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Qom

Qom

05/23/13

Geography and History

The province of Qom is situated to the south of the province of Tehran, and covers an area of 11,526 sq.km.. According to the latest divisions of the country , the township of Qom, is the only township of the said province. To its south stands the township of Delijan of Markazi province, and the townships of Kashan, Aran and Bidgol from the province of Esfahan. To the west are the townships of Ashtian and Tafresh of Markazi province. From the north, it is limited to Varamin and Ray, of Tehran province, and Saveh of Markazi province.The city of Qom is the provincial capital. In the year 1996, this province had a population of approximately 1,046,737 out of which 93.91 % resided in the urban areas and 6.07 % in the rural vicinities. The province of Qom is confined to the desert region of central Iran, and comprises of mountainous areas, foothills and plains. Due to being located near an arid region and located at a distance from the sea, it experiences a dry climate, with low humidity and scanty rainfall. Thus, agriculture is not possible in most of its areas and is reputed for being on the fringes of the salt lake.

Climate

The province of Qom climatically lies in a semi-arid belt. Its annual rainfall around Hozeh Soltan is recorded as 100 mm. in autumn and winter, whereas, it is rare in hot summer. According to records of the year 1994, the maximum temperature recorded in the months of July-August was 31.6° C and the minimum temperature in the months of December-January being 5.2° C. The months of May, June and September being the most suitable period for travel to this province.

History and Culture

It is said that the city of Qom existed in the pre-Islamic ages, whereas, some believe that the same belongs to the post Islamic times. ‘Kom’ was the name of the ancient rampart of the city of Qom, thus, the Arabs called it Qom. During the Arab conquests in Iran, Qom was a district of Esfahan and thereby was captured along with the same. In the year 23-24 AH., Abu Moosa Ashari, dispatched a part of the forces under his command to Qom. It was during the reign of Caliph Omar II, that Qom was captured by the Moslems, and was turned into a city due to migration of the Ashari tribe from Kufeh. Conflicts arose between the new arrivals (Arabs) and the former residents of the area being the Zoroastrians. Finally the invaders gained a strong hold. From the early Islamic period, the Alavians flocked to Qom so as to remain free of pursuit from the dominating Abbassid and Omavi rulers.Due to presence of the Alavians here, this city became their seat. The people held Ma’moon responsible for the assassination of the eighth Imam of the Shiite sect, Imam Ali Ebne Moos-al-Reza (PBUH), and have great respect for the Imam’s sibling who passed away in Qom and was laid to rest in that very city, in the year 201 AH. This brought about differences between the inhabitants and the ruler of the times, and people evaded taxes. This prompted Ma’moon to send forces to Qom in the year 210 AH., which resulted in a public massacre and destruction of the city.
On hearing of the demise of Ma’moon, the inhabitants of Qom revolted and were successful in overthrowing the representative of the Caliph in 216 AH. Ma’moon’s successor dispatched forces to Qom in order to curb the riots and once again the city was set aflame. After which, ‘Mohammad Ebne Issa Ba’ad Qesi’ was assigned as the ruler of Qom, and he followed a tactful policy. With the oncoming of the Abbassids, the anti-Alavi policy strengthened, and the inhabitants of Qom gave full support to ‘Hassan Kokabi’ till the Alavian rule dominated in the limits of Taleqan, Qazvin, Zanjan and Abhar.In the year 254 AH., the Abbassid Caliph of the time assigned ‘Moosa Ebne Baqa’ to curb Hassan Kokabi and the revolts of Qom. The inhabitants appealed to the eleventh Imam of the Shiite sect, Imam Hassan Asgari (PBUH) in order to be freed from the hands of the despotic caliphs and their agents. The unrest continued right till the Al Booyeh came to power, being one of the Alavian community. It was during this reign that the city of Qom expanded and thrived. In the Saljuqi era the city flourished too.During the Mongol invasion the city witnessed destruction, but after Mongol rulers, such as ‘Soltan Mohammad Oljaito’ adhered to Islam, the city received special attention, thus reviving again. In the late 8th century AH., the city came under the plunder of ‘Teimoor Gurkani’ when the inhabitants were massacred again. During the periods of the rule of the ‘Qarah Qoyoonloo’, ‘Aq Qoyoonloo’, and specially during the reign of the Safavids, Qom gained special attention and gradually developed. In the year 909 AH., Qom became one of the important centers of theology in relation to the Shiite sect, and was a vital pilgrimage site and religious pivot.During the Afghan invasion, the city of Qom suffered heavy damages, and its inhabitants witnessed economic pressures. Qom further saw severe damages during the reigns of Nader Shah Afshar, and the conflicts between the two households of Zandieh and Qajar in order to gain power in Iran. In the year 1208 AH., Qom came under the control of Aqa Mohammad Khan Qajar. On being victorious over his enemies, Fath Ali Shah was responsible for the repairs done on the sepulchre and Holy Shrine of Hazrat Ma’soomeh (AS), as he had made such a vow.The city of Qom thrived in the Qajar era. After the Russian forces entered Karaj in 1915, many of the inhabitants of Tehran moved to Qom. The transfer of the capital from Tehran to Qom was discussed. But the British and Russians demolished the plan by bringing the monarch of the times, Ahmad Shah under pressure. Coinciding with this period, a ‘National Defense Committee’ was set up, and Qom turned into a political and military apex, against the Russian and British powers. But after innumerable differences, came under the hold of the Russian forces in the year 1915. Today, Qom is counted as one of the focal centers of the Shiite sect both in Iran and round the globe. Its theological center and the Holy Shrine of Hazrat Ma’soomeh (AS) are prominent features of this flourishing city.

