International Standing of the Holy City of Qom

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Majid Kianinejad

In the world of today, the culture of plurality is considered as a legacy of the Western world. However, a new look at the ancient human heritage will face us with new realities. A glance at the prevalent culture and atmosphere in the city of Qom shows that throughout its history, this city has been characterized with an atmosphere of freedom of expression and thought and argument and that situation continues up to the present day.

Qom is an international city and its impact has always transcended the national frontiers of Iran. Existence of the biggest and the most glorious religious center of the Islamic world in addition to pilgrimage and spiritual sites are among international potentialities of Qom.

The holy shrine of Hadhrat Fatemeh Ma’soumeh (PBUH)

The presence of the holy shrine of a scholarly and purified lady called Hadhrat Fatemeh Ma’soumeh (PBUH) at the heart of this city, which is considered as a rising place for Shias, especially Shia clerics, is one of those aspects, which set the city of Qom apart from other Iranian cities. Multitudes of Muslims from across the world, and even non-Muslims, travel to this city every year to conduct pilgrimage and take spiritual advantage of this holy shrine.

The spiritual atmosphere governing the holy city of Qom, which is owed to the blessed being of Hadhrat Ma’soumeh (PBUH), in addition to presence of the biggest Shia seminary school in Qom, have attracted many foreign nationals.

Relations with other religions

Qom is a safe haven where all ideas and different religions are discussed and there are centers in there where thinkers belonging to other religions come from other cities and even different countries to freely discuss their ideas in a scientific manner away from contention. Discussion forums at the Qom seminary, the University of Religions and Denominations, the University of Islamic Denominations, and the International Institute for Islamic Studies are among such center, which are active in the city of Qom.

The University of Religions and Denominations is the first specialized university of religions and denominations in Iran, which is the brainchild of the Qom seminary. In addition to studying various religions and denominations and making efforts to interact and launch a dialogue with their followers, scholars in this university are also busy doing research and training specialized manpower with emphasis on commonalities among religions in order to foster human solidarity, strengthen peace, allay human ailments, promote spirituality and ethics, and introduce Islam in a scholarly manner on the basis of the teachings of Prophet Mohammad’s Household (Peace Be Upon Them).

Many religious delegations consisting of members, who vary from priests and religious dignitaries of other religions to university professors and researchers, visit this university every year. The university is also in contact with many scientific and religious centers across the world and cooperates with them.

Al-Mustafa International University

People from 120 different nationalities take religious courses at Al-Mustafa International University. This university is in contact with scientific centers in various Islamic and non-Islamic countries and more than 40,000 graduates of Al-Mustafa International University have created various educational and research networks in different countries.

Fighting extremism and eclecticism

An international congress on the threats posed by extremist and Takfiri groups from the viewpoint of Muslim ulema has been held during past two years on November 2-3, 2014 and January 7, 2016 through cooperation of the Ahl-ul-Bayt World Assembly, the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought, management of seminary schools, Dar-ol-E’lam Institute (special to research on Wahhabism), and Al-Mustafa International University. The goal of these two congresses was to delineate identity, goals, threats and solutions for the problem of Takfiri ideas.

Religious diplomacy

The seminary school of Qom is willing to develop religious diplomacy and international relations. Due to the important role of two major elements, that is, rationality and moderation, in the Shia culture, many religious and scientific delegations are willing to engage in dialogue with the Qom seminary scholars and listen to their viewpoints.

Presence of revered sources of religious emulation and international figures in Qom province has drawn a lot of attention to this city and many political figures from around the world go to Qom province in order to meet with these personalities.

Qom and nuclear negotiations

At the culmination of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries, Qom played a special role on the sidelines of these negotiations, especially through issuing a fatwa (religious decree) according to which proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is prohibited in Islam.

During recent years, many European and American delegations have traveled to Qom to study the reasons behind the fatwa that prohibits production of nuclear weapons. They have discussed rational and traditional reasons behind that fatwa through dialogue with the Qom seminary scholars and have come to the clear conclusion that the fatwa is based on Islamic jurisprudence.

Key Words: International Standing, Holy City, Qom, Nuclear Negotiations, Fatwa, Seminary Scholars, Extremism, Eclecticism, Al-Mustafa International University, Holy Shrine, Kianinejad

*Photo Credit: Wikipedia