Educational Institutions in Hejaz
Mecca and Medina had been the most important intellectual and educational centres in the Islamic world before the establishment of the Abbasid Caliphate. The famous mosque of the Prophet at Medina was graced by the presence of such intellectual giants, legists and divines as Hazrat Ali, Hazrat Abbas, Hazrat Jaafar Sadiq, Imam Malik and Imam Hanbal. Even during the glories of the Abbasid Caliphate, the celebrated Harun-ar-Rashid had sent his sons Amin and Mamun to Medina to obtain education in religion, traditions and language. The children of Fatimah believed in the pursuit of learning and produced some of the most eminent scholars that Islam has known. From the four corners of the vast Islamic world students flocked round Imam Jaafar Sadiq and Imam Malik in Medina in order to be enlightened by their scholarly discourses.

The Omayyads paid little attention to the development of education and advancement of learning. They were mostly occupied with the suppression of internal conflicts, the consolidation of their great empire and the persecution of the great sons of Islam. The eminent Muslim scholars specially those belonging to the House of the Prophet preferred to lead a secluded life at Medina. During the Omayyad rule, Medina, Kufa and Damascus were the greatest centres of Islamic education, which was mostly given in mosques by the celebrated scholars. The short rule of Hazrat Omar Bin Abdul Aziz and the intellectual pursuits of Khalid Bin Yazid provided the only real educational activities during the Omayyad Caliphate.

The Abbasid Caliphate provided the most congenial atmosphere for the advancement of learning and education. In fact, the reign of Mamun-ar-Rashid who has deservedly been called the 'Augustus of Arabs' formed the culmination of the intellectual achievements of the Muslims. He was followed by a brilliant succession of Caliphs who continued his work.

The Darul Hukama (House of Wisdom) founded by Mamun in 830 A.D. at Baghdad was the first institution of higher learning in the Islamic world. Besides being a translation bureau, this institution functioned as an academy and housed an up-to-date library as well as an observatory. The academy and observatory run by the Darul Hukama, served as training and teaching centres in various branches of sciences. "The glory of Muslim education was its university system, which fed the higher learning. The academy of Mamun at Baghdad and the Hall of Wisdom of Fatimids at Cairo were great institutions and are explained by their environments".

Mamun-ar-Rashid who was a great patron of learning and education founded important institutions in Baghdad, Rasrah, Kufa and Bukbara. According to Maulana Shibli Nomani, Mamun had built a big college in Khorasan which employed eminent scholars summoned from all parts of the empire. The Caliph Mutawakkil, a nephew of Marnun kept up the traditions of his great uncle. In Egypt the Fatimid Caliph, Al-Hakim, had founded in 995 A.D. at Cairo an institution similar to the House of Wisdom of Mamun called the 'Hall of Wisdom or science', which contained a library, an observatory, and a medical college. It also had a big boarding house for students attached to it. Another Egyptian Caliph Aziz Billah constructed big institutions and dwellings for teachers and students who were also paid salaries.

