Evolution of Islamic State in Persia: From Arab Rulers to Hybrid Systems

  June 22, 2021   Read time 2 min
Evolution of Islamic State in Persia: From Arab Rulers to Hybrid Systems
From the time of Nasr b. Ahmad to the end of the dynasty most of the energies of the Samanids were devoted to their western frontiers, for the rise of Shia dynasties in western Iran posed a threat to the Sunni Samanids.

The rise of the Buyids, and especially their conquest of Baghdad in 333/945, heightened the threat in the west. The amir in Bukhara was Nuh b. Nasr, who succeeded his father in 331/943. The new ruler was faced with a revolt in Khwarazm which was suppressed, and then with difficulties from Abu 'AH ChaghanI, mentioned above. Abu 'All refused to abdicate his post of governor of Khurasan in favour of Ibrahim b. Simjur, a Turk in the amir's service. Instead he joined an uncle of Nuh, Ibrahim b. Ahmad, and raised the standard of revolt. In 336/947 for a short time Ibrahim was recognized as ruler in Bukhara and Nuh had to flee to Samarqand. The populace of Bukhara, however, did not support the new amir, so Nuh returned and took revenge on his uncle and two brothers by blinding them. Even though Nuh succeeded in sacking Abu 'All's capital in Chaghaniyan, he was obliged to make peace in 948 and reinstated Abu 'Ali in the rule of Chaghaniyan. In 341/952, after the death of the interim governor of Khurasan, Mansiir b. Qara-Tegin (Ibrahim b. Slmjur having died earlier in 337/948), Abu 'Ali was reappointed governor of Khurasan and began a war against the Buyids. This struggle was instigated by the Ziyarids of Tabaristan who were enemies of the Buyids and allies of the Samanids. Abu 'Ali, though successful in the field, made a compromise with the Buyids in Ray which displeased Vushmgir the Ziyarid who complained in Bukhara that Abu 'Ali was making common cause with the enemy. As a result Abu 'All was again deposed from his governorship. Abu 'AH thereupon joined the Buyids and received, through their agency, a diploma from the 'Abbasid caliph Muti' for rule over Khurasan.

With the death of Nuh in 343/954 Abu 'Ali had seemed to be in a good position to establish his independent rule over Khurasan, but he too died and Samanid rule was re-established. The new governor Bakr b. Malik al-Farghani had been appointed by Nuh, but this Turkish officer, who had carved out a fief for himself at a place called Nasrabad in the Farghana valley (a symptom of developments in the Samanid state), was killed by the Turkish guard of the amir less than two years after assuming office. He was succeeded for a time by Muhammad b. Ibrahim Simjuri, while the vizier was Abu Ja'far 'Utbi, from the same prominent family which had produced an earlier vizier. It was clear, however, that the Turkish military establishment in Bukhara had taken control of the government, for 'Abd al-Malik, son and successor of Nuh, was incapable of acting without their agreement. The leader of the Turks was Alp-Tegin and he had himself appointed governor of Khurasan, at the same time securing the appointment as vizier of Muhammad b. Abu 'Ali Muhammad Bal'aml, son of the Barami who had been vizier under Amir Nasr. Unfortunately, the son was not as capable as his father and affairs continued to devolve into the hands of the Turks. The death of the Amir 'Abd al-Malik at the end of 350/961 did not change the picture.