While Islam may have begun in Arabia, the civilisation that it fashioned during its classical period, over the succeeding six centuries, was by no means an Arab – let alone an Arabian – artefact. Among the many different ethnic groups and peoples that contributed to the cultural, political, religious and literary formation of this new civilisation, none played a greater role than the inhabitants of the Persianate cultural world.1 The vital contribution of the Persianate world – its people, dynasties, individuals, and religious and intellectual movements – to Islamic civilisation has been and remains, however, one of the most understudied areas of Islamic history: there exists no published monograph, for instance, on the Samanid dynasty, despite its realm having been the major political, religious, military, and intellectual centre of Sunnism during the tenth century;2 and only now are the first monographs appearing and being written on the Seljuq period in its entirety.3
During the centuries under consideration here, the Persianate world included, geographically, not only the former lands of the Sasanian Empire (roughly, the Iranian plateau, and the lands adjacent to the western and southern shores of the Caspian Sea), but also the then-culturally Persianate lands of Central Asia (most of which have become, today, both linguistically and ethnically Turkic), the area stretching from the Caspian Sea to the Tien Shan mountains, and the areas of the Indian subcontinent conquered by Muslims.4
During the Umayyad period, Khurasan and Iranian Central Asia were still very much in the process of being conquered and colonised.5 Even in these years, though, Khurasan already began to play a seminal role in the religious, political, and intellectual development of the Islamic oecumene.6 However, the region fully came into its own as one of the leading centres of Islamic civilisation with the advent of the Abbasid Revolution. There are two factors which aided in this process. First, immediately after the Revolution, the political history of western Central Asia was decided by the famous showdown between the Muslim and Chinese armies at Talas in 751, a battle that finally determined to which empire and cultural world the region would belong, at least until the modern era;7 and, second, the peculiar significance and centrality of Khurasan to the Abbasids themselves.
It was, of course, Khurasan that served as the cradle of the Abbasid Revolution, which broke out in Marw, in Central Asia, and by 750 had overthrown the Umayyad Dynasty.8 The Abbasid armies were composed of Khurasanian troops, both Arab and Persian;9 and, after the Revolution, the new elite of the empire, known as the abnā’ al-dawla or abnā’ al-da‘wa, were Khurasanis by origin.10 Indeed, throughout the early Abbasid period, the new ‘service aristocracy’ was manned largely by Khurasanis and their descendants,11 and included some of the most famous and revered vizieral and military families in Islamic history, such as the Barmakids, the Sahlids, and the Ṭāhirids, who ran, protected, and expanded the Islamic empire.
One of the more notable aspects of this Khurasani influence in the late eighth and early ninth centuries was not merely that it grew, but also that it grew steadily more Central Asian. This can be seen in many different areas, perhaps most strikingly in caliphal lineage itself. Al-Ma’mūn was the first caliph with a Khurasanī mother,12 and basically re-enacted (and consciously claimed to be re-enacting) the original Khurasanian Abbasid Revolution during the Fourth Fitna,13 while attempting to make it more definitively Khurasanian – his propaganda emphasised his Khurasani origins,14 and al-Ma’mūn even, throughout the first years of his reign, relocated the capital of the empire from Baghdad to Marw.15
Al-Ma’mūn’s half-brother and successor, al-Mu‘taṣim, was the son of a Sogdian woman,16 and during his reign Central Asians from the Khurasanī Transoxianan provinces became ever more prominent. Most notably, under this caliph the army became gradually more Central Asian, so that in al-Mu‘taṣim’s day, the preponderance of prime army units were recruited amongst Central Asians, either free (e.g. regiments such as the Ushrūsaniyya and Farāghina, and the Shākiriyya guard corps, which was a Sogdian institution borrowed wholesale17) or slave (the famous ghilmān corps for which this caliph is primarily remembered by subsequent medieval Muslim historians);18 and the most powerful figures during his reign were Iranian and Turkic Central Asian commanders, both slave and free, most prominently the hereditary prince of Ushrūsana, who is referred to in the Arabic sources by his Central Asian title of Afshīn.19
The importance of Khurasan and its Persianate Central Asian dependencies is also reflected in the developing political organisation of Abbasid rule, from the Revolution until the time at which the provinces went their own autonomous way in the 860s. Although at the outset of Abbasid rule, Khurasan briefly enjoyed a special, virtually autonomous status under its governor Abū Muslim, this arrangement proved too threatening to central authority. Yet the attempt over the following decades to treat Khurasan, together with its Transoxianan dependencies, as just another province also proved unworkable, as witnessed by the many revolts there over the ensuing decades.20 Khurasan was simply far too big, too rich, and too important to be treated as merely another province.
