QOM i. History to the Safavid Period




Pre-Islamic period. The present town of Qom in Central Iran dates back to ancient times. Its pre-Islamic history can be partially documented, although the earlier epochs remain unclear. Excavations at Tepe Sialk indicate that the region had been settled since ancient times (Ghirshman, 1938, I, pp. 91-92; Vanden Berghe, p. 125), and more recent surveys have revealed traces of large inhabited places south of Qom, dating from the 4th and 1st millennium BCE (Kleiss, 1982, pp. 272-73; idem, 1983, pp. 69, 75, 98). While nothing is known about the area from Elamite, Medean, and Achaemenid times, there are significant archeological remains from the Seleucid and Parthian epochs, of which the ruins of Khurha (Ḵurha; about 70 km southwest of Qom) are the most famous and important remnants. Their dating and function have instigated long and controversial debates and interpretations, for they have been interpreted and explained variously as the remains of a Sasanian temple, or of a Seleucid Dionysian temple, or of a Parthian complex (for a summary, see Drechsler, p. 38, and n. 138). Its true function is still a matter of dispute, but the contributions by Wolfram Kleiss point to a Parthian palace that served as a station on the nearby highway and was used until Sasanian times (Kleiss, 1973, p. 181; idem, 1981, pp. 66-67; idem, 1985, pp. 173-79). The recently published results of the excavations carried out in 1955 by Iranian archeologists have, however, revived the old thesis of a Seleucid religious building (Hakemi, pp. 16, 22, 26, 28, 35, 39). Besides Khurha, which is already mentioned as Ḵorhābād/Ḵorrahābād at Qomi (pp. 67, 68) in the 9th century, the region has turned up a few other remnants from this epoch, including the four Parthian heads found near Qom, now kept in the National Museum in Tehran (Ghirshman, 1962, pl. 52; Hakemi, pp. 13-14 and pl. 3). Qomi also names Parthian personalities as founders of villages in the Qom area (Qomi, pp. 65, 82, 84-86). The possible mention of Qom in the form of Greek names in two ancient geographical works (the Tabula Peutingera and Ptolemy’s geographical tables) remains doubtful (Drechsler, pp. 40-43).

The Sasanian epoch offers many archeological findings and remnants, besides the fact that various sources mention Qom. The most interesting building from an archeological point of view is the Qalʿa-ye Doḵtar in Qom itself, which was long thought to have served religious purposes, while more recent research points to an administrative use (Schippmann, pp. 416-21). The wider surroundings of Qom also contain numerous traces from palaces, religious, military and administrative buildings (for a summary, see Drechsler, pp. 44-46). Some of these are mentioned by Qomi, who also names many more fire temples in the urban area of present Qom and its region, of which no archeological traces are left although the location of one fire temple can probably be equated with today’s Masjed-e Emām in the city (Qomi, pp. 22-23, 32, 37, 61, 62, 69, 70-71, 74, 77, 82, 90, 137, 138). According to Qomi, the most important fire temple of the area stood in the nearby village of Mazdajān (Qomi, pp. 88-89).

Tāriḵ-e Qom and some other sources also speak of genuine historical figures of the Sasanian epoch in connection with Qom and its region. They shed new light on the time of the seizure of power by the first Sasanian king Ardašir I, who fought his decisive battles near Qom (Qomi, pp. 70-71; Nehāyat al-erab, p. 179; Widengren, pp. 271, 743-45), and the collapse of the Sasanian empire, which is extensively reported by Ebn Aʿṯam Kufi and the Nehāyat al-erab and names a certain Šērzād as the satrap of the region (Ebn Aʿṯam, I, p. 201, II, pp. 31, 33, 58/59; Nehāyat al-erab, pp. 383, 388). The existence of an urban settlement in the Sasanian epoch is furthermore verified by Middle Persian sources (literary sources, inscriptions, and seals) that mention in the time of Šāpur I (Shapur) and Kawād I the names Godmān/Gomān and Ērān Win(n)ārd Kawād, both of which could be identified as Qom (Frye, 1956, p. 320; idem, 1975, p. 11; Gyselen, pp. 28, 73, 74). Altogether one can assume that Qom functioned as a small administrative unit throughout the whole Sasanian era. Probably the urban structure of the Sasanian settlement of Qom can be compared with the type of city of Ctesiphon (Ar. Madāʾen) and consisted of several villages and little towns with Abaraštejān, Mamajjān and Jamkarān as the bigger settlements that were loosely connected by defense installations (Drechsler, pp. 57-60).

A striking feature in the reports of those Islamic sources that provide significant information on the pre-Islamic situation of Qom is their mention of many mythical personalities in connection with the city and its surrounding area (in particular in Qomi, pp. 23, 60-63, 65-79, 81-82, 84-87, 90-91, 96; on other sources, see Drechsler, pp. 60-67). These passages show that the Arabs in Qom had accepted the mythical non-Islamic heritage and used it for reasons of historical continuity, but they also indicate the strong presence of these pre-Islamic myths in the 10th century, a presence which lasted well into the 14th century.

