The Safavids in Iranian History (1501–1722)

Kathryn Babayan

in The Oxford Handbook of Iranian History

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199732159
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Safavids in Iranian History (1501–1722)

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)



Isma'il, the Safavid conqueror, while consolidating his position, took a pre-conceived religious recourse, one that showered nothing but success. His messianic rhetoric won him allegiance of both the Turkish and Persian speaking populations. With respect to eschatological philosophies, Isma'il's doctrines appeared as paradoxical to Islam. In his preaching of Ali's omnipresence, and especially his endorsement of reincarnation against the apocalyptic moment in Islamic history, was complemented by a rising belief in cosmic renewal. The dissipation of Mongol governance during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries was followed by decentralization and widespread millenarian movements, which were initiated by Junayd, Isma'il's father, who transformed the Safavids from Sufi brotherhood to a millenarian movement. A century-long “Shi'ification” and “Iranization” of the Safavid Empire unfurled into a regional split between Sunni Ottoman and Shia'i Safavid dominions. Isma'il's messiah reputation was rejected by his son Tahmasp, who strove to appropriate the attributes of the title to himself.

Keywords: Ali; cosmic renewal; Mongol governance; millenarian movement; regional split; Sunni Ottoman; Tahmasp

Article.  10397 words. 

Subjects: History ; Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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