It was partly to address the Khurasani problem that Hārūn al-Rashīd devised his ultimately disastrous succession solution, with his son al-Ma’mūn, son of the Khurasani mother, anointed virtually autonomous governor of the province and its dependencies.21 Al-Ma’mūn subsequently tried two different solutions to the Khurasanian-Transoxianan problem: First, by relocating the capital itself to Khurasan, to the city of Marw in what is today Turkmenistan; then, after Abbasid family opposition forced him to return the rule of the empire to Baghdad,22 in his awarding special governing arrangements and a hereditary role in Khurasan to the Tahirids, who became powerful stadtholders on the scale of famous Umayyad governors such as Ziyād b. Abīhi and Ḥajjāj b. Yūsuf, and whose rule continued for four generations until they were swept away by the first of the autonomous Persianate dynasties, the Saffarids.23
Finally, when Abbasid rule collapsed in the mid-ninth century, Khurasan and its Central Asian dependencies gained permanent autonomy from the Caliphate, thus opening the astoundingly brilliant three centuries, stretching from the mid-ninth until the mid-twelfth centuries, during which this part of the Persianate lands became the seat of the leading political and military powers of the Sunni world, thus inheriting the role formerly played by Iraq, and assuming primacy, not only in the political, military, and economic spheres, but also in the cultural, religious, and intellectual life of the Islamic world east of North Africa. Indeed, even after the cultural debacle accompanying the Seljuq downfall of the mid-twelfth century, the succeeding Persianate dynasties of the eastern Islamic lands, most notably the Ghurids and the Khwarasmshahs, continued to hold military and political sway until the coming of the Mongols.
Throughout this era, Khurasan-Transoxiana undoubtedly constituted the heart of the Sunni Islamic world. First of all, the dynasties based here – the Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids and Seljuqs – provided a military and political bulwark against non-Sunni groups, whether Infidel, Kharijite or Shi‘ite, of which the biggest challenge throughout most of this era was Shi‘ism in its various manifestations, whether in the form of Fatimid anti-caliphate, Buyid amirate, or Zaydī imamate.24 The Sunni Persianate dynasties were also the prime bearers of the banner of jihād in this period, presiding over the first large-scale conversion of Turkish Central Asia to Islam in the mid-tenth century; and, under the Ghaznavids, completing the conquest of Afghanistan and achieving a breakthrough, after centuries of stalemate, in the conquest of India, including the Punjāb and Kashmir.25
But their significance extended far beyond the political and military. For one thing, these were also the wealthiest areas of the Sunni lands; in the tenth century, much of this wealth flowed not just from agriculture, manufacturing, and mining within Khurasan and Transoxiana, but also from Samanid control of the entry of slaves into the Islamic world from the Central Asian steppes, and of the northern trade routes with Europe, particularly Viking Europe.26 Under the Ghaznavids, similarly, enormous wealth flowed in from slaves and plundered treasures from their Indian conquests.27
More importantly, and partly as a result of the flourishing economic condition of these areas, during the first three centuries of the Persianate Dynastic Period Khurasan and Transoxiana constituted the religious, cultural, and intellectual heart of the Islamic world as well. In virtually every area, from the natural sciences – in which Khurasan nurtured the likes of al-Fārābī, al-Bīrūnī, and Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna) – to the religious sciences – ranging from five of the six authors of the canonical Sunni books of ḥadīth at the outset of this period,28 to great legal scholars, theologians and Sufi saints such as al-Qushayrī, Imām al-Ḥaramayn al-Juwaynī, al-Ghazālī, and Aḥmad-i Jām in the latter part of it – to art and architecture,29 this time and place was astonishingly, brilliantly fecund, producing many of the finest works of classical Islamic civilisation.
