Ghazā and Ghazā Terminology in Chronicles from the Sixteenth-Century Safavid Courtly Sphere

in Journal of Persianate Studies
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Abstract

In the later decades of the fifteenth century, adherents of the Safavid order started raiding the regions of the northern Caucasus and eastern Anatolia. As most of these raids involved Christian principalities, they have earned the Safavid shaikhs Joneyd and Haydar the reputation as ghāzis, as fighters for faith against the infidels. This paper explores how scribes from the sixteenth-century Safavid courtly sphere integrated the order’s early military activities into their narratives of the Safavid past. Further, it examines what sound information may be derived from the narratives on these poorly documented events. The paper concludes with the suggestions that a) those doing in history in Safavid times were much less concerned with Islamic “holy war” than modern historians are, and b) their narratives indicate that attempts to establish territorial rule may have outweighed the fight-for-faith motif.

Ghazā and Ghazā Terminology in Chronicles from the Sixteenth-Century Safavid Courtly Sphere

in Journal of Persianate Studies

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