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The renaissance of Shiʿi Islam began in the 9th/15th century when the Ismailis experienced the Anjudān revival and Twelver Shiʿi traditions were also renewed. This renaissance gained further strength when the Safavids succeeded in establishing a state in the early decades of the 10th/16th century, making Ithnā ʿasharī Shiʿi Islam their official religion.

Although the political and artistic developments of the Safavid era of the 10th–12th/16th–18th centuries have been extensively studied, the complexities of the different groups, movements and strands of thought in the renaissance of Shiʿi Islam still remain largely unexplored. The chapters in this book represent the most recent scholarship on the intellectual and spiritual life of the age and discuss what prepared the ground for the revival of Shiʿi Islam as well as its achievements. The major themes that characterised the Shiʿi renaissance are explored, including: popular reactions to messianic movements; literary and artistic achievements; the development of legal theories and concepts; the investigation of theological and philosophical problems, above all by the ‘School of Isfahan’; Shiʿi-Sufi interactions and intra-Shiʿi relations; the collection of Shiʿi ḥadīth and its application in Shiʿi exegesis; and the interplay between political considerations and religious beliefs.