The dazzling efflorescence of medieval Khurasan and Persianate Central Asia came to an abrupt end, however, due to political disaster. First, in 1141, Islamic Central Asia fell to the Qara Khitai, in the first of the great Infidel steppe invasions, and was temporarily detached from the rest of the Islamic world, while Khurasan remained unconquered under the Great Seljuq Sultan Sanjar.30 In 1153, however, a greater evil overtook Khurasan: Sultan Sanjar was taken prisoner in battle by a group of newly-arrived Oghuz Turks; he remained a prisoner for three and a half years,31 and Khurasan lay leaderless and defenceless before the rather thorough program of spoliation upon which the Oghuz then embarked: During these years of Sanjar’s captivity, the physical and intellectual infrastructure of Khurasan was destroyed.
The thoroughness of this disaster was due to two particular factors. First, as Turkmen nomads fresh off the steppe, these Oghuz bands had little or no interest in the norms and practices of settled society. Had the Oghuz killed Sanjar, another king could have taken his place and restored order. Had they themselves aspired to rule, they could have taken over Khurasan in much the same manner as the original Seljuq invaders and their Turkmen tribes had done. But these particular bands of Oghuz apparently did not aspire to the settled model of territorial rule; rather, their main goal seems to have been to engage to the greatest extent possible in that favourite nomadic activity from time immemorial: plunder. The ensuing years of unbridled pillage and rapine resulted in the complete ruination of Khurasan.
Second, the Khurasan intellectual and cultural elite, the ulema, had been so closely associated with Seljuq rule32 that the Seljuqs’ political enemies identified them with the Seljuq regime to such a degree that they poured their wrath upon the ulema alongside government functionaries.33 Accordingly, after the downfall of Sanjar in 1153, when the Oghuz went on their rampage in Khurasan, they, too, classed the ulema together with government officials, targeted them, and exterminated them wholesale.34 In the elegiac words of one source:
the [Oghuz] killed them with torture; palates and mouths which had for so many years been the revealers of the Shar‘ī sciences and the founts of religious ordinances, they [viz., the Oghuz] stuffed with earth [until they died].35
The result of this wholesale slaughter of the clerical class was, unsurprisingly (at least for the denizens of the age that has witnessed the similar results produced by the actions of groups such as the Khmer Rouge), the destruction of intellectual and cultural life in Khurasan.
The medieval authors themselves were aware of the permanent damage that had been wrought, and their descriptions, long ignored by modern scholars, foreshadow the similar depictions of the Mongol devastation of the early thirteenth century.36 A sampling of the descriptions of this ruin should suffice:
The Oghuz during that time wreaked desolation upon the world and held lawful for themselves the property, lives, and privities of the Muslims. In all Khurasan there did not remain a village that was not destroyed by their oppression.37
In Nishapur alone, the Turkmen are said to have killed 30,000 people,38 and a river of blood flowed in the streets.39 Indeed, the destruction there was so severe that, according to one passage reminiscent of the Lamentations of Jeremiah: ‘no one recognised his own quarter and house, and those places where the familiar mosques and madrasas of religious knowledge and assemblies [had stood]… were become pastures for sheep and hiding places for wild beasts and serpents…’40 Of the capital, Marw, the Saljūqnāma relates that after three solid days of looting by the Oghuz, ‘in all the city nothing remained except the stuffing of cushions and mattresses... and that also they [then] took. Most of the people of the city they took captive.’41
By the time Sanjar escaped three years later, he returned to a realm that is described having been too desolated to reconstitute. In the succinct description of one account of Sanjar’s return from captivity, ‘since the Sultan’s life was drawing to a close, the dynasty’s rule [dawla] was finished, and the realm destroyed, this was of no profit.’42 Sanjar is explicitly described as having realised his realm was no longer capable of sustaining the infrastructure of kingship, certainly not on the former scale of prosperity and resulting cultural productivity:
… For he saw that the treasury was empty, his dominions destroyed, the populace driven away and the army non-existent…Care and spiritual thought were joined with human weakness, and it ended in an illness which was his final illness …43
In the pithy summation of one source: ‘Khurasan was destroyed with the death of Sanjar b. Malikshāh.’44 In fact, it was destroyed during the preceding years of rampant riot and despoliation.
