University of Ez-Zitouna

University of Ez-Zitouna
Type Public university
Established 737 (120 A.H)
Vice-Chancellor Salem Bouyahia (President)
Academic staff
Undergraduates 1200
Postgraduates 350
Location Tunis, Tunisia

Ez-Zitouna University (Arabic: جامعة الزيتونة, French: Université Zitouna) is in Montfleury, Tunis. It was first established in 737 and subsequently modernised in 1956. It consists of the Higher Institute of Theology and the Higher Institute of Islamic Civilisation in Tunis and a research institution, the Center of Islamic Studies, in Kairouan.


For centuries, Qirwan was the early centre of learning and intellectual pursuits in Tunisia and North Africa in General. Starting from the 13th century, Tunis became the capital of Ifriqiya under Almohad and Hafsid rule.[1] This shift in power helped Ez-Zitouna to flourish and become one of the major centres of Islamic learning, and Ibn Khaldun, the first social historian in history was one of its products.[2] The flourishing university attracted students and men of learning from all parts of the known world at the time. Along with theology; mainly the Qur'an, the university taught jurisprudence, history, grammar, science and medicine.[1] When it comes to books and libraries, Ez-Zituna libraries were the richest among North African counterparts. It had several collections totalling in the tens of thousands of books. One of its libraries, el-Abdaliyah included a large collection of rare and unique manuscripts.[3] The manuscripts covered almost all subjects and sciences, including grammar, logic, documentations, etiquette of research, cosmology, arithmetic, geometry, minerals, vocational training, etc.[4][5]

Historically the traditional pedagogy of the university opposed French influence in Tunisian culture, even though younger people who studied there and who were unable to attend other universities lost the concept of the university having prestige. The students, faculty, and alumni became an integral part of the 1920s Destour party.[6]

Following Tunisia's Independence, the modern Zitouna University was established on April 26, 1956. This was succeeded by the Zitouna Faculty of Shari’a and Theology on March 1, 1961 which became one of the components of Tunisian University. The Zitouna name was restored by Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 1987, after having been changed under Bourguiba.[7]


The present-day institution has some 1200 students and 90 faculty, divided between two associated institutes — the Higher Institute of Theology and the Higher Institute of Islamic Civilisation in Tunis — and a research institution, the Center of Islamic Studies (مركز الدراسات الإسلامية بالقيروان) in Kairouan.

Lessons in the Higher Institute of Theology began in the academic year 1988/89. It awards

  1. Bachelor's degree in Shari'a and Islamic thought in Islamic Sciences
  2. Master in Islamic Sciences
  3. Ph.D. in Islamic Sciences
  4. Superior Technician in Applied Multimedia on Islamic Arts
  5. Superior Technician in Arts of Islamic Heritage

The Higher Institute of Islamic Civilisation has some 300 students and 40 researchers. It awards

  1. National diploma of the first cycle in Islamic studies (D.E.U.P.C.)
  2. National diploma of Masters in the Islamic studies


  1. Islamic studies and Islamic civilization
  2. Islamic law
  3. Theology

Notable alumni

Famous alumni include the scholar Abdul-Rahman Ibn Khaldun, the encyclopedaist Ahmad Ibn Youssef Ibn Ahmad Ibn Abubaker Tifashi, the trade unionist and writer Tahar Haddad, the politician and writer Abdelaziz Thâalbi, the Tunisian national poet Aboul-Qacem Echebbi, and the judge and scholar M.T Ben Achour.


  • Micaud, Charles A. (March 1974). "Bilingualism in North Africa: Cultural and Sociopolitical Implications". The Western Political Quarterly. 27 (1): 92–103. doi:10.2307/446397. JSTOR 446397. 


  1. 1 2 Deeb, Mary J. "Ez-Zituna; op cit;": 374.
  2. Charnay, Jean-Paul (January–February 1979). "Economy and Religion in the Works of Ibn Khaldun". the Maghreb Review. 4 #1: 1–25.
  3. M.J. Deeb (1995). "Ez-Zituna". In J.L. Esposito. The Oxford Encyclopaedia of the Modern Islamic World. 4. Oxford University Press. p. 374.
  4. Abd el-Hafiz, Mansour (1969). Fihris Makhtutat el-Maktaba al- Ahmadiya bi Tunis. Beirut: Dar el-Fat'h. pp. 89.
  5. Sibai, M. (1987). Mosque Libraries : An Historical Study. London and New York: Mansell Publishing Limited. p. 98.
  6. Micaud 93.
  7. Paul Delaney, "New Tunis Chief Begins Democratic Changes," New York Times, December 13, 1987.

Coordinates: 36°47′40″N 10°09′51″E / 36.794466°N 10.164118°E / 36.794466; 10.164118

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