ʿALĪ, ḴᵛĀJA, also known as SAYYED ʿALĪ ʿAJAMĪ (b. ca. 770/1368-69, d. 830/1427 or 832/1429), an ancestor of the Safavid royal family, the son of Shaikh Ṣadr-al-dīn and grandson of Shaikh Ṣafī-al-dīn Ardabīlī. Trustworthy information about him is scarce, since almost all the sources date from the Safavid period and must be suspected of distortion. He succeeded his father in 794/1392 as leader of the Sufi order based at Ardabīl. He had a large following, and like his father was greatly respected, indeed venerated, by people in all walks of life. Tīmūr is reported to have been so impressed by him that he released a large number of war-prisoners at his request and assigned extensive estates to him as an endowment. According to another report, he married a granddaughter of the Jalayerid Ḥosayn I. He died at Jerusalem on his way back from a pilgrimage to Mecca.


H. Horst, Tīmūr und Ḫōğa ʿAlī. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Ṣafawiden (Akad. der Wiss. und der Lit., Abh. der Geistes- und Sozialwiss. Kl., 1958, 2), Wiesbaden, 1958; cf. the comments by V. Minorsky in OLZ 58, 1963, 590-92.

W. Hinz, Irans Aufstieg zum Nationalstaat im fünfzehnten Jahrhundert, Berlin and Leipzig, 1936, index.

E. Glassen, Die frühen Ṣafawiden nach Qāżī Aḥmad Qumī, diss., Freiburg, 1968, index.

M. M. Mazzaoui, The Origins of the Ṣafawids. Šīʿism, Ṣūfism, and the Ġulāt (Freiburger Islamstudien 3), Wiesbaden, 1972, index.

(H. Horst)

Originally Published: December 15, 1985

Last Updated: August 1, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 8, p. 836

Cite this entry:

H. Horst, “ʿALĪ, ḴᵛĀJA,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/8, p. 836, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ali-kaja-also-known-as-sayyed-ali-ajami-b (accessed on 30 December 2012).