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Imamzadeh Esmail

By Dr. Hussain Qarachanloo, Ph.D, Tehran University
"Bidaqan" is the name of a 24-km long valley of willow trees, which the Arabs called "Bidaqan" and that gradually came to be called as "Biraqan" by the locals. In the historical books about Qom, mention has been made about a village called Biraqan that is a village in the Qahestan Mountains of Qom.
In the heart of Biraqan there is a mausoleum in which is buried Imamzadeh Esmail ibn-e Imam Ja'far Sadiq (AS). The late Feiz has written as follows:
"He is the honorable Imamzadeh Esmail ibn-e Ahmad whose genealogy is Esmail ibn-e Ahmad ibn-e Hussain ibn-e Ahmad ibn-e Ali ibn-e Ja'far al-Sadiq (AS) and there is a distance of 36 kms. Between the place of his burial and city of Qom."
The mausoleum of Imamzadeh Esmail is one of the historical buildings of Qom with exquisite doors and tile-works. The mausoleum complex includes a main building, a dome, a veranda, a courtyard and a mosque. A beautifully carved wooden "chest" covers the grave.
The construction of the mausoleum dates back to the 7th century AH. There is no evidence available as to who had constructed it. However, since the tile-works contain images of three Mongol horsemen it could be inferred that the founder may have been one of the officials of Holaku Khan, the Mongol ruler of Iran, or his minister, Khajeh Nasir ad-Din Tusi. The main building is cylindrical from outside and cubic from the inside with four equal sides of 9 meters high and 5.5 meters wide.
The interior walls are plastered, bearing no particular decorations, except for the northern veranda of 2.20 meters width and 1.5 meters depth, which extends to the base of the dome.
The mausoleum has been renovated thrice. Once, in the year 920 AH during Safavid Shah Esmail's rule; the second time in the year 1214 AH during Fath Ali Shah's rule; and the third time, in the year 1216 AH when Fath Ali Shah's brother Hussain Qolu Khan, during his governorship of Kashan added the courtyard and renovated the main building and its dome.
In the middle of the mausoleum there are two burial sites. The first one contains the graves of Esmail and his son Hamzeh, and the second burial place is said to house the grave of Imamzadeh Muhammad ibn-e Musa al-Kazim (AS). However, according to the locals, the greater burial place houses the graves of Imamzadeh Esmail and Imamzadeh Muhammad, while the smaller one houses the grave of Imamzadeh Hamzeh. Apparently the view of the locals is more reliable than the other views stated.
The two graves of the larger burial place are decorated with tile-works and covered with carved wooden chests. Its height is 1.2 meters while its length and width are 2.9 and 2 meters respectively. It is housed inside a wooden meshed `zarih' belonging to the late 10th century AH or the early 11th century AH. The `zarih' is beautifully carved all around and has an epigraph containing the Qur'anic Chapter "Al-Fath" written in the Tholth script.
The mausoleum has a pyramid-shaped dome belong to the Safavid period. It is said that the original dome was round and in the shape of a helmet, which the Safavid king, Shah Esmail, changed it to its present shape. The dome is decorated with turquoise-colored tiles belonging to the Safavid period.
The mausoleum has three entrances. The southern and northern entrances open to two verandas, while the third one opens to a long corridor that joins the interior of the mausoleum to the courtyard.
Sources:
1- Tarikh-e Qom, pp. 121-136
2- Torbat-e Pakan, vol. 2, pp. 190-193
3- Anjom-e Foruzan, pp. 188-190
4- Ganjineh Athar-e Qom, vol. 2, pp. 195-303.

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