What we believe in at AMIS is that while the rich tradition of the Hawza must be preserved which is what makes a hawza an actual one and not merely a name, some of the recent developments in the hawza program which have caused it to be less efficient as compared to the era of the mujtahids of the pre modern hawza must be transformed as we are in dire need for mujtahids and we need them fast and in large numbers. We believe the extensive study of the works of a few mujtahids to the point of memorization as opposed to the study of a variety of mujtahids with a critical approach along with more time on reading and studying the original sources (i.e. the Quran and Hadith) will yield much better results in a shorter period of time.
We believe the extensive study of only a few works with emphasis on the greatness of the scholars to the point of infallibility does not produce mujtahids who could only be mujtahids if they have their own independent understanding of Quran and Hadith.
Also, the focus on the works of scholars has marginalized the original sources and more time is spent on understanding what which scholar has said as opposed to studying what the Quran and hadith present as solutions and simply refer to the works of other scholars to observe what they have understood without making that the focal point.
This stems from an understanding we have that the Quran and hadith are themselves clear and they are what contain guidance and if the works of scholars have captured a part of that, there is still more to discover and we should not limit ourselves to the understanding of our precious scholars which naturally happens when more time is spent on their words. After all, the greatest of our scholars have been those who’ve introduced a new discovery from our sources. The fear of deviation if we change the focus from the works of the scholars to the original sources stems from an incorrect notion that the sources themselves are not clear and we need to rely on the works of scholars.
The purpose of studying the works of other scholars for a student striving to become a mujtahid is to match how a master of the art of ijtihad develops understanding from putting different clues together from the verses and sayings of the prophet and the ahlulbayt. Like any art, the student should learn and become independent. the material used in this art are Quran, Sunna, and aql. According to all Shia mujtahids, even the consensus of Shia scholars is not a source and point of reference unless we can conclude it states the view of the ahlulbayt.
Students will learn Arabic through studying morphology and syntax as well as Arabic literature to equip them with the skills necessary in the process of ijtihad.
USUL AL FIQH
The principles of developing legitimate opinion from the sources of Islamic thought namely, the Quran, Hadith, and the Aql or sound judgement.
A discipline that takes much time to master and allows one to learn how to use the principles learned in Usul al Fiqh
The Quran id the heart of Islam and so it flows throughout the various disciplines of Islamic studies. However, it must be studied independently in a discipline called Tafsir.
A student of Islamic studies will need to know the words of the Prophet and the Ahlulbayt and the compilations containing them. This discipline will allow a student to have access to the volumes of hadith books that contain these words.
The history of the Prophet and the Ahlulbayt is one of the major sources of learning Islamic teachings in action. Although some of this valuable information can be found in Hadith, history focuses on depiction a full picture of the lives of the Ahlulbayt.
The works of Islamic Philosophy and Muslim philosophers are composed of rational endeavors guided by understandings from religious references in an attempt to understand the most difficult of problems facing us as rational beings which is existence itself. A hawza student is required to learn the rational process as well as the answers presented by philosophers to these fundamental problems.
Studying the discipline of rijal which is increasingly referred to by academic circles and is understudied in traditional hawza circles is a necessary element in the study of hadith as knowing about the narrators and transmitters of hadith as well as compilers of hadith books gives us insight into their hadith and helps us understand the words of the Ahlulbayt.
A critical study of our beliefs is an absolute must for anyone who wishes to study Islam in order to believe in what’s right and not merely as an intellectual exercise.