Al-Attarine Madrasa

Fès, Morocco

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.

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. 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. 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. The madrasas also served to train the scholars and elites who operated their state's bureaucracy.

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