Qom Province Townships

Qom.

Qom

It is said that the city of Qom existed in the pre-Islamic ages, whereas, some believe that the same belongs to the post Islamic times. ‘Kom’ was the name of the ancient rampart of the city of Qom, thus, the Arabs called it Qom. During the Arab conquests in Iran, Qom was a district of Esfahan and thereby was captured along with the same. In the year 23-24 AH., Abu Moosa Ashari, dispatched a part of the forces under his command to Qom. It was during the reign of Caliph Omar II, that Qom was captured by the Moslems, and was turned into a city due to migration of the Ashari tribe from Kufeh. Conflicts arose between the new arrivals (Arabs) and the former residents of the area being the Zoroastrians. Finally the invaders gained a strong hold. From the early Islamic period, the Alavians flocked to Qom so as to remain free of pursuit from the dominating Abbasside and Omavi rulers. Due to presence of the Alavians here, this city became their seat. The people held Ma’moon responsible for the assassination of the eighth Imam of the Shiite sect, Imam Ali Ebne Moos-al-Reza (PBUH), and have great respect for the Imam’s sibling who passed away in Qom and was laid to rest in that very city, in the year 201 AH. This brought about differences between the inhabitants and the ruler of the times, and people evaded taxes.This prompted Ma’moon to send forces to Qom in the year 210 AH., which resulted in a public massacre and destruction of the city. On hearing of the demise of Ma’moon, the inhabitants of Qom revolted and were successful in overthrowing the representative of the Caliph in 216 AH. Ma’moon’s successor dispatched forces to Qom in order to curb the riots and once again the city was set aflame. After which, ‘Mohammad Ebne Issa Ba’ad Qesi’ was assigned as the ruler of Qom, and he followed a tactful policy. With the oncoming of the Abbassids, the anti-Alavi policy strengthened, and the inhabitants of Qom gave full support to ‘Hassan Kokabi’ till the Alavian rule dominated in the limits of Taleqan, Qazvin, Zanjan and Abhar.In the year 254 AH., the Abbassid Caliph of the time assigned ‘Moosa Ebne Baqa’ to curb Hassan Kokabi and the revolts of Qom. The inhabitants appealed to the eleventh Imam of the Shiite sect, Imam Hassan Asger (PBUH) in order to be freed from the hands of the despotic caliphs and their agents. The unrest continued right till the Al Booyeh came to power, being one of the Alavian community. It was during this reign that the city of Qom expanded and thrived. In the Saljuqi era the city flourished too.During the Mongol invasion the city witnessed destruction, but after Mongol rulers, such as ‘Soltan Mohammad Oljaito’ adhered to Islam, the city received special attention, thus reviving again. In the late 8th century AH., the city came under the plunder of ‘Teimoor Gurkani’ when the inhabitants were massacred again. During the periods of the rule of the ‘Qarah Qoyoonloo’, ‘Aq Qoyoonloo’, and specially during the reign of the Safavids, Qom gained special attention and gradually developed. In the year 909 AH., Qom became one of the important centers of theology in relation to the Shiite sect, and was a vital pilgrimage site and religious pivot.During the Afghan invasion, the city of Qom suffered heavy damages, and its inhabitants witnessed economic pressures. Qom further saw severe damages during the reigns of Nader Shah Afshar, and the conflicts between the two households of Zandieh and Qajar in order to gain power in Iran. In the year 1208 AH., Qom came under the control of Aqa Mohammad Khan Qajar. On being victorious over his enemies, Fath Ali Shah was responsible for the repairs done on the sepulchre and Holy Shrine of Hazrat Ma’soomeh (AS), as he had made such a vow.The city of Qom thrived in the Qajar era. After the Russian forces entered Karaj in 1915, many of the inhabitants of Tehran moved to Qom. The transfer of the capital from Tehran to Qom was discussed. But the British and Russians demolished the plan by bringing the monarch of the times, Ahmad Shah under pressure. Coinciding with this period, a ‘National Defense Committee’ was set up, and Qom turned into a political and military apex, against the Russian and British powers. But after innumerable differences, came under the hold of the Russian forces in the year 1915.Today, Qom is counted as one of the focal centers of the Shiite sect both in Iran and round the globe. Its theological center and the Holy Shrine of Hazrat Ma’soomeh (AS) are prominent features of this flourishing city.

