Qom (Persian: قم), also spelled as Ghom, is the 8th largest city in Iran. It lies 125 kilometres (78 mi) by road southwest of Tehran and is the capital of Qom Province. At the 2011 census its population was 1,074,036 (957,496 at the 2006 census, in 241,827 families), comprising 545,704 men and 528,332 women. It is situated on the banks of the Qom River. Qom enjoys a dry and warm climate with low annual rainfall due to remoteness from the sea and being situated in the vicinity of desert.
Qom is considered holy by Shi`a Islam, as it is the site of the shrine of Fatema Mæ’sume, sister of Imam `Ali ibn Musa Rida (Persian Imam Reza, 789–816 AD). The city is the largest center for Shi’a scholarship in the world, and is a significant destination of pilgrimage. Qom city is famous for a brittle toffee called “Sohan” (Persian:سوهان), considered a souvenir of the city and sold by 2,000 to 2,500 “Sohan” shops.
Qom has developed into a lively industrial centre owing in part to its proximity to Tehran. It is a regional centre for the distribution of petroleum and petroleum products, and a natural gas pipeline from Bandar Anzali and Tehran and a crude-oil pipeline from Tehran run through Qom to the Abadan refinery on the Persian Gulf. Qom gained additional prosperity when oil fields were discovered at Sarajeh near the city in 1956 and a large refinery was built between Qom and Tehran.
Qom, the capital of Qom province, is located 125 kilometers south of Tehran, on a low plain. The shrine of Fatima Masumeh, the sister of Imam Reza, is located in this city, which is considered by Shiʿa Muslims holy. The city is located in the boundary of the central desert of Iran (Kavir-e markazi). At the 2011 census its population was 1,074,036, comprising 545,704 men and 528,332 women.
Qom is counted as one of the focal centers of the Shiʿa both in Iran and around the globe. Since the revolution, the clerical population has risen from around 25,000 to more than 45,000 and the non-clerical population has more than tripled to about 700,000. Substantial sums of money in the form of alms and Islamic taxes flow into Qom to the ten marja-i taqlid or “Source of Imitation” that reside there. The number of seminary schools in Qom is now over fifty, and the number of research institutes and libraries somewhere near two hundred and fifty.
Its theological center and the Fatima Masumeh Shrine are prominent features of Qom. Another very popular religious site of pilgrimage formerly outside the city of Qom but now more of a suburb is called Jamkaran. Qom’s proximity to Tehran has allowed the clerical establishment easy access to monitor the affairs and decisions of state. Many Grand Ayatollahs possess offices in both Tehran and Qom; many people simply commute between the two cities as they are only 156 kilometres or 97 miles apart. Southeast of Qom is the ancient city of Kashan. Directly south of Qom lie the towns of Delijan, Mahallat, Naraq, Pardisan City, Kahak, and Jasb. The surrounding area to the east of Qom is populated by Tafresh, Saveh, and Ashtian and Jafarieh.