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A Glimpse at the Major Shi‘a 
Seminaries and Qum Seminary 

Authors(s): Rasoul Imani Khoshkhu 

Publisher(s): Ahlul Bayt World Assembly (Tawhid Jounal) 


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The composing errors are not corrected. 


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Table of Contents 

A Glimpse at the Major Shi‘a Seminaries ................6 

A Glimpse at the Major Shi‘a Seminaries, Part 1.7 

Abstract .7 


1. Islamic Seminary of Basra.9 

2. The Islamic Seminary of Baghdad. 10 

The Islamic Seminary of Baghdad and The Four Books of the Shi‘a 12 

3. Islamic Seminary of Najaf. 13 

The Time of Recession . 14 

Flourishing Once Again . 14 

Graduates of the Islamic Seminary of Najaf. 15 

Jurisprudence in the Najaf Seminary. 16 

Philosophy in the Seminary of Najaf. 17 

Notes. 17 

A Glimpse at the Major Shi'a Seminaries, Part 2 . 20 

Abstract. 20 

The Islamic Seminary of Hillah. 20 

The revival of ijtihad in the Islamic Seminary of Hillah. 20 

The great scholars of the Hillah Seminary . 21 

The Islamic Seminary of Kazemayn. 22 

The Islamic Seminary of Samarra. 24 

The Islamic seminary of Karbala. 25 

Notes . 28 

A Glimpse at the Major Shi'a Seminaries, Part 3 . 32 

Abstract. 32 

5. The Islamic Seminary of Jabal Aamel. 32 

6. The Islamic Seminary of Isfahan . 36 

7. The Islamic Seminary of Mashhad. 39 

Notes. 41 

The History of the Islamic Seminaries of Qum ... 44 

The History of the Islamic Seminaries of Qum, Part 1 .45 

Abstract. 45 

History of Qum . 45 

Qum in the hadiths. 46 

The arrival of Lady Ma‘sumah to Qum . 47 

The history of the Islamic seminaries of Qum . 48 

The First Era. 48 

The Second Era. 49 

The Third Era. 50 

The Fourth Era. 51 

The Fifth Era. 53 


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Notes. 56 

The History of the Islamic Seminaries of Qum, Part 2 . 58 

Abstract. 58 

The Islamic seminaries of Qum after the Islamic Revolution.58 

3.Core Courses in the Qum seminaries. 59 

3.1. Philosophy. 59 

3.2. Islamic Theology (Kalam). 61 

3.3 Exegesis of the Qur’an (Tafseer). 61 

3.4. Jurisprudence (fiqh). 62 

Propagation and Society. 63 

Notes. 64 


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A Glimpse at the Major Shi 4 a Seminaries 


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A Glimpse at the Major Shi‘a Seminaries, Part 1 

Rasoul Imani Khoshkhu 

Translated by Fatemeh Soltanmohammadi 

Journal: Vol. 14, no. 1, Winter 2013 


The previous articles in this series touched upon the subjects of fiqh and 
usul of fiqh - with a glance into its history and sources - as well as Hadith 
studies, Qur’anic sciences, the Science of Exegesis, and the Science of 
Ethics. The next few parts give a glimpse into the historical origins of some 
of the most important religious seminaries in the Shi‘a world. Islamic 
seminaries are the most affective institution in propagating the teachings of 
the Qur’an and the Ahlul Bayt, and have moreover triggered a unique 
culture in the scientific, social, and even political spheres. One significant 
role of seminaries was the rise of knowledgeable and pious Shi‘a scholars 
who pursued ijtihad with the use of the Qur’an, sunna, and reason to 
respond to legislative needs and guide the Muslim community with their 
contemporary issues. 

This part focuses primarily on the Islamic seminaries of Basra, Baghdad, 
and Najaf. The Seminary of Basra was known for its major role in the 
Science of Narration (‘Ilm al-Hadith); the Seminary of Baghdad was 
recognized as the center of scholarly discussions as well as bringing about 
new advancements in principles of jurisprudence, theology, deductive 
reasoning (istidlal) and independent reasoning (ijtihad); and the Seminary of 
Najaf was one of the most important institutions of academics and ijtihad in 
the history of Shi‘a academia. 


Throughout Shi‘a history, Islamic seminaries have been the most stable 
and affective societal institutions. Three issues, that is, learning, developing 
and publishing authentic Islamic teachings that have been manifested 
through the Holy Book and the teachings of the Holy Prophet of Islam (s) 
and his rightful successors requires the establishment of an organized and 
systematic institution that pursues these goals. In pursuit of these goals and 
in response to this calling from the Almighty God: 

“...But why should not there go forth a group from each of their 
sections to become learned in religion, and to warn their people when they 
return to them,... (9:122),” 

a group of people have been steadfast against all hardships and have 
washed their hands of all worldly and materialistic affairs in the quest for 
gaining religious knowledge and spreading it. Initially they made great 
efforts to collect the sayings of the Infallibles, and with the formation of 
study circles, they pondered and reflected on them to gain access to - and 
comprehend - the underlying secrets of the Divine Book. Eventually, they 
taught and published their works as a form of invitation to the faith and 
through this, the first seminaries were established in various geographical 

In the Arabic language ‘hawzah’ means ‘area’, ‘complex,’ and ‘central 
location’, and in a more specific terminology amongst the Shi‘a, it refers to 


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a center similar to a university for pursuing Islamic education, or for 
learning Islamic sciences. Having access to valuable teachings from the 
Prophet and his family, a unique culture has been left behind in the 
scientific, social, and even political fields. 1 

During the time of the infallible Imams and specifically during the time 
of Imam Baqir and Imam Sadiq, the first Islamic seminaries and study 
circles were organized under the supervision of the holy Imams. Over a 
thousand students from the Shi‘a school of thought and other sects 
participated in the classes held by the two Imams. Soon afterwards, each 
student became prominent in various sciences, such as transmitted 
knowledge (‘ulum naqli), intellectual knowledge (‘ulum aqli), and natural 
sciences (‘ulum tabi’i). 

With the inception of the twelfth Imam’s occultation, that which held the 
highest priority was gathering narrations and protecting the legacy that was 
left behind by the Infallible Imams for those seeking the pure teaching of 
Islam. For this reason, the study of prophetic narrations held a great value. 
Shi‘a scholars traveled to various regions, and after hearing narrations from 
their original sources, they presented authentic collections of narration, the 
most significant of them being The Four Books of the Shi‘a. 

At the beginning of the major occultation, the twelfth Imam’s priority 
was to assign a vicegerent with the three characteristics of being scholarly, 
righteous, and holding the guardianship of the Imams as his model. This 
brought a very critical and heavy responsibility to the attention of Shi‘a 
scholars and seminaries; it led them to pursue ijtihad with the use of key 
religious sources - the Qur’an, Sunna, and reason - to respond to legislative 
(shar’i) needs and to guide the community (ummah) with the existing issues 
of their time. The rise of great scholars, who were prominent in their level 
knowledge and God- consciousness (taqwa), was an important operation of 
the seminaries during the time of occultation and throughout their history. 

Now after the passing of almost fourteen centuries from the beginning of 
constructing the first seminaries, there currently exists various active 
institutions all over the Shi‘a world. Throughout history, with the training of 
open-minded individuals who are aware of their time and have a broad and 
expanded understanding of the pure gnostic knowledge of the family of the 
Prophet, they have been able to satisfy the religious and scientific needs of 
the followers of Islam. They have also been able to introduce the Shi‘a faith 
to the world as an authentic viewpoint in Islam and as one of the sects that 
holds remarkable views in various religious sciences such as jurisprudence 
(fiqh), philosophy (falsafah), theology (kalam), and exegesis (tafsir). 

This section expounds on some of the most prominent Shi‘a seminaries 
most influential in the growth of the Shi‘a sect and in the training of the 
greatest Shi‘a scholars. 

Although citing the number of active scholar- training seminaries during 
the course of history is beyond the constraints of this paper, only some of 
the most well-known and influential of them will be mentioned. We refer 
those who are interested to research in this area to more comprehensive 
works. 2 


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1. Islamic Seminary of Basra 

The Islamic seminary of Basra is one of the oldest publication centers of 
Shi‘a theology in Iraq and is cited as the major seminary in the science of 
Prophetic Narration (Ilm al-Hadith). 

Basra is a city in Iraq built after the conquest of the Hira region during 
the Islamic era in the year 15 A.H. Up until the year 36 A.H. - the time 
when the Battle of the Camel took place - the people of this city were 
mainly Uthmani. However, after the Battle of the Camel and Imam Ali’s 
victory in that war, the Imam appointed Ibn Abbas as the Governor of Basra 
and Abu al-Aswad al-Du’ali as the city judge. 

Due to the hard work of these two well-known figures of virtue and 
courtesy, and the people of Basra became more acquainted with the 
biography of Imam Ali that they started to lean towards Shi‘ism. Ibn Abbas 
would spend all day at the main masjid teaching the Holy Qur’an, Islamic 
Jurisprudence (fiqh), and Islamic commandments (ahkam), and when he 
would leave Bara to see Imam Ali and to take part in the battles of the 
Imam, he would assign Abu al-Aswad al- Du’ali as his deputy in Basra. 3 

After the martyrdom of Imam Ali, the devotion of the people of Basra to 
the Imams continued; they were eager to understand the presence of the 
Imams and convey their narrations. This devotion was a desire beyond 
explanation. It led the people to gather many companions (sahabi) and 
narrators (muhaddith) which then formed into the seminaries and centers for 
publishing narrations from the Prophet and the infallible Imams. 

It was the formation of these institutes that led narrators from other cities 
to travel to Basra to hear narrations from the Prophet through his 
companions, and through this they created an educational atmosphere in the 
city. 4 , 5 

The growth flow in Basra leaned towards the Sh‘ia sect in such a way 
that taking into consideration the number of narrators during the time of 
Imam Baqir, one could claim that during the second century Hijri calendar, 
Basra became a Shi‘a- populated city. 6 

After the major occultation of the twelfth Imam, Basra continued to be 
the center where narrators gathered and where the devotees of the Infallibles 
traveled to and settled in pursuit of learning the Ahlul Bayt’s message. 

The Islamic seminary of Basra’s outstanding status in the science of 
narration, its geographical location of being situated on the route to Mecca, 
and the path the pilgrims take to The Sacred House (Bayt al- Haram) 7 was a 
great opportunity for Islamic scholars to enter the city and assist with issues 
regarding science and narration. 

Moreover, books related to great Shi‘a scholars refer to numerous 
scholars who resided in this city from the fourth to the eight century Hijri. 8 
Some of the great narrators of the fourth century are: Abdul Aziz bin Yahya 
bin Saeed Basari, Muhammad bin Ibrahim Ishaq, Sharif Abu Talib 
Mudhaffar Basari, and Muhammad bin Omaro bin Ali Basari, all of whom 
were teachers (mashayekh) of Shaykh Saduq in which he narrated hadith 
from. This movement continued in the next few centuries, although they did 
experience periods where the Islamic seminaries of Basra experienced 
relative declines in the branch of narration. 


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As a witness to this matter, we can look at Aghabozorg Tehrani ’s report. 
He was a narrator residing in Basra from the fourth to the eight century 
Hijri. In the fifth century, he reports nine Shi‘a students in Basra, where 
their numbers drop to five people in the sixth century and in the seventh 
century it falls once again to three people. In the eight century he only 
reports two Shi’a students, and in the ninth century he does not mention any 
Shi‘a scholar at all. However, in the tenth century he introduces an 
individual named Muhammad Tulani; in the eleventh century the number of 
scholars in this city reaches six people, which it seems to have relocated to 
Basra from other seminaries, such as Ahsa; and in the twelfth century Hijri, 
he recounts five Shi‘a scholars, where some moved from Bahrain to Basra. 9 

2. The Islamic Seminary of Baghdad 

The city of Baghdad - which was the center of caliphate during the rule 
of the Abbasids - was the most important center of gathering and 
interchange amongst the dominant sects of Islam; it was also the center 
where debates and the exchange of ideas amongst their great scholars in 
various topics - primarily in issues regarding theology - took place. 

The presence of the Shi‘a Imams in Baghdad and in Iraq, after Imam 
Sadiq, became a means for Shia scholars, jurists, theologians, and narrators 
to leam and train under the supervision of the infallible Imams. They later 
were able to debate with other religious scholars and use the intellectual 
environment of the city to defend the true Shi‘a beliefs in various 
theological issues and to promote pure knowledge of the Ahl-ul-Bayt and 
the Prophet. The extent of academic work carried out by the Imamiah 
scholars was to such an extent that some researchers have recounted the 
number of students of Imam Kadhim and his narrators in Baghdad to reach 
over six hundred people. 10 

After the passing of the era of the Imams ’ presence and the approach of 
the minor occultation of Imam Mahdi, the city of Baghdad experienced a 
new dynamic time period, and that was due to the presence of The Four 
Deputies of the Imam, namely Uthman ibn Sa’id al-Asadi, Abu Jafar 
Muhammad ibn Uthman, Abul Qasim Husayn ibn Ruh al- Nawbakhti, and 
Abul Hasan Ali ibn Muhammad al-Samarri. With the use of religious 
dissimulation (taqiyya) and through direct guidance and instructions from 
the Imam, these pious and well-known scholars sought to protect the Shi‘a 
entity and become the intellectual leader of the Shi‘a people. By responding 
to the religious misconceptions and receiving religious taxes, they turned 
Baghdad into the biggest Shi‘a center in the world. 

Another period of academic growth of the city of Baghdad and the 
Islamic seminaries was simultaneous with the major occultation of the 
twelfth Imam. Some of the important events of this period were the political 
upheavals and the coming to power of the Shi‘a Buyids (Al al-Buye) 11 in 
Iran and Iraq; with proving the grounds for theological discussions, it 
created change in the prevailing atmosphere upon the Shi‘a seminaries after 
the time of Imam Askari, which were engaged in gathering narrations and 
were rigorous in reaching a surface level understanding. 

It also provided the means for theological discussion revolving around 
ideological issues to be prepared for in the Islamic seminaries of Baghdad. It 


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was in such an atmosphere that great Shi‘a personalities such as Shaykh 
Mufid, Sayyid Radi, and Sharif Murtadha with reviving the intellect as a 
source in the acquisition of Islamic teachings, on one hand were to guide the 
Ja’fari Jurisprudence towards comparative and demonstrative jurisprudence 
(fiqh istidlali) and ijtihad; on the other hand, with addressing intellectual 
issues, they revised the Shi‘a theological viewpoint in regards to ideological 
topics under scrutiny at the time. In what follows, we will consider the 
biographies of two great scholars of the seminary of Baghdad, namely 
Shaykh Mufid and Sayyid Murtadha. 

Shaykh Mufid (336-413 A.H.) was one of the great scholars and 
prominent theologians of the fourth and fifth century Hijri. He taught 
renowned scholars such as Sayyid Murtadha, Sayyid Radi, and Shaykh Tusi. 
Ibn Imad Hanbali, a renowned Islamic historian, in regards to the events that 
took place in 413 A.H., writes: During these years Mufid passed away. He 
was one of the great Shi‘a scholars who published many books and writings. 
He was also a leader of the people... ” 12 

Likewise, Ibn Abi Tayy states in The History of Shi‘a, “Mufid was the 
greatest amongst the well-known Shi‘a scholars and is their representative. 
He was wise in the fields of theology, jurisprudence, and mentoring debates 
and during the Buyid Dynasty he would debate the supporters of various 
vocations and beliefs with a certain aura of dignity and grandeur; he also 
assisted the less fortunate on multiple occasions. His humility and reverence 
was great, his prayers and fasts numerous; he wore clean and pleasant 
clothes; well-known people such as Azad-ud-Daulah Dilami - the governing 
authority of the Buyids - would visit Shaykh Mufid on numerous occasions. 
He lived for 76 years and wrote over two hundred books and dissertations 
(risalah). In the month of Ramadhan, year 413 A.H., he passed away and 
eighty thousand people participated in his funeral. 13 

In addition to bringing new advancements in principles of jurisprudence 
(usul) and theology, Shaykh Mufid also expanded in the area of 
jurisprudence and gave rise to deductive reasoning (istidlal) and ijtihad and 
with not being satisfied with just the external meaning of narrations. He 
benefited from thinking freely and having a systematic understanding and 
logical interpretation of the narrations. In the field of political jurisprudence 
(fiqh al-siyasi), through writing books and academic debates, Shaykh Mufid 
clarified the status of leadership (imamah) in political philosophy in Islam 
and the idea that the Shi‘a Imams and their deputies must be the ones 
responsible for governing and leading the Islamic society. The books Awa'il 
al-Maqalat and Tashih Ttiqadat al-Imamiyyah in the science of theology, al- 
Muqni'yah in the field of jurisprudence, and the books al-Irshad, Fusul al- 
Mukhtarah, and al-Amali are amongst some of his works. 

Abul Ghasem Ali bin Husayn Musawi, popularly known as, Sayyid 
Murtadha and entitled as, ‘Allam al-Huda,’ was another great Shi‘a scholar 
of the Islamic seminaries in Baghdad, who was Shaykh Mufid l4, s student 
and Shaykh Tusi’s teacher. He was born in Rajab in 355 A.H. in Karkh area 
of Baghdad. Sayyid Murtadha’s financial capabilities enabled him to 
arrange the seminarians ’ financial conditions while spending all of his time 
in lectures, discussions, and composing. He set a certain monthly wage for 


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every student in accordance with his academic activities and research, and 
set all the interests of a village that was under his management to provide 
paper for the scholars; he did so with an inalienable religious endowment 

Sayyid Murtadha had a unique accomplishment in the science of 
narration and rational sciences and in jurisprudence, principles of 
jurisprudence, theology, narration and exegesis, literature, poetry, and 
terminology. He owned written works, which include al-Masa’el al- 
Naseriyah in jurisprudence, al-Dhuri’ah fi Usui al-Fiqh, al-Shafi fi al- 
Imamah, al-Mukhalas fi Usui al-Deen, and al-Dhakhirah fi Ilm al- Kalam 
wa al-Intesar fi ma Anfardat bihi al-Imamiyah. 

Another key action Sayyid Murtadha took to provide for the academic 
needs of those who travelled to Baghdad from various parts of the world and 
joined his seminary, was that he dedicated a part of his house that he was 
residing in for the students’ classes and discussion circles, popularly known 
as, “Dar al-Ilm.” He also left his personal library, which had over eighty 
thousand books that were bought with his personal funding, at the disposal 
of the se mi narians. 

The Islamic Seminary of Baghdad and The Four Books of the Shi‘a 

Amongst the feasible blessings of the Islamic seminaries of Baghdad was 
its role in writing and creating the Four Books of the Shi‘a, namely: Kitab 
al-Kafi, Man la Yahduruhu al-Faqih, Tahdhib al-Ahkam, and al-Istibsar. All 
of them replaced the valuable series, Usui al- Arba’ma’ah 1 ^ in gathering 
narrations from the Infallibles and it overcame the scholars’ and mujtahids’ 
need in methods of deducing Islamic commandments. 

The collection al-Kafi was the deceased Muhammad bin Ya’qub Kulayni 
Razi’s 16 work, published in Baghdad after twenty years of research, 
examination, and traveling to various Shi‘a populated cities while gathering 
authentic narrations. The late Kulayni who spent his earlier years in his 
birthplace - in the suburbs of Rey - initially moved to Qum to seek Islamic 

Afterwards, he travelled to the seminaries of Nishabur, Kufa, and 
Baghdad. Throughout these trips, along with meeting well-known Shi‘a 
narrators and great narrators of the infallible imams, he gathered parts of the 
chapter of jurisprudence and narration. After migrating to Baghdad, he 
properly organized his work and wrote the collection, al-Kafi. al-Kafi is 
composed of two volumes: Usui al-Kafi (theology), five volumes of Furu al- 
Kafi (jurisprudence), and one volume of Rawdat al-Kafi (various topics). In 
total, it comprises 16,199 narrations which are from the Prophet) and the 
infallible Imams. 

The second book from The Four Books of the Shi‘a is Man la Yahduruhu 
al-Faqih, written as result of the efforts of the renowned scholar, Abu Ja’far 
Muhammad bin Ali bin Babiwayh Qummi 17 , also known as Shaykh Saduq. 
Shaykh Saduq, who had a history of travelling and a residing at the 
seminary in Rey, Nishabur, Khorasan, and Bukhara, entered the Islamic 
seminary of Baghdad in 355 A.H. where he taught and trained the students. 
Shaykh Mufid is of those who participated in his lecture sessions. After 
some time, he traveled to Balkh, and there through the request of one of 


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Imam Kadhim’s children, he wrote a book on jurisprudence that clarified the 
religious duties (shar’i) of the Muslims in regards to jurisprudence and 
various religious laws. Similar to Razi’s book on medicine, Man la 
Yahduruhu al-Tabib, he named his book on jurisprudence Man la 
Yahduruhu al-Faqih. 18 

This book comprises 5,963 valuable narrations from the Imams. Even 
though - according to Shaykh Saduq’s own statement - he essentially quoted 
the writers opinions and rulings 19 , considering the credibility of the 
narrations, it is one the most reliable books of narration and has been used 
as a source by scholars and mujtahids all throughout the history of Islamic 
jurisprudence. 20 

Tahdhib al-Ahkam and al-Istibsar are the third and fourth books from the 
Four Books of Shi‘a and have been written by Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin 
Hasan bin Ali Tusi 21 predominantly known as Shaykh Tusi. Shaykh Tusi 
migrated from Toos to Iraq in the year 408 A.H. when he was 23 years old. 
He participated in Shaykh Mufid’s classes in Baghdad and after a short 
period of time reached the level of ijtihad and in that young age published 
the book Tahdhib al-Ahkam which was an explanation to Shaykh Mufid’s 
book on jurisprudence. The book Tahdhib is comprised of 13,590 narrations 
which are presented in 23 jurisprudential books and 393 chapters. 

Shaykh Tusi’s second famous work is al-Istibsar, which was issued after 
Tahdhib al-Ahkam. In composing this book, he made use of the two biggest 
libraries at the time in Baghdad, meaning Sayyid Razi’s library and Abu 
Nasr Shabur’s library. In the introduction of Tahdhib, he mentioned the 
presence of resentment and the existing differences in the Shi‘a narrations 
that triggered outrage from opposing parties; since he believed that 
resolving differences was crucial, he introduced this issue using a practical 
approach in al-Istibsar 22 . It was through this that al-Istibsar became the first 
book of narrations that dealt with resolving differences in narrations. 

