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Did the Safavid rulers require all subjects to convert to Shi'a Islam?

Did the Safavid rulers require all subjects to convert to Shi'a Islam?


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On one hand I've read that Shi'a Islam was the only religion allowed in the Safavid empire. On the other hand, the empire contained parts of Armenia and Georgia, but Armenians and Georgians are Christian to this day.

So, in what cases/times were other religions tolerated in the Safavid empire?


As per T.E.D's suggestion, to summarize the detailed answer I have posted already, following are main points:

  1. Safavids main target was the Sunni Muslim community of Iran which was the majority of Iranian population at inception of Safavid Empire. They considered them possible fifth column since main rivals of Safavids were Sunni Ottomans who were expanding further and beyond at an alarming pace. Therefore most of conversion process was focused on Sunnis. Others they either treated with indifference or sheer contempt.
  2. Christians enjoyed certain rights during reigns of Abbas I and Safi I due to political needs of Safavid Empire. Persia was isolated from the world because of her being surrounded by non-friendly Sunni states. Furthermore expansion of Ottomans in Europe, Levant and Africa was a cause of huge distress to Safavids. So they sought to forge a two front alliance with European Christian monarchs in order to check the Ottoman expansion. To improve relations with Christian west, Safavids provided favorable environment to Christians from time-to-time depending on geopolitical situation.
  3. Athna Ashari Shia doctrine of non-Muslims being unclean was a major driving factor in animosity towards non-Muslims. While Shahs could be open-minded when it suited them, general populace and bureaucracy was less compliant and willing to broaden their minds.
  4. From time to time, in reign of Abbas II for example, Armenian and other Christian groups were coerced to convert to Shiiaism. Sometimes with carrot, sometimes with stick. The efforts were largely unsuccessful & Shahs valued the economic value of Armenian trading community very much to let those efforts last for long. Jews often faced similar persecution.
  5. The Clergy played an important role in undoing all efforts of earlier Shahs during reigns of their weaker descendants. They assumed complete authority over religious matters and persecuted anyone with different beliefs in Spanish Inquisition style.
  6. In conclusion, the attitude of Safavids changed with time and situation. They provided freedom to minorities and they also persecuted the minorities. By the end of their dynasty, all of foreign Christians were forced to flee from Iran. Armenian and Georgians were subsequently conquered by Ottomans/Russians and remained under their occupation until decline of Ottomans/Soviet Union.

For details and references, please refer to the main answer on this post.


There were attempts to convert Armenians and Georgians too. While The persecution and virtually complete annihilation of Sunni Muslims in Iran by Safavid Empire is well known and undisputed even by Modern Iranian historians, the treatment of non-Muslim minorities requires deeper discussion.

Reasons behind Ismaili Conversion Campaign

First of all, we have to understand why did Ismail I undertake religious conversion of Iran.

Following are the reasons cited by historical sources:

  1. Ismail I's hatred for Sunnis was known to have no bounds. No wonder he sought to destroy them altogether in his domain when he got power.
  2. One of the main reasons why Ismail and his followers pursued such a severe conversion policy was to give Iran and the Safavid lands as distinct and unique an identity as was possible compared to its two neighboring Sunni Turkish military and political enemies, its main enemy and arch rival the Ottoman Empire and, for a time, the Central Asian Uzbeks - to the west and north-east respectively. Particularly, since the elite Qizilbash army was of a Turkic origin, fighting Turkic Ottomans would have caused a major uprising among them. Hence conversion to Shi'ism was a necessary step in deepening the enmity between Safavid and Ottomans.
  3. The Safavids were engaged in a lengthy struggle with the Ottomans - including numerous wars between the two dynasties - and this struggle continuously motivated the Safavids to create a more cohesive Iranian identity to counter the Ottoman threat and possibility of a fifth-column within Iran among its Sunni subjects.
  4. The conversion was part of the process of building a territory that would be loyal to the state and its institutions, thus enabling the state and its institutions to propagate their rule throughout the whole territory.
  5. By aligning religious interests of the general populace to that of the ruling dynasty (Especially as Iran was surrounded by Sunni states from all sides and thus was threatened), Safavids ensured continued loyalty of populace as they would have been seen as bulwark of Shiism against onslaught of Sunnis.

As you can see, Safavids were not really bothered by Christians, Jews or Zoroastrians or other minorities in their lands.

Their primary threat was the Sunnis who they saw as possible fifth-column in service of their rival Ottoman Empire and other Turkic sunni independent Lords of the region.

That in no way implies that Christians, Jews etc. escaped the misery and grief that was inflicted on the Sunnis. Safavid Empire's general attitude towards them was of indifference/contempt/tolerance (Choose your word).

Not to mention, Non-Muslims were a source of income as they paid Jazya. Safavids could not declare Sunnis as non-Muslims and extract Jazya from them so the hardest blow fell on the Sunnis.


Theological Context

This part is heavily derived from an excellent paper on the subject Relations between the Safavid state and its non-Muslim minorities written by Roger Savory's, one of the leading experts on Safavid Empire and Iranian studies.

Religious minorities in medieval Muslim empires usually fared better than any where else at that time but however this does not imply that Non-Muslims had equal rights or they were treated with full respect as any Muslim would be. Muslim Kings and Shahs simply did not care what the Non-Muslims did as long as they did not make trouble or the said ruler did not get a fit of fanaticism.

Muslim rule in Iran at beginning of Safavid Empire was almost 8 centuries long. During that long period, the attitude of successive Muslim governments had been one of tolerance/indifference/contempt , punctuated from time to time by outbursts of religious severity which rarely escalated to the point of actual persecution.

Quoting from Jews of Islam by Lewis, page 55 (My own comments included at the bottom):

The enthronement of the Safavids, a militant Shi'ite dynasty with Messianic claims, in Iran at the beginning of the sixteenth century also led to a worsening in the position (Along with outright destruction of Sunni Muslims) of the non-Muslims, Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians. Under the Safavid shahs, they were subject to frequent vexations and persecutions, and at times to forced conversions.

Before examining the evidence for this statement, I would like to suggest a couple of theological and ideological reasons, peculiar to Ithna Ashari Shi'ism, as to why this change in attitude might have occurred:

a. The doctrine of najasat, or 'ritual impurity', which might be termed the Shi'ite 'added touch';

b. The special Ithna Ashari doctrine of the Imamate and its messianism

To take these points in order:

First, if one religion considers the adherents of other faiths to be unclean (najis), it is hard to argue that relations between the two can be based on goodwill and mutual respect.

Lewis argues that 'obsessive concern with the dangers of ritual pollution by unclean persons of another group is virtually limited to Iranian Shi'ism and may be influenced by Zoroastrian practices', and he asserts that 'it is unknown to mainstream Islam'.

However, the concept that those who have rejected, or have not yet accepted, the revelation vouchsafed to the Prophet Muhammad are unclean is certainly not absent from Sunni Muslim tradition1.

