I take a taxi from the bus station that the Tehran-Qom bus drops me at, to the holy Fatima Masumeh Shrine.
It should cost no more than 50k rials, but the annoying taxi driver kept insisting for 100k, so we waited until more passengers came on board. Only then did we agree on the 50k, but upon reaching the destination I gave the driver 100k and he returned me 40k and acted like ‘his friend’ was the one that agreed upon 50k, and he was trying to insist it was 60k. 10k does not make much of a difference, but it really annoyed me, that sense / fear of being cheated. Anyway, I insisted it was 50k and he (somewhat begrudgingly) accepted, and that was that.
On the bus to Qom
You need a chador to enter the holy shrine. There’s a free bag deposit there, so I left my backpack with them (seemed safe, had a ticket to claim it back) and the women sat me down in their tent while we waited for an available chador for my fitting. No DSLRs allowed, but mobile phone cameras were acceptable. A (free) guide was also available and necessary for Non-Muslims to explain the various functions / history of the mosque. How considerate(?) (!)
My guide, a very eloquent man who showed me around the mosque.
I loved the patterned tiles and prints I saw at many stops along the way. Part of the allure of Iran was the dazzling architecture, with their gorgeous pillars and ceilings.
Qom is clearly a more conservative city. Upon reaching, most women (i would say 95%) were covered with the chador.
The Iranian government-mandated Islamic dress code requires women to be modestly covered from head to toe, and wearing a hijab is obligatory (or risk getting caught by the ‘fashion/morality police’ – @elaavor shares – thankyou!) While it’s not uncommon to see shawls loosely draped over the hair of Iranian women in big city Tehran, majority of the women in Qom, with its more conservative traditions, wear the black chador.
Can’t stop gaping at these beautiful patterns of the shrines/mosques 😍
It’s funny thinking about the responses from my Iranian friends from the second half of my trip. The first person I mentioned this to was Elham (Esfahan), the girl I had met by chance when I was lost. They (Elham, Azar and friends) asked me about the route, they laughed when I said I went to Qom. “Qom?” “Why did you visit Qom?” There was a certain chuckle in their statement and they seemed to stifle a giggle as they asked politely. It seemed that Qom was a very religious city, so religious that they didn’t want to visit it themselves. That was quite an interesting thought, and reminded me (though not really comparable) of Jerusalem vs Tel Aviv, and preferences of cities and perhaps stereotypes of its people.I liked Qom though, I found it an interesting visit and was glad I stopped by for the few hours, before setting off to Kashan.
Another interesting I found was the use of smartphone apps to resist the regulation of the dress code.
Obligatory wearing of the hijab has been an integral policy of the Islamic republic ever since the 1979 revolution but it is one the establishment has had a great deal of difficulty enforcing. Despite fear of reprisals, millions of Iranian women, defy the restrictions on a daily basis by pushing at the boundaries.
7,000 male and female officers for a new plainclothes division
government-mandated Islamic dress code, which requires women be modestly covered from head to toe
They would take a range of approaches to enforcing dress codes, including handing out scarves as gifts, giving verbal warnings or having female officers physically remove excessive makeup.
At worst, offenders would be sent to court and face fines of up to $250 or hauled to the local police station until their family members gave a written promise that they would never commit the same offense again.
A new smartphone app is helping young Iranians avoid Tehran’s morality police, who have become notorious for harassing anyone whose dress or public behavior doesn’t adhere to strict Islamic standards.
The app, called Gershad, uses crowdsourcing to identify the locations of Iran’s morality police, known by their Persian name Gasht-e Ershad (“guidance patrol”). Ershad officers regularly patrol the streets of Tehran to identify men and women who violate Islamic code of conduct, and they have come under criticism for abusing their powers. Those found to be in violation — typically women who wear too much makeup, or the wrong type of hijab — can be thrown into the back of a van and detained. They’re often let off with a warning or released after being lectured, though some have been fined or prosecuted.
Gershad helps Iranian women avoid police checkpoints by crowdsourcing their locations and displaying them on a map. Users who identify a checkpoint can anonymously mark it on the map to warn others, in much the same way that drivers flag traffic stops on the navigation app Waze. When users report a sighting, a small police icon appe
After the Shah of Iran was ousted in 1979, Iran reverted from a legal system to Islamic law.