The Vision of the School

All praise is due to Allah, Who designated wisdom as the ‘great good.’1 May the blessings of Allah be on His holy prophets and on the Seal of Prophethood, Muḥammad (ṣ), who kept the house of wisdom open. May God’s blessings be on the Noble Household (‘a)—especially the Seal of Sainthood, the awaited and promised Mahdī—who were and are the channels of knowledge and wisdom amongst humanity. We wish to near ourselves in affinity to these sacred souls and distance ourselves from their nefarious foes.

The tradition of knowledge and learning in Islam is primarily an oral tradition.2 All knowledge (‘ilm in Arabic) pertains to Allah (the ‘Alīm, the Knower), Who taught man what he did not know.3 He taught the first man and His representative (khalīfah) the Names, all of them,4 just as he taught the greatest and most perfect of men (ṣ) the Qur’ān.5 Consequently, the noble Prophet (ṣ) taught his companions in general and his deputy (waṣī) in particular.6 They in their turn taught their companions and students. In this way, by a continuous unbroken chain of teachers and students, something of the knowledge taught by Allah and His prophets and guides (‘a) has come down to us today as priceless heritage.7 This great heritage is inherited by those who recognize these authentic unbroken channels and who make the efforts to be connected with them in a real way.8

The awzah ʿilmiyyah (Hawzah) is the traditional institute in which such connections are made and true knowledge acquired. In line with this, The School of Islamic and Occidental Studies seeks to, firstly, introduce this luminous tradition of knowledge and learning to those who are seriously in search of it and come from the West or from places that have been Westernized, and secondly, to properly prepare those who have already been introduced to pass on the heritage intelligently and effectively within the context of the modern world.

To facilitate the introduction to this great tradition of knowledge, the School offers an Intensive Language and Maʿārif (ILM) Program (a six-month introductory course in Islamic sciences offered in English, and a six-month course in Classical and Spoken Farsi) in the Holy city of Qum. Participants who complete the ILM Program will gain sufficient insight and resources to help them to face the challenges of trying to live a holistic Muslim life in the modern world and to continue to seek knowledge alongside their responsibility of making a living.

For those who make the weighty decision to take up the calling and become full-time students of the Hawzah, the School will provide a solid grounding in the Islamic sciences. Teachers who have immersed themselves in Hawzah will seek to initiate the students into the fuller and more substantial aspects of the luminous and living tradition of Islamic knowledge and wisdom. At the same time, the holy city of Qum and the presence of the Shrine of Lady Maʿṣūmah (ʿa) as well as the great ʿulamāʾ, who are the living models of knowledge and spirituality, will nourish the souls of students and seekers during their journey of knowledge.

For those who have already answered the calling and have been engaged in studying the traditional Islamic sciences in the Hawzah, the School will aim to provide these serious seekers (ullāb) access to the deeper and more profound levels of these sciences. This will help foster a better understanding of the times in which we live—times which are marked by the dominance of Western culture and thought. Such an understanding will serve to protect the students from the confusions and deceptions of the modern and postmodern times9 and will allow them to formulate a response that is firmly based in the intellectual and mystical dimensions of Islam. This profound knowledge will firstly save the soul of the person who realizes it, and will also allow for the possibility of the salvation of others.10 In addition to gaining command of classical Arabic and Farsi, students will hone their English literacy, better equipping them to convey the message of Islam to their people.11

[1]“He grants wisdom to whomever He wishes, and he, who is given wisdom, is certainly given an abundant good.” (2:269)

[2] قَالَ النَّبِيُّ ص خُذُوا الْعِلْمَ مِنْ أَفْوَاهِ الرِّجَالِ

[3] عَلَّمَ ٱلۡإِنسَٰنَ مَا لَمۡ يَعۡلَمۡ

[4] وَعَلَّمَ ءَادَمَ ٱلۡأَسۡمَآءَ كُلَّهَا

[5]عَلَّمَ ٱلۡقُرۡءَانَ — إِنۡ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحۡيٞ يُوحَىٰ عَلَّمَهُۥ شَدِيدُ ٱلۡقُوَىٰ

[6] كَمَآ أَرۡسَلۡنَا فِيكُمۡ رَسُولٗا مِّنكُمۡ يَتۡلُواْ عَلَيۡكُمۡ ءَايَٰتِنَا وَيُزَكِّيكُمۡ وَيُعَلِّمُكُمُ ٱلۡكِتَٰبَ وَٱلۡحِكۡمَةَ وَيُعَلِّمُكُم مَّا لَمۡ تَكُونُواْ تَعۡلَمُونَ

[7]عن امام مُوسَى بْنُ جَعْفَرٍ ع قال يَا هِشَام‏لَا عِلْمَ إِلَّا مِنْ عَالِمٍ رَبَّانِيٍّ

[8]أَمِيرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَقُولُ أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اعْلَمُوا أَنَّ كَمَالَ الدِّينِ طَلَبُ الْعِلْمِ وَ الْعَمَلُ بِهِ أَلَا وَ إِنَّ طَلَبَ الْعِلْمِ أَوْجَبُ عَلَيْكُمْ مِنْ طَلَبِ الْمَالِ إِنَّ الْمَالَ مَقْسُومٌ مَضْمُونٌ لَكُمْ قَدْ قَسَمَهُ عَادِلٌ بَيْنَكُمْ وَ ضَمِنَهُ وَ سَيَفِي لَكُمْ وَ الْعِلْمُ مَخْزُونٌ عِنْدَ أَهْلِهِ وَ قَدْ أُمِرْتُمْ بِطَلَبِهِ مِنْ أَهْلِهِ فَاطْلُبُوهُ

[9] اَلْعَالِمُ بِزَمَانِهِ لاَ تَهْجُمُ عَلَيْهِ اَللَّوَابِسُ

[10]وَمَا كَانَ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ لِيَنفِرُواْ كَآفَّةٗۚ فَلَوۡلَا نَفَرَ مِن كُلِّ فِرۡقَةٖ مِّنۡهُمۡ طَآئِفَةٞ لِّيَتَفَقَّهُواْ فِي ٱلدِّينِ وَلِيُنذِرُواْ قَوۡمَهُمۡ إِذَا رَجَعُوٓاْ إِلَيۡهِمۡ لَعَلَّهُمۡ يَحۡذَرُونَ

[11] وَمَآ أَرۡسَلۡنَا مِن رَّسُولٍ إِلَّا بِلِسَانِ قَوۡمِهِۦ لِيُبَيِّنَ لَهُمۡۖ