Medieval period. It is difficult to decipher the actual process of the Arab conquest of Qom from the extant Arabic sources. According to Balāḏori, the first tentative conquest of Qom took place in 23/644 by Abu Musā Ašʿari after a few days of fighting (although Abu Musā’s route through Western Persia, as narrated by Balāḏori, appears somewhat confusing). It remains unclear who the defenders of Qom were; probably fleeing Sasanian nobles and local soldiers returning from the great battles against the Arabs formed the core of the resistance. The area remained largely untouched for 60 years after the initial conquest and was probably administered from Isfahan (Balāḏori, pp. 312-14; Drechsler, pp. 69-74).

The first permanent settlement of Arab settlers in Qom took place during the revolts of Moḵtar b. Abi ʿObayd Ṯaqafi and Moṭarref b. Moḡira b. Šaʿba in 66-77/685-96, when small groups of refugees moved there and Qom itself was affected by the fighting between the Umayyad state power and the rebels (Qomi, p. 38; Ṭabari, II, p. 992).

The decisive step for the later urban development of Qom occurred when a group of Ašʿari Arabs came to the area. These Ašʿaris originated in Yemen and the first important figure among them was the first conqueror of the area of Qom, the above-mentioned Abu Musā Ašʿari. ʿAbd-Allāh b. Saʿd and Aḥwaṣ b. Saʿd were grandsons of Abu Musā’s nephew and led the group of Ašʿaris that emigrated from Kufa to the region of Qom. It is not exactly clear why they migrated; almost all sources state that they had to leave as a result of their participation in the failed revolt of Ebn al-Ašʿaṯ in 83/702, but it might have also been a general opposition to the Umayyad dynasty, which lead to individual persecution by the Umayyad viceroy of Iraq, Ḥajjāj b. Yusof Ṯaqafi, after the execution of their cousin in 94/713. The Ašʿaris seem to have come via Sāva; a central element was the early contact with the leading local Zoroastrian Persian noble Yazdānfāḏār (Qomi, pp. 242-50, 258-65, 284-91; Drechsler, pp. 78-91).

Another important event of the early years of Ašʿari presence was the successful fight of the Arab settlers against marauding Daylamite bands of robbers, which probably took place several years after their arrival and led to the transfer of the village of Mamājjān in 718 (87 after the local solar calendar which counted from the death of Yazdgerd III; Drechsler, p. 297) by Yazdānfāḏār to ʿAbd-Allāh and Aḥwaṣ. This village is located on the grounds of present-day Qom and was situated opposite the center of the region at that time, Abaraštijān, and thus offered protection for the Persians and the other villages nearby (Qomi, pp. 22, 32-35, 37, 245, 248-49, 260, 263; Saʿidniā, pp. 147, 149, 152, 154, 159, 160).

As the Arabs required a great deal of pasture for their large herds of cattle and were much wealthier than the local Persians (having probably sold their property in Iraq), they slowly started to buy land and take over more villages. The decisive step for controlling the area was the elimination of the local Persian noble class that took place after the death of Yazdānfāḏār in 733 (102 after the local solar calendar) and was caused by growing social and economic conflicts between the new settlers and the Persians. After the killing of the Persian nobility, more Arab settlers moved to the area. The water supply was safeguarded in a treaty with the inhabitants of the region around the sources of the river Qom (Qomrud) (Qomi, pp. 48-49, 242, 244, 250, 253-57, 260, 262-63).

The emigration and the subsequent settlement and building activities led to the fusion of the original six villages on the area of Qom to an urban conglomerate which probably happened within two generations after the first coming of Arabs (ca. 780-800). This was accompanied by the construction of irrigation channels, fortifications, a Friday mosque and a bazaar. Qom fulfilled the criteria of a “city” from the beginning of the 9th century. Consequently the city and the province were fully recognized by the Abbasid authorities and then administered independently from Isfahan. This process of administrative separation of the city and the region from Isfahan was carried out in 189/804-5 by Hārun-al-Rašid himself, who was urged by a prominent man of Qom and a native of Isfahan in order to save Qom from persecution in the first case and Isfahan from the burden of collecting taxes from the reluctant people of Qom in the second, who are reported to not have paid taxes for 50 years (Qomi, pp. 23, 28-33, 35, 37, 42, 59, 251, 255; Saʿidniā, pp. 147, 149, 152, 154, 159-60).

The time from the consolidation of Arab supremacy until the administrative separation from Isfahan is also characterized by the establishment of the early Shiʿite as the main religious force in the city, but the sources mention the existence of Sunni groups and vague reports about Islamic (Ismaʿili) and Jewish heretics, too. The Abbasid revolution itself touched the city as well and led to the presence of approximately 4,000 men under Qaḥṭaba b. Šabib Ṭāʾi in Qom in the winter of 131/748-49 (Qomi, pp. 260, 278-79; Duri and Moṭṭalebi, eds., pp. 338-39; Ebn Saʿd, VII, p. 382; Šahrestāni, pp. 168-69; Drechsler, pp. 113-22).

Although a few names of governors and their tax assessments are known from the time after the administrative independence, the death of Fāṭema Maʿṣuma, the sister of the eighth Shiʿite Imam ʿAli Reżā (of whom a stay in 201/816 in Qom has to be excluded despite other claims by sources, see ʿAli al-Reżā; Ebn Bābuya, II, p. 148; Drechsler, pp. 126-128) in the city in 201/816-17 proved to be of great importance for the later history of Qom. Fāṭema Maʿṣuma died while following her brother to Khorasan. The place of her entombment developed from 256/869-70 into a building that was transformed over time into today’s magnificent and economically important sanctuary (Qomi, pp. 31, 101/02, 164, 213/14; Ebn Bābuya, II, p. 271; Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi 1976, I, p. 18; Drechsler, pp. 124-131).

