Hawza Najaf

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Ali al-Sistani (current chancellor of Hawza 'Ilmiyya Najaf) and Abu al-Qasim al-Khoei (ex-chancellor of Hawza 'Ilmiyya Najaf)

The Najaf Seminary (Arabic: حوزة النجف), also known as the al-Hawza Al-Ilmiyya (الحوزة العلمية), is the oldest and one of the most important Shia seminaries (hawza) in the world.[1] It is located near the Imam Ali Mosque in the city of Najaf in Iraq, and also operates a campus in Karbala, Iraq. It was established by Shaykh al-Tusi (385 AH/995 CE – 460 AH/1067 CE),[2] and continued as a center of study after the establishment of modern Iraq in 1921.[3][4]

As of 2023, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani heads Hawza 'Ilmiyya Najaf, which includes two other Ayatollahs - Mohammad Ishaq Al-Fayyad and Bashir al-Najafi.[5] The number of students studying there has waxed and waned in modern times, from 15,000-20,000 in the mid-20th century, down to 3000 during the repressive reign of Saddam Hussein, to around 13,000 as of 2014.[6]

As of 2014 the curriculum has been updated to include many modern subjects as well as inter faith and inter sectarian initiatives.[6]


Shaykh al-Tusi (385 AH/995 CE – 460 AH/1067 CE),[2] went to Baghdad to continue education. After 12 years, he was forced to leave Baghdad and go to Najaf for sectarian differences.[7] He established the seminary in Najaf in 430 AH (the 11th century AD),[8] which continued as a center of study until the establishment of modern Iraq in 1921. He died in 460 AH (1067 CE).[3][4]

In the mid-20th century, the Hawza "witnessed huge developments in its educational program"[6] and the student population grew to 15,000-20,000. During the repression of the Baath party era it declined to around 3000 as the Shiite political awakening (Sahwa) was attacked by the regime and attendance by foreign students fell off because of the Iran-Iraq war.[6] By the time Saddam fell in 2003, there were only approximately 3000 students[6] and 2000 clerics in Najaf.[9] Their number then commenced to grow again, and as of 2014 there are 13,000 students, according to a census by Al-Monitor news service,[6] including approximately 50 from foreign countries — Iran, India, Thailand, France, the United States, Canada, etc.[6]


The subjects taught at the seminary include:[10]

Trained scholars[edit]

