'Converting Persia' explains how Iran was to acquire one of its defining characteristics: its Shi'ism. Under the Safavids (1501-1736 CE), Persia adopted Shi'ism as its official religion. Rula Abisaab explains how and why this specific brand of Shi'ism - urban and legally-based - was brought to the region by leading Arab 'Ulama from Ottoman Syria, and changed the face of the region till this day. These emigre scholars furnished distinct sources of legitimacy for the Safavid monarchs, and an ideological defense against the Ottomans. Just as important at the time was a conscious and vivid process of Persianization both at the state level and in society. Converting Persia is vital reading for anthropologists, historians and scholars of religion, and any interested in Safavid Persia, in Shi'ism, and in the wider history of the Middle East.