CHAPTER 6 A NEW ERA (KARABAKH IN 16-17 CENTURIES)

When in 641 Iran was conquered by the Caliphate, it seemed that the Islamicized country would lose its traditional homeland and the ancient culture, would be absorbed by the Arabs. But the great Persian country and the culture did not cease to exist. The very existence of the nation is a testimony to the significance of the Persian Kingdom, whose rulers together imposed a sense of unity, identity and self-awareness upon its inhabitants.

Mazdaism was abolished and a small group of Persians emigrated to India. The only way to avoid the policy of Arabization was the adoption of Shii Muslim faith. Shah Ismail declared it as a state religion, thus uniting the carved up country and the nations living there. Atropateni was long ago renamed “Azarbaijan”, as the Arabs could pronounce the name of the region like that. The Turkic nomads inhabited the territory only after the Seljuk invasions. The historian Toghan, a Turk by origin, confirmed that fact.1 It must be noted that many Turkic tribes were annihilated by the armies of the Chinese Empire. Those survived, immigrated to the east and mingling with Central Asian tribes, formed a new race, which originally was not Turkic, but they called themselves “Turks”, and spoke a mixed up language, derived from the Turkish.2 In connection to this Rashid Aldin Fazlollah Hamadani wrote, “Oghuz’s descendants formed twenty-four tribes, as was written in detail in the list. Each of them bore its own name and title, but all the Turkmanians of the world descended from Oghuz’s family. But previously they were not called “Turkmen”, all the Turk-like tribes of the deserts were simply called Turks”.3 Fazelan describing the funeral ceremony of the Turks, wrote, “If he was honoured for killing a lot of people, now that he was dead, they buried with him chips of wood, according to the number of people slain by him and said, “These are the slaves to serve him in the Kingdom of God”.4 The Turkic tribes, which penetrated to Azarbaijan (Atropateni), put up their tents in villages and pastures on the banks of rivers. The natives came under their influence as they were the winners, and quickly assimilated into them.5 “The Turkish language was at first dominant in the villages and then spread to the town and trading centers”, wrote Ennaitollah Reza. During the reign of the Safavids, a new language, a mixture of Asian Turkish and Persian dialect, was dominant in Azarbaijan (Atropateni) and was called “Azari”.

“All the Safavid documents were in Turkish, in Tabriz, Ispahan or Ghazvin the Turkish was spoken in courts, most of the proper names and titles were also Turkish”, wrote Hamdullah Mustofi.6 Thus, the ancient Atropateni Iranian ethnicity, with the addition of Turkish elements, gave birth to the “Azari” ethnic group, which is now the bulk of the population of Iranian Azarbaijan. There were great linguistic and ethical differences between the Iranian Safavids and the Ottoman Turks, who had settled in Byzantium. The differences were striking enough to develop a particular enmity and hatred between them. Religious differences added to the hostility. The Ottomans were adherents of Sunni Muslim religion, while the Iranians were Shii Muslim. The Ottoman Great Mufti announced, that the death of one Shii Muslim was more desirable to the God, than that of seventy Christians.7

The Turkish Sultan Selim condemned to death forty thousand Muslim population, whose only sin was adherence to the Shii Muslim faith.

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