University Unity Day in Iran Date in the current year: December 18, 2024

University Unity Day in Iran University Unity Day in Iran is an annual observance celebrated on the 28th of Azar in the Solar Hijri calendar, which corresponds to December 18 in the Gregorian calendar. It celebrates the unity of the country’s religious and secular higher education institutions.

After the Arab invasion and Islamization of Persia, the only institutions that provided higher learning were the Nizamiyyah, the House of Wisdom, and other religion-focused centers of learning. The first western style universities in Iran were established in the mid-19th century. In 1851, Prime Minister Amir Kabir established Dar ul-Funun, the country’s first modern institution of higher learning. It trained upper-class Persian youth in geology, engineering, medicine, and military science.

Dar ul-Funun was followed by the Military College of Tehran and the Tehran School of Political Science. In 1934, the University of Tehran was officially established by the orders of Reza Shah. Today, it is Iran’s largest university, as well as one of the most prestigious universities in the Middle East. After that, the number of secular universities began to grow. In 1977, Iran had 16 universities with more than 154,000 undergraduate students.

Things changed after the 1979 Revolution (which, by the way, involved massive student protests). In March 1980, Ayatollah Khomeini initiated a purge of universities under the guise of a cultural revolution. Numerous professors were fired and students expelled because of their alleged ties to the old regime.

All secular universities in Iran were closed down from 1980 to 1983, among other things, for their academic relations with American schools. However, the new government eventually realized that transforming the already existing system of higher education in accordance with the new ideology was much easier than creating a new one from scratch.

So it was decided to unify secular and religious approaches to higher education according to the principles laid down by Mohammad Mofatteh back in the 1970s. Mofatteh was an Iranian philosopher, theologian, and political activist who worked for the unity between theological and academic disciplines. He believed that university students should be taught about Islam, while seminary students need to engage in academic and scientific activities.

Unfortunately, Mofatteh did not live to see his ideas brought to life. On December 18, 1979, he was assassinated by four members of an opposition militant group in front of the Theology Department of the University of Tehran. The anniversary of Mofatteh’s death was declared as University Unity Day to honor his contribution to the development of present-day higher education in Iran.

The unity of Iranian universities and seminaries doesn’t imply the transformation of all secular institutions into religious ones. The Iranian Ministry of Education emphasizes that its main tasks are to bring the two types of educational institutions closer together, and to promote the interaction of science and religion.

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University Unity Day in Iran, holidays in Iran, cultural observances, Mohammad Mofatteh