Historical Monuments

Baq-e-Gonbad Sabz Mausoleums, Qom

In the vicinity of the ‘Baq-e-Gonbad Sabz’, which is a small garden to the east of the city, are three relics dating to the 8th century AH. This vicinity is reputedly known as Darvazeh Kashan and so too its domes. According to inscriptions two of these are the tombs of ancient commanders from the Ali Safi household in the 8th century AH., and the third dome is also of the same period according to historical records. The inhabitants of Qom take these three structures to be the tombs of Sa’ad, Saeid and Masoud’, great Arab personalities, who enlivened Qom in the Islamic era.The main characteristics of the three domes are as follows:
The mausoleum of Khajeh Aseeleddin, which is in the southern most dome of the garden. The structure is a regular 12-sided one with decorative ceilings on all sides. There is a beautiful inscription in embossed ‘Tholth’ script. According to this epigraph two personalities have been laid to rest here, one being Aseeleddin of the Safi household or family, and the other his offspring Khajeh Ali Aseel, who was once the ruler of Qom.The tomb of Khajeh Ali Safi, which lies between the two other domes is that of the second in command in the Safi household. The structure externally is a 12-sided one, each with adorned ceilings. Here three persons have been laid to rest, one being Khajeh Jamaleddin Ali, a political and social figure of Iraq (8th century), and the other, a member of the Safi family by the name of Amir Jalaleddin, and the third Khajeh Emadeddin Mahmood Qomi, who was in charge of affairs around Qom till the year 791 AH. The northern dome which is an octagonal structure, lies to the north of the two structures, and due to its demolished epigraph, the owner of the tomb is unknown.

 

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500 Years Old Cypress Tree, Qom

Within 6 km. to the east of Qom, and near the tomb of Hadi Gorgabi Jamkaran is a cypress tree. The same is also famously known as the Hadi Mehdi cypress. Being 500 years old, is to the girth of 3 m. and rises to an elevation of 13 m.

 

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Imam Khomeini House, Qom

The said house in the city of Qom is a simple double storeyed structure, along with a basement and a south-facing courtyard. The hall to the east was the venue of speeches by the Imam when he was residing there. The building dates to the early current century, and now is considered a valuable relic. Hordes of visitors and tourists pay a visit to this vicinity.

 

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Jahangir Khan School, Qom

The same is located in the eastern section of the city, and is a school of the Safavid era. The structure went under repair during the Qajar period, thence it came to be known by the same name. Though this school is small, it is one of the reputed schools of Qom, nurturing many learned scholars from old times. The same was renovated during the period of Fathali Shah, and lately in the year 1994, during the times of Ayatollah Borujerdi. It is said that due to intricate architectural efforts this structure is unique and an outstanding one in Iran.

