Photographer's Note

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.
The number of seminary schools in Qom is now over 50, and the number of research institutes and libraries somewhere near 250. 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 156 km apart.
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 and Jafarieh 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 ʻUmar ibn al-Khattāb, the area of Qom fell to the invading Arab armies of Islam. In 645 AD, 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. Qom gained special attention and gradually developed due to its religious shrine during Saffavid dynasty.
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.[4] 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, Ayatollah Khomeini also spent some time in the city before and after moving to Tehran.
Qom bazaar is a part of the old contexture of Qom city which is composed of two enclosed orders. The reason of making it indoor is firstly because of the traditional way of bazaar architecture and secondly because of intense heat in the summer and severe coldness in the winter in Qom city which is beside desert. Ventilation and illumination is done through the circular windows which are put on the embowed ceiling of bazaar and makes a beautiful atmosphere. The building materials used in its architecture is adobe, brick, mud and stone according to the environment capacities. This bazaar has some outdoor parts which are the same caravansary (inns) which were used in the past and were so important. Some parts of Qom bazaar had been destroyed during Iran-Iraq war due to bombardment but were rebuilt and are being used now. This architecture heritage is from safavid period and is indexed as a national monument./ Photographer: mostafa meraji
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Additional Photos by mostafa meraji (mostafameraji) Silver Star Critiquer [C: 15 W: 0 N: 8] (63)
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