House of Knowledge

Also, House of Wisdom (Arabic: دار الحكمة, romanized: Dār al-Ḥikmah) or House of Knowledge (Arabic: دار العلم, romanized: Dār al-ʿIlm) was an ancient university of the Fatimid Caliphate (today's Egypt), built in 1004 CE as a library and converted by the Fatimid Imam-Caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah to a state university in the same year.

The library's collection was so vast that historian, Ibn Abi Tayyi’ described it as a "Wonder of the world".[1] Historian Ahmed Bin Ali Maqrizi says "The House of Wisdom in Cairo did not open its doors to the public except before the furnishing, decoration and beautification of all the doors and corridors, and many servants were appointed. And the number of shelves in forty cabinets, each one of them could accommodate about eighteen thousand books. And (the shelves) were open, and books accessible to everyone. And one who wants a book, then the book can be easily found by him. If a book cannot be found by oneself, one can seek the help of hired handlers."

In keeping with the Islamic tradition of knowledge, the Fatimids collected books on a variety of subjects and their libraries attracted the attention of scholars from across the world. The Imam-Caliph al-Hakim was a great patron of learning and provided paper, pens, ink and inkstands without charge to all those who wished to study there.[1]

See also


  1. Virani, Shafique N. (2007). The Ismailis in the Middle Ages: A History of Survival, A Search for Salvation. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 92.

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