The Construction of Islamic-Education Institutions in Mamluk Gaza
By Hatim Mahamid
Nebula, Vol. 4:4 (2007)
Introduction: The development of educational institutions and main mosques in the principle cities of Syria was compatible with the importance of th cities as centres of government. A review of the educational institutions in various cities of the region reveals two different phenomena. The first is the developent of educational institutions during the Zangid and Ayyubid periods in the northern cities of Syria, which were not affected by the Crusader conquest, like Aleppo, Damascus, Hamat, Homs, Ba’albek, Busra, Manbaj, al-Ma’arra and others. During the Ayyubid period, most of these cities were governed by Ayyubid rulers, who exercised almost complete autonomy. This led to the development of Islamic education under their auspices, which reflected the positions of the Ayyubid rulers. These cities (the northern ones) were also affected by the Mongolian invasion during the Mamluk period, which directly or indirectly damaged educational and religious institutions.
The second phenomenon was the development of educational and religious institutions during the Mamluk period, in the southern and coastal cities of Syria, and particularly those cities that had previously been under Crusader rule or influence, like Jerusalem, Hebron, Gaza, Safed, Tripoli, and others. Most of the educational institutions in those cities were founded during the Mamluk period after the Crusaders were entirely expelled from the coastal areas of Syria.
Although information about educational and religious institutions in these cities is scarce, one may conduct a limited survey based on the biographies of scholars or rulers who were involved in these enterprises during the period under discussion. In this study, I’ll focus dealing with this topic related to the cityof Gaza as a case study and model of the southern cities of Syria which were affected by similar political circumstances.