Since long time the holy city of Qum is considered as the scientific and cultural centre of the Shi'ites in the world. The great marajah (jurisprudents) and Ulama regularly conduct classes at the advanced levels in different Islamic sciences in this holy city attended by thousands of Ulama and students of Islamic seminaries (tullab). They also carry out extensive research in various Islamic fields and many active Islamic seminaries have been functioning in this holy city.
The advancement of learning in this holy city was prophesied by the Holy Imams (A.S.) and in this regard Imam Jafar Sadiq (A.S) has said : " There will come a period when knowledge and wisdom will spread in the east and west of the world from Qum in a way that Qum will become a proof and example over all other cities and everybody on the earth will gain knowledge being spread from Qum and that will be the period of the advent and reappearance of the Proof of Allah and Qaim (Upholder) of our rights [Hadrat Imam Mahdi (A.S.)]
(Bihaar al-Anwar, vol. 60, p. 213)
The scientific and religious activities commenced in the second century hijrah when the Ashari tribesmen settled in the city. The famous jurisprudent and traditionist(muhaddith), Abdullah bin Saad Ashari laid the foundations of Islamic learning in the city and great Ulama of the city like Ibrahim bin Hashim Qummi "Ibn Babwaih" and Zakariya bin Adam and Ahmad bin Ishaq Qummi (R.A.) and other companions of the Shia Imams (A.S.) further advanced Islamic learning in the city. Various Islamic sciences, literature and narration of ahadith progressed in this Shi'ite centre and the ahadith narrated by the traditionists in this city were approved by the Holy Shia Imams (A.S.). The Ulama of Qum were very strict in approving the historical and ahadith narrations and those persons narrating unauthentic ahadith were reprimanded and banished from the city.
With the presence of Ayatullah Mirza Qummi (R.A.) during the Qajar period it gained prominence. During the Safavid era the great philosopher and traditionist Mulla Sadra Shirazi, who founded the transcendental philosophy settled in "Kahakh" near Qum. The great philosopher and gnostic Fayd Kashani (R.A.) also settled in Qum and established the famous Faiziyah Islamic seminary near the holy shrine of Hadrat Fatima Masoumah (A.S.).
During the last phases of the Qajar period and the beginning of the Pahlavi rule, the holy city of Najaf became the prominent Islamic seminary in the Shi'ite world but with the migration of the leading jurisprudent late Ayatullah al-Uzma Haj Shaykh Abdul Karim Haeri Yazdi (R.A.) to Qum in the year 1300 solar hijrah/1921 A.D., the Islamic seminary in Qum once again progressed with the establishment of advanced courses in Islamic sciences.
Dar al-Shifa Islamic seminary was established beside the Madrasa Faiziyah. After the demise of late Haj Shaykh Abdul Karim Haeri Yazdi (R.A.), late Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Taqi Khansari (R.A.) and late Ayatullah Sadr (R.A.) played an important role in the further advancement of the Islamic seminary in Qum. In the year 1322 solar hijrah/1943 A.D., Hadrat Ayatullah al-Uzma Haj Agha Husayn Tabatabai Burujerdi settled in Qum and started delivering lectures in the Islamic seminaries in the advanced courses which attracted a large number of tullab to his classes. With the death of late Ayatullah al-Uzma Haj Sayyid Abul Hasan Isfahani (R.A.) in the holy city of Najaf (Iraq), Ayatullah al-Uzma Burujerdi emerged as the leading Marja Taqleed of the Shi'ites in the world. During the stay of Ayatullah al-Uzma Burujerdi in Qum the Islamic seminary achieved its unique position and progress.
After the death of Ayatullah al-Uzma Burujerdi, the Pahlavi regime implemented its schemes to weaken the Islamic seminary in Qum. Imam Khomeini (R.A.) during this crucial period stood up against the Pahlavi regime. The Ulama and the people of Qum under the leadership of Imam Khomeini (R.A.) staged a historical uprising against the dictatorial Pahlavi regime in the month of June 1963. This uprising was brutally suppressed by the military and Imam Khomeini (R.A.) was exiled from Iran. But great jurisprudents like Ayatullah al-Uzma Gulpaigani (R.A.) and Ayatullah al-Uzma Araki, who were present in Qum guided the Islamic seminary.
The Islamic revolution in Iran achieved remarkable victory in the year 1979 under the leadership of Imam Khomeini (R.A.) but the Baathist regime in Iraq led by Saddam imposed a war against Islamic Republic of Iran and heavily suppressed all the activities of the Islamic seminaries in the holy city of Najaf (Iraq). Thousands of leading Ulama and Tullab were massacred in Najaf by Saddam's regime and many others fled from Najaf and took refuge in the holy city of Qum which has now emerged as the greatest centre of Islamic learning in the world. At present more than 60,000 Ulama including the leading Marajah Taqleed are residing in this holy city. The great Marajah and Ulama has transformed the Islamic seminary in Qum by strengthening the specialized fields in Islamic sciences. Many research centres in Islamic sciences have been established recently in the holy city of Qum and at present more than 50 different Islamic seminaries are functioning in the holy city to disseminate and propagate the teachings of Islam.
Global Centre for Islamic Sciences
After the victory of Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979 thousands of tullab from all the corners of the world have come to the holy city of Qum to gain the knowledge of Islamic sciences. The Supreme Leader of Islamic Revolution Hadrat Ayatullah al-Uzma Sayyid Ali Khamenei has founded the Global Centre for Islamic Sciences in the holy city of Qum to coordinate the educational activities of the non-Iranian tullab. At present more than 10,000 non-Iranian tullab from 90 countries are studying in the Islamic seminaries in this holy city.
Jamia Az-Zahra (A.S.) [Az-Zahra (A.S.) Islamic University]
After the victory of the glorious Islamic revolution in Iran many Islamic seminaries have been established exclusively for women in the holy city of Qum. At present more than 15000 women are studying in different Islamic seminaries founded in Qum exclusively for women.
Beside many Islamic seminaries many leading Islamic research institutions and centres are working in the holy city of Qum. All these Islamic research centres in Qum have been established after the victory of the Islamic revolution and are carrying out intensive and advanced research in all the specialized fields of Islamic sciences under the guidance of the Paramount Leader of Islamic Revolution Hadrat Ayatullah al-Uzma Sayyid Ali Khamenei.