Khorāsān (Middle Persian : Xwarāsān; Persian : خراسان [xoɾɒːˈsɒːn] ( listen )), sometimes called Greater Khorasan, is a historical eastern Iranian region. The name Khorāsān is Persian and means "where the sun arrives from" or "the Eastern Province". The name was first given to the eastern province of Persia during the Sasanian Empire and was used from the late Middle Ages in distinction to neighbouring Transoxiana. Greater Khorasan is today sometimes used to distinguish the larger historical region from the former Khorasan Province of Iran (1906–2004), which roughly encompassed the western half of the historical Greater Khorasan.
Khorasan comprised the present territories of northeastern Iran, parts of Afghanistan and southern parts of Central Asia. The province was often subdivided into four quarters, such that Nishapur (present-day Iran), Marv (present-day Turkmenistan), Herat and Balkh (present-day Afghanistan) were the centers, respectively, of the westernmost, northernmost, central, and easternmost quarters.In a strict sense of the term, Khorasan stretched as far as the Amu Darya (Oxus) river. However, the name has often been used in a loose sense to include a wider region that included most of Transoxiana (encompassing Bukhara and Samarqand in present-day Uzbekistan), extended westward to the Caspian coast and to the Dasht-e Kavir (Great Salt Desert), southward to Sistan, and eastward to the Pamir Mountains.
Khorasan was first established as an administrative division in the 6th century (approximately after 520) by the Sasanians, during the reign of Kavad I (r. 488–496, 498/9–531) or Khosrow I (r. 531–579), which comprised the eastern and northeastern part of the empire. Early Islamic usage often regarded everywhere east of Jibal or what was subsequently termed Iraq Ajami (Persian Iraq), as being included in a vast and loosely-defined region of Khorasan, which might even extend to the Indus Valley and the Pamir Mountains. The boundary between these two was the region surrounding the cities of Gurgan and Qumis. In particular, the Ghaznavids, Seljuqs and Timurids divided their empires into Iraqi and Khorasani regions. Khorasan is believed to have been bounded in the southwest by desert and the town of Tabas, known as "the Gate of Khorasan", : 562 from which it extended eastward to the mountains of central Afghanistan. Sources from the 10th century onwards refer to areas in the south of the Hindu Kush as the Khorasan Marches, forming a frontier region between Khorasan and Hindustan.
First established in the 6th century as one of four administrative (military) divisions by the Sasanian Empire,the scope of the region has varied considerably during its nearly 1,500-year history. Initially, the Khorasan division of the Sasanian Empire covered the northeastern military gains of the empire, at its height including cities such as Nishapur, Herat, Merv, Faryab, Taloqan, Balkh, Bukhara, Badghis, Abiward, Gharjistan, Tus and Sarakhs.
With the rise of the Umayyad Caliphate, the designation was inherited and likewise stretched as far as their military gains in the east, starting off with the military installations at Nishapur and Merv, slowly expanding eastwards into Tokharistan and Sogdia. Under the Caliphs, Khorasan was the name of one of the three political zones under their dominion (the other two being Eraq-e Arab "Arabic Iraq" and Eraq-e Ajam "Non-Arabic Iraq or Persian Iraq"). Under the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates, Khorasan was divided into four major sections or quarters (rub′), each section based on a single major city: Nishapur, Merv, Herat and Balkh.By the 10th century, Ibn Khordadbeh and the Hudud al-'Alam mentions what roughly encompasses the previous regions of Abarshahr, Tokharistan and Sogdia as Khwarasan proper. They further report the southern part of the Hindu Kush, i.e. the regions of Sistan, Rukhkhudh, Zabulistan and Kabul etc. to make up the Khorasanmarches, a frontier region between Khorasan and Hindustan.
By the late Middle Ages, the term lost its administrative significance, in the west only being loosely applied among the Turko-Persian dynasties of modern Iran to all its territories that lay east and north-east of the Dasht-e Kavir desert. It was therefore subjected to constant change, as the size of their empires changed. In the east, Khwarasan likewise became a term associated with the great urban centers of Central Asia. It is mentioned in the Memoirs of Babur that:
The people of Hindustān call every country beyond their own Khorasān, in the same manner as the Arabs term all except Arabia, Ajem. On the road between Hindustān and Khorasān, there are two great marts: the one Kābul, the other Kandahār. Caravans, from Ferghāna, Tūrkestān, Samarkand, Balkh, Bokhāra, Hissār, and Badakhshān, all resort to Kābul; while those from Khorasān repair to Kandahār. This country lies between Hindustān and Khorasān.
