Perhaps you are wondering – why should I study at the Hawza? Or perhaps you already feel like enrolling, but can’t think of any convincing arguments to back up your feeling. In either case, please read on.
Four Good Reasons to become an Islamic Scholar
1. Answering the Imam’s (as) call and supporting him
When Imam Husain (as) stood against evil and called out “Hal min Nasirin…?” on the day of Aashura, his call was not restricted to that time and place. His call has reached us too and it is up to us to answer it. To answer it not just in words by saying “Labbaik Ya Husain!”, but to answer it through action as well.
When we look around us we see that injustice, arrogance and indecency are growing hand-in-hand with technology. In the name of progress, mankind seems to be sliding into a new age of jahaliyyat (ignorance). While undoubtedly the final solution while be available only after Imame Zamana’s (atfs) re-appearance, there is also no doubt that even now our Imam is doing whatever he can during the age of Ghaybat to counter these trends, and needs our support. In fact, his re-appearance depends in part upon his shias first proving their worthiness to be his supporters.
Who can better answer Imam Husain (as)’s call? Who can better provide support to our Imam (atfs) during ghaybat and after his zuhoor – people with a deep understanding of religion, and a good command over what the enemies’ plans are? Or people who are ignorant about their religion and about the enemy?
Conclusion: Acquiring deep religious knowledge has a direct bearing on being able to serve the ma’sumeen (as).
2. The Need for Experts in Religious Knowledge
Islam places immense importance on acquiring learning. The Holy Prophet (saws) said that “Seeking knowledge is incumbent upon every Muslim man and woman” [Al-Kāfī V.1, P.30]. Along with other Ahadith that ask us to seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave, to seek knowledge even if it is far away in China, we can draw a clear conclusion: Islam wants each of us to seek knowledge, regardless of our age, location and other circumstances.
Here arise certain questions – Is the knowledge we must acquire only available at the Hawza? Does this mean everyone must join the Hawza? Why do only some people enroll at the Hawza?
By pondering over the various teachings of Islam, we can arrive at the following answers:
- While all knowledge that benefits us is valuable, the value of every knowledge is not the same. The most valuable knowledge is that which benefits us the most – and what could possibly benefit mankind more than recognition of Allah (awj), and of our duties towards him, and uncovering the master keys to success in this life and in the hereafter, i.e. religious knowledge.
- While all mo’mineen are expected to acquire religious knowledge, Allah (awj) expects some of them to become specialists in it. This is most clearly communicated through Ayat 9:122 of the Holy Qur’an which says: “…so why should not a group of mo’mineen from each section, go forth to acquire deep understanding of religion, so that they may forewarn their people upon returning to them?…”
This is because it is simply not practical for everyone to acquire knowledge to the same degree in the same subjects; people’s interests, abilities and circumstances vary greatly.
Conclusion: So while everyone must acquire as much religious knowledge as he can, some of them must become specialists in this field.
3. To fulfill an Al-Wajib Al-Kifaii
Now let us examine this issue from another perspective – the perspective of needs and duties. Islam teaches us that if Muslim society has an unfulfilled need, then it becomes wajib upon every single Muslim to fulfill that need. This kind of wajib is called Al-Wajib Al-Kifaii in Islam.
- Our society today has countless unfulfilled needs; for example we lack schools, housing and medical facilities. One of things we lack is sufficient knowledge about Islam and sufficient Islamic scholars of the right caliber in every generation.
- However, as it is impossible for a person to fulfill all these needs simultaneously, he must choose to focus on that need which he feels is the most critical, or where he feels he can make the most difference.
- Without a doubt, raising its level of Islamic knowledge and having sufficient religious leaders of a high caliber is the most critical and basic need any society has. This is because if this need is fulfilled, then the stage is set for that society to eventually fulfill all its other needs in the best way
Conclusion: Therefore, for those mo’mineen who can, becoming expert religious scholars is more wajib than fulfilling the other needs of society.
4. Quenching your own thirst for knowledge
Are there times you feel you knew the answer to what Islam really has to say about a certain topic? Do you find that your questions about Islam keep growing by the day, but you can’t seem to find anyone who is able to answer them satisfactorily? Do you find that your favourite activity is to read books about Islam or to listen to deeni lectures and participate in serious deeni discussions? Do you feel a great sense of satisfaction and gratitude to Allah (awj) whenever you are able to understand Islam’s view about something and to explain it to those around you? Do you read the Qur’an and feel sadness at not being able to understand the Arabic?
If you find yourself in this kind of a situation, then you should seriously consider becoming an Islamic Scholar. It’s possible that this option may turn out to be the most satisfying one for you.
By considering all the points above, the importance and necessity of becoming a Hawza student becomes clear.
In closing, we offer this Hadith from Imam Raza (as) wherein he says: “May Allah bestow His mercy on a servant who brings to life our issue (of authority over humanity).” He was asked: And how should he bring your issue to life? He replied: “By learning our ‘uloom and teaching them to people; had people been aware of the beauty of our words, they would certainly have followed us.” [Wasail Ush-Shia, V. 27, P. 92]
Would it not be wonderful to become such a servant of the ma’sumeen (as) and spread their ‘uloom in the world? Is it not worth every hardship to hear the Imam (as) pray for us by saying “May Allah bestow His mercy upon a servant who…”?