When does the history of the holy shrine of Lady Ma’sumah start from?
Ayatollah Mahdi Hadavi Tehrani
Lady Ma’sumah is the noble daughter of the seventh imam of the Shi’ah, Imam Musa Kaadhim (AS). Her respectful mother is Najmeh Khaatun (AS). She was born on first day of the month of Zee al-Qa'adah in the year 173 A.H./789 A.D., in the holy city of Madinah. In the year 200 A.H./815 A.D, Imam Reza (A.S.) was forced to leave Madinah by the orders of Ma’mun, the Abbasid caliph. Imam Reza (A.S.) came alone to Marv (Khurasan) and did not allow any of his family members to accompany him.
One year after her brother’s exile-like migration to Marv, in the year 201 A.H./816 A.D., Lady Fatimah Ma’sumah (A.S.) accompanied by her brothers and nephews, left for Khorasan out of the joy of reuniting with her brother and imam, and to fulfill her Zaynab-like mission and deliver the message of wilayah. On their way they were welcomed and greeted by the people of different cities and villages. . When the caravan reached Saveh a group of armed men who were deputed by Ma’mun, the Abbasid caliph, savagely attacked them and nearly all the men of the caravan were martyred and according to some historical reports, even she was poisoned and became severely ill.
In any event, either due to her being poisoned, or out of severe grief, she was unable to continue her journey towards Khurasan and decided to go to Qum. She entered the city of Qum approximately on 23rd Rabi al-Awwal, in the year 201 A.H./816 A.D. and settled in the home of Musa ibn Khazraj, in a place called ‘Mir’ Square today.
Her excellence remained in this city for 17 days. The place of her stay and worship in Qum is now situated in the Madrasa Sittiyah and is known as "Bait al-Nur" and is a place of reverence and visitation for the Shi'ites.
She passed away on 10th Rabi al-Thani (and some say the twelfth), in the year 201 A.H./816 A.D., and never got the chance to reunite with her elder brother and cast her eyes on him; she passed away in loneliness and great grief. The Shi'ites in Qum greatly mourned her death and she was buried in a place called Bagh-i Babelan, which at that time was located outside the city.
After the burial of Lady Ma’sumah (A.S.), Musa bin Khajraj built a shed over the grave made out of straw. In the year 256 A.H./869 A.D., Lady Zainab (A.S.), the daughter of Imam Muhammad Taqi al-Jawad (A.S.) constructed a dome over the grave of her aunt Lady Ma’sumah (A.S.).
Since the burial of that divine lady of Islam in Qum, her holy shrine has become a center of pilgrimage for the lovers of the Holy Ahlul Bayt (A.S.) and has undergone much renovation and expansion. Today, the shrine has a beautiful tomb, dome, porticos, balconies, courtyards, minarets, etc. The history of these constructions is as follows:
The holy grave of Lady Ma’sumah (A.S.):
In the year 605 A.H./1208 A.D., Ameer Muzaffar Ahmad bin Ismail, the chief of the Aal Muzaffar family ordered the greatest master craftsman of the time, Muhammad bin Abu Taher Qummi, to make variegated glazed tiles for the holy grave of Lady Ma’sumah (A.S.). After eight years of incessant endeavor, the master craftsman completed constructing the beautiful tiles for the grave of Lady Ma’sumah (A.S.) and in the year 613 A.H./1216 A.D., they were fixed on the holy grave. In 1998, the holy grave was once again decorated with glazed tiles and beautiful stones and the internal walls of the burial chamber were ornamented with beautiful green marble stones.
The holy Zarih/Dharih:
In the year 965 A.H./1557 A.D., Shah Tahmasab Safavi made a Zarih (tomb) made of bricks which were covered with seven-colored tiles with glazed epigraphs. On all four sides of the zarih there were openings through which the holy grave could be seen and the pilgrims could drop their offerings.
In the year 1230 A.H./1814 A.D., Fath Ali Shah Qajar covered the iron Zarih with silver. This Zarih corroded with the lapse of time. Thus, in the year 1280 A.H./1863 A.D., a new Zarih was made of silver from the existing Zarih and the silver preserved in the treasury of the holy shrine and placed on the grave.
This Zarih was renovated many times and in the year 1969, a new Zarih which is considered as a masterpiece of Islamic art was placed on the grave which exists on the soil of the luminous grave till today. In the year 2001, basic renovation and repairs on the present Zarih were carried out.