In modern times, the term has been source of great nostalgia and nationalism, especially amongst the Tajiks of Central Asia. Many Tajiks regard Khorasan as an integral part of their national identity, which has preserved an interest in the term, including its meaning and cultural significance, both in common discussion and academia, despite its falling out of political use in the region. According to Ghulam Mohammad Ghobar, Afghanistan's current Persian-speaking territories formed the major portion of Khorasān,as two of the four main capitals of Khorasān (Herat and Balkh) are now located in Afghanistan. Ghobar uses the terms "Proper Khorasan" and "Improper Khorasan" in his book to distinguish between the usage of Khorasān in its strict sense and its usage in a loose sense. According to him, Proper Khorasan contained regions lying between Balkh in the east, Merv in the north, Sistan in the south, Nishapur in the west and Herat, known as the Pearl of Khorasan, in the center. Improper Khorasan's boundaries extended to as far as Hazarajat and Kabul in the east, Baluchistan in the south, Transoxiana and Khwarezm in the north, and Damghan and Gorgan in the west.
Before the region fell to Alexander the Great in 330 BC, it was part of the Persian Achaemenid Empire and prior to that it was occupied by the Medes. The land that became known as Khorasan in geography of Eratosthenes was recognized as Ariana by Greeks at that time, which made up Greater Iran or the land where Zoroastrianism was the dominant religion. The southeastern region of Khorasan fell to the Kushan Empire in the 1st century AD. The Kushan rulers built a capital in modern-day Afghanistan at Bagram and are believed to have built the famous Buddhas of Bamiyan. Numerous Buddhist temples and buried cities have been found in Afghanistan. [ citation needed ]However, the region of Khorasan remained predominantly Zoroastrian but there were also Manichaeists, sun worshippers, Christians, Pagans, Shamanists, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus and others. One of the three great fire-temples of the Sassanids "Azar-burzin Mehr" is situated near Sabzevar in Iran. The boundary of the region began changing until the Kushans and Sassanids merged to form the Kushano-Sassanian civilization.
During the Sasanian era, likely in the reign of Khusrow I, Persia was divided into four regions (known as kust Middle Persian), Khwārvarān in the west, apāxtar in the north, nīmrūz in the south and Khurasan in the east. Since the Sasanian territories were more or less remained stable up to Islamic conquests, it can be concluded that Sasanian Khorasan was bordered to the south by Sistan and Kerman, to the west by the central deserts of modern Iran, and to the east by China and India.
In Sasanian era, Khurasan was further divided into four smaller regions, and each region was ruled by a marzban. These four regions were Nishapur, Marv, Herat and Balkh.
Khorasan in the east saw some conflict with the Hephthalites who became the new rulers in the area but the borders remained stable. Being the eastern parts of the Sassanids and further away from Arabia, Khorasan region was conquered after the remaining Persia. The last Sassanid king of Persia, Yazdgerd III, moved the throne to Khorasan following the Arab invasion in the western parts of the empire. After the assassination of the king, Khorasan was conquered by Arab Muslims in 647 AD. Like other provinces of Persia it became a province of the Umayyad Caliphate.[ citation needed ]
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The first movement against the Arab conquest was led by Abu Muslim Khorasani between 747 and 750. Originally from Isfahan, scholars believe Abu Muslim was probably Persian. It's possible he may have been born a slave. According to the Ancient Persian historian Al-Shahrastani, he was a Kaysanite. This revolutionary Shi'a movement rejected the three Caliphs that had preceded Ali.
Abu Muslim helped the Abbasids come to power but was later killed by Al-Mansur, an Abbasid Caliph. The first kingdom independent from Arab rule was established in Khorasan by Tahir Phoshanji in 821, but it seems that it was more a matter of political and territorial gain. Tahir had helped the Caliph subdue other nationalistic movements in other parts of Persia such as Maziar's movement in Tabaristan.
Other major independent dynasties who ruled over Khorasan were the Saffarids from Zaranj (861–1003), Samanids from Bukhara (875–999), Ghaznavids from Ghazni (963–1167), Seljuqs (1037–1194), Khwarezmids (1077–1231), Ghurids (1149–1212), and Timurids (1370–1506).[ citation needed ]
Between the early 16th and early 18th centuries, parts of Khorasan were contested between the Safavids and the Uzbeks.A part of the Khorasan region was conquered in 1722 by the Ghilji Pashtuns from Kandahar and became part of the Hotaki dynasty from 1722 to 1729. Nader Shah recaptured Khorasan in 1729 and chose Mashhad as the capital of Persia. Following his assassination in 1747, the eastern parts of Khorasan, including Herat was annexed with the Durrani Empire. Mashhad area was under control of Nader Shah's grandson Shahrukh Afshar until it was captured by the Qajar dynasty in 1796. In 1856, the Iranians, under the Qajar dynasty, briefly recaptured Herat; by the Treaty of Paris of 1857, signed between Iran and the British Empire to end the Anglo-Persian War, the Iranian troops withdrew from Herat. Later, in 1881, Iran relinquished its claims to a part of the northern areas of Khorasan to the Russian Empire, principally comprising Merv, by the Treaty of Akhal (also known as the Treaty of Akhal-Khorasan).
