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An ijazah ( الإِجازَهْ ) is a certificate used primarily by Muslims to indicate that one has been authorized by a higher authority to transmit a certain subject or text of Islamic knowledge. This usually implies that the student has learned this knowledge through face-to-face interactions "at the feet" of the teacher.


In a paper titled Traditionalism in Islam: An Essay in Interpretation, Harvardmarker professor William A. Graham explains the ijazah system as follows:

Origins of academic degree

The Ijazah qualification appeared from the 9th century and is considered to be the first academic degree. The first higher education institutions to award an Ijazah in the 9th century, namely the Madrasah, Jami`ah and Bimaristan institutions, are thus considered the first colleges, universities and medical schools respectively. The University of Al Karaouinemarker in Fez, Moroccomarker is thus recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest degree-granting university in the world with its founding in 859 by Fatima al-Fihri.

The origins of the doctorate in particular dates back to the ijazat attadris wa 'l-ifta' ("license to teach and issue legal opinions") in the medieval Islamic legal education system, which was equivalent to the Doctor of Laws qualification and was developed during the 9th century after the formation of the Madh'hab legal schools. To obtain a doctorate, a student "had to study in a guild school of law, usually four years for the basic undergraduate course" and at least ten years for a post-graduate course. The "doctorate was obtained after an oral examination to determine the originality of the candidate's theses," and to test the student's "ability to defend them against all objections, in disputations set up for the purpose" which were scholarly exercises practiced throughout the student's "career as a graduate student of law." After students completed their post-graduate education, they were awarded doctorates giving them the status of faqih (meaning "master of law"), mufti (meaning "professor of legal opinions") and mudarris (meaning "teacher"), which were later translated into Latin as magister, professor and doctor respectively.

See also


  1. The Guinness Book Of Records, 1998, p. 242, ISBN 0-5535-7895-2

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