Toshihoko Izutsu cites the celebrated story from Ibn Ishaq's Biography of the Prophet about Fatima, the sister of the pious Umar, who became the second caliph. Fatima, a recent convert to Islam, refused to allow her brother Umar to touch a manuscript page of the Qur'a¯n that she was reading because he, being still a polytheist (mushrik) was unclean (rijs).2

Nevertheless, it is true that Ithna Ashari Shiitism have always laid greater emphasis on the 'uncleanness' of non-Muslims than have Sunnis, and, with the resurgence of the power of the religious classes in Iran this century, the issue has once again come to the fore. In 1907 a local shaykh in Kirmanshah, with the support of the merchants and artisans, revived the traditional restrictions governing Jewish dhimmis. Iranian Jews were forbidden to go out of doors when it rained, for fear that a Muslim passerby might be rendered ritually unclean by coming into contact with rainwater that had been in contact with the bodies of Jews.

More recently, of course, Ayatullah Khumaini restated the Ithna Ashari position on impurity with uncompromising harshness; among the eleven things he listed as impure are non-Muslim men and women.

A vignette will show that the principle of naja¯sat was on occasion upheld in Safavid Iran. It concerns the visit to the court of Shah Tahmasp in 1562 of the Elizabethan adventurer Anthony Jenkinson. Jenkinson was not, of course, an indigenous non-Muslim. The Shah, on being told that Jenkinson was not a Muslim, exclaimed:

'Oh thou unbeliever, we have no need to have friendship with the unbelievers'.

The second point concerns the peculiar Ithna Asharı doctrine of the Ima¯mate and the messianic ideology which developed from it. The clergy of Shiites assumed role of regents of the "Hidden Imam" and later even assumed to "qualities/isma of imam". At another point they would term themselves "Ayotullahs" meaning sign of God. This essentially meant that their authority could not be challenged and they were basically sinless. This concept would have dire impacts on both Muslims and Non-Muslims as it can be seen even today in theocratic rule of Ayotullahs on modern Iran.


Relations Between Safavid Shahs of Iran and their Non Muslim subjects


Non Muslim Minorities

Before we consider the impact of these policies on the non-Muslim minorities,perhaps we should spell out exactly who constituted these minorities. At the time of Abbas I, the indigenous non-Muslim communities in Iran comprised Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, and Hindus (Indians).

The Christians may be broken down into the following groups: Armenians, Georgians, Syrians (Jacobites), and Chaldeans (also known as Nestorians or 'Assyrians').

The largest group of Christians, the Armenians, must be further sub-divided into the Uniates, those who were in communion with Rome though keeping their own liturgy; and the majority, termed 'schismatics' by the Roman Church, who rejected the 'real supremacy and infallibility of the Pope' and were subject to the Armenian see of Echmiadzin. These latter were known as Gregorians, taking their name from Gregory the Illuminator, who established the first Armenian Church in the fourth century AD.

Under Shah Abbas I

The policies introduced by Shah Abbas I attached much greater importance to interaction between the two on different levels, namely the political and commercial. They marked a radical departure from the religious bigotry, already alluded to, of Shah Tahmasp, whose reign of 52 years was longer that that of any other Persian ruler except that of the Sasanid monarch, Shapur II (309-79 AD).

Abbas's new policy of religious tolerance was not altruistic. His main objectives were two fold: first, to make Iran strong enough to expel all the Ottoman and Uzbek forces from Persian soil and to defend its borders against future invasions; and second, to make Iran economically strong and prosperous.

Iran had fallen into relative isolation as a result of the expansion of the Ottoman empire, which lay across its natural lines of communication and trade with the West. In all things a pragmatist, Abbas realized that a good way to circumvent this virtual blockade would be to develop political and diplomatic relations with the Christian powers of Europe.

The Christian powers of Europe were not slow to respond to the Shah's overtures and by the middle of the seventeenth century, the following Catholic orders were operating in Iran: Dominicans, Augustinians, Carmelites, Jesuits, and Capuchins. The Catholic orders were thus direct beneficiaries of Abba¯s I's policy of religious tolerance.

To achieve his second goal, that of making Iran a prosperous nation, Abbas I proposed to take advantage of the well-known commercial expertise of the Armenians and other Christian groups, such as Georgians, Syrians (Jacobites), and Chaldeans, whom he had just liberated from Ottoman rule in northwestern Iran and the southern Caucasus regions.

As the Chronicle of the Carmelites puts it, members of these communities had been 'found' by Abbas I:

In towns he had conquered back from the Turk, and transplanted to Isfahan-there are many of these scattered about the kingdom, living according to their rites. The first transplantation was in 1602… before that there were no Christians to be heard of, neither in Isfahan or anywhere else in the kingdom, but only Jews in fairly large numbers, who had, and still have their synagogues… by far the greater number of Christians living in Persia are Armenians… the Jacobites were formerly in large numbers, but were forcibly made Muslim, and of those who renounced Christ the Fathers have reconverted some… and at present there live more than 600 households of them in the Catholic faith… they have their churches, where all come to Mass and are called Syrians; although, because they have increased in numbers they have been put outside the city by the king, so that they may build houses. But they have no church there, and are urging the Fathers to construct a church for the assistance of their souls… About 2,000 Georgians who had become renegades, have been persuaded by Fr John Thaddaeus to return to their faith.

(Here I have to note that some historians are of opinion that Abbas did it as no favor to Armenians. He simply transferred them to strengthen his North Western Borders with infusion of Shia settlers in place of Christian Armenians.)

Many Armenian merchants became extremely wealthy, and the office of kalantar was 'clearly a lucrative one, for Tavernier mentions that the estate of one Khwaja Petrus… included 40,000 tumans of silver, not to mention houses and country properties, jewels, gold and silver plate and furniture'.

In considering the relations between the Safavid state and its non-Muslim minorities, one must make a clear distinction between the state's treatment of its indigenous minorities, particularly the Jews and Christians, and that of the foreign religious.

The latter, if harassed, could, and did, appeal, however ineffectually, to the Christian princes of Europe, such as the King of Spain.

The former, as Iranian subjects, were just as much under the authority of the Shah as were his Muslim subjects, and the one thing calculated to throw Abbas I into a towering rage was any suggestion by emissaries from Europe, whether lay or ecclesiastic, that the Christian powers of Europe had any jurisdiction whatever over the Shah's indigenous Christian subjects such as the Armenians.

The Jewish community in Isfahan, though not as numerous as the Christians, was also allocated its own quarter of the city by Abba¯s I.

The Zoroastrians, those 'honorary dhimmis', had their own suburb dubbed 'Gabristan'-gabr, anglicized 'guebre', being a pejorative term used by Muslims to denote the Zoroastrians.

The remaining non-Muslim minorities in Isfahan, the Indians, known as 'banians', established themselves in the city toward the end of the reign of Abba¯s I, and increased in numbers under his successors Safi I and Abba¯s II. Being Hindus, they were not 'People of the Book' but, on the contrary, were considered mushriku¯n or polytheists, and therefore did not qualify for dhimma protection (Ironically, The Muslim rulers of India did consider Hindus as eligible for Dhimma protection).

Consequently, they were at the mercy of rapacious Safavid tax officials, who took advantage of their non-dhimmı¯ status to milk them of additional taxes in return for turning a blind eye to certain Hindu practices repugnant to Muslims, such as suttee (burning of widow with corpse of her husband, alive). They were, however, granted freedom of worship.

It is clear that there was a fundamental misunderstanding between European Christians and theShah. The Shah thought he could use the religious to bring pressure on the Christian princes of Europe to further his plans for an anti-Ottoman alliance on two fronts and, when his hopes were disappointed, he could vent his anger on the religious.

