Facilitating Howza Students – Possibilities of our role & involvement
By Zulfiqar Ali of 'Muntazirane Imam & Nasirane Deen Society’ (MINDS)
It is basically wajib e kifai on all of us to study fiqh indepth. But when these students in sufficient numbers take upon themselves to devote their lives for Islamic studies it becomes possible and halaal for us to concentrate on other avenues in life including jobs and busineses. Hence, when we enjoy the fruits of our employment or businesses, we should not forget that these very students rightfully deserve a share in this.
We must understand that whatever services are being provided to the students are truly deserved by them. In fact, they deserve much more than that. They have given their life for the cause of Allah s.w.t.Whatever they rightfully deserve should also reach them and in the most respectful manner at that. They should be honored and paid what they have earned.
Imam Ali (AS) has said, "If you cannot be a
scholar who speaks that which he knows (and
shares his knowledge with others), then at least
be a person who hears and remembers (the
knowledge he is given)." (Ghururul Hikm, page
Our creator, Allah (SWT) has ordered us in numerous verses of the Quran, to be well-versed with the teachings of Islam. In addition, the traditions clearly indicate that we need to seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave. They also advise us to obtain knowledge wherever it may be found - even if it may be as far away as China was to the Arabs. Moreover, the Holy Prophet (SAW) has stated that gaining knowledge is obligatory upon both, men and women. As the ahadith makes clear, we must have knowledge of the essential beliefs (Usul-e-Din) and cannot follow or emulate another's beliefs in this regard (ie. taqlid in this area if forbidden). However, many times our knowledge of our faith is limited - merely enough to guarantee our own salvation.
Theoretically, each of us
is supposed to be a beacon and a guide to the
path of Islam; however, in reality, this is not
the case. Therefore, if we are not at the level
of being classified as scholars in Islam, then
we must strive to increase our knowledge and
where we are able to enhance our understanding
by obtaining guidance from those who are
scholars, then we must humbly do so. Arrogance
should never divert our hearts and minds from
seeking religious direction and understanding
from the ulama..
B.Brief look at the Course/ syllabus & Intensive Training undergone (draft)
The students undergo many Years of intensive study for extended hrs in each day.There are Material hardships & Family life. comforts are compromised for the sake of acquiring knowledge.
Subjects covered starting from language( Arabic incl grammer , farsi) to logic .Philosophy to history & Narrators & Quran interpretation /tafsir etc .Main books used Luma ( xx vols) Istibrar (xx vols) . Each one is dealt in details .Classroom lectures in halls & individual study is involved, Level of teachers & students their akhlaq /piety are at high levels.The Marja / Mujtahid provides his Research & own proof for each of the 000's of fiqh rules . Dars e Kharij methodology intensive
Awareness of modern issues & practical applications.
C Issues Involved / & faced by Students
D. Initial Possibilities of Our Role & Involvement in providing solutions
There are many options available to play our role as far as the students are concerned. Some of the initial steps using limited funds are as under:-
There are many responsibilities that are required to be performed on this front. It will be highly advisable if we can convince some of the financial contributors in the community to stand for this noble cause that has high paying dividends on long-term basis.
E. Some Problems & Solutions to the present method of compensation
At present, people hand cash or articles to them in a way that is not appropriate. There is a sincere attempt made at making the process very respectable. But unfortunately this very attempt is also responsible in making the said process a disrespectful one for the students. Following are the reasons why it becomes disrespectful for the students to take money or articles in prevailing scenario:
Initial Budget Plan : USDxxxx for Qom Students Compensation
1. Arrange for
students counseling. This can be done
initially at the time the student wants to start
his studies. Also, the student should have the
opportunity to regularly visit and get advice as
per the developments. This requires small budget
as we can utilize existing madressahs for this.
Once we have a proper place for it, we have to
convince some of the experienced Hawza people to
provide guidance. We can keep a fixed timing for
the counseling. Furthermore, we need to print
certain handouts and other information material
that is related to guiding the course of action
for the students.
This does not require much funding. More than funding we need good volunteers.
Budget: USD300 for 6Mths.
Generally students do not understand and appreciate the value of counseling, that is, ‘proper guidance @ proper time’. People implementing this may not take this very seriously more specifically when we have also allocated smaller budget for this. But if this is not implemented properly then we have lost one very good and essential aspect of our activity that would have otherwise been achieved at a very low cost. If, Allah s.w.t. protect us, we fail in this then it would imply that we have failed in more than 20% of our activities. We cannot calculate this failure based on allocation of our entire budget to this, that is, 6%.
