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Coordinates: 34°39′N 50°53′E / 34.65°N 50.883°E / 34.65; 50.883

—  City  —
Fatima al-Masumeh Shrine in Qom

Qom is located in Iran
Coordinates: 34°39′N 50°53′E / 34.65°N 50.883°E / 34.65; 50.883
Country  Iran
Province Qom
Population (2005)
 - Total 1,042,309
Time zone IRST (UTC+3:30)

Qom (Persian: قم, also known as Q'um or Ghom) is a city in Iran. It lies 156 kilometres (97 mi) by road southwest of Tehran and is the capital of Qom Province. It has an estimated population of 1,042,309 in 2005.[1] It is situated on the banks of the Qom River.

Qom is considered holy by Shi`a Islam, as it is the site of the shrine of Fatema Mæ'sume, sister of Imam `Ali ibn Musa Rida (Persian Imam Reza, 789–816 A.D.). 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 BC. 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 ˤUmar ibn al-Khattāb, 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 Öljeitü (Persian Muhammad Khudabænde), 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 Fæteh Æli Shah was responsible for the repairs done on the sepulchre and Holy Shrine of Hæzræt Mæ'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 Ahmad 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.

As a center of religious learning Qom fell into decline for about a century from 1820 to 1920, but had a resurgence when Shaykh Abdul Karim Haeri Yazdi accepted an invitation to move from Sultanabad (now called Arak, Iran), where he had been teaching, to Qom.[2]

In 1964 and 65, before his exile from Iran, the Ayatollah Khomeini led his opposition to the Pahlavi dynasty from Qom. After the Islamic revolution in 1979, Khomeini also spent some time in the city before and after moving to Tehran.


Qom today

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim Part of a series on Shī‘ah Islam


The Fourteen Infallibles

Muhammad · Fatimah · Ali · Hasan · Husayn · al-Sajjad · al-Baqir · al-Sadiq · al-Kadhim · al-Rida · al-Taqi · al-Naqi · al-Askari · al-Mahdi

The Twelve Imams
Ali · Hasan · Husayn
al-Sajjad · al-Baqir · al-Sadiq
al-Kadhim · al-Rida · al-Taqi
al-Naqi · al-Askari · al-Mahdi


Fourteen Infallibles
Occultation (Minor · Major)
Akhbar · Usul · Ijtihad
Taqleed · 'Aql · Irfan


Judgement Day · Justice
Prophethood · Imamate


Prayer · Fasting · Pilgrimage
Charity · Taxes · Jihad
Command Justice · Forbid Evil
Love the family of Muhammad
Dissociate from their Enemies

Holy cities

Mecca · Medina · Jerusalem
Najaf · Karbala · Mashhad
Samarra · Kadhimayn


Usuli · Akhbari · Shaykhi
Nimatullahi · Safaviya
Qizilbash · Alevism · Alawism
Bektashi · Tabarie


Marja · Ayatollah · Allamah
Hojatoleslam · Mujtahid
List of marjas · List of Ayatollahs

Hadith collections

Peak of Eloquence · The Psalms of Islam · Book of Fundamentals · The Book in Scholar's Lieu · Civilization of Laws · The Certainty · Book of Sulaym ibn Qays · Oceans of Light · Wasael ush-Shia · Reality of Certainty · Keys of Paradise

Today, Qom is counted as one of the focal centers of the Shi'a both in Iran and around the globe. Since the revolution the clerical population has risen from around 25,000 to more than 45,000 and the nonnclerical population has more than tripled to about 700,000. Substantial sums of money in the form of alms and Islamic taxes flow into Qom to the ten marja-i taqlid or "Source of Imitation" that reside there.[3] The number of seminary schools in Qom is now over 50, and the number of research institutes and libraries somewhere near 250.[3]

Its theological center and the Fatima al-Masumeh Shrine are prominent features of the provincial capital of Qom province. Another very popular religious site of pilgrimage formerly outside the city of Qom but now more of a suburb 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.

Nearby Towns

South East of Qom is the ancient city of Kashan. Directly south of Qom lie the towns of Delijan, Mahallat, Naraq, Kahak, and Jasb. The surrounding area to the east of Qom is 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:

Fordow uranium enrichment facility

Fordow lies just north of Qom. Its uranium enrichment facility is under construction and is planned to be operational in 2011[4]. Although Iran has clearly stated that the facility is for civil purposes, there is a lot of scepticism about it among the western powers.[5]

At the 2009 G-20 Pittsburgh summit, U.S. President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom, and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France made statements regarding a purportedly undisclosed nuclear enrichment facility still under construction at Qom, drawing parallels with a similar facility at Natanz.[6]

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


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.[7]

Clerical associations

Senior ranking clerics

The following is a list of some Grand Ayatollahs and the most senior ranking Ayatollahs in or directly related to Qom.



See also


  1. ^ Cities in Iran: 2005 Population Estimates
  2. ^ Momen, Moojan, An Introduction to Shi'i Islam, Yale University Press, 1985, 247
  3. ^ a b Christopher de Bellaigue, The Struggle for Iran, New York Review of Books, 2007, p.24
  4. ^ http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Board/2009/gov2009-74.pdf
  5. ^ Figuring Out Fordow
  6. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8274903.stm
  7. ^ Nasr, Vali The Shia Revival, Norton, (2006), p.217
  8. ^ Pro-reform clerical body protests Iran elections. July 5, 2009
  9. ^ Pro-reform clerical body protests Iran elections. July 5, 2009

External links

Religiously affiliated

Non-Religiously affiliated


  • Sādeq Sabā, Visiting Iran's ayatollahs at Qom, Tuesday, 17 June 2008, BBC.

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