Covenant of Hawza
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Imam Ali (a) said: ‘Learn knowledge!
For verily learning it is a good deed, studying it is tasbih,
seeking it is jihad and teaching it to one who does not know it
Lady Fatima (as) said: ‘I heard my father say: ‘Verily when the scholars of our Shi’a are resurrected, they shall be given dresses of honour proportionate to their level of knowledge and their diligence in guiding Allah’s servants…’
By the grace of God, our seminaries have, from the time of the Imams (a) themselves until the present day, been active in education, research, personal development and societal reform, and produced outstanding results in all of these fields. In the light of the Qur’an and the guidance and teachings of the Prophet (s) and his Household (a), the seminaries have always done their utmost in following the religion of Islam, remaining loyal to its scriptures, and observing the utmost care in recording and transmitting its traditions. This is alongside the constant struggle to obtain a deeper understanding and more authentic interpretation of these texts.
Not only have the seminaries of the Shi’a never been averse to new ideas and new ways of thinking; they have actively initiated and sought them out and pioneered in developing Islamic sciences. At the same time, they have always stayed true to their origins, values and traditions – they need never look back on their history with embarrassment. On the contrary, their history is a source of immense pride and honor. This is why our greatest scholars never humbled themselves before worldly rulers, nor submitted themselves to foreign powers; by putting their trust in God and being close to people, they have demonstrated their independence from the organs of worldly power.
Today, the institution of the Hawza is at a crucial juncture in its history. I can say, without any exaggeration, that the whole world is watching it. And if the Hawza is to succeed in obtaining still higher levels of learning, implement this learning and protect the heritage of its scholarly forebears, it must keep a constant eye on the future, rely on God, and strengthen their connection with the people. God forbid that we should not value our heritage, that we should neglect the needs of our time, or fail to prepare for the future. But neither must we become absorbed by worldly matters and neglect our spirituality, for this would cause irreparable damage. Avoiding both extremes will be a true challenge and will require the utmost effort.
We give thanks to God that, through the perseverance of our scholars and past experiences in the Hawza ‘Ilmiyya of London, a decision has been made to expand the activities of the Hawza, reframing it as the Hawza ‘Ilmiyya of England. (An extract from the Covenant of the Hawzah 'Ilmiyya of England)