The central courtyard of the Aljamea campus (1/2)
At the centre of the campus, immediately south of the masjid, lies the Sāhat or central courtyard. With a series of arcades surrounding it that form the primary circulation route for the campus, the Sāhat was designed to recall the iconic courtyards of al-Jāmiʿ al-Azhar and al-Jāmiʿ al-Anwar. A thousand years ago, the arcades surrounding these ancient courtyards served as venues for the dissemination of knowledge where tutors instructed pupils in the various arts and sciences popular at the time. Historical sources even make reference to extensive libraries situated in these masjids. The Fatimi imam, Moulana al-Imam al-Aziz bi Allah SA initiated formal teaching and even constructed a dormitory for students immediately adjacent to al-Azhar. One of the oldest extant university in the world today, Al Azhar is the product of these endeavours by the Fatimi imams. In the nineteenth century, the original campus of Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah in Surat, comprised of an open courtyard surrounded by small halls which served as the first venue for the academy’s formal instruction. The buildings extending from Nairobi Aljamea’s central courtyard, like the arcades of al-Azhar and al-Anwar and the rooms around the open courtyard of its predecessor campus in Surat, serve a similar function. Immediately abutting the Sāhat’s arcades are the six central buildings of the campus: the masjid to the north, the Iwān or ceremonial hall to the northwest, the Mawāid or dining hall to the northeast, the library and the auditorium to the southwest and southeast respectively, and the Mahad al-Zahra building dedicated to Quranic memorization, arts and sciences to the south. These buildings surrounding the sāhat form the sacred or central core of the campus and provide its most formal spaces of instruction and physical and spiritual enlightenment.
Photo credit: @shabbirjamaly
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