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Ithna Asheri Islamic Seminaries – Hawzahs


An ‘Hawzah’ or ‘Hawzah Ilmiyah’ is an educational center of the Ithna Asheri Shias where religious studies and research is undertaken in the context of Islam. Although most prominent ithna asheri Islamic seminaries are located in Najaf and Qom, some smaller hawzahs are also present in cities like Mashhad, Isfahan, Karbala, Beirut, Lucknow and Lahore. In India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, these educational centers are known as Madrasas. You can check the related listings to this category in this link.

The two big Hawzahs

The two main Ithna Asheri Islamic Seminaries are located in Qom and Najaf. Thousands of students from other countries flock to these two cities in Iran and Iraq to pursue religious education.

Hawza Ilmiyah Najaf

Located near the Imam Ali Mosque, this Hawzah is housed with more than 13,000 students from various countries. It was established in 430 AH by Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn Hasan Tusi when he was forced to leave Baghdad and establish an institute in Najaf. Currently, Grand Ayatollah Ali-Al Hussain Sistani is the institute’s head after he took up the responsibility from his teacher Abu al-Qasim al-Khoei after his death in 1992.

Famous Scholars from the Hawzah include Seyyed Hossein Borujerdi, Muhammad Husayn Tabataba’I, Mirza Shirazi, Abdul-Karim Haeri Yazdi and many more.

Hawza Ilmiyah Qom

The Qom Seminary is the most critical seminary of Ithna Asheri Shia in the world; although some still argue the Najaf seminary to be the most important, the position of both is equally essential to Shias. It was established in 1922 by Grand Ayatollah Abdul-Karin Haeri Yazdi. However, the roots of the academies in Qom date to the 10th century CE. Currently, Grand Ayatollah Wahid Khorasani heads the seminary.

Recent scholars from the Hawzah include Hossein Vahid Khorasani, Muhammad Husayn Tabataba’i, Ruhollah Khomeini, Naser Makarem Shirazi, Mohammad-Taqi Bahjat Foumani and others.


The Hawzahs teach a variety of subjects, including Islamic philosophy, jurisprudence, theology, mysticism, logic, language studies, interpretation of the Qur’an, Islamic history, Qur’an sciences etc. Initially, the students are taught Arabic, Jurisprudence, philosophy and natural sciences; later, the students take up advanced researches to become mujtahids.


Wikipedia 2021, Hawza, accessed 30th August 2021 <>

Wikipedia 2021, Qom Seminary, accessed 30th August 2021 <>

Wikipedia 2021, Hawza Najaf, accessed 30th August 2021 <>


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