Photos: Inside Iraq’s al-Hawza al-Ilmiyya, a Shi’ite cradle of knowledge

A rare look inside the Hawza al-Ilmiyya south of Baghdad, which has for more than 1,000 years, been one of the hearts of Shi'ite Islamic scholarship, training clerics who lead Shi'ite communities across the Muslim world.

UPDATED ON OCT 13, 2017 01:13 PM IST 10 Photos
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Shi’ite clerics study at al-Gharawiya school run by the Hawza al-Ilmiyya in Najaf, Iraq. For more than 1,000 years, the Hawza al-Ilmiyya south of Baghdad has been one of the hearts of Shi’ite Islamic scholarship, training clerics who lead Shi’ite communities across the Muslim world. (Abdullah Dhiaa Al-deen / REUTERS)

Shi’ite clerics study at al-Gharawiya school run by the Hawza al-Ilmiyya in Najaf, Iraq. For more than 1,000 years, the Hawza al-Ilmiyya south of Baghdad has been one of the hearts of Shi’ite Islamic scholarship, training clerics who lead Shi’ite communities across the Muslim world. (Abdullah Dhiaa Al-deen / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON OCT 13, 2017 01:13 PM IST
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Shi’ite clerics engage in dialogue at al-Sayed al-Yazdi school run by the Hawza al-Ilmiyya in Najaf, Iraq. Shi’ites, the majority sect in Iraq, were repressed under Saddam Hussein, but now lead the Iraqi government since his ouster in 2003. Clerics trained at the Hawza have wide social and political influence, both inside Iraq and abroad. (Abdullah Dhiaa Al-deen / REUTERS)

Shi’ite clerics engage in dialogue at al-Sayed al-Yazdi school run by the Hawza al-Ilmiyya in Najaf, Iraq. Shi’ites, the majority sect in Iraq, were repressed under Saddam Hussein, but now lead the Iraqi government since his ouster in 2003. Clerics trained at the Hawza have wide social and political influence, both inside Iraq and abroad. (Abdullah Dhiaa Al-deen / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON OCT 13, 2017 01:13 PM IST
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A Shi’ite cleric (L) speaks to a student at Ibn al-Fahd al-Heli school run by the Hawza al-Ilmiyya in Karbala, Iraq. Thousands of students, from teenage boys to university graduates study Islam at its schools in the holy cities of Najaf and Kerbala. (Abdullah Dhiaa Al-deen / REUTERS)

A Shi’ite cleric (L) speaks to a student at Ibn al-Fahd al-Heli school run by the Hawza al-Ilmiyya in Karbala, Iraq. Thousands of students, from teenage boys to university graduates study Islam at its schools in the holy cities of Najaf and Kerbala. (Abdullah Dhiaa Al-deen / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON OCT 13, 2017 01:13 PM IST
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Shi’ite clerics study at al-Gharawiya school run by the Hawza al-Ilmiyya in Najaf, Iraq. In the Najaf school, a typical day will see clerics in flowing black robes and white turbans giving lectures to groups of students sitting on the floor of a great hall, lined with pointed arches and elaborate mosaics (Abdullah Dhiaa Al-deen / REUTERS)

Shi’ite clerics study at al-Gharawiya school run by the Hawza al-Ilmiyya in Najaf, Iraq. In the Najaf school, a typical day will see clerics in flowing black robes and white turbans giving lectures to groups of students sitting on the floor of a great hall, lined with pointed arches and elaborate mosaics (Abdullah Dhiaa Al-deen / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON OCT 13, 2017 01:13 PM IST
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A Shi’ite cleric holds a turban, headgear symbolic of the clergy at al-Sayed al-Yazdi school run by the Hawza al-Ilmiyya in Najaf, Iraq. This year, around 200 fully fledged clerics will graduate, completing a process that requires at least ten years of study. (Abdullah Dhiaa Al-deen / REUTERS)