The result was that by the end of the 1150s, the role of Khurasan had shifted: From having been the centre of realms and the seat of culture of the entire mashriq for over three centuries, it became instead a politically unsettled subordinate province, over the possession of which forces from the periphery – namely the Khwarazmshahs, whose power was based upon the steppes around the Aral Sea and, at the opposite border, the Ghurid sultans, whose might drew on the resources of India – fought. The Ghurid sultans appeared to be winning that battle until their political collapse in 1206, resulting in the victory of the Khwarazmshahs in the contest for Khurasan. This triumph of the Khwarazmshahs was shortlived, however; in less than fifteen years, Chingiz Khān and his hordes arrived and remade the political and demographic map of the Persianate world. Khurasan was never again to be the political, military, economic and cultural centre of the Islamic lands.
The author is grateful to the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and the National Endowment for the Humanities for funding this research, and to Michael Cook for reading and commenting upon it.
1.This is here defined as the areas where an Iranian language and Persian culture were dominant.
2.The fine study by Luke Treadwell (W. L. Treadwell, ‘The Political History of the Sāmānid State’, Unpublished DPhil Thesis, Oxford, 1991) has never been published; and Richard N. Frye’s Bukhara: The Medieval Achievement (Costa Mesa, California, 1997) is a popular work, not a scholarly monograph.
3.A.C.S. Peacock, The Great Seljuk Empire (Edinburgh, 2015); D.G. Tor, The Great Seljuq Sultanate and the Formation of Islamic Civilization: A Thematic History (Cambridge, forthcoming).
4.See e.g. Richard N. Frye, The Heritage of Central Asia (Princeton, 1996); W. Barthold, Turkestan Down to the Mongol Invasion, 3rd edition, tr. Minorsky, C. E. Bosworth, ed (London, 1968), passim.
5.On this process see H.A.R. Gibb, The Arab Conquests in Central Asia (1923), passim; Elton Daniel, ‘The Islamic east,’ in Chase Robinson (ed.), The New Cambridge History of Islam. Volume I: The Formation of the Islamic World, Sixth to Eleventh Centuries (Cambridge, 2010), esp. pp. 448–468.
6.For example, Khurasanis played a preponderant role in the rise of the Ahl al-ḥadīth proto-Sunni movement in late Umayyad times, see D.G. Tor, Violent Order: Religious Warfare, Chivalry, and the ‘Ayyār Phenomenon in the Medieval Islamic World (Würzburg, 2007), Chapter 2; on growing ‘Persian’ importance generally in the Umayyad period, Patricia Crone, The Nativist Prophets of Early Islamic Iran: Rural Revolt and Local Zoroastrianism (Cambridge, 2012), pp. 7–11.
7.For a clear yet succinct explication of the complex geopolitical situation in this area in the mid-eighth century, see Peter Golden, Central Asia in World History (Oxford, 2011), Chapter 4, especially pp. 58–61.
