Qom: A peek into Iran's Holy City

Qom: A peek into Iran's Holy City

Qom is a city which is considered holy in Shi'a beliefs. Around an hours drive from Tehran, it has a busy, somewhat chaotic feeling but not the hustle and bustle of Tehran. Pilgrims mix along with the mullahs in the crowds that move around in this city which I feel might have the mood and feeling of Mecca. The haunting sound of Koranic prayers bellowing constantly gives this place an eerie feel with the fervor felt in the air. 

There are famous "souhan" 
سوهان shops, which sell the local sweet made of cardamon, which line the major streets. 

The major landmark of this city is the Shrine of Fatema, who is a daughter to a famous Imam in Shi'a belief. Thousands of pilgrims come to pay homage to her shrine and ask for blessings. It is not legal for non Muslims to enter the shrine. ( Our guide managed to allow us entry into the shrine area)

Qom is also the largest centre for Shi'a scholarship  in the world, hence many mullahs are visible throughout the city, which made us jokingly nickname this city "Mullahville". There are Islamic seminaries and religious Universities throughout this city creating Mullahs as Rome is creating Catholic priests. When visiting Fatema's shrine flocks of pilgrims rest on the floors, and mullah led groups are seen throughout the area. 
The shrine is very beautiful and ornate suggesting memories somewhere between Wat PraKao in Bangkok and St. Peter's Basilica in the Vaticano. 

A beautiful and ornate shrine with a strong religious fervor feeling mixed with a party feeling in the atmosphere.

A lot of people taking photos of each other as well as the ornate surroundings.

Caught in my photo lens a hunky future mullah in training or perhaps a pilgrim?

I like the touchy feeling atmosphere of this group and if I were among them I suppose I would be joining in on it all!

One thing which I found interesting is a hand called" Hamsa" This is a hand perched a top a minaret. It is a hand with five fingers, each finger symbolising five Islamic people: Mohammed, Fatima, Ali, Hassan and Hossein. They are there to protect against  believers from any harm. A suppose their answer to "Father, Son and Holy Spirit"? 

This city is another one on my list in which I would like to explore better, especially the back roads and get a sense of everyday life here. It will be especially interesting to know which places I would be allowed to enter and which ones, according to customs, I would be barred from entering?


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