Great Mosque of Sidi-Uqba – detail of minaret tower through an arch
Kairouan is the capital of the Kairouan Governorate in Tunisia. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city was founded by the Arabs around 670. In the period of Caliph Mu’awiya (reigned 661-680), it became an important centre for Sunni Islamic scholarship and Quranic learning, and thus attracting a large number of Muslims from various parts of the world, next only to Mecca and Medina.
At the time of its greatest splendor, between the ninth and eleventh centuries AD, Kairouan was one of the greatest centers of Islamic civilization and its reputation as a hotbed of scholarship covered the entire Maghreb. During this period, the Great Mosque of Kairouan was both a place of prayer and a center for teaching Islamic sciences under the Maliki current. One may conceivably compare its role to that of the University of Paris during the Middle Ages.