'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."Rula Abisaab has provided us with a remarkable study of Safavid Iran. Her work throws new light on the interplay of religion and society and will be a crucial work for all interested in the making of modern Iran." -Abbas Amanat, Professor of History, Yale University.
Rula Jurdi Abisaab is a professor of Islamic/Middle Eastern History at the University of Akron, Ohio.
Acknowledgments. Maps: 1. Safavid Persia, 1501-1722; 2. Jabal 'Amil (South Lebanon)in the Modern Period. Introduction. 1. Sufi Regalia and Legal Banners: The Safavids and the Emigre Arab Jurists; The Sovereign and Religious 'Authenticity'; Domestic Contests: The Persian Aristocracy, the Qizilbash and the 'Amili Jurists; 'Inventing' Shi'ism: Al-Karaki (d. 940 AH/1533 CE)as a Court Jurist; Friday Prayer: Tailoring Shi'ism to Statehood; From Marginality to Privilege; 'Orthodoxy': Ostracizing Sufis and Storytellers; Instruments of Conversion: Public Cursing; Translating and Transporting the Word of Law; Afterthoughts. 2. The Mujtahids Navigate the Sovereign's World: Husayn b.'Abd al-Samad (d. 984 AH/1576 CE)at the Court of Shah Tahmasb in Qazvin; Aims of a Polemic; Supreme and False Mujtahids; To Remedy the Shah from Mania: Ritual Purity and Friday Prayer; Conversion and Consent in Herat; 'Normalizing' Sunnism??; The Cleric Against the King; Replacing the King; Afterthoughts; Summary and Conclusions. 3. Shah 'Abbas and Imperial Reign as Clerical Discipline, 1587-1629 CE: The 'Knighted' Jurists and the Restructuring of the State; To Benefit the Learned and the Lay: Shi'ite Books under Shah 'Abbas; Afflicted by the Company of Kings: 'The Baha'i is who I am, and; great is my worth!'; Imperial Uses of Clerical Shi'ism; Navigating Clerical Dissent; Mir Damad (d. 1041 AH/1631-2 CE): The Cleric as Philosopher; The Making of the World Inside and Outside Time; Human Freedom, Certitude and the Shari'a; Shah 'Abbas and the Muslim-Christian Polemics of Ahmad 'Alavi; Lutfullah al-Maysi (d. 1032 AH/1622-3 CE)in Isfahan; Mistrust of Shah 'Abbas: Lutfullah's Mosque and the Guildsmen of the Old Meydan; Summary and Conclusions. 4. Safavid Mistrust, Popular Protest and the Rationalists' Retreat: Social Forces from Below; Once Upon a Time, an 'Amili; The Clerics' Resources; The New Ornament in the Crown: Khalifa Sultan; The Penniless 'Amili Pilgrim and the Glory that Was; New Contenders in the Vizierate Ranks; Akhbarism: the Challenge to Interpretive Rationalism; When Perfectly Able Arabs Fall Prey to Akhbarism; Dissent and the Politics of Friday Prayer; The Malaise of the Healer: Jurists on the Defensive; The Sufis Within and the 'Essential' Arabic; Conclusion. 5. The Rediscovery of Traditions and the Shifting Normative: Instability and Social Disorder; An Imperial Command on Friday Prayer; Muhammad Baqir Majlisi, the Rationalist-Traditionist Court Cleric; Imamhood and Eschatology in Lieu of a De-empowered State; At a Cushion's Distance From the Shah: Muhammad Al-Hurr al-'Amili (d. 1104 AH/1692 CE; On Public Reference to the Mahdi; On Tobacco; The Duel Over Political Custody: Jurists and Sufis; Summary and Conclusions; Conclusion. Appendices: I. The 'Amili 'Ulama of Safavid Iran, 1501-1736 CE; II. Posts and Activities of the Emigre 'Amili 'Ulama; III. The Intellectual Production of the Emigre 'Amili 'Ulama. Notes; Bibliography; Index .