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Lebanon's Shiite seminaries split between tradition, modernity

Although most Shiite seminaries in Lebanon still follow a traditional curriculum, a number of schools have begun to revise and develop their educational approaches.
Photographer Mohamed Turjuman shows what he says are pictures that he took of Imam Musa al-Sadr, at his studio in Tyre, southern Lebanon, February 23, 2011. Sadr, the founder of the Shi'ite Amal movement, disappeared with his two companions on a visit to Libya in 1978. The uprising against Muammar Gaddafi has given Sadr's family hope that they may finally find out what happened to him if the Libyan leader is toppled, Rabab al-Sadr told Reuters on February 24, 2011. Picture taken February 23, 2011. REUTERS/
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Lebanon has historically been home to many Shiite religious schools, especially in the Jabal Amel area, which today comprises south Lebanon and part of the western Bekaa Valley. These schools have played an important role in preserving the Shiite Islamic identity and in enriching Twelver Shiite thought. The most prominent Shiite religious schools included the Jezzine School, the Mays al-Jabal School, the Jubaa School, the Kawthiria School, the Shaqra School and the Mashgharah School.

At the end of the 19th century, Jabal Amel experienced a scholarly renaissance that was reflected in the religious schools. The teaching methods and ways of thinking that were had languished throughout the eras of decline began to develop, and religious schools were established on modern and advanced bases, influenced by the scholarly renaissance in the Arab world. The number of new and renovated Shiite schools reached 15 in south Lebanon alone.

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