 

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Qal’eh Sangi Caravansary, Qom

The same is located on the Qom – Ray Road, 35 km. to the northwest of Qom. This caravansary has been planned on a four-porch style. The structure is mainly of stone and dates to the Safavid era. This disintegrated structure has four semi-circular towers on the western and eastern sides.

 

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Feizieh Religious Science School, Qom

The said is one of the famous centers of theology related to the Shiite sect. This school took the place of the already established ‘Astaneh School’ in the mid 13th century, the same was founded in the Safavid era. The school has four porches and is a double storeyed structure with 40 chambers on the lower floor, (Qajar period), and 40 chambers on the upper floor, built in the 14th century AH. The ancient sector of the school is the southern porch, dating back to 939 AH., adorned with beautiful sudorific tile work of the Safavid age. This vicinity is known as the entrance and archaic courtyard of the Holy Shrine of Hazrat Ma’soomeh (AS).

 

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Religious Monuments  

Qom A’zam Mosque, Qom

This mosque is situated to the western front of the Astaneh of the Hazrat Ma’soomeh (AS). The same was constructed by the efforts of Ayatollah Borujerdi in the year 1374 AH. Due to its loftiness this mosque was named A’zam (Grand). It has three porches and its domed nocturnal area is adorned throughout with tile work, and is placed to the south of the courtyard. To the east of the aggregate of A’zam Mosque is the Ballasar Mosque and the old courtyard of the Holy Shrine. Whereas, the southwest and south faces the Sahel avenue and interconnected to the treasury of Haram Motahar.

 

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Hazrat Ma’soomeh Holy Shrine, Qom

The aggregate of the Holy Shrine of Hazrat Ma’soomeh is in the city center of Qom, and is considered to be one of the largest and most valuable relics of Islamic architecture of Iran and the world which bears precious remnants from various centuries.

 

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This aggregate has been constructed on mausoleum of Hazrat Fatemah reputedly known as Ma’soomeh the daughter of Imam Moosa Kazem (AS), and sister of Imam Reza (AS). After Hazrat Ma’soomeh’s sacred corpse was laid to rest, Moosa Ebne Khazraj erected a straw mat shelter over the tomb.

 

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This disintegrated with the passage of time and later the inhabitants constructed a tower like structure made of plaster and brick on the sacred tomb. This was the reason that when any woman from Moosa Ebne Mabraqeh household was passed away, the was buried alongside the sacred tomb of Hazrat Ma’soomeh, thus a cupola was formed which was the burial site of four persons. In due time two other cupolas were erected alongside the prior ones. In the year 447 AH., Mir Abol Fazl, the minister of Toqrol, who was a pious person erected a cupola rising to the height of 14 m. upon the same three other cupolas.In the Safavid period, the Holy Shrine of Hazrat Ma’soomeh had four courtyards placed in succession, and pilgrims used to enter from one and exit from the other. In Qajar era, Fathali Shah paid special attention to this sacred vicinity and most of its current adornments are related to the said period.

 

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Presently the Holy Shrine consists of the following structures:
The sacred shrine: The current structure was constructed by Shah Begum in the year 925 AH. It is an irregular octagon with eight platforms. After this part there is the dome and ceiling adorned with decorative arches. There is a beautiful  inscription throughout engraved in the ‘Tholth’ script in a gilded form on a background of turquoise and white tiles. These verses are sacred. There is also another inscription in embossed ‘Tholth’ script and worked with plasterwork with verses from the Holy Qoran. This inscription belongs to the date of 1251 AH. On the structure is the dome rising to an elevation of 16 m. which was constructed by the orders of Fathali Shah in place of the former dome in the years 1215-1218 AH. Due to the fact that the sacred tomb is placed between two sepulchres today, is hidden from sight. This tomb is worked with beautiful tile work in the mid 7th century AH., and such adornment is worthy of praise and an excellent piece of craftsmanship. To the south of which after crossing the southern porch, there is a large dome, and this area is commonly known as the ‘woman’s courtyard’, and now is called the ‘mosque museum’.The domed ceiling and altar are worked in artistic tile work, besides the epigraphs which adorn it. In the northern direction of this is the gold porch, constructed by the efforts of Shah Begum, the daughter of Shah Esmail in the year 925 AH. This porch has tile worked cornices related to the Safavid era and two minarets. To the east of the shrine is also a porch reaching a height equivalent to the gold porch known as the ‘Mirror Porch’ and the said displays a fine master piece of art and architecture of the Qajar period. Facing this porch is a covered area which excels in beauty.The new courtyard: The same is located to the east of the shrine, and was constructed by Mirza Ali Asqar Khan Amin-ol-Soltan. Surrounding this courtyard are more than 30 large and small mausoleums, the most important of which is his tomb. This courtyard is in two connected segments. The larger sector is an irregular octagon, and the smaller section is in form of a projection amidst the eastern side and is of five sides. Around the courtyard to the upper portion of the porches there are inscriptions of sun baked brick tiles with azure backgrounds displaying poetic verses. This courtyard, besides its mirror porch has three other porches to the east, north and south. The eastern porch is the most delicately architectured of the three. Its ceiling is worked in an arched style adorned with gilded and colored tiles. On this porch are two minarets and a clock tower. The porch was flanked by two corridors which currently are used as vaults. The new court has three tiled entrances to the east, north and south of the courtyard.

