بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم
Mashhad main claim to fame is the shrine of the 8th Holy Imam, Imam Raza (a.s.). He is the only one of the 14 ma’sumeen (a.s.) to be buried in Iran, and therefore this city is a special focus of love and devotion for all Iranians. It is also the most visited city in all of Iran, with zaireen causing its stable population of more than 30 lakhs to more than double on important religious occasions.
Mashhad is situated in the country’s north-eastern corner near the borders with Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. Though at the same altitude as Qom (900 metres asl), it has a much more agreeable climate with temperatures in summer rarely touching 40 degrees. Winters however are cold and the city receives relatively heavier snowfall.
Mashhad is home to one of the oldest Hawzas in Iran, and houses several madrasas, libraries and research institutions. MIU too has recently opened a few madrasas there, offering studies till the B.A. level.
Isfahan is world-famous for its beauty and historical monuments. It’s many beautiful boulevards, covered bridges, palaces, and mosques have given rise to a Farsi proverb “Esfahān nesf-e jahān ast” (Isfahan is half of the world).
Today Isfahan is Iran’s 2nd largest city, with a population exceeding 35 lakhs. While retaining much of its historical charm, it is today also an important industrial hub. Situated at an altitude of about 1600 metres above sea level, summers in Isfahan are not as hot as those in Qom. Winters are cold with occasional snowfall.
The Hawza of Isfahan is one of the oldest and most prominent Hawzas of the shia world, having produced many important figures such as ‘Allama Majlisi (r.a.). MIU has recently taken over the management of a few historic hawzas in Isfahan and non-Iranian students can study there till the B.A. level.