The Prophet ﷺ said, “No one will be allowed to move from his position on the Day of Judgement until he has been asked how he spent his life, how he used his knowledge, how he earned and spent his money and in what pursuits he used his health” -Related by Tirmidhi
Fatima Al Fahria was born in Tunis in the ninth century. She migrated with her family to Fez, Morocco at a young age during the reign of the Moroccan King Idris II. Fez was a bustling Islamic civilization and a great place for her father, who was a merchant, to work. In her later years, after losing her husband and her father, she was left with a large inheritance and being very educated and knowledgeable, she started to invest her money.
Fatima wasn’t multiplying her money for her own sake. She vowed to spend it all positively towards her religion; she wanted to build a mosque. The first thing she did was buy the land next to her house. The land was extremely large and being used at the time to extract gypsum. Gypsum was essential in that period for making cement for traditional Islamic architecture. The second thing she did was dig a well in that land, utilizing the underground rivers of sweet water that flow under the city of Fez. Then, in Ramadan of the year 245 Hjria, she hired workers to lay the foundation for the walls of a grand mosque, which today we know as the famous Qaarawiyiin Mosque. The well became a charity that benefited the workers on her land and was open for anyone to drink from.
There are two points that make the building of this mosque extremely significant. The first one was that Fatima established a rule that the mosque must be built only from resources provided on the actual land. This was important to Fatima because she felt that any outside materials would take away from the blessing of the mosque. She had bought the land with Halal money (ethically and rightfully received) and she didn’t want any materials that may have been traded unethically or in a non-Halal way anywhere near the mosque. So all the sand, stone and soil were taken from the land, with the workers excavating caverns underground in order to extract the best quality sand and raw materials. The mosque was literally built up from the ground at which it stood.
The second point is that Fatima fasted from the day that construction began until the day it ended, years later. She fasted to show her gratitude to Allah at the blessing and honor he had given her to be able to afford and achieve such a grand project.
The Qaarawiyiin Mosque was finally completed and it was, still is, expansively spacious and beautiful in its design and architecture. Eventually the mosque became not only a place of worship, but also for religious education. It started to expand with the addition of some madrasas, religious schools that also taught politics and science, all the way into the 10th and 11th centuries. It became the place of education not only for Muslims but also for Jews and Christians. Today, Guinness Book of World Records and UNESCO have named it “the oldest continuously operating academic degree granting university in the world!” In 1947, it started modifying the way it gives degrees to that it resembled more modern university degrees. It is one of the largest mosque in Africa.
*I am noticing a trend here, I don’t know if you are too. Most of these women, from Khadejah to Fatima and many more were very wise with their money. They didn’t inherit and just sit on it, but thought about the future and invested and knew how to manage their finances.
*Its very impressive the way Fatima was so careful to make sure that her money was spent wisely, for her religion, and was careful about even where her materials came from so she can ensure that it is all Halal. Usually we care so much about making our money in a Halal way but I never really thought of making sure that the materials I use be from Halal sources. I don’t know if that is even possible in our time. However, it is interesting to think about and very noble on her part. What do you think?
*Mashallah it does seems that Allah is rewarding her for her efforts and extreme care she took to ensure blessings on the mosque, when 1100 years later, her work is recognized and holds world records! WOW!
What did you all think of Fatima and the way she built this mosque?
Abd-Allah, Dr. Umar Faruq. “Famous Women in Islam.” Lecture.
“University of Al-Karaouine.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 10 Dec. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qarawiyyin>.
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04 Jan 2016
28 Oct 2015