8.On the well-established role of Khurasan in the Revolution see Julius Wellhausen, The Arab Kingdom and Its Fall, tr. M.G. Weir (Calcutta, 1927), chapters 8 and 9 (pp. 397–566); Moshe Sharon, Black Banners from the East. The Establishment of the ‘Abbāsid State – Incubation of a Revolt (Leiden, 1983).
9.For discussions of the ethnic composition of the Abbāsid army, both before and after the Revolution, see Roy Mottahedeh, ‘The ‘Abbāsid Caliphate in Iran,’ in R.N. Frye (ed.), Cambridge History of Iran. Vol. IV: From the Arab Invasion to the Saljuqs (Cambridge, 1975), pp. 59–63; Elton Daniel, ‘Arabs, Persians, and the advent of the ‘Abbāsids reconsidered,’ Journal of the American Oriental Society cxvii (1997), pp. 542–548; Amikam El‘ad, ‘The ethnic composition of the Abbasid revolution: A reevaluation of some recent research,’ Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam xxiv (2000), pp. 246–326.
10.Note that this does not necessarily mean that they were ethnically Iranian; thus, the controversy regarding the relative percentage of ethnic Iranians versus ethnic ‘Arabs’ (keeping in mind that, so long as descent was in the male line, someone with only, say, one Arab paternal great-great-grandfather would have defined himself as ‘Arab’, despite being a native Persian speaker) amongst the Khurasani supporters of the Revolution is irrelevant here (on this subject vide. e.g. Elad, ‘Transition’ and idem, ‘The armies of al-Ma’mun in Khurasan (193/809–202/817–18): Recruitment of its contingents and their commanders and their social-ethnic composition,’ Oriens xxxviii (2010), pp. 35–76). On the abnā’, see Patricia Crone, ‘‘Abbāsid abnā’ and Sāsānid cavalrymen,’ Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society viii (1998), pp. 1–19 and John P. Turner, ‘The abnā’ al-dawla: The definition and legitimation of identity in response to the Fourth Fitna,’ Journal of Oriental and African Studies cxxiv (2002), pp. 1–22.
11.In Crone’s words (Patricia Crone, Slaves on Horses: The Evolution of the Islamic Polity (Cambridge, 1980), p. 66): ‘They held a virtual monopoly on the offices most intimately associated with the fortunes of the dynasty. In Baghdad they commanded the caliph’s personal troops…held the leadership of his personal guard…and commonly enjoyed the privilege of guarding his private seal. In the provinces they held a large number of military commands and governorships; and above all, they supplied the governors of Khurāsān.’
12.From Bādhghīs; see Wilferd Madelung, ‘Was the Caliph al-Ma’mūn a grandson of the sectarian leader Ustādhsīs?’ reprinted in Studies in Medieval Muslim Thought and History (Farnham, Surrey, 2013), Article XX.
13.On which see Albert Arazi and ‘Amikam El’ad, ‘“L’Épître à l’Armée”. Al-Ma’mūn et la seconde Da’wa,’ Studia Islamica lxvi (1987), pp. 27–70 and lxvii (1988), pp. 29–73.
14.Muḥammad b. Jarīr al-Ṭabarī, Ta’rīkh al-Rusul wa’l-Mulūk (Beirut: 1989), reprint of the Leiden edition, ed. M.J. de Goeje, iii, p. 774.
15.This attempt to re-enact – correctly, this time around – the ‘Abbāsid Revolution did not work out very well; see D.G. Tor, ‘An historiographical re-examination of the appointment and death of ‘Alī al-Riḍā,’ Der Islam lxxviii/1 (2001), pp. 103–128.
16.Noted by Étienne la Vaissière, Samarcande et Samarra: Élites d’Asie central dans l’empire Abbasside (Paris, 2007), p. 169.
17.On the institution of Chākar see la Vaissière, Samarcande et Samarra, pp. 65–75. In Peter Golden’s words (Central Asia in World History, pp. 53–4): ‘To guard themselves, Sogdian rulers and high nobles had their own chākar units, highly trained elite soldiers, whom they supported, educated, and even fictively adopted to ensure their loyalty.’
