Also found in: Dictionary, Wikipedia.
Safavid(säfä`wēd), Iranian dynasty (1499–1736), that established Shiite Islam in Iran as an official state religion. The Safavid state provided both the territorial and societal foundations of modern Iran. Founded by Shah IsmailIsmail
, 1486–1524, shah of Persia (1502–24), founder of the Safavid dynasty. He restored Persia to the position of a sovereign state for the first time since the Arab invasion of Persia.
..... Click the link for more information. , this Turkic-speaking dynasty claimed descent from a Shiite Sufi order. Shiite views, propagated with the help of clerics recruited from Jabal Amil (today in Lebanon) and Iraq, endowed Iran with an identity distinct from its Sunni neighbors. The consolidation of Safavid rule was completed during the reign of Shah Abbas IAbbas I
(Abbas the Great) , 1557–1629, shah of Persia (1587–1628), of the Safavid dynasty. In 1597 he ended the raids of the Uzbeks, and subsequently (1603–23) he conquered extensive territories from the Turks.
..... Click the link for more information. . Recognizing his military inferiority vis-à-vis the Ottoman Sultanate, Abbas accepted the Ottoman occupation of the western parts of his domain and was thus able to concentrate his efforts on creating a standing army and halting Uzbek incursions from the east. He established Isfahan as his capital and transformed it into an architectural showcase. The strategic location of Iran and Safavid animosity toward the Ottomans, who were a continuing threat to European powers, generated European interest. Shah Abbas received numerous European legations and, with the help of English warships, conquered Hormoz, the Portuguese colony at the entrance of the Persian Gulf. His project to create a major competing maritime trade center at Bandar Abbas failed. Benefiting from a change in the balance of power, he expanded into Ottoman territory, annexing the holy Shiite cities of Karbala and Najaf. A period of upheaval followed his death, during which Ottoman pressure from the west and Mughal attacks from the east led to substantial territorial losses. Abbas II (1642–66) attempted to eliminate bureaucratic corruption, and gained a peace, largely due to the military exhaustion of Iran's neighbors. Husayn (1694–1722, see Sultan HusaynSultan Husayn
, d. 1729, Safavid shah of Persia (1694–1722). A weak and superstitious man, Shah Sultan Husayn was surrounded by astrologers and fanatics and was able to offer little opposition to the uprising of the Afghans.
..... Click the link for more information. ) devoted his energy to reconquering the island of Bahrayn, ignoring the opposition centered in Afghanistan. In 1722, Afghan forces entered Isfahan and forced Husayn to abdicate, putting an effective end to Safavid rule. The final blow came in 1736 when the Afshar Nadir, regent of young Abbas III, deposed him, becoming shah himself (see Nadir ShahNadir Shah
or Nader Shah
, 1688–1747, shah of Iran (1736–47), sometimes considered the last of the great Asian conquerors. He was a member of the Afshar tribe.
..... Click the link for more information. ).
See L. Lockhart, The Fall of the Safavi Dynasty (1958); I. Munshi, History of Shah Abbas the Great (1978); R. Savory, Iran under the Safavids (1980).
(also Safawiyah), a dervish order of the Sufi sect. The Safavid order was founded in the late 13th century by Sheikh Safi al-Din (1252–1334) in the city of Ardebil, in Iranian Azerbaijan. Initially the order defended its followers against oppression by feudal lords. In the 15th century, however, its leaders themselves became feudal lords, sheiks of Ardebil, and initiated a struggle for political power, using propaganda based mainly on Safavid beliefs incorporated with elements of Shiism. The army of the Safavid sheikhs was drawn largely from the Kizilbash people. In 1499, Ismail Safavid led the followers of the Safavid order in a successful campaign against the Ak-Koy-unlu, which eventually led to the formation of the Safavid state.