|Zaytuna Mosque (Wikipedia)|
In the Bourguiba era the old school associated with the mosque at the heart of the Tunis medina (the old city) was closed and the name Zaytuna transferred to the Shari‘a Law School of the University of Tunis, while the ancient mosque itself remained the religious center of Tunis and Tunisia. Despite a pretense of continuity the modern university bore little resemblance to the ancient school,
|Ibn Khaldun at Gateway to Medina|
One of Zaytuna's products in the classical age was also perhaps the greatest mind to have been born in the city of Tunis, though later a fixture in many other places: Ibn Khaldun, The great historian (1332-1406) is sometimes acclaimed as the father of sociology, though he's a lot more readable than most later sociologists. Also, in what must be every author's dream of what they'd like to see as a book-jacket blurb, Arnold Toynbee, in A Study of History, referred to Ibn Khaldun's Muqaddima as "undoubtedly the greatest work of its kind that has ever yet been created by any mind in any time or place." (No qualifiers, but what you need to know about the "of its kind" is that Toynbee considered his own book a lot like Ibn Khaldun's.) Appropriately, Ibn Khaldun's statue stands at the gate of the Tunis Medina, just outside of the medina (his birthplace) and the way to Zaytuna. But that statue gives me an idea for my next post . . .