18.E.g. Ḥamdallāh b. Abī Bakr Aḥmad Mustawfī Qazwīnī, Tārīkh-i Guzida, ed. ‘Abd al-Ḥusayn Nawā’ī (Tehran, 1362/1983f), p. 316.
19.See W. Barthold and H. A. R. Gibb, ‘Afshīn’, EI2; de la Vaissière, Samarcande et Samarra, pp. 39–40.
20.On which see e.g. Elton Daniel, The Political and Social History of Khurasan under Abbasid Rule 747–820 (Minneapolis, 1979) and Patricia Crone, The Nativist Prophets, pp. 79–190.
21.Pace Tayeb El-Hibri, ‘Harun al-Rashid and the Mecca Protocol of 802: A plan for division or succession?’ International Journal of Middle East Studies xxiv (1992), pp. 461–80 which argues that, in contrast to the explicit testimony of the primary sources, al-Ma’mūn was in reality supposed to have filled in Khurāsān merely a subordinate role as marcher-lord, parallel to that of his brother al-Mu’tamin on the Byzantine frontier, and that the primary sources are therefore tendentious in their citation of the Mecca Protocol (p. 462: ‘The equivalence in the specific military functions of al-Ma’mun and al-Mu’tamin thus reflected a similarity of subordination towards the central authority’). El-Hibri does not take into consideration, however, the peculiar status and importance of Khurāsān, amply borne out during the reign of al-Ma’mūn and thereafter; nor does he explain why the important pilgrimage and ratification of the Protocol in the Ka‘ba included only al-Amīn and al-Ma’mūn; if the latter were to be on an equal footing with al-Mu’tamin, why was al-Mu’tamin not there as well? The obvious answer would be that al-Ma’mūn’s prominent participation reflected his correspondingly far more important role, exactly as the primary sources portray it, and that his position resembled al-Amīn’s far more than it resembled that of any absent brother.
22.On this episode see Tor, ‘An historiographical re-examination.’
23.On Tahirid rule see C. E. Bosworth, ‘The Ṭāhirids and Ṣaffārids,’ in R. N. Frye (ed.), The Cambridge History of Iran. Vol. IV: From the Arab Invasion to the Saljuqs (Cambridge, 1975), pp. 90–115; for the end of Tahirid rule, the Saffarid takeover, and early Saffarid rule generally, see D.G. Tor, Violent Order, chapters 3 through 6.
24.Leading much of this period to be termed the ‘Long Shi‘ite Century’, explained by Marshall Hodgson (The Venture of Islam. Vol. II: The Expansion of Islam in the Middle Periods [Chicago, 1974], p. 36) as follows: ‘The age of Fāṭimid and Būyid pre-eminence in some of the central lands of Islamdom has been called “the Shī‘ī century” because of the prominence of Shī‘īs then in various capacities.’
25.See e.g., among many others, D.G. Tor, ‘The Islamization of Central Asia in the Sāmānid era and the reshaping of the Muslim world,’ Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies lxxii (2009), pp. 272–299; and C. E. Bosworth, ‘The early Ghaznavids,’ R.N. Frye (ed.), The Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. IV: From the Arab Invasions to the Saljuqs (Cambridge, 1975), esp. pp. 166–80.
26.See the articles in Thomas Noonan, The Islamic World, Russia and the Vikings, 750–900: The Numismatic Evidence (Aldershot, 1998); Tadeusz Lewicki, ‘Le commerce des Samanides avec l’Europe orientale et centrale à la lumière des trésors de monnaies coufiques,’ in Dickran K. Kouymjian (ed.), Near Eastern Numismatics, Iconography, Epigraphy and History: Studies in Honor of George C. Miles (Beirut, 1974), pp. 219–233; Michael Mitchiner, ‘Evidence for Viking-Islamic trade provided by Samanid silver coinage,’ East and West xxxvii (1987), pp. 139–150; and Melanie Michailidis, ‘Samanid silver and trade along the fur route,’ Medieval Encounters xviii (2012), pp. 315–338.
