History of Azerbaijan - Safavids and The Rise of Shi'a Islam

Safavids and The Rise of Shi'a Islam

The Safavid (Safaviyeh) were a Sufi religious order formed in 1330s by Sheikh Safi Al-Din (1252–1334), after whom it was eponymously named.

This Sufi order openly converted to the heterodox branch of twelver Shi'a Islam by the end of the 15th century. Some Safavid followers, most notably the Qizilbash Turks, believed in the mystical and esoteric nature of their rulers and their relationship to the house of Ali, and thus, were zealously predisposed to fight for them. The Safavid rulers claimed to be descended from Ali himself and his wife Fatimah, daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, through the seventh Imam Musa al-Kazim. Qizilbash numbers increased by the 16th century and their generals were able to wage a successful war against the Ak Koyunlu state and capture Tabriz.

The Safavids, led by Ismail I, expanded their base, sacking Baku in 1501 and persecuting the Shirvanshahs.

During the reign of Ismail I and his son Tahmasp, Shi'a Islam was imposed upon the formerly Sunni population of Iran and Azerbaijan. Imposition of Shi'a Islam was especially harsh in Shirvan, where a large Sunni population was massacred. Iran became a feudal theocracy during this period and the Shah was held to be the divinely ordained head of state and religion. During this period, the Qizilbashi chiefs were designated wakils (or legal administrators) with offices in charge of provincial administration and the class of Shia Islamic Ulema was created.

The wars with the Sunni Ottoman Empire continued during the reign of Shah Tahmasp. The important Azeri cities of Shamakha, Ganja and Baku were occupied by Ottomans in the 1580s.

Under the reign of Shah Abbas I (1587–1630) the monarchy took on a distinctly Persian national identity that merged with Shi'a Islam. Abbas I's reign represented the high point of development of the state and he was able to repel the Ottomans and re-capture Azerbaijan and Shirvan in 1603.

Read more about this topic:  History Of Azerbaijan

Other articles related to "safavid":

Military History Of Azerbaijan - Middle Ages - Safavids and The Rise of Shi'a Islam
... The Safavid (Safaviyeh) were a Sufi religious order formed in 1330s by Sheikh Safi Al-Din (1252–1334), after whom it was eponymously named ... Sufi order openly converted to the heterodox branch of twelver Shi'a Islam by the end of the 15th century ... Some Safavid followers, most notably the Qizilbash Turks, believed in the mystical and esoteric nature of their rulers and their relationship to the house of Ali ...

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