Population: 1 million
Qom is a major religious center for Shias. It was conquered by Moslem forces around 645 and became a center for the followers of Imam Ali, known as the Alavids. Armies were repeatedly sent against them by the caliphs of Baghdad and the city was sacked repeatedly. Qom again suffered at the hands of the Mongol hordes and Timerlane’s forces massacred almost the entire population.
Qom later prospered under the Safavids, becoming a prominent Shia center with numerous theological schools. Imam Khomeini led and uprising from here in 1963 resulting in his exile.
Today it remains one of the most important centers of Shia theological education.