قال الإمام الصادق (ع) اُطْلُبُوا الْعِلْمَ وَتَزَيَّنُوا مَعَهُ بِالْحِلْمِ وَالْوَقَارِ وَتَوَاضَعُوا لِمَنْ‏ تُعَلِّمُونَهُ الْعِلْمَ وَتَوَاضَعُوا لِمَنْ‏ طَلَبْتُمْ مِنْهُ الْعِلْمَ

Imam al-Sadiq (a) said, “Seek knowledge, and along with it, adorn yourselves with forbearance and composure. [And if you are learned,] show humility to those whom you teach, and show humility to those from whom you have sought [and acquired] knowledge.”

(Al-Kafi, v.1, p.86)

The tradition above was quoted by His Eminence Sayyid Ali Husayni Sistani (may Allah protect our scholars) when the Hawza Online project was discussed with him.
Click here to see His Eminence’s written advice and support to Hawza Online.

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Faculty

All our courses are taught by expert teachers who have not only been through the hawza system but have many years of experience teaching English-speaking students from all over the world.

Sayyid Samer Al-Hakim

Sayyid Samer Al-Hakim is a practicing pharmacist (Monash University, Melbourne, Australia) since 1999 and has been studying in the Seminary of Qum since 2014. In 2020, he completed his Bachelor’s degree, specialising in Qur’anic Sciences. He is currently undertaking postgraduate studies in Exegesis and Qur’anic Sciences.

Sayyid Samer enjoys interacting with those who have a desire to learn. Among the courses he has conducted are ‘Health and Wellbeing in Islamic Traditions’, ‘The Holy Qur’an: Understanding Translations and Concepts’, ‘Islamic Jurisprudence’, and ‘Migration’.

Sayyid Samer has authored Migration and the Choice Between a Permissible Difficult and a Forbidden Ease (2020), and Pursuing Excellence: The Guide to Memorising the Holy Qur’an (available online). He has also translated two works of Shaykh Mohsen Gharaati: Parables: Important Questions, Simple Answers (2017), and Ramadhan with The Holy Qur’an: 30 Lessons in 30 Days (2017).

Shaykh Rizwan Arastu

Shaykh Rizwan Arastu is a graduate of the Islamic Seminary of Qum. Prior to the seminary, he received his bachelor’s degree in ecology and evolutionary biology along with minors in near eastern studies and education from Princeton University. Shaykh Rizwan is the founding director of the Islamic Texts Institute and Islamic-Literacy.org. He is also a faculty at the Ahl al-Bayt Islamic Seminary in Chicago.

Shaykh Rizwan is the author of Tajwid: A Guide to Qur’anic Recitation (2nd edition, 2020), God’s Emissaries: Adam to Jesus (2014), and Every Muslim’s Guide to the Islamic Legal System (2020). He is a co-author of al-Nudbah: A Devotional Elegy for the Prophet Muhammad and his Family (2009), al-Kafi Book I: Intellect and Foolishness (2012), al-Kafi Book II: Knowledge and Its Merits (2014), al-Kafi Book III: God and His Oneness (2018), and A Salute to the Master of Martyrs (2015). He is currently writing The Last Emissary: Muhammad.

Shaykh Qasim Assady

Shaykh Qasim Assady is an academic and lecturer. He has taught Linguistics, Islamic Studies, Hadith, and Classical Arabic for approximately 20 years.

From 2006 to 2012, Shaykh Assady taught Arabic as a foreign language for hawza studies at the Islamic Institute for Postgraduate Studies in Damascus. He later taught Arabic at other academic institutes, including universities and seminaries in the Middle East.

Shaykh Assady is the author of the textbooks used on the Arabic programme at Hawza Online.

Shaykh Muhammad Saeed Bahmanpour

Shaykh Bahmanpour studied sociology at the London School of Economics and Tabataba’i University, Tehran, from which he attained a Master’s degree. He then studied religion in the Tehran and Qum seminaries.

In 1999, Shaykh Bahmanpour was invited by Cambridge University to teach as a visiting lecturer in the Faculty of Oriental Studies. Later, he was appointed Principal of The Islamic College in London and held this position for four years.

Shaykh Bahmanpour has a particular interest in the history of Jesus and Mary from an Islamic perspective. His screenplay about the life of Mary was produced into what was to become one of the most successful movies in the Persian language. It has also been reproduced into a television series and has been translated into several languages. Another of his works on Christian history is a screenplay about The Seven Sleepers of the Cave (Aṣḥāb al-Kahf).

