ISSN: 0041-4255
e-ISSN: 2791-6472

Aydın Sayılı

Professor of the History of Science, Ankara University

Keywords: Medieval Age, Medicine, Medieval Islam, Europe


Speaking of the university, Charles Homer Haskins says, "Universities, like cathedrals and parliaments, are a product of the Middle Ages. The Greeks and the Romans, strange as it may seem, had no universities in the sense in which the word has been used for the past seven or eight centuries. They had higher education, but the terms are not synonymous. Much of their instruction in law, rhetoric, and philosophy it would be hard to surpass, but it was not organized into the form of permanent institutions of learning. A great teacher like Socrates gave no diplomas; if a modern student sat at his feet for three months, he would demand a certificate, something tangible and external to show for it-an excellent theme, by the way, for a Socratic dialogue. Only in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries do there emerge in the world those features of organized education with which we are most familiar, all that machinery of instruction represented by faculties and colleges and courses of study, examinations and commencements and academie degrees. In all these matters we are the heirs and successors, not of Athens and Alexandria, but of Paris and Bologna". The madrasa, in its standard and typical form, was the school for higher education in theology and law in medieval Islam. It came into official existence in the eleventh century, while the European university was developed over a century later and at a time when already Latin translations of Arabic philosophical and scientific works were available. There were certain parallelisms between the features of the madrasa and the university. Moreover, certain essential characteristics of the university were radically new, and the development of the medieval university in Europe was rather rapid. In view of such considerations certain scholars have suggested the possibility that the medieval European university owed much to conscious imitation of the madrasa system.