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Sunnism was the predominant form of Islam before the devastating Mongol conquest, but subsequently Shi'ism became eventually utterly dominant in all of Iran and modern-day Azerbaijan with the advent of the Safavids.
In the history of Shia Islam the first Shia state was Idrisid dynasty (780–974) in Maghreb, a region of north west Africa.
Ismail's attempt to spread Shia propaganda among the Turkmen tribes of eastern Anatolia prompted a conflict with the Sunnite Ottoman Empire.
Following Iran's defeat by the Ottomans at the Battle of Chaldiran, Safavid expansion fasted, and a process of consolidation began in which Ismail sought to quell the more extreme expressions of faith among his followers.
For Twelvers the lineage of Imams are known as the Twelve Imams.
Of these Imams, only one is buried in Iran – at the Imam Reza shrine, for Ali ar-Ridha who lived from 765 – 818 AD, before any Shi'a dynasties arose in Iran.
After a period of indulgence in wine and the pleasures of the harem, Under Abbas I, Iran prospered.
The Iranian government does not officially recognise the existence of non-religious Iranians.
This leaves the true representation of the religious split in Iran unknown as all non-religious, spiritual, atheist, agnostic and converts away from Islam are likely to be included within the government statistic of the 99% Muslim majority.
But they were followed by two great and powerful dynasties: Fatimid Caliphate which formed in Ifriqiya in 909 AD and the Buyid dynasty emerged in Daylaman, in north central Iran, about 930 AD and then extended rule over central and western Iran and into Iraq until 1048 AD. Later Sunni Islam came to rule from the Ghaznavids dynasty, 975 to 1187AD, through to the Mongol invasion and establishment of the Ilkhanate which kept Shia Islam out of power until the Mongol ruler Ghazan converted to Shia Islam in 1310 AD and made it the state religion.
Although Shias have lived in Iran since the earliest days of Islam, and there had been Shia dynasties in parts of Iran during the 10th and 11th centuries, according to Mortaza Motahhari the majority of Iranian scholars and masses remained Sunni till the time of the Safavids.