A Shi’ite cleric holds a turban, headgear symbolic of the clergy at al-Sayed al-Yazdi school run by the Hawza al-Ilmiyya in Najaf, Iraq. This year, around 200 fully fledged clerics will graduate, completing a process that requires at least ten years of study. (Abdullah Dhiaa Al-deen / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON OCT 13, 2017 01:13 PM IST
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Shi’ite clerics study at al-Sayed al-Yazdi school run by the Hawza al-Ilmiyya in Najaf, Iraq. The Karbala school teaches around 250 students each year, and in Najaf there are more than 1000. Together they are served by a faculty of around 90 teachers. (Abdullah Dhiaa Al-deen / REUTERS)

Shi’ite clerics study at al-Sayed al-Yazdi school run by the Hawza al-Ilmiyya in Najaf, Iraq. The Karbala school teaches around 250 students each year, and in Najaf there are more than 1000. Together they are served by a faculty of around 90 teachers. (Abdullah Dhiaa Al-deen / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON OCT 13, 2017 01:13 PM IST
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A Shi'ite cleric reads a book at a library in Najaf, south of Baghdad, Iraq. Students are given instruction in subjects including Islamic jurisprudence, philosophy, theology, logic and interpreting Islam’s holy book, the Quran. (Abdullah Dhiaa Al-deen / REUTERS)

A Shi'ite cleric reads a book at a library in Najaf, south of Baghdad, Iraq. Students are given instruction in subjects including Islamic jurisprudence, philosophy, theology, logic and interpreting Islam’s holy book, the Quran. (Abdullah Dhiaa Al-deen / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON OCT 13, 2017 01:13 PM IST
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Abdul Hussain Jassim Al Aboudi, 60, a student at al-Gharawiya school run by the Hawza al-Ilmiyya, holds a book, in Najaf, Iraq. (Abdullah Dhiaa Al-deen / REUTERS)

Abdul Hussain Jassim Al Aboudi, 60, a student at al-Gharawiya school run by the Hawza al-Ilmiyya, holds a book, in Najaf, Iraq. (Abdullah Dhiaa Al-deen / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON OCT 13, 2017 01:13 PM IST
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Shi'ite clerics talk at al-Sayed al-Yazdi school run by the Hawza al-Ilmiyya in Najaf, Iraq. Following a slump in enrolments during the Saddam regime, the Najaf Hawza and its schools, under the chancellorship of Ayatollah Sistani host around 13,000 students. The curriculum has also seen updates to include modern subjects as well as inter faith and inter sectarian initiatives. (Abdullah Dhiaa Al-deen / REUTERS)

Shi'ite clerics talk at al-Sayed al-Yazdi school run by the Hawza al-Ilmiyya in Najaf, Iraq. Following a slump in enrolments during the Saddam regime, the Najaf Hawza and its schools, under the chancellorship of Ayatollah Sistani host around 13,000 students. The curriculum has also seen updates to include modern subjects as well as inter faith and inter sectarian initiatives. (Abdullah Dhiaa Al-deen / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON OCT 13, 2017 01:13 PM IST
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Shi'ite clerics walk outside the Imam Hussein and Imam Abbas shrines in Karbala, Iraq. According to faculty at the Hawza al-Ilmiyya the school holds a high rank at the heart of society. Its impact reduces the moral degeneration and irregularities of life, creating a culture among people aimed at reinforcing relationships between different sects away from discrimination. (Abdullah Dhiaa Al-deen / REUTERS)

Shi'ite clerics walk outside the Imam Hussein and Imam Abbas shrines in Karbala, Iraq. According to faculty at the Hawza al-Ilmiyya the school holds a high rank at the heart of society. Its impact reduces the moral degeneration and irregularities of life, creating a culture among people aimed at reinforcing relationships between different sects away from discrimination. (Abdullah Dhiaa Al-deen / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON OCT 13, 2017 01:13 PM IST
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