Literacy levels were high and the patronage of colleges competitive. Scholars – ‘ulama
’ – from Iraq, Iran, Central Asia, al-Andalus, the Maghreb and Egypt poured into the madrasa
s, finding refuge in Damascus and a fertile teaching ground. Under waqf
agreements (endowments) scholars were given grants, salaries and somewhere to live. Good students were awarded an ijaza
(certificate) by their tutors. The process of apprenticeship is often illustrated on the frontispieces of scientific and philosophical manuscripts.