The Shah's Adaptation And Endorsement Of Islam

1994 Words8 Pages
Throughout the history of present day Iran it has been contested whether the Shi’i ulama or the Shah are the logical leaders of the community. It is true that the ulama have gained control of Iran, and that Islam “changed much in Iran, but in some respects continuity from the past was far stronger than the new concepts” (Frye 36) due to the fact that the power of the Shah remained for hundreds of years after the introduction of Islam. The Iranian people have a long history of traditions and culture and even when Islam spread throughout the country it was adapted to include some of the Iranian traditions. The most significant example of this is the Shah’s adaptation and endorsement of Islam. The long history, tradition, and the decline of…show more content…
The office of the Shah has had such an impact that one may “find in the literature and in the art of Iran evidence for a powerful and continuing charisma of kingship, even through great upheavals and changes in the history of the land” (Frye 36). The Shahs in pre-Islamic Persia established legitimacy by charisma and by being a religious leader because the people believed ‘Ahura Mazda’ confers on the king charisma and special wisdom. The king 's duty was to enforce the law, social order, and righteousness, however if social unrest occurred, it was a sign that the dynasty had lost divine favor. The Iranian theory of kingship lasted for a long periods of time because the Shahs who ruled were charismatic and successful at establishing legitimacy, and if not they were able to be disposed of by the religious priests and nobles. The Shahs in post Islamic Iran needed to learn to establish legitimacy in a region where the people were disposing of Zoroastrian beliefs and converting to the Shī 'a ideology of Islam. The Shah that managed to merge traditional role of a Shah and the religious aspects of Islam was Shāh Ismāʿil. This Shah needed to establish his legitimacy and did so in two important and relevant ways. First, Shāh Ismāʿil used the “the ancient Persian concept of kingship which was expressed in the concept of the king being the ‘shadow of God on Earth” because he believed that he was divine and had the right to rule because of
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