Al-Azhar University (Arabic: الأزهر الشريف; Al-ʾAzhar al-Šarīf, "the Noble Azhar"), is an Egyptian institution of higher learning. It is connected to Al-Azhar mosque in Old Cairo, Al-Azhar (in Arabic: the most flourished and shining) was so called either because it was surrounded by great glittering places, or as a hopeful disposition, or after the name of Sayeda Fatima Al-Zahra', daughter of the Prophet Mohammed. The mosque was built in two years from 969 CE, the year in which its foundation was laid. The Madrasah connected with it was founded in 988 CE. Studies began in Al-Azhar in Ramadan by October 975 CE, when Chief Justice Abul Hasan Ali ibn Al-No'man started teaching the book "Al-Ikhtisar", on the Shiite jurisprudence. It became a Sunni school towards the end of the Middle Ages, an orientation it retains to this day. It is one of the oldest operating universities in the world.
Al-Azhar University was initially founded as a Jami'ah ("university" in Arabic) which issued academic degrees, and had individual faculties for a Madrasah and theological seminary, Islamic law and jurisprudence, Arabic grammar, Islamic astronomy, early Islamic philosophy and logic in Islamic philosophy.