In the mid-fifth century Hijri, the most unfortunate, bitter, and regrettable 
event in the history of Baghdadi seminaries occurred which resulted in the 
closing of the seminary. Tuqrul Bayk Saljuqi’s attack on Baghdad and the 
seizing of the city in the year 447 A.H. led to not only the genocide of the 
Shi‘a people, but also the burning of the biggest libraries in Baghdad such 
as the libraries of Sayyid Murtadha, Shaykh Tusi, Abu Nasr Shabur, Bahaud 
Dawla Dilami’s vizier which in 381 A.H. in the Shi‘a populated area of 
Karkh was built as The House of Wisdom (Bayt al-Hikmah). Afterwards, 
the great scholars of Baghdad, including Shaykh Tusi, moved to 
neighboring cities. 

3. Islamic Seminary of Najaf 

The seminary of Najaf is by far one of the most important institutions of 
academics and ijtihad in the history of academia and Shi‘a culture and has 
played an undeniable role in leading political change in various historical 
turns throughout Shi‘a history. For a long period of time, this seminary was 
amongst the most important Shi‘a seminaries and because of its extensive 
history and the presence of well-known scholars, and it continued to be the 
center of focus and assembly of great scholars and virtuous figures. 


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According to historical reports, the basis for founding the seminary of 
Najaf was Shaykh al-Taifah Shaykh Tusi who relocated from the city of 
Baghdad in the year 448 A.H. to this city after the attack of the Saljuqs. Ibn 
Juzi writes in regards to the attacks made on Shaykh Tusi’s house in 
Baghdad that a group of the Ahulul Sunnah attacked Abu Ja’far Tusi’s 
house in Karkh and burnt his books, notebooks, his pulpit used when 
teaching, and other belongings. 23 

Even though this city was the residence of several Shi‘a scholars and 
narrators before Shaykh Tusi’s relocation to Najaf, it was with his arrival 
and the constitution of the Islamic seminary that Najaf became the center of 
Shi‘a jurisprudence and an institute for educating and training great Shi‘a 
scholars. It became a focal point where seminarians and researchers in 
Islamic sciences turned to, and under the supervision of Shaykh Tusi, were 
able to train and teach students various religious sciences such as 
jurisprudence and theology. 

After 12 years of his fruitful presence in Najaf, Shaykh al-Tusi passed 
away in Najaf in 460 A.H.. After him, the leadership of Shi‘a and the 
management of the seminaries which he had founded were passed on to his 
son, Shaykh Abu Ali Tusi, and afterwards to his grandson Abu Nasr 
Muhammad bin Abi Ali al-Hasan bin Abi Ja ’far Muhammad bin al- Hasan 

The Time of Recession 

The seminary of Najaf experienced a recession and relative decline from 
the sixth until the ninth century Hijra. Some of its reasons could be related 
to the expansion of the Islamic seminary of Karbala and Hillah. The 
academic activities and group study circles executed by great scholars such 
as Ahmad bin Ali Najashi, Abi Hamza Tusi, Sayyid Fakhar Musawi Haeri, 
Ali bin Tawus, Shams-ud Din Muhammad bin Makki, (Shahid Awwal) and 
ibn Khazin Haeri in the seminary of Karbala were important in training 
students in religious studies. On another hand, with the spread of the House 
of Knowledge (buyut ‘ilmiyyah) of Aal Idris, Aal Shaykh Waram, Aal 
Fahad, Aal Tawus in the city of Hillah, the Islamic seminaries of Najaf 
became increasingly marginalized. 

Flourishing Once Again 

The recession period of the Islamic seminary of Najaf continued until the 
ninth century Hijri. During this time, with the appearance of great figures 
such as Fadhil Miqdad" and Muqaddas Ardebili it was rejuvenated and 
those who sought Islamic knowledge from other areas turned to this city. 
The features of this time period include the spread of the science of 
jurisprudence, comparative and demonstrative jurisprudence, and 
composing valuable books like Ma’alim al-Din a work of Hasan bin Zaid al- 
Din.~ 6 

In this period along with jurisprudence and principles of jurisprudence, 
sciences like logic, Verses of Fegislature (Ayat al-Ahkam), exegesis, 
theology, and biographical evaluation (rijal) started to spread and as a result, 
treasurable books were written in the fields. 27 


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The eleventh century Hijri can be viewed as the new era in the history of 
seminaries in Najaf. The growth and activities of scholars that were present 
in Najaf and were under the radar were theological discussion and the 
method of ijtihad, which were of the most pronounced features of the Najaf 

This continued until the migration of Waheed Behbahani from Iran to 
Iraq in the twelfth century and created a certain academic excitement in the 
seminary of Najaf. Of the renowned figures of this time is Sayyid 
Muhammad Mahdi Bahrul-Ulum, 28 a student of Waheed Behbahani and a 
splendid figure in the Shi‘a world who had an extensive amount of 
knowledge and had travelled the different stages of a peripatetic journey 
towards God (sayr wa sulook); he was indeed respected amongst the Shi‘a 
scholars of that time. 

Graduates of the Islamic Seminary of Najaf 

Because of its historical background, its unique academic dynamic, and 
the presence of sessions run by the most well-known and sought after 
scholars, the seminaries of Najaf were fostered by great scholars throughout 
history, all of whom have shined in Shi‘a academia and ijtihad. Indeed, they 
have been the source of blessing in terms of the expanding of the Shi‘a 
seminaries in different areas. Through studying the biographies and profiles 
of the founders of Shi‘a seminaries in various areas, as well as the socially 
and politically influential personalities in Shi‘a history, it is clear that 
participating in the Najaf seminaries and making use of its academic and 
spiritual merits is a common factor amongst its participants. In what follows 
are a few spiritual and knowledgeable personalities whom were present in 
this seminary: 

-Ibn Idris Hilli, the founder and leader of the Islamic seminary of Hillah; 

-Mirza Shirazi, who issued boycotting the use of tobacco and the leader 
of the Islamic seminary of Samarra; 

-Hajj Muhammad Ibrahim Kalbasi and Sayyid Muhammad Baqir Shafti 
the two leaders of the Islamic seminary of Isfahan; 

-Hajj Shaykh Abdul Karim Haeri Yazdi, founder of the Islamic seminary 
of Qum, 

-Mowla Ahmad bin Muhammad Ardebili, known as “Muqaddas 
Ardebili”, a well-known scholar in the Shia world; 

-Shaykh Ja’far Kashif al-Ghita’, leader and great Shi‘a authority 

-Shaykh Muhammad Hasan Najafi, great jurist (faqih) and author of 
Jawahir al-Kalam; 

-Shaykh A’adham Murtadha Ansari, the undisputable scholar in 
jurisprudence and the principles of jurisprudence; 

-Mulla Muhammad Kadhim Khorasani, author of Kifayat al-Usul; 

-Hajj Husayn Burujerdi, leader of the Islamic seminary of Qum, 

-Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai, author of the Quranic 
exegesis al-Mizan fi Tafsir al-Qur’an; and 

-Allamah Sayyid Sharafiddin Amuli, author of al-Muraja’at. 


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Jurisprudence in the Najaf Seminary 

Jurisprudence in the Najaf Seminary 29 

Jurisprudence was amongst the sciences taught in Najaf and from its 
inception, the subject of focus amongst students via Shaykh Tusi. Until 
recent years, it was called the Science of Jurisprudence. Like other sciences, 
the science of jurisprudence underwent the process of development. After 
putting behind its introductory stages of narrated jurisprudence, it reached 
its highest level of accuracy - comparative and demonstrative jurisprudence 
- as well as the use of rules of deduction (istinbat) for extracting religious 
laws from firsthand sources. 

Although the Najaf seminary undertook periods of excellence in 
recounting and reporting, as well as periods of decline in the science of 
jurisprudence, comparative and demonstrative jurisprudence, and ijtihad, 
after the decline with the presence of usuli scholars, it returned to its 
previous station in comparative jurisprudence 30 and the science of 
jurisprudence. The seminary was able to present the great and well- known 
scholars of the Shi‘a world. 

We owe the turning point in comparative jurisprudence and ijtihad in the 
Najaf seminaries to the hard work of the prominent scholar Shaykh 
Ansari. 31 With his innovative outlook in the principles of ijtihad, he made 
great changes in the science of jurisprudence; and with reviving principles 
of jurisprudence and its foundation; he was able to use it for deducing 
various branches and religious laws. Through this method, he brought Shi‘a 
laws to a whole new stage. From amongst his works are two books, Fara ’id 
al-Usul (known as Articles in the Science of Jurisprudence) and Makasib (a 
legal manual of Islamic Commercial Law) which have been taught in the 
seminaries for years. Ansari’s his intellectual ideas in Shi‘a law were then 
developed by his outstanding students, some of whom were Mirza Shirazi, 
Mirza Rushti, Ayatullah Kuh Kamari, and Akhund Khorasani. With 
introducing debatable topics in reasoning in the creation of new rules of fiqh 
and placing them in a new and innovated framework, Akhund Khorasani 
wrote Kafayatul al- Usui, which is used until this day as a seminary 

The evolution and development of the science of jurisprudence after 
Akhund Khorasani continued through great intellectuals such as Shaykh 
Muhammad Husayn Isfahani, Ayatollah Agha Diya al-Din Iraqi and with 
Allamah Na’eni’s insightful thinking and scrutiny, the depth of topics and 
content related to reasoning in new fiqh rules (usuli) increased and its status 
in Shi‘a ijtihad and jurisprudence showed itself more than ever. 

The composition of two very valuable books, with comprehensiveness 
regarding religious jurisprudential matter was another remarkable service of 
the Najaf Seminaries. One is Urwa al-Wuthqa by Ayatullah Sayyid Kadhim 
Yazdi 32 and the other Wasilah al-Nijat by Ayatullah Sayyid al-Hasan 
Isfahani. 33 With 3,260 jurisprudential issues, Urwa al-Wuthqa became a 
reference book in jurisprudence. 

Prominent jurists used its methods in writing legal books, and its 
fundamental legal topics are discussed in advanced jurisprudential studies 
(dars al-kharij al-fiqh) to such a point that today many commentaries and 


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interpretations have been written on it. Moreover, Wasilah al-Nijat, which 
contained most of the Islamic legal issues necessary for Muslims at the time, 
because of the skillful text it became the foundation of many jurisprudential 
books afterwards and many of the collections of juridical edicts (risalah) are 
written as a form of commentary on it. 

Currently, the Islamic seminaries of Najaf continue to shine and have 
introduced judicial personalities and supreme legal authorities (maraji’) such 
as Ayatullah Sayyid Muhsin Hakim, 34 Ayatullah Sayyid Abul Ghasim 
Khoei, 35 and Ayatullah Sayyid Ali Sistani. 36 

Philosophy in the Seminary of Najaf 

The appearance of philosophy and the spread of philosophical ideology 
in the Islamic seminaries of Najaf - and Iraq in general - are due to the 
migration of great scholars from Iran. This was structured around Islamic 
philosophy from long before. Khajah Nasr al-Din Tusi’s 37 trips to Baghdad 
between the years 662 to 672 A.H. and his meetings with Iraqi scholars set 
the grounds where intellectual ideas were spread in Iraq. 38 

However, the widespread familiarization of the Najaf seminaries with 
philosophy was the migration of Akhund Mulla Husayngholi Hamedani to 
the holy Shi‘a sites of Iraq, and his studies and instructions in the seminary 
of Karbala and Najaf. He himself benefited from Mulla Hadi Sabzevari’s 39 
classes in the seminary and made his own students familiar with Islamic 
philosophy, in which he found his perfect form in Mulla Sadra’s 
Transcendent Theosophy (al-Hikmah al-Muta'liyah). He also promoted 
transmitted knowledge (ulum naqli) alongside intellectual knowledge (ulum 
aqli) and made efforts to spread it within the seminaries. Sayyid Jamal al- 
Din Asadabadi, Sayyid Abd al-Husayn Lari, and Sayyid Ahmad Karbalaei 
have all been trained in the Najaf seminary. 

Other philosophy teachers in Najaf include Agha Mirza Muhammad 
Baqir Istahbanati, Shaykh Muhammad Husayn Gharuri Isfahani, Agha 
Shaykh Ali Muhammad Najaf Abadi, Agha Sayyid Husayn Badkoobehi, 
Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai, and Shaykh Murtadha 
Taleqani, Allamah Muhammad Taqi Ja’fari’s teacher. 

The next part of this series continues with information on the Islamic 
Seminary of Hillah - including its revival of ijtihad and its prominent 
scholars - and the Kadhimayn Seminary. 


1. Shi‘a Encyclopedia, under Bahaoddin Khorramshahi and others, vol. 6, p. 549. 

2. Kabari, Sayyed Ali Reza, Shi‘a Seminaries across the World. 

3. Encyclopedia of Shi‘a, vol. 6, p. 346-344. 

4. For example, we can refer to Bukhari, the author of one of the six books of Sunni 
Islam, where in his memoir it mentions he would travel to various regions for long periods 
of time in search of narrations. On one of his trips he went to Basra, where during his 
fifteen-day stay he recorded over fifteen thousand narrations. Ibn Abi Ya’li, Layers of 
Hanbalis, vol. 1, p. 276. 

5. Shi‘a Seminaries across the World, p. 203. 

6. Ibid, p. 203. 

7. Hakim Mulla Sadra Shirazi, passed away in the city of Basra in the year 1050 when 
traveling bare foot on a trip to hajj for the seventh time. Mokhtari, Reza, Visage of Scholars 
(Simayeh Farzanehgan), p. 164. 

8. Tehrani, Aghabozorg, al-Shia ‘Alam Tabaqat, vol. 5, p. 83. 


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9. Shi‘a Seminaries across the World, p. 205. 

10. Atardi, Azizullah, Musnad of Imam al-Kadhim, vol. 3, p. 569. 

11. Al-e Buye, Iranian Shi‘a dynasty, attributed to Abushoja’ who between the years 
322-448 Qamari ruled a large part of Iran, Iraq, and the peninsula until the northern 
boarders of Damascus. Sajjadi, Sadiq, “Al-e Buye”, Islamic Encyclopedia, vol. 1, article 

12. Ibn ‘Imad Hanbali, Shadhrat al-Dhahab fi Akhbar man Dhahaba, vol. 2, pp. 199- 
200 . 

13. Ibid. 

14. Ibn Abu al-Hadid, in his description of the Peak of Eloquence (Nahjul Balagha), he 
quotes from Sayyid Abdul Karim bin Tawoos Fakhar Musawi, that one night in his sleep, 
Shaykh Mufid sees Hadhrat Zahra (as) who brought her two sons, Imam Hasan (as) and 
Imam Husayn (as), and said to teach them the science of jurisprudence (ilm-e fiqh) and 
Islamic commandments (ahkam). They day after, as usual, Shaykh Mufid was busy 
teaching at Buratha Mosque when he noticed a woman enter the mosque with the utmost 
dignity, holding the hand of two children. She came up to him and said, “I am Tahir Dhu al- 
Manaqib’s wife and these two children (Sayyid Radi and Sayyid Murtadha) are my sons. I 
have come to you so that you may teach them the science of jurisprudence and Islamic 
commandments. And it was through this means that Shaykh Mufid enthusiastically 
accepted to teach and educate them, till those two brothers became the greatest minds and 
the most famous scholars of their time. Ibn Abu al-Hadid, Description of the Peak of 
Eloquence, vol. 1, p. 41. 

15. Usui al-Arba’ma’ah is a series of 400 works which has been written by the 
companions of the infallibles in various fields such as, belief (itiqad), jurisprudence, 
exegesis, ethics and other. After the time of presence of the Imams, the authors of the Four 
Books started recording them in their books. 

16. Died 329 A.H. 

17. Died 381 A.H. 

18. Shaykh Saduq, Man la Yahduruhu al-Faqih, vol. 1, p. 2. 

19. In the introduction to Man la Yahduruhu al-Faqih, Shaykh Saduq writes: “I set my 
goal in writing this book, to narrate those set of sayings that I am certain of their 
authenticity in being from the infallibles (as) and to be able to give a ruling and judgment 
on them and I believe these narrations and this deed will act as evidence between me and 
my Almighty God.” Ibid. 

20. Sayyid Bahr al-Ulum writes the following in regards to the book Man la Yahduruhu 
al- Faqih: “This book is one of the four books which based on its authenticity and 
popularity is excellent and distinguished and some of the great scholars prefer its narrations 
over the other four books. Some of the reasons why this work is preferred over others is 
because Shaykh Saduq was a hafiz and a recorder and that this work came after Shaykh 
Kulayni’s book.” Bahr al-Ulum, Sayyid Mahdi, al-Fawaed al-Rijaliyyah, Muktabaya al- 
Alamin al-Tusi wa Bahr al-Ulum, vol. 3, p.299-300. 

21.385-460 A.H. 

22. Tusi, Muhammad bin Hasan, Tahdhib al-Ahkam, vol. 1, p. 2-3. 

23. R.K. Faqihi, Ali Asqar, Al-e Buyah, First Shia Dynasty, p. 472. 

24. Date of death: 826 A.H. 

25. Date of death: 993 A.H. 

26. Shaykh Thani’s son. 

27. Islamic Shi‘a Seminaries, p. 290. 

28. 1155/1154-1212 A.H. 

29. The book Shi‘a Seminaries across the World was used extensively in writing this 

30. The method deriving legal laws. 

31. Born 1214 A.H. in Dezful; died 1281 A.H. in Najaf. 

32. 1247-1338 A.H. 

33. 1277-1365 A.H. 

34. 1264-1390 A.H. 

35. 1317-1413 A.H. 

36. Born 1349 A.H. 


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37. 598-672 A.H. 

38. Allamah Hilli was one of Khajah Nasr al-Din Tusi ’s students who participated in his 
philosophy classes and in return Khajah would participate in his jurisprudence classes. 
When getting his certification (ijazah) he says the following about his teacher to ibn Zuhra: 
Khajah Nasr al-Din Tusi was the most superior scholar of our time and had many 
compilations in intellectual and traditional sciences. He was the most noble of the people 
we have the honor of knowing, make God brighten his shrine. In his presence I read al- 
Hayat, Shafa-e ibn Sina, and tazkirehee dar hayat, which were that great scholars written 
works. Then after he parted this world and may God bless his soul. Murtazavipour, Akbar, 
The Biography of Iranian and World Mathematicians. 

39. Of the most popular hakims and philosophers of the thirteenth century and of the 
commentators of Mull Sadra Shirazi’s written works and idea and his most important work 
meaning his book Mandhumah is a summary of the book Asfar written Mulla Sadra. 


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A Glimpse at the Major Shi'a Seminaries, Part 2 

Rasoul Imani Khoshkhu 

Translated by Fatemeh Soltan Mohammadi 

Journal: Vol. 14, no. 2, Summer 2013 


Part I of this series focused on the Islamic seminaries of Basra, known 
for its role in the science of Hadith; Baghdad, the center of advancements in 
jurisprudence, theology, and deductive reasoning; and Najaf, one of the 
most important institutions of academics and ijtihad in the history of Shi‘a 
academia. This part presents information on the revival of ijtihad in the 
Seminary of Hillah and introduces its prominent scholars, such as Najib al- 
Din Muhammad Ja’far, Muhaqqiq al-Hilli, Sayyid bin Tawus, and Allamah 

It also introduces the Seminary of Kazemayn where the renowned 
Shaykh Mufid studied; the Seminary of Samarra, where Shi ‘a theology was 
taught, along with alerting the Shi‘a of their political responsibilities and 
providing them with a culture of supplication (dua) and pilgrimage (ziyara); 
and the Seminary of Karbala, where the highly proficient scholar Abdullah 
bin Ja’far Humayri the teacher of renowned scholars Ali bin Babiwayh and 
Muhammad bin Ya’qub Kulayni studied. 

The Islamic Seminary of Hillah 

The establishment of the Islamic seminary of Hillah is simultaneous with 
the establishment of the city of Hillah itself towards the end of the fifth 
century Hijri. Factors such as its large Shi‘a population, its educated 
founders, the formation of a Shi‘a government at its inception, and unstable 
political conditions in adjacent areas are reasons for its growth, and its 
Islamic seminaries were the leading Shi‘a seminaries for three centuries'. 

After the downfall of the Khwarezmid Empire by the hands of the 
Mongols, Mongol ruler Hulagu Khan attacked Iraq in 551 AHto expand the 
empire and took over Baghdad. This event led to the decline of the Islamic 
seminaries of Baghdad and Najaf. The seminary of Hillah, which remained 
unharmed by the Mongols’ attacks due to wise policies adopted by the 
scholars of the town, was revived and was able to introduce and provide the 
Shi‘a world with renowned scholars. 

This flourishing period thrived from the time Baghdad was attacked in 
the sixth century to the ninth century Hijri; afterwards, with the revival of 
the Najaf seminary, the seminary of Hillah faced a downturn. Although it 
was still considered to be one of the active seminaries of Iraq, it was not 
able to gain back the strength it had in the first period. 

The revival of ijtihad in the Islamic Seminary of Hillah 

One of the characteristics of the Hillah seminary was its dynamism and 
vitality and steadfastness against decline and emulation. This is unlike the 
seminary of Najaf in the period after Sheikh Tusi which was so heavily 
influenced by the great scholarship and spiritual characteristics of Sheikh 
Tusi that for several centuries, his views were adopted by successive 


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It was only due to innate talent and matchless courage of Muhammad ibn 
Idris 2 the author of al-Sara’ir that ideas of Sheikh Tusi were seriously 
challenged and criticised. After ibn Idris, his method of ijtihad was 
continued in the later centuries by other religious scholars of the seminary 
of Hillah and finally reached its peak towards the end of the eighth century 
through the hands of Allamah Hilli. 

The great scholars of the Hillah Seminary 

The following are some of the seminary’s great scholars: 

1. Najib al-Din Muhammad Ja’far, known as Ibn Nima 3 , Muhaqqiq al- 
Hilli, Shaykh Sadid al-Din 4 , and Sayyid Ahmad bin Tawus and his brother, 
Radhi al-Din. 

2. Ja’far bin Muhammad bin Ja’far bin Abu al-Baqa’ Hibatullah, of 
Allamah Hilli’s teachers. 

3. Najm al-Din Ja’far bin Hasan bin Yahya, known as Muhaqqiq al- 
Hilli 5 was one of the renowned jurists of Hillah and Allamah Hilli’s teacher 
where through writing books 6 , he helped with growth of science of usul and 
accelerated the movement of ijtihad in the Hillah seminary. He also took a 
great step in expanding jurisprudential texts with his Shara’i al-Islam fi 
Masa’il al-Halal wa al-Haram where he examines recounted sayings, their 
implications, and their effects. 

For this reason, this book has been used in the seminaries up until the 
present years, and to this day, many commentaries and interpretations have 
been written on it, including Jawahir al-Kalam, an encyclopedia in Shi‘a 
jurisprudence. Some of his other works include al-Mu‘tabar fi Sharh al- 
Mukhtasar, which after Shaykh Tusi’s al-Mabsut, is counted as the second 
comparative and demonstrative work on Shi‘a jurisprudence. 

