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(258 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
ʿ Abbās-nāma (The Book [Chronicle] of ʿAbbās) by Muḥammad Ṭāhir Waḥīd Qazwīnī is the most important Iranian source for the history of the reign of the Ṣafavid Shah ʿAbbās II (1642–1666), covering events up to 1663. It is the only Iranian source, however brief, on the persecution of Iranian Jewry between 1656 and 1661. According to the ʿ Abbās-nāma, two Jews from Isfahan aroused the ire of the Shīʽī Muslim community by their f…

Ṣafavid Dynasty

(177 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
see Iran/Persia Vera B. Moreen Bibliography Fischel, Walter J., Jews in the Economic and Political Life of Mediaeval Islam ( London: Royal Asiatic Society Monographs, no. 22, 1937). Gil, Moshe, Jews in Islamic Countries in the Middle Ages (Leiden: Brill, 2004), pp. 241-248, 520-532. Goitein, S. D,  A Mediterranean Society:  The Jewish Communities of the World as Portrayed in the Documents of the Cairo Geniza.  6 vols.  (Berkeley…

Amīnā, Benjamin ben Mishaʾel

(307 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Benjamin ben Mishaʾel, known by the pen name Amīnā (Pers. the faithful), was one of the most important Jewish poets of premodern Iran. A native of Kashan, he was born in 1672/73 and was alive as late as 1732/33. The only biographical information about him is provided by the poet himself in various works, namely, that he had seven children and was unhappily married. He witnessed the Afghan invasion of Iran, including his hometown, as described in the Judeo-Persian chronicle Kitāb-i Sar-Guzasht-i Kāshā…


(447 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Khudāidād, also known as Bā yād-i Khuydodcha ['To the Memory of Little Khuydod'], is the only text of historical import to have come to light out so far from the trove of Judeo-Persian texts produced in Bukhara. Named after its hero, Khudāidād (Persi…

Bābāī ben Farhād

(582 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Bābāī b. Farhād is the author of Kitāb-i Sar-Guzasht-i Kāshān dar bāb-i ʿIbrī va Goyimi-yi Sānī (The Book of Events in Kashan Concerning the Jews; Their Second Conversion), the second Judeo-Persian chronicle in verse known thus far. It covers selected events between 1721 and 1731 during the reigns of the Ṣafavid shahs (see Iran/Persia) Sultan Ḥusayn (1694-1722) and Ṭahmāsp II (1722-1731). Bābāī b. Farhād acknowledges that his inspiration to record mostly contemporary events, some of which he witnessed, came from Kitāb-i A nusī (The Book of a Forced Convert), the first …

Bābāī ben Luṭf

(688 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Bābāī b. Luṭf, the author of Kitāb-i A nusī (The Book of a Forced Convert), the earliest known Judeo-Persian chronicle, lived in Kashan and was probably a native of that town. Most of what we know about him comes from his sketchy introduction to the chronicle. Clearly an educated man, Bābāī b. Luṭf believed that the major persecutions he witnessed, beginning in 1656 and ending in 1662, during the reign of the Ṣafavid Shah ʿAbbās II (1642-1666), constituted but another chapter in the long history of persecutions endured by the Jewish people. He therefore called his work a megillah (Heb. scrol…

ʿAbbās II, Shah

(515 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Shah ʿAbbās II (r. 1642–1666), the grandson of Shah ʿAbbās I (r. 1587-1620), was the most competent monarch of the Ṣafavid dynasty of Iran next to his illustrious ancestor. Only eight and a half years old when he ascended the throne, ʿAbbās II asserted himself early by curbing the Turcoman (Qizilbāsh) tribes, the early “power behind the throne” of the Ṣafavid dynasty. He continued the effort to increase and concentrate the power of the crown and to maintain the frontiers of his empire. Like his grandfather, but not on the same scale, ʿAbbās I, enhanced Isfahan with new palaces and repairs…

Allāhverdī Khān [II]