The first Carmelite fathers had arrived in Isfahan in December 1607, and two more, Fathers Benignus and Redempt, arrived in May 1608. They had their first audience with Shah Abba¯s only a few days later, and the Shah at once expressed 'his indignation and disgust at the princes of Christendom and the Pope for deceiving him about operations against the Turks'.

Nevertheless, there was a considerable amount of goodwill on both sides, and hope continued to spring eternal. That the hope of organizing a second front against the Ottomans was never far from Shah Abba¯s's mind is clearly shown by his jocular remark to the Carmelite religious that they could have his palace 'if the Christians really made war'.

Given this general situation, the action of Abba¯sI in ordering the forcible conversion to Islam of a considerable number of Armenian and other Christians in the year 1030 H/1621-2 CE seems an anomaly. This being so, it is worth quoting in extenso the detailed account of the contemporary Safavid chronicle the Tarikh-i Alam-ara-yi Abbasi of Iskandar Beg Munshi:

Some of the Christians, by God's grace, embraced Islam voluntarily, others found it difficult to abandon their Christian faith and felt revulsion at the idea.

They were encouraged by their monks and priests to remain steadfast in their faith. After a little pressure had been applied to the monks and priests, however, they desisted, and those Christians saw no alternative but to embrace Islam, though they did so with great reluctance.

The women and children embraced Islam with great enthusiasm, vying with one another in their eagerness to abandon their Christian faith and declare their belief in the unicity of God. Five thousand people embraced Islam. As each group made the Muslim declaration of the faith, it received instruction in the Qur'a¯n and the principles of the religious law of Islam, and all Bibles and other Christian devotional material was collected and taken away from the priests.

According to an Armenian of Julfa, Khvajaverdi, 'the principal cause was the secret hatred which the Shah has [for the Christian faith]… which was fomented by a great Mulla named Shaikh Baha-u-Din, who said that it was expedient that all Christians should be made Muslims'.

We can instantly dismiss the claim that Abbas I had a 'secret hatred' for Christians, on the testimony of the first Superior of the Carmelites, Fr Paul Simon, in his report to Rome in 1608:

'He does not detest them [Christians], for he frankly converses and eats with them, he suffers us to say frankly what we believe about our Faith and his own; sometimes he asks us about this'

Another tradition puts the story behind this atrocity like this:

Shah Abbas was in the habit of wandering incognito through the streets and bazaars of Isfahan to find out for himself what people were saying as opposed to what his advisers fed him. In the summer of 1621, he had retreated to his summer quarters at Kuhrang, and on Friday, 7 August he was walking incognito through the countryside of Chahar Mahall when he 'overheard some Armenian girls chattering together and using hard and rude words about himself. He was consumed with rage and ordered all Armenians of the villages in the vicinity to be forced to become Shia Muslims'.

Males were forcibly circumcised, some dying 'from the pain and the affliction of their hearts'. The Shah added a device to compel both males and females to apostatize: 'he took their wives from the Armenians and gave them to Shia Persians, and he mated the wives of the latter to Armenians'.

The persecution began in five villages, but eventually spread to 43. Some Chaldean families were also caught up in this victimization. The Armenians of Julfa, not surprisingly, feared for their own safety, and advised their co-religionists to send representatives from each village, including headmen and priests, to the royal palace at Isfahan to petition the Shah to end this persecution.

This they did, and some 150 people assembled at the palace gate, and sent a petition to the Shah indicating their willingness to die for their faith, but adjuring the Shah 'to allow them to live as Christians and order that their sacred book be restored to them'.

The Armenians said they had fled to Iran from the Ottoman empire 'because of the fame of the justice and good treatment which the Shah used towards Christians'. If he treated them ill, they said, they would once more flee 'wherever they might obtain better treatment'.

The Shah returned to the capital on 20 August; he sent for a leading Armenian and gave him assurances that he would not molest the Armenians further 'on account of their religion'. In time, 'he went so far as to say that he would not be displeased, were those forcibly converted to revert to Christianity', but 'he showed his annoyance with the Carmelites for encouraging resistance, by procrastinating in giving a reply to the Brief from the Pope brought by the Visitor General'.

An interesting footnote to this whole episode is the use by the Armenian merchants of Julfa of what we would today call 'strike action' in order to bring pressure to bear on the Shah. They halted their caravans of merchandise on the roads and, since the Shah personally profited from the silk trade, this weapon proved effective.

Under Shah Safi

Shah Safi was Shah Abbas I's grandson and successor. He confirmed the policies of his grandsire and even built a chapel in Iran. He also accorded rare privilege of ringing bells at will to Carmelites which was unheard of in Islamic lands.

Under Abbas II

With the accession of Abbas II in 1642, although the French traveler, Thevenot, who was in Iran in 1664, claimed the 'Persians give full liberty of conscience of whatsoever Religion they be', it was not long before the Christian communities noticed a change in the climate, and the statement is by no means true in regard to the Jews.

The most egregious example of persecution of the Jews of Isfahan was their forcible conversion to Islam in 1656. Not only Jews resident in Isfahan but also those living throughout the Safavid empire were ordered to make public profession of their conversion.

The instigator of this persecution was the itima¯d al-dawla or vazir, Muhammad Beg (An Armenian Convert), described as a self-made man who rose to high office from humble origins, ambitious and vindictive. He seems to have been appointed vazir in 1646. The Chronicle of the Carmelites records the apprehension felt by the Christians at his appointment:

Things are not going well at present for the poor Armenian and Syrian [i.e.] Jacobite Christians, because a new Grand Wazir has been made. he is a bigoted Muhammadan and antagonistic to Christianity

The Jewish community in Isfahan initially refused to convert; they were then ordered to leave the city, and were offered the choice of two uncongenial locations in the desert areas outside Isfahan.

Again they demurred, and offered bribes to the vazir, who then said they could go and live in the Zoroastrian quarter of Gabrabad. The Zoroastrians, however, possibly incited by the vazir, refused to receive them, and drove them out.

At some point the Jews appealed to the Sadr, the head of the religious institution, who voiced the opinion that the Sharıa does not sanction conversion by force. In the end, though, he appears to have washed his hands of the whole affair.

Finally, the Jews were ordered to embrace Islam under pain of death. Incredibly, the Jews still refused to submit unless they were rewarded for doing so. After some haggling, every convert received two tumans and, in addition, the community was granted the sum of 5,000 gold dinars from the waqf (pious endowment) of the Fourteen Immaculate Ones (the Twelve Ithna Asharı Imams, the Prophet, and Fatima).

Between 1656 and 1658, the Jewish communities in other Persian cities were subjected to similar persecution. In Kashan, Qum, Ardabil, Tabriz, Qazvin, Lar, Shiraz, and Hurmuz, the Jews submitted, but in other cities they resisted conversion.

A notable example was Farahabad in Mazandaran, where the Jews, despite being subjected to various forms of torture, refused to convert, and in the end the governor gave up the attempt and simply enforced the dhimma regulations regarding dress, etc. Throughout the whole country, according to The Chronicle of the Carmelites, about 100,000 Jews were forced to convert to Shia Islam.

