‘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 as he was sheikh 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 madrasah student was the former president of the Russian Republic of Chechnya, Akhmad 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 has a classic shape of madrasah in Uzbekistan.
The building is rectangular, with 73 by 55 metres; in the centre is located a courtyard (37 by 33 metres). The yard is surrounded by 114 student rooms (“hujras”) on two floors. 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 another 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
The madrasah was closed during the early Soviet era. It was reopened in 1946 and still is used today to educate young people. To be admitted as a student of Miri-Arab Madrasah is required:
- nine-year compulsory education
- pass entrance examinations
Only 24 students are accepted each year. In addition to religious subjects, all secular subjects are included in education. The duration of education is four years.
visit to miri-arab madrasah
Since the madrasah is still active, visitors can only visit the doorway, where you have a view of the madrasah’s courtyard.