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Safaviya (sufi order)

The Sāfav’īyyah (Persian: صفویه) was a Sufi order founded by the Kurdish[1][2][3] mystic Shāikh Safi-ad-din Ardabili (1252–1334). It held a prominent place in the society and politics of northwestern Iran in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, but today it is best known for having given rise to the Safavid dynasty.

Safī al-Din grew up in Ardabil but left it, for lack of adequate teachers, and travelled to Shiraz and then Gilan. In Gilan, he became the disciple of Shāikh Zāheed, leader of the Zāheedī Sufi order. He eventually became Shāikh Zāheed's chief disciple and married his daughter. Upon Shāikh Zāheed's death, the Zāheed’īyyah came under Safī al-Din's leadership and was renamed the Sāfav’īyyah.

Safī al-Din's importance is attested in two letters by Rashid al-Din. In one, Rashid al-Din pledges an annual offering of foodstuffs. In the other, Rashid al-Din writes to his son, the governor of Ardabil, advising him to show proper consideration to the Shāikh.[4]

After Safī al-Din's death, leadership of the order passed to his son Sadr al-Dīn Mūsā, and subsequently passed down from Sadr al-Dīn Mūsā to his son Sheikh Khoja Alā ad-Dīn Alī (1392 - 1429), and later to Sheikh Ebrāheem (1429 - 1447), the son of Alā ad-Dīn Alī. In the mid-fifteenth century, the Sāfav’īyyah changed in character and became militant under Shaykh Junayd and Shaykh Haydar, launching jihads against the Christians of Georgia. Haydar's grandson, Ismail, further altered the nature of the order when he founded the Safavid Empire in 1501 and proclaimed Twelver Shi'ism the state religion.

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