Motahhari | The Mutual Services of Iran and Islam
“What was the first institution of learning (hawza-i ‘ilmi) of Muslims? The movement originated in Medina. The first book that attracted the Muslims’ attention was the Qur’an, with Muslim rigorously studying it. After the Qur’an, it was the ahadith. The first learning institution thus originated in Medina. For the first time, the Arabs of the Hijaz were acquainted with [the situation] of an educator [ustad] and students, participating in a ‘halaqa’ [circle] of learning, memorization, and recording a teacher[‘s sayings]. The Muslims, with much enthusiasm and fervor, would memorize the verses of the Qur’an as they were gradually revealed and what they didn’t know, they would ask those whom the Messenger of God had appointed to write down the verses of the Qur’an. In addition to that, they would also record the sayings of God’s Messenger, which were popularly known as ‘tradition’ [sunnah] of the Messenger. In the Messenger’s mosque, official circles [halaqas] of learning formed and there they would participate in discussions about Islamic topics and education. One day the Messenger of God entered the mosque and he saw two circles formed. One of them was a group who was occupied with the invocation of God and acts of worship, and the other in matters of education and learning. After seeing them both, he said, “Both of them are upon good [works], but I have been sent for teaching”. The Messenger of God then left and joined the circle of those who were teaching”. [Source: Munniyat al-Murid, Shahid al-Thani].