Safavid flag after 1576
|Founder||Ismail I (1501–1524)|
|Final ruler||Abbas III (1732–1736)|
The Safavid dynasty ( /, -/ ; Persian : دودمان صفوی, romanized: Dudmâne Safavi, pronounced [d̪uːd̪ˈmɒːne sæfæˈviː] ) was one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Iran from 1501 to 1736. The Safavid dynasty had its origin in the Safavid order of Sufism, which was established in the city of Ardabil in the Iranian Azerbaijan region. It was an Iranian dynasty of Kurdish origin, but during their rule they intermarried with Turkoman, Georgian, Circassian, and Pontic Greek dignitaries. From their base in Ardabil, the Safavids established control over parts of Greater Iran and reasserted the Iranian identity of the region, thus becoming the first native dynasty since the Sasanian Empire to establish a national state officially known as Iran.
The Safavids ruled from 1501 to 1722 (experiencing a brief restoration from 1729 to 1736) and, at their height, they controlled all of what is now Iran, Azerbaijan Republic, Bahrain, Armenia, eastern Georgia, parts of the North Caucasus, Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan, as well as parts of Turkey, Syria, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Despite their demise in 1736, the legacy that they left behind was the revival of Iran as an economic stronghold between East and West, the establishment of an efficient state and bureaucracy based upon "checks and balances", their architectural innovations and their patronage for fine arts. The Safavids have also left their mark down to the present era by spreading Twelver Islam in Iran, as well as major parts of the Caucasus, Anatolia, and Mesopotamia.
The Safavid Kings themselves claimed to be sayyids,family descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, although many scholars have cast doubt on this claim. There seems now to be a consensus among scholars that the Safavid family hailed from Iranian Kurdistan, and later moved to Iranian Azerbaijan, finally settling in the 11th century CE at Ardabil. Traditional pre-1501 Safavid manuscripts trace the lineage of the Safavids to the Kurdish dignitary, Firuz-Shah Zarrin-Kolah.
According to historians,including Vladimir Minorsky and Roger Savory, the Safavids were of Turkicized Iranian origin:
From the evidence available at the present time, it is certain that the Safavid family was of indigenous Iranian stock, and not of Turkish ancestry as it is sometimes claimed. It is probable that the family originated in Persian Kurdistan, and later moved to Azerbaijan, where they adopted the Azari form of Turkish spoken there, and eventually settled in the small town of Ardabil sometimes during the eleventh century.
By the time of the establishment of the Safavid empire, the members of the family were Turkicized and Turkish-speaking,and some of the Shahs composed poems in their then-native Turkish language. Concurrently, the Shahs themselves also supported Persian literature, poetry and art projects including the grand Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp, while members of the family and some Shahs composed Persian poetry as well.
The authority of the Safavids was religiously based, and their claim to legitimacy was founded on being direct male descendants of Ali,the cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, and regarded by the Shiʻa as the first Imam.
Furthermore, the dynasty was from the very start thoroughly intermarried with both Pontic Greek as well as Georgian lines.In addition, from the official establishment of the dynasty in 1501, the dynasty would continue to have many intermarriages with both Circassian as well as again Georgian dignitaries, especially with the accession of Tahmasp I.
The Safavid family was a literate family from its early origin. There are extant Tati and Persian poetry from Shaykh Safi ad-din Ardabili as well as extant Persian poetry from Shaykh Sadr ad-din. Most of the extant poetry of Shah Ismail I is in Azerbaijani pen-name of Khatai.Sam Mirza, the son of Shah Ismail as well as some later authors assert that Ismail composed poems both in Turkish and Persian but only a few specimens of his Persian verse have survived. A collection of his poems in Azeri were published as a Divan. Shah Tahmasp who has composed poetry in Persian was also a painter, while Shah Abbas II was known as a poet, writing Azerbaijani verses. Sam Mirza, the son of Ismail I was himself a poet and composed his poetry in Persian. He also compiled an anthology of contemporary poetry.
Iranian Georgians or Persian Georgians are Iranian citizens who are ethnically Georgian, and are an ethnic group living in Iran. Today's Georgia was a subject to Iran in the ancient times under the Achaemenid and Sassanian empires and from the 16th century till the early 19th century, starting with the Safavids in power and later Qajars. Shah Abbas I, his predecessors, and successors, relocated by force hundreds of thousands of Christian, and Jewish Georgians as part of his programs to reduce the power of the Qizilbash, develop industrial economy, strengthen the military, and populate newly built towns in various places in Iran including the provinces of Isfahan, Mazandaran &Khuzestan. A certain amount, amongst them members of nobility, also migrated voluntarily over the centuries, as well as some that moved as muhajirs in the 19th century to Iran, following the Russian conquest of the Caucasus. The Georgian community of Fereydunshahr have retained their distinct Georgian identity until this day, while having to adopt aspects of Iranian culture such as the Persian language and Twelver Shia Islam.
Tahmasp I was an influential Shah of Iran, who enjoyed the longest reign of any member of the Safavid dynasty. He was the son and successor of Ismail I.
Ismail I, also known as Shah Ismail I, was the founder of the Safavid dynasty, ruling from 1501 to 23 May 1524 as Shah of Iran (Persia).
The Safavid order, also called the Safaviyya, was a tariqa founded by the Kurdish mystic Safi-ad-din Ardabili (1252–1334). It held a prominent place in the society and politics of northwestern Iran in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, but today it is best known for having given rise to the Safavid dynasty. While initially founded under the Shafi'i school of Sunni Islam, later adoptions of Shi'i concepts such as the notion of the Imamate by the children and grandchildren of Safi-ad-din Ardabili resulted in the order ultimately becoming associated with Twelverism.
