Al-Mustansiriyah Madrassa - a testament to Iraq’s resilience and endurance over the centuries

UNESCO and UNAMI paid homage to Baghdad's oldest seat of learning in a bid to demonstrate that barbarism and terrorism of any kind, at any period, cannot prevail over culture and knowledge.

A landmark site which withstood conflicts and the test of time, al-Mustansiriyah Madrassa stands as a testament to Iraq’s resilience and endurance.

Built during the Abbasid period by the Caliph al-Mustansir in 1233 on the banks of the Tigris, this great institution of medieval scholarship in central Baghdad was sacked by Hulaguduring the 1258 Mongol invasion, its students put to the sword, books dumped into the Tigris River, not unlike what happened recently upstream in Ninewa and Mosul, seven and a half centuries later, at the hands of Daesh terrorists.

The school at one point had a library that contained some 450,000 books and volumes. Al-Mustansiriyah rose again and witnessed two more Mongol invasions of Baghdad, by Timur (Tamerlane) in 1392 and in 1400, in which all schools were sacked again. Despite neglect and the many wars and violence in recent decades, the structure still stands in Baghdad’s Rasafa neighbourhood as a monument to the city’s glorious past.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) voice their support for the resurrection of all universities, schools and seats of learning that were destroyed by the barbarism of ISIL, and encourages all students and teachers to continue their academic work so that Iraq remains a shining beacon of culture and knowledge.

Additional Info

  • Agency: UNAMI, UNESCO

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