Found in: Iranian provincial capitals
Qom is a city in Iran. It lies by road southwest of Tehran and is the capital of Qom Province. It has an estimated population of 1,042,309 in 2005. It is situated on the banks of the Qom river.
Qom is considered to be a holy city in Shi`a Islam, as it is the site of the shrine of Fatema Mae'sume, sister of Imam `Ali ibn Musa Rida . The city is the largest center for Shi'a scholarship in the world, and is a significant destination of pilgrimage.
Qom as an urban settlement existed in the pre-Islamic ages. Architectural discoveries indicate that Qom was a residential area from the 5th millennium B.C. Pre-Islamic remaining relics and historical texts point to the fact of Qom being a large regional city. Kum was known to be the name of this ancient city, thus, the incoming 7th century Arabs called it Qom during the conquests of Iran.
During the caliphate of Umar ibn al-Khattab, the area of Qom fell to the invading Arab armies of Islam. In 645 A.D., Abu Musa Ash'ari, also dispatched forces under his command to the area. Conflicts resulted between the incoming Arab army and the residents of the area.
In Seljuki times, the city flourished as well. During the Mongol invasion of Persia the city witnessed widespread destruction, but after the Mongol ruling dynasty, also known as the Ilkhanate, converted to Islam during the reign of Oljeitu (Persian Muhammad Khudabaende), the city received special attention, thus undergoing a revival once more.
In the late 14th century, the city was plundered by Tamerlane and the inhabitants were massacred. But during the periods of rule of the Qara Qoyunlu, Aq Qoyunlu and especially during the reign of the Safavids, Qom gained special attention and gradually developed due to its religious shrine.
By 1503 Qom became one of the important centers of theology in relation to the Shia Islam, and became a significant religious pilgrimage site and pivot.
The city suffered heavy damages again during the Afghan invasions, resulting in consequent severe economic hardships. Qom further sustained damages during the reigns of Nadir Shah and the conflicts between the two households of Zandieh and Qajariyeh in order to gain power over Iran.
Finally in 1793 Qom came under the control of Agha Muhammad Khan Qajar. On being victorious over his enemies, the Qajar Sultan Faeteh Ali Shah was responsible for the repairs done on the sepulchre and Holy Shrine of Haezraet Mae'sume, as he had made such a vow.
The city of Qom began another era of prosperity in the Qajar era. After Russian forces entered Karaj in 1915, many of the inhabitants of Tehran moved to Qom due to reasons of proximity, and the transfer of the capital from Tehran to Qom was even discussed. But the British and Russians defeated prospects of the plan by putting Ahmaed Shah Qajar under political pressure. Coinciding with this period, a "National Defense Committee" was set up in Tehran, and Qom turned into a political and military apex opposed to the Russian and British colonial powers.
Many years later, Qom also became the center from which Ayatollah Khomeini based his opposition to the Pahlavi dynasty while in Iran. For many years Qom was the home of Ayatollah Khomeini, who led Iran during the events that led to the Islamic revolution in 1979 before permanently leaving for Tehran after the revolution.
Today, Qom is counted as one of the focal centers of the Shi'a both in Iran and around the globe. Its theological center and the Holy Shrine of Hadrat Ma'sumah are prominent features of the provincial capital of Qom province. Another religious site of pilgrimage is outside the city of Qom and is called Jamkaran.
Qom's proximity to Tehran, Iran's capital, has allowed the clerical establishment easy access to monitor the affairs and decisions of state. Many grand ayatollahs hold offices in both Tehran and Qom; many people simply commute between the two cities as they are only 100 km apart.
South East of Qom is the ancient city of Kashan. Directly south of Qom lay the towns of Delijan, Mahallat, Naraq, Kahak, and Jasb, the surrounding area to the east of Qom are populated by Tafresh, Saveh, and Ashtian.
Attractions of Qom
Iran's Cultural Heritage Organization lists 195 sites of historical and cultural significance in Qom. But the more visited sites of Qom are:
Howz-e Soltan Salt Lake
Namak Great Salt Lake
Mar'ashi Najafi Library, with over 500,000 handwritten texts and copies.
Astaneh Moqaddaseh Museum
Jami' Mosque Qom
Atiq Mosque in Qom
Shrine of Fatimah al-Masumah
Qom space center
Qom space center is, with the Emamshahr space center, one of the two places where the Iranian Space Agency is launching its suborbital Shahab 3s space rockets.
Universities and Institutions in Qom
University of Qom
Fatemieh School of Medical Sciences
Qom is currently the largest center for Shi'a scholarship in the world. There are an estimated 50,000 seminarians in the city coming from 70 countries including 6000 from Pakistan. Qom has seminaries for women and some non-Shia students. Most of the seminaries teach their students modern social sciences and Western thought as well as traditional religious studies.Nasr, Vali The Shia Revival, Norton, (2006), p.217
Senior ranking clerics
The following is a list of some Grand Ayatollahs and the most senior ranking Ayatollahs in or directly related to Qom.
Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri
Grand Ayatollah Sanei
Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi
Ayatullah Mohammad Beheshti
Ayatullah Hassan Modarres
Ayatullah Morteza Motahhari
Ayatullah Mahmoud Taleghani
List of Ayatollahs
List of Marjas
Society of Islamic Teachers of Qom's Hawzah (in Persian)
Islamic International Foundation of Cooperation(IslamIFC) IslamIFC
Sadeq Saba, ''Visiting Iran's ayatollahs at Qom'', Tuesday, 17 June 2008, BBC.