HJ- As you know we have started a madresa + hostel in Qum ,which can use as a proper place for counseling purpose , we also have printing facilities in this madresa ,therefore we are able to printout handbills & other information material ,we also have some seniour & experienced Hawza people with us who can guide the new comers .But we give the guidance only to whom who conact us .
WE NEED TO
GRADUALLY DESIGN A COMPREHENSIVE COUNSELING KIT
OF AROUND 25-40 PAGES THAT MAY CONTAIN
INFORMATION LIKE ENTIRE CURRICULUM TILL
DARS-E-KHARIJ, SUPPLEMENTING BOOKS, BRIEF
DESCRIPTION AND BENEFITS OF EACH BOOK TO BE
STUDIED IN CURRICULUM AND ALSO THAT OF THE
SUPPLEMENTING BOOKS, CAPABLE TEACHERS WITH ONE
PARAGRAPH FOR AROUND 25 SELECTED TEACHERS,
TABLEEGH AND PLACEMENT OPPORTUNITIES AT THE END
OF THE COURSE, TIPS & TOOLS ON CAREER PLANNING,
SELF-ASSESSMENT TOOLS, APTITUDE TESTS, TIME
MANAGEMENT, SPECIALIZATION PROSPECTS, CAREER
VERTICALS, ETC. IT IS UNFORTUNATE TO NOTE THAT
THOUSANDS OF LIVES (STUDENTS FROM ALL
NATIONALITIES) ARE SPOILT BECAUSE OF INADEQUATE
GUIDANCE/COUNSELING. THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF
STUDENTS WHO JOIN THE HAWZA MERELY BASED ON
THEIR STRONG EMOTIONS TO SACRIFICE FOR THE SAKE
OF ISLAM. THESE EMOTIONS ARE GOOD BUT AT THE
SAME TIME THE PERSON SHOULD ALSO HAVE EQUAL URGE
AND THE APTITUDE TO DO THE REQUIRED STUDIES.
AFTER A FEW YEARS THESE STUDENTS REALIZE THAT
THEY CANNOT MAKE A GOOD SCHOLAR OF THEMSELVES,
AS THEY DO NOT HAVE THE REQUIRED APTITUDE. IT IS
TOO LATE NOW - THE OPTION TO GO BACK IS ALREADY
CLOSED. THIS CLASS OF STUDENTS, IN SUCH A
SCENARIO - MAY ALLAH S.W.T. PREVENT IT, MAY EVEN
ACT AS NEGATIVE ELEMENTS TO THE SOCIETY IN
GENERAL AND TO THE STUDENT COMMUNITY IN
PARTICULAR. FURTHERMORE, IT IS NOT UNCOMMON THAT
A STUDENT HAS A TASTE FOR A PARTICULAR SUBJECT/
SPECIALIZATION BUT HE REALIZES IT LATE OR EVEN
IF REALIZES IT EARLIER, HE IS UNABLE TO
UNDERSTAND HOW TO PURSUE THIS SPECIALIZATION.
THOUGH THIS FACILITY OF COUNSELING IS PRESENTLY AVAILABLE ON AS AND WHEN FELT-SO BY THE STUDENT BUT IT IS NOT SUFFICIENT AND APPROPRIATELY PLANNED/ARRANGED. WE NEED TO BE MORE ACTIVE IN THIS SPHERE. EVEN IF WE SPEND THE ENTIRE USD5000 ON THIS, I FEEL THAT IT IS LESS. NEVERTHELESS, I AGREE THAT IMPLEMENTATION WILL BE A PROBLEM AND ALSO THIS WORK IS MORE SKILLS-INTENSIVE RATHER THAN FUNDS-INTENSIVE. HENCE, WE START WITH A PINT-SIZED BUDGET INITIALLY BUT IN A VERY EFFECTIVE MANNER.
2.Arrange for workshops and seminars for the
purpose of orientation of transnational
businesses and finance related topics. These
workshops can be done once in 6/12mths.
This again does not require much funding. We need to arrange for a volunteer speaker.
Budget: USD300 for one workshop.
We may have some problem in identifying an effective person to conduct the workshop. Again the problems mentioned in point 1 mostly also hold true for this. Though the previous point is more important than this.
