Taxila University, the world's first known university, was founded in 600 BCE in what is now Pakistan. This university ceased to exist in 500 CE. University of Al Quaraouiyine, started by a Muslim woman in North Africa, is believed to be the world's oldest university that has been in continuous operation since its founding 859 CE.
University of Al Quaraouiyine
University of Taxila:
University of Taxila, the world's oldest known university, was founded in 600 BCE in the Kingdom of Gandhara, in Ancient India, but now in Pakistan. It was not a university in the modern sense of the word. It did not have any infrastructure like classrooms nor did it provide housing for its teachers or students. There was no established system of schooling or curriculum in Taxila. Taxila followed no system of examinations, and did not award degrees to its students.
The town of Taxila flourished between 600 BCE and 500 CE. Dozens of subjects were taught at the university including religion, language, philosophy, politics, warfare, music and commerce. Minimum admission age was 16. Over 10,000 students studied there, including students from many nations around the world.
University of Al Quaraouiyine:
University of Al Quaraouiyine (also spelled al karaouine) was founded by Fatima Al Fihri in 859 CE in Fez, Morocco. It is believed to be the world's oldest continuously operating university.
Al-Fihri, born in Kairouan (Qayrawan) in what is now Tunisia, was a well-educated daughter of a wealthy merchant. Her family migrated to Fez where she started the world's oldest continuously operating university named after her place of birth.
The University started as a madrassa affiliated with a mosque. It had the basic infrastructure and systems associated with modern universities. It had a formal curriculum, administered examinations and awarded degrees. It became part of the foundation of the glory days of the Islamic Civilization.
The University currently has staff and faculty of over 1000 and it has over 8000 students enrolled. The list of its most distinguished alumni include Ibn Khaldun, widely regarded as the forerunner of the modern disciplines of historiography, sociology, economics, and demography. Other notable alumni are Jewish philosopher Maimonides, Muslim philosopher Ibn Rushd (Averroes) and Muslim geographer Mohammad Al-Idrisi.
The world's second oldest continuously operating university is Al Azhar in Cairo, Egypt established in 970 CE.
Universities in Europe:
University of Bologna, the oldest university in Europe, was established in 1088 CE, more than two centuries after University of Al Quaraouiyine was founded by Fatima Al-Fihri in Fez, Morocco.
Then came Oxford University in 1096, Salamanca University in 1134, Paris University in 1160 and Cambridge University in 1209.
World Changing Inventions/Discoveries:
While the concept of universities has had the biggest impact on the world, there are several other innovations and-or discoveries by Muslims that have changed the world. A short list includes coffee, Algebra, marching band and camera. Here is a video about the top 5 Muslim inventions that changed the world: