▪ Il-Khanid ruler of Iran
Muslim name  Moḥammad Khudābanda  
born 1280
died Dec. 16, 1316, Solṭānīyeh, near Kazvin, Iran

      eighth Il-Khan ruler of Iran, during whose reign the Shīʿite branch of Islām was first proclaimed the state religion of Iran.

      A great-grandson of Hülegü, founder of the Il-Khan dynasty, Öljeitü was baptized a Christian and given the name Nicholas by his mother. As a youth he converted to Buddhism and later to the Sunnite branch of Islām, taking the name Moḥammad Khudābanda. After the death (1304) of his brother Maḥmūd Ghāzān, the seventh Il-Khan, he disposed of his rivals easily and acceded to a relatively peaceful reign. In 1307 the Caspian province of Jilan was conquered, strengthening Il-Khan rule, and a potentially dangerous rebellion was crushed in Herāt (now in Afghanistan). The traditional hostility between the Il-Khans and the Mamlūks of Syria and Egypt persisted, however, and a badly organized invasion of Mamlūk territory took place in 1312. The expedition had to be abandoned after expected help from European princes failed to materialize.

      Öljeitü changed his religious affiliations several times. His conversion to Sunnite Islām is attributed to one of his wives. During the winter of 1307–08 there ensued a bitter religious feud between the adherents of the Ḥanafī and Shafīʿī schools of Sunnite Islāmic law, so disgusting Öljeitü that he considered converting back to Buddhism, a course that proved politically impossible. Greatly influenced by the Shīʿite theologian Ibn al-Muṭahhar al-Hillī, he came to embrace the religion; and on his return from a visit to the tomb of ʿAlī in Iraq (1309–10), he proclaimed Shīʿite Islām to be the state religion of Iran.

      An active patron of the arts, Öljeitü built a new capital at Soltānīyeh that required the efforts of many artists, who made it a masterpiece of Il-Khanid architecture. He lent vital encouragement and support to Rashīd ad-Dīn's (Rashīd ad-Dīn) monumental world history and to the endeavours of Iranian poets.

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Universalium. 2010.

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