The roofed spaces attached to the holy burial chamber are called porticos (rawaq). The holy Shrine comprises of four porticos:
1. Balasar Portico: It is located between the Balasar mosque and the holy burial chamber. This building is decorated with beautiful mirror and stucco work.
2. Dar al-Huffaaz Portico: It is located between the golden balcony and the holy Zarih.
3. Shaheed Behesti (Mirror) Portico: It is located in the women’s section and in the lower part of the holy Zarih (under the feet).
4. Peeshro Portico: It covers the distance between the Tabatabai mosque and the holy Zarih.
1. ‘Atabaki’ or ‘New’ Courtyard
This courtyard consists of four balconies: northern, southern, western and eastern. The northern balcony of the courtyard is the entrance into the holy shrine from the Astane Square, the southern balcony is the entrance into the shrine from the Qiblah side, the eastern balcony is the entrance into the holy shrine from Iram avenue and the western balcony is the mirror balcony of the holy shrine. All these four balconies are decorated using special traditional Islamic architecture, the beauty and elegance of which attracts the attention of every viewer.
This courtyard was built on the orders of then Prime Minister Mirza Ali Asghar Khan Atabeg between the years 1295-1303 A.H./1878-1885 A.D.
2. Atiq (Old) Courtyard
The ‘Atiq’ or ‘Ancient’ courtyard is located in the north of the holy shrine and was the first courtyard built within the precincts of the holy shrine. It has four balconies.
The grand balcony in the south of the courtyard is the golden balcony which is the place of entrance to the holy burial chamber. The balcony in the north of the courtyard is linked to the seminary of Madrasa Faiziyah. The western balcony is the place of entrance to Masjid-i A’zam. The eastern balcony of this courtyard connects to the Atabaki courtyard. This courtyard is small but the presence of beautifully decorated balconies and chambers have made it magnificent. This courtyard and its balconies were constructed in the year 925 A.H./1519 A.D., on the orders of Shah Begi Begum, the daughter of Shah Ismail Safavi. On the orders of the custodianship of the holy shrine, major renovation of this courtyard and the surrounding graves has commenced since1998 and continues.
3. Sahib al-Zaman Courtyard
This courtyard and its constructs began to be built in 2002 in an area of eight thousand square meters with four entrances, and were inaugurated in 2005. The outside walls of this courtyard are painted and engraved with Quranic inscriptions with ‘Banaa’i’ and ‘Kufi’ calligraphy with a new style of combining white concrete and bricks.
1. Minarets of the Golden Balcony
In the Atiq courtyard two minarets are located on the Golden balcony. The surface of the minarets is covered by knotted tiles in zigzag form and the holy names Allah (SWT), Muhammad (S.A.W.) and Ali (A.S.)' are inscribed in between these knotted tiles in Kufi calligraphy. These minarets were built on the orders of Muhammad Husain Khan Shahsavan Shihab al-Mulk in the year 1285 A.H./1868 A.D., and its domes were covered with golden tiles in 1301 A.H./1883 A.D.
2. The Minarets of the Mirror Balcony
On both the sides of the bases of the balcony two minarets are located which are considered as the highest constructs in the holy shrine.
At the top of the minarets there are two inscriptions written on epigraphs with a breadth of one meter each. On one is written: “áÇ Íæá æáÇ Þæå ÇáÇ ÈÇááå ÇáÚáì ÇáÚÙیã” and on the other “ÓÈÍÇä Çááå æ ÇáÍãÏááå æ áÇ Çáå ÇáÇ Çááå æ Çááå ÇßÈÑ”. Both these minarets are fully covered by knotted tiles and in between them the Holy Names of Allah (SWT) have been inscribed.
These minarets were built on the orders of Amin al-Sultaan and by the architect, Hasan Mi’maar Qummi. Their tiling was replaced after the Islamic revolution.
3. The Minarets of the Grand Courtyard
Two minarets are also found in the grand courtyard of the holy shrine (the ‘Atabaki’ courtyard). They are located opposite to the mirror balcony. These minarets are tiled with eight sided tiles. On four sides of these minarets, the holy names of Allah, Muhammad and Ali are inscribed four times from top to bottom.
For further information, please refer to this website: http://www.masoumeh.com.