The name “Miri-Arab” means “Prince of Arabs” and refers to Sheikh Abdullah Yemeni. Originally from Yemen, he gained influence in Bukhara and eventually became the Khan’s spiritual mentor on the line of the Naqshbandi (Sufi brotherhood). The Khan provided Yemeni with the financial means to build a Koranic school. Legend has it that the money was not from taxes or customs duties but the sale of 3,000 prisoners of war.
A well-known student of the madrasah was the former president of the Russian Republic of Chechnya, Akhmat Kadyrov. He studied at Miri-Arab Madrasah from 1980 to 1982 and then continued his studies at the Islamic Institute in Tashkent until 1986. Today, his son Ramzan Kadyrov is president of Chechnya.
The structure is designed in the classic Uzbek style. The building is rectangular, with an area of 73 by 55 metres with a courtyard (37 by 33 metres). The courtyard is surrounded by small rooms (“hujras”) on two floors. In total, the madrasah has 114 rooms. The high entrance portal is remarkable and beautifully decorated with mosaics and majolica. Immediately to the left and right of the entrance are two large halls: one used as a mosque and the other as a mausoleum for Sheikh Abdullah Yemeni, Ubaidullah Khan and his relatives. The courtyard is also richly decorated with glazed bricks in blue tones.
education at Miri-Arab Madrasah today
It was closed during the early Soviet era but reopened in 1946. It is still used today to educate young people. To be admitted, compulsory nine-year education is required. Applicants must also pass entrance examinations. Only 24 students are accepted each year. In addition to religious subjects, all secular subjects are included in the Programme of Study. The education lasts for four years.
visit to miri-arab madrasah
Since the madrasah is still active, visitors are only allowed to visit the entrance area. Upon request, the mausoleum may also be opened, but this is usually done for those people who have come here to pray. All other parts (including the courtyard) cannot be visited.