The only contemporary Persian chronicle is the Abbasnama of Muhammad Tahir Vahid Qazvini and the Abbasnama concurs with the Jewish source Kitab-i Anusi in citing najasat, the impurity of Jews as non-Muslims, as the justification for the persecution.

The Kitab-i Anusi quotes the vazir as saying:

'According to our religion you are all defiled and impure and yet you brush against our bodies'

In the final analysis, Abbas II seems to have decided that the attempt to convert the Jews was not worth the effort; he realized that they only became Shias for outward show and because they were forced to do so, and so he allowed them to return to their own religion and live as they thought fit.

A number of Western historians have given Abbas II a favorable report card in regard to his treatment of the Christian minorities in his realm. For example, Sir John Malcolm, in his History of Persia, says:

'He was as tolerant to all religions as his great ancestor, whose name he had taken. To Christians, indeed, he showed the most marked favour'

Laurence Lockhart says: 'to sum up we may regard the reign of Shah Abba¯s as the “Indian summer” of the Safavid era', and he accuses Jewish sources like the Kitab-i Anusi of poetic license in exaggerating the persecution of the Jews by Abba¯s II.

Under Shah Suleyman and Shah Sultan Hussain

Under these two shahs, the Safavid state entered a period of decline which lasted for more than half a century. 'The mujtahids fully asserted their independence of the shah, and reclaimed their prerogative to be the representatives of the Twelfth Imam and thus the only legitimate source of authority in a Shıa state. Thus began another reign of terror by bureaucracy backed by clergy as Shah Suleyman was a weak and corrupted man who spent his days in wine and herems.

In 1669, the darugha (Governor) of Isfahan, under orders of the itimad al-dawla, tried to sell the Carmelite house in Isfahan, saying that the Shah needed the money. The Carmelites, by dint of bribing various officials, obtained a number of documents attesting to their right to reside in this house and got them registered in the Safavid chancery, and thus hoped 'to be free of such vexations'. (It must be noted that the said house was not property of the Christian order but was granted to them by Shah Abbas I for use even though Persian Empire still retained ownership of the said property).

In the absence of strong central government, non-Muslim minorities were also subject to harassment by the populace.

In May 1678 there occurred one of the worst instances of the persecution of Jews under Safavid rule. Shah Sulayman, while under the influence of drink, was persuaded by some Muslim 'zealots' that 'the Jews and Armenians by the unbounded license of their tenets had contrived the harm' of Islam, and he ordered that some leaders of both faiths be put to death.

Several rabbis were brutally put to death, but the Armenians, and other Jews, managed to escape death by lavish bribes. Sulayman does not appear to have been personally a bigot, but this incident makes it clear that, in the absence of a strong shah to curb the bigotry of the ulama', the dhimma status of non-Muslim minorities afforded them no protection from persecution.

Just before his death in 1694, Shah Sulayma¯n is reported to have said

'If you wish peace and ease, choose as your sovereign Shah Sultan Mirza (Sulayman's eldest son), but if, on the other hand, you wish the power of the monarchy to increase and the kingdom to expand, select Abbas Mirza (The second born son) instead'

(Mirza was a title of nobility. In this case, it means Prince).

The choice of incompetent Prince Sultan Husayn instead of able Prince Abbas, made by his great-aunt Maryam Bagum and the chief eunuchs, ensured more years of weak rule and spelt the doom of the Safavid dynasty.

Two rival factions, the powerful mujtahid Mirza Muhammad Baqir Majlisi and his supporters, on the one hand, and the royal women of the harem and the eunuchs, on the other, vied with each other for dominance over the complaisant Shah, whose standard reply when his advisers brought state matters to his attention was:

yahshidir-'That's OK!'

The Shah's nickname of 'Mulla Husayn' says it all.

Muhammad Baqir Majlisi saw it as his mission to root out heresy wherever it might be found and, in the absence of the controlling hand of the Shah, not just non-Muslim communities, but all non-Ithna Asharı Shıa, suffered from his bigotry. Thus remnants of Sunnı¯ Muslim groups, such as the Kurds and Sufıs (Islamic mystics), once again became targets of his persecution.

Many key Sufı doctrines and practices were denounced as bida, 'innovation', the nearest Islamic equivalent of heresy.

'The Shah was persuaded to sign a decree for the forcible conversion of Zoroastrians, and many Jews were forced to embrace Islam… The Christian minority groups… suffered less', but a black law promulgated by Abbas I and revived by Abbas II, 'entitling a Jew or Christian who became a Shia to claim the property of his relatives, was from time to time enforced'.

In 1722 Afghan invaders besieged the Safavid capital and starved it into surrender after the populace had suffered appalling hardships for six months. At an early stage of the siege, the Afghans occupied Julfa; it is noteworthy that the Armenians there put up a stout resistance without any help from the Safavid central administration.

By 1724, no member of the Carmelite community was left at the Isfahan convent. Armenians and Georgians, being indigenous however stayed. A huge Armenian population still exists in Iran.

1. There I agree with Savory because I have personally seen some Sunni Conservatives to think that Non-Muslims are unclean

2. But here I disagree with Roger Savory's otherwise brilliant research and agree with Bernard Lewis instead. Umar's sister only said that he was unclean and she won't let him touch Quran. She did however let him touch it and read it after he had washed his body. If She did believe that Non-Muslims were fundamentally unclean, why did Fatima let Umar touch Quran after he bathed? Muslims themselves don't touch Quran until they clean themselves. I can't presume to tell why did Savory choose to skip the ending and used theuncleanword uttered by Fatima to reinforce his point


Safavid conversion of Iran from Sunnism to Shiism

The Safavid conversion of Iran from Sunnism to Shiism made Iran the spiritual bastion of Shia Islam against the onslaughts of orthodox Sunni Islam, and the repository of Persian cultural traditions and self-awareness of Iranianhood, acting as a bridge to modern Iran. Through their actions, the Safavids reunified Iran as an independent state in 1501 and established Twelver Shiism as the official religion of their empire, marking one of the most important turning points in the history of Islam.


Establishment of Safavids in Iran’s History

According to Esmail’s order, the name of the Shiites’ first Imam, Ali, was added to the prayer calls. Also, the names of Sunnis’ first three caliphs were cursed by the rulers. This raised a lot of objections. Sufis carrying axes in the streets hit anyone opposing this order. The High Sufi had allowed them to kill all if necessary.

Therefore, this order was obeyed in the realm of the young king’s sovereignty. Shah Esmail’s offensive followers were everywhere to take care of the situations. As they wore red hats, they were called “Qezel Bash” (red-hatted people).

Then, the world famous Shiite theologians were invited to come to Iran to spread and elaborate Shiite doctrine and help with the execution of its commandments. This could help Shiite Islam be recognized in Iran. In fact, the declaration of Shiite faction as the state religion in Iran was a kind of declaring war on neighboring Sunni countries, namely Ottoman government, Uzbek government, Turkic and Tajik tribes.

Shah Esmail deposed any Aq-Qoyunlu rulers governing locally in any parts of Iran. Then, he defeated the khan of Uzbeks and pushed him back from Khorasan, northeast of Iran. He could not win the battle against Ottomans as Iranian army lacked artillery and modern weapons of the day. It was then that he thought of establishing ties with European countries, but he died and could not take any steps in this regard.

