-Azhar, the historic centre of higher Islamic learning in Cairo, has undergone significant change since the late 19th century, with new regulations and reforms resulting in an expanded role for the university. 1. From madrasa to university