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This is a story about an extraordinary man who was born in 1487 and died at age 36, of a broken heart, it is said, because his beloved wife was taken hostage by the Turkish Sultan. He was a famous poet who wrote in two languages under the pen name of Khata'i. He was better known, however, by the name of Ismail the First, Shah of Iran, who came to the throne before the age of 16. (This Coffeeblog post is based on Wikipedia articles.)
There have been many Shahs of Iran and countless poets, so what was special about Shah Ismail? Read current news any day on the Internet or the mainstream media, and you will be reading about the contemporary consequences of the career of Ismail I of Iran. It was he who brought Shia Islam permanently to Iran, at least permanently until the day I am writing this. He was the founder of the Safavid Dynasty, the first major Shia dynasty of Iran.
Ismail the First was descended from Iranians, Turks, and Greeks, and is identified with the Azeri ethnic group. His great-grandfather on his mother Martha's side was the Greek King John IV Komemnos of Trebizond on the Black Sea. On his father's side, he was the great-great-great-great-grandson of Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardabil, a Sufi Grand Master, for which the Iranian dynasty was named. Militant Sunnis today refer to the Iranian Shiites as heretics or "Safavid Apostates", impugning the followers of Sheikh Safi. Go ahead, Google it. When I did, I got 999 hits.
The Ottoman Turks, loyal Sunnis, fought the Safavid Dynasty from 1501 until a shaky treaty was signed in 1639. In 1722 Afghans moved in and ended the dynasty, but, spurred by opportunists, Shia and Sunnis fight on to avenge past atrocities in the region. The most hotly contested turf between Safavid Iranians and Turkish Ottomans was the area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, known to the Greeks as Mesopotamia. In the news reports you may be reading today, it's called Iraq.Permanent Link to This Entry | | | Technorati Tag: Safavid blog comments powered by Disqus Comments (View)
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