Nizamiyah Institutions
Nizam-ul-Mulk Toosi, the talented Prime Ninister of Malik Shah Saljuqi had the distinction of being one of the greatest patrons and sponsors of higher education in Islamic history and founded a chain of great institutions all over his vast dominions. The rise of the Saljuqis and their grand munificence towards scholarship and science rivalled that of the golden days of the Abbasid rule. The grand vazier Nizam-ul-Mulk Toosi had collected round him a galaxy of talented scholars. He had founded Nizamiyah types of higher institutions in Neshapur, Baghdad, Khorasan, Iraq and Syria. The first great institution was the Nizamiyah University of Neshapur founded by Nizam-ul-Mulk Toosi in 1066, which in fact, was the first University of the Islamic world. Imam-ul-Harmain, the teacher of Al-Ghazali was the principal of Neshapur University, while Ghazali was a student of this University. In a lecture hall in Neshapur University, there were 500 ink-stands. According to Allama Khalikan, Nizam-ul-Mulk Toosi was the first person in Islamic history to lay the foundation of a regular educational institution. The State Exchequer was affected by the great munificence of Nizam-ul-Mulk toward the advancement of education. Malik Shah Saljuqi called his grand vazier Nizam-ul-Mulk and said "Dear Father--you can organise a big army with so much money. What great achievements do you expect from persons on whom you are showering your benevolence?" The wise minister replied, "My dear son, I have grown old, but you are a young Turk. If you are auctioned in the bazar, I doubt you will fetch more than 30 dinars. In spite of this God has made you the monarch of such a vast empire. Should you not be grateful to Him for the same? The arrows thrown by your archers will not fly far more than thirty yards, but even the vast shield of the sky cannot check the arrows of the prayers flung by the army which I have undertaken to produce". Malik Shah was struck with the wise reply of his talented vazier and cried out, "Excellent father--we must prepare such an army without the least delay". The example set by Nizam-ul-Mulk led to the opening of several high class institutions all over the Islamic world. The wealthier class of people and the members of the ruling class vied with each other in the building of educational institutions. During the sixth century A.H., there was hardly any corner of the Islamic world which did not contain such institutions. The big cities of Khorasan namely Merv, Neshapur, Herat and Balkh as well as Isfahan particularly benefitted from the patronage of Nizam-ul-Mulk and had a chain of Nizamiyah institutions of higher education. Yaqut Hamvi found a large number of institutions including Mustafia, Amidia, Khatunia and Nizamiyah besides several big libraries in Merv, when he visited this city in the 6th century A.H. Nizam-ul-Mulk not only founded great institutions all over his territories, but staffed them with the best talents of the age which immensely enhanced their reputation. Among them was Hujjat-ul-lslam Al-Ghazali, Principal of Nizamiyah University of Baghdad, Imam-ul-Hurmain, Principal of Nizamiyah University of Neshapur, AsShashi at Herat and Abu Ishaq Shirazi at Nizamiyah of Baghdad. Following the example of Nizam-ul-Mulk, another Saljuqi minister Tajuddaulah founded a college called 'Tajiyya' and other colleges too were opened at Samarqand, Balkh, Alleppo, Damascus and Ghazni.

Nizamiyah University of Baghdad
The greatest achievement of Nizam-ul-Mulk Toosi in the educational sphere was the establishment of the Nizamiyah University of Baghdad in 1065--67, A.D. which stands as a landmark in the educational advancement of Muslims during mediaeval times. Nizamiyah of Baghdad served as a model institution in the world of Islam, and its great reputation and high standard of teaching attracted students and scholars from all over the known world. The greatest scholars of their age deemed it a great honour to be appointed a professor at this world famous University. "The Saljuqs, like the Buwayhids and other non-Arab sultans", says Hitti, "who usurped the sovereign power in Islam, vied with each other in patronising the arts and higher education, perhaps as a means of ingratiating themselves with the population".' There is much truth in the above statement. Nizamiyah was primarily a theological institution recognised by the State in which besides the teaching of philosophy, arts and sciences, the Quran and old poetry formed the backbone of the study of humanities. The lecturer was assisted by two or more repeaters, who repeated the lecture to the less gifted students, when the class was over. Ibn Jubair had once the occasion of attending the lecture of a learned professor in the afternoon. The students were sitting round him on stools and piled him with oral questions till the evening. Al-Ghazali, one of the greatest intellectuals of Islam had the distinction of being appointed the Principal of this University at an early age of 34, and occupied this post for four years (1091--95 A. D.). Nizamiyah survived the great calamity which had fallen on Baghdad in 1258 A. D. at the hands of Hulagu Khan the Mongol, and was at last merged with Mustansariya, two years after the conquest of Baghdad by Tamerlane in 1393 A. D. Nizam-ul-Mulk Toosi, who was a great patron of education had set apart 1/1Oth of his entire income to be spent on his educational enterprises. He spent about 3 million rupees on the building of institutions all over his territories and spent more than a million rupees on the building of Nizamiyah of Baghdad alone as well as granting a regular sum of a lac rupees per annum for its expenses. According to Giblion, "Both rich and poor students had equal opportunities of receiving the highest education in this institution. The education was free and the entire expenses of the poor students were met by the University. The teachers were paid handsome salaries". Abu Ishaq Shirazi was appointed the first principal of this University. The well-known Persian poet Saadi Shirazi had been its student. Among its eminent principals were Al-Ghazali, Imam Tabari, Ibn Al-Khatib, Tabrizi and Abul Hasan Fasihi and among its outstanding professors were Bahal-al-Din, Abul Maali, Kutubuddin Shafaii and Kiya Harasi. Hardly ever was there appointed a lecturer in this institution during the two hundred years of its existence who was not the master of his subject. The University housed a big library, whose librarian was Allama Abu Zakariya Tabrizi. According to Ibn Athir, the Abbasid Caliph Nasiruddin added another library to the University in 589 A. H., to which a large number of books were transferred from the Imperial Library. According to Maulana Shibli Nomani, Nizamiyah was the first institution in the Islamic world in which regular scholarships were awarded to students.

