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Marvi seminary (Tehran)

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The entrance of Marwi seminary

Marvī seminary (Persian: مدرسه علمیه مروی) is one of the first Shi'a seminary schools for Islamic sciences in the thirteenth/nineteenth and the forteenth/twentieth. The date of building is mentioned 1231/1816 in the epigraph. Marvi school and mosque were built by Muhammad Husayn Khan known as Fakhr al-Dawla, the governor of Merv at the time of Fatḥ Ali Shah and therefore it was also named Khan Marvi.

The courtyard of this school is in rectangle shape and includes some rooms, three classrooms and a library which contains old important books, some flowerbeds and a big howz [1]. In the south side of the courtyard, there is a large mosque which has a tall mihrab underneath which there is a big reservoir for public usage.

Marvi seminary in Tehran was changed to primary and secondary schools at the time of the Second Pahlavi. After the Islamic Revolution in Iran, it was revived and now students of Islamic studies study Islamic sciences there.

Endower of Marvi Seminary

Muhammad Husayn Khan, the endower of Marvi seminary was among close people to Fath Ali Shah; but, never showed any interest in engaging in governmental services and did not accept the invitation of Fath Ali Shah for the position of ministry; but, he remained a loyal adviser to him. Muhammad Husayn Khan Marvi who had a great wealth, built charity places including Marvi seminary, mosque, garden and bazaar in Tehran. He also endowed all his properties for his mosque and seminary.

A Part of the Endowment Letter

The endower of this seminary made some conditions included in the endowment letter as well including the following:

  • Students of religious sciences for whom the seminary is endowed should be effortful in acquiring knowledge and if there is someone who should not study, then he should not make any dereliction in teaching and writing.
  • Each of the students, if not having a religious excuse, should at least recite one hizb of the Qur'an everyday.

Foundation of the Seminary

A view of Marwi seminary

It is said that when they wanted to begin building Marvi seminary, Khan Marvi invited all scholars and great personalities and said, "Someone who has not missed a night prayer even its qada shall proceed to hit the mattock on the ground to [symbolically] found this seminary". But, no one went forth, so he himself proceeded and said, "since the time I reached the age of puberty, I promised to God that I would not miss any night prayer."

Library of Marvi Seminary

The establishment date of the library of the seminary located in the north west side of the seminary is the same as that of building the school. The founder of the seminary had thought of the library and providing the books necessary for students of Islamic studies since day one and bought many of the books of this library. He considered using this library permissible for the students of seminaries of Tehran.

Also, according to the endowment letter, the custodian should spend a part of the earnings of the seminary for buying books of hadiths and jurisprudence every year and endow them for the students of the seminary. As well as Muhammad Husayn Khan Marvi, who endowed many of the old manuscripts of the seminary, other people endowed books for the library of the seminary. Sayyid Husayn Qummi, Rida Damghani and Shaykh Abd al-Husayn were among such people. This library holds 1050 manuscripts in total, as well as 8000 volumes of prints most of which are in different fields of Islamic sciences.

Holding Muharram Ceremony in Marvi Seminary and Mosque

Based on the idea of the endower of the seminary, the ceremony of rawda-khwani (elegies) in the month of Muharram has been held with glory since the past. Also, based on his idea, about two thousand people are given free dinner in the first ten days of Muharram.

Custodians of Marvi Seminary

Based on the endowment letter of Marvi seminary, the custodian should be a fully qualified mujtahid living in Tehran, having a high social credit. Therefore, during the last two centuries, always great scholars of Tehran have been the custodians of Marvi, including Mirza Masih Mujtahid Tehrani, Mulla Ali Kani and Muhammad Hasan Ashtiyani.

Mirza Masih Mujtahid Tehrani

As it can be inferred from the endowment letter of Marvi seminary, the first custodian of the seminary appointed at the time of Khan Marvi was Mirza Masih Mujtahid Tehrani.

Mulla Ali Kani

Main article: Mulla Ali Kani

In 1282/1865, Mulla Ali Kani was chosen for custodianship of the Marvi seminary. For scientific improvement of Marvi seminary and to respect the scientific and spiritual position of religious scholars and better usage of their capabilities, he invited teachers to teach in the seminary. One of such teachers was Abu l-Qasim Kalantari who was invited to teach in Marvi seminary after the custodianship of Mulla Ali Kani. There, he taught jurisprudence and principles of jurisprudence for seven years.

Muhammad Hasan Ashtiyani

He was born in Ashtiyan and went to Najaf to complete his education in 1265/1849. In 1281/1864, one year after the demise of his teacher al-Shaykh Murtada al-Ansari, Muhammad Hasan Ashtiyani went to Tehran. Gradually, he excelled other scholars of Tehran and drew the attention of people from different classes in the society. He too was a custodian of Marvi seminary in the last year of his life (1319/1901).

Other Custodians

After Muhammad Husayn Ashtiyani, his elder son, Murtada took over the custodianship of Marvi seminary. After him, Ahmad Ashtiyani, the fourth son of Muhammad Hasan Ashtiyani became the custodian of the seminary for a while. Mirza Baqir Ashtiyani (b. 1323/1905 - d. 1404/1984), son of Mirza Ahmad Ashtiyani became the official custodian of the seminary in 1395/1975 after the demise of his father. Since many years before the demise of his father, Mirza Baqir Ashtiyani managed the affairs of the seminary on behalf of his father. He passed away on Dhu l-Hijja 11, 1404/September 7, 1984 and was buried in his family graves beside the shrine of Abd al-Azim al-Hasani.

Then, on September 17, 1984 Muhammad Rida Mahdavi Kani was appointed by Imam Khomeini as the custodian of Marvi seminary. He revived the endowments of Marvi seminary and educated students of religious sciences. After his demise, Ayatollah Khamene'i, the supreme leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran appointed Ahmad Muhsini Garakani as the custodian of Marvi seminary. After Muhsini Garakani's resignation, Ayatollah Khamene'i appointed Muhammad Baqir Tahriri as the custodian of this seminary.

Current Status

Currently, about three hundred students are studying in the seminary and the classes are running from preliminary to advanced levels.

References

  • The material for this article is mainly taken from fa: in Farsi WikiShia.
  1. Howz in traditional Persian architecture is a centrally positioned symmetrical axis pool