(176 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Allāhverdī Khān [II] (d. 1662) was a high-ranking military officer of Armenian origin in the service of Shah Ṣafī I (r. 1629–1642) and Shāh ʿAbbās II (r. 1642–1666) of Iran. In 1654 he advanced from the post of amīr shikār bāshī (Pers./Turk. master of the royal hunts) to sardār-i lashkar (Pers. commander-in-chief) of the army, thereafter distinguishing himself in campaigns against the Ottomans, Mughals, Uzbeks, and Georgians. He was instrumental in bringing about the downfall of Muḥammad Beg, the grand vizier who, according to the Judeo-Persian chronicle of Bābāī ibn Luṭf, was resp…

Razim, Sefer ha-

(313 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Sefer ha-Razim (Heb. The Book of Secrets) is a collection of spells, incantations, angelology, and magical remedies intended to be used for such purposes as acquiring power over humans, spirits, and nature. The texts included in the collection originated in the fourth and fifth centuries C.E. Scholars continue to debate whether Sefer ha-Razim is an actual book; in its present form it is a scholarly compilation by Mordecai Margulies. Some of its contents come from Sefer Raziʾel ha-Malakh (Heb. The Book of the Angel Raziʾel), a conjuring book compiled in the thirteenth cen…

Kitāb-i Anusī

(1,209 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Kitāb-i A nusī (The Book of a Forced Convert) by Bābāī ben Luṭf, the first known Judeo-Persian chronicle, recounts the periodic persecutions of Iranian Jews between 1617 and 1662, together with a few other events from the Ṣafavid era (1501–1736), specifically from the reigns of Shahs ʿAbbās I (1581–1629), Ṣafī I (1629–1642), and ʿAbbās II (1642–1666). The historicity of Kitāb-i Anusī is confirmed by its references to external events that can be corroborated by royal Iranian chronicles and other sources, but its emphasis is on the travails of Iranian Jewr…

Ismāʽīl I, Shāh

(405 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Shāh Ismāʽīl I (r. 1501–1524), the founder of the Ṣafavid dynasty in Iran, was a precocious warrior and Ṣūfī murshīd (Ar./Pers. spiritual guide) crowned king at the age of fourteen. Descended from a well-established Turcoman Ṣūfī brotherhood from Ardabīl (Azerbaijan), he managed to defeat powerful Turcoman and Uzbek tribes because of his personal bravery and, principally, the fanatical devotion of his Turcoman followers, derisively termed qizilbāsh (Turk. red head[s]) by the Ottomans because of the twelve-fold turban wrapped around a red baton that symbolized…

Ibrāhīm ibn Mullah Abū ʾl-Khayr

(169 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
The short Judeo-Persian masnavī (narrative poem in rhymed couplets) known as Khudāidād does not bear an author’s name. According to Carl Salemann, its author was Ibrāhīm b. Mullah Abū ʾl-Khayr, about whom we lack any biographical information beyond the fact that he also wrote several other poems known thus far only by their titles. Scholars believe that Khudāidād was most likely written toward the end of the eighteenth century, possibly during the reign of the Bukhārān chieftain Amīr Maʿṣūm (d. 1802), although the events it recounts are yet to be corroborated. Khudāidād describes the …


(2,697 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
1. General Description and History The Jewish community of Isfahan is one of the oldest in Iran. Although its long history cannot be reconstructed in full, there are enough data to sketch some of it, at least after the Arab conquest, which is more than can be done with most Jewish settlements in Iran. Isfahan (Old Pers. Aspadana), located on the Iranian Plateau, is surrounded by the Zagros Mountains and its extensions. About 340 kilometers (211 miles) south of Tehran, Isfahan is the c…

Academic Study of Iranian (Persian) Jewry

(3,710 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Like the study of Ottoman Jewry, the academic study of Iranian (Persian) Jewry is a subfield of the study of the Jews in the Islamic and Mizraḥi (“eastern”) worlds. It originated in the study of Iranian linguistics in the late nineteenth century and began to grow in the late 1960s with the spread of the study of Judeo-Persian texts. It expanded considerably for the next three decades, but remains a neglected field of Jewish and Iranian studies, with hardly any younger scholars entering the field. Philology and Linguistics The study of the Judeo-Persian language began as a number of…

