Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Impressive Madrasa Bou Inania - Fez, Morocco

The interior of Madrasa Bou Inania
As a center of learning, Madrasa is an important institution in the medieval Islamic world and even today the institutions continue their challenging roles in a modern world. The fundamental role played by the Madrasa had resulted in the existence of highly literate society during the period. The name, Madrasa Bou Inania in Fez came from the founder, Abu Inan Faris (1351-1356). This Madrasa functions as a mosque and a learning center which is very much the same as Al Qarawiyin which is at another end of the Medina. They were having Asar congregational prayers when we arrived, and our guide joined the jemaah while we went to the ladies prayer room.  Certain parts of the Madrasa is under conservation work and if you look closely, the building is in need of maintenance. Khalid explained to us that the mosque had gone through a major renovation in the 18th century and was again reconstructed in the 20th century.  Madrasa Bou Inania is an example of the Marinid architecture.  The zellij tiles on the wall of the madrasa is predominantly green, the color associated with the city of Fez. We visited Molay Idris, Qarawiyin and Madrasa Bou Inania completed our mission in Fez. 

All along since the city was founded in 789 by Moulay Idris, Fez has never ceased to be a center of learning. There are other Madrasa in Fez that are worth visiting but due to time constraint, we are not able to do so. Other old Madrasa are the Madrasa of Saffarin, Madrasa of Attarin and the elegant Madrasa of Sharratin. Not far from Madrasa Bou Inania is the house of the famous Tunisian historian, Ibnu Khaldun who used to live in Fez and worked for Abu Inan. Kalid our guide showed us the door of once Ibnu Khaldun's house. Automatically, Al-Muqadimah, the seminal work of Ibnu Khaldun came to mind. It is amazing to be in Fez. It feels like you are walking on the footsteps of great scholars and thinkers of the past.
Every corners of the Madrasa is equally impressive
The door of  once the house of Ibnu Khaldun

The wood engravings are deteriorating
A combination of zellij mosaics and stucco work
Closer view of the wood design
Carving on the wooden Mashrabiya
Pillar of the Madrasa with intricate carvings
The male prayer hall
Zellij work adorns the walls of the Madrasa
This Madrasa gives accessibility to non-Muslims visitors
Entrance to the lady hall


  1. Magnificent. Reminds me so much of the Alhambra Palace in Granada.

    Thanks so much for sharing.


  2. Thanks for reading...you're absolutely right, I had the same feeling when I was in Qarawiyin and Madrasa Bou Inania.