TRADITIONAL SHI‘ITE EDUCATION IN QOM
Before describing traditional education in Qom it is important to remember the likely path of education and socialization of the students who subsequently studied there. In traditional Iranian households the upbringing of a young Muslim boy rests firmly with his mother until about the age of six, when he starts to go to the public bath with his father instead of his mother. (Among the Shi‘ites circumcision, often performed at birth, can be performed even as late as the sixth year.) At about the same age as a Muslim boy begins to accompany his father to the public bath he also begins to sit with his father and other male relations when male visitors are received at home. And, in Iranian society before the spread of universal primary education after the Second World War, many children also entered Qur’an schools in their sixth year. Although ties with mothers remained strong, the sudden introduction of Muslim boys into the world of men during their sixth year may have formed a model for the sense of sudden mastery of different levels of knowledge which characterizes much of the traditional Shi‘ite system of education.