JAMKARĀN, a village near Qom, located 6 km south of it on the Qom-Kashan highway. It includes the mazraʿas of Gorgābi (Hādi-Mehdi) and Zangābād, the ruins of Gabri castle, and the Jamkarān or Ṣāḥeb-al-Zamān mosque (Razmārā, I, p. 54; Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, p. 2256; Nāṣer-al-Šariʿa, p. 162; Faqihi, p. 219).

The twin emazādas Hādi-Mehdi at Gorgābi are united into a single building. One of them contains the tombs of three grandsons of the fourth Imam, ʿAli b. al-Ḥosayn (q.v.), namely Hādi, Mehdi, and Nāṣer-al-Din. It is mentioned in 1079/1668-69 (Modarresi, II, p. 165, n. 1), but the actual building was erected in 1305/1887-88 by Ḥosām-al-Salṭana. The second emāmzāda contains the tombs of two of Nāṣer-al-Din’s children, Jaʿfar and Sakina (Modarresi, II, pp. 165-67; for Ḥosām-al-Salṭana’s inscription, see idem, plate 205).

For the name Jamkarān, derivations from Jam-kard “built by Jam” [see Jamšid] (Faqihi, p. 51) or Jam-karān “the margin of Jam” (Amir-Moezzi, 1996a, p. 159) have been proposed. According to Tāriḵ-e Qom, Jamkarān was the first village founded in the Qom district (nāḥia) by Jam. A certain Jalin b. Mākin built a castle (kušk) at Jamkarān, as well as many villages, ātaškadas, and gardens (Ḥasan b. Moḥammad, pp. 60-61). Before the coming of the Ašʿari Arabs to Qom, a group of Bani Asad settled in Jamkarān, where a certain Ḵaṭṭāb b. Asadi had built a mosque where he was praying alone (idem, p. 38; Faqihi, pp. 43, 49). The miraculous foundation of the holy mosque of Jamkarān has been repeatedly reported (see Bibliography), from a lost work of Ebn Bābawayh, as a first-person narrative by the pious Shaikh Ḥasan Jamkarāni. It may be summed up as follows.

While sleeping in his home after midnight on 17 Ramażān 373/22 February 984 (rectified date; see Bibliography), a group of persons awakened Shaikh Ḥasan and invited him to respond to the call of the Ṣāheb-al-Zamān (the Hidden Imam). Being brought to the future site of the mosque, he saw a young man (the Imam) seated on a throne. Beside him was the Prophet Ḵeżr and over sixty attendants. Shaikh Ḥasan was enjoined by the Imam to go and see, together with Sayyed Abu’l-Ḥasan Reżā, the landowner and farmer, Ḥasan b. Moṯla, in order to entreat the latter to relinquish the holy land he usurped. He was to refund the profits, gather funds from other notables in the area, and proceed with the construction of the mosque. A piebald he-goat, miraculously found in a shepherd’s flock, was to be sacrificed and its flesh distributed among the poor and disabled. The Imam also gave special instructions for the foundation and administration of the waqf, as well as liturgical rules, such as sequence of prayers, number of rakʿas, special salutations (taḥiyats) to Fāṭema and to the Prophet Moḥammad; the completion of two rakʿas of that liturgy were valued as if accomplished in the Kaʿba.

This narrative, full of symbolic details at every stage, has been clearly characterized as a true initiatory ritual by Henry Corbin. For over ten centuries, pilgrims from Qom and other places have visited the sanctuary of Jamkarān. However, its early history remains obscure. A large footprint (qadamgāh) of the Hidden Imam in marble was set up in the mosque by ʿAli-Akbar Jamkarāni, who, according to an inscription, (re)built it in 1158/1745. A side courtyard (ṣahn) was added by Ḥāj ʿAliqoli Jamkarāni, and further constructions were made by Atābak-e Aʿẓam while he was exiled at Qom (1897-98), when many pilgrims used to come there from Qom on Friday evenings (Nāṣer-al-Šariʿa, pp. 162-63).