In 210/825-26 a major rebellion against the tax regulations of the caliphate broke out in Qom. It was caused by the refusal of the caliph al-Maʾmun to lower the yearly tax assessment as he had done in Ray. The revolt was lead by an Ašʿari named Yaḥyā b. ʿEmrān, maintaining that taxes should not be paid to an unlawful ruler (e.g., a non-Shiʿite). Yaḥyā was killed by troops sent by the caliph and the citizens was severely punished; the taxes were raised from 2 million to 7 million dirhams. Two years later the taxes were again raised by 700,000 dirham by the Ašʿari governor ʿAli b. ʿIsā, who was subsequently deposed because he was strongly rejected by the inhabitants of Qom. But in 217/833 ʿAli returned to the post of governor (wāli) and forcefully collected tax debts that were laid upon him by the caliph. He destroyed parts of Qom and handed over a wanted rebel to caliphal authorities under al-Moʿtaṣem. Between 225/839-40 and 227/841-42 two contradicting tax assessments were carried out under turbulent circumstances which amounted to a sum of 5 million dirhams. The names of those involved have survived (Qomi, pp. 35, 102-4, 156-57, 163-64; Ṭabari, III, pp. 1092-93, 1102, 1106, 1111; Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi, 1983, p. 166; Drechsler, pp. 132-39).

The move of a Hadith transmitter from Kufa to Qom, which took place probabaly in the middle of the 9th century, indicates the increased importance of Qom as a center of Shiʿite learning. At about the same time another military attack on the city occurred in 254/868, when Mofleḥ, the Turkish officer of the caliph al-Mostaʿin, executed some of its inhabitants because of the city’s refusal to pay taxes. Mofleḥ became governor of Qom and lasted in that position for at least five years. During his governorship important ʿAlids moved to Qom and there are references to close contacts between the representative of the 11th Shiʿite Imam, Ḥasan al-ʿAskari, in Qom and other Qomis. The representative Aḥmad b. Esḥāq was at the same time administrator of the Fāṭema sanctuary and the agent (wakil) responsible for the pensions of the ʿAlids (Najāši, p. 12, 262; Qomi, pp. 35, 156-57, 163-64, 211-12, 215; Ṭabari, III, p. 1697; Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi, 1983, p. 166; Drechsler, pp. 140-45).

The first Friday mosque in Qom was built in 265/878-79 on the site of a fire temple, although there are also confusing reports concerning a possible earlier Friday mosque (Qomi, pp. 26, 37, 38; Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi, 1976, II, pp. 115-16; Drechsler, pp. 146-48). In 268/881-82 Qom was occupied by the Turkish military leader Edgü Tegin (Arabic Yadkutakin b. Asātakin or Aḏkutakin), who tried to collect the tax arrears for seven years which partially ruined the guarantors (some of whom are known) of these taxes. At about the same time the early orthodox Shiʿites achieved their victory in the town. In 280/893-94, at the latest, all extremists (ḡolāt) were driven out of town by the leading Shiʿite shaikh of Qom, Aḥmad b. Moḥammed b. ʿIsā Ašʿari. Probably one year later the famous Islamic mystic Ḥosayn b. Manṣur Ḥallāj stayed in Qom, where he was arrested (Ṭabari, III, p. 2024, tr. XXXVII, p. 78; Qomi, pp. 35, 157-58, 163, 215; Najāši, pp. 33, 132; Ṭusi, pp. 20, 25, 247-48; Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi, 1993, pp. 34, 35, 37; Drechsler, pp. 148-54).

From 282/895-96 onwards the history of Qom was connected with a family of Turkic military leaders from the army of the caliph al-Moʿtażed, including the governor Berun (Birun). In the same year Berun destroyed a big and probably still active fire temple located on the territory of the evolving city and probably opposite today’s sanctuary of Fāṭema Maʿṣuma. In these unstable political times Qom was visited by the vizier of al-Moʿtażed, ʿObayd-Allāh b. Solaymān, and two tax assessments were organized (Qomi, pp. 89-90, 104-6, 125, 128, 133-34, 156, 163-64; Ebn al-Faqih, p. 247; Drechsler, pp. 154-60). An administrative peculiarity of Qom was put to an end at about the same time, to wit the independent appointment of judges through the Arab inhabitants of Qom until the time of al-Moktafi (r. 902-8), which, together with the dispatch of a joint Arab-Persian delegation to the vizier Ḥamid b. ʿAbbās indicate the end of the elevated position of the Arabs in Qom. The period of the governor ʿAbbās b. ʿAmr Ḡanawi (292-96/904-9) is remarkable for the presence of non-Twelver Shiʿites in Qom and the establishment of the office of the jahbaḏ (financial officer) as the tax broker for the city, which fostered local self-determination (Qomi, pp. 17, 35-36, 149-153, 225, 229; Drechsler, pp. 160-64).