27.Thus Bosworth notes (C. E. Bosworth, ‘Maḥmūd of Ghazna in contemporary eyes and in later Persian literature,’ Iran iv (1966), p. 88): ‘From the temple of Somnath alone, Maḥmūd is said to have carried off 20 million dinars’ worth of plunder, and the precious metals thus gained were used to beautify the palaces and public buildings erected in the capital Ghazna and elsewhere. They also enabled the Sultans to maintain a high standard of gold and silver coinage, thereby facilitating trade and commerce across the Ghaznavid empire. In regard to slaves, ‘Utbī says that they were so plentiful after the Kanauj campaign of ’ 1018, when 53,000 captives were brought back, that slave merchants converged on Ghazna from all parts of eastern Islam and slaves could be bought for between two and ten dirhams each.’ On Sebüktegin as devoted jihadist see Abū’l-Sharaf Nāṣir b. Ẓafar Jarfadhqānī, Tarjama-i Tārīkh-i Yamīnī, ed. Ja‘far Shi‘ār (Tehran, 1345), 20; Ḥamdallāh Mustawfī Qazwīnī, Tārīkh-i Guzīda; Rashīd al-Dīn Faḍlallāh, Jāmi‘ al-Tawārīkh, ed. Ahmed Āteş (Ankara, 1957), i, pp. 6, 11.
28.Ibn Māja, the exception, hailed from Qazwīn.
29.On which see e.g. Robert Hillenbrand, Islamic Art and Architecture (London, 1999, chapter 4); idem. (ed.), The Art of the Saljuqs in Iran and Anatolia (Costa Mesa, 1994).
30.On the conquest of Transoxiana see Michal Biran, The Empire of the Qara Khitai in Eurasian History: Between China and the Islamic World (Cambridge, 2005), pp. 35–46.
31.See s.v. D.G. Tor, ‘Sanjar, Aḥmed b. Malekshāh,’ EIr.
32.Thus by Sanjar’s time even serving as viziers in his administration; e.g. the cleric Shihāb al-Islām ‘Abd al-Razzāq al-Ṭūsī, whom Sanjar hauled ‘out of the corner of the madrasa’ in order to appoint him to the vizierate (Ghiyāth al-Dīn b. Humām al-Dīn Khwānd Mīr, Dastūr al-Wuzarāʾ, ed. Sa‘īd Nafīsī, (Tehran, 1317/1938f.), p. 189, corroborated by Nāṣir al-Dīn Munshī Kirmānī, Nasāʾim al-Asḥār min laṭāʾif al-akhbār dar tārīkh-i wuzarā, ed. Mīr Jalāl al-Dīn Ḥusaynī Urmawī, Tehran 1338/1959, pp. 58–59). Other clerical viziers include ‘the ‘ālim Naṣīr al-Dīn Maḥmūd b. al-Muẓaffar b. Abī Tawba al-Khwārizmī,’ described in his eulogy as having been ‘a master of and expert in the jurisprudence of the legal school of Imām Shāfi‘ī’(Kirmānī, Nasāʾim al-Asḥār, pp. 69–72; al-Fatḥ b. ‘Alī b. Muḥammad al-Bundārī, Zubdat al-Nuṣra wa-nukhbat al-‘uṣra, ed. M. Th. Houtsma in Recueil de textes relatifs à l’histoire des Seljoucides, Vol. II: Histoire des Seldjoucides de l’Irâq (Leiden, 1889), p. 268, who lists him under the nisba of ‘al-Marwazī’, mentions only his close relations with the clerics, without, however, noting the fact that he himself was also an ‘ālim). C. E. Bosworth (‘The political and dynastic history of the Iranian world A.D. 1000–1217,’ in J. A. Boyle (ed.), The Cambridge History of Iran. Vol. V: The Saljuq and Mongol Periods, (Cambridge, 1968), p. 154) notes that ‘many members of the religious institution, which was closely linked with the established order, were put to death.’
