Central Asia, especially today’s Uzbekistan, has historically existed as an ancient cradle of science, culture and art. This also mentioned in pre-Islamic sources. In particular, in the Avesta, advanced ideas for the spiritual environment, science and education of the time were put forward. At the same works on astronomy, medicine, law and religion have been written in Aramaic, Sogdian, Turkic, Pahlavi, Khorezmian, Assyrian, Bactrian, Uyghur and Khotani and this scientific legacy has been serving as the basis for a strong civilization.
Moreover, it is a historical fact that the regions of Uzbekistan have historically been located at the crossroads of the Great Silk Road and its branches, however, this location has led people seeking religious and secular education to seek out ancient cultural centers such as Khorezm, Bukhara, Samarkand, Tashkent and Fergana. The scientific and philosophical views and invaluable scientific heritage of such thinkers as Imam Bukhari, Motirudi, Bakhouddin Nakshband and encyclopedic scholars al-Khorezmi, al-Beruni, Ibn Sina, al-Fergani, Mirzo Ulugbek were created on the basis of madrasah education.
Therefore, it can be said that madrasahs, which have been operating in Central Asia since ancient times, had the status of higher education institutions of their time, that are, Universities. According to the historical sources, by the end of the tenth century there were 17 special madrasahs in Samarkand.
Among them there were madrasahs with the status of higher madrasahs. During the Timurid and their Renaissance, the unprecedented rise of science and culture in Movarounnakhr and Khorasan, especially in the Samarkand, led to the construction of high madrasahs in major cities of country, this is due to the fact that there are mature scholars and teachers working in the educational institutions. Especially, the madrasah, founded by Ulugbek in 1420, quickly became famous in the East for its scale, potential and high status. This madrasah was radically different from the others in the teaching of secular, specific science, breadth and universality of the scope of research conducted in this area, the high knowledge and skills of scientific and pedagogical staff. The architectural uniqueness and rarity of the high madrasah built by Mirzo Ulugbek and the observatory built under him, the seven climate maps reflected on the walls and roof and the starry sky, these buildings have rightly become a symbol of medieval Samarkand madrasahs.
According to Wasifi, in ‘’Badoe ul-Waqoe’’ the first lecture on the work of Claudius Ptolemy by ‘’al-Majasti’’ was given at the Ulugbek madrasah on September 21, 1420 by the famous scholar Khawafi. It is appropriate to consider the same day as the date of the beginning of the activities of the madrasah.
During the nearly 40 years of Ulugbek’s rule of the Movarounhakhr Timurid kingdom, a large scientific school of scholars was formed, which grew out of his madrasahs in Samarkand, Bukhara, Gijduvan and others. The science at Ulugbek madrasah was started by famous Central Asian scientists namely: Mukhammad Khorazmi, al-Fergani, al-Javkhari, al-Khuttali, al-Marvarudi, al-Marvazi, Farabi, Avicenna, Abu Raykhon Beruni who made a great contribution to the development of scientific schools in the world.
It should be noted that the great civilizations of the Central Asian region emerged as a logical continuation of each other and the system of madrasah, which is the basis of these civilizations has also developed and improved over the time. In this sense, Samarkand State University is the direct successor of Ulugbek Higher Madrasah and the history of its establishment dates back to 1420, the date of establishment of Ulugbek Higher Madrasah. This leads to the conclusion that Samarkand State University is a direct successor of Ulugbek Madrasah. The reason could be that madrasah operated continually till the establishment of University, according to the facts about 1868s, the Ulugbek madrasah had all 24 rooms, which housed 48 students and this number reached to 108 by the beginning of the 20th century.
Until the early 20th century, the Ulugbek Madrasah was the oldest and most prestigious educational institute in the region, met the educational needs of the peoples here. Graduates of this madrasah helped to survive in the most difficult days of the history of civilization in Central Asia.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the former Soviet government ordered the opening of a two-year pedagogical university in Samarkand, taking into account the ancient scientific and cultural potential of Samarkand, the suggestions of enlighteners and intellectuals formed on the basis of madrasah education. It was opened in 1920s in the capital of Uzbekistan which was Samarkand. In particular, these new educational places also cover the requirements of Ulugbek madrasah. At the same time, it will be the basis for the formation of Samarkand State University in a new status.
In 1920, the educational place became the Pedagogical Academy of Samarkand. In 1930, it was renamed into Pedagogical Institute of Uzbekistan and finally in 1933, the Uzbekistan State University. In 1941, on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the great Uzbek poet, the university was renamed into the University of Alisher Navai and continued until 2016. The first professors of this university were the graduates of madrasahs of Samarkand and Bukhara, namely: Abdurauf Fitrat, Khaji Muin Shukurullayev, Olim Yunusov, Pulat Saliev, Mirzajon Saidjanov and others. Reforms and changes in the educational field of Uzbekistan will also bring significant changes to Samarkand State University at the same time. Along with the application of advanced technologies of international educating system, the traditional methods of teaching are preserved in this memorial which contributes to the creation of the model of Samarkand State University. For the formation and development of the Uzbek education system, the connection with the history of madrasahs of those times is an example of the reforms carried out by the head of our state and it serves to encourage the younger generation in the spirit of patriotism and pride towards our scientific and cultural heritage. The study of naming Samarkand State University with the name of Mirzo Ulugbek will be another important step towards the restoration of historical truth and the provision of succession.
The conclusion is that by setting the age of Samarkand State University at 600 years and celebrating this date on September 21, 2020, the Uzbek education system is recognized as an ancient.