notes of lecture: Safavid empire in Iran


During the 16th and 17th centuries, the Islamic World was ruled by 2 great empires:

Ottoman empire based on Sunny Sect of Islam

Safavid Empire based on Shia Sect of Islam (Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan)

The greater part of the Islamic World was under the Ottoman Empire from 1281 (or 1299) to 1923

Iran was ruled by the Safavid Empire for more than 200 years, from 1502 to…


The founder of the Safavid Dynasty

Shah Ismail I (King), was the founder of the Safavid Empire, who converted Iran from Sunni to Shi’a Islam and established Shi’ism as the state religion


The Safavids were one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Iran (the golden age of Iran; “gunpowder empires”)


At its height, the Safavid Empire controlled not only the entirety of what is now Iran(Persia), Armenia, and Azerbaijan, but also most of Afghanistan, Iraq, Georgia, and the Caucasus, and parts of Turkey, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan


Persian is equal to Farsi


Unification of Iran: a significant step

The Safavid united Iran’s provinces under single Iranian sovereignty in the early modern period, this step was very important for modernization of the country and its security as well.


Shah Abbas I: modernized the Persian military, adding musketeers and artillery-men; moved the capital city deeper into the  Persian heartland (military and economic reason)(1926); established a policy of tolerance towards Christians in the empire.


Capital from Qazvin to Isfahan

Become the biggest city in Iran; now the second biggest city


The new Capital: Isfahan/Esfahan

It was the second time for Isfahan to be capital

It had been the former capital of the great Seljuq empire which stretched from Central Asia to Syria


New plan for Isfahan

The center of the new city was a wonderful new Maidan called the “design of the world squre”

Worship(Masjid Shah); celebration(the Mosque of Sheikh Lutfallash); sovereign administration; trade


Maidan/ Squre Naqshe Hahan, Isfahan

Shah Abbas I would gather the 3 main components of power in Persia in his own backyard, in Isfahan:

The power of the clergy was represented by the Shah Mosque and the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque,

The power of the market was represented by the Imperial Bazar

The power of the Shah was represented by the Ali Qapu Palace

Shah Abbas I Modernized Iran

Reformed military and civilian life

Reformed government

Industry, trade, and art developed

Established the capital at Isfahan

Tolerated non-Muslims/Christian

The collapse of the Safavid

Started after the death of Shah Abbas I

Caused by continuing pressure from Ottoman armies/War between the 2 empires

Persecution of religious minors was encouraged, pushing Sunni Afganistan rebel


Iran has had 25 main regimes now.

Islam is open: “gain knowledge even you go to China”

But when Muslim explain Islam, it becomes narrow.

全程都在跟我们强调Islam is peaceful……感觉大家对Muslim的偏见还是很深的(虽然他自己也承认Muslim经常在内斗)


The bad economy in Muslim Countries also a threat.除了经济原因,他们还认为自己是“天选之人”(类似于superman),所以社会上的不安因素也会增多