4. Radi al-Din Ali bin Sa’d al-Din Musa, known as Sayyid bin Tawus 7 
was of the learned and pious jurists of Hillah where asceticism (zuhd) and 
worship (ibadah) were his recognizable characteristics. 

Reaching a high level in mysticism as well as meeting the Twelfth Imam, 
were some of his greatest achievements which were verified by many 
contemporary scholars and scholars who came after him. Nonetheless, in 
addition to his level of spirituality, he had a great deal knowledge, even 
though his particular viewpoint in regards to sciences such as jurisprudence 
and theology 8 set him apart from others, and although he had reached the 
level of ijtihad, he would not issue juristic rulings (fatwas). 

On the other hand, he was proficient in the science of narration and the 
study of the stars (ilm al-nujum; astronomy). He authored a book on the 
lives of the astronomers called, “Faraj al-Mahmum fi Tarikh Ulama’ al- 

5. Sayyid Jamal al-Din Ahmad bin Musa bin Tawus 9 . His popularity is 
mostly due to his efforts made in the field of prophetic narrations and 
biographical evaluation (rijal). His most important works in the field of 
biographical evaluation is the book Hal al-Ishkal fi Ma’rifi al-Rijal which 
contains the most important information about Shi‘a rijal. He was the one 
who proposed classification of hadiths into four categories: authentic 
(sahih), approved (hasan), reliable (muwaththaq), and weak (da‘if). This 
classification was welcomed by other scholars and is still used. 


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6. Hasan bin Yusuf bin Mutahhar Hilli, known as Allamah Hilli 10 was a 
renowned Shi‘a jurist and scholar; it was through him that Shi‘a 
jurisprudence flourished. 

Allamah Hilli was a prolific author in the fields of jurisprudence, 
principles of jurisprudence, philosophy, logics, biographical evaluation, 
Qur’anic exegesis, narration, the science of Arabic syntax (ilm al- nahw), 
supplications and other various books in which some believe its total to be 
over five hundred volumes 11 . 

His most important works are in the fields of jurisprudence 12 , principles 
of jurisprudence 13 ; theology 14 , biographical evaluation 13 , Qur’anic 
exegesis 16 , and philosophy and logic 17 . 

One of Allamah’s important initiatives was his positive response to the 
request of the Mongolian ruler, Uljeitu (Khodabandeh), and his migration to 
Iran and taking advantage of the political atmosphere to spread and present 
Shi‘a Islam. After converting to Shi’ism, Uljeitu (Khodabandeh) summoned 
a large group of scholars from Hillah and Iraq, including Allamah Hilli and 
his son Fakhr al-Muhaqqiqin, to Iran and provided a school in Soltaniyyeh 
for Allamah to teach Islamic studies. 

He also provided a traveling school (madrasah sayyarah), with the 
management and supervision of Allamah, in order that it could travel with 
the ruler to various areas for other areas to make use of his presence and 
valuable knowledge. The books Nahj al-Haq wa Kashf al-Sidq, Minhaj al- 
Kirama, and Kashf al-Yaqin fi Fadha’il Amir al- Mu’mineen were written 
upon Uljeitu’s request. 

Coexistence and heartfelt interactions with scholars of different Islamic 
sects, while standing firm in his principles and Shi‘a beliefs was another 
important characteristic of the Allamah. This very act is what led scholars 
and students from other sects to gather in his traveling school 18 which was 
instituted by Uljeitu (Sultan Muhammad Khodabandeh 19 ) to study and 

Some scholars from the Sunni school of thought such as ibn Hajar 
Asqalani in Lisan al-Mizan 20 and Safdi Shafa’i in ‘Ayan al-Asr and ‘Awan 
al-Nasr have praised him. Safdi considers Allamah Hilli a sign (ayah) of 
God that no writer is capable of describing all his good attributes 21 . 

The Islamic Seminary of Kazemayn 

The city of Kazemayn is situated northwest and eight kilometres of 
Baghdad. After the completion of the city of Baghdad by Mansur Abbasi in 
the year 149 AH, he commanded a graveyard be built north of the city for 
him and his family. This graveyard was later known as the “Quraysh” 
graveyard or “the graveyard of Bani Hashim. ” After the martyrdom of Imam 
Kazem (a) and Imam Jawad (a), their holy bodies were buried in this very 
graveyard; and it was this event that led the Shi‘as to travel to this city to 
visit these two Imams. Through building their homes, the first towards 
making the city of Kazemayn were taken. 

After Baghdad was defeated by Mu ’izz al-Dawla in 334 AH, the city of 
Kazemayn was rebuilt and reconstructed by him. He constructed a big 
courtyard around the holy shrines and built small chambers around the 
courtyard for Shi‘a scholars and seminarians to reside in. On the eastern 


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side, he constructed a partition (maqsurah 23 ) for publicly-held classes and 
named it “madras 24 .” 

One of his other initiatives was expanding Buratha Mosque and 
constructing an Islamic center beside it. Buratha is the name of a mosque 
with an ancient history 25 situated between Kazemayn and Baghdad. The 
training of great scholars like Shaykh Mufid took place there. 

Another personality which played a role in the expansion and 
development of the academic environment in Kazemayn was al-Nasir Li 
Dinillah 26 , an Abbasid Caliph. 

Due to his services to the Shi‘a faith and his kindness towards the Shi‘a, 
in several historical records, some have claimed he was Shi‘a 27 . In 608 AH 
he commanded - just like the system in Baghdad - that academic discussions 
take place in the chambers in the holy shrine of Imam Musa al-Kazem (a) 
and it was during the same time that he ordered Masnad Ahmad bin Hanbal 
be taught by a Shi‘a scholar named Safi al-Din Ma’bad bin Muhamamd 
Musawi. The first topic taught by him in this book and in this location was 
Masnad Abu Bakr and the event of Fadak 28 . 

Likewise his Shi‘a vizier, Mu’yid al-Din Qummi, made efforts in 
developing the infrastructure of Kazemayn, some of whom were building a 
school and ‘House of the Qur’an’ (Dar al-Qur’an) for Shi‘a orphans and 
Alawites beside the tomb of Imam Musa bin Ja’far (as) to leam how to write 
and read the Qur’an 29 . 

Because of its close proximity to the Baghdad seminary, the Islamic 
seminary of Kazemayn was influenced by the scholars and great intellects of 
that city and greatly affected by the city of Baghdad’s academic expansion 
and decline; nevertheless, in the recent centuries, many great scholars have 
resided in this city. Through teaching and training seminarians in their 
offices and homes across the city, they have made brighter the academic 
status of Kazemayn in comparison with other Shi‘a seminaries. Some of the 
aforementioned cases are: 

1- Residence of Sayyid Muhammad Ali Hibat al-Din Shahristani; Bayt 
Sayyid Muhsin ‘Araji 30 ; 

2- Residence of Shaykh Ahmad Balaghi Kadhimini 31 who Shaykh 
Muhammad Jawad Balaghi from Najaf is of this family; 

3- Aal Mudhaffar who Shaykh Muhammad Hasa Mudhaffar, Shaykh 
Muhammad Husayn Mudhaffar, and Shaykh Muhammad Ridha are of this 

4- Residence of Sayyid Haydar 32 who Sayyid Mahdi Haydari, who is of 
the great academics and jurists of Iraq of the earlier centuries who called 
people to fight (jihad) against England, in the first world, is of this family; 

5- Residence of Shaykh Abd al-Aziz Khalisi 33 who is related to Ali bin 
Madhahir the brother of Habib bin Madhahir and Ayatullah Shaykh Mahdi 
Khalisi, was considered and jurists during his time, is of this family; 

6- Residence of Shibr who is a decedent of Sayyid Abdullah Shibr 34 , a 
Shi‘a scholar and owns many written works; 

7- Residence of Sayyid Ismaeel Sadr 35 ; 

8- Residence Shaykh Muhammad Hasan Aal Yasin 36 who is one of the 
residence in Najaf and Kadhimayn 37 . 


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The Islamic Seminary of Samarra 

The beginning of the growth and development of academia in the city of 
Samarra and its significance as one of the main academic centers in the 
Shi‘a world is simultaneous with the arrival of Imam Hasan al- Askari to 
this city. Imam Hadi’s twenty-year presence 38 in Samarra made it the center 
of attention amongst the Sh‘ia from all regions of the Islamic society. 

Meanwhile, Imam Hadi, through adopting specific methods, personally 
meeting with specific confidants, and writing to his representatives and 
agents (wakil) who from four major regions in which Shi‘as were gathered - 
Baghdad, Mada’in, and Kufa; Basrah and Ahwaz; Qum and Hamedan; and 
Hijaz and Yemen, he would respond to religious questions and issue Divine 

Other than containing guidelines to the Shi‘as’ political responsibilities 
and alerting them of the political situation of the society and rulers of the 
time, these correspondence contained ideological and theological questions 
and answers; as the Shi‘a center held intellectual guidance and responding 
the Shi‘a people’s ideological needs with importance. 

For example, there was correspondence between Muhammad bin Ali 
Kashani and Imam Hadi in regards to the doctrine of Oneness [of God] 
(tawhid 39 ) and the Imam’s response to a question regarding the topic of 
determinism (jabr) and full power (tafwidh) 40 . 

The school of Imam Hadi (maktab) held the following curriculum: 1) the 
study of the Qur’an 2) Shi‘a theology 3) the culture of supplication (dua) 
and pilgrimage (ziyarah), and 4) holding a definitive stance against political 
and religious enemies 41 . 

Given the incident of some type of Sufis during the time of Imam Ali al- 
Naqi, who drew people away from political participation and true worship, 
with issuing the culture of supplication and pilgrimage and with the genuine 
Shi‘a gnosticism, the Imam fought oppression and identified the enemies, 
and reminded the people of the importance of loving the family of the 
Prophet (Ahl-ul Bayt 42 ). 

After the martyrdom of Imam Ali al-Naqi in 254 AH, Imam Hasan al- 
Askari took on the imamate and leadership of the people (ummah). 
However, because of the extreme restrictions in the political atmosphere, the 
strengthening of the Mahdaviat, and monitoring the Imam’s interactions and 
correspondence, his presence in Samarra was as influential as the time of his 
father in expanding Shi‘a knowledge and divine understanding. 

During the time of Imam al-Mahdi and the period of the minor 
occultation, since this city had made the Abbasid ruler sensitive towards it, 
the Imam’s special deputies resided in the city of Baghdad; this very act 
made Baghdad the center of attention, making Samarra less central. 

The revitalization and recentralization of the Islamic Seminary of 
Samarra is due to the very capable and distinguished jurist and soldier of his 
time, Mirza Muhammad Hasan Shirazi’s 43 migration to Samarra. 

Ayatullah al-Uzma Haj Mirza Muhammad Hasan Shirazi 44 , who after the 
passing of Shaykh Ansari in 1281 AH, he took on the authority and 
leadership of the Shi‘as. In 1287 AH, he was honored to go to Mecca for 
pilgrimage where he initially intended to live next to the Holy Prophet, but 


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after visiting the city of Najaf he decided to move to Samarra which during 
that time the population was predominantly Sunni. In Sha’ban of 1290 AH, 
he migrated to Samarra. 

With Mirza Shirazi’s migration to Samarra, after many years the Islamic 
seminary of this city once again returned to its academic status and became 
a center for teaching and training those seeking Islamic sciences and 
knowledge taught by the Ahlul-Bayt 45 . 

Allamah Muhaqqiq Shaykh Aghabozorg Tehrani, in his al-Dhari’ah, 
reports the number of Mirza Shirazi’s students - who also did research in his 
seminary - to be over five hundred 46 . 

The method and format of Mirza Shirazi’s teaching in Samarra, inspired 
by Shaykh Ansari’s the method of ijtihad, made the spirit of research and 
academic criticism strengthen in his students and seminarians; and his calm 
composure in listening to the students’ views and giving them courage to 
present their opinions and participate in debates and discussions, he 
presented a new method in educating and teaching seminaries, and this 
became a well-known method in the Seminary of Samarra 47 . 

One of the important achievements in Shi‘a history where the seminary 
of Samarra and Mirza Shirazi himself played a role was in the termination 
of the agreement that would place all tobacco products at the disposal of 
British companies. This crucial measure taken was due to Mirza Shirazi’s 
historical issue - otherwise known as the tobacco boycott 48 - which resulted 
in preventing the colonizers from getting their hands on Iran’s national 
wealth and revealing the power and influence of the Shi‘a jurists to the 

Mirza Shirazi passed away in 1312 AH at the age of 82, and after being 
moved to the city of Najaf, he was buried in the holy shrine of Ali bin Abi 
Talib (as). The Islamic seminary of Samarra continued its academic 
progress; and with the guidance and management of some of Mirza’s top 
students including Mirza Muhammad Taqi Shirazi 49 and Sayyid Hasan 
Sadr 80 , they continued to educate seminarians and publish the knowledge 
taught by the Ahlul-Bayt (s) 51 . 

However, the seminary of Samarra’s expansion, after the passing of 
Mirza Shirazi was short-lived, and after the migration of great scholars like 
Muhammad TaqiShirazi and Sayyid Hasan Sadr to Karbala and 
Kadhimiyya, the Samarra seminary’s period of decline arrived. 

In the recent years, to revive the Islamic seminary of Samarra, the largest 
Islamic and academic center was constructed adjacent to the shrine of the 
two Imams (Askarayn) and in the remaining area of Mirza Shirazi’s 
seminary under the supervision of the administration of religious leaders. 

The Islamic seminary of Karbala 

In 61 AH, the land of Karbala witnessed the innocent martyrdom of 
Imam Husayn - the grandson of Prophet Muhammad - along with his 
children and his loyal companions, as well as the burial of their holy bodies 
in this land filled with agonies (karb) and afflictions (bala’). With the grace 
of the Shi‘as residing beside the holy shrine of the Imam, it became a place 
for narrating and publishing hadiths and cultivating and teaching their 
knowledge; thus, became one of the central seminaries in the Shi‘a world. 


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One of the expert Shi‘a narrators who resided in this city during the 
minor occultation and spent considerable time narrating traditions of the 
Ahlul Bayt is Abdullah bin Ja’far Humayri 52 . 

A highly proficient narrator and scholar of Qum, he was the teacher of 
prominent intellectuals such as Ali bin Babiwayh, Muhammad bin Ya’qub 
Kulayni, and Muhammad bin Quluyyah. He traveled to Iraq to visit the holy 
shrines of A mi r al-Mu’mineen and Aba Abdullah al-Husayn, and after 
staying in the city of Karbala for a time period, he returned back to Qum 53 . 
He was also a prolific author; one of his works was Humayri’s Qarb al- 
Isnad 54 , a collection of 1,378 traditions from Imam Sadiq, Imam Kadhim, 
and Imam Rida. 

During the major occultation, the Islamic seminary of Karbala witnessed 
great scholars who traveled to Karbala from neighboring cities such as 
Hillah and Najaf to teach. They include Ahmad Ali bin Ahmad bin Abbas 
Najashi (372-450 AH), author of a famous biographical evaluation book; 
Imad al-Din ibn Hamza Tusi 55 ; Sayyid Fakhar Muadd Haeri 56 ; Sayyid Abd 
al-Karim bin Tawus Fakhar Musawi 57 ; Shams al-Din Muhammad bin 
Makki, known as the First Shahid; and ibn Fahd Hilli 58 . 

One of the most important events in the history of Karbala Seminary was 
the debate between the Usulism and Akhbarism. The appearance of the 
Akhbarism movement and the dispute arisen between those for and against 
it was of the crucial events that took place in the history of Islamic Shi‘a 
seminaries that greatly affected the Karbala seminary. 

The rise of the Safavid Dynasty in Iran; entrusting important Islamic 
positions to narrators and Akhbari scholars; the domination of the Asharites 
and the People of Hadith (Ahl al-Hadith) on the Islamic seminaries of 
Mecca and Medina (haramayn) in Hejaz; the rebellion of the Kharijites in 
Bahrain; and the migration of Bahraini scholars to Iran and Iraq are the 
factors that caused the Akhbari movement to halt and trigger the Usuli 
movement to become the focus in the eleventh and twelfth century Hijri, the 
seminary of Karbala 59 . 

Shaykh Yusuf Bahrani 60 was among the Ahkbari scholars who went to 
Iran after the Kharijites’ revolt in Bahrain in 1126 AH. He afterwards 
moved to Iraq, and finally resided in Karbala. He was the author of the 
valuable al-Nadhira fi Ahkam al-Itrah al-Tahira. Through building the grand 
mosque situated to the western courtyard of Aba Abdullah al- Husayn, and 
leading and teaching in it, he established his school of thought in Karbala - 
the Akhbari school - in which he was a representative of. 

Shaykh Yusuf Bahrani’s classes began in the Karbala seminary which 
had attracted many seminarians and had successfully taken hold of its 
intellectual atmosphere and the Usuli scholars ’ attention, where the moment 
they felt danger with regards to the obstruction of the principle of ijtihad, 
because of the growth of Ahkbari beliefs, they debated and ultimately 
publicly declared their disagreement with Shaykh Yusuf’s Akhbari 
movement led by Wahid Behbahani. 

Muhammad Baqir Isfahani, known as Wahid Behbahani 61 , was a progeny 
of Shaykh Mufid and the grandson the first Allamah Majlisi. After moving 
to Najaf and studying the rational and transmitted sciences 


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(ulumma’qulwamanqul) under the scholars of that seminary, he returned to 
Behbahan and wrote books 62 rejecting Akhbarism. 

In the year 1159 AH, he left Behbahan for Najaf, but afterwards thought 
the seminary lacked academic vigorousness necessary to be a well-rounded 
teacher. He later resided in Karbala and took on the headship of that 
seminary 6 '. He owned over seventy books and mentored students such as 
Allamah Bahral-Ulum, Sayyid Muhammad Mahdi Shahristani, Shaykh 
Ja’far Kashif al-Ghita’, Mirza Qumi, and Mulla Mahdi Naraqi, in which 
after him, they took Usulism to its zenith and achieving the qualifications of 
ijtihad, they took on the juristic leadership of the region. 

Shaykh Yusuf Bahrani’s arrival to Karbala and his teaching of Ahkbari 
principles in the seminary where usuli jurist Wahid Behbahani led began a 
deep academic discussion that led to the public disagreement of the two 
instructors of the seminary. Even though at times these differences became 
very obvious 64 ,Yusuf Bahrani’s calm reaction in face of Wahid Behbahani 
and his students’ complaints and objections 65 led to a peaceful academic and 
friendly coexistence between the two views. 

This was to the point that after Shaykh Yusuf Behbahani’s demise in 
Karbala, there was a magnificent funeral and all the Islamic seminaries of 
Karbala and Najaf were closed and Wahid Behbahani himself did the prayer 
for his body. 

The thirteenth century Hijri coincided with an important political and 
social initiative from the Karbala seminary, and that was the issue of a fatwa 
against the colonialist Britian by the second Mirza Shirazi. Mirza 
Muhammad Taqi Shirazi 66 , who was one of Mirza Muhammad Hasan 
Shirazi’s 67 exceptional students in the city of Samarra, after his death in the 
year 1312 AH, for twenty-four years taught and mentored seminarians in 
Samarra. He then moved to Kadhimiya and then afterwards resided in 
Karbala. Muhammad Taqi Shirazi’s last years in Karbala, which coincided 
with World War I, were the golden years of his fruitful life and a time where 
he played an influential role in major political and social changes. 

In 1332 AH, England declared its hostility towards the Uthmani 
government and intended to seize Basra. Hearing the plea for help from the 
people of Basra, the scholars of Iraq rose to their defense, whom amongst 
them was Mirza Shirazi from the seminary of Karbala, and issued a fatwa 
declaring resistance against foreign aggression. This initiated a movement 
and revolution known as “The 1920 Iraqi Revolt,” and concluded with 
Britain leaving Iraq. 

After Iraq’s independence, the second Mirza Shirazi, along with people 
such as Ayatullah Shaykh Mahdi Khalisi, Ayatullah Sayyid Mustafa 
Kashani, Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Ali Shahristani, Ayatullah Sayyid 
Muhammad TabatabaiYazdi, and Mirza’s own son Muhammad Ridha 
decided to take the Iraqi revolution towards an independent government 
ruled by a Muslim individual. 

For this reason, in response to Britain’s intent to impose one of its own 
agents for the presidency of Iraq, he issued his famous fatwa with the 
following text: “No Muslim has the right to choose a non- Muslim to govern 
and rule over the Muslim people 68 .” 


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Britain’s resistance against accepting the popular demands of the Iraqi 
people and preventing them from deciding for their own future, which was 
at times accompanied with exiling the leaders of the movement 69 , prompted 
Mirza Shirazi to issue a fatwa, allowing armed defense against British 
government forces: 

Demanding your rights is obligatory on the Iraqi people and it obligatory 
upon them to observe peace and calmness in response to the people’s 
request. In the event that Britain refuses to accept the people request, it is 
permissible for them to resort to defensive forces 70 . 

Though the demise of the second Mirza Shirazi in 1338 AH, the 
intensification of British interference, and the start of trend in exiling 
revolutionary leaders, dampened the revolution’s passion and vigor, yet the 
Iraqi scholars’ mighty resistance and specifically Mirza Shirazi’s resistance 
against foreign influence, once again it showed the power and influences of 
Shi‘a religious establishment (marja’iyyah) in mobilizing people forces 
against the colonial domination of Islamic countries to the heads of 
colonialism and specifically the British government. 

In the fourteenth century Hijri, the Islamic seminary of Karbala saw 
many outstanding personalities. One of the great scholars of this century, 
from Karbala, who was considered the patriarch of the Shirazis in this city, 
was the pious and learned scholar, Ayatullah Sayyid Mahdi Shirazi 71 . 

He, who was one of Mirza Muhammad Taqi Shirazi and Sayyid 
Muhammad Kadhim Tabatabai Yazdi’s students, after travelling to and 
living in the cities Samarra, Kadhimiyya, and Najaf, he returned to Karbala 
and in 1366 AH after the passing of Ayatullah al-Udhma Haj Agha Husayn 
Qummi, the religious establishment of the Shi‘a was passed on to him 72 . 

Part III of this series will focus on the Seminaries of Jabal Amel, Isfahan, 
and Mashhad. 


1. Jawadi, Qasim and Hasani, Sayyid Ali, “A Historical Analysis of the Islamic 
Seminary of Hillah” in the journal of Shi‘a Studies, Number 21 

2. Born 589 AH 

3. Died 645 AH 

4. Father of Allamah Hilli 

5. 602-676 AH 

6. Such as al-Ma’arij al-Usul and Najh al-Wusulila Ma’rifa Ilm Usui 

7. 589-664 AH 

8. Even though the Sayyid was certainly as mujtahid who considered jurisprudence to 
be the pathway for understanding Islamic legal laws (ahkam) and reviving the traditions of 
the Prophet (pbuh), but he did consider engagement in jurisprudence as much as needed 
sufficient. He also showed interest in contemplating theological issues and believed 
theology made the path more difficult for people. However, he wasn’t absolutely against 
theology and at times allowed it. Jawadi, Qasim Jawadi and Sayyid Ali Hasani, ibid. 

