Islamic Education in Qom

Contemporary Developments


  • Frida A. Nome International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO)
  • Kari Vogt Universitetet i Oslo, Institutt for kulturstudier og orientalske sprak



This article examines contemporary developments within the sector of Islamic education in Qom since the establishment of the Islamic state in 1979. It concludes that the structural changes have been wideranging, encompassing a bureaucratization of the houze (Islamic seminaries) as well as a strengthening of the cooperation and competition between 'traditional' and 'modern' learning institutions. The ancient houze system has been supplemented with a diversified body of new Islamic teaching centres, officially aiming at a modernized education for contemporary Islamic society. The changes have increased the institutional capacity to educate both male and female tollab (students of Islamic theology), and to furnish them with academic degrees. This has contributed to shaping a work force which takes up positions within the media, judiciary, bureaucracy, and the educational institutions of the Islamic state. It has furthermore shaped a generation of preachers and propagators, who work to spread the
state's vision of Islam.