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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.
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
Length: 18 pages