Until the 1970s, Jamkarān remained a modest village, retaining its mysterious atmosphere in a silent environment propitious for meditation. There was a new wave of messianic ideas under the Islamic Republic, particularly in the Ḥojjatiya movement and related millenarianism. The movement continued its underground activities despite its suppression by Khomeini in 1983. The mosque’s reputation increased and attracted growing numbers of pilgrims. As observed in 1995, the sanctuary was enlarged, other mosques were built, as well as hotels, restaurants, and a direct motorway from Tehran (Amir-Moezzi, 1996a, p. 161; Šādmān). From 2005, rich governmental donations turned it into an impressive, modern complex. Thousands of pilgrims now throng there, especially young people, and particularly on Tuesday evenings (the supposed day [see Bibliography] of the Imam’s apparition). Pilgrims attach their votive pleas on the grids covering the “Well of Request” (Nasr, pp. 220-22; Majd, pp. 83-85).

The guidebook for pilgrims (Tāriḵča), a kind of ziārat-nāma issued by the mosque, expounds in fourteen points the duties incumbent upon devoted Shiʿites regarding the Hidden Imam pending his parousia. There follow indications about his physical and moral features (šamāyel wa ḵoṣuṣiyāt) and directions for beseeching his help (e.g., how to make requests by throwing a letter into a well). He should be addressed with specific intentions and specific prayers; the latter are given in Arabic with Persian translation: doʿā-ye ʿahd, ziārat-e Āl-e Yāsin, doʿā-ye tawassol. The supernatural power of the Imam is illustrated by a representation of a young Ḥanafi Sunnite pilgrim’s miraculous recovery from cancer.



The story about the foundation of the Jamkarān sanctuary is related, based on older sources, in M.-Ḥ. Ṭabresi Nuri, Kalema-ye ṭayyeba, Tehran, n.d., pp. 457-61; al-Najm al-ṯāqeb, Qom-Jamkarān, 1991, pp. 294-300; Jannat al-maʾwā, supplement to Majlesi’s Beḥār al-anwār LIII, Tehran, 1965, pp. 230-34. Ṭabresi states that he found it in the Taʾriḵ Qom (Tāriḵ-e Qom [q.v.]; see below) quoting from the Moʾnes al-ḥazin fi maʾrefat al-ḥaqq wa’l-yaqin, an apparently lost work of Ebn Bābawayh (q.v.). This narrative is absent from the Persian abridged translation of the Taʾriḵ Qom. As noted by Ṭabresi, the date given in Arabic in the text (17 Ramażān 393/Tuesday 20 July 1003) has been misread, because Ebn Bābawayh, the author of the source, died in 381/991. The date of the apparition should be read 17 Ramadan 373/Friday 22 February 984.

M. A. Amir-Moezzi, “Jamkaran et Mahan: deux pèlerinages insolites en Iran,” in idem, ed., Lieux d’Islam. Cultes et cultures de l’Afrique à Java, Paris, 1996a, pp. 154-67.

Idem, “Contribution à la typologie des rencontres avec l’Imâm caché (Aspects de l’imâmologie duodécimaine II),” JA 284, 1996b, pp. 109-35.

H. Corbin, En islam iranien IV, Paris, 1972, pp. 338-46.

Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, Merʾāt al-boldān IV, Tehran, 1989.

ʿA.-A Faqihi, Tāriḵ-e maḏhabi-e Qom I, Qom, 1971.

Ḥasan b. Moḥammad b. Ḥasan Qomi, Taʾriḵ Qomm (lost), Pers. tr. Ḥasan b. ʿAli b. Ḥasan b. ʿAbd-al-Malek Qomi as Tāriḵ-e Qom, ed. Sayyed Jalāl-al-Din Ṭehrāni, Tehran, 1982.

H. Majd, The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: the Paradox of Modern Iran, New York, 2008.

Ḥ. Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi, Torbat-e pākān, 2 vols., Qom, 1976.

Nāṣer-al-Šariʿa Moḥammad-Ḥosayn b. Ḥasan Qomi, Tārik-e Qom mawsum ba Moḵtār al-boldān, Tehran, 1945.

V. Nasr, The Shia Revival, New York and London, 2006.

Sayyed Żiāʾ-al-Din Šādmān, “Marḥum-e [Amir-ʿAbbās-e] Hoveydā wa Masjed-e Jamkarān,” Irānšenāsi 16/2, 2004, pp. 275-81.

Tariḵča-ye masjed-e moqaddas-e Jamkarān, Qom, 1995.

(Jean Calmard)

Originally Published: January 1, 2000

Last Updated: June 28, 2011