Abd al-Karim Haeri Yazdi Founder of the Modern Ḥawza of Qom

Known for  reviving  the  renowned  Islamic  seminary in  Qom  and  his  disinterest in the  world of  politics,  this  paper  will  seek to  provide  a  brief  biography  into  the  esteemed  life  of Ayatollah  Shaykh  Abd al-Karim  Haeri  Yazdi.

After  providing  a  brief  introduction  followed by  a  transitory  overview  of  his  early  childhood  and  his  illustrious  education,  this paper  will endeavor to  understand  more  about  Ayatollah  Haeri Yazdi’s  character  through  the  critical points of his life including his migration to Iraq, his return to Iran, his role in the renaissance of the Ḥawza in Qom, his family and finally, his death and legacy.

Located some 150km south of Tehran near the Dasht-e Kavir salt desert, the holy city of Qom is one of the most important politico-religious centers not only in Iran, but around the  world.  Qom is  primarily  known  for  two  things;  the  holy  shrine of  Lady  Fatimah al-Maʿsumeh, the sister of the 8th Shiʿa imam, Imam Ridha, and the Ḥawza Ilmiyya (Islamic seminary) of Qom. The Ḥawza in Qom is considered as t he largest theological epicentres of Shiʻi  Islamic  knowledge  alongside  the Ḥawza in  Najaf.  Great maraji  (jurisprudents) and ulama (religious  scholars)  teach  classes  ranging  from  different  tenets    in  Islamic science.  Today  the Ḥawza in  Qom is  home to  over 200  education  and  resource  centres and   organisations,   catering   for   over   40,000   scholars   and   students   from   over 80countries  around  the  world as  they  are  drawn to  this  city to  acquire  knowledge1. Additionally,  a  widespread of  research in  a  number of  Islamic  fields is  carried  out in these  seminaries.  The  origins of Shiʻi  teachings in  Qom  traces  back to  as  early as  the second  half of  the  8th  century  and  gained  wider  prominence  during  the  Safavid  empire in  the 16th  century  when Shiʿa  Islam  was  instated as  the  official  religion in  Iran. However, after a long period of decline and deterioration, the Ḥawza in Qom  was once again  rejuvenated by  Grand  Ayatollah  Abd al-Karim  Haeri  Yazdi.  Subsequently  this paper will seek to study the life of Ayatollah Haeri Yazdi – the man who is credited with the  restoration of  the Ḥawza and  the  teacher  and  mentor of  the  founder of  the  Islamic republic of  Iran,  Ayatollah  Khomeini. It  will do  so  by  illustrating  his  education  and  life from Iran to Iraq and then back to Iran, his personality and family. We will also seek to understand his political or rather apolitical stance and most importantly, the process of his restoration of the Ḥawza in Qom to its grand prestige.

Bibliographic Information

Title: Abd al-Karim Haeri Yazdi Founder of the Modern Ḥawza of Qom

Author: Fatimah Jaffer

Published by: Center for Islamic Shi’a Studies, February 2018

 Language: English

Length: 18 pages