Some of the known Shia Grand Ayatollahs were trained in the Najaf seminary.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "A rare look inside the 'heart of society' for Iraq's Shi'ites". Reuters. 12 October 2017.
  2. ^ a b http://www.al-islam.org/fiqh/chap2.html [1] FIQH and FUQAHA - An Introduction to Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) Containing Forty Four Life Sketches of the Great Past Masters, Published by the WORLD FEDERATION OF KHOJA SHIA ITHNAASHERI MUSLIM COMMUNITIES
  3. ^ a b "Hawza - Advanced Islamic Studies". Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project. Archived from the original on 8 March 2011.
  4. ^ a b Sreeram Chaulia. "Shiites and Democracy". Mideast Monitor. Archived from the original on 26 June 2008.
  5. ^ Marcinkowski, Christoph (25 April 2007). Thinking ahead : Shi'ite Islam in Iraq and its seminaries (hawzah 'ilmiyyah) (PDF). Singapore: S. Rajaratnam School of international Studies. Retrieved 19 July 2023.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Mamouri, Ali (8 April 2014). "Najaf's Shiite seminaries enter 21st century". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 18 July 2023.
  7. ^ Jaffer - XKP, Mulla Asghar Ali M. (4 November 2015). FIQH and FUQAHA (PDF). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (November 4, 2015). ISBN 978-1519106759. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-12-26.
  8. ^ "Part 2: The Fuqaha". World Federation of Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities.
  9. ^ Mamouri, Ali (11 April 2018). "The dueling ayatollahs". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 19 July 2023.
  10. ^ "Hawza - Advanced Islamic Studies". Archived from the original on 2011-03-08.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Khoshkhu, Rasoul Imani (10 November 2016). "A Glimpse at the Major Shi'a Seminaries part 1". Ahlul Bayt World Assembly.
  12. ^ Ghobadzadeh, Naser (2015). Religious Secularity: A Theological Challenge to the Islamic State (Religion and Global Politics). Oxford University Press; 1 edition (December 1, 2014). ISBN 978-0199391172.
  13. ^ Litvak, Meir (2 May 2002). Shi'i Scholars of Nineteenth-Century Iraq: The 'Ulama' of Najaf and Karbala'. Cambridge University Press (May 2, 2002). ISBN 978-0521892964.
  14. ^ Hairi, A.; Murata, S. (1984). "AḴŪND ḴORĀSĀNĪ". Encyclopædia Irannica.
  15. ^ a b Mottahedeh, Roy (18 October 2014). The Mantle of the Prophet. Oneworld (August 15, 2000). ISBN 978-1851682348.
  16. ^ a b Who's who in Iraq: Ayatollah Sistani, 26 August, 2004
  17. ^ "The Wall Street Journal: Index, Volume 2". Dow Jones & Co., 1992. 1992.
  18. ^ Allawi, Ali A. (2007). The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace. Yale University Press; Reprint edition (March 18, 2008). p. 207. ISBN 978-0300136142. al-Khoei is lead rijal.
  19. ^ "Haeri Yazdi، Ayatollah Abdulkarim".
  20. ^ Mottahedeh, The Mantle of the Prophet, (1985, 2000), p.229
  21. ^ Sachedina, Abdulaziz Abdulhussein (8 October 1998). The Just Ruler in Shi'ite Islam: The Comprehensive Authority of the Jurist in Imamite Jurisprudence. Oxford University Press; Revised edition (October 8, 1998). ISBN 978-0195119152.
  22. ^ Arjomand, Saïd Amir (January 1988). Authority and Political Culture in Shi'ism (SUNY Series in Near Eastern Studies). SUNY Press; Annotated edition (July 8, 1988). ISBN 978-0887066399.
  23. ^ Mottahedeh, Roy (18 October 2014). The Mantle of the Prophet. Oneworld (August 15, 2000). p. 210. ISBN 978-1851682348.
  24. ^ Esposito, John L. (21 October 2004). The Oxford Dictionary of Islam (Oxford Quick Reference). Oxford University Press; 1 edition (October 21, 2004). p. 21. ISBN 978-0195125597.
  25. ^ The course of Imam Khomeini's struggles narrated by SAVAK [Seir e mobarezat e imam khomeini be revayat e savak] (in Persian). Vol. 1. p. 45. and http://english.khamenei.ir/news/2130/bio
  26. ^ Mottahedeh, The Mantle of the Prophet, (1985, 2000), p.231
  27. ^ "Ayatollah Seyyed Hossein Borujerdi".
  28. ^ Chehabi, Abisaab, Houchang , Rula Jurdi (2006). Distant Relations: Iran and Lebanon in the Last 500 Years. I.B.Tauris (April 2, 2006). ISBN 978-1860645617.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  29. ^ Biography of Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabatabaei by Amid Algar, University of California, Berkeley, Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.
  30. ^ a b Legenhausen, Dr. Muhammad (19 February 2015). "'Allamah Tabataba'i And Contemporary Philosophical Theology". ALHODA PUBLISHERS.
  31. ^ Husayni Tihrani, Sayyid Muhammad Husayn (2011). Shining Sun. Islamic College for Advanced Studie; UK ed. edition (May 1, 2011). ISBN 978-1904063407.
  32. ^ Randall, Yafia Katherine (31 March 2016). Sufism and Jewish-Muslim Relations: The Derekh Avraham Order in Israel. Routledge; 1 edition (April 7, 2016). ISBN 978-1138914032.
  33. ^ Rizvi, Arsalan (11 August 2008). "Sayyid Sharafuddin al-Musawi".

External links[edit]