Mustansariya University
It was rather a blot on the Abbasid Caliph that the well-known Nizamiyah University of Baghdad was built by a non-Abbasid, hence Al-Mustansir Billah, the Abbasid Caliph made amends by opening the Mustansariya University at Baghdad in 1234 A. D. This was the greatest university ever founded in the Islamic world. It took six years to build this majestic university on the bank of the river Tigris. A grand opening ceremony of this great institution was held, and on this auspicious day one hundred camel loads of rare manuscripts were transferred to the University from the Imperial Library. The building was stately and equipped with all the amenities available in those times. It contained a hospital, a big library, baths, kitchens, a water cooling plant and several spacious hostels for the residential students. The education in the University was free and the students were also provided with free boarding and lodging as well as a monthly scholarship of a gold sovereign each. Properties yielding an income of about half a million rupees per annum were given as endowment for the expenses of the University. Allama Zahbi has given details of the working of this institution in his well-known work Tarikh Dawalal-lslam (History of Islam). The building had a clock (of clepsydra type) at an entrance, whose dial was blue like that of the sky and a sun which constantly revolved across its surface, denoted the time. This clock was made by Ali Bin Saghlab Balbaki, the celebrated astronomer of his time. The Caliph had built the University as a seminary for the four orthodox rites, and all the four law schools were represented in it. A detailed description of the University building is available in the memoirs of Ibn Batuta who visited it in 1327 A. D. The ruins of the famous University are still visible and part of it has been taken over by the department of antiquities.

Ayyubid Institutions
The patronage of learning and the deep interest taken by Nuruddin Mahmud Zangi and Sultan Salahuddin in public welfare activities, specially the advancement of education, once more reminded people of the days of Mamun-ar-Rashid and Nizam-ul-Mulk Toosi. Nuruddin founded big institutions in Alleppo, Halab, Hams and Balbak. He built a great college in Damascus, his Capital city. Nuruddin had the distinction of establishing the first DarulHadith (House of Traditions). Allama Ibn Jubair, who visited Damascusin 578 A. H., found 20 big colleges there. It was proclaimed, whoever would build an institution, the entire expenditure would be met by the Imperial purse. A big piece of property including seven gardens, whose annual income was five hundred gold pieces was set aside for meeting the expenses of western students. Five hundred students were paid honorarium from the Imperial Treasury. Nuruddin himself, from his private property created a trust for institutions, whose annual income was more than nine thousand gold pieces.

Sultan Salahuddin, better known as Saladin in the west was also a great patron of learning and education. He had founded big educational institutions in Alexandria, Cairo, Jerusalum and Damascus. According to Allama Ibn Jubair, "any student who resided in the hostels of Alexandria was paid his full expenses". In his State, teachers salaries paid out of the Imperial Treasury amounted to 1 1/2 million per annum. The patronage of education by Saladin, awakened a lively interest for learning among the general populace and it was considered a sort of humiliation that a rich person should die without leaving behind any institution. Malik al-Zahir, the gifted son of Saladin kept up the traditions of his father and founded two schools called Shafia and Darul Hadith (House of Traditions) in Alleppo, which made this city a centre of learning.

Education in Spain
Spain, during the regime of the Moorish caliphs, developed education to a high degree of perfection. According to Maulana Shibli Nomani education in Sapin both primary and higher (secondary) was mostly given in mosques. Al-Hakam, the celebrated Spanish monarch, himself a great scholar was a great patron of learning and granted munificent bounties to the scholars. He opened 27 free schools in Cordova and took a keen interest in the progress of Cordova University which was founded by Abdur Rahman lll in the principal mosque of the city. Under his patronage this institution rose to be one of the greatest universities of the world. According to Ibid, Cordova University, "preceded both Al-Azhar of Cairo and Nizamiyah of Baghdad and attracted students, Christians and Muslims, not only from Spain but from other parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. Al-Hakam enlarged the mosque which housed the University, conducted water into its lead pipes and decorated it with mosaics brought by Byzantine artists spending on it 2,61,537 dinars". The famous historian Ibn Khalikan writes that Al-Hakam invited learned professors from all parts of the Muslim world who were paid handsome salaries. Among its professors was the historian Ibn al-qutiyah.

