Jamkaran, Iran (on the outskirts of Qom) is the site of the Jamkaran Mosque, a popular pilgrimage site for Shi'ite Muslims. Local belief has it that the Twelfth Imam (Muhammad al-Mahdi) - a messiah figure Shia believe will lead the world to an era of universal peace - once appeared and offered prayers at Jamkaran. This belief has been compared to that of Catholics who believe that the Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal in 1917.
The mosque, six kilometres east of Qom, has long been a sacred place, at least since 373 A.H., 17th of Ramadan (22 February 984 C.E.), when according to the mosque website, one Sheikh Hassan ibn Muthlih Jamkarani is reported to have met Muhammad al-Mahdi along with the prophet Al-Khidr. Jamkarani was instructed that the land they were on was "noble" and that the owner — Hasan bin Muslim — was to cease cultivating it and finance the building of a mosque on this sacred land from the earnings he had accumulated from farming the land.
Sometime in decade of 1995-2005, the mosque's reputation spread, and many pilgrims, particularly young people, began to come to it. In the rear of the mosque there is a "well of requests" where it is believed the Twelfth Imam once "became miraculously unhidden for a brief shining moment of loving communion with his Creator." Pilgrims tie small strings in a knot around the grids covering the holy well, which they hope will be received by the Imam Mahdi. Every morning custodians cut off the strings from the previous day. There is a significant body of Shia writing arguing that the Imam Mahdi is hidden but active in the world helping those who are needy. Every Tuesday evenings the mosque kitchen provides a free meal to thousands of poor people.
One of the first acts of the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was to donate £10 million to the mosque, to fund plans to turn "the tiny Jamkaran mosque into a massive complex of prayer halls, minarets, car parks and ablutions."
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