Safavid Madrasas and Framing the Collective Memory of the Shi‘ites in the Early Modern Iran

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University of Toronto
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After successfully completing a Ph.D. in Persian Language and Literature at University of Tehran, Iran, I joined the University of Toronto to expand my perspective and pursue my interest in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. I applied for a two-year M.A program in Islamic Studies, I am currently enrolled in the sixth year of a doctoral program at the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilization, the University of Toronto. I am mainly interested in the social and Intellectual history of Islam and especially in Islamic pedagogy.

In Shi‘ism, perhaps more than any other current of Islam, special attention is paid to the numerous forms of commemorative culture. Commemorative rituals have provided a comprehensive framework for interpreting a wide array of historical encounters between Shi‘ites and the dominant Sunni culture, therefore, allowing Shi‘ism to construct itself as a community of learning and remembering. In order to fulfill this task, a high degree of institutionalization was necessary and specialists were needed to preserve the religious identity of the Shi‘ites and also to transmit religious knowledge to the next generations. Madrasas alongside the shrines of the Imams and their progeny were the best institutions to achieve these goals. Safavid Madrasas functioned both as centers of disseminating religious knowledge and preserving Shi‘ite intellectual heritage, and provided spaces for promoting religious rituals and observances. Usually founders of Madrasas assigned a sizeable amount of revenues of their endowments to celebrating holy dates and commemorating significant events in the history of Shi‘ism. This paper will examine the nature and scope of religious rituals and rites carried out in Safavid madrasas in order to explore the process by which Safavid rulers attempted to promote the religious identity of their subjects and frame their collective memory.


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Islamic studies
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