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Najaf seminaries maintain traditional teaching methods

Unlike some religious schools in Iran and Lebanon, the seminaries in Najaf have maintained traditional teaching methods that allow students flexibility in choosing their course of study.
An Iraqi Shiite scholar (C) lectures his students during a lesson at a religious school for clerics, known in Arabic as Haouza, in the holy city of Najaf, 160 kms (100 miles) south of Baghdad, 05 August 2006. The teaching method at the clerical school in Najaf has not radically changed since its establishment in 1056 AD, with the exception of adding natural sciences subjects to the curriculum.  AFP PHOTO/ALI AL-SAADI (Photo credit should read ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images)

NAJAF, Iraq — Most of the religious schools in Najaf are characterized by a traditional teaching method that differs from the methods used in Iraqi schools and universities. These religious schools have not seen drastic developments in teaching methods and curricula throughout their history, unlike some of their counterparts in Iran and Lebanon. In Najaf's seminaries, there are no lectures or courses that students are required to attend. Rather, a student selects the professor he wishes to work with. A student may choose to attend classes with a professor in a small group, or he may request that the professor teach him alone. If a student feels he does not benefit from the class, he can stop taking it or stop working with the professor and look for another professor.

Sheikh Jihad al-Asadi, a religious scholar in Najaf, said that the common conceptions of schooling do not strictly apply to religious schools in Najaf — in terms of age requirements, mental capacity, scholarly level, the course system, attendance and absence, choosing courses and granting degrees after the completion of a certain stage.

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