Converting Persia: Religion and Power in the Safavid Empire by Rula Jurdi Abisaab

By Rula Jurdi Abisaab

Less than the Safavids (1501-1736 CE) Persia followed Shi'ism as its respectable faith. Rula Abisaab explains how and why this particular model of Shi'ism--urban and legally-based--was dropped at the sector by way of top Arab 'Ulama from Ottoman Syria, and adjusted the face of the quarter till at the present time. those emigre students offered certain resources of legitimacy for the Safavid monarchs, and an ideological security opposed to the Ottomans. simply as very important on the time was once a unsleeping and vibrant strategy of Persianization either on the country point and in society. changing Persia is essential studying for anthropologists, historians and students of faith, and any drawn to Safavid Persia, in Shi'ism, and within the wider heritage of the center East.

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Yet, the Aleppine The Mujtahids Navigate the Sovereign’s World 35 scholar pointed to a leading thirteenth-century Shi’ite scholar, al-Muhaqqiq alHilli, who had endorsed the cursing of the first two Caliphs. Husayn explained then that Shi’ite scholars legitimized cursing on the basis of rational inference, namely, ijtihad. 24 Shi’ites also accuse ‘Umar of violating the Prophet’s rulings by prohibiting temporary marriage and marriage during pilgrimage, and punishing anyone who practiced them. ’26 Husayn’s defense of ijtihad had important political dimensions.

17 The statements made at Ghadir Khum, the most significant Shi’ite tradition, delineates the dissociation-enmity theme particularly in the Prophet’s statement: ‘He who follows me follows ‘Ali. God! 18 This theme takes a new meaning after the rise of the Safavid Empire and its political duels with the Ottomans to the west. Under Sunnite Caliphs, Shi’ites professed at times open ‘Alid allegiance but could hardly dissociate themselves from Sunnite rulers. The Safavids dramatized and ‘invented’ a number of Shi’ite rituals that emphasized differences rather 34 Converting Persia than similarities between Sunnism and Shi’ism.

Under Sunnite Caliphs, Shi’ites professed at times open ‘Alid allegiance but could hardly dissociate themselves from Sunnite rulers. The Safavids dramatized and ‘invented’ a number of Shi’ite rituals that emphasized differences rather 34 Converting Persia than similarities between Sunnism and Shi’ism. They popularized anti-Caliphal features to ‘de-normalize’ Sunnism by presenting it as a usurpation of the rights of the house of the Prophet. Ultimately, this aimed to discredit the foundations and religious character of the traditional Persian elite and the Ottoman Empire alike.

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