For centuries, Mauritanian education system was established upon traditional Islamic schools, found in the nomadic communities and in settled villages. Because particularly renowned 'marabout' teachers (like Shaykh Marabit al-Haj) would be surrounded by families who wished their children to learn from these masters, several centres of more advanced Islamic learning developed around the camps of these marabouts.
In these centres, students learned grammar, logic, and other subjects, as well as traditional religious subjects. Many of the centres developed sizable collections of manuscripts through the efforts of the great marabouts. Indeed, it was largely through the efforts of these teachers that Islam was spread throughout West Africa.
As for placing Mauritania on the world map as a centre for Islamic and Arabic Studies can be credited to Ustaaz Hamzah Yusuf, who also spend time studying with Shaykh Marabit al-Haj. However only those students who are bold enough to travel and study in this harsh Saharan climate of West Africa, will benefit from the traditional and authentic approach to seeking knowledge.