Cover image for Mystics, monarchs and messiah : cultural landscapes of early modern Iran
Mystics, monarchs and messiah : cultural landscapes of early modern Iran
Babayan, Kathryn, 1960-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. ; London : Harvard University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
lvi, 575 pages : illustrations, maps ; 21 cm.
General Note:
Published for the Harvard Center for Middle Eastern Studies.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BP188.8.I7 B33 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Focusing on idealists and visionaries who believed that Justice could reign in our world, this book explores the desire to experience utopia on earth. Reluctant to await another existence -another form, or eternal life following death and resurrection -individuals with ghuluww, or exaggeration, emerged at the advent of Islam, expecting to attain the apocalyptic horizon of Truth. In their minds, Muhammad's prophecy represented one such cosmic moment of transformation. Even in the early modern period, some denizens of Islamdom continued to hope for a utopia despite aborted promises and expectations.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This work seeks to shed light on the cultural landscape of early modern Iran, focusing on the role of the Qizilbash in creating myths to explain early existence. Babayan (Univ. of Michigan) alludes to "Persianate systems" rooted in the Mesopotamian, Anatolian, and Iranian landscapes and explores these three sites where their survival is most pronounced. She maintains that Alid loyalty and Sufi mysticism, mixed with ghuluww (exaggeration), served to foment revolution and the emergence of the Safavi system in Iran, and to generate attempts at erasure and expulsion into the realms of heresy. The author seeks to capture how the Persianate and Alid idioms mediated Safavi actions and narratives through cultural constructs of authority, loyalty, honor, and piety, and incorporate (in her own words) human experiences of temporality in a reconstruction of history. Her undertaking is cast in three parts: Persianate ways of being and sensing time; Alid memory and ritual drama; and crafting an imperial Safavi idiom during the Isfahani era of absolutism (1590-1666). Only those well grounded in the history and nuances of Iran can appreciate the arduous task undertaken here, although a number of helpful aids are provided in the bibliography and a number of defining indexes. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. C. E. Farah University of Minnesota