Persianate Historiography and Family Trees:
The Use of Genealogy in Safavid Chronicles and Select Bábí-Bahá'í Sources

By S. Quinn

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #28
London School of Economics: London, England
July 14–16, 2000
(see list of papers from #28)

published in Lights of Irfan, volume 4, pages 131-140
under new title
"The Uses of Genealogy and Genealogical Information in Select Persianate and Bábí/Bahá'í Sources: A Preliminary Survey"
© 2003, ‘Irfán Colloquia

    In 1501, Shah Ismá'íl (r. 1501-1524) proclaimed Twelver Shi'ism the official state religion of Iran and at the same time, established the Safavid ruling dynasty. Over the next two centuries, the Safavids proclaimed their right to rule based partly on their genealogy, which came to form a conventional element in Safavid chronicles and an important component of Safavid legitimacy. The purpose of this paper is to analyze aspects of Safavid genealogical claims, in particular their claim of descent from Musá al-Kázim, the seventh Imam of the Twelver Shí'ah. The Safavid genealogy will be placed in the context of neighbouring Ottoman and Mughal genealogical assertions. The paper will conclude by offering some suggestions for the context in which we can understand genealogical claims associated with the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh.