"Converting Persia explains how Iran was to acquire one of its defining features: its Shi'ite character. Under the Safavids (1501-1736 CE). Persia adopted Shi'ism as its official religion. Rula Abisaab explains how and why this specific brand of Shi'ism - urban and legally-based - was brought to the region by leading Arab 'Ulama from Ottoman Syria, and changed the face of the region till this day." "These emigre scholars furnished distinct sources of legitimacy for the Safavid monarchs, and an ideological defense against the Ottomans. Under their tutelage, religious thought was increasingly shaped by questions of imperial authority, class relations and the effects of widespread socioeconomic change that swept the region. Just as important at the time was a conscious and vivid process of Persianization both at the state level and in society. Converting Persia is vital reading for historians, scholars and anthropologists of religion, and those interested in Safavid Persia, in Islamic Studies, and in the wider history of the Middle East."--Jacket.