Safi-ad-din Ardabili was a Kurdish poet, mystic, teacher and Sufi master. He was the son-in-law and spiritual heir of the Sufi master Zahed Gilani, whose order—the Zahediyeh—he reformed and renamed the Safaviyya, which he led from 1301 to 1334.
The Alids are an Arab community, found predominantly in the Arab world and the South Asian countries. Alids are the one who were accepted as the descendants of Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib, cousin and son-in-law of Islamic prophet Muhammad, through all his wives.
Qizilbash or Kizilbash, were a wide variety of mainly Turkoman Shia militant groups that flourished in Iranian Azerbaijan, Anatolia and Kurdistan from the late 15th century onwards, and contributed to the foundation of the Safavid dynasty of Iran.
The Isfahan School is a school of Islamic philosophy. It was founded by Mir Damad and reached its fullest development in the work of Mulla Sadra. The name was coined by Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Henry Corbin.
Ashrafuddin Abu Muhammad Hasan ibn Muhammad Husayni Ghaznavi known as Ashraf (اشرف) was a 12th-century Persian poet. A sayyid, he boasted of his lineage from the family of the prophet Muhammad in his poetry.
Firuz Shah Zarrin Kolah was a Kurdish dignitary, and the seventh in the ancestral line of Shaykh Safi Ardabili, the eponym of the Safavid dynasty of Iran.
Ismail Mirza later known by his first dynastic name of Ismail II was the third Safavid Shah of Iran, ruling from 1576 to 1577.
Mohammad Khodābandeh or Khudābanda, also known as Mohammad Shah or Sultan Mohammad, was Shah of Persia from 1578 until his overthrow in 1587 by his son Abbas I. He was the fourth Safavid Shah of Iran and succeeded his brother, Ismail II. Khodabanda was the son of Shah Tahmasp I by a Turcoman mother, Sultanum Begum Mawsillu, and grandson of Ismail I, founder of the Safavid Dynasty.
The oldest extant book on the genealogy of the Safavid family is Safvat as-safa and was written by Ibn Bazzaz in 1350, a disciple of Sheikh Sadr-al-Din Safavi, the son of Sheikh Safi ad-din Ardabili. According to Ibn Bazzaz, the Sheikh was a descendant of a Kurdish man named Firooz Shah Zarrin Kolah who was from Sanjar, southeast of Diyarbakir. The male lineage of the Safavid family given by the oldest manuscript of the Safvat as-Safa is: "Sheykh Safi al-Din Abul-Fatah Ishaaq the son of Al-Sheykh Amin al-din Jebrail the son of al-Saaleh Qutb al-Din Abu Bakr the son of Salaah al-Din Rashid the son of Muhammad al-Hafiz al-Kalaam Allah the son of ‘Avaad the son of Birooz al-Kurdi al-Sanjari." Later Safavid Kings themselves claimed to be Seyyeds, family descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
Sheikh Junayd was the son of Shaykh Ibrahim, father of Shaykh Haydar and grandfather of the founder of Safavid dynasty, Shah Ismail I. After the death of his father, he assumed the leadership of the Safaviyya from 1447–1460.
Shaykh Haydar or Sheikh Haydar was the successor of his father as leader of the Safavid order from 1460-1488. Haydar maintained the policies and political ambitions initiated by his father. Under Sheikh Haydar, the order became crystallized as a political movement with an increasingly extremist heterodox Twelver Shi'i coloring and Haydar was viewed as a divine figure by his followers. Shaykh Haydar was responsible for instructing his followers to adopt the scarlet headgear of 12 gores commemorating The Twelve Imams, which led to them being designated by the Turkish term Qizilbash "Red Head".
Ali Mirza Safavi also known as Soltan-Ali Safavi was the penultimate head of the Safavid order. Having grown wary of his political power, Ali Mirza was captured by the Ak Koyunlu and spent several years in captivity in Fars before being released in 1493 by prince Rostam. In the ensuing period he and his men assisted the prince in defeating Baysonqor bin Yaqub. A year later however, in 1494, now perceiving the Safavid order as a threat to his own position, Rostam ordered for the execution of Ali Mirza Safavi. Realizing his inevitable fate, shortly before his death, Ali Mirza Safavi appointed his brother Ismail as his successor. Ismail, in turn, eventually came to establish the Safavid Empire, with the regnal name Ismail I.
Roger Mervyn Savory, born 27 January 1925 in Peterborough, is a British-born Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto who is an Iranologist and specialist on the Safavids. His numerous writings on Safavid political, military history, administration, bureaucracy, and diplomacy-translated into several language have had a great impact in understanding this period.
Safavid Iran or Safavid Persia, also referred to as the Safavid Empire, was one of the greatest Iranian empires after the 7th-century Muslim conquest of Persia, ruled from 1501 to 1736 by the Safavid dynasty. It is often considered the beginning of modern Iranian history, as well as one of the gunpowder empires. 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.
Musā ibn Khalil ibn Taghi ibn Jafar ibn Mohammad Ebrāhim Māzandarāni, Persian scribe and scholar of nineteenth century Persia. Musa was born into a family of good standing which originated in the northern Iranian region of Mazandaran.
Tajlu Khanum, also known by her title of Shah-Begi Khanum, was a Turkoman princess from the Mawsillu tribe and principal consort of Ismail I.
After 907/1502, Adharbayjan became the chief bulwark and rallying ground of the Safawids, themselves natives of Ardabil and originally speaking the local Iranian dialect
qizilbash normally spoke Azari brand of Turkish at court, as did the Safavid shahs themselves; lack of familiarity with the Persian language may have contributed to the decline from the pure classical standards of former times
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