WE WANT TO HOLD IN IRAN. BUT WE NEED SOME VOLUNTEER WHO CAN VISIT IRAN ON HIS OWN EXPENSE AT HIS CONVENIENT TIME AND HAS GOOD SKILLS THAT CAN BE IMPARTED TO THE STUDENTS. CAN YOU LOCATE SUCH A PERSON
3.Provide 1 or 2
good teachers to the students. Specifically
Arabic language teachers. There is no
doubt that our students are weak in Arabic
because of paucity of good teachers and lack of
conducive environment. We can give good
remuneration for an excellent teacher in Arabic
and take care that good results are obtained.
We can start with hiring one part-time Arabic teacher. The main focus will be to impart vocabulary skills.
Budget: USD1000 per year.
The Hawza system of Iran was initially copied up to a certain extent from that of Najaf. In Najaf originally the students entering the Hawza were well versed with Arabic vocabulary. So it was required there to only polish their existing skills and focus more on grammar so as to prevent ‘small mistakes’ in ‘language already known’. In Iran, the situation drastically differed and still differs. More than 90% of the Non-Arab students do not have the basic knowledge of Arabic vocabulary when they enter the Hawza. Here, instead of polishing skills or preventing mistakes, we need to impart basic skills before moving ahead.
Most of the students will not agree with me when I state that there is a dire need to impart basic Arabic vocabulary skills to most of the new and existing students of Iran. Since most will not agree, they may not be very effective in implementing this point. In fact, they may tend to request us to use this USD1000 in some other way or for teaching some other subject. We need to handle this situation appropriately.
HJ- We have already started a persian language class for the new comers , presently there are 25 students .We hired an Iranian teacher ,who teach 2 hrs daily with video & audio acilities .We are also planning to arrange an english language class only for the seniour students , for which we are trying to contact some American & British seniour students for teaching .We can also arrange the Arabic language class with an Arab teacher as its also very necessary.
IT IS EVIDENT THAT MANY STUDENTS IN IRAN ARE WEAK IN ARABIC. IT IS BECAUSE OF THE METHODOLOGY SHORTFALL. EVEN ARABIC GRAMMAR, WHICH IS SUPPOSED TO BE THE PEAK OF THE LANGUAGE SKILL, IS TAUGHT IN PERSIAN MEDIUM!! MANY STUDENTS WHO HAVE LEARNT FOR MORE THAN 5YRS. CANNOT MAKE SIMPLE SENSE OUT OF READING ARABIC SENTENCES/BOOKS. THERE IS VERY LOW INTEREST AMONGST THE STUDENTS TO USE ARABIC BOOKS. INSTEAD OF READING ORIGINAL ARABIC BOOKS, STUDENTS READ PERSIAN EXPLANATIONS TO THOSE ORIGINAL TEXTS. WE NEED TO CHANGE THE SCENARIO FOR THE BETTER. INSHAALLAH, KEEPING AN ARABIC TEACHER FOR VOCABULARY WILL BE OUR FIRST STEP FORWARD TOWARDS CHANGING THE TREND AND THE SYSTEM. WE HAVE VERY LIMITED FUNDS AND HENCE CANNOT BE SPENT FOR PERSIAN AND ENGLISH AT PRESENT.
4.Identify around 3-5 students who can use
computers and want them for studies,
research and/or tableegh. Provide 80% loan to
them for the computers, payable in easy
installments. We can rotate this money to buy
new computers. Also, we can provide CDs for ref.
In fact, we can provide computers to 1 or 2 students @ USD300. Since there is a paucity of learned people working over the net, we can choose these 1 or 2 people from those willing to work for Islamic propagation over the net on part time bases. We can pay a salary to the student/s @ USD100 p.m. to USD300 p.m. based on the quality.
Budget: USD1800 for 4mths. to 8mths.
a. Mostly on-ground workers will not agree that USD1800 be spent on just 1 or 2 students.
b. Students as well as others have a tendency to be lenient and supportive towards other students. This results in loose selection of students for the job. Since, we are extending benefits to a very small group of students and if this small group of students is selected loosely then our whole idea will be in a mess. Professional selection based on pure merits has to be strictly implemented.
