Salaam alaikum dear readers! We would like to introduce a guest writer on the Qomlife blog. Sumaira Fatima is a student at Amir-ul-Momineen Islamic Seminary in Qom.
In the West, as you walk through the downtown of any relatively big city, you encounter tall buildings reaching towards the sky, grand shopping malls carrying expensive brand names, the hustle and bustle of people hurrying about their day to earn their incomes – in short, a polished, glittering manifestation of materialism.
But where I live – the blessed city of Qom, Iran – “downtown” is something entirely different.
If you look at a map of Qom, you will see that it is a fairly small city in the approximate shape of a circle, about 10 km in diameter at its widest point. Right at the very center of the circle lies the haram of Sayeda Fatimah Ma’suma, the blessed lady of Qom.
In the traditions of our Imams (as), this shrine – and in fact, the entire city of Qom – has been referred to as the “haram-e-Ahlulbayt (as)” (sanctuary of the Prophet and his Holy Progeny).
The haram is a place of worship, of remembrance of God and the purpose for which He created us, of contemplation upon the verses of God, and of conversation with the beloveds of God.
This blessed place lies at the very heart of the city – a constant reminder to us Qomites to always keep God at the center of our lives.
No matter where you live in Qom, reaching the haram via public transport is an easy task. Every single public bus route eventually leads to the haram. From every main street, you can find shared taxis that will drive you there. It is as if the city is designed in such a way that those who truly wish to go towards Truth will easily find themselves at the haram, in the presence of the blessed lady, at the place best suited for spiritual cleansing and growth. This is a reminder of the beautiful Islamic principle that if one truly wishes to find God, He will open ways for them to reach Him.
Compare this to the structure of cities in the West. The placement of symbols and products of materialism at the center of these cities encourages citizens to put their worldly desires at the forefront of their lives. Islam teaches us that mankind’s perfection lies in self-discipline which leads to self-purification, whereas western liberal ideology encourages us to work for physical wellbeing limited to this world only and to make our desires our gods.
And so, in a dizzyingly beautiful way, the structure of Qom reflects the city’s importance in being the spiritual and intellectual epicenter of the Shi’a Muslim world and thus a place of spirituality and attention towards the divine. In the same way, the structure of western cities pays tribute to the increasing drive of the West towards the material.
Therefore, living in Qom is amazingly, incredibly effective in purifying the heart and clarifying the mind, not only because it is a city of knowledge and piety, but also because even its physical structure is in accordance with the Tawhidi outlook on life.
What a truly blessed place this is, that even something so simple as its layout can serve as a constant reminder of God!
-Sumaira Fatima can be reached via e-mail at: Sfahmed313@gmail.com