33.This is the case even prior to the Oghuz; after Sanjar’s defeat at the battle of Qaṭwān in 1141, the Khwārazmshāh seized and imprisoned Abū’l-Faḍl al-Kirmānī, the leader of the Ḥanafites, together with ‘a group of the fuqahā‘’, because of their identification with Sanjar’s rule (Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam fī Taʾrīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk , ed. M. ‘A. ‘Aṭā (Beirut, 1412/1992), xviii, p. 17. See D.G. Tor, ‘The religious history of Rayy in the Seljuq period,’ Der Islam xciv (2017), forthcoming.
34.Ẓāhir al-Dīn Nīshāpūrī, Saljūqnāma, ed. A. H. Morton (Chippenham, 2004), p. 65; Mīrkhwānd, Tārīkh Rawḍat al-ṣafā (Tehran, 1339/1920f.), iv, p. 318.
35.Nīshāpūrī, Saljūqnāma, p. 65.
36.The level of destruction visited upon the eastern Islamic world at this time by Oghuz frenzy, while lamented in detail in the sources, has been largely ignored or discounted by modern researchers; vide e.g. R. W. Bulliet, Cotton, Climate, and Camels in Early Islamic Iran: A Moment in World History (New York, 2009); his chapter on the Seljuqs (pp. 96–126) does not cite any Seljuq primary source on the Oghuz destruction. C. E. Bosworth (‘The political and dynastic history of the Iranian world,’ p. 154), maintains, regarding the wholesale killing of the clerics: ‘Even so, the sources may well exaggerate the numbers of those killed,’ citing the figures named by Köymen and by later medieval Islamic sources. However, this position fails not only to give due weight to the virtually contemporaneous reports, which should be given more credence than those of later writers, but also to take into account the fact that for every famous named figure killed there were probably dozens, possibly hundreds, of lesser clerics similarly eliminated. Bulliet’s statistical table in Cotton, Climate and Camels (p. 139) of the geographical origin of religious scholars named in the biographical works is highly revealing in this respect: the decline in numbers hailing from anywhere in Iran (not just Khurāsān) between 1146 and 1196 is precipitous. Moreover, it is impossible to infer anything about the level of destruction at this time based upon substantially later descriptions of Khurāsānī towns: Yāqūt, for instance (Yāqūt, Mu‘jam al-Buldān, (Beirut, n. d.), v, pp. 112–17) describes Marw, which he visited in the year 1216f (see Claude Gilliot sv ‘Yāḳūt,’ EI2), as flourishing, but he of course had no basis of comparison and could not judge Marw of 1216 as compared to Marw of, say, 1140; and in any case one would expect some level of recovery sixty years later: the fact that Dresden and Hiroshima do not look like wastelands in the second decade of the twenty-first century does not mean that they were not such in 1945.
37.Mustawfī Qazwīnī, Tārīkh-i Guzīda, p. 452.
38.Ṣibt Ibn al-Jawzī, Mirʾāt al-Zamān fī ta’rīkh al-a‘yān, ed. K.S. al-Jubūrī (Beirut, 1434/2013), xiv, p. 29.
39.Muḥammad b. Muḥammad b. al-Niẓām al-Ḥusaynī al-Yazdī, al-‘Urāḍa fī l-ḥikāya al-Saljūqiyya (Baghdad, 1979), ii, pp. 106–7.
40.Nīshāpūrī, Saljūqnāma, p. 66.
41.Ibid, p. 63.
42.Mustawfī Qazwīnī, Tārīkh-i Guzīda, p. 452
43.Nīshāpūrī, Saljūqnāma, pp. 67–68; in greater detail, al-Yazdī, al-‘Urāḍa fī al-ḥikāya al-Saljūqiyya, ii, p. 112.
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