Income and Expenses as a Hawza student
Life as a Hawza student and as an Aalime Deen is one of intellectual and spiritual pleasures, not material luxuries. Hence a Taalibe ‘Ilm (seeker of knowledge) must prepare himself to lead a life of financial discipline.
If you are a person with an extravagant and indulgent lifestyle and is not willing to tone it down, then the Hawza is probably not the right place for you. However if you are someone who is willing to forego a considerable degree of material comfort in return for intellectual and spiritual rewards, and if you firm believe that rizq is in the hands of Allah (awj) alone, then your temperament is suited to the Hawza.
Hawza education is free; that is, you do not need to pay any tuition fee. Furthermore the Hawza pays its students a modest monthly stipend (called “shahriya”) so that they can focus most of their time and energies on studying and self-development. The shahriya of married students is double that of unmarried ones.
Managing expenses within the shahriya is usually not a challenge for unmarried students; they are provided accommodation and food. However doing so requires strict discipline for married students, especially in the first 2-3 years. Subsequently things becomes easier, as a student’s shahriya grows with seniority, and he no longer needs to spend on housing deposit and buy several household items all within a short time-frame. Having some savings at the start of married life certainly helps.
The main expense items of a Talibe ‘Ilm’s family are: Housing (Deposit and Rental), Food, Transport, Utility bills, Phone and internet usage, books and writing material, children’s needs. Medical expenses are subsidized via compulsory Medical Insurance. MIU provides return air-fare for a student and his family once in the course of each degree program (for e.g. only once during B.A.).
It is illegal under Iranian law for a non-Iranian Hawza student to take up employment or to conduct a business. However, there is no barrier to a student supplementing his shahriya by taking up translation, research, writing, propagation (tableegh) or teaching assignments. However, it usually takes a few years of study before a student develops the abilities required to effectively carry out such assignments.