Shaykh Bahmanpour has lectured worldwide and has authored several books including Muslim Identity in the 21st Century (2001), The Idols Will Fall (2010), The Blessed Tree: The Life and Times of Fatima Daughter of Muhammad (2011), Towards Eternal Life (2015), and Understanding Sura Yāsīn (2018). He is also the co-supervisor of Tafsir Tadabbur Al-Qur’an (A Reflective Commentary of the Qur’an) – Juz’ 30 (2023).

Fatima Daher

Fatima Daher is a language teacher with a degree in Education from McGill University in Montreal. She grew up in Canada and spent 6 years in Lebanon, where she studied Arabic and Hawza studies. Additionally, she completed an advanced online Tajwid course accredited by al-Atabah al-Husayniyyah in Qum. She is also proficient in Persian and is currently learning Portuguese and Urdu. Over the past 15 years, Fatima has taught French, English, and Arabic to both young and adult students.

Sayyid Sulayman Ali Hassan

Sayyid Sulayman Hassan was born in Western New York. While in high school, he studied and graduated with distinction from the Islamic Seminary in Medina, NY. He then pursued a degree in business administration at the University of Buffalo, from which he earned a Bachelor of Science at the age of 18.

Upon graduation, he proceeded from there to the Islamic Seminary of Qum, Iran, where he was privileged to study under world-renown scholars, specializing in Islamic law, history, and Arabic literature. He served as a researcher with the Aal al-Bayt Institute affiliated with the office of Ayatullah Sistani and was a fellow at the Zekr Institute for Advanced Legal Studies for over 4 years.

After returning to the United States, Sayyid Sulayman has served as Religious Director at the Baitul Ilm Academy and as president of the Ahl al-Bayt Islamic Seminary in Streamwood, Illinois. He currently serves as the president and religious director of Imam-e Asr Islamic Seminary in Alexandria, VA. He lectures widely in both academic and masjid settings and is an active participant in interfaith and intrafaith outreach.

Sayyid Sulayman holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago.

Shaykh Mohammed Ali Ismail

Dr Shaykh Mohammed Ali Ismail, from Peterborough, UK, graduated in Law. He then went to Qum where he studied in the Hawza for ten years, specialising in Qur’an and Hadith Studies. Having graduated from the Hawza in 2007, he went on to complete a Post Graduate Certificate in Education at the University of Portsmouth.

Dr Ismail then moved to Damascus where for two years he taught and trained aspiring Ministers of Religion at the Islamic Institute for Post Graduate Studies. Having resettled in the UK in 2010, Dr Ismail joined the academic team at The Islamic College, London.

Over the last two decades, Dr Ismail has regularly lectured and conducted courses in Islamic centres around the world. In 2020, he received his doctorate from Middlesex University.

Among his publications are Spiritual Development Programme for Madrasah Teachers (Manual and Workbook), and Islamic Laws, an annotated translation of the Tawdih al-Masa’il of Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Husayni al-Sistani.

Sabiha Karim-Jaffer

Sabiha Karim-Jaffer was born in Nairobi, Kenya and migrated with her family to Toronto, Canada when she was 9 years old. She finished her secular education with a Degree in Computer Programming. After marriage, she moved to Damascus (Zaynabiyyah) with her husband. She took various Master’s level courses in Islamic Education and completed 4 years of Hawza Studies. She studied Arabic, Arabic Grammar, Theology, Jurisprudence, Logic and all the other traditional hawza subjects. After graduating in 2011, she returned to Toronto with her husband. She currently home schools her two daughters and serves the Toronto communities by delivering lectures, teaching classes, facilitating interactive workshops, and mentoring young girls and women in the community.

Mohadditha Jaffer

A genuine interest in understanding the Holy Qur’an in its original beauty led Mohadditha Jaffer to studying Arabic at university. She graduated with a First Class Honours in BA Arabic and Development Studies from SOAS (University of London) in 2012, which also included a life changing year at the University of Damascus and residing in the proximity of Sayyidah Zaynab (a). Thereafter, Mohadditha relocated to Najaf al-Ashraf to pursue hawza studies in the Dar al-Hikmah seminary. Since returning to the UK, alongside raising a family, she has been involved in teaching Arabic and Qur’anic Tajwid to a variety of ages and abilities.

Shaykh Fazleabbas Kanji

Shaykh Fazleabbas Kanji is currently studying at the Islamic Seminary of Qum, completing his master’s program in Islamic Jurisprudence and Philosophy.

Prior to his hawza studies, he attained a master’s degree in Information Systems Engineering at Imperial College London and qualified as a Project Manager. Thereafter, he spent a year learning Arabic at the University of Damascus as well as with Shaykh Qasim Assady, the author of the textbooks used on the Arabic programme at Hawza Online.

