Dating from eleventh-century Transoxiana in Central Asia, by the Timurid period (fourteenth century) the sadr referred to the chief, government-appointed officer who oversaw the management of state and private religious endowments (awqaf ); the appointment of mosque, madrasa, and other religious personnel; and cared for the poor, needy, and orphans. Up until the late sixteenth century, the first Safavid century, provincial sadrs also existed, but they were not always under the direct authority of the central-government sadr.
The Safavids also formalized the Timurid practice of dividing the responsibilities of the post between two figures, one overseeing the endowments bequeathed by the shah and the other those left by private individuals, with the former seemingly the preeminent figure, and gradually also divided the authority of the two along geographical lines. As befit the highly personalized nature of Safavid politics, however, one individual might hold both posts, and an individual holding another post at court might also be appointed sadr. The post was nearly always held by a religious scholar, a sayyid (descendant of the Prophet), in both Timurid and Safavid times.
Floor, Willem. "The Sadr or Head of the Safavid Religious Administration, Judiciary and Endowments and Other Members of the Religious Administration." Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 150 (2000): 461–500.
Andrew J. Newman