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Zoroastrians, Hindus, and Christians had full universities long before the Muslims had “universities” that taught only the Quran and sharia law.
A university and medical school was founded in the 5th century at Nalanda in India, but was later destroyed by invading Muslim armies.
In the (Orthodox Christian) Byzantine Empire, the University of Constantinople was founded in 425 AD with 31 chairs for law, philosophy,medicine, geometry, astronomy, music, rhetoric and other subjects.
A cathedral school for educating Catholic clergy in Toledo Spain in 527 was established before the birth of the prophet Mohammed.
Alcuin of York taught the Greek classics in mathematics and natural philosophy (Trivium and Quadrivium) shortly after Muslims established their first school teaching the Quran and sharia law.
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University of Paris
Zoroastrians, Hindus, and Byzantines had full universities long before the Muslims had “universities” that taught only the Quran and sharia law.
A 6th century Spanish school for training priests was established before the birth of Mohammed, and it was closer to being a full University than the Muslim “universities” that taught only the Quran and sharia law.
4TH CENTURY ZOROASTRIAN UNIVERSITY
Around the year 350 in Nisibis in the Roman Empire in what is now Syria, a Persian Zoroastrian college taught in Syriac.
5TH CENTURY UNIVERSITY IN INDIA
A university and medical school was founded in the 5th century at Nalanda in India, but was later destroyed by invading Muslim armies. The modern university in India using the same name is not really a continuation of the ancient university.
5TH CENTURY CHRISTIAN BYZANTINE UNIVERSITY
In the (Orthodox Christian) Byzantine Empire, the University of Constantinople was founded in 425 AD and existed until the 15th century, with 31 chairs for law, philosophy,medicine, geometry, astronomy, music, rhetoric and other subjects.
Scholars there wrote commentaries on the great works of philosophy and science. Graduates staffed the bureaucratic postings of state and church.
Byzantine primary education was widely available for both sexes, sometimes even at village level.
Female participation in culture was high.
The University of Constantinople was founded in 425 AD by Emperor Theodosius II of the Byzantine Empire, and existed until the 15th century, with 31 chairs for law, philosophy, medicine, arithmetic, geometry,astronomy, music, rhetoric and other subjects, 15 to Latin and 16 to Greek. Byzantine universities also existed in Antioch and Alexandria.
University graduates staffed the bureaucratic postings of state and church.
The university maintained an active philosophical tradition of Platonism and Aristotelianism.
6TH CENTURY CATHEDRAL SCHOOL IN SPAIN
A cathedral school for educating Catholic clergy in Toledo Spain in 527 was established before the birth of Mohammed and therefore was older than the Muslim “universities”. It likely taught both religion and Greek classics., but the first Muslim “universities” taught only the Quran and sharia law.
6TH CENTURY NESTORIAN CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY IN PERSIA
Muslims falsely take credit for the Academy of Gondishapur (spelling it Jundishapur) in Persia where medicine and sciences were taught,
It was not founded by Muslims, but by Nestorian Christians around the year 530 fleeing persecution by Orthodox Christians in the Byzantine Empire. The medicine taught there was that of Galen of Pergamon. A physician trained there treated the prophet Mohammed. It also had Zoroastrian scholars and pagan Greek scholars. It was founded under the rule of the Zoroastrian king Khusraw I, and permitted to operate after Persia was conquered by Muslim Arabs.
8TH CENTURY SCHOOLS AT YORK, ENGLAND
Alcuin of York taught the Greek classics in mathematics and natural philosophy (Trivium and Quadrivium) shortly after Muslims established their first school.
According to http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/vikings/alcuin_01.shtml
“Alcuin of York was educated in the cathedral school at York, and became a monk and teacher there. … Alcuin joined the royal court in 781, and became one of Charlemagne’s chief advisors on religious and educational matters”. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trivium and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadrivium
This means the Greek classics were being taught in England prior to the 794 edict of Pope Adrian I to educate the clergy.
8TH CENTURY QURAN AND SHARIA LAW SCHOOL WAS NOT A UNIVERSITY
The oldest continuously operating school that eventually became a university was the Ez-Zitouna University, which began as a 737 in Tunis to educate Quran scholars. However, It only taught religious subjects, and did not become a full university until recent centuries.
All early Muslim “universities” taught only the Quran and Sharia law, and did not become full universities until recent centuries.
According to the commentary provided by H. A. R. Gibb in vol II p. 439 of his translation of “The Travels of Ibn Battuta“, Muslim colleges of the 14th century taught only 2 areas of study: basic principles of [Sharia] law and [Muslim] theology, and subsidiary application of these principles to specific problems.
8TH CENTURY 6TH IMAM SCHOOL
Jafar al-Sadiq (702 – 765) the 6th Imam taught both sharia law and Greek science, but the split soon afterwards (between Shia Seveners and the mainstream Shia Twelvers) ended the teaching of Greek science in the mainstream Shia madrasa.] Muslim websites do not mention this school, because it is not still operating, and perhaps because of its association with the 6th imam, who had much in common with the 7th imam. [The followers of the 7th imam became the Shia Seveners, but those who rejected the 7th imam (and believed in revelation rather than rational thinking) are the ancestors of the Shia Twelvers.]
There was also a branch of the Sunnis that emphasized rational thought rather than revelation, but it no longer exists.
8TH CENTURY CATHEDRAL AND MONASTIC SCHOOLS
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University says that European higher education took place for hundreds of years in Christian cathedral schools or monastic schools
(“Scholae monasticae”), in which monks and nuns taught classes; evidence of these immediate forerunners of the later university at many places dates back to the 6th century.
The papal edict in 794 ordered all cathedrals to create cathedral schools to educate the clergy.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathedral_school Monastic and cathedral schools taught the 7 liberal arts, including the trivium (logic, grammar and rhetoric) and the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy). Some taught natural philosophy (the study of nature and the physical universe) .
8TH CENTURY UNIVERSITY IN PARIS
The 8th century University in Paris was founded in 794 as a cathedral school to educate Catholic clergy, is almost as old as the oldest Muslim “university”, but came under new management when it broke its ties to Notre Dame Cathedral, so it can be debated whether a change in management disqualifies it as being “continuously operating”. It was closed 1793 until 1896 because of the French Revolution. It taught much more than religion.
11TH CENTURY CORPORATE/GUILD STRUCTURE
11th century universities in Europe with a form of corporate/guild structure included the University of Bologna (1088).
Kings and governments also founded Universities.
Catholic religious authorities generally did not ban the reading of books on philosophy and science unless the writings contradicted core beliefs such as the earth being the center of the universe, or man having free will.
12th CENTURY MUSLIM SECONDARY SCHOOL
In the 12th century or later, on a caravan route, in Timbuktu in what is now the African country of Mali, secondary schools taught mostly the Quran and Sharia law, but also taught grammar, history, mathematics and some science.
The madrasah and astronomical observatory built by the sultan Ulugh Beg (who might have been a Shia Sevener) in what is today Uzbekistan probably did not teach religion, but instead had been founded in 1424 to teach astronomy and mathematics. http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/history/Biographies/Ulugh_Beg.html
Image by Étienne Collault (16th century) via Wikimedia Commons
image credit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Meeting_of_doctors_at_the_university_of_Paris.jpg