In 296/909 Ḥosayn b. Ḥamdān b. Ḥamdun was appointed governor of Qom and Kāšān by the caliph al-Moqtader and had to assist the caliph’s army against the Saffarids in Fārs. Altogether he stayed in power only for two years before he had to return to Baghdad (Ṭabari, III, p. 2284, tr., XXXVIII, pp. 197-98; Drechsler, pp. 164-66). In the years 301/913-14 to 315/927 the people of Qom had, besides another tax assessment (meanwhile the eighth), a caliphal intervention that resulted in the appointment of a governor to stabilize the administrative grip over the region. This move caused more unrest and affected the balance of power in an area that was disputed between the powers of the time (Daylamites, Samanids). Beginning in 316/928 Qom fell into the sphere of the interest of Daylami warlords and was relieved from the direct authority of the caliph, although it changed hands several times between 316/928 and 331/943. The Daylamites brutally exploited the city through harsh taxes. With the firm establishment of Buyid control from 340/951-52 on, the political circumstances were less troubled than before, although the economical situation deteriorated (Qomi, pp. 99-100, 105-6, 142-44, 164-65, 21718; Ebn al-Aṯir, VIII, pp. 102-4, 162, 196, 290, 388-89; Drechsler, pp. 166-81).

No outstanding events are reported for the relatively stable political period until 378/988-89, but Qom seems to have been isolated inside Persia because of its Shiʿite creed. At the same time, the Fāṭema sanctuary was enlarged and the number of sayyeds residing in Qom reached a considerable number. In 373/984 Qom and its environs were affected by the revolt of the Kurdish Moḥammad Barzikāni against the Buyid Faḵr-al-Dawla (Qomi, pp. 214, 219, 220; Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi, 1971, p. 117; idem, 1976, I, p. 18; Drechsler, pp. 181-191).

The most informative source on the city’s history until the end of the 10th century is the Tāriḵ-e Qom, and it offers relatively good overall view of the urban history of Qom in this time span.

The population amounted to 50,000 inhabitants at the most and consisted of Persians and Arabs who had adopted the Persian of the time (Ebn Ḥawqal, p. 362; Drechsler, p. 198, n. 956) as their language and many social customs from the Persians, whose proportion was probably smaller than the Arabs. The Kurds lived in the countryside to the west. The Twelver Shiʿites constituted the great majority of the population and many important Shiʿite scholars of the time came from Qom or lived there (e.g., Ebn Bābuya, Ebn Quluya, Saʿd b. ʿAbd-Allāh Qomi, etc.). As many as 331 male ʿAlids lived in Qom in 988-89, and they produced a good number of community leaders (naqib) and there is also mention of one prominent female ʿAlid besides Fāṭema Maʿṣuma. These ʿAlids descended from the Imams and were supported by pensions. Apart from the Shiʿite mainstream, other Shiʿite sects existed in the city and one can also assume the presence of Sunnis. Ḏemmis, or followers of other revealed religions (Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians) must have lived in the city, too, as the payment of poll tax (jezya) indicates, although their number can only be very roughly estimated at a few thousand at the end of the 3rd century A.H/9th century and must have shrunk drastically in the 4th/10th century. The majority of these non-Muslims were Zoroastrians, who made their living mostly as farmers. Jews must have lived in Qom as well, but information on them is scant. It is striking that the formerly dominant Ašʿaris had lost their leading positions by the end of the 4th/10th century. This points at a new social situation that allowed assimilated Persians to join the local establishment (Qomi, pp. 18, 32, 44-46, 108, 123, 125, 128, 191-241; Ebn al-Faqih, p. 209; Ebn Ḥawqal, pp. 315, 342; Ṭusi, pp. 42, 75-76, 93; Najāši, p. 276; Biruni, p. 228; Ebn Saʿd, VII, p. 382; Samʿāni, X, p. 486; Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi, 1971, pp. 121-25; 136-37; Drechsler, pp. 198-207).

The city’s topography in the 4th/10th century still reflected the evolutionary merging of the original six villages; these were still separated by fields. The town center was located in the village of Mamajjān, which was connected to other parts of the city on the other side of the river by four bridges. There were about eight squares whose function is not clear and three mosques within the city. There is almost no information about madrasas. The sanctuary must have still been quite small as only two cupolas are mentioned. A bazaar and bathhouses must have existed, too, as well as certain administrative buildings (prison, mint). Five bigger and eight smaller roads indicate good traffic connections, which were supported by at least three or maybe even nine city gates (Qomi, pp. 23, 26, 27, 32, 35-40, 42, 60, 167, 214, 216; Saʿidniā, pp. 151-153, 155-56, 158-59; Drechsler, pp. 194-198).

Qom was then in a difficult economical and social position. Many houses inside the city as well as bridges and mills were ruined and the roads and agriculture were suffering from an insecure situation. This has to be attributed to difficult social circumstances and excessive taxation (Qomi, pp. 13, 27, 36-37, 53-56; Drechsler, p. 192-93). The water supply seems to have been satisfactory and the Ašʿaris seem to have undertaken continuous renovation works on the irrigation channels between 733 and 900. The Ašʿaris were also the proprietors of the water rights, which were safeguarded in the water authority (divān-e āb) that regulated the water shares. The system made the Ašʿaris the wealthiest inhabitants of Qom and stayed in place until 347/958-59, when they were expropriated by the Buyids, which consequently brought about a decline in the whole system of irrigation. Although there were attempts at restoration in 371/981-82, only three of originally twenty-one channels had flowing water which meant enough drinking water was supplied for the population, but the available amount could not have been adequate for agricultural purposes (Yaʿqubi, pp. 273-74; Qomi, pp. 40-46; 48-53, 244; Lambton, 1989, pp. 156-59; Drechsler, p. 243-52).