9. Died 673 AH 

10. Died 826 AH 

11. Sadr, Sayyid Hasan, Ta’sis al-Shi‘a al-ulum al-Islam, pg. 27. 

12. al-Mukhtalif al-Shi’ah fi Ahkam al-Shari’ah, Tadhkirah al-Fuqaha’, Tabsira al- 
Muta’alimin fi Ahkam al-Din, and Qawa’id al-Ahkam fi Ma’rifa al-Halal wa al-Haram 

13. Tahdhib al-Wusul ila Ilm al-Usul and Nihaya’ al-Wusul ila Ilm al-Usul 

14. Manahij al-Yaqin, Kashf al-Murad fi Sharh Tajrid al-‘Itiqad, Anwar al-Malakut fi 
Sharh al- Yaqut, Minhaj al-Kiramah fi al-Imamah, and Nahj al-Haq wa Kashf al-Sidq 

15. Khulasa al-Aqwal fi Ma’rifa al-Rijal and Kashf al-Maqal fi Ma’rifa al-Rijal 


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16. Nahj al-Iman fi Tafsir al-Qur’an and al-Qawl al-Wajiz fi Tafsir al-Kitab al- ‘Aziz 

17. al-Qawa’id wa al-Maqasid, al-Jawhar al-Nadhid, Idhah al-Maqasid, Nahj al-Irfan, 
Kashf al- Khafa min Kitab al-Shifa, and al-Isharat ila Ma ’ani al-Isharat 

18. “Madrasah Sayyarah” was established by Sultan Khodabandeh after Allamah Hilli’s 
suggestion. Since the is was custom that the Mongol rulers would reside in Maragheh and 
Soltaniyyeh during the warm seasons and in Baghdad in the cold seasons, and because 
Sultan Khabandeh would take scholars with him on his travels and since he really like 
Allamah Hilli, he suggested that he join him. Rejecting this offer was not a good idea 
because it was possible the enemy and jealous crowed would falsely read into the matter 
and use it against the Allamah. On the other hand, the Allamah didn’t want to be 
completely under the ruler’s authority and fall behind form his own academic activities. For 
this reason he suggested the traveling school which was approved by the ruler and through 
this means Allamah was able to provide publications in Shia beliefs and understandings and 
train numerous students. Rabbani Golpaygani, Ali, Imamiah, Kayhan Andishah, number 
54, 1373. 

19. Uljaitu (659-695 Shamsi) was the eight ruler of the Ilkahnid Dynasty where after the 
death of Ghazan it was passed down to the Mongol Uljeitu in Iran. Uljeitu who was 
baptized as a Christian, with the name Nicholas, later on in his life converted to Buddhism 
and later accepted Islam, becoming a follower of Abu Hanifa ’s school of thought and chose 
the Islamic name, Muhammad Khodabandeh, for himself. Afterwards he converted to Shia 
Islam and after debating with Allamah Hilli and Nidharn al-Din Muraghe ’ee, he stayed firm 
in his belief. John Andrew Boyle, The Cambridge History of Iran, vol. 5, translation Hasan 
Anousheh, pg. 376. 

20. Asqalani, ibn Hajar, Lisan al-Mizan, vol. 2, pg. 317. 

21. Quoted from: Fadhli, Abd al-Hadi, Tarikh al-Tahsri ’ al-Islami, pg. 363.: 

j t jllajsJl Q c UJlI l W4>- c 3W>-Y 31^" dtLjaj 

22. Mu’izz al-Dawla (died 356 AH) was of the most popular Buyid rulers who 
ministered the Abbasid Caliphate and was the commandership of the city of Baghdad. Abul 
Husayn, Ahmad. 

23. “Maqsurah” is the name of an area in the mosque where initially during the time of 
the caliphs it was structured as a small room with a small opening to the outside and was 
situated towards the front of the mosque. The leader in prayer or the person delivering the 
sermon (khatib) would stand their due to security measures. Later on this area joined the 
indoor area of the mosque, overlooking the mosque’s verandah. 

24. Faydh Qummi, Abbas, History of Kadhimayn, pg. 76. 

25. It has come in numerous narrations that the Prophet prayed in this holy site and it 
has been narrated from Imam Muhammad Baqir (as) that: We found out that Prophet Esa 
(Jesus) prayed at this place and in a narration from Amir al-Mu ’mineen it says: Should I tell 
you what other person prayed here? He said: Yes. The Imam said: Prophet Ibrahim 
Khalilullah (Abraham). Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 99, pg. 26, bab 3. 

26. 575-622 AH 

27. Murkhani, similar to Suyuti, Zehbi, and ibn Irnad Hanbanli have emphasizes on him 
being Shia and other Sunni sources, if they haven’t talked about his faith conversely 
haven’t mentioned him in a good light. Even some of them go as far as to explicitly and 
implicitly talk bad about him while they say the opposite about other Abbasid caliphs 
which were Sunni. Ya’qubi, Muhammad Tahir, Shia Caliph al-Nasir Lidinullah, Majaleyeh 
Tarikhdar Aeeneyeh Pajuhesh, number 28-29. 

28. Sibt ibn Jawzi, Yusuf bin Qazghali, Mara al-Zaman fi Tarikh al- ‘Ayan, pg. 556. 

29. Ya’qubi, Muhammad Tahir, ibid. 

30. Died 1227 AH 

31. Died 1271 

32. Died 1265 

33. Died 1286 

34. Died 1242 


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35. Died 1338 

36. Died 1308 

37. Shi‘a Seminaries across the World, pg.230. 

38. In historical references, there is a difference of opinion in regards to the number of 
years Imam Hadi (a) was exiled to Samarra. A group of them (ibn al-Sabbagh, al-Fusul al- 
Muhimmah, pg. 283) is referenced to that the time of exile was in the year 243 AH. 
According to this the timeframe in which the Imam (a) resided in Samarra till the time of 
his martyrdom will be around eleven years. But there are more sources (Tadhkirah al- 
Khawas, pg. 322; Tarikh Baghdad, vol. 12, pg. 56; Manqib, vol. 4, pg. 401; and Bihar al- 
Anwar, vol. 50, pg. 206-207) have written the timeframe of the Imams stay to twenty or 
over twenty years. Bearing in mind that the time of martyrdom of the Imam, according to 
historians, was in the year 254 AH. The year he was exiled will be 234 AH. Cited from the 
site Imam Hadi at: heayat imamhadi per.htm 

39. Shaykh Saduq, al-Tawhid, pg. 101. 

40. Harrani, Hasan bin Ali Shu’bah, Tuhf al-‘Aqul, translation by Ahmad Jannati, 
Tehran, Intisharat Ilmiyyah Islamiyyah, 1363, pg. 468. 

41. Shi‘a Seminaries across the World, pg. 236. 

42. A man named Muhammad bin Husayn says I was with Imam Ali al-Naqi (as) in the 
Prophet’s Mosque (Masjid al-Nabi) when suddenly a group of Sufis entered the mosque 
and created a circle engaging in dhikr. The Imam said: don’t pay attention to these frauds 
for they are the successors of Satan and destroyer of the religion’s belief system. Their 
ascetics are for the comfort of their body and their night prayers (tahjjud) and vigilance 
through the night is to fish the common that moment, one of the Imam’s 
companions said: “Wa in kana mu’tarifan bi-huquqikum? (and what if that person admits to 
your rights?). The Imam gave him a harsh stare and said: Abandon this sort of speech. 
Don’t you know whoever knows our rights would not object to out orders. Hur ‘Amili, al- 
Untha ‘Ashriyah, p. 2. It has to be noted that Sufism has been used in different senses 
throughout the history. At that time, it was used sometimes for the people who did not have 
a balanced and comprehensive of understanding and practicing Islam. 

43. Issuer of the Tobacco Boycott. Some of the important achievements in Shi ‘a history 
where the seminary of Samarra and Mirza Shirazi himself played a role in the termination 
ofthe agreement that would place all tobacco products at the disposal of British companies. 
This crucial measure taken was due to Mirza Shirazi’s historical issue, otherwise known as 
the tobacco boycott, which resulted in preventing the colonizers from getting their hand on 
Iran’s national wealth and showed the power and influence of Shi ‘a jurists to the world. 

44. Born 1230 AH in Shiraz and died 1312 AH in Samarra. 

45. Aqiqi Bakhshayeshi, Abd al-Rahim, Famous Shi‘a Jurists, pg. 356-357. 

46. Tehrani, Aghabozorg, al-Dhari’ah ila Tasanif al-Shi’a, vol. 4, pg. 367. 

47. Jannati, Muhammad Ibrahim, Adawar Ijtihad, pg. 394-389. 

48. The text of Mirza Shirazi’s fatwa in regards to tobacco is the following: “In the 
name of Allah the Most Gracious the Most Merciful, From today and on, consumption of 
tobacco in any way would be considered as declaring was against the master and Imam of 
Time (as).” Danesh- Nameh Jahan-e Islam, under Ghulam Ali Haddad Adil’s supervision. 

49. 1270-1338 AH 

50. 1272-1354 AH 

51. Shi‘a Seminaries Across the World, pg. 254. 

52. 234-300 AH 

53. Dawani, Ali, Islamic Figures, vol. 2, pg. 134. 

54. Qarb al-Isnad is a collection of narrations which are comprised of narrations that 
have been narrated from the Imams with fewer transmitters. For this reason, the narrators of 
this book had to travel great distances to acquire this narrations, so that the narrations are 
given through a closer transmitter to the Imams. 

55. He was of the Shi‘a theological jurists, famous as “Sahib Wasilah,” and of the great 
scholars of Tus. Because he came after Shaykh Tusi, who shares the same name, teknonym, 
origin, they would refer to him as Abu Ja’far Thani and Abu Ja’far Muta’akhar. He was 
contemporary to Shaykh Muntakhab al-Din and was one of ibn Shahr Ashub’s teachers. Ibn 


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Hamza passed away in Karbala and was buried outside Najaf’s city gates. His most 
important jurisprudential work is al-Wasilaila Nayl al-Fadhila. 

56. Died 630 AH 

57. Was of the jurists in Hillah who wrote a popular book called al-Hujjah Ali al- 
DhahibilaTakfir Abi Talib, on the topic of proving Abi Talib ’s faith. 

58. Shi‘a Seminaries across the World, pg. 258-262. 

59. Ibid, pg. 262. 

60. 1107-1186 AH 

61. 1117-1205 AH 

62. Some of his book rejecting Akhbarismare: Risalah Hujiyyah Ijma’, Risalah Qiyas, 
Risalah al-Ijtihad wa al-Akhbar. 

63. Dawani, Ali, Wahid Behbahani, pg. 123. 

64. After the debates and academic discussions Wahid Behbahani had with Yusuf 
Bahrani,which lasted for days, in conclusion Wahid Behbahani boycotted his school and 
along with prohibiting students from participating in his classes, he declared praying behind 
was null. Shia Seminaries across the World, pg. 265 

65. It has been narrated that when Yusuf Bahrani was informed about Wahid 
Behbahani’s disagreements with him and his boycott on his classes, in response to 
protesters who demanded his classes be cancelled, he said, “He follows his religious 
obligation and I follow my religious obligation.” Considering, he would encourage his 
students to participate in Wahid Behbahani’s classes. 

66. 1258-1338 AH 

67. The great Mirza 

68. Famous Shia Jurists, pg. 285 

69. Of the exiled scholars is Shaykh Muhammad Ridha, son of Mirza Muhammad Taqi 
Shirazi, who was exiled to the Hengam Island, in the Persian Gulf. 

70. Sadiqi Tehrani, Muhammad, A Look at the Iraqi Islamic Revolution of 1920 and the 
Role of Islamic Mujahid Scholars, pg. 56. 

71. 1308-1380 AH 

72. Simultaneous with the marja’iyyah of Sayyid Mahdi Shirazi in Iraq, Ayatullah al- 
Udhma Sayyid Husayn Burujerdi (ra) held the overall marja’iyyah of Shi‘as. 


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A Glimpse at the Major Shi'a Seminaries, Part 3 

Rasoul Imani Khoshkhu 

Translated by Fatemeh Soltanmohammadi 

Journal: Vol. 14, no. 3, Autumn 2013 


The previous articles in this series delved into the historical origins of 
some of the most important religious seminaries in the Shi'a world. Islamic 
seminaries are the most valuable institutions in promoting the instructions of 
the Qur'an and the Ahlul Bayt, and have generated a unique culture in the 
scientific, social, and political spheres. The seminaries allowed for pious 
Shi'a scholars who pursued ijtihad with the use of the Qur'an, Sunnah, and 
reason to respond to legislative needs and guide the Muslim community 
with their contemporary issues. 

This part largely focuses on the Islamic Seminaries of Jabal Aamel, 
Isfahan, and Mashhad. Jabal Aamel saw hundreds of Shi'a scholars in the 
fields of hadith, jurisprudence, principles of jurisprudence, Qur'anic 
exegesis, theology, and ethics; Isfahan was the center of Shi'ism, and with 
their invitation of Shi 'a scholars and jurists from Jabal Aamel established 
great academic schools beginning an academic and cultural movement by 
translating Shi'a texts to Farsi and writing books on Shi'a theology; and 
Mashhad, home to the eighth Shi'a Imam, Imam al-Ridha, was the starting 
point for the establishment of one of the greatest academic institutions in the 
Shi'a world. 

5. The Islamic Seminary of Jabal Aamel 

Jabal Aamel is a mountainous region of southern Lebanon which runs 
from Sidon to Tyre (Soor). Its historical Shi'a community is a result of the 
influence and expatriation of Abu Dharr al-Ghaffari - a companion of the 
Prophet Muhammad - during the caliphate of Uthman ibn Affan 1 to this city. 
When after being exiled from Medina, Abu Dharr reached Damascus. 
Muawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan, governor of Damascus, who would exile his 
oppositions to the coastal regions of Damascus, present-day Jabal Aamel, 
sent him to this area as he did with the others. While living in Damascus, 
Abu Dharr introduced his viewpoints regarding the caliphate and the status 
of Imam Ali, and this led Muawiyah to send him back to Medina. 2 

Thus, Shi'ism lasted in Jabal Aamel from the first century Hijri until the 
present day, 3 and from amongst its Shi'as, great scholars have arisen and 
brightened the Shi'a world. Sheikh Hurr Aamili, in his Amal al-Amil fi 
Ulama' Jabal Aamel, mentions the name of hundreds of Shi'a scholars of 
Jabal Aamel and others have added more names. 4 ’ 

Among the great scholars of the fifth century Hijri in the Islamic 
seminary of Jabal Aamel are Sheikh Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn 
Hibatullah Tarablusi, of Sheikh Tusi's students; 5 Sheikh Abu al-Qassem 
Sa'd al-Din, 6 known as ibn Buraj, was the chief of justice of Tripoli 
(Tarablus) and issued fatwas; Sheikh Abu al-Fadhl As'ad, 7 Ahmad ibn abi 
Ruh Tarablusi; and Sheikh Najm al-Din Taman or Tuman, 8 Ahmad 
Aamuli's son. 


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Throughout the historical course of the Jabal Aamel Seminary, the 
golden age of this school began during the eighth century and ended during 
the eleventh century Hijri. In the seventh century, a seminary was founded 
by the Shahid Awwal family in a village called Jizzin in Jabal Aamel. In the 
later centuries it became one of the important Shi'a academic and cultural 
centers that trained outstanding Shi'a scholars. Shahid Awwal's ancestor, 
Sheikh Muhammad ibn Fakhr al-Din, along with his father, Sheikh Jamal al- 
Din Makki, and himself are amongst the greatest scholars of the Jizzin 

Shams al-Din Muhammad Makki Jabal Aamel, 9 or Shahid Awwal, is a 
well-known Shi'a scholar. 10 During his youth, he participated in the Islamic 
seminary of Hillah and Najaf, educating himself under great Shi'a jurists 
such as Fakhr al-Muhaqqiqin 11 and Sayyid Fakhr Musawi. In 755 AH, when 
he returned to his homeland - Jizzin - and founded a school in which he 
began instructing and mentoring seminarians and writing books. 

The Islamic seminary of Jizzin flourished and rose to such a point during 
the time of Shahid Awwal that Sheikh Hurr Aamuli - a renowned figure of 
Jabal Aamel - writes in his honour: 

I have heard from some of the great teachers that in one of the villages of 
Jabal Aamel during the time of Shahid Awwal seventy mujtahids were in 
attendance at his funeral. The number of scholars and writers in this region 
is almost one-fifth of the scholars and writers of other regions, though the 
geographical expanse of this region is one-hundredth of other countries. 12 

After returning to his country from Iraq, Shahid Awwal continued to 
travel to other Shi'a academic centers in Damascus, Egypt, Palestine, 
Mecca, Medina, and other cities. In addition to having complete mastery 
over Shi'a jurisprudence, he was proficient in Sunni jurisprudence and 
hadith, and by participating in their Islamic studies courses and holding 
academic debates with them, he became an assured marja' according to 
Sunni scholars. His expertise in their detailed rituals and religious issues 
was to such a point that he himself proclaimed, "I have permission to narrate 
works and hadith collections of almost forty scholars from Mecca, Medina, 
Baghdad, Damascus, Jerusalem (Bayt al-Muqaddas), and Maqam Khalil (in 
Palestine)." 13 

The longest amount of time the Martyr (Shahid) resided outside of Jizzin 
is during his stay in Damascus, and his longest period of education, 
teaching, and publishing was during that time. He was also a prolific author; 
one of his major works is his al-Lum'ah al-Dimashqiyyah, a work on 
jurisprudence written in a span of seven days after a request made by Sultan 
Ali ibn Mu'ayyad, the last Sarbadars leader in Khorasan in 766 AH. 14 Along 
with its most important commentary by Shahid Thani, 15 this book has been 
taught in the seminaries as a coursebook. 

The social and political transformation in Damascus and the change of its 
ruler in 784 AH gave Shahid Awwal's enemies the opportunity to prepare 
false evidence against him. 16 They eventually managed to imprison him and 
after receiving the verdict for his death sentence by the city judge, he was 


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Another Islamic seminary of Jabal Aamel is the school of Jub' and Juba', 
the name of a region in southern Lebanon that has been the hub of many 
mujtahids' education throughout Shi'a history. Sayyid Muhsin Amin has 
mentioned 31 students, scholars, and clerics from Juba'. 17 This seminary was 
founded by Sheikh Salih ibn Mushrif Aamili Juba'i of Shahid Thani's 
ancestors. We owe the emersion, expansion, and prosperity of Juba' school 
to Shahid Thani's ancestors. 

Sheikh Zayn al-Din ibn Nur al-Din, known as Shahid Thani, is one of 
the most outstanding jurists and scholars of the tenth century Hijri. He was 
born in the village of Juba' and after his father's death, he migrated to 
neighboring cities to study at the age of fourteen. That which stands out in 
Shahid Thani's life is his travels to various parts of Muslim world and his 
conversations and companionship with Muslim scholars from other sects of 
Islam. Egypt, Damascus, Hijaz, Jerusalem, Iraq, and Istanbul are the areas 
Shahid Thani shortly resided in, and with teaching comparative 
jurisprudence, he drew the attention and found the respect of scholars from 
other sects. 19 

His most important works are the commentary of al-Lum’ah al- 
Dimishqiyyah of Shahid Awwal, called al-Rawdha al-Bahiyah; the 
commentary of Sharh al-Islam of Muhaqqiq Hilli, called Masalik al-Ifham; 
And Muniyah al-Murid fi Adah al-Mufid wa al-Mustafid, taught in the 
Islamic seminaries from long ago as a distinguished book in field of ethics 

This exceptional scholar was martyred in Constantinople by a scheming 
and revengeful group on one of his trips to the Kaaba in Mecca. After 
Shahid Thani's martyrdom, his children, grandchildren, and students 
continued leading the Islamic seminary of Juba'. 20 

Other clerics of the school in Juba' are Sheikh Nur al-Din Ali, 21 father 
and first teacher of Shahid Thani; Sheikh Jamal al-Din Abu Mansur 
Hasan, 22 Shahid Thani's son, a learned scholar; Sayyid Muhammad ibn Ali 
Musa Juba'i, Shahid Thani’s grandchild, the author of Madarik al-Ahkam; 
Sheikh Fakhr al-Din Muhammad, Shahid Thani’s grandchild, author of 
Rawdha al-Khawatir; Sheikh Husayn, Abd al-Samad Juba'i's son and Sheikh 
Baha'i's father; Sheikh Ali, son of Zuhrah; Sheikh Muhyi al-Din Ahmad ibn 
Taj al-Din Maybusi Aamili; Sheikh Ibrahim Kafami, of the notable Shi'a 
scholars 23 and son of Ali Juba'i, author of al-Misbah and al-Balad al-Amin. 

Among the regions in Jabal Aamel, the village of Karak Nuh in Biqa' 24 of 
Lebanon, located near Baalbek, was an academic center. This seminary was 
renowned in the ninth and tenth century and experienced a period of great 
expansion in which many scholars arose from it and scores of them who 
migrated to Iran during the Safavid Dynasty. 

This migration was an important event in the history of Jabal Aamel's 
seminary. During the tenth and eleventh century, due to the pressures 
imposed by the Uthmani government and several Sunnis, the Shi'as were 
forced to live in small cities and villages and established their Islamic 
seminaries in faraway areas. 25 In such a situation, with the establishment of 
the Shi'a Safavid Dynasty, a large group of scholars from Jabal Aamel 26 saw 
Iran as an appropriate location for publishing Shi'a ideology. Through 


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traveling to its cities and undertaking chief positions in the Safavid Empire, 
they played a critical role in institutionalizing the Shi'a faith in Iran. 

The most prominent scholars of this period who migrated to Iran are 
Sheikh Nur al-Din Ali Abd al-Ali Karaki, known as Muhaqqiq Thani; 27 
Sheikh Husayn ibn Abd al-Samad Juba'i, father of Sheikh Bahai; and 
Sheikh Muhammad ibn Hasan ibn Ali ibn Husayn Aamili, known as Sheikh 
Hurr Aamili. 29 

The migration of Jabal Aamel scholars to Qum, Isfahan, and Najaf 
caused the Jabal Aamel seminary to lose its momentum, but the revival of 
the Islamic seminary of Lebanon is due to Sayyid Abd al-Husayn Sharaf al- 
Din, 30 a great jurist, experienced theologian, exceptional speaker, and a 
determined fighter who throughout his life worked hard to defend the Shi'a 
faith and debate and discuss with Muslim scholars. 

