مدرسة العطارين

( Al-Attarine Madrasa )

The Al-Attarine Madrasa or Medersa al-Attarine (Arabic: مدرسة العطارين, romanized: madrasat al-ʿattārīn, lit. 'school of the perfumers') is a madrasa in Fes, Morocco, near the Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque. It was built by the Marinid sultan Uthman II Abu Said (r. 1310-1331) in 1323-5. The madrasa takes its name from the Souk al-Attarine, the spice and perfume market. It is considered one of the highest achievements of Marinid architecture due to its rich and harmonious decoration and its efficient use of limited space.

 Photograph of the madrasa's prayer hall in the 1920s, with the mihrab and original bronze chandelier visibleContext: Marinid madrasas

The Marinids were prolific builders of madrasas, a type of institution which originated in northeastern Iran by the early 11th century and was progressively adopted further west.[1] These establishments served to train Islamic scholars, particularly in Islamic law and jurisprudence (fiqh). The madrasa in the Sunni world was generally antithetical to more "heterodox" religious doctrines, including the doctrine espoused by the Almohad dynasty. As such, it only came to flourish in Morocco under the Marinid dynasty which succeeded the Almohads.[1] To the Marinids, madrasas played a part in bolstering the political legitimacy of their dynasty. They used this patronage to encourage the loyalty of Fes's influential but fiercely independent religious elites and also to portray themselves to the general population as protectors and promoters of orthodox Sunni Islam.[1][2] The madrasas also served to train the scholars and elites who operated their state's bureaucracy.[2]

The al-Attarine Madrasa, along with other nearby madrasas like the Saffarin and the Mesbahiyya, was built in close proximity to the al-Qarawiyyin Mosque/University, the main center of learning in Fes and historically the most important intellectual center of Morocco.[3][4][5] The madrasas played a supporting role to the Qarawiyyin; unlike the mosque, they provided accommodations for students, particularly those coming from outside of Fes.[6] Many of these students were poor, seeking sufficient education to gain a higher position in their home towns, and the madrasas provided them with basic necessities such as lodging and bread.[5][4] However, the madrasas were also teaching institutions in their own right and offered their own courses, with some Islamic scholars making their reputation by teaching at certain madrasas.[4]

Construction and operation of the madrasa  Courtyard of the madrasa in 1916

The al-Attarine madrasa was built between 1323 and 1325 on the orders of the Marinid sultan Abu Sa'id Uthman II.[5][7][8] The supervisor of construction was Sheikh Beni Abu Muhammad Abdallah ibn Qasim al-Mizwar.[4][2] According to the Rawd el-Qirtas (historical chronicle), the sultan personally observed the laying of the madrasa's foundations, in the company of local ulema.[4]

The creation of the madrasa, as with all Islamic religious and charitable institutions of the time, required the endowment of a habous, a charitable trust usually consisting of mortmain properties, which provided revenues to sustain the madrasa's operations and upkeep, set up on the sultan's directive.[4] This provided for the madrasa to host an imam, muezzins, teachers, and accommodations for 50-60 students.[4][6][5] Most of the students at this particular madrasa were from towns and cities in northwestern Morocco such as Tangier, Larache, and Ksar el-Kebir.[6][5]

The madrasa has been classified as historic heritage monument in Morocco since 1915.[9] The madrasa has since been restored many times, but in a manner consistent with its original architectural style.[6] Today it is open as a historic site and tourist attraction.[10]

^ a b c Cite error: The named reference :02 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ a b c Cite error: The named reference :132 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ Métalsi, Mohamed (2003). Fès: La ville essentielle. Paris: ACR Édition Internationale. ISBN 978-2867701528. ^ a b c d e f g Gaudio, Attilio (1982). Fès: Joyau de la civilisation islamique. Paris: Les Presse de l'UNESCO: Nouvelles Éditions Latines. ISBN 2723301591. ^ a b c d e Le Tourneau, Roger (1949). Fès avant le protectorat: étude économique et sociale d'une ville de l'occident musulman. Casablanca: Société Marocaine de Librairie et d'Édition. ^ a b c d Parker, Richard (1981). A practical guide to Islamic Monuments in Morocco. Charlottesville, VA: The Baraka Press. ^ Lintz, Yannick; Déléry, Claire; Tuil Leonetti, Bulle (2014). Maroc médiéval: Un empire de l'Afrique à l'Espagne. Paris: Louvre éditions. p. 486. ISBN 9782350314907. ^ Cite error: The named reference :0 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ "Medersa El-Attarine". Inventaire et Documentation du Patrimoine Culturel du Maroc (in French). Retrieved 2021-01-08. ^ "Medersa El Attarine | Fez, Morocco Attractions". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 2020-04-16.
Photographies by:
Cerry Chan - CC BY-SA 3.0
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