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Sheikh Safi-ad-din Is'haq Ardabili (of Ardabil) (1252–1334) (Persian: شیخ صفیالدین اردبیلی), was the Kurdish eponym of the Safavid dynasty, and the spiritual heir and son in law of the great Sufi Murshid (Grand Master) Sheikh Zahed Gilani, of Lahijan in Gilan province in northern Iran. Most of what we know about him comes from the Safvat as-safa, a hagiography written by one of his followers.
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Sheikh Safi al-Din inherited Sheikh Zahed Gilani's Sufi order, the "Zahediyeh", which he later transformed into his own, the "Safaviyya". Sheikh Zahed Gilani also gave his daughter Bibi Fatemeh in wedlock to his favorite disciple. Sheikh Safi al-Din, in turn, gave a daughter from a previous marriage in wedlock to Shaikh Zahed Gilani's second-born son. Over the following 170 years, the Safaviyya Order gained political and military power, finally culminating in the foundation of the Safavid dynasty.
According to Minorsky, Sheykh Safi al-Din's ancestor Firuz-shah was a rich man, lived in Gilan and then Kurdish kings gave him Ardabil and its dependencies. Minorsky refers to Sheykh Safi al-Din's claims tracing back his origins to Hazrath Ali ibn Abu Talib, but expresses uncertainty about this.
The male lineage of the Safavid family given by the oldest manuscript of the Safwat as-Safa is:"(Shaykh) Safi al-Din Abul-Fatah Ishaaq the son of Al-Shaykh Amin al-din Jebrail the son of al-Saaleh Qutb al-Din Abu Bakr the son of Salaah al-Din Rashid the son of Muhammad al-Hafiz al-Kalaam Allah the son of Javaad the son of Pirooz al-Kurdi al-Sanjani (Piruz Shah Zarin Kolah the Kurd of Sanjan)" similar to the ancestry of Sheykh Safi al-Din's father in law, Sheikh Zahed Gilani, who also hailed from Sanjan, in Greater Khorassan.
(Other transliterations for Safi al-Din: Safi al-Din, Safi ad-Dîn, Safi Eddin, Safi od-Din, Safi El-Din, Safieddin, Safioddin)
See also 
|New title||Leader of the Safaviya Order
Sadr al-Dīn Mūsā
- Richard Tapper, Frontier nomads of Iran: a political and social history of the Shahsevan, Cambridge University Press, 1997, ISBN 9780521583367, p. 39.
- EBN BAZZAZ Encyclopedia Iranica
- Muḥammad Kamāl, Mulla Sadra's Transcendent Philosophy, Ashgate Publishing Inc, 2006, ISBN 0754652718, p. 24.
- "The Iranian Language of Azerbaijan" E. Yarshater, Encyclopædia Iranica
- Ehsan Yarshater, Encyclopædia Iranica, Book 1, p. 240.
- Barry D. Wood, The Tarikh-i Jahanara in the Chester Beatty Library: an illustrated manuscript of the "Anonymous Histories of Shah Isma'il", Islamic Gallery Project, Asian Department Victoria & Albert Museum London, Routledge, Volume 37, Number 1 / March 2004, Pp: 89 - 107.
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- Minorsky Vladimir, The Turks, Iran and the Caucasus in the Middle Ages. Preface by J.A. Boyle. Variorum Reprints, London 1978; page 517-518
- Z. V. Togan, "Sur l’Origine des Safavides," in Melanges Louis Massignon, Damascus, 1957, III, pp. 345-57
Virtual Tour 
- Monika Gronke, Derwische im Vorhof der Macht: sozial- und wirtschaftsgeschichte Nordwestirans im 13. und 14. Jahrhundert, Wiesbaden 1993
- Mazzaoui, Michel, The Origins of the Safavids: Shi'ism, Sufism, and the Gulat, Wiesbaden, West Germany: F. Steiner, 1972.
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