Sharaf al-Din was born in Kadimiyya, Iraq and after studying in their 
seminaries, in particular the Islamic seminary of Najaf, where he studied 
jurisprudence, principles of jurisprudence, and exegesis and traditions from 
the most prominent scholars and mujtahids, he received certification for 
ijtihad. In 1321 AH, he returned to Jabal Aamel and was responsible for the 
leadership of Shi'as in that region for over fifty years during critical events 
such as Lebanon's movement for independence from Uthmani rule before 
the Lirst World War as well as their struggle against the Lrench occupation. 

Lirmly believing in the possibility of achieving unity amongst various 
Islamic sects, he believed that a careful study of the historical events after 
the Prophet Muhammad was needed to achieve this unity and that 
discovering the truth was not simply a matter of writing books, but also in 
need of discussion, dialogue, and debate. 

Thus, he traveled to Egypt in 1329 AH to meet with Sheikh Salim al- 
Bishri Maliki at the Al-Azhar University. During this time, which lasted for 
six months, 112 letters regarding the topic of khilafah (caliphate) and 
wilayah (govemate) were exchanged. All of the correspondence, which led 
to the acceptance of Shi'a claims in regards to the immediate caliphate of 
Amir al-Mu’minin by Sheikh Salim, have been gathered into a collection 
called al-Muraja'at, and according to some scholars is "an exquisite example 
of Shi'a Alawi logic in present day." 31 He owns many books, many of which 
were burned by the Lrench through the resistance and migration. 

Indeed, the most influential religious personality in the current century 
which was the source of cultural and societal change in Lebanon and the 
revival of Shi'ism in the Lebanese social and political sphere was the great 
leader Imam Musa al-Sadr. 32 After completing the beginner and higher level 
courses in the seminary in Qum, he moved to Najaf and attended the Najaf 
seminary, benefitting from renowned scholars, one of whom was the grand 
Ayatullah Sayyid Abu al-Qasim Khui. In 1958, with the advice of 
individuals such as Ayatollah Burujerdi, he moved to Lebanon, and while 
residing there and based on Sayyid Sharaf al-Din's will, he led the Shi'a 

While implementing cultural and developmental programmes, 
communicating with people of other faiths and sects in Lebanon with 
respect, and interacting with and consulting heads of neighboring states, 


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Imam Musa al-Sadr took the Shi'a society out of its chaotic economical and 
societal situation, and with to the establishment of a Shi'a Supreme Council, 
he transformed the Shi'a from a forgotten group to one of the most active 
people in Lebanon. 

Another factor that played an important role in the revival of the 
seminary of Lebanon was the migration of specific scholarly personalities 
from Najaf to Lebanon, such as Sheikh Muhammad Mahdi Shams al-Din 33 
and Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Fadhlullah. 34 After completing their studies 
in Najaf, the two scholars made important scientific contributions in 
Lebanon after migrating there. 

Although Imam Musa al-Sadr's abduction in Libya in 1979 put a halt to 
his local and international long-term programmes, his great impact on the 
religious and cultural landscape of Lebanon are evidently seen in the works 
of his prominent students and trainees. 

6. The Islamic Seminary of Isfahan 

In 23 AH, Isfahan was conquered by 'Umar ibn Khattab, the second 
Muslim caliph. It held a unique political and commercial opportunity 
compared to other Iranian cities, such that it was the capital during the 
Buyid, Sajuqi, and Safavid era; 35 in the second half of the fourth century, 
Isfahan was the largest commercial city from Iraq to Khorasan. 36 

In terms of academia, Isfahan was the center of establishing great 
academic schools and was the cradle of knowledge throughout various 
historical time periods. During Ale Kakuyeh's rule, when Abu Ja'far Ala' al- 
Dawla Kakuyeh (died 422 AH) was the commander of Isfahan, Ibn Sina 
went to Isfahan and spent the rest of his life teaching in a school credited to 
him, called Ala'i School. He managed doing so while taking part in other 

During the time of the Seljuq Empire and simultaneous with Khwaja 
Nizam al-Mulk's movement in founding schools, six schools have been 
reported in this city; 37 however, the construction of an Islamic Shi'a 
seminary in Isfahan relating to the uprising of the Safavid Dynasty followed 
the development of Shi'ism in this region. 

It was during the Safavid era that the Islamic seminary of Isfahan reached 
its peak. With the beginning of Shah Isamail Safavi's reign in 880 Hijri, the 
necessity of the presence of Shi’a scholars and jurists in a government where 
Shi'ism was its official religion prompted them to invite Shi’a scholars and 
jurists from Jabal Aamel. They were invited to migrate to Iran, and with 
taking on the title of Sheikh al-Islam as a deputy of the Imam of Time, they 
were responsible for issuing fatwas and managing the peoples' religious 
affairs. The acceptance of these scholars to move to Iran led to the 
expansion of the Islamic seminary of Isfahan and formation of one of the 
main seminaries amongst the Shi’as of this region in the ninth and tenth 
century Hijri. 

Some of the scholars who traveled from the seminary in Jabal Aamel to 
Iran are Ali ibn Abd al-Aali Karki (870-940 AH), Kamal al-Din Darwish 
Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Aamili, Ali ibn Hilal al-Karki (died 993 AH), 
Husayn ibn Abd al-Samad al-Juba'i (918-948 AH), and Baha' al-Din Aamili 
(953-1030 AH). 


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The presence of outstanding Shi'a scholars in Iran, and more specifically 
in the Islamic seminary of Isfahan, was the start of an academic and cultural 
movement in terms of translating Shi'a texts to Farsi 38 and writing books on 
introducing and identifying Shi'a theological principles and the branches of 
Islamic commandments (ahkam). During this period, numerous publications 
were introduced. Today, they are of the most important text in Shi'a 
seminaries. Some include: Wasa'il al-Shia ila Tahsil Masa'il al-Shari'ah, 
written by Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ai-Aamili (1033-1104 AH); al-Wafi, 
written by Faydh Kashani (1010-1090 AH); Bihar al-Anwar, written by 
Muhammad Baqir Majlisi (1037 AH); and the Farsi exegesis, Minhaj al- 
Sadiqin, by Fathullah ibn Shukrullah Kashani. 

Along with the expansion of jurisprudence and hadith in the Islamic 
seminary of Isfahan during the Safavid era, we also see the rise of well- 
known Shi'a figures in philosophy and other intellectual sciences. As 
mentioned, the history of philosophy and wisdom in Isfahan date back to the 
fourth century during the many years Ibn Sina taught in Ala’ al-Dawla 
school and to his determined student, Abu Abdullah Ma'sumi. 39 

Nonetheless, the expansion of philosophy in the Isfahan seminary dates 
back to the tenth and eleventh century, during the time of Mirdamad, 40 
Sheikh Bahai, 41 and Mulla Sadra Shirazi 42 who managed the seminary of 
Isfahan during the Safavid dynasty. Moreover, the status of Sheikh al-Islam 
in the Safavid government was occupied mostly by scholars who had 
tendencies towards Akhbarism, and it created dispute amongst them. The 
usuli and philosophical scholars could be looked at as one of the greatest 
challenges of the Islamic seminary of Isfahan in that period. 43 Some of the 
outcomes of this dispute include the migration of great scholars of 
philosophy, such as Mulla Sadra, to other cities which also led to a decline 
in the field of philosophy. 

The Afghan attack on Isfahan ended the Safavid Dynasty 1135 AH and 
the reign of Zill al-Sultan, Arshad Nasir al-Din Shah Qajar's son, was 
followed by the destruction of a large number of Isfahan's historical 
monuments. 44 Moreover, the attack harmed the Islamic seminaries. 

The Qajar Dynasty and its kings, who were known for disinterest in 
science and culture and were renowned for granting concessionary rights to 
foreigners in Iranian history, saw the presence of insightful and anti¬ 
colonialist scholars in the Shi'a seminaries as a barrier to their anti-religious 
and nationalistic motives. Throughout the Qajar dynasty, the Isfahan 
seminary saw many great minds who, while completely aware of 
colonialists and the Qajar kings' support for them, rose up to make known 
their destructive plans. During this time the name of the Najafi Isfahani 
family was most seen. 

Hajj Sheikh Muhammad Baqir Najafi (died 1301 AH) is the son of the 
author of Hidayah al-Mustarshidin and grandson of Sheikh Ja'far Kashif al- 
Ghita'. After benefiting from scholars in Najaf such as Sheikh Muhammad 
Hasan Najafi, Sheikh Murtadha Ansari, and Sheikh Hasan Kashif al-Ghita', 
he reached higher academic levels, and in the year 1260 AH, he returned to 
Isfahan and became a religious leader who taught and published books in 
the seminary. His most celebrated book is Sharh Hidayah al-Mustarshidin, 


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where he has compared his father's opinions to that of Sheikh Ansari's on 
the topic of suspicion (dhan). 4 ^ From amongst his children are Hajj Najafi 
and Hajj Agha Nurullah Najafi whom were some of the top scholars of 
Isfahan and heroic fighters during the Qajar period. 

Ayatullah Muhammad Taqi Isfahani, known as Agha Najafi (1262-1332 
AH), was among the well-known scholars who returned to Isfahan and was 
situated at the head of the seminary after studying under instructors such as 
Mirza Shirazi and Allamah Kashif al-Ghita' in Iraq. Agha Najafi, along with 
being academically active while teaching, writing, and mentoring students, 
made great initiatives in the significant events which include participating in 
Mirza Shirazi' tobacco boycott, fighting tyrannical policies of Zill al-Sultan 
- the governor of Isfahan - and opposing the Babiyyay group in Isfahan. 46 

Ayatullah Hajj Sheikh Lutfullah Safi Golpaygani states that the Grand 
Ayatullah Burujerdi used to frequently praise the deceased Agha Najafi and 
his brother Agha Sheikh Muhammad Ali Thiqat al-Islam. Ayatollah 
Burujerdi said that during the time of his study in Isfahan, there were ten 
thousand students in the seminary, and twice a month or sometimes once a 
month these two brothers used to distribute salaries to the students. When 
Thaqat al-Islam passed away, Agha Najafi himself would manage this large 
seminary and distribute salaries. 47 

Another son of Muhammad Baqir Najafi is Ayatullah Mahdi Najafi 
Isfahani (1278-1346 AH), known as Hajj Agha Nurullah Najafi, who was a 
scholar in the constitutional revolution in Isfahan. After reaching the level of 
ijtihad, he moved from Iraq to his hometown, Isfahan, and started teaching 
and mentoring. 

In 1326 AH, when Muhammad Ali Shah Qajar bombed the national 
council killing a group of freedom fighters in the Shah's garden, Hajj Agha 
Nurullah gathered an army of constitutionalists in Isfahan and mobilized 
them to conquer Tehran with the help of the Bakhtiyari tribe. He then issued 
a fatwa declaring the support of the constitutional government as mandatory 
and opposition to it as forbidden. Even after seeing deviations from this 
movement as a sign of protest against several extremist leaders, he returned 
to Iraq until 1333 AH. With the coming of Reza Khan, Hajj Agha Nurullah 
began to protest against the dictatorial rule and in the end mysteriously died 
there. Currently, his home in Isfahan has been made into a museum called 
"Khaneyeh Mashruteyeh Isfahan" and contains important documents about 
this scholar's life as well as the role the scholars of Isfahan in the 
constitutional revolution in Iran. 

After the reestablishment of the Islamic seminary of Qum and its 
emergence as a central seminary along with the Najaf seminary, the 
expansion of the Isfahan seminary diminished. However, with the victory of 
the Islamic republic, this seminary, along with seminaries of other cities and 
regions, once again became the center of attention. Moreover, with the 
presence of personalities like Ayatullah Khadimi, Sadiqi, and Safi, the 
number of practicing seminarians rose to thousands of people. In 1375, 
Ayatullah Madhahiri moved from Qum to Isfahan to organize and manage 
the Isfahan seminary, and his presence gave a special vigor and joy to the 


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seminary and the schools under its management, which were over thirty in 

Among the scholars who excelled at the head of the Isfahan seminary are 
Mulla Muhammad Taqi Majlisi (1003-1070 AH), father of Allamah Majlisi; 
Allamah Muhammad Baqir Majlisi (1037-1111 AH); Sayyid Ni'matullah 
Jaza'iri; Ayatullah Mirza Muhammad Ali Shah Abadi (1292-1369 AH); 
Ayatullah Mirza Ahmad Bayd Abadi (1279-1357 AH); Ayatullah Mujahid 
Sayyid Hasan Mudarris (1287-1357 AH); and Banu Mujtahideh Nusrat 
Amin (1308-1265 AH). 48 

7. The Islamic Seminary of Mashhad 

The arrival of the eighth Shi'i Imam, Imam al-Ridha, to the city of Merv 
and the Khorasan region was the starting point for the establishment of one 
of the greatest academic institutions in the Shi'a world. The arrangement of 
various debate and discussion sessions by the Imam with scholars from 
various denominations, though held with the intention of exploitation by the 
Abbasid caliphate, actually portrayed the Imam’s God-given superiority and 
depth in knowledge. Like a valuable investment, the necessary motivation 
for Shi'a scholars to participate in theological and ideological discussions 
led to the most thorough analysis in theology and the doctrine of Oneness 
[of God], 

After Imam al-Ridha’s martyrdom and his burial in the village of the 
villages of Tus, called "Sanabad," the Imam's resting place turned into the 
site of great scholars, and with creating study circles beside the holy land 
(turbah) around which the Imam was buried, they expanded the area and 
constructed an academic center and educational institution that promotes the 
teachings of the Ahlul Bayt. 

From the time study circles were created in the shrine until today, the 
Islamic seminary of Mashhad has experienced both expansion and decline 
depending on societal conditions. The attack by Sabuktigin, the Ghanznavid 
king, on Mashhad and on the Shrine of Imam Rida (a); the attack by the 
Oghuz Turks in the year 548 AH on Tus; the killing of people and great 
scholars; the Mongol attacks on Tus in the year 618 AH; and the mass 
killing on the people of Mashhad 49 were all unfortunate events throughout a 
couple centuries, and undoubtedly affected the Islamic seminary of that city. 
However, during these rough times, we witness great efforts made by 
scholars of this city and the production of valuable works in the Mashhad 
seminary such as Tabarsi's efforts made in Qur'anic exegesis and academia. 

Abu Ali Fadhl ibn Hasan ibn Fadhl Tabarsi, known as Amin al-Islam 
Tabarsi, was bom in Mashhad around 460 to 470 AH. He resided in 
Mashhad for over fifty years, and in 523 AH he moved to Sabzawar and 
spent twenty-five years in this city teaching and writing. Although Tabarsi 
was familiar with various sciences such as jurisprudence, hadith, 
biographical evaluation, literature, and modem Arabic, he often studied 
Qur'anic exegesis. His most important work in exegesis is Majma' al-Bayan, 
completed in 536 AH, where amongst the Shi'a exegeses holds great value 
because of its integration of exegesis sciences and it style of writing. After 
ninety years of living a productive life, Tabarsi passed away in 548. His 
body was sent to Mashhad where he was buried. 


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In the history of Mashhad seminaries, the eleventh century was the 
inception of its revival, the period of academic re-growth, and the restart of 
courses held by prominent instructors. In the second half of this century, in 
terms of the number of scholars and instructors, the Mashhad seminary 
became one of the leading Shi'a seminaries, attracting not only its residents, 
but international students as well. The renowned teacher, Mowlana 
Muhammad Baqir, known as Muhaqqiq Sabzawari (1017-1090 AH), author 
of two books in jurisprudence, Dhakhirah and Kifayah, who held a 
management position and was called Sheikh al-Islam, moved to Mashhad 
towards the end of his life. He reconstructed and taught in the old school 
called "Sami'iyyah," which was from then on called "Baqiriyyah," named 
after him. 50 

Another great figure from the seminary of Mashhad is Muhammad 
Hasan, known as Sheikh Hurr Aamili. He is of the descendants of the "free 
man of Karbala", Hurr ibn Yazid Riyahi, who was bom in 1033 AH in a 
region of Jabal Aamel and died in 1104 AH in Mashhad, buried beside 
Imam Ridha's shrine. 

Sheikh Hurr Aamili is known by one of his famous works, Wasa'il al- 
Shia, which comprises traditions from the infallibles in various 
jurisprudential topics, a book in which a mujtahid does not need in making 
decisions in Islamic law (ijtihad). At the age of forty, Sheikh Hurr Aamili 
went to Mashhad to visit the Imam Ridha's grave. After witnessing the 
condition of Mashhad, he felt the need to reside to defend Shi’ism. During 
his stay, the Sheikh spent his time teaching and writing; his books amount to 
over forty-four. When Sheikh Hurr was in Mashhad, his classes and 
discussions were held in the courtyard of Imam Ridha where his sessions 
were known as the most interesting during that time. 51 

In the first few decades of the fourteenth century, with the expansion of 
the Islamic seminaries of Najaf and Karbala, the migration of scholars, and 
the formation of the Islamic seminary of Qum, the expansion of the 
Mashhad seminary declined and advanced jurisprudence and principles of 
jurisprudence were rarely formed in it. 52 However, even during this period, 
the seminary of Mashhad played a leading role in intellectual sciences and 
Arabic literature and where outstanding scholars were trained, such as 
Sheikh Abd al-Jawad Adib Nishaburi (died 1344 AH), instructor in 
literature; Mulla Muhammad Ali, known as "Hajji Fadhil" (died 1342 AH), 
instructor in jurisprudence, principles of jurisprudence, and philosophy; 
Mirza Askari Shahidi, known as "Agha Bozorg" (died 1355 AH), instructor 
in philosophy; and Sheikh Asadullah Yazdi (died 1342 AH), instructor in 

With the passing of this period, in the second half of the fourteenth 
century and in recent decades, the Islamic seminary of Mashhad began a 
new era of academic achievements and has had an influential presence in 
creating societal changes. The migration of well-known scholarly figures 
from Najaf, the formation of higher level jurisprudential and theological 
classes, and the struggle against the wave of the Islamophobia that arose 
with the coming to power of the Pahlavi regime in an Islamic society were 


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some affairs that once again brought the seminary's name to the forefront of 
active Shi'a seminaries in recent decades. 

In 1331 AH, Hajj Agha Husayn Qummi moved from Najaf to Khorasan 
and taught higher level jurisprudence and principles of jurisprudence. He 
completed the higher level qualifications in Iraq and received permission for 
ijtihad from all his teachers in Najaf. He also obtained permission from the 
deceased Sayyid Murtadha Kashmiri to narrate hadiths. Because of the 
Mashhadi people's request to Ayatullah Mirza Muhammad Taqi Shirazi 
(Mirza Dovvom) to send a God-conscious (taqwa) scholar and a learned and 
capable mujtahid for them, he put a stop to his forty years of education and 
moved to Mashhad to take on their leadership role. 53 

Along with teaching and mentoring seminarians, this great scholar was 
not indifferent to the societal changes and the anti-religious initiatives made 
by the government as he readily stood up against Reza Khan's western 
mentality. 54 This event led to his deportation from Iran to Iraq in 1354-1314 
AH. Additional scholars in the Islamic seminary of Mashhad, also a part of 
his anti-government oppositions included Hajj Mirza Muhammad Kafaee 
Khorasani, who was exiled to Yazd and Ayatullah Sayyid Yunus Ardebili, 
who was imprisoned for some time and then exiled to Ardebil. 55 

The deportation of jurists such as Hajj Husayn Qummi and Hajj Mirza 
Muhammad Kafaee Khorasani left the Islamic seminary of Mashhad empty 
of first-rate scholars, and this led to a period of academic decline and 
recession once again. Although in 1373 AH with the arrival of Ayatullah al- 
Udhma Sayyid Muhammad Hadi Milani, a student of Mirza Na'ini, Hajj 
Agha Husayn Qummi, and Sheikh Muhammad Husayn Isfahani (Kumpani), 
once again the formation of study sessions and intellectual and 
philosophical discussions revived its academic vigor and enthusiasm. 

The Islamic seminary of Mashhad played a crucial role in the national 
revolution against the imperial state of the Pahlavis and became a center of 
resistance against the idolatrous regime. Well-accomplished students, 
fighters, and speakers, like Shahid Sayyid Abd al-Karim Hasheminejad 
(1311-1360 Shamsi) and Ayatullah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, were trained, and 
they forced the tyrannical imperialist regime who suppressed, exiled, and 
tortured seminarian students and demolished the schools with the intention 
of controlling this seminary and its activities. As a result, the opposition was 
unsuccessful in reaching their goals, and this ended with the victory of the 
Islamic republic in 1357 Shamsi. 


1. 23-35 AH 

2. Hurr Aamili, Muhammad ibn Hasan, Amal al-Aamil, researcher Sayyid Ahmad 
Husayni, Qum Dar al-Kutub al-Islami, vol. 2, 1362, p. 13. 

3. Travel writers like Nasir Khusraw, in the fourth century Hijri, and others after him 
have reported the presence of Shi'as in that land. R.K. Naisr Khusraw's Book of Travels, 
effort of Muhammad Dabir Siyaqi, p. 24. 

4. Shi'a Seminaries across the World, p. 335. 

5. Author of books like al-Zuhra fi Ahkam al-Hajjj wa al-Umarah was al-Wsatah Bayn 
al-Nafy wa al-Ithbat. 

6. Died 481 AH 

7. Before 520 AH 

8. Approximately 728 AH 


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9. 734-786 AH 

10. His academic genius and motivation in studying was to such a point that one time in 
the year 751 AH at the age of seventeen and another time in the year 756 AH he got 
certification of ijtihad and narrating traditions from Fakhr al-Muhaqqiqin. Shams al-Din, 
Muhammad Righa, Hayat al-Imam al-Shahid al-Awwal, p. 41. 

11. Muhammad ibn Hasa ibn Yusuf (682-771 AH), known as Fakhr al-Muhaqqiqin was 
a great jurist from Hillah and Allamah Hilli's son. Most of his published works are 
commentaries on his father's books, which include Idhah al-Fawa'id commentary of 
Allamah Hilli's Qawa'id, and Tahsil al-Nijah commentary of the book Nahj al- 

12. Amal al-Amil, Sheikh Hurr Aamili, vol. 1, p. 15. 

13. Mirza Nuri, Mustadrik al-Wasa'il, vol. 3, p. 437. 

14. Aamili, Shams al-Din Muhammad ibn Makki, al-Lum'ah al-Dimishqiyyah, p. 24. 

15. al-Rawdha al-Bahiyah fi Sharh al-Lum'ah al-Dimishqiyyah, author Sheikh Zayn al- 
Din Ali ibn Ahmad Aamili, known as Shahid Thani (911-966 AH). 