Khorasan has had a great cultural importance among other regions in Greater Iran. The literary New Persian language developed in Khorasan and Transoxiana and gradually supplanted the Parthian language. [ citation needed ]The New Persian literature arose and flourished in Khorasan and Transoxiana where the early Iranian dynasties such as Tahirids, Samanids, Saffirids and Ghaznavids (a Turco-Persian dynasty) were based. The early Persian poets such as Rudaki, Shahid Balkhi, Abu al-Abbas Marwazi, Abu Hafas Sughdi, and others were from Khorasan. Moreover, Ferdowsi and Rumi were also from Khorasan.
Until the devastating Mongol invasion of the 13th century, Khorasan remained the cultural capital of Persia. [ citation needed ]It has produced scientists such as Avicenna, Al-Farabi, Al-Biruni, Omar Khayyam, Al-Khwarizmi, Abu Ma'shar al-Balkhi (known as Albumasar or Albuxar in the west), Alfraganus, Abu Wafa, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, Sharaf al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī, and many others who are widely well known for their significant contributions in various domains such as mathematics, astronomy, medicine, physics, geography, and geology. Khorasan artisans contributed to the spread of technology and goods along the ancient trade routes have been traced to this ancient culture, including art objects, textiles and zoomorphic metalworks. Decorative antecedents of the famous "singing bowls" of Asia may have been invented in ancient Khorasan.
In Islamic theology, jurisprudence and philosophy, and in Hadith collection, many of the greatest Islamic scholars came from Khorasan, namely Imam Bukhari, Imam Muslim, Abu Dawood, Al-Tirmidhi, Al-Nasa'i, Al-Ghazali, Al-Juwayni, Abu Mansur Maturidi, Fakhruddin al-Razi, and others. Shaykh Tusi, a Shi'a scholar, the grandfather of Imam Abu Hanifa was from Khorasan and Al-Zamakhshari, the famous Mutazilite scholar, also lived in Khorasan.[ citation needed ]
The Muslim conquests of Afghanistan began during the Muslim conquest of Persia as the Arab Muslims migrated eastwards to Khorasan, Sistan and Transoxiana. 15 years after the Battle of Nahāvand, they controlled all Sasanian domains except southern and eastern Afghanistan. Fuller Islamization wasn't achieved until the period between 10th and 12th centuries under Ghaznavid and Ghurid dynasty's rule who patronized Muslim religious institutions.
Herāt is an oasis city and the third-largest city of Afghanistan. In 2020, it had an estimated population of 574,276, and serves as the capital of Herat Province, situated in the fertile valley of the Hari River in the western part of the country. An ancient civilization on the Silk Road between the Middle East, Central and South Asia, it serves as a regional hub in the country's west, and its historic Persian influences has given it the nickname as Afghanistan's Little Iran.
Merv, also known as the Merve Oasis, formerly known as Alexandria, Antiochia in Margiana and Marw al-Shāhijān, was a major Iranian city in Central Asia, on the historical Silk Road, near today's Mary, Turkmenistan. Human settlements on the site of Merv existed from the 3rd millennium BC until the 18th century AD. It changed hands repeatedly throughout history. Under the Achaemenid Empire, it was the centre of the satrapy of Margiana. It was subsequently ruled by the Ancient Macedonians, Parthians, Sasanians, Arabs, Ghaznavids, Seljuqs, Khwarazmians and Timurids among others.
Balkh, is a town in the Balkh Province of Afghanistan, about 20 km (12 mi) northwest of the provincial capital, Mazar-e Sharif, and some 74 km (46 mi) south of the Amu Darya river and the Uzbekistan border. Its population was recently estimated to be 138,594.
Khorasan, also called Traxiane during Hellenistic and Parthian times, was a province in northeastern Iran but historically referred to a much larger area, comprising the east and the northeast of the Persian Empire. The name Khorāsān is Persian and means "where the sun arrives from". The name was first given to the eastern province of Persia during the Sasanian Empire and was used from the late middle ages in distinction to neighbouring Transoxiana.
Nishapur or Nishabur is a city in Razavi Khorasan Province, capital of the Nishapur County and former capital of Khorasan Province, in northeastern Iran, situated in a fertile plain at the foot of the Binalud Mountains. It had an estimated population of 264,180 as of 2016 and its county 448,125. Nearby are the turquoise mines that have supplied the world with turquoise for at least two millennia.
