Christian Migration under Safavids

  January 25, 2022   Read time 1 min
Christian Migration under Safavids
In Azerbaijan, during the same period, the Nestorians were suffering from the persecutions of the local governor (Taj al-Din). Therefore, they sent a representative to Isfahan in 1652, hoping that Shah Abbas II would intervene on their behalf.
The Catholic missionaries promised their assistance if the Nestorians converted to Catholicism. The situation of the Nestorians does not seem to have improved, as four years later Shah Abbas II decided to expel all non-Muslims from Isfahan, grouping the Christians and the Zoroastrians in New Julfa. A year later, in 1657, he ordered the conversion of all non-Muslims, obliging the Jews, Mandeans, Armenians and Nestorians to embrace Islam. As discussed earlier in the chapter, many were able to evade the edict and some were able to recover their original faith after the crisis.
Despite the strict religious policies of Shah Abbas II and that of his less tolerant successors, in 1692, both Patriarchs, Mar Shamun (residing in Azerbaijan, Iran) and Mar Eliyya (residing in Mosul, Ottoman Empire) renounced Catholicism.
The difficult atmosphere of Iran had pushed many Christians to migrate at the close of the 17th century, but those who had chosen to remain no longer wished to associate themselves with foreign missionaries as this had not brought them any advantages and had at times provoked the Muslims or indigenous Christian ecclesiastics. Such remained the situation in Iran until the 19th century.