Altogether the state of cultivation in Qom seems to have resembled that of the other regions of Persia, although the thirty different crops and plants are only indirectly mentioned in connection with the tax assessments. The soil is reported to have good quality and produced big quantities of food. Little is known about animal husbandry in the region, but the considerable number of fifty-one mills existed, of which a fifth was in decay. Legends speak of mineral deposits and mines of silver, iron, gold and lead, while Kurds seem to have produced salt from a lake nearby (see Qom Lake). The production of chairs, textiles, and saddle equipment indicates craftsmanship (Qomi, pp. 48, 53-56, 76-77, 87-88, 107-8, 112-13, 119-122, 167, 174-76, 244, 251; Ebn Ḥawqal, p. 342; Ebn al-Faqih; pp. 50, 265; Moqaddasi, pp. 396, 470; Spuler, pp. 387-90, 392-94; 405-6, 408; Drechsler, pp. 253-58).

The city’s taxation has to be distinguished between the more proper rule of the Abbasid tax bureaucracy and the time of the Daylami warlords where rules were bent arbitrarily. A stunning diversity of taxes is known (often meant to serve the ever greedy Abbasid bureaucracy and the Daylamite and Buyid war machinery) but the ḵarāj (land tax), which was composed of many different separate sums, was the most important single tax existing in Qom at least since post-Sasanian times. Within the known 18 tax figures ranging over 160 years there are great differences and the tax figures vary from 8 million to 2 million dirhams with a mean value at around 3 million. Interestingly in taxation Qom always followed the solar calendar with its own local variation, starting from the death of the Sasanian Yazdegerd III. A highly differentiated tax administration existed and is known in great detail; 24 tax collectors (ʿommāl) are listed from 189/804-5 to 371/981-82 plus two jahabaḏa who acted as mediators after the attempt to enforce collective responsibility by the taxpayers had failed. The information in the Tāriḵ-e Qom on taxation also mention by name 21 tax districts (rasātiq) in the region with 900 villages (Qomi, pp. 28-29, 31, 34, 38-39, 42, 56-59, 101-90, 242, 253, 262; Balāḏori, p. 314; Yaʿqubi, p. 274; Ebn al-Faqih, p. 264-65; Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi, 1983, pp. 28, 40-41; Lambton, 1969, pp. 41-45; Drechsler, pp. 258-73, 285-306).

Little is known about the time until the period of Saljuq dominance. In 387/997, Qom became involved in internal Buyid quarrels and was subsequently unsuccessfully besieged. In 418/1027-28, Qom fell under the rule of Šahryuš from the Kakuyid dynasty and a few years later (1030-40) it became part of the Ghaznavid domain. The Saljuqs did not occupy Qom at once but left the town and Jebāl in Kakuyid hands for ten years. From 442/1050-51 on, the city was under Saljuq rule and nothing is known about its fate until 487/1094. Afterwards the growing instability of the Saljuq empire involved Qom into the power struggles between the competing Saljuq factions in Jebāl and the city changed hands many times. The most stable period seem to have been the 14 years (513-27/1119-1133) when Qom lay in Sanjar’s sphere of power and witnessed the construction of a second Friday mosque (Ebn al-Aṯir, IX, pp. 204, 357-58, 429-30, X, pp. 289, 332-33, 551, XI, p. 237; ʿAbd-al-Jalil Qazvini, pp. 167-68; Bayhaqi, pp. 422-33; Mostawfi, pp. 833, 841; Bosworth, 1968, pp. 38, 106-110, 120, 125, 135; Drechsler, pp. 208-219).

Surprisingly, Qom enjoyed relative prosperity in its economy in the Saljuq period. The rigidly Sunni Saljuqs seem to have practiced a pragmatic policy and one of the main sources of this time (ʿAbd-al-Jalil Qazvini) speaks of good relations between the famous vizier Neẓām-al-Molk and Saljuq sultans on the one hand, and members of the local nobility on the other. Sultans reportedly visited the sanctuary (although no specific sultan is mentioned by name) and in general no religiously motivated punitive action against Qom is known to have taken place. Under Saljuq rule a considerable number of religious buildings were erected. At least ten madrasas are known by name. Two Friday mosques seem to have existed in Saljuq times: the old one was renovated and a new one, located outside of the town area, was built in 528/1133-34 by the order of Sultan Ṭoḡrel II. Qom must have expanded during this period, but precise reasons for its prosperity are not known. A family of Ḥosaynid ʿAlids was influential and provided a number of community leaders (naqib). Another important Shiʿite family was that of the Daʿwidār, whose members were judges (qāżi) in town, which indicates the transformation of Qom from a town governed by the Sunnis to a completely Shiʿite domain (ʿAbd-al-Jalil Qazvini, pp. 47, 51, 163-64, 182, 191, 220-21, 229-30, 280, 430, 437, 494, 643; Abu’l-Rajāʾ Qomi, pp. 105-6, 262; Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi, 1971, pp. 5, 130, 138-39, 165-67; idem, 1976, I, p. 20, II, pp. 109-10, 217-18; Drechsler, pp. 220-28).

