Posts Tagged ‘Persia’

Abbas the Great




Abbas of the Safavid dynasty, the third son of Sultan Mohammed Shah, came to the throne in 1588, at a critical time. He had to restore internal security and reassert the authority of the monarchy.

The Turkmen tribes (known as the Red heads or Kizilbash) constituted the backbone of Safavid military strength and they proved unreliable. They were in the matter of time, counterbalanced by the standing army of his ghulams (slaves) mainly of descendents of Georgians, Armenians and Circassians who had been brought to Persia by his predecessors. They were appointed governors of crown provinces.

He was the first king to create a standing army. Next he strove to expel Ottoman and Uzbek troops from Persian soil. In 1598 Uzbeks were defeated and Khorasan was annexed. From 1602 onwards he waged successful wars against the Ottomans and recovered the territory lost to them. After his victory over Uzbeks, he transferred the capital from Kazvin to Isfahan. He made the city one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

His reign was a period of intense commercial and diplomatic activity. It also marked a peak of Persian artistic achievement. The production and sale of silk was a monopoly of the crown. Under his patronage carpet weaving became a major industry. Fine Persian rugs were exported to Europe along with other items like textiles, brocades and damasks of unparalleled richness of colour and design.Paintings, illumination of manuscripts, ceramics the works of his period  make his rule exceptional.

He was courageous and energetic ruler with a zeal to justice and welfare of his subjects. He showed unusual religious tolerance, granting privileges to many Christian groups. Notwithstanding he tarnished his reputation by the murder and mutilation of many members of his family.

His traumatic childhood left him with a morbid fear of conspiracy. As time went that obsessive fear increased which caused him to put to death or to blind any member of the royal family who gave him anxiety in this regard. In this way one son was executed, two were blinded*.

His reforms contained within them the seeds of the future decay of both dynasty and state.

*Note: In the East blinding was a common practice,in the case of princes likely to be troublesome to the crown prince at a future date. A deep perpendicular incision was made down each corner of the eyes;the lids were lifted and the balls were removed by cutting the optic nerve and the muscles. Later under Caliphate passing a red hot sword close to the orbit or a needle over the eyeball sufficed. (ack: Burton’s Alf Laylah wa Laylah-footnote/vol .1)



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Spread of Christianity
outline: waves of diaspora create hubs to facilitate spread of new religion, merchants and missionaries, St. Paul-religion mixed with gentile ideas and worship

Christianity spread through the Roman empire. Via Appia made it easier. St. Paul as a Roman citizen( he was from Tarsus in South- Central Anatolia) was free to move freely through the extent of the Empire. The Roman Empire was then comparatively at peace, The wide sovereignty of Rome gave the apostles of Christ access to different nations, many of whom had become civilized under Roman influence.
Since emperor Theodosius I (379-395 AD) the official state religion of the Roman Empire was Christianity. Subsequently, former Roman territories became Christian states which exported their religion to other parts of the world, through colonization and missionaries.
We may need to look back even before the Jews were expelled from Jerusalem in 70 AD. Under the Assyrian and Babylonian empires saw diaspora of Jews and were many hubs of Hebrew faith with local synagogues. Each group carried traditions of their fathers. Early Jewish Christians carried the new religion to these congregation of Jews. These early Christians were merchants and others who had practical reasons for traveling to northern Africa, Asia Minor, Arabia, Greece, and other places. But in the missionary zeal and sustained effort to spread the gospel of good news none would match Paul. St. Paul was converted from his Hebrew belief and had set himself to be an Apostle for Christ. His success partly owed to the groundwork laid by others before him.

Antioch was a major centre of Hellenistic Greece then part of Syria province. It was here the sect was called Christians for the first time. Bishop Irenaeus of Lyons in the second century believed that Paul and Peter had been the founders the Church of Rome. Despite of persecutions under many Caesars the Christians thrived and during the reign of Constantine the Great Christianity became the state religion. Influence of Greece was already in the cities such as Alexandria, Antioch, Rome, Caesarea, Paphos and Anatolia. These in turn would serve as hubs of proselytism and pagan ideas in course of time will mingle with the new religion*. The earliest bishops of Rome were all Greek-speaking, the most notable of them being Pope Clement I. (* sun worship: prayers are offered while looking toward sunrise in the East” because the Orient represents the birth of light that “dispels the darkness of the night” and because of the orientation of “the ancient temples. Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis 7, 7, 43, GCS 3, 32. or Origen (c. AD 185-254) whose view was that the East symbolizes the soul looking to the source of light. Origen,67 De oratione 32, GCS 2, 400, 23.)
One of the Church fathers of Catholicism Augustine of Hyppo ( 354-430AD) was converted from Manichaeism that had its origins in the heavily Gnostic area of the Persian Empire.
Manichaean ways of thinking had an influence on the development of some of Augustine’s Christian ideas, such as the nature of good and evil, the idea of Hell, the separation of groups into Elect, Hearers, and Sinners, the hostility to the flesh and sexual activity, and so on. Spread of religion whether along the Silk Road or via Appia followed more or less a similar pattern. Unconsciously the venerable Church father while systemizing Christian philosophy would add his own intellectual coloring to Christian belief-system.
While Church of Rome was established in the West of the empire the converts from the pagan world would bring their own practices and add to the many rites and symbols of the pagan world. This we see even in our times. In Mexico or in India Christianity would be colored by the beliefs of people. These would be a point of controversy during the Reformation period.

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ABBAS I THE GREAT OF PERSIA  (1571  –  1629)
Abbas I


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