'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.
Preface Introduction Sufi Regalia and Legal Banners : The Safavids and the Emigre Arab Jurists The Mujtahids Navigate the Sovereign World Shah 'Abbas and Imperial Reign as Clerical Discipline 1587-1629CE Safavid Mistrust, Popular Protest and the Rationalists' Retreat The Rediscovery of Traditions and the Shifting Normative Conclusions Appendices Notes Biblio Index