Madrasa al-Ashrafiyya

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The Mamluks in Quds built a lot of building such as madrasa, minare, fountain etc. in order to much more reislamize the city after Crusader. According to Donald Little’s article, Mujir al din who was historian at that time notes forty or so madrasa existing in Quds in his time (Little 1995, 248). In the different source was mentioned fiftysix madrasa (Aslan and Alamleh 2015, 95). One of them, still standing today, is the most prominent and important The Madrasa Al-Ashrafiyya. The Madrasa Al-Ashrafiyya (Arabic: مدرسة الأشرفية) is an Islamic madrasa (Abu Shammalah 2019, 56) structure rebuilt in 1480-1482 by the Mamluk sultan al-Ashraf Qaytbay and (after whom it is named) on the western side of the Al-Haram Al-Sharif between Bab al-Silsila (Gate of the Chain) and Bab al-Qattanin (Gate of the Cotton Merchants), and the Madrasa Uthmaniyya to its North in Quds (Al-Natsheh and Smith 2013, 12). It is a notable example of royal Mamluk architecture in Quds and was established a library inside by Qaytbay (Kurşun and Usta 2018, 54). The building is dated by the inscription at the entrance and by the waqf document specific to the madrasa. Historic documents also provide evidence for the date (;ISL;pa;Mon01;8;en&pageD=N).


The founder of the madrasa was Sultan Zahir Sayf al-Din Khashqadam (r. AH 865–72 / AD 1461–7) but he died before it was finished. Sultan Ashraf Saif al-Din Qaytbay (r. AH 872–901 / AD 1468–96) ordered its completion, but when he saw the madrasa for the first time in AH 880 / AD 1475, he was not satisfied and ordered it to be demolished and rebuilt (;ISL;pa;Mon01;8;en&pageD=N). As mentioned above, Qaytbay's new madrasa was rebuilt between 1480 and 1482 CE. As Qaytbay estimated that local craftsmanship did not live up to his standards, he commissioned a team of builders and artisans, the names of those who designed and executed construction are not known, from Cairo (the Egyptian capital) to work on this project. This marks a relatively rare occasion where a Mamluk sultan commissioned a construction project of such significance outside of Cairo (Blair and Bloom 1995, 93 and Archnet). A strong earthquake destroyed much of the upper floor of the madrasa in 1496 (Archnet). Today, only parts of the lower stories have survived, but the original structure is known thanks to extensive contemporary documentation and modern-day investigation of its remains (Blair and Bloom 1995, 93).


The madrasa was built on two stories on the western side of the Al-Haram Al-Sharif, facing towards the Dome of the Rock. The facade of the building is 25 meters wide and projects in front of the long arcade which runs along the western boundary of the Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which would have made the madrasa very prominent, a feature likely owed to its royal patronage (Blair and Bloom 1995, 92-93). The madrasa is bounded on the north side by the 15th-century Uthmaniyya Madrasa (Guy 2013). The Madrasa al-Ashrafiyya is the one of the marvel and gorgeous building in the between monuments where is in the Al-Haram Al- Sharif. According to Mujīr al-Dīn al-'Ulaymī, it is a third jewel of Masjid Bayt al-Maqdis (Al-Haram Al- Sharif) after al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock (Little 1995, 247 and Necim 1985, 476) The madrasa was centered around a large rectangular courtyard similar to those built by Qaytbay earlier at his own funerary mosque-madrasa in Cairo and in other late Mamluk madrasas of the period. However, the eastern side of the courtyard was taken up by a triple-arched loggia which, thanks to its elevated position, provided an unimpeded view of the Dome of the Rock. Living quarters for students were arranged around another upper courtyard or terrace built over the adjacent Baladiyya Madrasa (Blair and Bloom 1995, 93).


1.Abu Shammalah, Sharif Amin (2019). Bayt Al-Maqdis: A short History From Ancient To Modern Times in "Al-Quds History, Religion and Politics". Ankara: SETA. p. 56.

2.Smith, Andrew. "Mamluk Jerusalem: Architecturally Challenging Narratives". A Journal of Transdisciplinary Writing and Research from Claremont Graduate University. 3(1).

3.Al-Natsheh, Yusuf Said. "Al-Madrasah al-Sallamiyya History, Architecture, Methods of Restoration and Rehabilitation". Welfare Association Revitalization Programme: 1–117.

4.Blair, Sheila S.; Bloom, Jonathan (1995). The Art and Architecture of Islam: 1250-1800. New Haven; London: Yale University Press. pp. 92–93.

5.Burak, Guy (2013). "Dynasty, Law, and the Imperial Provincial Madrasa: The Case of al-Madrasa al-'Uthmaniyya in Ottoman Jerusalem".Journal of Middle East Studies. 45: 111–125.

6.Little, Donald P. (1995). "Mujīr al-Dīn al-ʿUlaymī's Vision of Jerusalem in the Ninth/Fifteenth Century". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 115 (2): 237–247.

7.Necim, Raif. "İsrail İşgaline Rağmen Kudüs'te İslam Mimari Mirasının Korunması". The Conference on the Preservation of Architectural Heritage of Islamic Cities: 473–479.

8.Aslan, Halide and Alamleh, Mohanad (2015). “Osmanlı Döneminde Kudüs’teki İlmî Hayat”. Journal of Islamic Research 2015;26(3):93-9

9.Kurşun, Zekeriya and Usta, Ahmet (2018). “Uluslararası Osmanlı Döneminde Kudüs’te İlmi Hayat ve Eğitim Sempozyumu”.