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Persian: qum

The Hazrat-e Masumeh in Qom, Iran.
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The Hazrat-e Masumeh in Qom. Photo: Laura e Fulvio.

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The Fatima al-Masumeh Shrine of Qom, Iran.
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The Fatima al-Masumeh Shrine. Photo: Ninara.

The Hazrat-e Masumeh in Qom, Iran along the river.
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The Hazrat-e Masumeh along the river.

Detail from the Hazrat-e Masumeh in Qom, Iran.
New mosque in Qom, Iran.

City in Iran with 850,000 inhabitants (2005 estimate), situated in central Iran, east of the large salt desert, Dasht-e Kavir. It is the capital of Qom Province with 1.05 million inhabitants (2005 estimate) and an area of 11,237 km². It belonged to Markazi province until the early 1990s.
The agriculture of the region produces grain, oil seeds, vegetables, cotton, fruits, nuts and opium poppies. The industries produce cotton textiles, shoes, pottery and glass.
Qom is connected by road and rail to Teheran, 200 km north, Kashan, 100 km southeast, Yazd, 500 km southeast and Esfahan, 300 km south.
Qom is a sacred city for Shi'i Islam, and has a golden-domed shrine from the 9th century that is built around the tomb of Fatima, Imam Reza's sister. This is the centre of an annual pilgrimage. There are also many tombs for Safavid kings. All in all, 10 kings and more than 400 Muslim saints are buried here.
Qom has the largest madrasa, or theological college, in the country, and has been the leading centre for Twelver Shi'i theology in recent decades.

816: Fatima, sister of Imam Ali ar-Rida, dies in the town and is buried here.
9th century The city is founded.
14th century: Plundered by Timur Lenk.
17th century: Qom becomes the centre of a pilgrimage for Shi'is. Later, the Safavid rulers build a golden-domed shrine over Fatima's tomb.
18th century: Plundered by the Afghans.
1979: The Iranian Army surrenders to Islamic revolutionary militia, marking the end of the rule of the Shah.
Ayatollah Khomeini returns to Qom, making the city the seat for his activities.

By Tore Kjeilen