Ottoman-Safavid relations can be traced back to the fourteenth century, at which time the Safavids were a Sunni-Shafi‘i dervish order residing in Ardabil. Sufism, no matter whether Sunni or Shi‘i, held an important place in Turkish Muslim tradition and enjoyed great popularity. This was mainly a consequence of the pivotal role dervishes had played in the conversion of the Turks to Islam, especially between the tenth and twelfth centuries. Ottoman sympathy for Sufism was not only of an ideological nature. Mystical organizations, including the Safaviyya, were also granted financial support.1 Of all Safavid sheikhs, the Ottomans particularly esteemed Safi al-din Ishaq (d. 1334), the founder of the order. But his successors, Sadr al-din Musa, Khwaja ‘Ali, and Ibrahim, were also considered to be venerable saints. The Ottomans never changed their respectful attitude toward the first leaders of the Safaviyya, not even when they became bitter enemies of the latter’s descendants in the fifteenth century.2
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Irène Beldiceanu-Steinherr, “Le règne de Selīm ler: Tournant dans la vie politique et religieuse de l’Empire Ottoman,” Turcica 6 (1975), p. 41.
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Hamid Algar, “Caliphs and the Caliphate, as viewed by the Shī‘ites of Persia,” EI, 4 (1990), pp. 677–678.
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© 2011 Ofra Bengio and Meir Litvak
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Scherberger, M. (2011). The Confrontation between Sunni and Shi‘i Empires: Ottoman-Safavid Relations between the Fourteenth and the Seventeenth Century. In: Bengio, O., Litvak, M. (eds) The Sunna and Shi’a in History. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137495068_4
Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, New York
Print ISBN: 978-1-137-48558-8
Online ISBN: 978-1-137-49506-8