The following epochs of the Atābakān-e Āḏarbāyjān and Ḵᵛārazmšāhs lasted for almost 30 years and brought different systems of rule in quick succession. The two noteworthy events of this period are the execution of ʿEzz-al-Din Yaḥyā, the naqib of the Shiʿites, by the Ḵᵛārazmšāh Tekeš in 592/1196 and the work on the tiles of the sanctuary (probably in 605-13/1208-217), which indicate a certain economic prosperity at a time of unstable political conditions. From 614/1217-18 until the Mongol attack, Qom remained under the Ḵᵛārazmšāh ʿAlāʾ-al-Din Moḥammad (Ebn al-Aṯir, X, p. 118, XII, p. 317; Abu’l-Rajāʾ Qomi, p. 262; Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi, 1971, pp. 132-33; Drechsler, pp. 228-31).

The Mongol invasion led to the total destruction of Qom by the armies of the Mongol generals, Jebe and Sübedei, in 621/1224 and left the city in ruins for at least twenty years, when the sources (Jovayni) tell of the levying of taxes. Twenty years later, reconstruction and repair works, probably sponsored by some wealthy inhabitants, were being done on the mausoleums of Shiʿite saints in the city, which contradict those sources, such as Ḥamd-Allāh Mostawfi, that describe Qom as a ruined and depopulated city throughout the Il-khanid period. Besides, the fact that the Il-khanid vizier Šams-al-Din Jovayni took refuge in the Fāṭema sanctuary in 683/1284, indicates that the city must have experienced at least a modest comeback. The city walls were probably rebuilt and, moreover, four graves of saints are known to have been constructed between 720/1301 and 1365 (which falls already into the time of the Ṣafis; see below). Additionally some fine tiles are known from this period. Nothing is known about the irrigation systems of the town, but nearby a dam was built in the Il-khanid period and the local administration must have functioned again, as the name of a judge shows. The agricultural situation is described as flourishing with a variety of cultivated plants and a good supply of water, and legends indicate the use of deposits of mineral resources. Information exists concerning taxes for the post-Mongolian period. Qom paid 40,000 dinars, but more remarkable is the fact that some of the surrounding rural districts paid as much as Qom or even more, which suggests that the whole administrative structure of districts had also changed (Ebn al-Aṯir, XII, p. 419; Rašid al-Din Fażl-Allāh, 1957, p. 63; Jovayni, pp. 538, 542; Ḥamd-Allāh Mostawfi, 1919, pp. 67-68, 71-73; Boyle, pp. 311, 331, 337, 368-69, 496, 541; Spuler, 1955, pp. 30-31, 41, 82-83; Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi, 1976, II, p. 35, 43, 67, 78; Survey of Persian Art, IV, pp. 1684-686; Drechsler, pp. 232-41, 308-12).

After the collapse of the Il-Khanid empire, the city and the region were dominated by a semi-autonomous family of unknown origin, the Ṣafis, whose first amir, Tāj-al-Din ʿAli, can be dated to 736/1336. The Ṣafis, who might have come from the Il-khanid military, may have been for a very short time under the Chobanids, whose rule in Central Persia ended at about 1343 (Roemer, p. 20) and might have then belonged for a slightly longer period to the domain of the Jalayerids(if the brief mention of Qom in the Resāla-ye falakiyya of ʿAbd-Allāh b. Moḥammad Māzandarāni from around 1363 can be taken as a proof; see Bayāni, pp. 191-92, 206; see also Jalayerids), but the exact course of events in this confusing period remains unclear. Despite the troubled circumstances, the Ṣafis seem to have managed to keep their semi-autonomous position under the Mozaffarids (who had coins printed in Qom in the reign of Shah Šojāʿ) for the remaining forty years of the dynasty until the rise of Timur. In the later years of the Mozaffarids, Zayn-al-ʿĀbedin, in his quarrel with Shah Manṣur, tried in vain in 793/1391 to capture the city which, at that time, was ruled by the fourth amir Aṣil-al-Din (Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi, 1985a, pp. 12-15, 20-25; idem, 1985b, p. 44; Roemer, pp. 77-79; Šabānkāraʾi, pp. 325-26, 342; Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, 1959, pp. 7-8; idem, 1999, II, pp. 297-98; ʿAbd-al-Razzāq Samarqandi, I, pp. 360, 469, 478, 581, 602, 631).

As Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi has convincingly demonstrated (1971, pp. 6-14), Timur, who later had men from the area recruited for his campaign against a rebellion in Māzandarān in 806/1403-4 (Manz, 1989, pp. 98, 101, 112), did not destroy the city, in spite of later claims by some European travelers (e.g., Chardin, II, p. 459; Flandin, p. 139. Neither do Barbaro nor Contarini mention any signs of destruction, pp. 73, 129). Qom is not mentioned in any of the three Persian campaigns of Timur and it seems that the fifth amir of the Ṣafis, Ebrāhim b. ʿAli Safi, who also commissioned the translation of the Tāriḵ-e Qom; (Qomi, p. 3) submitted to Timur in 795/1393, although there are already coins from Qom dated 791/1389 that mention Amir Timur (Ebn ʿArabšāh, 1986, p. 36 [Ebn ʿArabšāhnames the Ṣafi ruler as Ebrāhim Qomi and indicates a relation to Amir Wali of Māzanderān]; Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi, 1971, pp. 70, 167-76; idem, 1985a, p. 26; idem, 1985b, pp. 45-51 [Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi corrects the date given by Ebn ʿArabšāh]). The Ṣafis maintained their leading role under the Timurids until 815/1412 (Ebn Šehāb Yazdi, p. 14) when Qom was conquered and plundered by Eskandar b. ʿOmar Šayḵ as part of his struggle with Šāhroḵ. The last and sixth Ṣafi amir, Ḵᵛāja Moḥammad, was captured and taken to Isfahan, where Eskandar had him killed (Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, 2001, III, pp. 481-83; Ḥasan Rumlu, p. 78-79; Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi, 1985a, pp. 27-29; Manz, 2005, p. 448; idem, 2007, p. 30, 149) and two years later in 817/1414 the city fell under Šāhroḵ’s power, who, after eliminating Eskandar, installed the brothers Elyās Ḵᵛāja (1415-34) and Yusof Ḵᵛāja from the Barlās as successive governors. They also functioned as defenders of this border region of Šāhroḵ’s domain against the Qara Qoyunlu and ruled until 846/1442-43 when Yusof Ḵᵛāja was killed while fighting a regional rebel. In the same year Šāhroḵ nominated his grandson Solṭān-Moḥammad b. Bāysonqor as the ruler of Central Persia, including Qom (Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi, 1971, pp. 208-24; Ando, pp. 133-137; Kāteb, pp. 230-31; Ḥasan Rumlu, pp. 101, 190; 247; Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, 1999, II, pp. 372-73; Idem, 2001, II, pp. 609; Ebn Šehāb Yazdi, pp. 35-37; ʿAbd-al-Razzāq Samarqandi, II, pp. 224-25, 276, 319, 518; Abu Bakr Ṭehrāni, II, p. 285; Manz, 2007, p. 32).

Despite the ongoing conflicts first with his grandfather and then his brother Abu’l-Qāsem Bābor and also the Qārā Qoyunlus (who attacked Western Central Persia in 851/1447-48 and inflicted heavy damage on Qom), Solṭān-Moḥammad held on to Qom as well as parts of Central Persia until 855/1452. He spent a great deal of time in Qom, which was one of his most important strongholds, where he also had coins minted in his name. Two of his governors are known: Šāh Qāżi in 851/1447-48, who was perhaps killed in the Qara Qoyunlu attack, and Aḥmad b. Firuzšāh, who ruled afterwards until the fall of Qom. Solṭān Moḥammad was killed by Abu’l-Qāsem Bābor who then installed Darviš ʿAli, a son of Yusof Ḵᵛāja and a native of the city, as his governor. The rule of Darviš ʿAli lasted less than half a year and seems to have been unpopular because of his oppressive measures. The Timurid control of Qom ended, when Jahānšāh’s son, Pir Budāq, took Qom, the date of which remains disputed; it happened either after a two month siege on 1. Jomādā II 856/19 June 1452 (Ḡiāṯi Baḡdādi, pp. 53, 156) or at the beginning of the year 857/1453 (Ḥasan Rumlu, p. 323; ʿAbd-al-Razzāq Samarqandi, II, p. 727; Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi, 1971, pp. 233-35 supports this date). Darviš ʿAli’s unpopularity reportedly induced the inhabitants to approach the Qara Qoyunlu army, and they asked to be relieved of their governor. The Qara Qoyunlu conquest of the city was then aided by Ḵᵛāja Neẓām-al-Din Yaḥyā Qomi, the resident amir of Solṭān-Moḥammad. The conquering Turkmen inflicted considerable destruction in the city but spared the defenders of the city’s castle and took Darviš ʿAli as prisoner (Ando, p. 138; Aubin, pp. 58, 60; Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi, 1971, pp. 154-56, 224-32; Idem, 1985b, p. 57; Kāteb, pp. 230-31, 237-46, 251, 255, 257, 265; Ebn Šehāb Yazdi, p. 81; ʿAbd-al-Razzāq Samarqandi, II, pp. 713, 723; Abu Bakr Ṭehrāni, II, pp. 295, 318, 324, 326; Manz, 2007, p. 272).

The Qara Qoyunlu rule over Qom lasted for fifteen uneventful years. Jahānšāh stayed in Qom on quite a few occasions, twice (857/1453, 867/1462) using it as his winter quarters, which indicate the strategic significance of Qom in the Qara Qoyunlu state. This is further supported by the fact that, at least temporarily, Jahānšāh’s grain storage was located in the city and that, on his way for the campaign in Khorasan in 862/1458, he brought his army into the city and divided the grain supplies among his men. Jahānšāh installed a governor by the name of Šāh Waliquz, who probably stayed in power throughout the whole Qara Qoyunlu period (Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi, 1971, pp. 156/57, 235-237; Abu Bakr Ṭehrāni, pp. 258, 432; Ḥasan Rumlu, pp. 326, 376, 431, 462; Budāq Monši Qazvini, p. 67).

Several governors are mentioned in quick succession following Jahānšāh’s death in 872/1468 and the subsequent collapse of the Qara Qoyunlu rule. First Šāh Waliquz made himself independent, but this ended in the same year when Šāh Ḥāji Beg Gāvrudi Hamadāni was installed in Qom and other cities on behalf of Jahānšāh’s son Ḥosayn-ʿAli. Šāh Ḥāji Beg was subsequently removed when Sultan Abu Saʿid’s army, in his short-lived effort to regain Central Persia for the Timurids conquered Qom (where he had coins minted in his name). In 874/1469, Abu Saʿid put a certain Eskandar Rekābdār in power, but the latter vanished with Uzun Ḥasan’s victory (Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi, 1971, pp. 157-60, 237-39; idem, 1985b, p. 58; Ḥasan Rumlu, pp. 464; Abu Bakr Ṭehrāni, pp. 441, 444-45; ʿAbd-al-Razzāq Samarqandi, II, p. 968).

