Muslim Women's Day: Fatima and Mariam Al Fihri

Take a moment to imagine. Your family goes from humble beginnings under a merchant father, to well off in a simple matter of successful years.

Now imagine that you lose not only your husband, but your father, and brother as well in a short matter of time! This leaves you with your only sister, and a somewhat large inheritance to do with as you please.

What would you do? With yourself? With your sister? With that money?

I guarantee, you wouldn’t build a mosque, let alone build an educational facility that would change the idea of school forever.

Fatima Al Fihri went through life and is known for creating the first model of higher education. Which means if you are currently attending any sort of college, community or otherwise, you have Fatima, and her sister, Mariam to thank.

After being educated throughout their lives, they took a tragedy, and used it to better their community. After their father’s passing, followed by their brother and Fatima’s husband, the girls were left with a large sum of money, which they didn’t know what to do with. What caught their attention was the rise in Muslim number, and the lack of mosques to accommodate their need.  

This gave Mariam the answer. They would build a magnificent mosque, to be named the Andalusian Mosque. Fatima, went even further in the expansion of the mosque, and turned it into a learning place as well. She took the completion of her task extremely seriously. So seriously, on the start of her project, she fasted until it was completed two years later!

She called the mosque with the expansion of her school system Masjid Al-Qarawiyyin, it was the model of the modern day university, made in 859 CE. It was a revolution out of selfless love for their community, that shaped the future, made by an amazing Muslim woman and her sister.

It is women like Fatima and Mariam that we remember and celebrate in International Women’s month. And even more so, two days after International Muslim Women’s Day. We have them to thank for our education, and our futures.

Thank you for your contribution to a future you never got to see. From all of us here at ASU.