The imperial patronage of education, raised the standard of learning and literacy to a high level in Spain. The eminent Dutch scholar Dozy has dedared that "Nearly every one could read and write". "All this" says Philip K. Hitti, "whilst in Christian Europe only the rudiment of learning were known and that by the few, mostly clergy." Writing in The Moors in Spain Stanely Lane Poole observes about Cordova, "Beautiful as were the palaces and gardens of Cordova, her claims to administration in higher matters were no less strong. The mind was as lovely as the body. Her professors and teachers made her the centre of European culture; students would come from all parts of Europe to study under the famous doctors, and even the nun Horswitha far away in her Saxon convent of Gaudersheim, when she was told of the martyrdom of St. Eulogius, could not refrain from singing the praise of Cordova, 'The brightest splendour of the World'. Every branch of science was seriously studied there and medicine received more and greater additions by the discoveries of the doctors and surgeons of Andalusia than it had gained during all the centuries that had elapsed since the days of Galen. Astronomy, geography, chemistry and natural history were all studied with ardour at Cordova".

The subjects of higher education in universities and colleges were theology, philosophy, language and literature, lexicography, history, geography and sciences. Several principal cities of Spain including Cordova, Granada, Seville and Malaga possessed universities, colleges and institutions of higher education whose enrolment ran into thousands. The university of Cordova taught among other subjects jurisprudence, astronomy, philosophy, mathematics and medical science. The certificates and degrees granted by this university were much valued throughout Muslim countries especially in Spain.

The seventh Nasrid monarch, Yusuf Abdul Hajjaj (1333--54 A.D.) had founded the university of Granada, which became an important centre of Arabic studies in the Spain of those times. The university possessed a stately building whose portals were guarded by stone lions. Besides other subjects, jurisprudence, sciences, theology, medicine, astronomy and philosophy were studied in the university. Castilian and other Christian students studied in this university. The university organised public meetings, literary discussions and lectures delivered by the professors. An inscription on the portals of the university building ran as follows :-

"The world is supported by four things only: the learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the righteous and the valour of the brave."

A spirit of cordiality and brotherhood prevailed among the students of various nations and religions who had thronged to the institutions of Muslim Spain. According to Renan, "The taste for science and literature had, by the 16th century A. D., established in this privileged corner of the world, a toleration of which modern times hardly offer us an example. Christians, Jews and Musalmans spoke the same tongue, sang the same songs, participated in the same literary and scientific studies. All the barriers which separated the various peoples were effaced; all worked with an accord in the work of a common civilization. The mosques of Cordova, where the students could be counted by thousands, became the active centres of philosophical and scientific studies".

Al-Azhar, Cairo
Al-Azhar, the famous university of Cairo, which has already completed more than a thousand years' of its existence is at present the oldest and the second greatest university in the world. For centuries in the past and even during the present times, it has the reputation of being the biggest and the most important university of the Islamic world, with an enrolment of more than ten thousand students. The Al-Azhar mosque was built by Djawher al-Khatib al-Sikilli, a year after the occupation of Egypt by Fatimids. It was opened for service in July 972 A.D. Several Fatimid rulers made additions to it. AI-Aziz Billah (976--996 A.D.) added to it an academy, where higher education was imparted. Al-Hakim (996-1020 A.D.) made further additions to the building for teaching purposes as well as made endowments to meet its running expenses. Makrizi II gives an account of the adoption of Al-Azhar's name, which, according to him is derived from Al-Zahra, the origin of Fatimids.

During the Ayyubid regime certain changes and additions were made in the status of the institution. But it was Malik Al-Zahir Baibars who is credited with making Al-Azhar, a great seat of learning in the east. He made extensive additions to the building. The last great Mamluk ruler Kansuh al-Ghori (1500-1516 A.D.) built the two towered minarets. The later Khadivs also did much to maintain the high reputation of this university. The poor students received all sorts of financial help from the endowments and the State exchequer. The Mongol devastations had effaced all seats of learning and culture from Baghdad, Persia and Turkistan hence students flocked from all parts of the Muslim world to Al-Azhar, which was the only great Muslim institution left in the world. The university encouraged its students to earn a part of their expenses from other sources and carried on vocational training programmes.

Turkish Institutions
The Ottoman caliphs did not lag behind their predecessors in their efforts for the advancement of education in their territories. As the world had advanced, the Turkish educational institutions were superior to the old Islamic institutions and were more akin to the modern ones. All such educational institutions were controlled by the State, hence had better management. The system of Turkish education was rather more political and practical and aimed at producing good citizens and able servants of the State. The institutions were controlled by some university or Board of Education. The teachers were handsomely paid and the Turks were the first to grant pension to their teachers. Sultan Muhammad II was a great patron of education. During his regime every village had a school and in higher institutions as many as ten subjects including grammar, logic, language, literature, journalism, mathematics, astronomy and other sciences were taught. The students who passed out of these higher institutions were called Danishmand (learned).

