Vol. 13 No. 5: Safavid and Mughal Empires in Contact: Intellectual and Religious Exchanges between Iran and India in the Early Modern Era

Guest Editors:  Reza Pourjavady and Kianoosh Rezania

This special issue investigates the intellectual and religious contacts between Safavid Iran and Mughal India in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Iran and North India witnessed fundamental cultural changes in the early modern period, which profoundly formed their new identity. The rulers of Iran at the time, the Safavids (1501–1722), proclaimed Shi’i Islam as the state religion; The Mughal emperors (1526–1858) fostered an environment in India where Islam, Hindu religions, Christianity and Zoroastrianism came more intensively in dialogue. Numerous syncretistic trends emerged from this entangled situation and the contacts affected the respective religions as well. Moderated Indian rulers invited, for example, the representatives of different religions to the court to dispute. They also supported translations of the Sanskrit religious texts into Persian. The open religious environment of Mughal India was for the Safavid intellectuals so attractive that many of them traveled or even migrated to India. Due to these migrations, scholastic teachings of Islamic theology started in major cities of India. Besides enhancing Mughal and Safavid intellectual thoughts, the interaction led to an emergence of religious thoughts in-between the two religious zones, as is the case of the new syncretistic philosophical and religious movement of Āẕar Kaivānīs. The volume covers several individual studies on topics related to the migration of Safavid scholars to the Mughal empire and its religious and intellectual outcomes.

Image: Hasan Jahangir welcoming Shah Abbas (Wikimedia)