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Legend of Ulugbek Madrasah

Legend of Ulugbek Madrasah: An icon of education

A legend of Ulugbek Madrasah, built in the years 1417-1420. This Madrasah was artistically in no way inferior to the buildings of Amir Temur and at the same time far superior to them in terms of durability. The building had two storeys, four high domes over the corner halls and four minarets at the corners.

According to legend, when the Madrasah was almost completed, Ulugbek was asked who would be the first mudarris (teacher) of the Madrasah. Ulugbek answered, “The most knowledgeable person in all sciences. Then a prudent man, a khawafi, rose from the crowd and began to apply for the position. Ulugbek instructed him to deliver a lecture at the opening of the madrasah, which was attended by 90 scholars, which only two people could understand – Qāḍī Zāda ar-Rūmī¹ (the Ulugbek’s teacher) and Ulugbek himself.

¹Qāḍī Zāda al-Rūmī (1364 in Bursa, Ottoman Empire – 1436 in Samarqand, Timurid Empire), whose actual name was Salah al-Din Musa Pasha (qāḍī zāda means “son of the judge”, al-rūmī “the Roman” indicating he came from Asia Minor, which was once Roman), was a Turkish astronomer and mathematician who worked at the observatory in Samarkand. He computed sin 1° to an accuracy of 10−12.

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