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SAFAVID DYNASTY. The Safavid dynasty ruled Iran from 1501 to 1722, its end occasioned by the Afghan invasion. After 1722 a few members of the Safavid family, particularly between 1729 and 1736 and between 1749 and 1773, were nominally shah, but in fact they were without real power. The Turkish-speaking Safavids came from Azerbaijan, although they probably had ancient Kurdish origins. In the early years of the dynasty, the Safavids settled in the western regions of the Iranian highlands. The firs ...more


RUSHDIE AFFAIR. On 26 September 1988, Viking Penguin published The Satanic Verses in London. The author, Salman Rushdie, was already a well-known and esteemed writer. On 5 October, the Indian government, acceding to the requests of its Muslim deputies, forbade the sale and distribution of the book in India. This decision was followed by similar actions in a number of countries, such as Pakistan and South Africa. There had not yet been a reaction from Iran. On 8 November, The Satanic Verses won B ...more


RITES OF PASSAGE. Rituals conducted at different stages of life, from conception until death and after, are means through which human beings live and act religiously. The terms "life-cycle rituals" or "rites de passage," as described by Arnold van Gennep, embrace ritualistic ceremonies associated with conception, birth, puberty, marriage, death, and other significant events. The transformative effect of rites of passage reinforces the religious worldview at both the individual and communal le ...more


The Risale-i Nur Collection is a tafsir (Islamic exegesis) on the Qur'an written by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi between the 1910s and 1950s in Turkey. The commentary does not keep to the order of the ayah as is done in classic Islamic exegesis, as it makes comments on their meanings. It is rather a thematic tafsir which deals with the doubts surrounding the basic doctrines and principles of Islam. The collection includes fourteen books. The primary purpose of the Risale-i Nur is to bring about a r ...more


RIGHTLY GUIDED CALIPHS. Sunni Muslims see the first four successors of the Prophet as caliphs who were "rightly guided" or "following the right path," and refer to them by the appellation al-khulafd' al-rashidun. (Shi'is in general reject the legitimacy of the first three successors.) The usage was adopted from the dominant Sunni tradition by modern writers, and consequently the period between the death of the Prophet and the accession of the Umayyad dynasty in 661 CE is often referred to as tha ...more


RIFA'IYAH. The Sunni Sufi order known as the Rifa'iyah played an important role in the institutionalization of Sufism. In all likelihood, until the fifteenth century it was the most prevalent Sufi order. Thereafter the popularity of the Rifa'iyah continued in the Arab world, where at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth the Rifa-'i order possessed the greatest number of tekkes. Since then the order experienced a decline until recent years, when Rifa-'i activity be ...more


Dealing with interest is a major sin in Islam Riba is a concept in Islamic banking that refers to charged interest. It is forbidden under Sharia, Islamic religious law, because it is thought to be exploitive. Depending on the interpretation, riba may only refer to excessive interest; however to others, the whole concept of interest is riba, and thus is unlawful. ...more


REVOLUTION. In contemporary Islamic discourse, there are various terms that bear on the social-science concept of revolution as a rising up against constituted authority. However, from a classical Muslim point of view, revolution has pejorative connotations, since it signifies impious attempts to overthrow the order established by believers who are following the commands of Allah. Among the terms frequently employed by Islamists to refer to revolution in this negative sense are fitnah (temptatio ...more


REVIVAL AND RENEWAL. The Arabic terms ihya' (revival) and tajdid (renewal) are often used in the context of modern Islamic movements, but they also have important premodern roots. Premodern renewal was usually associated with a specifically designated purifier who, according to the hadiths (Prophetic traditions), would come at the "head of each century" to renew the faith and practice of Muslims. Many puritanical reformers were, as a result, identified by their followers as the designated renewe ...more


REVELATION. At the basis of Islam is the idea that God periodically reveals his will, providing precise information to guide human affairs and to lead to a happy afterlife. The term wahy, from the Arabic verb waha, "to put in the mind," is sometimes understood as "inspiration"; the Qur'an uses this term not only for divine inspiration to humans but also for spiritual communication between other created beings. Revelation, however, refers specifically to the wahy that is divine inspiration giv ...more

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