Celebrated university associated with the mosque of the same name at Fez, Morocco, built by a pious woman, Fatimah bint Muhammad al-Fihri, in 859, as a center for Islamic education. Considered the oldest Islamic university, where religious disciplines were taught in addition to natural sciences. Followed an open system of education until 1789, when the educational program was regulated. Reorganized in 1931 into three divisions for primary, secondary, and higher levels of education; a section for girls was also added. After Morocco's independence from France, the university was placed under the Ministry of Education and restructured into shariah, Arabic studies, and theology faculties. Its library contains a large number of rare manuscripts.