DARVĪŠ REŻĀ (d. 1040/1631), a qezelbāš functionary who claimed to be the awaited Mahdī. It is reported in the Safavid chronicles that, in order to gain credibility, he falsely claimed to be an Afšār (Eṣfahānī, p. 118; Wāleh, fols. 43b-44a). At the siege of Yerevan (November 1603-June 1604) he deserted the army, embarked upon a spiritual journey into the Ottoman empire, and spent some time at Anṭākīya, where he was said to have “learned about the occult sciences and magic” (Wāleh, fol. 44a). Darvīš Reżā’s official post as rekābdār (lit., “stirrup bearer”) to the governor of Hamadān required him to participate on the battlefield, an arena in which the qezelbāš traditionally had complete control before the incorporation of the ḡolāms in to the military under ʿAbbās I (1038/1629). The army at the siege of Yerevan incorporated ḡolām troops, and Darvīš ʿAlī’s desertion may have been a protest against what he saw as the intrusion of ḡolāms into an arena that was the source of much of qezelbāš honor, political power, and financial well-being (Chardin, V, p. 228). It is not certain for how long he traveled, but eventually he settled in Kāfūrābād, a village near Qazvīn, probably before the death of Shah ʿAbbās I. There he attracted followers and amassed great wealth through gifts that he received from all parts of the empire (Eṣfahānī, p. 119; Wāleh, fol. 44a). According to Eskandar Beg (1317 Š./1938, p. 84), the governor (dārūḡa) and other functionaries of Qazvīn considered Darvīš Reżā a man of God, though, once he had revealed his mahdist ambitions, Eskandar Beg himself characterized him as a heretic.

On 16 Ḏu’l-ḥejja 1040/16 July 1631 Darvīš Reżā rose in rebellion and, surrounded by armed followers, marched from Kāfūrābād to the house of the governor of Qazvīn, Šāhverdī Beg Torkamān, who was ordered to submit to the authority of the Mahdī; Darvīš Reżā thus made public his claim to this role. When thegovernor refused, the rebels took sanctuary around the tomb of Mīr Faḡfūr (14th century) in the shrine of Šāhzāda Ḥosayn. His disciples declared that their pīšvā (example) would bring Faḡfūr back to life (Wāleh, fol. 45a).

The refugees in the shrine were eventually defeated by force; Darvīš Reżā was killed, and his head, along with those of several others, was sent to the shah in Isfahan; it was exhibited in Naqš-e Jahān square there. Eight years later (1049/1639), however, a man claimed to be Darvīš Reżā, who had supposedly never died (Eskandar Beg, pp. 83-85, 240; Eṣfahānī, pp. 119-21; Wāleh, fol. 45a-b; Qazvīnī, p. 59).



Bījan, Tārīḵ-e jolūs-e Šāh Ṣafī, British Museum ms. Add. 7655, fol. 30a-b. Moḥammad Maʿṣūm b. Ḵᵛājagī Eṣfahānī, Ḵolāṣat al-sīar, Tehran, 1368 Š./1989, pp. 117-22.

Sayyed Ḥosayn b. Mortażā Ḥosaynī Astarābādī (Estarābādī), Tārīḵ-e solṭānī, ed. E. Ešrāqī, Tehran, 1364 Š./1985.

Eskandar Beg Torkamān, Ḏayl-e tārīḵ-e ʿālam ārā-ye ʿabbāsī, ed. A. Sohaylī Ḵᵛānsārī, Tehran, 1317 Š./1938.

Abu’l-Ḥasan Qazvīnī, Fawāyed al-ṣafawīya, ed. M. Mīr-Aḥmadī, Tehran, 1367 Š./1988, pp. 52, 59.

Moḥammad-Yūsof Wāleh Eṣfahānī, Ḵold-e barīn, British Museum ms. Or. 4132.



(Kathryn Babayan)

Originally Published: December 15, 1994

Last Updated: November 18, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VII, Fasc. 1, p. 79