Less than 100 miles south of Tehran is the Islamic Holy site of Qom. The city dates back to the earliest of times, and has been a city of some importance since Alexander the Great. Qom has historically important mosques, and a famous shrine. Probably because of these Qom has become the center of Shia Islamic teaching and scholarship with the largest collection of Islamic literature.
Near Qom in 816 AD Fatima Masumeh, a direct descendant of Muhammad and the daughter of a very prominent Shi’s Iman was killed by Sunni Muslims. A shrine was built, and over the centuries it was enlarged and enhanced. In 1800 the shrine took its current form with a brilliant gold dome. In modern times it has increasingly become a pilgrimage shrine for upwards of twenty million Muslims a year.
In 984AD Sheikh Hassan ibn Muthlih Jamkarani reportedly met Muhammad al-Mahdi and Al-Khider in Qom. This Islamic event is analogous to the Christian event of St. Paul seeing Jesus on the road to Antioch. In Islamic teaching Mahdi and Khider are the servants of God who will return to earth accompanied by Jesus for the last judgement. To mark the vision the Jamkarani Mosque was built. In or near the mosque is a “Well of Wishes” where the 12th Iman made an appearance. The 12th Iman is the earthly Islamic religious leader whom God put into hiding on earth to meet the returning Mahdi and Jesus. Every Tuesday thousands of Muslims come to the well and drop written “wishes” into it for the 12th Iman to deliver to God. Think the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem where Jews write wishes on papers and stick them between the stones, or the shrine to Mary at Lourdes, where Christian pray.
With these holy attachments, Qom became the center of training for Shia clerics, including the most important cleric of our time, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini who began the Islamic Revolution in Qom. Some Muslims see this as the fulfillment of a hadith which predicted that a man out of Qom would pave the way for the Mahdi to end of the world. After the death of Khomeini he was replaced as the Grand Ayatollah by Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei.
Islamic hadiths for the end of the world are as convoluted as those contained in the Christian book of Revelations. To clarify their beliefs, in 2014 the Iranian leadership produced a video, “The Coming is Upon Us.” You can see it here with sub titles https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwiadYT-N9k&has_verified=1 What you think about this video does not matter. The only thing that matters is what devoted Muslims think.
And Ayatollah Khamenei is THE devoted Muslim, the head of all Shi’a Muslims and apparently he believes it. Starting ten years ago he was widely quoted as saying the Mahdi had appeared personally to him and promised to reappear during his lifetime! Some years ago when the Iranians were being slaughtered in the Iraq-Iran War, an aid came to Khomeini, bemoaning the deaths of Muslims. To which he replied…”Do you question God when he sends an earthquake?” That is the mindset we will face in the coming days and weeks. The lives thousands or millions is not of concern when you believe that the end is truly near.
Today for the first time ever a red flag fly’s over the mosque in Qom, exactly as the video presents. And Tuesday is the day of the week on which Mahdi last appeared.