 

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The Atiq or old courtyard: This courtyard was built under the instructions of Fath Ali Shah Qajar, in place of the two smaller courtyards of the Safavid era.To the south of this vicinity is the gold porch with porches on two sides of it. On the other sides there are mausoleums, such as that of the two Qajar sovereigns. Surrounding this courtyard and on the porches are inscriptions with poetical verses inspired by the decorative dome in the year 1218 AH. In this courtyard, to the north, is its majestic entrance from the Shah Tahmasb Safavid reign, which is near the Qiasieh School. The northern porch of the courtyard has a vaulted ceiling, but is simple in style otherwise being constructed of gypsum. This is opposite the gold porch. The southern porch however, is a fine relic of the Safavid period adorned with poetical inscriptions. Tombs of the monarchs: In this aggregate there are various tombs belonging to that of monarchs and princes of the Safavid and Qajar periods. These remnants are considered the historical and artistic relics of this vicinity.

Imamzadeh Ali-ebne Ja’far (Dar Behesht), Qom

The same is related to the early 8th century AH. It is an octagonal structure with a conical dome. The porch was added to the building in the Qajar era. The adornments of the mausoleum are equivalent in rank to other known remnants of the province. Its plasterwork is worth mentioning as the same is relevant to the 8th century AH., and is a masterpiece of that age. Its gilded tiles, and cornices that display about 94 human, floral and animal motives; besides sacred inscriptions in ‘Naskh’ script can be noted here. The gilded altar and arched ceilings to the south of the mausoleum, constructed in the year 734 AH., today adorn the national treasury of the country.

 

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Imamzadeh Ma’soomeh, Qom

The same is in the Kehak Qahestan village, and at a distance of 24 km. from Qom. The present structure was constructed by the efforts of Shah Begum, the daughter of Shah Esmail . The said is the tomb of one of the descendants of Imam Moosa Kazem (AS). It is an irregular octagon externally, but internally is square in shape. It has been constructed of stone and gypsum. To each side of the structure an area for the elite has been procured, from each of which a door leads to the outside, and in front of these doors are the halls.The outer dome is a short pyramid shaped one with 16 panels and adorned with turquoise colored tiles. To the three sides of the mausoleum are the halls which are connected to each other. Flanking the northern hall, are two spaces with an eye-catching view, and this layout was added to the mausoleum in Safavid era. Artistic relics dated 979 AH., from this mausoleum, today adorn the treasures of the Baq-e-Fin of Kashan.

 

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Imamzadeh Shah Ebrahim, Qom

This structure is situated in the pastures of Shah Ebrahim, 24 km. from Qom, and the present structure is related to the Safavid age. The dome rises to a height of 7 m. and is adorned with turquoise colored tiles. The entrance of the mausoleum is to the west and has a porch to its opposite. Internally the structure is a quadrangle, with additional half arches in the four corners, thereby changing its shape to a sphere. The ancient relic of this Imamzadeh consist of its carved wooden door dating to 1015 AH., a piece of carved wood belong to 1015 AH., which is affixed on the southern porch near the entrance, and four engravings which are affixed to the southern portion of the western porch.