16. During Shahid's time, an individual named Muhammad Yalushi Aamili, through use 
of magic, claimed prophethood and invited people to a new religion. Shahid Awwal 
dismissed his magic and issued the fatwa for his death and convinced the Damascus 
government to raid his headquarters. Muhammad Yalushi was killed as result of the attack 
and many of his followers were killed. 

17. Amin, Sayyid Muhsin, Khitat Jabal Aamel, p. 255. 

18. 911-966 AH 

19. As an example, Shahid Thani made a trip to Baalbek in the year 953 AH and with 
taking responsibility of the Islamic seminary of that area, he started to teach jurisprudence 
according to the four Islamic schools of thought and became a Shia and Sunni jurist 
(marja'). Shi’a Seminaries across the World, p. 338. 

20. Encyclopedia of Shi'a, vol. 1, p. 186. 

21. Died 925 AH 

22. 1011 AH 

23. 905 AH 

24. Al-Biqa', also spelled Bekaa, or Beqaa, classical Coele Syria, broad valley of central 
Lebanon, extending in a northeast-southwest direction for 75 miles (120 km) along the 
Litani and Orontes rivers, between the Lebanon Mountains to the west and Anti-Lebanon 
Mountains to the east. (Britannica) 

25. Shi'a Seminaries across the World, p. 341. 

26. According to a research done by Ja'far al-Muhajir in his book al-Hijra al-Alimiyah 
ila Iran fi al-'Asr al-Safawi, from the 143 scholars who lived in Jabal Amel in the tenth and 
eleventh century, 45 only remained and didn't migrate. Seven migrated and returned to 
Jabal Aamel; thirty-one traveled to various areas like Hejaz, Yemen, Iraq, and Iran, but 
didn't remain in those regions; and sixty people moved to Iran and stayed in Iran. Salihi, 
Abbas, "An Analysis of the Migration of Jabal Aamel Scholars to Iran during the Safavid 
Dynasty" in the Hawza Journal, Farvardin and Ordibehesht 1374, number 67. 

27. 870-940 AH 

28.918-984 AH 

29. Born 1033 AH 

30. 1290-1377 AH 

31. Shariati, Ali, Tashayyu’-e Alavi va Tashayyu'-e Safavi (Alawite Shi'ism and Safavid 
Shi'ism), Entesharat Husayniyyah Irshad, 1350, p. 73. 

32. Born in Qum in 1307 Shamsi 

33. 1312-1379 Shamsi 

34. 1354 AH -2010 

35. Iran’s Full Geography, vol. 1, p. 308. 

36. Sultanzadeh, Husayn, An Introduction to the History of Urbanization in Iran, p. 94. 

37. Islamic Seminaries in History, pg. 455. 

38. Of the scholars of this period, who translated numerous works from great Shi'a 
scholars, was Mawla Ali ibn Hasan Zawarahi. He is of the well-known figures in the tenth 
century Hijri who owns many books and translation including the exegesis Tarjumah al- 
Khawas; the translation and commentary of the Nahj al-Balaghah called Rawdhah al-Asrar; 


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the translation of Kashf al-Ghuma fi Marifa al-A'imah called Tarjumah al-Manaqib; the 
translation of Sheikh Saduq's Wasilah al-Nijah; the translation of Sayyid ibn Tawus' book, 
al-Tara'if fi Ma'rifa Madhahib al-Tawa'if; the translation of Fahad Hilli's book, Udah al-Da'i 
wa Nijah al-Sa'ee; the translation of Sheikh Tabarsi's book al-Ihtijaj, called Kashf al-Ihtijaj. 
Golizawarahi Qumshaee, Ghulam Ridha, "Tafsir Tarjumah al- Khawas" in the journal, 
"Aeeneyeh Pajuhesh," number 9, p. 39-47. 

39. Muhammad ibn Abdullah Ahmad (died 450 AH) was one of Ibn Sina's outstanding 
students of Isafahan's jurists and philosophers. Ibn Sina preferred him to the rest of his 
students and would say the following about him: "Abu Abdullah has the same status in my 
eyes that Plato has in the eyes of Aristotle." Also, Ibn Sina named the book "al-Ishq" after 
Ma'sumi and wrote it because of his suggestion and in the introduction of his book he called 
him by Abu Abdullah al-Faqih Ma'sumi. Honarfar, Lutfullah, Isfahan, p. 210 and 211. 

40. Muhammad Baqir Damad (961-1041 AH) son of Mir Muhammad Husayn 
Astarabadi and grandson of Abd al-Aali Karaki (Muhaqqiq Thani) and Ustad Mulla Sadra 

41. Muhammad ibn Husayn, known as Sheikh Baha'i (935-1030 AH), famous Shia 
jurist, philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician. Born in Baalbek, Lebanon. At the age 
of 13 he moved to Iran with his father and after learning intellectual and transmitted 
sciences from scholars of Isfahan, he started writing and teaching students of that seminary. 

42. Muhammad Sadr al-Din Shirazi (980-1050 AH), known as "Mulla Sadra” or "Sadr 
al-Mutalihin.” A great Islamic scholar and philosopher and Sheikh Baha'i and Mirdamad's 
student. Author of the valuable book, Asfar Arba'ah. With bring philosophy and Islamic 
gnosis closer together he instituted a school of thought that with the wisdom of God is 
prominent even till today. 

43. Ja'farian, Rasul, Religion and Politics during the Safavid Era, p. 260. 

44. During the Safavid Era, 137 palaces, 162 mosques, 273 public baths, and 12 
graveyards existed, where a large number of them were destroyed by Zill al-Sultan, Jazini 
Mahsa. "The Era of Destruction in Isfahan," in the Iran newspaper, number 3781, dated 
86/8/17, p. 11. 

45. Baqiri Siyani, Mahdi, "Sharh al-Hidayah al-Mustarshidin," in the journal, Aeeneyeh 
Pajuhesh, number 115, p. 68-70. 

46. Sufi Niaraki, Taqi, in Harim wa Wisal. 

47. Taken from Ayatullah Burujerdi's site: , on 

48. Shi’a Seminaries across the World, p.263-269. 

49. Encyclopedia of Shi'a, vol. 1, pp. 56-57. 

50. Shi'a Seminaries across the World, p. 357. 

51. The deceased Sayyid Muhsin Amin narrates from Sheikh Muhammad Jazayiri: 
"Sheikh Muhammad Jazayiri writes in the explanation of the book, Ruh al-Jinan, I saw 
Sheikh Hurr in the year one-thousand some ninety and he says after that, he moved to 
Mashhad and in the year 1099 AH, I saw him there and I saw he has a big seminary and he 
teaches Wasa'il al-Shi'a. I would participate in his classes for the duration of the time I was 
in Mashhad." Amin, Sayyid Muhsin, 'Ayan al-Shi'a, p. 44-64. 

52. The scholars who taught higher level (dars kharij) jurisprudence and principles of 
jurisprudence classes during this period are, Ayatullah Hajj Husayn Qummi (died 1366 
AH) and Hajj Mirza Muhammad Kafaee Khorasani, known as "Aghazadeh" (son of 
Akhund Mulla Muhammad Kadhim Khorasani). 

53. Sharif Razi, Muhammad, Ganjineyeh Daneshmandan, p. 152. 

54. Of his initiatives was fighting the Reza Khan's law banning hijab. As a sign of 
protest, he went to Tehran in the year 1353 and in the garden of Siraj al-Mulk in Shar-e Rey 
he invited people to rise against this law. In Mashhad a large group of people sought refuge 
in Goharshad Mosque beside the shrine of the holy Imam. After these sit-ins the security 
forces of Reza Khan's regime entered the masjid after direct orders from him, and after 
some clashes, they open fired on them and killed a large number of people. 

55. Andeesheh, the Islamic Seminary of Mashhad Journal, first year, number 2, 1370, p. 


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The History of the Islamic Seminaries of Qum 


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The History of the Islamic Seminaries of Qum, Part 1 

Rasoul Imani Khoshku 

Translated by Mohammad Javad Shomali 

Journal: Vol. 14, no. 4, Winter 2014 


The preceding articles in this series explored the historical origins of 
important religious seminaries in the Shi‘a world given its importance in 
promoting the instructions of the Qur’an and the Ahlul Bayt, and its role in 
engendering a unique culture in the scientific, social, and political spheres. 
The seminaries created knowledgeable and pious Shi‘a scholars who 
pursued ijtihad with the use of the Qur’an, sunnah, and reason to respond to 
the needs of the Muslim community. The previous part focused on the 
Islamic Seminaries of Jabal Aamel, Isfahan, and Mashhad. 

This article delves into the history of the Islamic seminaries of Qum. 
Using Islamic traditions and historical records, the significance of Qum 
according to the Ahlul Bayt will be stated, along with its link to Lady 
Ma‘sumah’s arrival to the city and its impact on the future of the 
seminaries’ success. 

Imam Ali said, “May God bestow His salutations on the people of Qum. 
They are the people of ruku’ (bowing before God), sajdah (prostrating to 
God), salah (daily prayers) and fasting. They are wise jurist scholars. They 
are the religious who love the family of the Prophet, and they are the people 
of proper worship. May God grant them His mercy, salutations, and 
blessings 1 .” 

History of Qum 

Located 145 kilometres south of Tehran in the middle of the highway 
from Tehran to Isfahan, the holy city of Qum is one of the most important 
cities in the Islamic world. There have been many discussions regarding the 
history of Qum and its inception. Some historians believe that Qum had 
become a holy city given its many fire temples after being reformed 
religiously and architecturally by a ruler named Qubad during the Sassanid 
Era 2 . Other historians believe Qum was made after Islam’s dominance over 
Iran and from its beginning its entire population were Shi‘a 3 . 

In the year 23 AH, the last year of the life of Umar ibn Khattab, the 
second Muslim Caliph, Qum was conquered by the Muslims. The 
commander of the Muslim army in this defeat was Abu Musa Ash’ari who, 
having conquered Ahwaz, now had his eyes on Qum 4 . 

The Bani Asad Arabs were among the first groups of Arabs to live in 
Jamkaran, Qum 5 . After the advent of Islam, many of the fire temples were 
demolished and mosques were built in their stead, one of them being the 
‘Atiq Mosque 6 . Only a fire temple, Mozdjan, remained until the end of the 
third century as it was located in a mountainous region and because many 
Maguses lived in the route that led to it 7 . According to some historians, the 
first mosque was built in the village of Jamkaran 8 . Some scholars believe 
the history of the Shi’a in Qum began after the ‘Ash’arites moved to Qum in 
83 AH. 


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Abdul-Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn Ash’as was appointed by Hajjaj ibn 
Yusuf as the governor of Sajestan. He then rebelled against Hajjaj but was 
defeated and escaped. Among the companions of Abdul- Rahman there 
were seven children of Sa’d ibn Malik Ash’ary who were from the Tabe’in 
of Iraq. They came to Qum and made major efforts in spreading Shi‘a 
culture. Abdullah ibn Sad Ashlar and his son, Musa, played a key role in 
these efforts 9 . 

This happened during the Imamate of the last Imams and had a great 
impact on spread of Shi’as in Qum to the extent that, based on the narration 
of some scholars, at the time of Imam Hadi, Qum had become the most 
important center for the gatherings of the Shi’as in Iran. It is narrated that 
Muhammad ibn Dawud Qummi used to give the news regarding Qum to 
Imam Hadi 10 . Imam Hadi had said that the people of Qum were “forgiven 
by God” because they had visited the shrine of his grandfather, Imam 
Ridha 11 . 

Qum in the hadiths 

Qum and its people have been praised in many hadiths; as when Imam 
Ali was asked what city is the safest place to be during wars and seditions, 
the Imam mentioned Qum. He also stated that the best of people in terms of 
lineage come from Qum, and it is the city in which Gabriel journeyed to 12 . 

In this regard, Imam Sadiq said, “Calamites are repelled from the people 
of Qum, and they are [God’s] proof (hujjah) over other people 13 .” The sixth 
Imam also said, “The soil of Qum is sacred, and its people are with us and 
we are with them 14 .” 

In Shi’a hadiths, Qum is referred to by expressions such as “The small 
Kufa”, “The relying place of Qaim 1 ^ Aale Muhammad 16 ,” “The place of 
awaiting of Aale Muhammad,” “The place of safety and comfort for 
believers,” “A piece of the Bayt al Muqaddas,” “The nest of Aale 
Muhammad” and “The shelter of the Fatemiyyun 17 .” 

Once, a group of people from the city of Rey gathered around Imam 
Sadiq in Medina. When they told the Imam they were from Rey, the Imam 
said, ‘Greetings to our brothers from Qum.’ They repeated that they are 
from Rey yet the Imam said the same again and this happened for a couple 
of times. Then the Imam said: 

Truly for God there is a sanctuary and that is Mecca; and for the 
messenger there is a sanctuary and that is Medina; and for the Commander 
of the Faithful (Imam Ali) there is a sanctuary and that is Kufa and truly, 
there is a sanctuary for us and that is the land of Qum 18 . 

In another hadith, Imam Sadiq said: 

The soil of Qum is sacred. Its people are with us and we are with them. 
As long as they do not betray [us], anyone who has an evil intention towards 
them will be quickly punished and if they happen to betray [us], God will 
make oppressing rules dominant over them. However, they are the helpers 
of our Qa’im (Imam Mahdi) and the seekers of our right 19 . 

Then Imam raised his head looking at the sky and said: 

Oh God, protect them from any tribulation” . 

Imam Ridha, regarding Qum, said: 


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When calamity and sedition become widespread, go to Qum and its 
surrounding areas; for Qum is kept immune from calamities 21 . 

The arrival of Lady Ma‘sumah to Qum 

Due to numerous hadiths about Qum’s high status, even before Lady 
Ma‘sumah’s arrival in Qum many descendants of the Shi‘a Imams including 
the descendants of Imam Husayn, Imam Hasan, and Imam Kazim had 
moved to Qum 22 . As a result, there are over four hundred tombs belonging 
to the descendants of the Shi‘a Imams in Qum today. Imam Ridha also 
stopped at Qum during his journey to Khurasan. The house where he resided 
is now an Islamic seminary 23 . 

The arrival of Lady Ma‘sumah, the daughter if Imam Kazim, marked the 
beginning of a new era in the history of Qum. After Lady Fatimah, the 
daughter of the Prophet, and Lady Zaynab, the respected daughter of Imam 
Ali, Lady Ma‘sumah holds a special status among all women. It was not 
long after Imam Ridha’s migration from Medina to Khurasan in 200 AH 
due to Mamun’s order that Lady Ma’suma decided to visit her brother. 
According to some historians, she left Medina in 201 AH, and when her 
caravan reached Saaveh they changed their direction towards Qum due her 

Being received by Musa ibn Khazraj, they arrived in Qum, and after 
seventeen days, she passed away . Her place of worship during this short 
period, Bayt al-Noor (The House of Light) is now a place of visit in Qum. 

The Shi‘a Imams spoke about Lady Ma’sumah’s high rank and had 
informed their followers of her arrival in Qum beforehand. Imam Sadiq had 

Be aware that Qum is the small Kufa. Be aware that heaven has eight 
gates, three of which open to Qum. A lady from my descendants whose 
name is Fatima, the daughter of Musa, will be buried there and it is through 
her intercession that all my Shi‘as will enter heaven 25 . 

It can be understood from this hadith that, like Kufa, Qum is the centre 
for spread of the knowledge of the household of the Prophet, while three of 
the eight gates of heaven open towards Qum. These three gates may refer to 
the three valuable privileges of Qum which are: 

1. The shrine of Lady Ma‘sumah in Qum and its remarkable influence of 
guiding people towards heaven; 

2. The Islamic seminaries of Qum which have guided people for 
centuries and directed them towards heaven; 

3. The holy mosque of Jamkaran and the central position of Qum after 
Mecca and Kufa as the foothold of Imam Mahdi. 

In some hadiths the reward given for visiting the shrine of Lady 
Ma‘sumah is said to be so much to the extent that the visitors of her holy 
shrine are promised heaven: Imam Ridha said, “Heaven is for whomever 
who visits Fatimah, the daughter of Musa ibn Ja’far, while acknowledging 
her rights 26 .” 

Imam Jawad, the son of Imam Ridha, said: “Whoever visits my aunt in 
Qum will be granted [the pass to] heaven 27 .” 

Considering what has been mentioned thus far, the history of the Shi’a 
and Shi‘a culture in Qum goes back years before Lady Ma’suma’s arrival; 


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however, since her arrival in Qum and her burial there, Qum attracted Shi‘as 
from all other cities. The scholars who visited her would sometimes prolong 
their stay; hence, a strong scholarly community consisting of devotees of the 
Shi’a school of thought was formed in Qum. 

The history of the Islamic seminaries of Qum 

Ayatullah Ha’eri Yazdi is generally considered as the founder of the 
Islamic seminaries of Qum, although these holy seminaries may have an 
older history. Through scrutinizing the hadiths it becomes clear that the 
Imams had informed people of great and glorious seminaries in Qum: “Soon 
Kufa will become empty of believers and, like a snake hiding in its shelter, 
knowledge will be retracted. And then it will appear in a city called Qum, 
and it will become the centre of knowledge and virtue 28 .” 

The historical eras of the Qum seminaries are divided as follows: 

The First Era 

The first era of the Islamic seminaries of Qum goes back to the lifetime 
of the Shi‘a Imams. The students of the Imams, with their knowledge and 
ability to propagate the Islam, chose Qum as the foothold of the Shi’a and 
were involved in spreading the teachings of the Ahlul Bayt. This period 
coincided with the arrival of Ash’arites in the second half of the first century 
and the first half of the second century during the lifetime of Imam Sadiq. It 
was at that time that the Ash’arites made remarkable efforts to spread Shi’a 

According to some hadiths it was from that period on that the scholars in 
Qum had interactions with the Shi‘a scholars in Medina and received the 
attention from the Imams. For instance, it is narrated that once Umran ibn 
Abdullah Qummi went to visit Imam Sadiq. The Imam first received him 
warmly in front of the others and then quietly told him something. When he 
left the session the people asked the Imam about him and Imam replied, “He 
is the noble one in the group of nobles 29 .” 

Isa ibn Abdullah Qummi, the brother of Umran ibn Abdullah, was also a 
noble. Imam Sadiq said about him, “He is one of us, alive or departed 30 .” 

In the second half of the second and third century, Qum was the centre 
for compiling the Shi‘a Imams’ hadiths. Meanwhile, Kufa was no longer the 
first Shi’a base. Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Isa Qummi Ash’ari, a 
companion of Imam Sadiq, is one of the elites of that period 31 . He was one 
of the sons of Abdullah ibn Sa’d ibn Amer who had entered Qum along with 
his brothers 32 . 

It was in the same period that narrators of hadiths (muhaddith) who were 
companions of Imam Jawad and Imam Hadi, namely Husayn ibn Saeed 
Ahwazi and his brother moved, first to Ahwaz and then to Qum. Among the 
books they have written, one of Saeed’s works, Al-Zuhd, is available to us 
today 33 . 

Some of the great scholars of this era are: Adam ibn Abdullah Qummi, 
Ibrahim ibn Muhammad Ash’ari, Ibrahim ibn Hashim Qummi, Ahmad ibn 
Ishaq ibn Abdullah Ash’ari, Ismaeel ibn Sa’dAsh’ari, Husayn ibn Aban, and 
Husayn ibn Malik Qummi 34 . 


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During this period, the main fields of knowledge that were common in 
the Islamic seminaries of Qum were jurisprudence and ethics, both 
communicated using the hadiths of the Ahlul Bayt. 

The Second Era 

This period includes the Minor Occultation and continues after that until 
the sixth century. During this period, the Islamic seminaries of Qum were 
very superior to other Shi’a seminaries in terms of quality and quantity; the 
narrators in Qum are said to have been two hundred thousand and important 
figures like Ahmad ibn Isa Ash’ari, Muhammad ibn Isa Ash’ari Qummi, 
Abdul Aziz ibn Muhtadi Qummi, Ali ibn Husayn ibn Babuyeh Qummi, Ibn 
Waleed Qummi, Muhammad ibn Hasan Furukh us-Saffar, Ibrahim ibn 
Hashim Qummi and Shaykh Saduq were among the scholars. 

In the field of Hadith, the scholars of Qum would not trust all narrators; 
and narrators such as Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Khalid Barqi were 
expelled from Qum for narrating weak hadiths 33 . Qum reached its peak of 
magnitude and glory in the third and the fourth century. During this period 
the hadith-oriented school was the dominant school in Qum. The presence 
of narrators, who were influenced by the Islamic seminaries of Qum in the 
city of Rey, helped the Islamic Seminaries of Qum continue to exist in Rey 
as well. Great scholars in the field of hadith, such as Kulayni, were educated 
in the seminaries of both Qum and Rey 36 . 

An important point about the available hadith collections from the fourth 
century is that their authors have cited only the hadiths they believed to be 
authentic and representing the Shi‘a faith. For example, Shaykh Kulayni 
clearly explains in the introduction of Al-Kafi that he compiled this book 
after being requested by someone who found it difficult to identify authentic 
hadiths in order to represent the authentic hadiths. 

Al-Mahasin by Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Khalid al-Barqi and Basairud 
Darajat by Muhammad ibn Hasan ibn Saffar Qummi, the famous Shi’a 
scholar in the field of hadith and also the companion of Imam Askari are 
some books of hadith in the third century available to us today. 

It is during this era and in the Islamic seminaries of Qum that the four 
hundred principles of hadiths of Shi’a Imams 37 remaining from the 
companions of the Imams were classified in chapters by scholars of this 
field such as Kulayni and Shaykh Saduq. It is for this reason that the fourth 
century is considered as the period of completing of compilations of Shi’a 
hadiths. Furthermore, scholars of hadith also compiled books on hadiths of 
specific subjects: Ibn Babuyeh Qummi wrote Al-Imamah wal-Tabsarah Min 
al-Hayrah to remove the confusion of some Shi’as regarding the Imamate of 
Imam Mahdi. 

Likewise, Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Nu’mani compiled Al-Ghaybah on 
Imam Mahdi and Ali ibn Muhammad Khazzaz Qummi compiled Kifayat al- 
Athar to prove the Imamate of all Shi’a Imams. 

Shaykh Saduq’s treasured books written in this period are the most 
prominent Shi’a scholarly resources. Having access to the main hadith 
sources that remained from the companions of the Imams, and writing about 
three hundred books, Shaykh Saduq managed to compile and formulate 


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ideologies of Islam using his creativity. Such efforts demonstrate the 
dynamic nature of this field and its scholars. 

