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Marvi seminary school in Tehran

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Marvī seminary school in Tehran (Persian: مدرسه علمیه مروی تهران) is one of the first Shi'a seminary schools for Islamic sciences in the thirteenth/nineteenth and the fourteenth/twentieth century. The date of building is mentioned 1231/1816 in the epigraph. Marvi Khan school and mosque were built by Muhammad Husayn Khan known as Fakhr al-Dawla, the governor of Merv at the time Fath Ali Shah and therefore it was 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 pool. 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 school in Tehran was changed to primary and secondary schools at the time of the Second Pahlavi. After the revolution in Iran, it was revived and now students of Islamic studies study Islamic sciences there.

Endower of Marvi School

Muhammad Husayn Khan, the endower of Marvi school 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 school, mosque, garden and market in Tehran and endowed all his properties for his mosque and school.

A Part of the Endowment Letter

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

Students of religious sciences for whom the school 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 School

It is said that when they wanted to begin building Marvi school, Khan Marvi invited all scholars and great personalities and said, "Someone who has not missed a night prayer even its qada proceeds for Mattock picking of the foundation of this school". 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 date of establishment of the library of the school located in the north west side of the school is the same as that of building the school. The founder of the school 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 Islamic studies of Tehran.

Also, according to the endowment letter, the custodian should spend a part of the earnings of the school for buying books of hadiths and fiqh every year and endow them for the students of the school. As well as Muhammad Husayn Khan Marvi, who endowed many of the old manuscripts of the school, other people endowed books for the library of the school. 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 School and Mosque

Based on the idea of the endower of the school, 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 School

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 learned from the endowment letter of Marvi seminary, the first custodian of the school 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 school after the custodianship of Mulla Ali Kani. There, he taught fiqh and usul 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 Shaykh Murtada 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 school 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 school. After him, Ahmad Ashtiyani, the fourth son of Muhammad Hasan Ashtiyani became the custodian of the school for a while. Mirza Baqir Ashtiyani (b. 1323/1905 - d. 1404/1984), son of Mirza Ahmad Ashtiyani became the official custodian of the school 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 school on behalf of his father. He passed away on Dhu l-Hijja 11th, 1404/1984 and was buried in his family graves beside the shrine of Abd al-Azim al-Hasani.

Then, on September 17th, 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, Ayatullah Khamene'i, the supreme leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran appointed Ahmad Muhsini Garakani as the custodian of Marvi school. After Muhsini Garakani's resignation, Ayatullah Khamene'i appointed Muhammad Baqir Tahriri as the custodian of this school.

Current Status

Currently, about 300 students are studying in the school and the classes are running from year one up to the advanced level.