 

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Imamzadeh Shah Hamzeh, Qom

Shahzadeh Hamzeh is the offspring of Moosa Ebne Ja’far and the sibling of Imam Reza. This Imamzadeh is located in the Old Square of Qom and is highly honored by the inhabitants. This structure has a very interesting plan. Its entrance doors of the courtyard open at such an angle so as to face the eastern and western sides. The courtyard is rectangular in shape surrounding it are arched roofs and adorned in the roman style.

 

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One of the spectacular adornments of this mausoleum is the entrance porch to the shrine, which reveals a row of inscriptions worked on a background of azure, and dates back to 1301 AH. (The year that this structure was erected).The checked white tiles on the walls of the porch are that of the Qajar era. Its ceiling has spiral effects together with conical shapes, and its dome has a spherical form at its apex. Internally and below the dome is constructed in a vaulted style with gypsum. Near this Imamzadeh is another Imamzadeh by the name of Imamzadeh Shah Ahmad, who is believed to be the sibling of Shahzadeh Hamzeh.

 

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Imamzadeh Shahzadeh Ahmad Qasem, Qom
The above mentioned is near the Qal’eh Gateway of the city to the south east of Qom. This is a relic of the Ali Safi household, and on the whole is an example of the unique and spectacular plasterwork which was at its peak during the said period.

 

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The same was constructed in the year 780 AH. The facade of the structure was octagonal, but in the upper portion turns to a 16 sided structure. The dome is arched and made of brick, but in later years a cupola was added to this. On a tablet of the tomb, which now is in the Berlin Museum, and is known as ‘The Altar of the Qom mosque’, and the date of 663 AH. in the month of Safar (a month of the Moslem calendar) can be observed.

 

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Natural Attractions

Salt Lake, Qom

The said lake is in actual fact a part of the salt desert of Iran and is located to the east of Qom. It is a section of an ancient lake, currently dried up and rich in mineral sedimentation due to gradual evaporation. This salt desert lies amidst the provinces of Khorassan, Sistan, Qom, Esfahan and Yazd. The Salt lake contains water only in the winter months, whereas in summer a crust of salt attracts attention. This region experiences an extremely dry climate and the difference between day and night temperatures range till approximately 70° C. This difference in temperatures make the rocks of the surrounding elevations crack, crumpling into mounds of sand, and air currents cause them to move.

 

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Culture and Art

Hazrat Ma’soomeh Holy Shrine Museum, Qom

The above mentioned museum is one of the ancient museums of Iran, and was inaugurated in the year 1925. This museum comprises of two large halls with beautiful tile worked cornices, and the same is situated alongside the courtyard of the Holy Shrine. This museum displays a fine and valuable selection being that of hand written Holy Qorans related to the 3rd century AH. So too brocades of the Safavid period.The carpets and rugs on display in this museum are the effects of the reputed Ostad Nematollah Jushqani of the Safavid era. These have been endowed by the Safavid monarchs to the Astaneh of the Holy Shrine. Other articles of interest are various tiles related to the early 7th century AH. An inlaid worked chest of the Sheikh Safi mausoleum, and a golden lantern used for the burning of incense, silverware etc. are on exhibit in this museum and on public display.

 

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Universities

The Governmental universities in Qom province

University of Qom, Mofid University, The Research Institute of Hawzeh va Daneshgah, Computer Research Center of Islamic Sciences, Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute, Qom University of Medical Sciences, Payam Noor University of Qom.

The Islamic Azad universities in Qom province

Islamic Azad University of Qom.

Handicrafts and Souvenirs, Qom

In Qom province and more so in its rural areas handicrafts play an important part. Even though today it is to a lesser degree, but is still a means of earning a livelihood. The most important of these handicrafts are: carpets, brick and ceramic work, latticed work, a special type of sweet known as Sohan, rosaries, vessels of stone and gypsum, decorative articles, porcelain, silk carpets and fruits like pomegranate and fig.

 

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Local Music and Dances, Qom

The province and city of Qom is the center of religious studies and ceremonies.In religious ceremonies musical expression along with special tune for such ceremonies have been intermingled with religion. Considering the fact that the music of religious ceremonies is reputed as the music for mourning ceremonies, such type of music is usually accompanied with sadness, woeful and tragic feelings and expressions. Therefore they are normally played with instruments such as flute, reed, cymbal and drum. Their basic tune has been influenced by Iranian musical notes and divisions.