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Qom

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The Islamic World: Past and Present What is This? Accessible coverage of Islam from the seventh century to the twenty-first century

    Qom

    Qom, a city in central Iran located south of Tehran, is a major Shi'i religious site and the leading center of Islamic learning in Iran. In 816 Fatimah, the sister of the eighth imam, Ali al-Rida died in Qom while traveling to meet her brother. Her grave, later topped with a gold dome, became the second most important Shi'i shrine in Iran.

    Historically, Qom residents have developed a reputation for religious piety and resistance to government policies. Qom served as a center of opposition to the Umayyad dynasty ( 661 – 750 ). During the next few centuries, its citizens repeatedly rebelled against the tax demands of Sunni governors. In the 1900s, Qom became a focal point for revolt against the government of Reza Shah Pahlavi. The state's secular policies angered many in the city, including Ruhollah al-Musavi Khomeini, a future ayatollah. A police crackdown on ulama activities led to a major uprising in 1963 . After the shah's forces arrested Khomeini, three days of violent protest ensued. Qom later served as a focal point of the Iranian Revolution of 1979 . The Iranian army surrendered to revolutionary forces there in 1979 , and Khomeini made the city his residence.

    As the home of many of Iran's religious scholars, Qom has played an important role in the administrative affairs of the Iranian republic. The city serves as a burial site of 400 Islamic saints and 10 kings. It boasts at least 20 madrasahs, including Iran's largest center of higher religious learning. Qom attracts legions of pilgrims and religious students each year. See also Iran; Khomeini, Ruhollah al-Musavi; Shrine.

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