This is how Esmail started the history of Safavids with challenging Sunnis and military campaigns.


How did the Safavids convert people to Shiɺ Islam?

How did the Safavids convert people to Shiɺ Islam? How much violence was involved? What other incentives did they use?

In what ways did they support the clergy?

Did they fund and encourage celebrations or mournings on important days, like the anniversary of Husayn's death?

Very violently. The Safavid conversion took place literally over the span of one person's rule. That person was Shah Ismail I. Before him, Persia was predominantly Sunni and considered one of the centers of Hanafi learning (although the Safavids themselves were initially Shafi'i Sunnis). In order to give his country a distinct identity from the Ottomans (who were Sunni), Shah Ismail I basically forced his kingdom into Shi'ism almost overnight. He destroyed Sunni mosques, began state-sponsored ritual cursing of the first three caliphs (whom 12 Shi'ites consider to be usurpers), disbanded Sufi tariqas, and expelled any Sunni scholar who wouldn't convert. He also began a holiday celebrating the assassination of the second caliph Umar.

Later rulers such as Shah Ismail II were less anti-Sunni and it wasn't really until Muhammad Baqir Majlisi, a Shi'ite cleric, that Shi'ism became almost synonymous with Persia.

Thanks! Could you expand upon your answer? I'm interested in the subject material. Do you have sources that you could suggest? Do you know when the majority of Iran was converted to shi'ism? What happened to the Hanafi scholars? Who is Muhammad Baqir Majlisi? What other holidays did the Safavids begin to celebrate? You make some reference to the "stick," but did the Safavids offer a carrot to convert?

Well the whole population did not convert ''overnight'', try to wrap your head around that one, it is impossible to convert an entire nation, with a fairly large population with respect to that age to convert, just overnight, in a matter of hours.

It happened systemically, the population would not had converted, scholars were imported from Lebanon, Iraq among other places were they could teach, or force their views, there was a huge academic step which changed people's opinion, and this took a while.

Sure the Safavids tried forcing their beliefs, but it was actually done so in less of a cruel manner when compared with Sunni dynasties of Umayyads and Abbasids.

The Safavids were as much of a product of the people they ruled, as any major polity of that time. With your question, I'm going to assume you mean the height of the Safavids coinciding with the rule of Suleiman the Magnificent and his father Selim in the Ottoman Empire. Shiɺ ideas were not strange in the common theological debates of the day. The Fatamids before them, in Greater Syria and Egypt, were also Shiɺ, and sent many missionaries out across the eastern Mediterranean. But now to the point of your question, "How did the Safavids MAKE people into Shi'is?" First, it needs to be realized that divisions like "Sunni" and "Shiɺ" didn't exist in that world, these are qualifiers that were applied later. While it's true, the Safavids promulgated a "Shi'i" ideology and the Ottomans a "Sunni" one, the dividers between the two lay along political matters as well as religious ones. The Safavids MADE people Shi'i by denouncing those who were not as traitors. If you betray the state religion, you betray the state.

edit: Source can be found in Lapidus' chapter on the Safavids in his excellent work "Islamic Societies to the Nineteenth Century


How did the Ottoman Empire treat other religions?

While the Ottoman and Safavid Empires certainly encouraged their non-Muslim subjects to convert, they still tolerated most of the minority religions in their lands. They were forbidden to worship in public and attempting to convert Muslims was strictly forbidden and could be met with very harsh punishment.

Subsequently, question is, what Role Did Islam play in the growth of the Ottoman Empire? Islam was the official religion of the Ottoman Empire. The Sultan was to be a devout Muslim and was given the literal authority of the Caliph. Additionally, Sunni clerics had tremendous influence over government and their authority was central to the regulation of the economy.

Hereof, what role did religion play in the Ottoman Empire?

Religion played an important role in the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans themselves were Muslims, however they did not force the peoples they conquered to convert. They allowed for Christians and Jews to worship without persecution.

How was the Ottoman Empire tolerant?

The Ottoman Empire and Other Religions Most scholars agree that the Ottoman Turk rulers were tolerant of other religions. Those who weren't Muslim were categorized by the millet system, a community structure that gave minority groups a limited amount of power to control their own affairs while still under Ottoman rule.


Safavid dynasty

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Safavid dynasty, (1501–1736), ruling dynasty of Iran whose establishment of Twelver Shiʿism as the state religion of Iran was a major factor in the emergence of a unified national consciousness among the various ethnic and linguistic elements of the country. The Safavids were descended from Sheikh Ṣafī al-Dīn (1253–1334) of Ardabīl, head of the Sufi order of Ṣafaviyyeh (Ṣafawiyyah). Although the early Ṣafavī order was originally Sunni, following the jurisprudence of the Shāfiʿī school, it gravitated toward Shiʿism over time, perhaps pulled along by the popular veneration of ʿAlī. By the time of the order’s fourth leader, Sheikh Junayd, it had become explicitly Shiʿi.

The Mongol invasions that began in the 13th century drastically reconfigured the Islamic world. Not only did the invasions bring about the end of the Abbasid empire and leave the centre of eastern Islamdom fractured, but the arrival of new Turkic peoples and dynasties throughout much of Islamdom shifted the axes of power into the hands of Turkic clans. The Ṣafavī order at Ardabīl, however, was distant enough from any political centre to remain neutral, allowing the Persian mystics to build a strong following of their own.

By the time of Ismāʿīl I, the order’s sixth head, the Ṣafavīs commanded enough support from the Kizilbash—local Turkmens and other disaffected heterodox tribes—to enable him to capture Tabrīz from the Ak Koyunlu (Turkish: “White Sheep”), an Uzbek Turkmen confederation. In July 1501 Ismāʿīl was enthroned as shah, although his area of control was initially limited to Azerbaijan. In the next 10 years he subjugated the greater part of Iran and annexed the Iraqi provinces of Baghdad and Mosul. Despite the predominantly Sunni character of this territory, he proclaimed Shiʿism the state religion and enforced its creed and prayers in the mosques of his dominion.

In August 1514 Ismāʿīl was seriously defeated at Chāldirān by his Sunni rival, the Ottoman sultan Selim I. Thereafter, the continuing struggle against the Sunnis—the Ottomans in the west and the Uzbeks in the northeast—cost the Safavids Kurdistan, Diyarbakır, and Baghdad, while Tabrīz was continuously under threat. Iran weakened appreciably during the reign of Ismāʿīl’s eldest son, Shah Ṭahmāsp I (1524–76), and persistent and unopposed Turkmen forays into the country increased under his incompetent successors.

In 1588 ʿAbbās I was brought to the throne. Realizing the limits of his military strength, ʿAbbās made peace with the Ottomans on unfavourable terms in 1590 and directed his onslaughts against the Uzbeks. Meeting with little success, ʿAbbās engaged in a major army reform. The strength of the Kizilbash was reduced, while the use of firearms was expanded. Three bodies of troops were formed, all trained and armed in an early modern manner and paid out of the royal treasury: the ghulāms (slaves), the tofangchīs (musketeers), and the topchīs (artillerymen). With his new army, ʿAbbās defeated the Turks in 1603, forcing them to relinquish all the territory they had seized, and captured Baghdad. He also expelled (1602, 1622) the Portuguese traders who had seized the island of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf early in the 16th century.

