The Hawza Ilmiyya opening ceremony was held on 14th September 2016 as teachers and students alike celebrated the beginning of the academic year. The event was attended by over 75 students from the Hawza and pre-Hawza programmes with numerous respected teachers also joining in.
Naturally proceedings began with the recitation of the Holy Qur’an, to signify the reliance on the pleasure of God that is held by all seekers of Islamic knowledge. Sayed Jalal Masumi’s heart-rending recitation was a testament and reminder of how practice and initiative can serve sincere seekers of knowledge.
In addition, Sayed Ja’far Naji provided some recitations of remembrance of the Ahlulbayt; to establish the divine link the family have to the Qur’an, just as students of the Hawza should also have with every turn of every page of every book, in every class.
Keynote speeches by Sheikh Dr Isa Jahangir and Sheikh Mohammad Ali Shomali were utilised to disperse valuable gems of advice and attentively imbibed by students cherishing the resumption of their studies.
There were reminders of the history of the Hawza, and why it is an honour to align with that rich tradition of Islamic academia. The very existence of a Hawza at this stage of development in the West is a testament to the efforts of the likes of Ayatullah Abdul Karim Haeri Yazdi and Ayatullah Bourujerdi (ra).
The future of the Hawza was also a vital discussion. Gone are the days of struggling to establishing the Hawza, students were told. It is now time to prove the worth of the institution. The last three years have successfully established an effective infrastructure, academic presence and global network of seminaries; now it’s time to reap the fruit of this labour.
The effect of Hawza is not restricted to the limitations of contact-study classes. Extra-curricular initiative must be a natural urge of anyone attempting to justify the title of ‘talaba‘. Independent reading is no longer optional, and ‘mubahatha‘ (discussions) is no longer sporadic. For structural learning to achieve its aims, the Hawza student must embody their study.
This challenge was etched into the students’ faces as each enquiring mind listened attentively to such advice whilst mentally formulating reading lists and pondering on the need to maximise from the lessons of the various teachers.
Indeed the enjoyment of gaining knowledge is a thing worth seeking, and the Hawza Ilmiyya of England represents an institution by which to achieve this.