Cognition the Shiism Discourse Components in Constructing Social Cohesion in Safavid Iran

Document Type : Original Article


Assistance professor of political geography of Yazd University,Yazd, Iran.


Extended Abstract     
With advent the Safavid dynasty in 1501, for first time after the fall of Sassanid dynasty, an all-encompassing government was formed in accordance with Iran’s ancient political borders. One of the reasons for this event; was the political use of Shiite religion by Safavid rulers.  Recognition of Shiism led to construction Iran’s territory and possibility the emergence of centralized political management in Safavid period. Theories about how social cohesion and homogeneous identity are formed can be divided into two broad categories in political geography. The first group believes that the formation of social cohesion, despite the historical ups and downs, has always been constant for a country throughout the history. Other theories assume that social cohesion is the result of various processes that have been actively developed through political institutions at different times. Factors such as religion, language, ethnicity, race and political ideology can be used by political power at particular time as source of social solidarity. In this regard, Shah Ismail Safavid after reaching the kingdom of Iran; Declared Shiism as official religion of Iran. In other words, Safavid Shiism has played an important role in building national identity and consolidating the dispersed sectarian-ethnic components in Iran. In literature of political sociology; There are several causes and consequences in the politicization of Shiism in the Safavid period. But in this analysis; Less has been done to analyze the spatial function of Shiism in creating social cohesion in this period.
Methods and Material
In this research, has been attempt to analyze the spatial functions of Shiite religion in creating social cohesion in the Safavid era by descriptive-analytical method and relying on rational conclusions. In the first stage, has been attempted with using theoretical sources; Explain how emergence the Shiism in Iran coincided with the Safavid dynasty. Then, have been studied, how the political-spatial role of Shiism for creating legitimacy for political power and stabilization of Iran's territorial borders.
Discussion and Results
A- Geopolitical alienation and construction of national identity based on Shiite religion in the Safavid era
In general, in the historical geopolitics of Iran, territorial alienation and geopolitical hostility has played important role in identity building. Safavid Shi'ism, unlike al-Buwayh's Shi'ism, has serious conflict with Sunni thought. As a result; this cultural fault rise to conflicting geopolitical structure between the Safavid dynasty and it’s neighboring Sunni governments. In particular, the Ottoman kings considered themselves Islamic caliphs who reserved the right to rule over all Muslims. However, with the formalization of Shiism, it created a solid wall against this traditional legitimacy in the Islamic world and This issue led to social cohesion of Iran in the Safavid era.
B- Shiism and redefining the political power Charismatic position and its relation to social cohesion in the Safavid era
In the political-historical geography of Iran, political power has always sought to create the spiritual faith in its legitimacy. In other word, building territorial political unit in the history of Iran was due to the ruler and government sacred position and leader played mediator role between God, the land and his subordinate tribes. Safavid dynasty formed with support of the Ghezelbash tribes, was at risk of civil war from beginning, but faith to political leadership sacred position kept them from confronting to each other. In Safavid times, according to Shiite jurisprudential views, powerful ruler was introduced as the shadow of God on earth and as a righteous ruler.
C- Functions of recognizing Shiism in ethnic-tribal cohesion in the Safavid era
From a geographical point of view, the natural condition of Iran was the basis of nomadism. Hence, the formation of “state-tribe" was proposed as dominant model of political rule in Iran. On the other hand, belonging to the identity of individuals to their tribe; It has been a barrier to the formation of national identity and the tribes did not have national feelings and awareness of trans-ethnic identity. As soon as the signs of weakness in the dominant government became apparent, the divergence of the tribes began. The Safavid government Relying on the Shiite religion, was able to fill ethnic-religious gaps of country and play effective role in maintaining national unity.
Formalization of Shiism by Safavid dynasty caused the Iranian people identity emerge as a distinct island in the Islamic world. However, Safavid dynasty achieved three main goals by formalizing Shiism: A) Creating new identity for Iranians b) Uniting Iranain different ethnic groups around a common religion c) Turning Iran into the center and global hub of Shiism. D) Establishment the powerful central government by resorting Shiite identity as the main basis for the formation of the Iranian nation


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