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Book Explores Religious Evolution Under Safavid Rule

Book Explores Religious Evolution Under Safavid RuleBook Explores Religious Evolution Under Safavid Rule

‘Religious Change in Iran Under the Early Safavids,’ a book in German by Zurich-based author and researcher Farida Stickel has recently been released by De Gruyter, an independent academic publisher, headquartered in Berlin.

Stickel is a faculty member of the Department of Religious Studies at University of Zurich, Switzerland. In the book whose original German title is ‘Zwischen Chiliasmus und Staatsrason: Religioser Wandel unter den Safaviden,’ she explores religious transformation in Iran under Safavid rule (1501-1722).

The book includes the 1501 proclamation of Shia Islam as the official religion of Iran, portrays the Safavids in their contemporary context and examines the roles of figures and officials, Mehr News Agency reported.

Also included in the book are impacts of religious institutions and legitimization process of power. Part of the work is a reflection on the religious change in architecture and ritual performances.

The rise to political power of the Safavid dynasty marks a turning point in Iran’s religious history. Shiism has since been the official religion in Iran.

 After the religious leader Haidar (died 1488) instructed his followers to wear the distinctive scarlet headgear with twelve gores, possibly commemorating the twelve Shiite Imams, they were dubbed Qizilbash, (redheads).  The Safavid’s religious affiliation cannot be characterized as clearly Shiite in that period; however, there was a certain closeness to the groups practicing what adversaries pejoratively call Ghuluw (lit. ‘exceeding the proper limit’).

The Safavids finally achieved political power under Shah Ismail (reigned 1501-1524) who proclaimed Shiasm to be the official religion.

This study aims at evaluating chronicles, theological treatises, royal edicts, coins etc. as sources for religious-historical analysis. The process and various stages of religious change in 15th and 16th century Iran have been reconstructed by considering the various prerequisites that led to religious and cultural transformation. For this purpose, research results on similar issues like the emergence of Islam on the Arabian Peninsula are referenced.

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