Shah ʿAbbās’s remarkable reign, with its striking military successes and efficient administrative system, raised Iran to the status of a great power. Trade with the West and industry expanded, communications improved. He moved the capital to Eṣfahān and made it the centre of Safavid architectural achievement, manifest in the mosques Masjed-e Shāh (renamed Masjed-e Emām after the 1979 Iranian Revolution), Masjed-e Sheikh Loṭfollāh, and other monuments including the ʿAlī Qāpū, the Chehel Sotūn, and the Meydān-i Shāh. Despite the Safavid Shiʿi zeal, Christians were tolerated and several missions and churches were built.

After the death of Shah ʿAbbās I (1629), the Safavid dynasty lasted for about a century, but, except for an interlude during the reign of Shah ʿAbbās II (1642–66), it was a period of decline. Eṣfahān fell to the Ghilzai Afghans of Kandahār in 1722. Seven years later Shah Ṭahmāsp II recovered Eṣfahān and ascended the throne, only to be deposed in 1732 by his Afshārid lieutenant Nadr Qolī Beg (the future Nādir Shāh).

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Zeidan, Assistant Editor.


Shah Abbas Mosque - Minarets of the portal (left) and of the mosque (right)

The confrontation between Ottoman (Sunni) Sultans and Safavid (Shi'a) Shas was not limited to the battlefields, where the two Empires fought a long war (1603-18). In 1609 Sultan Ahmet I laid the first stone of a new grand mosque in Constantinople which today is best known as the Blue Mosque. The construction of Shah Abbas Mosque started in 1611.
In this sort of competition, Sultan Ahmet played foul. His mosque has six minarets, something which was regarded as a sacrilege because only the Great Mosque of Mecca could have as many as six minarets.
Shah Abbas did not dare to build so many. The four minarets of his mosque are decorated with tile mosaics forming the words "no God but God". The two minarets of the portal have another tile inscription beneath the balcony, which is missing in the prayer hall minarets. The lancet shape of Ottoman minarets did not allow enough space for inscriptions.


What was the state religion of the Safavids?

Read in-depth answer here. Then, what religion was the Safavid empire?

The Safavid shahs established the Twelver school of Shia Islam as the official religion of the empire, marking one of the most important turning points in Muslim history. The Safavid dynasty had its origin in the Safavid order of Sufism, which was established in the city of Ardabil in the Azerbaijan region.

Also, what areas did the Safavids control? The Safavids ruled from 1501 to 1722 (experiencing a brief restoration from 1729 to 1736) and at their height, they controlled all of modern Iran, Azerbaijan and Armenia, most of Iraq, Georgia, Afghanistan, and the Caucasus, as well as parts of Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Turkey.

Also to know is, what did the Safavids believe in?

Strengths. The Safavid Empire, although driven and inspired by strong religious faith, rapidly built the foundations of strong central secular government and administration. The Safavids benefited from their geographical position at the centre of the trade routes of the ancient world.

What was the relationship between religion and state in the Safavid empire?

The religious leaders became rulers. For instance, these rulers were teachers of their religion. Also, they took part in the spread of Shiism.


Contents

Persian policies after the Islamic conquest Edit

After the Islamic conquest of the Sassanid Empire, during the 90-year long reign of the Ummayad dynasty, the Arab conquerors tried to impose Arabic as the primary language of the subject peoples throughout their empire. Hajjāj ibn Yusuf was not happy with the prevalence of the Persian language in the divan and ordered that the official languages of the conquered lands be replaced by Arabic, sometimes by force. [3]

Accounts of violent suppression of Persian culture under the Ummayads emerge two or three centuries after their fall, in the writings of Abu al-Faraj al-Isfahani [4] and Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī. [5]

However, after the reign of the Umayyads and Abbasids, Iran and its society in particular experienced reigning dynasties who legitimized Persian languages and customs, while still encouraging Islam. Moreover, there was close interaction between Persian and Arab leaders, particularly during the wake of the Samanids who promoted revived Persian more than the Buyids and the Saffarids, while continuing to patronize Arabic to a significant degree. [6]

There are a number of historians who see the rule of the Umayyads as setting up the "dhimmah" to increase taxes from the dhimmis to benefit the Arab Muslim community financially and by discouraging conversion. [7] Islam, during the Umayyad Caliphate, was initially associated with the ethnic identity of the Arab and required formal association with an Arab tribe and the adoption of the client status of mawali. [7] Governors lodged complaints with the caliph when he enacted laws that made conversion easier, depriving the provinces of revenues. Notable Zoroastrian converts to Islam included Abd-Allāh Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ, Fadl ibn Sahl and Naubakht Ahvazi.

Islamization policies Edit

During the following Abbassid period an enfranchisement was experienced by the mawali and a shift was made in political conception from that of a primarily Arab empire to one of a Muslim empire [8] and c. 930 a requirement was enacted that required all bureaucrats of the empire be Muslim. [7] Both periods were also marked by significant migrations of Arab tribes outwards from the Arabian Peninsula into the new territories. [8]

After Persia was conquered, the Muslims offered relative religious tolerance and fair treatment to populations that accepted Islamic rule without resistance. [ citation needed ] It was not until around 650, however, that resistance in Iran was quelled. [ citation needed ] Conversion to Islam, which offered certain advantages, [ example needed ] was fairly rapid among the urban population but slower among the peasantry and the dihqans (landed gentry). The majority of Iranians did not become Muslim until the ninth century. Landowners who peacefully submitted to Islam were granted more land. [9] Having effectively been recognized as dhimmis under the Rashidun Caliphs, on the terms of annual payment of the Jizya, Zoroastrians were sometimes left largely to themselves, but this practice varied from area to area.

Before the conquest, the Persians had been mainly Zoroastrian. The historian Al-Masudi, a Baghdad-born Arab, who wrote a comprehensive treatise on history and geography in about 956, records that after the conquest:

Zorastrianism, for the time being, continued to exist in many parts of Iran. Not only in countries which came relatively late under Muslim sway (e.g Tabaristan) but also in those regions which early had become provinces of the Muslim empire. In almost all the Iranian provinces, according to Al Masudi, fire temples were to be found – the Madjus he says, venerate many fire temples in Iraq, Fars, Kirman, Sistan, Khurasan, Tabaristan, al Djibal, Azerbaijan and Arran.

This general statement of al Masudi is fully supported by the medieval geographers who make mention of fire temples in most of the Iranian towns. [10]

Also, Islam was readily accepted by Zoroastrians who were employed in industrial and artisan positions because, according to Zoroastrian dogma, such occupations that involved defiling fire made them impure. [11] Moreover, Muslim missionaries did not encounter difficulty in explaining Islamic tenets to Zoroastrian, as there were many similarities between the faiths. According to Thomas Walker Arnold, for the Persian, he would meet Ahura Mazda and Ahriman under the names of Allah and Iblis. [11] At times, Muslim leaders in their effort to win converts encouraged attendance at Muslim prayer with promises of money and allowed the Quran to be recited in Persian instead of Arabic so that it would be intelligible to all. [12] Later, the Samanids, whose roots stemmed from Zoroastrian theocratic nobility, propagated Sunni Islam and Islamo-Persian culture deep into the heart of Central Asia. The first complete translation of the Qur'an into Persian occurred during the reign of Samanids in the 9th century.

