A Glimpse at the Major Shi'a Seminaries, Part I
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-e 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.