ʽĀlamārā-yi Ἁbbāsi, Tārīkh-i

(315 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Tārīkh-i ʿ Ālamārā-yi Ἁbbāsī by Iskandar Beg Munshī (d. ca. 1632) is the most important work of Iranian historiography on the Ṣafavid era (1501–1722). While the introduction briefly discusses the reigns of Shahs Ismāʽīl I (1501–1524), Ṭahmāsp (1524–1576), Ismāʽīl II (1576–1578), and Muḥammad Khudābanda (1578–1587), it is mainly devoted to a detailed and spirited description of the reign of Shah ʽAbbās I (“the Great”; 1571–1629). As a royal secretary, Iskandar Beg Munshī observed many of the events he described and sought to acquire reliable information.…

Allāhverdī Khān [I]

(295 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Allāhverdī Khān, (d. 1613) was one of the most important courtiers of Shah 'Abbās I (r. 1581-1629). A Georgian or Armenian Christian by origin, he had been enslaved by the Safavids in his youth and became a trusted soldier. After converting to Islam, he rose to the rank of qullār āghāsī (Turk. general of the slave army) and was appointed governor of the provinces of Fars and Koghīluya. Having distinguished himself in battles against the Uzbeks …

Yahūdī, Yūsuf (Yūsuf b. Isḥaq b. Mūsā)

(198 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Yūsuf Yahūdī, whose full name was Yūsuf ibn Isḥaq ibn Mūsā, is known in Judeo-Persian literature as Yūsuf Bukhārāʾī. Hailing from Bukhara, Yūsuf Yahūdī lived in the eighteenth century and probably died in 1788. Like the great Judeo-Persian poets Shāhīn and ʿImrani, he is known by the Persian honorific mowlānā (our master), attesting to the respect accorded him during his lifetime. Yūsūf Yahūdī was a …

Lārī, Abū 'l Ḥasan

(428 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Abū ʾl Ḥasan Lārī was the central figure in an incident that occurred in the southwestern Iranian town of Lār sometime between 1616 and 1620, as recounted in the Judeo-Persian chronicle Kitāb-i Anusī (The Book of a Forced Convert) by Bābāī b. Luṭf. Its main element was an effort to make the Jews wear demeaning headgear that would distinguish them from Shīʿī Muslims, in keeping with the customs ostensibly initiated by the caliph ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb (r. 634-644). According to Ibn Luṭf, the Jews of Lār were concerned about the conflict of interest generated by the circumstance that Abū ʾl Ḥasan Lārī was the town’s sole butcher, ritual slaughterer, and seller of kosher meat. When he failed to heed the community’s reproval, the local Jews boycotted his shop on the eve of Yom Kippur. This prompted Abū ʾl Ḥasan and his famil…

Hājjī Riżā

(207 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Ḥājjī Riżā was a minor official during the reign of Shah ʿAbbās I (1571–1629), one of the most important monarchs of the Ṣafavid dynasty in Iran. As such, he is symbolic of a number of other such officials who took it upon themselves, not necessarily with court approval, to persecute Jews. According to the Judeo-Persian chronicle Kitāb-i Anusī (The Book of a Forced Convert) by Bābāī ibn Luṭf , sometime in 1625 a wave of persecutions struck…


(351 words)

Author(s): Vera B. Moreen
Mūsā-nāma (The Book of Moses) is the first and longest Judeo-Persian epic on biblical themes by Mowlānā Shāhīn-i Shīrāzī (Our Master, the Royal Falcon of Shiraz), the fourteenth-century poet considered the progenitor of Judeo-Persian literature. It sets to verse non-legal portions chiefly of the Book of Exodus, but also of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. A masnavī (epic in rhymed couplets) numbering some ten thousand distichs, Mūsā-nāma is written in the classical Persian meter hazaj mussadas makhzuf. Shāhīn’s major works include two e…
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