Richard Bulliet's "conversion curve" and relatively minor rate of conversion of non-Arab subjects during the Arab centric Umayyad period of 10%, in contrast with estimates for the more politically multicultural Abassid period which saw the Muslim population go from approx. 40% in the mid 9th century to close to 80% by the end of 11th century. [8]

The emergence of Iranian Muslim dynasties has great effect on changing religion as Seyyed Hossein Nasr says. [13] These dynasties have adopted some Persian language cultural values and adapted them with Islam.

Shu'ubiyya and Persianization policies Edit

Although Persians adopted the religion of their conquerors, over the centuries they worked to protect and revive their distinctive language and culture, a process known as Persianization. Arabs and Turks participated in this attempt. [14] [15] [16] [17]

In the 9th and 10th centuries, non-Arab subjects of the Ummah created a movement called Shu'ubiyyah in response to the privileged status of Arabs. Most of those behind the movement were Persian, but references to Egyptians and Berbers are attested. [18] Citing as its basis Islamic notions of equality of races and nations, the movement was primarily concerned with preserving Persian culture and protecting Persian identity, though within a Muslim context. It was a response to the growing Arabization of Islam in the earlier centuries. The most notable effect of the movement was the survival of Persian language, the language of the Persians, to the present day.

The Abbasids also held a strong pro-Iranian campaign against the Ummayads in order to get support from the Persian population. After their establishment as Caliphs, holidays such as Nowruz for example were permitted after a decades-long suppression by the Ummayad rulers [ citation needed ] . The Abbasids, in particular al-Mamun, also actively promoted the Persian language. The Samanid dynasty who defeated the Saffarids, and called themselves descendants of Sassanid Eran spahbod Bahram Chobin.

The Samanid dynasty was the first fully native dynasty to rule Iran since the Muslim conquest, and led the revival of Persian culture. The first important Persian poet after the arrival of Islam, Rudaki, was born during this era and was praised by Samanid kings. The Samanids also revived many ancient Persian festivals. Their successor, the Ghaznawids, who were of non-Iranian Afghan origin, also became instrumental in the revival of Persian. [19]

The Shi'a Buyid rulers, adopted a similar attitude in this regard. They tried to revive many of the Sassanid customs and traditions. They even adopted the ancient Persian title of Shahanshah (King of Kings) for their rulers.

After the rise of the Safavid dynasty, Twelver Shia Islam became the official state religion and its adoption imposed upon the majority of the Iranian population.

"Iran was indeed Islamized, but it was not Arabized. Persians remained Persians. And after an interval of silence, Iran reemerged as a separate, different and distinctive element within Islam, eventually adding a new element even to Islam itself. Culturally, politically, and most remarkable of all even religiously, the Iranian contribution to this new Islamic civilization is of immense importance. The work of Iranians can be seen in every field of cultural endeavor, including Arabic poetry, to which poets of Iranian origin composing their poems in Arabic made a very significant contribution. In a sense, Iranian Islam is a second advent of Islam itself, a new Islam sometimes referred to as Islam-i Ajam. It was this Persian Islam, rather than the original Arab Islam, that was brought to new areas and new peoples: to the Turks, first in Central Asia and then in the Middle East in the country which came to be called Turkey, and of course to India. The Ottoman Turks brought a form of Iranian civilization to the walls of Vienna." [1]

Persians had a great influence on their conquerors. The caliphs adopted many Sassanid administrative practices, such as coinage, the office of vizier, or minister, and the divan, a bureaucracy for collecting taxes and giving state stipends. Indeed, Persians themselves largely became the administrators. It is well established that the Abbasid caliphs modeled their administration on that of the Sassanids. [20] The caliphs adopted Sassanid court dress and ceremony. In terms of architecture Islamic architecture borrowed heavily from Persian architecture. The Sassanid architecture had a distinctive influence over Islamic architecture.

Iranians, since the beginning had interest and sincere efforts in compiling the study of Arabic etymology, grammar, syntax, morphology, figures of speech, rules of eloquence, and rhetoric. Arabic was not seen as an alien language but the language of Islam and thereby Arabic was widely accepted as an academic and religious language and embraced in many parts of Iran. It was for the sake of the Holy Qur'an and Islam that books of philosophy, mysticism, history, medicine, mathematics, and law had been written or translated into this language.

Persians also contributed greatly to Arabic learning and literature. The influence of the Academy of Gundishapur is particularly worthy of note.

The New Persian language written in the Arabic alphabet with a some modifications was formed in the late ninth century in eastern Iran and came to flourish in Bukhara, the capital of the Persian Samanid dynasty.

Persian language, because of its strong support from later Abassid rulers condoning the language became one of the universal Islamic languages, next to Arabic.

The most important scholars of almost all of the Islamic sects and schools of thought were Persian or live in Iran including most notable and reliable Hadith collectors of Shia and Sunni like Shaikh Saduq, Shaikh Kulainy, Imam Bukhari, Imam Muslim and Hakim al-Nishaburi, the greatest theologians of Shia and Sunni like Shaykh Tusi, Imam Ghazali, Imam Fakhr al-Razi and Al-Zamakhshari, the greatest physicians, astronomers, logicians, mathematicians, metaphysicians, philosophers and scientists like Al-Farabi, Avicenna, and Nasīr al-Dīn al-Tūsī, the greatest Shaykh of Sufism like Rumi, and Abdul-Qadir Gilani.

"It is a remarkable fact that, with few exceptions, most Muslim scholars . in the intellectual sciences have been non-Arabs, thus the founders of grammar were Sibawaih and after him, al-Farsi and Az-Zajjaj. All of them were of Persian descent they invented rules of (Arabic) grammar. Great jurists were Persians. Only the Persians engaged in the task of preserving knowledge and writing systematic scholarly works. Thus the truth of the statement of the prophet (Muhammad) becomes apparent, 'If learning were suspended in the highest parts of heaven the Persians would attain it ". The intellectual sciences were also the preserve of the Persians, left alone by the Arabs, who did not cultivate them…as was the case with all crafts. . This situation continued in the cities as long as the Persians and Persian countries, Iraq, Khorasan and Transoxiana (modern Central Asia), retained their sedentary culture."

One Abbasid Caliph is even quoted as saying:

"The Persians ruled for a thousand years and did not need us Arabs even for a day. We have been ruling them for one or two centuries and cannot do without them for an hour." [22]

Patrick Clawson states that "The Iranians chafed under Umayyid rule. The Umayyids rose from traditional Arab aristocracy. They tended to marry other Arabs, creating an ethnic stratification that discriminated against Iranians. Even as Arabs adopted traditional Iranian bureaucracy, Arab tribalism disadvantaged Iranians." [23] Contemporary Islamist thinker Morteza Motahhari writes:

"If we pay a little attention to the prejudice and discrimination practised by some of the caliphs with regard to their attitude towards their Arab and non-Arab subjects and to Ali ibn Abi Talib's defence of the criteria of Islamic equality and impartiality concerning Arabs and non-Arabs, the truth of the matter will become completely clear." [24]

The Arab conquerors, according to many historians, formed "a ruling aristocracy with special rights and privileges, which they emphatically did not propose to share with the mawali". [25] Some rulers, such as Hajjaj ibn Yusuf even went as far as viewing the Mawali as "barbarians", implementing harsh policies such as branding to keep the subjects in check. [26]

The case of Hajjaj is particularly noteworthy as many reports have come down to us from his racial policies and iron tactics in governing the provinces. And yet many skeptics point to the fact that some of these reports were written by Abbasid era writers who may have had a skewed view of their predecessors.

However Hajjaj was not the only case of cruelty against the Mawali. [27] The non-Iranian appointee of the Caliph in Isfahan for example cut off the heads of any of the Mawali who failed to pay their taxes, [28] and Ibn Athir in his al-kāmil reports that Sa'id ibn al'Ās killed all but one person in the port city of Tamisah, during his incursion to Gorgan in the year 651CE.

Such tumultuous conditions eventually were responsible for the rise of the Shuubiyah movement, and the rise of Persian nationalist tendencies in the 9th century with the emergence of the Samanids.


How did the Ottoman Empire treat religious minorities?

The Ottoman Empire and Other Religions Most scholars agree that the Ottoman Turk rulers were tolerant of other religions. Those who weren't Muslim were categorized by the millet system, a community structure that gave minority groups a limited amount of power to control their own affairs while still under Ottoman rule.

Beside above, how did religious tolerance affect the Ottoman Empire? Due to the Ottoman ruling with religious tolerance and raising Jewish and Christian slave children to be Muslim, speaking Turkish and swearing to the Ottoman Empire and its sultan. The Ottoman Empire flourished because of their peace and respect to other cultures within their rule.

Thereof, what role did religion play in the Ottoman Empire?

Religion played an important role in the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans themselves were Muslims, however they did not force the peoples they conquered to convert. They allowed for Christians and Jews to worship without persecution.

Why was the Ottoman Empire so diverse?

Religious and cultural diversity were part of the Ottoman Empire during its whole life, hence this alone can't be the reason of its decline. Nationalism gave a reason to european minorities (serbs, greeks, bulgars, romanians, etc.) inside the Ottoman Empire to fight for their autonomy.


Compare and Contrast the Ottoman, Safavid, Munguhl Empires

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The Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughals were all gunpowder empires. The purpose of this essay is to compare and contrast the differences between all of these empires mentioned. Each fall into five different categories. Socially, the Ottoman Turks were each millet, or a nation, inside the empire and had separate social customs in accordance with the religion of the millet. Muslim women had harsh restrictions as with Islamic law, but the non-Muslim women were subject to separate laws. Even Muslim women had more rights than in other Muslim nations. In the Safavid empire socially, they were a mixed society just like the Ottoman empire.

The aristocrats had limited power and influence. They were also Turkic-speaking tribal groups. In the Mughal empire socially, were Hindu population. They had been threatened by the ruling Muslims. Akbar, who was originally a Muslim gave the Hindu more rights. On the Political side, the Ottoman Turks was the most successful at maintaining power for a longer time. It was able to survive until modern times. The two other empires collapsed by the seventeenth century. The leader of the Ottoman Turks was known as the Sultan which was similar to an emperor. It was hereditary.

Islamic Law was applied to all Muslims. Regarding the Safavid empire politically, the Shahs walked around the streets in disguise in order to find the sincerity of the citizens. The high positions were given by merit and often were foreigners. In the Mughal Empire politically, Even though the population was predominately Hindu most high government positions were held by Muslims. Functioned by dynasties, and leadership was hereditary. This created power struggles between the military and the power families which led to their demise. Examples would be the struggle between Shah Jahan’s sons.

Another main factor in the demise of the Empire was when the British got a seat on the imperial court of Agra. Economically speaking, beginning in the 15th century, pottery, rugs, silk, other textiles, jewelry, arms and armor, and calligraphy flourished. Justinian had brought cultivation of silkworms to the area in the 16th century. Silks were produced under the Sultan leaders, but rugs were a peasant industry. Separate villages had their own distinctive designs. All rugs though use the “Gordian knot” from the Gordes region. Tribal leaders collected the taxes. For the Safavids economic side, They took direct interest in economy.

They were engaged in manufacturing and trade. The King monitored the economy very closely. They would also kill people for dishonest business practices. However, the Safavids were probably not as wealthy as Ottoman or Mughal. For Economics to the Munguls Empire, they were at peace and stability under Akbar. This caused commerce and manufacturing to thrive. Their goods, like textiles, tropical food, spices, and precious stones were exported. They Imported gold and silver. The had tariffs on imports were quite low. Foreign commerce was mostly carried on by the Arabs since the Mughals like the Indians did not like to travel by sea.

Also, Internal land trade was carried on by large merchant castes, that were active in handicrafts and banking as well. On a religious point of view for all the empires. The Governments in all 3 were muslim based. Mughals were the only group that was not predominately Muslim. Muslims were only a small minority Ottomans were Sunni Muslims. The Ottoman titles were claimed to be caliphs. They maintained Islamic law called Sandri’a. Only applied to Ottoman Muslims. Ottoman minorities were mostly Greek Orthodox Jews. Muslims were prohibited from adopting other faiths.

Each group was organized into administrative unit called millet (nations). Women were treated much like other women in Muslim societies. They could own property, even their own dowries. Non Muslims didn’t have to follow muslim law. This was a common practice throughout all 3 empires. Safadids were Shi’ite Muslims. Mughals were Sunni and very similar in government to the Ottomans. Safavid Shahs claimed to be spiritual leader of all Islam. On the military standpoint, the Ottoman empire sacked Constantinople and renamed it Istanbul. They eventually control the Bosporus and the Dardanelles.

The Ottomans eventually moved from the Bosporus to set up their first European base at Galilipoli. The new emperor Murad developed the Janissaries, they were taken from the Christian population, trained in the Balkans, converted to Islam and then trained as foot soldiers or administrators. Also when they changed firearms it spread in the late fourteenth century. Turks began to master this new technology making cannons and muskets. For the Safavid Empire, in 1501 The Safavids defeated much of Iran and Iraq. The Ottomans attacked the Safavids and forced them to sign a peace treaty were the Safavids lost much land.

Shah Abbas, the leader of the Safavids at that time strengthend his army during the peace and then tried to take back the lost land. However he was for the most part unsuccessful. For the Munguhls, Babur, the descendant of Tamerlane was driven south by the Uzbeks and the Safavids in Persia and took Kabul in 1504. He then marched into northern India. He used mobile cavalry and artillery to great advantage. In 1526 Babur attacked Delhi with only 12,000 troops against an army nearly ten times his size. A british historian described Babur’s son Hamuyan as intelligent but lazy and when Babur died most of the military victories were taken away.

All in all, the 3 empires all led to downfall. The Ottoman, when the Janisaree became hereditary and no longer got the best troops. They lost territory in the battle of Carlowitz. The Sultan also became hereditary. The Safavid, when Shah Ismail wanted to convert the Ottomans to Shiite. After the Shah died there became a lot of problems. The Mughul, Akbar lowered taxes, married a hindu princess that used a lot of his money, which made him need to tax the people more. His son Araazah, took over and all he did was drink and gamble. This caused the downfall because he didn’t care anymore.



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