The Sahiba Madrasa is located in the Salihiyya quarter of Damascus, about two kilometers to the north of the walled city. It was built between 1233-1245 by Rabia Khatun, a sister of Salah al-Din (1137-1193) the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty who took Damascus over from the Zangids in 1177. She endowed the institution through a waqf for the Hanbalite school of jurisprudence. According to Jean Sauvaget, the plan of the madrasa has remained unchanged since its erection.
The building has a rectangular plan with a central open courtyard measuring 11.65 meters by 11.60 meters. It is accessed through a muqarnas portal situated on the north façade. At either side of the portal are two rectangular windows topped by craved stone lintels that illuminate small iwans facing the courtyard to the east and west of the portal. Inside, the courtyard has three vaulted iwans. The southern iwan contains the mihrab, flanked by two arched windows. Doors on its side walls lead to barrel-vaulted rectangular chambers at the southeast and southwest corners of the madrasa. The east and west iwans are also roofed with barrel vaults and communicate with the two corner chambers through doorways on their southern walls.
Entered through a door adjoining the west iwan is the mausoleum of the founder, originally covered by a dome; it can also be entered from the west iwan. The tomb chamber is lit by windows on its north and east. An arched opening next to the east iwan leads to a square, barrel-vaulted room housing the latrines and gives access to the roof staircase. The square courtyard is divided in half by an arch supported on the iwan walls suggesting the existence, originally, of a roof.
The madrasa is a fine example of Ayyubid stone architecture, displaying massive walls with richly carved but minimal geometric patterns framing the openings on the facades. It has recently been renovated and converted to a primary school.