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An akhoond (akhund or akhwand)  (Persian: آخوند) is a Persian title for an Islamic cleric, common in Iran, Azerbaijan and some parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Standard Chinese word for imam, Chinese: 阿訇; pinyin: āhōng), used in particular by the Hui people, also derives from this term. Famous Akhund's are as follows: Molana Hamza Akhund
Akhoonds are responsible for leading religious services in a community. Akhoonds lead the prayers in the mosques, deliver religious sermons and perform religious ceremonies, such as birth rites and funeral services. They also often teach in Islamic schools known in Iran as a howzeh and in other countries as madrasa.
Akhoonds will usually have completed some studies (of varying levels) in a howzeh, studying various Islamic and non-Islamic subjects such as Sharia, fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), Quran, and basic mathematics. They commonly dress in religious attire.
This term was traditionally a slang term in Iran, and it has been completely a derogatory term since the Shah's efforts at westernization. Today in Iran it is almost invariably used as a term of insult, ridicule or disparagement. Ruhollah Khomeini used the term as an insult against those clerics that he considered hypocrites and misguided (mostly low-level seminarians who collaborated with the Shah, and unqualified, ignorant village preachers who falsified their own credentials). In Iran, they are also called mullah, molavi, sheikh, haj-agha, or rohani. The word rohani means "spiritual, holy". Rohani is considered a more polite term for Muslim clerics, used by Iranian national television and radio and by devout Muslim families. Akhoond is increasingly outmoded in Iran, usually with only the older clerics having the title as part of their name. It has not been used widely as a title since the Qajar dynasty.
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Use in personal names
- Akhund Abdul Ghaffur
- Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists
- Clericalism in Iran
- Kyai, similar term in Indonesia