The Saffarid dynasty was a Sunni Persian dynasty from Sistan that ruled over parts of Greater Iran, with its capital at Zaranj, from 861 to 1003. One of the first indigenous Persian dynasties to emerge after the Islamic conquest, the Saffarid dynasty was part of the Iranian Intermezzo. The dynasty's founder was Ya'qub bin Laith as-Saffar, who was born in 840 in a small town called Karnin (Qarnin), which was located east of Zaranj and west of Bost, in what is now Afghanistan. A native of Sistan and a local ayyār, Ya'qub worked as a coppersmith (ṣaffār) before becoming a warlord. He seized control of the Sistan region and began conquering most of Iran and Afghanistan, as well as parts of Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
The Samanid Empire was a Sunni Iranian empire from 819 to 999. The empire was centred in Khorasan and Transoxiana; at its greatest extent encompassing modern-day Afghanistan, huge parts of Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and parts of Kazakhstan and Pakistan.
The Muslim conquest of Persia, also known as the Arab conquest of Iran, was carried out by the Rashidun Caliphate from 633 to 654 AD and led to the fall of the Sassanid Empire as well as the eventual decline of the Zoroastrian religion.
North Khorasan Province is a province located in northeastern Iran. Bojnord is the capital of the province. The counties of North Khorasan Province are Shirvan County, Esfarayen County, Maneh and Samalqan County, Raz and Jargalan County, Jajarm County, Faruj County, and Garmeh County. North Khorasan is one of the three provinces that were created after the division of Khorasan in 2004. In 2014 it was placed in Region 5.
South Khorasan Province is a province located in eastern Iran. Birjand is the centre of the province. The other major cities are Ferdows, Tabas and Qaen. In 2014, it was placed in Region 5.
Razavi Khorasan Province is a province located in northeastern Iran. Mashhad is the center and capital of the province. Other cities are Quchan, Dargaz, Chenaran, Sarakhs, Shahr Jadid-e Golbahar, Fariman, Torbat-e Heydarieh, Torbat-e Jam, Salehabad, Taybad, Khaf, Roshtkhar, Kashmar, Rivash, Bardaskan, Nishapur, Sabzevar, Gonabad, Kalat. Razavi Khorasan is one of the three provinces that were created after the division of Khorasan Province in 2004. In 2014 it was placed in Region 5 with Mashhad as the location of the region's secretariat.
Saman Khuda was an 8th-century Iranian noble whose descendants later became rulers of Persia. He was a Dehqan from the village of Saman in Balkh province in present-day northern Afghanistan. In the early 8th century, he came to Merv, seat of the Caliphal governor of Khorasan, Asad ibn 'Abd Allah al-Qasri. Saman was originally a Zoroastrian. However, he was so impressed with the piety of Asad ibn 'Abd-Allah al-Qasri, that he converted to Islam. He named his son Asad, allegedly in the governor's honor.
The Battle of Nahavand, also spelled Nihavand or Nahawand, was fought in 642 between Arab Muslims under Umar and Sassanid armies. The battle is known to Muslims as the "Victory of Victories." The Sassanid King Yazdegerd III escaped to the Merv area, but was unable to raise another substantial army. It was a victory for the Rashidun Caliphate and the Persians consequently lost the surrounding cities including Spahan.
Abu Abd al-Rahman Abdallah ibn Amir ibn Kurayz was a Rashidun politician and general, serving as governor of Basra from 647 to 656 AD under the reign of Rashidun Caliph Uthman ibn Affan. He was a cousin of the Caliph through his father. He is most well known for his administrative and military prowess; his campaign of reconquest and pacification of former territories of the Persian Empire has left a legacy of Islamization in both Iran and Afghanistan.
The Siege of Herat was part of the Islamic conquest of Persia which was commanded by Ahnaf ibn Qais.
The Battle of Oxus River was a significant battle in the 7th century, fought between the combined armies of the Sassanid and Göktürk Empires against the Muslim Arab army that had overrun Persia. Following his defeat, the last Sassanid Emperor, Yazdegerd III, became a hunted fugitive who fled to Central Asia and then to China.
The history of Nishapur begins with the city's founding during the Sasanian dynasty ; the city is located in the eastern province of Khorasan and served as the seat of the governor and commander in chief of the province.
Muslim conquest of Khorasan was the last phase of the heavy war between the Rashidun caliphate against Sassanid Empire.
The (Great) Khurasan Road was the great trunk road connecting Mesopotamia to the Iranian Plateau and thence to Central Asia and China.
historical region and realm comprising a vast territory now lying in northeastern Iran, southern Turkmenistan, and northern Afghanistan. The historical region extended, along the north, from the Amu Darya westward to the Caspian Sea and, along the south, from the fringes of the central Iranian deserts eastward to the mountains of central Afghanistan. Arab geographers even spoke of its extending to the boundaries of India.
In the early centuries of Islam, Khurasan generally included all the Muslim provinces east of the Great Desert. In this larger sense, it included Transoxiana, Sijistan and Quhistan. Its Central Asian boundary was the Chinese desert and the Pamirs, while its Indian boundary lay along the Hindu Kush toward India.