AL-AZHAR AND ITS INSTITUTIONS OF MUHAMMADAN LEARNING
THE VENERABLE MOSQUE of al-Azhar is the oldest existing Muslim university in the world. It was founded by the Fatimids soon after their conquest of Egypt. Its foundation stone was laid in 359 A.H. (970 A.D.), and it was opened for services in 361 A.H. (972 A.D.).1 From being an important center of instruction in Muslim law and religion and the Arabic language, al-Azhar, with the passage of centuries, has become the unrivaled institution of Islamic learning, receiving students from all parts of the Muslim world.
Al-Azhar now includes three higher Faculties (Arabic, Theology, and Muslim Law) and nine institutes, seven of which consist of primary and secondary sections, and two, of primary sections only. These institutes are located in Cairo, Alexandria, Tanta, Zaqaziq, Shabin al-Kom, Asyut, Dassuq, Damietta, and Qina. In addition, a traditional "general section," which accepts unclassified students, is still maintained. Altogether al-Azhar in 1945-46 had an enrollment of 14,402 students, distributed as follows:
|Faculty of Arabic||1,162|
|Faculty of Muslim Law||873|
|Faculty of Theology||538||2,573|
In that year there were 814 foreign students from more than thirty countries, including Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Transjordan, North Africa ( Tripoli, Tunisia, Algeria, and Spanish and French Morocco), Hijaz, Yaman, Sudan and Darfur, Turkey, Kurdistan, Turkestan, Iraq,____________________