HJ-It was in our plans earlier ,we have arranged 4 or 5 computers from London , presentlywe are facing some custome clearence problems , which will be solved soon inshallah ,we have a 100 hrs free internet connection monthly through Agha Seestani office . For the propagation through net its better to hire a comp skilled person seperately & atleast three specialized persons for FIQH,MANAZRA & TAREEKH on part time bases .We are also planning to start a web site.
WHAT ARE THE EXACT SKILL-SETS IN TERMS OF KNOWLEDGE LEVELS AND COMMUNICATION OF THESE STUDENTS WHO WOULD BE HIRED FOR FIQH, MUNAZARA AND TAREEKH? IF THEY FIT THE SKILL-SETS REQUIRED THEN WE SHOULD HIRE THEM ON PART TIME BASIS.
students who are unable to stay for studies
require immediate attention before we lose them.
We provide them some jobs like translation,
writing books, etc. on long term basis. This
will give them the immediate funds required and
also some kind of longer-term security. We
should pay them at least USD5 to USD10 per
page/hour basis depending on the details of the
At present the rates at which these kinds of jobs are offered are very low. We may not directly start with meaningful amounts but we can start with ‘better than prevailing’ rates. We can identify 2 students and assign them various jobs @USD100 to USD300 p.m. on part time bases depending on the quality of the student.
Budget: USD1600 for 4mths. to 6mths.
Same as point 4 above.
HJ- The main idea is good ,but this way is not advisable ,because these activities effect badly on studies , there are many examples in front of our eyes , the rate considered for translation is also very low as the lowest rate for translation is of persian to english which is 20 USD per page presently.
WE FULLY AGREE
THAT IF STUDENTS START DOING JOBS OR BUSINESSES
THEN THEIR STUDIES WILL SUFFER. BUT WHAT WE HAVE
MENTIONED DIFFERS FROM THIS SUBJECT. WE WILL BE
GIVING A PART TIME JOB OF SAY 20HRS. TO 30HRS.
IN A MONTH WITH A PAY OF AROUND USD100 TO USD300
PER MONTH. WE WILL NOT GIVE A BOOK OF SAY 300
PAGES TO A STUDENT ASKING HIM TO DO IT AS EARLY
AS POSSIBLE. WHILE THIS WORK OF FEW HOURS IN A
MONTH IS NOT CAUSING A BURDEN FOR THE STUDENT,
HE IS ALSO GAINING KNOWLEDGE AS THE WORK IS
RELATED TO HIS FILED. ALSO, THE MONEY SO EARNED
WILL BE INSTRUMENTAL IN HIS SURVIVAL IN IRAN.
USD20 MAY BE AN APPARENT RATE THAT IS PREVAILING IN IRAN FOR TRANSLATION. I DO NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS. BUT MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE DOES NOT INDICATE THIS AS EASILY AVAILABLE RATES. A FEW MONTHS BACK WE WERE LOOKING AT GETTING SOME PART TIME TRANSLATION WORK FOR MYSELF FROM PERSIAN TO ENGLISH OR ARABIC TO ENGLISH AND WE SPOKE TO QUITE SOME PEOPLE BUT COULD NOT ACHIEVE MY TARGET RATE OF USD10-USD15 AT THAT TIME. THERE WOULD BE MANY SKILLED STUDENTS WHO ARE UNABLE TO GET SUCH PART TIME JOBS. USD5 TO USD10 PER HOUR BASED ON THE SKILLS OF THE STUDENT IS APPROPRIATE AT PRESENT BECAUSE WE HAVE LIMITED BUDGETS. WE MAY NOT BE ABLE TO EMPLOY HIGHLY QUALIFIED STUDENTS AT THIS STAGE. PLEASE NOTE: WE HAVE A BENCHMARK BASED ON PER HOUR FOR INTERNAL PURPOSE ONLY. WE WILL ACTUALLY PAY ON TURNKEY BASIS AFTER CALCULATING OURSELVES ON HOW MANY HOURS WOULD BE REQUIRED FOR A PARTICULAR WORK. ALSO, ONLY 20-30HRS. OF WORK PER MONTH WILL BE GIVEN TO A SINGLE STUDENT.
IMPORTANT: GROUND TEAM TO IMPLEMENT ALL THE POINTS AND NOT TO SELECT ONE OR TWO POINTS FROM THESE..... WE ACCEPT THE IMPEDIMENTS…BUT EFFORTS REQD , POSSIBLY THRU A TEAM