His deed of endowment states how the medresa was to operate in the future and how professors should be chosen using the strictest criteria, based on their expertise, pedagogical experience and personal qualities.
Originally called Seldžuklija Medresa, after Gazi Husrev Bey’s mother, Seldžuka, an Ottoman princess, it was later called Kuršumlija. This refers to its lead cupola, as lead was used to make bullets (Turkish = kuršumi) in times of war.
Master builders from Dubrovnik and local masons
Master builders from Dubrovnik and local masons built the facility in the heart of Sarajevo’s old čaršija, across from Gazi Husrev Bey’s Mosque, which was designed by Adžem Esir Alija, a Persian and chief architect of the Ottoman Empire at that time.
The medresa had 12 rooms for students, which were laid out in a semi-circle, and a central classroom.
A library was housed next to Bey’s Mosque and a khaniqah, a Sufi education center, was built next to the medresa.
During the Ottoman period, the medresa was an institution of higher learning, but during the early years of Austro-Hungarian rule it adopted a narrower scope and became a specialized religious school. During this time, Islamic schools began to follow secular programs and were termed Shariat-Judicial and Teachers’ Schools.
In 1897, the school was moved to Đulagin Dvor, a palace built on what was once an inn. In 1913 it became part of the Teachers’ School, which was shut down in 1920, and then the following year Kuršumlija and Khaniqah joined to form Gazi Husrev Bey’s Medresa (GHM). A girls’ section opened in 1933.
In 1945, GHM was moved to a site on Hamdije Kreševljakovića St., where students organized a two-month strike in 1972 to demand a program that was accredited and of better quality.
The medresa returned to Đulagin Dvor in 1977 and it was here that, initially, it worked with the newly opened Faculty of Islamic Theology (now the Faculty of Islamic Science).
For a long time after WWII, GHM and Alauddin Medresa in Priština were the only Islamic educational facilities in Former Yugoslavia.
Museum and Khaniqah
GHM’s section for boys is located on Sarači St., where Đulagin Dvor used to be, and the girls’ section is on Hamdije Kreševljakovića. Kuršumlija is now home to Gazi Husrev Bey Museum, and Khaniqah serves as a venue for events organized by the medresa and for exhibits.
With the educational reforms of 2004, the medresa began to operate as a public Islamic high school with dorms. 70% of the syllabus covers subjects taught in gymnasiums and 30% deals with religion. The doors of nearly all universities in BiH and around the world are open to its graduates.