The Āq Qoyunlu rule in Qom bears great similarities to the situation under the Qara Qoyunlu. Several times Uzun Ḥasan took his winter quarter in the city (874/1469-70, 875/1470-71, 877/1472-73, 878/1474-75), turning Qom for certain periods into a quasi capital in the Āq Qoyunlu state, where important decisions were made. Qom seems to have profited enormously from these stays, as the amirs and leading military officers were renting out houses for their sojourn. The war of succession amongst Uzun Ḥasan’s sons in 883/1478 left the city more or less untouched (only prince Ebrāhim b. Jahāngir’s clashes with Ḵālil took place in the region), and there is only a few pieces of information left from the reign of Yaʿqub (r. 1478-90). Like his father Uzun Ḥasan, he frequently spent his winters in Qom (883/1478-79, 886/1481-82, 892/1486-87, 893/1487-88), where he had appointed a governor by the name of Manṣur Beg b. Sohrāb Čamešgazaki who briefly changed sides in 886/1481 in the war with Bāyandor without any consequences for the city (Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi, 1971, pp. 84-85, 239-55; Barbaro, pp. 132-33, for the years 1474-75; Ḥasan Rumlu, pp. 508-9, 517-19, 571, 601; Marʿaši, pp. 313-14; Woods, pp. 127, 139-40, 149; Fażl-Allāh b. Ruzbehān, pp. 27, 34, 40-42, 52-53, 105; Budāq Monši Qazvini, p. 79; Abu Bakr Ṭehrāni, pp. 529-31, 534, 539-40, 547, 551-553, 557).

We have only scanty pieces of information from the remaining years of Āq Qoyunlu rule in Qom, although it seems to have remained one of the most important cities in that civil war ridden empire (it was the site of a winter quarter in 903/1497-98 under Āyba Solṭān). The latest Āq-Qoyunlu ruler of Qom was Sultan Morād’s governor Aslamaš Beg who might have belonged to Afšār clans which partly controlled the city until the Safavid Shah Esmāʿil I took Central Persia in 908-9/1503 (Budāq Monši Qazvini, p. 96; Woods, pp. 170-71, 197; Sarwar, pp. 44).

The relative inviolability of Qom in this turbulent period of almost 170 years following the collapse of the Il-khanid empire certainly seems surprising, but it may have been due to the city’s dominant families that provided a certain amount of internal political stability. Already at the end of the Il-khanid empire, a family of religious scholars, namely the Fatḥāns, rose to prominence, but they left Qom for Kāšān at the time of Jahānšāh’s death. The above-mentioned Ṣafis probably survived their end as a dynasty and continued to exercise influence in Qom. Another important family was the Rażawis (descending from the eighth Shiʿite Imam, ʿAli al-Reżā, and living in Qom since the late 9th cent.) who provided community leaders and motawallis “superintendants” in the 14th and 15th century (Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi, 1971, pp. 135, 183-86; idem, 1973, pp. 7-21; idem, 1976, I, p. 198; idem, 1985a, p. 33-34).

The only news known about the social and economical situation in Qom come from Giosafat Barbaro, who mentions the good agricultural situation and the “fine” bazaar. The population whose composition is completely unknown seems to have profited quite much from the city’s status as a winter capital and has to be estimated at about 100.000 if Barbaro’s information about Qom’s 20.000 houses is correct (pp. 73, 129, 132). One might take the numerous coins that had been minted in Qom as another indicator for a stable economic and political situation. Coins were minted under almost all ruling personalities in the whole period since the Il-khanid period (Ṣafis, Mozaffarids, Timur, Šāhroḵ, Solṭān-Moḥammad, Abu Saʿid, Uzun Ḥasan, Yaʿqub, and later Āq Qoyunlus; see Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi, 1985a, pp. 44-62). Also a number of important buildings have been built in these 170 years. Both the Ṣafis and Šāhroḵ and Solṭān-Moḥammad had mausoleums, a madrasa, and a ḵānqāh erected, which in the case of the mausoleums (referred to as šāhzāda so and so) partly shaped a style that influenced other buildings in Timurid Khorasan. The Masjed Panja ʿAli was built under the Āq Qoyunlu Yaʿqub (O’Kane, 1984, pp. 62-65, 68-72; Survey of Persian Art III, pp. 1098-99; Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi, 1971, pp. 39, 103, 142-43; idem, 1976, II, pp. 35-70, 73-82, 118-22, 127-29). The sanctuary also seems to have profited in this period as a number farmāns (the oldest being from Timur and Šāhroḵ) and documents of pious foundations (waqf-nāmas; e.g., from 760/1359) testify, although the news on the sanctuary are very sparse (Modarresi Ṭabāṭabāʾi, 1971, p. 135; idem, 1976, I, p. 131, 197, 203, 206, 209, 213).


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February 15, 2009

(Andreas Drechsler)

Originally Published: February 20, 2009

Last Updated: February 20, 2009