Hawza – Advanced Islamic Studies
The word Hawza refers to a traditional Islamic school of higher learning. It is a term used mostly by the Shi’ahs. This section is dedicated to resources related to Hawza studies.
|A Beginner’s Guide to Hawza Studies
One of the greatest Shi’ah scholars to have lived was Shaykh al-Tusi (385 AH/995 CE – 460 AH/1067 CE). He established the Hawza ‘Ilmiyya in Najaf (Iraq) which remained the main centre of learning for the Shi’ahs for over 1000 years until its decline in the last century. With the decline of Najaf, the city of Qum (Iran) rose to prominence and remains to date as the primary centre of traditional Islamic learning for Shi’ahs today.
The Lingua Franca at Hawzas
With the shift of the primary Hawzas from Najaf to Qum, the influence of Iran was inevitable. As a result, there now are an equal, if not more, number of Shi’ah Islamic resources produced in Persian (Farsi) as there are in Arabic, although the original sources (Qur’an and Hadith) continue to be preserved and studied in Arabic.
On this site you will find Hawza lectures in both Arabic and Farsi presented by some of the leading scholars in Qum today. We have also provided some material in English and will continue to add more lectures as we acquire them.
Most of the traditional subjects taught at a Hawza are interconnected and they supplement each other. For example, one who strives to specialize in Jurisprudence (fiqh) must also study other sciences in depth such as the Principles of Jurisprudence (Usul al-Fiqh), Arabic language and grammar, the Sciences of the Qur’an (‘Ulum al-Qur’an), Hadith, Islamic History (Tarikh), Theology (Aqaid), Qur’an Exegesis (Tafsir), Logic (Mantiq), and so on.
Whilst some may study at a Hawza for decades and devote their entire lives to the study and teaching of traditional Islamic sciences, others study for as little as 3-5 years at a Hawza and thereafter return to their hometowns (sometimes as a full-time Islamic missionary [muballigh]) whilst continuing to study on their own. Another common practice in recent years is for young men and women to take 1-3 month crash courses at Hawzas in Iran, especially over their summer holidays.
The need for individuals who are well-rounded in all sciences is also being realized, and so Hawzas today are also introducing secular subjects into their curriculum such as human psychology, sociology, current affairs & political science, English language studies, geography, comparative religions/world religions, western philosophy, and so forth.