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March 26th Lecture.docx

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Islamic Studies
ISLA 210
Laila Parsons

MARCH 26, 2012: Qom, the Howzeh and Revolution  Iran is a majority Shi’ite country, which has important implications. The people in Iran recognize to varying extents that temporal religious authority is something that is exclusive to the Imams. They also have to believe that the Imams are no longer there, which is sort of paradoxical. The religious authority and legal authority amongst Shi’ite Muslims has to rest with something other that the Imams to stand in their place and direct the lives of Iranians. This means that the “uluma” have taken this role in Iran (just in the lives of the Shi’ites).  Who are the uluma?  Qom is Iran’s Shrine City  Fatima Ma’suma (died 816) in Qom was the sister of the Ali Raza Shah  Pilrimiges have beenvery important to Shi’ites. The most famous shrines are actually in Iraq, not Iran (Najaf, Karbala, Samarra, and Kazimiya). These are where some of the most famous Imams were buried.  Mantle of the Prophet: Ali Hashemi’s description of his visit to the Shrine of Fatima Ma’suma was portrayed as very emotional and it seems that he believes he doesn’t do as a learned man in his adulthood. This is not the case for everyone, and many adults visit the shrine. (page 22-24)  The shrines bring pilgrims and extraordinary amounts of money to Qom. Shrine cities (like the atabat of Iraq) also bring “corpse traffic” because people want to be buried there.  People buried at Qom are Fatima Ma’suma, and the close you are to her and to the middle the most wealthy and well off you are. Even the kings (who were not all religious) would pay a lot of money to be buried in the Shrines.  It acknowledges their authorities as the leaders of the community after Mohammed, and to extend the believing between the citizens and him Imam. The visitation is also aimed at preserving the collective Shi’ite memory and identity as distinct from the Sunnis. Especially in times of strike, the visits substituted from visits to Mecca.  There are also political and economic consequences of living in a shrine city aside from the religious ones. During the reigns of late 19 century kings Fath’Ali Khan (r. 1797-1834) and Nasser al-Din Shah (r. 1848-1896), Qom becomes the home of the pious largess- they gave lots of money to the learned men, the city, and people who lived in the city, which made Qom a very lively place. After the Qajar shahs declared themselves commanders of the faithful and protectors of the Qur’an. o Qom’s financial well-being is dependent on the expenditures of Iranian pilgrims. o Iranian state encourages pilgrimage to Qom and Mashad rather the atabat in Iraq during the many periods of tension between Iran and Iraq o Shrine-city status meant the absence of military presences o Qom and bast, or sanctuary- vagabonds could go seeking sanctuary, and the temporal authorities cannot touch you in there. o Qom’s proximity to Tehran and the rise of the state in Iran- Qom became consistently well patronized, and the Shahs of the time were generous, which is not always appreciated.  Qom and the Ulema:  Possible factors contributing to the rise of Qom, as the preeminent city of the traditional Shi’ite learning is interesting because this is usual reserved for urban centres, and Qom was not and has never been an urban centre. The traditional urban centres decline pretty substantially. The rise of Shi’ism as the state religion in Iran played a role in this. The fluctuations reflected changes in jurisprudence, the flow of funds and students, the policies of Sunni and Shi’ite government, and water supply. No place was immune to loss of importance of complete decline. Qom has canals, and everytime they would break down Qom would become practically a desert, and when a leader fixed them it would become lively again. Its status and learned city and shrine city becomes stabilized when the state becomes stabilized and the power grew. The state became powerful, wealthy, and the state was willing to appear pious to those it is ruling.  Qom and the Qajars- It is only in the Qajar period (1785-1905 or 1925) that Qom, which had for centuries been one of Iran’s most important Shrine cities, because
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