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Last Updated: 2006/09/11
Summary of question
How many scholars or legal authorities are or have been hafizes of the Quran?
How many Ayatollahs are hafizes of the Quran, today? What about in the past?
Concise answer

            Quranic memorization is one of the most admirable and praiseworthy practices which had become prevalent amongst the Muslims since the time of the noble prophet ; it has always been considered important by scholars, religious authorities, and religious students of the Shia Islamic seminaries. After the victory of the Islamic Revolution, much effort and energy has been put into spreading the culture of memorizing the noble Quran in the Islamic Republic of Iran, for example: there are now hafizes of the Quran within in the Islamic seminaries, and from amongst various classes of people. Moreover, several schools have been built just for this purpose. Today many of the scholars, teachers and religious students are hafizes of the Quran: Marjas (religious authorities) even set aside and give a special monthly wage to those who are hafizes of the Quran. However, memorizing the Quran and being a hafiz is not limited to only memorizing the words, rather it involves acknowledging the commentary, interpretation and being able to elaborate the Quranic verses in classrooms, gatherings, on the podium, in books, and in articles.

These diverse Quranic activities are customary and widespread amongst religious scholars and students.

Detailed Answer

            The tradition of memorizing Quran was established during the time of the Noble Prophet (Peace be upon him), and since then was continued because of the emphasis which were expressed in numerous hadiths and by the Prophet Himself. From amongst the individuals who have given great importance to memorizing the holy Quran are scholars and clergies, for the reason that protecting this religion is first and foremost, their responsibility. From several years ago until today there have been many hafiz of Quran from amongst legal authorities, scholars, and religious students. Unfortunately we do not have an exact census.


            After the victory of the Islamic revolution, much effort and energy was put into spreading the tradition of memorizing the holy Quran in the Islamic Republic of Iran, i.e. hafizes of Quran in the Islamic seminaries. These hafizes have been distinguished from amongst other scholars and religious students and a special monthly wage, and other helpful services have also been established for them. At the present time there are countless numbers of individuals who have memorized the whole Quran, half, and even one third of the Quran from amongst scholars, teachers and religious students, however, unfortunately we do not have an exact census. Since several years ago special schools have been formed for clergies and religious students who are hafiz of Quran. These schools have had much notable success in the field of Quranic memorization. Of course, even though memorizing the Quran is a tremendous accomplishment, it is not a prerequisite for ijtihad.

            On the other hand, memorizing the Quran is not limited to only memorizing the words and pronunciations. Individuals who are being educated in Quranic exegesis (learning and interpreting Quranic commentary), and people who are able to interpret, and articulately elaborate on Quranic verses in classrooms, gatherings, and on the podium, can all be considered hafiz of Quran. Almost ten decades have past since the establishing of a field in the Islamic seminary specific to Quranic memorization. At the present time there are numerous clergies who have established themselves in this major and many of them have studied and graduated with PhD's and have written and presented a number of dissertations in this field. Also, those who write books and articles in the field of Quranic exegesis are also a kind of hafiz of Quran and Alhamdullilah Shia Islamic seminaries and those of legal authorities have many such Quranic activities. A final point in closing is that although memorizing the Quran is Mustahab, the opinion of many Shia scholars is that it is obligatory for someone who is a hafiz to preserve what he has memorized.

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