Ar Khan was the first Turkish ruler who founded many schools. Muhammed the conqueror, established a big university in Constantinople in 865 A. H. which controlled eight big colleges having separate hostels attached to them. Sultan Bayazid who ascended the throne in 886 A. H. founded many big educational institutions. Sulaiman the magnificent, the greatest emperor in Turkish history, who was crowned in 982 A.H. besides building dozens of institutions all over his empire, founded four big educational institutions in Mecca. He awarded scholarships to 600 students.

Other Institutions
The patronage of educational institutions by Nizam-ul-Mulk Toosi, created a lasting interest for such institutions among the general populace. Founding of a Madrassa began to be considered a meritorious act. Ibn Jubair who visited Baghdad in 578 A.H. had counted 30 big colleges in Baghdad, 20 in Damascus, 6 in Mosul and one in Hams. These institutions possessed stately buildings.

Neshapur was only second to Baghdad as the educational centre in the Islamic world. When, in 556 A. H. it was destroyed by internal rebellion, 25 big institutions were also razed to the ground. Amir Nasr, brother of Sultan Mahmud, had built an institution called Sayidia. The inhabitants of Neshapur had invited professor Abu Bakr Khurakh. When he arrived, a big institution was raised for him out of the public subscription, which was the first of its kind in Islamic history.

The famous conqueror Mahmud Ghaznavi was a great patron of learning. His literary circles were attended by two of the greatest intellectual luminaries of their age--Beruni and Firdausi. He built a grand institution at Ghazni in 410 A.H., which also housed a big library. He set aside a big landed property to meet its running expenses. The Amirs of his court followed the example set by the Sultan and according to Frishta within a short time scores of educational institutions sprang up in Ghazni. Allama Husain Bin Ahmad Abul Fazl who died in 591 A.H. controlled 12 educational institutions in Yezd in which more than 15 hundred students were enrolled. The celebrated Imam Fakhruddin Razi who died in 606 A.H., was a professor in the principal college of Khwarizm. A French traveller visited more than 48 educational institutions in Isfahan during the Safawid rule.

Abdul Basit founded three good institutionsin Mecca. Malik Ashraf, a member of Chraska dynasty, who ascended the throne in 772 A.H., built a big college in Mecca, which had 72 rooms and a big hall in the centre whose roof was made of marble stone painted with gold.
Ibn al-Nasir Muhammad Ibn Kalaon built a grand college in Cairo, for whose construction he spent more than 20 thousand dirhams daily amounting to about 5 1/2 million rupees in total.

The noted colleges of Syria were Al-Rishiyya, Amania, Tarkhania, Khatunia and Safria. In Egypt during the Ayyubid rule, the colleges of Rambiyya, Nasariyya and Sulahiyya were founded.

Military Academy of Morocco
Abdul Momin, Sultan of Morocco, founded the first military academy in the world, details of which are given in the history of the dominion of Spain written by Kandi. The academy taught military science besides other sciences and arts. The Sultan was extremely interested in the running of the institution. He wanted this academy to produce good generals and administrators as well as scholars. It had three thousand students of the same age, whose daily lessons, physical exercises and military drill were attended by the Sultan himself. Archery exercises were held on alternate days, while swimming and naval warfare were taught to the trainees in a big tank once a week. The outstanding students were handsomely rewarded by the Sultan, who met the entire expenditure of the academy.

The Ottoman Turks paid great attention to the development of military science and built one of the finest military colleges of its time is Constantinople (Istanbul) .

Medical School
Medical science was taught as a subject in several Islamic universities including Mustansariya, Cordova and Al-Azhar. Imam Zakariya Razi, the eminent physician of Islam taught medical science in his Bimaristan, an institution in which he dealt with both the practical and theoretical sides of the science. According to Gibbon, the first school of surgery in Europe was founded in Salerno, a city in Muslim Sicily.

The Haj or Annual pilgrimage to Mecca has also been of much educative value and people learnt a great deal from the learned scholars who resided in Mecca.

Thus Muslims were the torch-bearers of civilization, learning and education during mediaeval times and procured the necessary link between the ancient and the modern civilizations. "The oldest Christian Universities of Bologna, Paris, Montpellier and Oxford came into being in the 12th century", writes Legacy of Islam. "The first 'Arabian' University in Europe owed its origin to Muslim learning".