His primary interest alongside his hawza studies is in understanding and building a relationship with the Holy Qur’an. He teaches a number of classes online as well as in the hawza to try and bring the Holy Qur’an closer to the community.

Shaykh Muhammad Khalfan

Shaykh Muhammad Khalfan was born in Mombasa, Kenya. Having completed his secondary education, he went to Qum where he attained a Bachelor’s degree in Islamic Studies. He then spent more than a decade on various tabligh activities, after which he returned to Qum to do a Master’s degree. He is currently completing a PhD on Islamic Mysticism at the University of Religions and Denominations.

Shaykh Khalfan has served the community in various capacities; he was a tutor at Al-Muntazir Islamic Seminary in Dar-es-Salam, Tanzania; Director of Hawzat al-Muntazar (aj) in Antananarivo, Madagascar; Head of Islamic Religious Education at Jaffery Academy, Mombasa; and Head of the Middle Eastern Section at the Islamic Institute for Post Graduate Studies in Damascus. At present, he runs the al-Imam al-Sajjad (a) Foundation in Qum.

Among his publications are Soaring to the Only Beloved (2001), Manifestations of the All-Merciful (vol. 1: 2002; vol. 2: 2004), The Divine Invitation (2004), The Sacred Effusion (vol. 1: 2009; vol. 2: 2013), Seeking Light (2014), Seeking Elevation (2015), Prescriptions for Physicians (2017), and The Tablet of Fatima (‘a) (2018).

Shaykh Muhammad Zaynulabidin Khalfan

Shaykh Muhammad Zaynulabidin Khalfan has been teaching and studying at the Islamic Seminary in Qum for the last ten years. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Jurisprudence and Islamic Studies, and he is currently finalising his thesis in pursuit of a Master’s degree in Islamic Mysticism. His thesis incorporates his longstanding interest and research in Islamic Philosophy.

Shaykh Muhammad Zainulabideen is also currently engaged in translating two books on Practical and Theoretical Islamic Mysticism.

Shaykh Safdar Razi Master

Shaykh Safdar Razi Master was born in Pakistan. He studied in Qatar, the United States, and the UK, and currently resides in Sweden where he is Resident Scholar at Al-Qaem Center, Trollhatan. He is the Founder and Director of Alqaem Institute.

Shaykh Razi attained a Post Graduate Diploma in Islamic Studies from The Islamic College, London, England, and a Master’s degree in Religious Roots of Europe from Lund University, Sweden.

Over the course of more than two decades of community service, Shaykh Razi has been the resident scholar at several Islamic centres and a consultant for the Islamic Education department of The World Federation. He counsels youth from all over the world through the Internet and delivers lectures in English, Arabic, Urdu, and Gujrati.

Shaykh Razi has published many articles and is currently working on an English translation of Minhaj al-Salihin.

Shaykh Ali Abbas Malik

Shaykh Ali Abbas is from London, UK. He graduated in Law, and in 2009 he moved to Najaf to pursue further Islamic studies at the Hawza. He studied a wide range of disciplines in the Islamic sciences and specialised in Fiqh and Usul al-Fiqh. After having studied for a number of years in the Bahth al-Kharij of eminent scholars of Najaf, he returned to the UK in 2018. In 2021, he obtained his Masters in Islamic Studies from the Markfield Institute of Higher Education.

He has worked in translating a number of books. He works and lectures in local communities. His focus and interest are on research, Hawza education, and the Islamic education of children and youths. He is the Director of Islamic Education at Jaffaria Academy.

Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi

Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi was born in India, grew up in East Africa, and currently resides in Canada. He studied in the Hawza-e ‘Ilmiyya in Qum from 1972 to 1982, attending Dars-e Kharij of the Grand Ayatollah Wahid Khurasani.

From 1983 to 1991, Sayyid Rizvi was Imam of the Shi’a Muslim Community of BC, Canada, and in 1991 he attained an MA in History from Simon Fraser University, BC, Canada. From 1991 to 1996, he held the position of Director of Islamic Education and Information Centre in Toronto. In 1996, Sayyid Rizvi became Chief Imam of Islamic Shi’a Ithna-‘Asheri Jamaat of Toronto – a position he still holds today.

Sayyid Rizvi has authored many books on Shi’a Islam; these include Marriage and Morals in Islam (1990), Shi’ism: Imamate and Wilayat (1999), Islam: Faith, Practice and History (2004), and Business Ethics in Islam (2007). Some of his publications have been translated into many languages. His three-volume work, An Explanatory Translation of the Qur’an, which covered half of the Qur’an, was published in the 1980s. He has now completed the other half and the entire work will soon be published.