Parallel to the development of the seminaries of Qum in the field of 
hadith, the theologians of the school of Baghdad also entered the field of 
hadith. The book Amali 38 by the students of Shaykh Mufid, Sayyed 
Murtadha, Shaykh Tusi, and compilations such as Tahzib and Istibsar by 
Shaykh Tusi reveals the passion these scholars had for compiling hadiths. 
The key and essential difference between the seminaries of Qum and 
Baghdad is the rational attitude of the scholars of the school of Baghdad 
whom, unlike the scholars of Qum, gave importance to reason in their study 
of hadiths. 

This difference between the two schools led to theological disputes in 
different areas as the books Tashihul-I-tighad and Risalat fi Sahv un-Nabi 
were written to study and reject some of Shaykh Saduq’s views 39 . 

In the fourth century, the seminaries of Rey flourished and this 
overshadowed the seminaries of Qum, since with the presence of figures 
like Shaykh Saduq in Rey, students of Islamic studies preferred Rey over 
Qum. However, hadith scholars had the tendency not to stay in a specific 
city for long, and by the means of their travels, in addition to spreading the 
hadiths of the Infallibles, they would learns hadiths from the teachers of 
other areas as well. Thus, the scholars of Qum and Rey had cultural 
interactions and this may be the reason why some scholars of this period are 
known by some historians of both Qum and Rey as the scholar of their own 

Sa‘d-e Salt, Athir al-Mulk, Sayyed Saeed ‘Izzuddin Murtadha, 
Shamsuddin Murtadha, and Zahiruddin Abdul Aziz are the names of some 
of the schools in the Islamic seminaries of Qum during that period 40 . 

Therefore, the second period of the seminaries of Qum was formed by a 
large group of scholars in the field of hadith and jurisprudence; these 
scholars were students in the first period and the teachers of the scholars of 
the fifth century. 

The Third Era 

The period starting with the sixth century up until the ninth century is the 
third era of the seminaries of Qum. By and large, the Islamic seminaries of 
Qum experienced difficulties during this period. The inhabitants of Qum 
were massacred several times and the city was turned into ruins. However, 
for some time Qum was the capital of the Teymurid Dynasty. Of the 
numerous instances of genocide and demolition observed throughout the 
history of Qum, the Mongol’s attack was the most devastating one, lasting 
until the Teymurid Dynasty. Perhaps the foundation of the Razawiyyah 
School is the only positive development during this period. 

Yet, Shaykh Agha Bozorg Tehrani has named more than thirty of the 
scholars of the sixth century in his book, Tabaqat-e A Tam al-Shi‘a. This 
number decreased to three in the seventh century 41 . Thus, the scientific 
recession of the seminaries of Qum started in the sixth century and it grew 
during the seventh and the eighth centuries due to the presence of the 
ruinous Mongol and Timurid dynasties. In the ninth century, the scholars of 


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Qum took shrewd measures in confronting the cultural recession and 
strengthening the scholarly foundations of the seminaries. 

Qutb al-Din Rawandi (573 AH) was among the great scholars in 
jurisprudence and hadith who lived in this period and was buried in Qum. 
He lived in Qum part of his life and had a great impact on protecting the 
seminaries of Qum and upgrading their academic level by training students. 
Some of his works during this period are: Asbab al-Nuzul, Fiqh al-Qur’an, 
Jawahir al-Kalam, Sihat-u Ahadith-i-Ashabina, and al-Niyyah fi Jami‘ al- 

In addition to Qutb al-Din Rawandi, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Hasan Tusi, 
the father of Khaje Nasir ud-Din Tusi, was another scholar who lived in 
Qum during this period. The hadiths he narrated were quoted by his son, 
Khaje Nasir 42 . 

The Fourth Era 

This era starts in the tenth century and continues until the thirteenth 
century coinciding with the Safavid, Afghan, Afsharid, Zand, and Qajar 
dynasties. It is during this period that intellectual sciences became part of 
the common sciences taught in the seminaries of Qum. 

The first part of this period coincides with the Safavid dynasty. The 
Safavid kings had a strong interest in knowledge and scholars; hence, great 
scholars such as Allamah Majlisi and others were paid special attention by 
the rulers, generally titled “Shaykh ul-Islam 43 .” 

Such attention paid to the scholars in this period led to the migration of 
many Shi’a scholars of Jabal Aamel in Lebanon to Iran and this caused the 
spread of the intellectual approach in Shi’a jurisprudence as opposed to the 
Akhbari 44 attitude. During this era, the Islamic seminaries of Isfahan, 
supported by the Safavid rulers, became the most active seminary in the 
Shi’a world. Establishing new Shi’a schools in Isfahan and other cities of 
Iran such as Qum, Shiraz, Qazwin, and Mashhad, religious sciences and 
Shi’a teachings including rational sciences such as philosophy and theology 
began to progress. 

Meanwhile, the Akhbari approach was also formed, and this put strong 
emphasis on understanding the literal meaning of hadiths and not tolerating 
any rational contemplation. When this attitude developed in the seminaries 
of Isfahan, not only did the scholars who were against this view leave the 
seminaries, but some scholars of the intellectual sciences were also expelled 
from this region. The famous philosopher Sadr al-Din Shirazi known as 
Mulla Sadra was among them. 

The migration of Mulla Sadra who was originally from Shiraz, from 
Isfahan to Qum led to the recession of rational sciences in the seminaries of 
Isfahan, but it led to their flourishing in the seminaries of Qum. Through 
training students and by the means of his writings, he paved the way for the 
Usuli 45 attitude in the seminaries even though before this period the 
seminaries trained more Shi’a muhaddiths 46 than scholars of rational 

Sadr al-Muta’allehin Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Shirazi (979 - 1050 AH) 
was one Shi’a philosopher and theologian who lived in this period. His stay 
in the seminaries of Qum was contemporary to his seclusion, when he 


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involved himself in compiling and writing books, training students, and 
contemplating on sciences rather than socializing. 

As it was mentioned, in this period, the presence of theosophists led to 
the formation of the science of the principles of jurisprudence (usulul-fiqh). 
This which was in contrast with the Akhbari attitude, firstly claimed that the 
thahir 47 sentences of the Qur’an can be used without using the words of the 
Prophet and his successors, and secondly that using reason in analyse of the 
hadiths to understand the rulings is allowed, and is indeed necessary. 

Philosophers such as Mulla Sadra paved the way for free thinking in the 
seminaries of Qum. Hence, Mirza Qummi (1151 - 1231 AH) after studying 
jurisprudence and its principles in Najaf and Karbala with great teachers 
such as Wahid Behbahani, decided to stay in Qum; as a result, he expanded 
the domain of usul to Qum. That was when having returned from Iraq, 
Mirza Qummi did not find the level of studies in the seminaries of Shiraz 
and Isfahan suitable for himself and thus chose the seminaries of Qum. 
There, he familiarized the students who loved the teachings of the Ahlul 
Bayt familiar with Shi’a jurisprudence and the foundations of ijtihad 48 in 

He thus became the religious authority for the Shi’as of his time. In 
writing and teaching the principles of ijtihad, he became known as 
“Muhaqqiq Qummi” (“The Researcher of Qum). 

The book Al- Qawanin al-Muhkamah fi Tlmil-Usul is one of his most 
renowned works; until recent years it was still being taught in the 
seminaries. Due to his great efforts in launching an usul-oriented movement, 
he is known as the reviver of the science of usul. He trained students such as 
Sayyed Muhammad Baqir Hujjatul-Islam, Hajj Muhammad Ibrahim 
Kalbasi, Agha Muhammad Ali Hezar Jaribi, Agha Ahmad Kermanshahi, 
Sayyed Muhammad Mahdi Khansari, Sayyed Ali Khansari, Mirza Abu- 
Talib Qummi, Hajj Mulla Asadullah Borujerdi, and Hajj Mulla Muhammad 

By doing so he managed to expand the usul-oriented attitude from Qum 
to the seminaries of Isfahan, Qumshah, and Kermanshah. Through his 
innovations he triggered a dramatic evolution in the seminaries of Qum and 
after years of silence and recession he initiated the golden age of ijtihad. 

Another newfound science meticulously taught and studied in the 
seminaries of Qum was the science of kalam or Usul al-Din; in other words, 
theology with a rational and philosophical method. Mulla Sadra himself had 
been engaged in theological subjects with a philosophical approach in his 
book Al-Asfaar al-‘Aqliyyah al-Arbi‘ah; however, his son- in-law, Mulla 
Abdurrazzaq Lahiji (1072 AH) known as Fayyaz, took more serous steps in 
developing this science. Lahiji was originally from the city of Lahijan in the 
province of Gilan. 

Due to his migration to Qum in the early stages of his life 49 and a long 
residence there along with teaching in the Ma’sumah school of Qum, he 
received the title “Qummi.” 

Writing books such as Shawariqul-Ilham, Sarmaye Iman, and Gowhar-e 
Murad and discussing deep theological subjects in the seminaries of Qum, 
he introduced a new method in writing theological books. 


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Lahiji was exceptionally talented in theosophy, theology, mysticism, 
Sufism, logic, poetry and literature. The elites of philosophy and theosophy 
were astonished by his precision and high attention, saying, “In precision 
and research this man is one of the great scholars in philosophy and 
theosophy. He was a strong philosopher in Avicennism, a plenary 
theosophist in lluminationism, and an outstanding figure in knowing the 
opinion of the theologians 50 .” It has also been said about Lahiji that “Apart 
from his teacher Mulla Sadra, no one among recent scholars excels him 51 .” 

After Fayyaz Lahiji, his son, Mirza Hasan Lahijy, and his student Qazi 
Saeed Qummi took the field of kalam forward with expanding discussions 
and publications on it. 

During this period more schools were established such as Fayziyeh, 
Shadghuli, Dar ush-Shifa, Muminyah, and Sarutghi 52 . 

Thus, during this period the seminaries of Qum flourished in acadeini 
with an expansion of different sciences such as philosophy, Islamic 
theology, logic, and principles of jurisprudence. 

The Fifth Era 

This period begins in the late thirteenth century and continues to the 
present day. The turning point was when Ayatullah Haeri entered Qum and 
resided in its seminaries. Throughout its ups and downs, the seminaries had 
continued to exist; however, they did not enjoy the benefits of an organised 
system. With the arrival of Ayatullah Haeri, the seminaries of Qum were 
revived to the extent that he was given the title “The Founder” (“Muasses”) 
of the seminaries. 

Ayatullah Haeri was born in 1276 AH in a village called Mehrjerd in the 
province of Yazd, when almost everyone in the village thought that his 
father is not going to have any child. He pursued his primary education in 
Maktabkhane 53 in the city of Ardekan, where he spent his time learning the 
basics of the sciences, literature, and Qur’anic recitation. He then went to 
the seminaries of Yazd and resided in the school of Muhammad Taqi Khan. 
It was not long after his arrival that he was known among the scholars as an 
aspiring and gifted student of Islamic studies. 

He went to Karbala at the age of 18 and although the seminaries of 
Samira were more active during that period, he spent two years in the 
neighbourhood of the shrine of Imam Husayn learning and engaging himself 
in self-building. During these two years, his talent and genius became 
known to other scholars, and especially to his teacher, Ayatullah Fazil 
Ardekani. He realised that the seminaries of Karbala were not enough for 
the growth and flourishing of Abdulkarim’s scientific innovations; hence, he 
sent Abdulkarim to Grand Mirza Shirazi 54 . 

Ayatullah Haeri was under the supervision of Ayatullah Mirza Shirazi, 
and soon he became one of the well-known scholars of that area. In 1333 
AH, granting the request of Mirza Mahmud, the son of Hajj Agha Muhsin 
Araki, he moved to Arak. For more than eight years he administered the 
seminaries in Arak. The number of the students exceeded three hundred, 
making Arak the foothold of knowledge and research. In the month of Rajab 
in 1340 AH, the Ayatullah in the company of Ayatullah Sayyed Muhammad 
Taqi Khansari visited Qum. Some believe that in addition to his intention to 


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visit the shrine of Lady Ma‘sumah in Qum, he was also encouraged to go to 
Qum due to the requests he received from its Qum. 

It was late winter on the 22nd of Rajab 1330 AH 55 when Ayatullah Haeri 
accepted the invitation of the people of Qum and left Arak, accompanied by 
his son, Ayatullah Murteza Haeri, and Ayatullah Muhammad Taqi 
Khansari. Qum, which had already been decorated for the Eid of Mab‘ath 56 , 
was prepared to welcome the Ayatullah. While he was still outside the city, 
crowds of people flocked to welcome him upon the news of his arrival. For 
the next few days, the Ayatullah participated in the celebrations of Mab‘ath 
in different part of the city. 

Soon after Mab‘ath, the birth anniversary of Imam al-Zaman took place 
simultaneous with the Persian New Year at that time, and this encouraged 
many from neighbouring cities to journey to Qum to visit the Ayatullah. 
During the celebrations, the scholars who were familiar with Ayatullah 
Haeri during their stay in Samira and Najaf spoke of his knowledge and 
spiritual qualities, thus encouraging the crowds to keep him in Qum. 

Before Ayatullah Haeri’s arrival, Ayatullah Shaykh Muhammad Taqi 
Bafqi Yazdi migrated from Najaf to Qum. He prepared the grounds for the 
foundation of the seminaries of Qum with the cooperation of great scholars 
such as Ayatullah Hajj Shaykh Abulqasim Kabir Qummi, Ayatullah Hajj 
Shaykh Mahdi, and Ayatullah Hajj Muhammad Arbab. In their discussions, 
they decided that to have a scholar from a city other than Qum, a person 
who is highly knowledgeable and pious, and can supervise the seminaries to 
revive religious sciences. Thus, after successfully convincing Ayatullah 
Haeri, he decided to reside in Qum. 

The fourteenth century the first year of the foundation of the seminaries 
of Qum, coincided with the year some scholars were exiled from Iraq to 
Iran. Ayatullah Sayyed Abulhasan Esfahani, Ayatullah Mirza Husayn Naini, 
Ayatullah Sayyed Ali Shahrestani, Ayatullah Sayyed Abdulhusayn Hujjat 
Karbalai, Ayatullah Shaykh Muhammad Husayn Esfehani Gharawi and 
Ayatullah Shaykh Mahdi Khalesi were among the great scholars who along 
with their students were forced to leave Iraq for Iran and hence resided in 
the seminaries of Qum. 

Ayatullah Haeri settled in Qum in 1340 AH (1301 SH) and this laid the 
foundation of the seminaries. These schools gradually blossomed and found 
their place among the greatest seminaries of the Shi’a world. For this 
reason, he was known as “The Founding Ayatullah.” Had it not been for his 
presence, not only would have been no signs left of the seminaries, but also 
the same would have happened to the monotheistic religions. 

The most fundamental step the Ayatullah took after funding the 
seminaries was to renovate the schools. He encouraged discussion circles 
and deep critical thinking; he also enhanced the instructors’ teaching 
methods and applied the curriculum used in Najaf after his thirty years of 
teaching experience. These positive changes ended the tragic period of the 
Qum seminaries that had worsened after Mirzaye Qummi. The Ayatullah’s 
most innovative action choosing a group of scholars whose responsibility 
was to evaluate the student’s academic level, a necessary method applied in 
today’s educational systems. 


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The initiation of the seminaries coincided with the inception of Reza 
Pahlavi’s sovereignty. The conflicts between the government and the 
scholars intensified and government restrictions on the seminaries led to the 
fall of the seminaries and a decrease in the number of its students. 
According to the statistics, the number of the schools and their students in 
Iran in the year 1304 SAH were 282 and 5984. After the sixteen years, that 
is, in the year 1320 SAH towards the end of reign of King Reza Pahlavi this 
decreased to 207 schools and 784 students. 

Despite this, in this period, the Ayatullah made many efforts to organize 
all affairs of the seminaries. Perhaps it was his non-political attitude that 
kept the seminaries of Qum less vulnerable to the restrictions planned by 
Reza Pahlavi’s reign. He was very patient with regards to the political 
events that occurred in the beginning of Reza Shah’s period and with respect 
to the controversial policy that banned the wearing of the hijab in Iran. He 
struggled to protect the newfound Islamic seminaries, as he used to say, “I 
find protecting the seminaries more important.” 

However, he did confront Reza Shah numerous times regarding the 
Shah’s policies. After that policy was issued and after the massacre of 
people by the Pahlavi regime in the Gowharshad Mosque in Mashhad, the 
Ayatullah grieved until his death 57 . 

Ayatullah Haeri passed away in 1355 AH at the age of 84. After him, 
Ayatullah Sayyed Muhammad Hujjat, Ayatullah Sadr, and Ayatullah 
Khansari administered the seminaries. 

In 1363 AH, Ayatullah Burujerdi directed the Qum seminaries. Though 
he was invited by Ayatullah Haeri to reside in Qum before, he preferred to 
avoid social positions and kindly turned down the invitation. It was only by 
the end of 1363 AH and during the presidency of the three Marje‘s: 
Ayatullahs Khansari, Hujjat, and Sadr that he resided in Qum and directed 
the seminaries. 

In addition to having mastered Islamic sciences such as jurisprudence 
(fiqh), principles of jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh), rijal 5S , hadith, philosophy, 
and theology, Ayatullah Burujerdi taught different subjects including 
philosophy before his arrival to Qum. During his stay in Qum, he taught 
usul for six years and taught fiqh for the rest of his life. 

With the arrival of Ayatullah Borujerdi in Qum, the seminaries of Qum 
under his supervision flourished and in a very short time undertook major 
changes. Seminaries, libraries, lessons and discussions, journals and 
different Islamic sciences progressed on a deeper and higher level. During 
his administration, the number of the scholars in Qum increased to more 
than six thousand. His activities also extended to the Islamic world outside 
Iranian borders. Building the mosque in Tripoli of Lebanon and Imam Ali 
Mosque in Hamburg, Germany are some of his accomplishments. 

Ayatullah Khomeini was one of the Shi’a marje‘s who became the 
foremost marja’ of his time after Ayatullah Burujerdi. He had a great impact 
on the seminaries of Qum and the social-political movements and transitions 
of the time. In his classes, he discussed the scope of jurisprudence and 
expanded it to include political jurisprudence. Using strong arguments, he 
introduced the idea of an Islamic government based on governance of the 


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jurist (wilayatulfaqih). Along with teaching, Imam Khomeini pursued his 
political activities against the Pahlavi regime. 

One of the most important ones was his speech on the 13th of Khordad in 
1342 SAH that led to the famous revolt on the 15th of Khordad, an uprising 
that finally resulted in the victory of the Islamic revolution on the 22nd of 
Bahman of 1357 SAH. The seminaries of Qum paid an enormous expense 
for this victory; one of these events was which the Savak 59 attacked 
Feyziyeh, one of the seminary schools and killed all its scholars and 

Finally, when the Pahlavi regime found Imam Khomeini a serious threat 
to their rule, they exiled him to Turkey, then Iraq, and finally to France. 

Ayatullah Sayyed Shahab ud-Din Husayni Mar’ashy Najafi was among 
the great scholars who came to Qum through Ayatullah Haeri’s request to 
teach. Ayatullah Sayyed Muhammad Reza Golpaygani and Ayatullah 
Shaykh Muhammad Ali Araki were among the two great leaders and maraje 
up until the Islamic Revolution 60 . 


1. Majlesi, Muhammad Baqir, Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 57, Page 217 

2. Qummi, Hasan ibn Muhammad, Tarikh-e-Qum, page 24 

3. Al-Hamawy, Yaqut, Mu’jam ul-Buldan, volume 5, page 396 

4. Qummi, Hasan ibn Muhammad, Tarikh-e-Qum, page 295; Ahmad ibn Yahya 
Balazary, Futuh ul- Buldan, page 304, 305 

5. Ibid, page 38 

6. Ibid, page 37 

7. Ibid, page 89 

8. Ibid, page 38 

9. Al-Hamawy, Yaqut, Mu’jamul-Buldan, volume 4, page 397-398; Sam’any, Abdul 
Karim ibn Muhammad, al-Ansab, volume 10, page 485 

10. la'farian, Rasul, Hayat-e-Fekri wa Siasy-e-emaman-e-shii, page 530 and 531 

11. Shaykh Saduq, ‘Uyun Akhbar ur-Reza, volume 2, page 260 

12. Hamedany, Ahmad ibn Muhammad, al-Buldan, page 531 

13. Majlesi, Muhammad Baqir, Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 57, Page 262 

14. Ibid. Volume 57, Page 218 

15. One of the titles of Imam Mahdi meaning “He who arises” 

16. The household of the prophet 

17. Ibid. Volume 57, Page 211-228 

18. Ibid. Volume 57, Page 216 

19. Majlesi, Muhammad Baqir, Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 57, Page 218 and 219 

20. Ibid. 

21. Ibid. Volume 57, Page 218 and 214 

22. Qummi, Hasan ibn Muhammad, Tarikh-e Qum, Page 207-240 

23. Ibn Tawus, Sayyed Abdul Karim, Farhatul-Guza, Page 105 

24. Qummi, Hasan ibn Muhammad, Tarikh-e Qum, Page 213 

25. Majlesi, Muhammad Baqir, Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 57, Page 228 

26. Ibid. Volume 48 ,Page 317 

27. Ibid. Volume 48, Page 316 

28. Ibid. Volume 57, Page 213 

29. Kashy, Muhammad ibn Umar, Rijal-e Kashy, page 333 

30. Ibid, page 332 

31. Shaykh Tusy, Rijal-e Tusy, Page 373 

32. Alame Hely, Hasan ibn Yusuf, Izahul-Ishtibah, Page 99 and 100 

33. Musawi Khouyi, Sayyed Abul Qasim, Mu’jam Rijalil-Hadith, Volume 6, Page 266 

34. Sayyed Kabayery, Sayyed Ali Reza, Howze Haye Elmiyye Shi ’e Dar Gostare-ye 
Jahan, page 365 


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35. Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Khalid Barqi who was originally from Kufa was a 
trusted narrator himself but he used to narrate from unreliable narrators. He wrote a lot of 
books the most well- known of which is Al-Mahasin. Barqi was expelled from Qum by 
Ahmad ibn ‘Isa Ash’ary because he would narrate from unreliable narrators. However, after 
some time he was returned to Qum. He died in the year 275 AH. Refer to: Najjashy, Ahmad 
ibn Ali, Rijal al-Najjashy, page 76 and 77 and Musawy Khouyi, Sayyed Abulqasim, 
Mu’jam Rijalil-Hadith, Volume 3, Page 49-61 

36. For more information refer to: Jabbary, Muhammad Reza, Maktab-e Hadithi-ye 
Qum, Page 107- 115 and Muaddab, Sayyed Reza, Tarikh-e Hadith, Page 119 and 120 and 
Ma’aref, Majid, Tarikh-e-Umumi-e Hadith, page 328 

37. Principles of jurisprudence (usul) are the texts which were compiled by the early 
Shi’a scholars. Most of the authors of these texts were those who had heard the hadith from 
one of the Imams, in particular, from Imam Baqir and Imam Sadiq, writing them down in 
notebooks. Out of these texts compiled the popular ones were four-hundred in number by 
different authors. 

38. The books by the name of Amali, as it can be understood from its name, are notes 
taken by the students in the courses. 

39. Refer to: Jabbary, Muhammad Reza, Maktab-e Hadithi Qum, page 434 - 438 and 
Muaddab, Sayyed Reza, Tarikh-e Hadith, Page 122 and 123 

40. Sayyed Kabayery, Sayyed Ali Reza, Howze Haye Elmiyye Shi ’e Dar Gostare-ye 
Jahan, page 370 

41. Agha Bozorg-e Tehrani, Muhammad Hasan, Tabaghat-e ATam-e Shi’a, Volume 2, 
Page 225 and 226 and Volume 3, Page 136 

42. Agha Bozorg-e Tehrani, Muhammad Hasan, Tabaghat-e ATam-e Shi’a, Volume 3, 
Page 371 - 373 

43. “Shaykh ul-Islam” is a title of superior authority in the issues of Islam given to those 
scholars who acquired deep knowledge of Islam. 

44. Akhbariyun believe in a very literal understanding of the sources leaving little or no 
room for rational thought and interpretation. 

45. Usuli attitude is on the other side of the spectrum in contrast to the Akhbari attitude 
and it believes in the usage of reasoning in having a sound understanding of the hadiths. 

46. A scholar in the field of hadith who believe hadiths should be narrated and taken 
literally and rational interpretation is not needed. 

47. Those sentences, the meaning of which is obvious or clear, without any assistance 
from the context (qarinah) although there is a slight possibility of another meaning. 

48. The act of getting the rulings of Islam from the sources, Qur ’an and hadiths 

49. Bigdely, Azar, Atashkadeye Azar, Page 167 

50. Ashtyani, Sayyed Jalal ud-Din, Muntakhabatyaz Athaare Hukamay-e Iran, Volume 
1, Page 299 

51. Ibid. Volume 1, Page 324 

52. Refer to: Sayyed Kabayery, Sayyed Ali Reza, Howze Haye Elmiyye Shi ’e Dar 
Gostare-ye Jahan, page 373 - 383 

53. Before formation of schools in their current form, students would go to places called 
Maktab Khane where they would learn Qur’an and literature from their teacher. 

54. A marja’ is the religious authority who people refer to for their jurisprudential 

55. 1300 according to Solar Hijri Calendar 

56. Muslims celebrate this day as the anniversary of the day Prophet Muhammad was 
appointed by God as a Prophet. 

57. Please refer to Abbas Zadeh, Sa’eed, Negahban-e Bidar, Page 67 

58. The study of the reporters of hadith 

59. The Pahlavi’s Organization of Intelligence and National Security. 

60. Sayyed Kabayery, Sayyed Ali Reza, Howze Haye Elmiyye Shi ’e Dar Gostare-ye 
Jahan, pages 383- 408 


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The History of the Islamic Seminaries of Qum, Part 2 

Rasoul Imani Khoshku 

Translated by Mohammad Javad Shomali 

Journal: Vol. 15, no. 1, Spring 2014 


The former articles in this series explored the historical origins of the 
main religious seminaries in the Shi‘a world, and its role in bring about a 
unique culture in the scientific, social, and political spheres. The seminaries 
created well-educated and pious Shi‘a scholars who pursued ijtihad with the 
use of the Qur’an, Sunnah, and reason to respond to the needs of the Muslim 
community. The previous article delved into the history of the Islamic 
seminaries of Qum. 

Using Islamic traditions and historical records, the significance of Qum 
according to the Ahlul Bayt was explained, along with its link to Lady 
Ma‘sumah’s arrival to the city and its impact on the future of the 
seminaries’ success. This article continues with the seminaries of Qum after 
the Islamic Revolution, including an explanation of the core courses offered 
in philosophy, exegesis, theology, and jurisprudence. 

The Islamic seminaries of Qum after the Islamic Revolution 

Before the Islamic revolution in 1979, the government was a constant 
obstacle in the seminaries’ progress with the ongoing propaganda against 
seminarians to discourage people from admissions 1 . Seeing that the Islamic 
revolution in Iran was the result of the seminaries’ progress supported by 
the people, after the revolution the seminaries became popular among 
people. The leadership of Imam Khomei ni further strengthened this. 

Numerous clerics moved to different parts of the country on various 
occasions to spread seminary teachings to encourage the youth to study 
Islamic sciences. The impressive growth of the Qum seminaries both in 
terms of quantity and quality were due to the abovementioned activities. 
The seminary scholars were not preoccupied with fighting against the 
Pahlavi regime any longer, and so they continued to engage in academic 
accomplishments with focused minds. Moreover, several new majors were 
offered in various fields of study. 

The Qum seminaries expanded across the country and throughout the 
world. Today, most cities in Iran have seminaries directed under the Qum 

Although studying religion is a right for all Muslims, before the 
revolution in Iran seminaries were only opened to men. However, after the 
revolution, seminaries for women were also founded not only in Qum, but 
in cities across the country. 

Those interested in learning religious studies have also come to Qum 
from across the world, and this is considered one of the greatest blessings of 
the Islamic Revolution. Nowadays, many foreign students residing in Qum 
are seminarians and eventually return to their countries to convey the 
message of Islam, particularly Shi’ism. The seminaries of Qum invited both 
men and women from foreign countries, and both are provided with the 
same facilities. 


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Moreover, although at first glance university and seminary studies did 
not have much in common, shrewd measures were taken for seminary 
studies to find a way into the universities. After the Islamic Revolution, 
some modules on Islamic studies were integrated in the national curriculum 
for undergraduate programmes and, as a result, more seminarians started 
teaching in universities and this paved the way further for cooperation 
between the two institutions. Ayatullah Mutahhari and Ayatullah Mufatteh 
also played a major role in this. On the other hand, it was made possible for 
the students of the seminaries who were interested in studying in the 
university to do so. 

Today, many great teachers from the seminaries are present in the 
universities and along with teaching certain religious studies are the 
messengers of the valuable Shi’a teachings in these academic centres. 

For a more profound understanding of the educational dimensions of the 
seminaries of Qum, the following provides a brief review of some of the 
available educational fields. 

3.Core Courses in the Qum seminaries 

3.1. Philosophy 

Philosophy is one of the most fundamental sciences on which all sciences 
depend. Religious sciences are related to God and the universe, and these 
discussions depend on accepting certain realities in existence which are only 
studied and proven in philosophy. The philosophical method is an 
intellectual one, and, in the Shi‘a understanding, the intellect (‘ aql) is one of 
the sources for understanding Islam. 

Philosophy in the Islamic world has a very long history. During the era of 
the Abbasids, there was a great interest in Greek works among the 
intellectuals, all of which were translated. Despite this interest and huge 
translation works, it was with the efforts of philosophers such as Farabi, 
Avicenna, and Suhrewardi in the next centuries that Islamic philosophy 
really developed 2 , 3 

During the history of Islamic philosophy, three main doctrines were 
present: Avicennism (Mash-shaa’), Illuminationism (Ishraq), and the 
transcendent theosophy (al-Hikmah al-Muta'liyyah). The Avicennism that 
was in debt to the ancient Greek school of thought was dominant for years. 
Farabi, Avicenna, and Ibn Rushd were the most famous scholars of this 

In the sixth century, Shahab al-Din Suhrewardi developed the philosophy 
of Illuminationism (Ishraq) which was followed later by many followers. 
This continued until the eleventh century when Mulla Sadra founded the 
transcendent theosophy (al-Hikmah al-Muta'liyah) which is the philosophy 
which is currently studied. Of course, due to the deep rational and 
philosophical content in the Shi’a Imams’ sermons and narrations, the Shi‘a 
Islamic seminaries tended towards philosophy earlier and more than the rest 
of Muslim world. 

Philosophy in the Islamic seminaries of Iran goes back to the arrival of 
Mulla Sadra (979-1050 AH) in Kahak, a village 30 kilometers outside Qum. 
As mentioned, philosophy in Qum began in the fourth era as a result of 


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Mulla Sadra’s migration. Fayz Kashani and Fayyaz Lahiji were among his 
students. And philosophy continued to exist with the efforts of Qadhi Saeed 
Qummi. Establishing the philosophical method of transcendent theosophy 
and expressing innovative theories about existence and reality, Mulla Sadra 
painted a new perspective in discovering the realities of the universe, such 
as his theory of substantial motion (al-Harakat al-Jawhariyyah). 

In the recent period, philosophy in the seminaries of Qum witnessed 
great scholars who had an important effect on the philosophical and political 
thinking of the Islamic world similar to previous periods when philosophers 
such Mulla Sadra and his students played a major role in the Safavid Era. 
Ayatullah Sayyid Abul hasan Rafi’I Qazwini (1310-1395 AH) was among 
the pioneers of the philosophical movement in the seminaries. 

He had studied intellectual sciences such as logic and philosophy in the 
seminaries of Tehran from Ayatullahs Abdunnabi al-Nuri, Hakim Mirza 
Muhsen Kermanshahy, Fazel Tehrani, and Mirza Mahmoud Qummi. He 
came to Qum at the time of Ayatullah Haeri where he taught rational 
sciences. Amongst his most talented students was Ayatullah Khomeini. 
Ayatullah Khomeini was known for his attention towards several 
dimensions of the Islamic sciences, especially that of philosophy. Various 
philosophical, jurisprudential, ethical, and mystical topics that played a role 
in his philosophical-political thinking were coherently taught in his lessons. 

Due to his efforts, the theory of ‘The Governance of the Jurist’ 
(WilayatulFaqih) was established and found followers in the seminaries. 
After expanding from the seminaries of Qum to the Islamic revolution, it led 
to the establishment of the Islamic government. 

Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabataba’i was another 
philosophical figure who greatly promoted Mulla Sadra’s theories. He 
taught Asfaar 4 and Shifaa 5 and wrote Bidayat al-Hikmah and Nihayat al- 
Hikmah. Tabataba’i wrote tens of books, treatises, and commentaries on 
divine philosophy. His important role was his innovative method of 
discussing theories on divine philosophy and his counter-arguments against 
the philosophy of dialectic materialism. He discussed and responded to 
issues brought up in the materialistic school of thought in his Usul-e- 
Falsafeva Raveshe Realism. 

This book was then published in different parts of the Islamic world with 
an additional commentary of his student, Ayatullah Murtadha Mutahhari. 

Ayatullah Mutahhari was a follower of the philosophical doctrine of his 
two great teachers, Ayatullah Khomeini and Allamah Tabataba’i. He wrote 
about and taught comparative philosophy, cautioned people about Marxism, 
and promoted Islamic thinking to seminary and university students, as well 
as the laymen. Mutahhari’s specialty was his ability to explain and analyse 
philosophical problems and render it easy for all to understand. Other 
renowned philosophy professors in the seminaries were Ayatullah Abdullah 
Jawadi Amuli, Ayatullah Hasan Hasanzadeh Amuli, and Ayatullah 
Muhammad Taqi Misbah Yazdi. 

Among the various branches of philosophy, political philosophy was also 
developed during this period; previous eras did not include this field. In this 
period, Islamic political thought was discussed and its initial principles were 


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compiled. The theory of ‘The Governance of the Jurist’ was introduced in a 
thorough and comprehensive manner, and the critical study of western 
philosophical schools of thought became available. 

In this period, the principles of Islamic beliefs and the Islamic political 
philosophy were drawn from the scriptures and made available to everyone 6 . 

In the present period, philosophy has become one of the main fields of 
study in the seminaries; many books have been written on the subject, such 
as Usul-e Falsafewa Rawesh-e-Realism (Principles of Philosophy and 
Method of Realism), Bidayat al-Hikmah (The Beginning of Philosophy), 
and Nihayat al-Hikmah (The End of Philosophy) by Allamah Tabataba’i 
Harakatwa Zaman (Motion and Time) by Ayatullah Mutahhari, Rahighe 
Makhtum by Ayatullah Javadi Amuli and Amuzesh-e-Falsafe by Ayatullah 
Misbah Y azdi. 

3.2. Islamic Theology (Kalam) 

Theology, as was explained earlier, deals with verifying religious beliefs 
and is responsible for responding to questions raised against Islam. Islamic 
theologians primarily benefit from two sources: intellect and tradition 7 . 

In the seminaries of Qum, the narrators of the hadiths reported and 
explained the theological teachings of the Imams. Theology in Qum had a 
distinctive nature and had adopted a special method in delivering those 
topics and issues. Hadith compilations such as Al-Kafi, ‘Uyun Akhbar al- 
Rida, Al-Ghaybah, and Kifayatul-Asar include theological discussions with 
the authors’ views expressed using a tradition-based (naqli) method. 

In later periods, especially in the fourth period, the rational approach was 
common in the field of theology as depicted by the works of Mulla Sadra 
and Abd al-Razzaq Lahiji, the most dominant scholar in the field of 
theology during this period (1072 AH). Moreover, he adopted a mystical 
approach in his writings and explained the various results it would bring 
versus the philosophical or the theological (Kalami) approach. 

Mirza Hasan Lahiji and Qadi Saeed Qummi were among the famous 
theology scholars of the Qum seminaries after Mirza Lahiji. In this period, 
valued books such as Gowhar-e Murad, Shawareq al-Ilham, and Sarmaye-ye 
Iman by Mulla Lahiji, Sham‘ al-Yaqin fi Ma‘rifatil-Haqqwal-Yaqin by 
Mirza Hasan Lahijy and Kelid-e Behesht by Qadi Saeed Qummi were 

Currently, discussions of theology have an impressive growth among 
students of religious studies. Sub-branches of Islamic theology such as 
Imamate 8 and Mahdawiyyat 9 have their own text books. Allamah 
Tabataba’i, Ayatullah Misbah Yazdi, and Ayatullah Subhani are the most 
prominent scholars of Islamic theology during this period, each having 
written numerous books on its branches. 

3.3 Exegesis of the Qur’an (Tafseer) 

Muslims believe the Qur’an to be God’s words revealed to the heart of 
Prophet Muhammad who then accurately recited the verses to the people. 
The study of Quranic exegesis (tafseer), which began during the Prophet’s 
lifetime, deals with understanding the inner and apparent meaning of the 
Qur’an. In Shi’ism, although the real interpreters of the Qur’an are the 


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infallible Imams, it is possible to acquire a deep understanding of the verses 
using their hadiths. For this reason, from the early centuries until now, Shi’a 
scholars, especially those from Qum, have written books specifically on 
Qur’anic exegesis: 

Third century: Tafsir-e Qummi by Ali ibn Ibrahim Qummi; 

Fourth century: Though there were many books on exegesis by Shaykh 
Saduq, his father Ibn Babuyeh Qummi, and his teacher Muhammad ibn 
Hasan ibn Waleed 10 , they are unavailable today; 

Sixth century: Rawzul-Jinan by Abul Fatih Razi; 

Twelfth century: Kanzud-Daqaiqwa Bahr ul-Gharaib by Muhammad 
Reza Qummi Mashhadi, where he expounds on the verses of the Qur’an 
using the Imams’ narrations. 

After the Islamic revolution, exegesis developed more with numerous 
books written on it, including a variety of topics as explained in the 

A. Sequential exegesis of the Qur’an: From the early days of exegesis, 
most exegetists (mufassir) began explaining the Qur’an from the first until 
the last chapter. Such examples include Tafseer al-Mizan by Allameh 
Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai, one of the most renowned exegesis 
books using this method; Tafseer Nemuneh, the work of a group of scholars 
from the Qum seminaries under the supervision of Ayatullah Makarim 
Shirazi, also translated to many languages; and Tasneem by Ayatullah 
Javadi Amuli. 

B. Thematic exegesis of the Qur’an: A new technique in the seminaries, 
the exegetist, with a particular subject in mind, reads through the verses, 
collects the subject-related ones, and by analysing those verses, draws 
conclusions related to the subject. Manshoor-e Javeed by Ayatullah 
Subhani, Ma’arif-e Qur’an by Ayatullah Misbah Yazdi, and Payam-e 
Qur’an by Ayatullah Makarim Shirazi are some primary examples. 

C. Qur’anic sciences (Ulume Qur’ani): In recent centuries, researchers 
studied the Qur’an with an outward view of its verses, called Qur’anic 
Science (Ulume Qur’ani). Topics such as the Qur’an’s history of the 
revelation, the names and titles, various types of revelation, definite and 
indefinite verses (muhkam wa mutashabih), abrogated and abrogating verses 
(nasikh wa mansukh), and Meccan and Medinan chapters are discussed in 
this field. Al-Tamheed by Ayatollah Ma’refat is one of the more renowned 
books on this subject. 

3.4. Jurisprudence (fiqh) 

The predominant subject taught in the seminaries of Qum was 
jurisprudence, or the practical laws of religion, also closely related to the 
field of Principles of Jurisprudence (Usule Fiqh). While usule fiqh 
establishes the necessary principles needed for deriving rulings of religion 
from the sources, fiqh delves into the sources and use the principles 
established in usul to derive the practical legislative laws. 

The Ash’arids in Qum reported the hadiths of the Imams about 
jurisprudence. The teachers of the second era of the seminaries published 
numerous books in the field of jurisprudence. Several examples include Al- 
Mahasi by Muhammad ibn Khalid Barqi (275 AH), a man who lived during 


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the lifetime of Imams; al-Nawadir by Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Isa 
Ash’ari Qummi; the five volume (out of eight) al-Kafi by the late Kulayni 
devoted narrations related to jurisprudence; Shaykh Saduq’s Man La 
Yahthuruhul Faqih (or “he who does not have access to a jurist”) and other 
books on jurisprudence, such as al-Muqni 1 '. 

Furthermore, even scholars who have not written on jurisprudence 
prioritized it in their discussions. In the third era, although the seminaries 
underwent an overall recession, there are available works written on 
jurisprudence, such as Fiqhul-Qur’an by Saeed ibn Abdullah Qutbud-Din 
Rawandi (573 AH) who left Kashan to reside in Qum. 

In the recent periods, Mirza Qummi (1151-1231 AH) made enormous 
efforts to develop this field. The founder of the seminaries of Qum, 
Ayatullah Haeri, also a mujtahid 12 , invited many of the renowned Grand 
Ayatollahs to come to Iran from Iraq for jurisprudential discussions. 
Ayatullah Burujerdi, Ayatullah Khomeini, Ayatullah Mar’ashi Najafi, 
Ayatullah Golpaygani, and Ayatullah Araki are among the great jurists of 
the recent centuries. 

Numerous books and pamphlets have been written since then. Tahrirul- 
Wasilah by Ayatullah Khomeini is one of the most outstanding works in this 
field in the recent years. Jurisprudential discussions have become the most 
important topics in various seminaries across the Islamic world, especially 
that of the Qum seminaries, where hundreds of sessions on jurisprudence 
are held every day. 

Propagation and Society 

The Qum seminaries have never known themselves as an institute 
separate from people. This institute knows itself as the inheritor of the 
prophets; like the prophets, they have been involved in propagating the 
religion of God by spreading divine knowledge through education, and 
rebelled against oppression from the heads of state. 

Since its formation, the seminaries propagated the teachings of the 
prophets as their mission. Today, students of Islamic studies travel to 
different parts of Iran and the world on special occasions such as the month 
of Ramadan, the first ten days of Muharram, and the last ten days of Safar to 
disseminate the teachings of Islam. Their primary goal is to guide people 
through lectures, public sessions, and private consultations. However, 
guiding people is not limited to special occasions; the scholars of the 
seminaries also maintain their contact with the people through various 

Today one of the important sections of the seminaries deals with 
propagation. Those qualified to propagate travel to many countries, cities 
(including within Iran), and remote villages throughout the year. 

The seminaries are also responsive to the domestic and foreign changes 
that occur in the society and the world. Their most important activity in this 
regard is their role in the Islamic revolution of Iran in the year 1357 S.A.H. 
In 1342 SH, under the direction of Ayatullah Khomeini the leader of the 
seminaries of Qum, the people of Iran rose up against the oppression of the 
Pahlavi regime. In that time and after the exile of Reza Pahlavi who 
promoted anti-Islamic policies, such as banning women from wearing hijab, 


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his son Muhammad Reza Pahlavi took his place and pursued the same 

Ayatollah Khomeini believed that being silent towards the anti-Islamic 
activities of the government was not permissible. With his famous speech in 
the Fayziyyah School of Qum, he opened a new chapter in the history of 
Iran. Other scholars in the country, along with the people of Qum, 
announced their support for him and endured much difficulty doing so. This 
epochal uprising was eventually spread from Qum to cities across the 
country, and all of these movements were under the leadership of the 
scholars of the seminaries, many of whom were imprisoned, exiled, or lost 
their lives as a result. This lasted for fifteen years until 1357 SH, when the 
uprising of the masses and scholars became victorious. 

After the Islamic revolution, the seminaries of Qum remained active in 
various social fields; due to the invading attack of the Ba’th regime of Iraq 
against Iran, many scholars hastened to the battlegrounds to participate in 
the battle imposed on Iran to defend their country. Their presence was heart¬ 
warming for other battalions, and among them many were martyred. 

The awareness of the seminaries of Qum with respect to the national and 
foreign developments and changes, and the seminarians ’ firm stand against 
the oppression and injustice had always been a source of comfort and 
inspiration for the masses. 


1. Refer to: Misbah Yazdi, Muhammad Taqi, Mabahesi Darbare-ye Hoze, p.s 44-47 

2. Refer to: Tabatabai, Sayyid Muhammad Husayn, al-Mizan, volume 5, p. s 279 and 


3. Refer to: Tabatabai, Sayyid Muhammad Husayn, Shi ’a dar Islam, p. 92 

4. This refers to Sadr al-Din Shirazi’s monumental 4-part, 9-volume Al-Hikmat al- 
Muta’aliyahfiT-Asfar al-Aqliyyah al-Arba’ah (“The Transcendent Wisdom in the Four 
Intellectual lourneys”). 

5. This refers to Avicenna’s Kitab al-Shifa (The Book of Healing). This book is on 
science, logic and philosophy and not medicine. 

6. Sayyid Kabayeri, Sayyid Ali-Reza, Howze Haye Elmiyye Shi ’i Dar Gostare-ye 
Jahan, pp. 408-412 

7. The Qur’an and the sayings of the 14 Infallibles 

8. The study of issues related to the imamate of the infallible Imams 

9. The study of issues about the saviour, Imam Mahdi 

10. Refer to Najjashi, Ahmad ibn Ali. Rijal al-Najjashi, pp. 281, 383, and 391 

11. Refer to Najjashi, Ahmad ibn Ali, Rijal al-Najjashi, p. 391 

12. A mujtahid is a scholar who is qualified to derive laws of the religious from the 


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