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Khorāsān (Middle Persian : Xwarāsān; Persian : خراسان, pronounced [xoɾɒːˈsɒːn] (
Khorasan comprised the present territories of northeastern Iran, parts of Afghanistan and much of Central Asia. The province was often subdivided into four quarters. Nishapur (present-day Iran), Marv (present-day Turkmenistan), Herat and Balkh (present-day Afghanistan) were the centers, respectively, of the westernmost, northernmost, southernmost, and easternmost quarters. 645 In the north, Khorasan stretched as far as the Oxus, and according to some descriptions, included Transoxiana (Bukhara and Samarqand in present-day Uzbekistan). Along the north it extended westward to the Caspian coast. Early Islamic usage often regarded everywhere east of so-called 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 Sindh modern day Pakistan. 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.:
Greater Khorasan is today sometimes used to distinguish the larger historical region from the modern Khorasan Province of Iran (1906–2004), which roughly encompassed the western half of the historical Greater Khorasan.
First established in the 6th-century as one of four administrative (military) divisions by the Sassanids,the scope of the region has varied considerably during its nearly 1,500-year history. Initially, the Khorasan division of the Sassanid empire covered the north-eastern military gains of the empire, at its height including cities such as Nishapur, Herat, Merv, Faryab, Talaqan (around modern Turkmenabat), Balkh, Bukhara, Badghis, Abiward, Gharjistan, Tus, Sarakhs and Gurgan.
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, Ghor, Rukhkhudh, Zabulistan and Kabul etc. to make up the Khwarasanmarches, a frontier region between Khwarasan and Hindustan which at the time would have been in a process of Islamization.
By the late Middle Ages, the term lost its administrative significance, in the west only being loosely applied among the Turko-Persian dysnasties 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 myth, 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.
The first movement against the Arab conquest was led by Abu Muslim Khorasani between 747 and 750. He helped the Abbasids come to power but was later killed by Al-Mansur, an Abbasid Caliph. The first independent kingdom 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). Some of these dynasties were not Persian by ethnicity. The periods of Turkic Ghaznavids and Turco-Mongol Timurids are considered as some of the most brilliant eras of Khorasan's history.[ citation needed ] During these periods, there was a great cultural awakening. Many famous poets, scientists and scholars lived in this area. Numerous valuable works in Persian literature were written.
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.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 thirteenth 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 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 parts of Afghanistan and Makran. 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 the third-largest city of Afghanistan. It has a population of about 436,300, and serves as the capital of Herat Province, situated in the fertile valley of the Hari River in the western part of the country. It is linked with Kandahar, Kabul, and Mazar-i-Sharif via Highway 1 or the ring road. It is further linked to the city of Mashhad in neighboring Iran through the border town of Islam Qala, and to Mary in Turkmenistan to the north through the border town of Torghundi.
Merv was a major Iranian city in Central Asia, on the historical Silk Road, located near today's Mary in Turkmenistan. Several cities have existed on this site, which is significant for the interchange of culture and politics at a site of major strategic value.
Khorasan, also called Traxiane during Hellenistic and Parthian times, was a province in north eastern Iran, but historically referred to a much larger area comprising the east and north-east 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. The province roughly encompassed the western half of the historical Greater Khorasan. The modern boundaries of the Iranian province of Khorasan were formally defined in the late nineteenth century and the province was divided into three separate administrative divisions in 2004.
Nishapur or Nishabur is a city in Khorasan Razavi 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 239,185 as of 2011 and its county 433,105. Nearby are the turquoise mines that have supplied the world with turquoise for at least two millennia.
The Saffarid dynasty was a Sunni Iranian dynasty from Sistan that ruled over parts of eastern 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.
Abu Mansur Sabuktigin, also spelled as Sabuktagin, Sabuktakin, Sebüktegin and Sebük Tigin, was the founder of the Ghaznavid dynasty, ruling from 367 A.H/977 A.D to 387 A.H/997A.D. In Turkic the name means beloved prince.
Tughril Beg was the Turkic founder of the Seljuk Empire, ruling from 1037 to 1063. Tughril united the Turkic warriors of the Great Eurasian Steppes into a confederacy of tribes, who traced their ancestry to a single ancestor named Seljuq, and led them in conquest of eastern Iran. He would later establish the Seljuq Sultanate after conquering Persia and retaking the Abbasid capital of Baghdad from the Buyid dynasty in 1055. Tughril relegated the Abbasid Caliphs to state figureheads and took command of the caliphate's armies in military offensives against the Byzantine Empire and the Fatimid Caliphate in an effort to expand his empire's borders and unite the Islamic world.
The Samanid Empire was a Sunni Iranian empire from 819 to 999. The empire was centered in Khorasan and Transoxiana during its existence; at its greatest extent, the empire encompassed all of today's Afghanistan, large parts of Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and parts of Kazakhstan and Pakistan.
The Muslim conquest of Persia, also known as the Arab invasion of Iran, led to the fall of the Sasanian Empire of Iran (Persia) in 651 and 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.
Khorasan-e Razavi Province is a province located in northeastern Iran. Mashhad is the center and capital of the province. Other cities are Quchan, Dargaz, Chenaran, Sarakhs, Fariman, Torbat-e Heydarieh, Torbat-e Jam, Taybad, Khaf, Roshtkhar, Kashmar, Rivash, Bardaskan, Nishapur, Sabzevar, Gonabad, Kalat. Khorasan-e Razavi 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.
The Ghurids or Ghorids were a dynasty of Iranian descent from the Ghor region of present-day central Afghanistan, but the exact ethnic origin is uncertain. The dynasty converted to Sunni Islam from Buddhism, after the conquest of Ghor by the Ghaznavid sultan Mahmud of Ghazni in 1011. The dynasty overthrew the Ghaznavid Empire in 1186 when Sultan Mu'izz ad-Din Muhammad of Ghor conquered the last Ghaznavid capital of Lahore.
Saman Khuda was an 8th-century Persian 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, the Caliphal governor of Khorasan, that he converted to Islam. He named his son Asad, allegedly in the governor's honor.
Alp-Tegin, was a Turkic slave commander of the Samanid Empire, who would later become the semi-independent governor of Ghazna from 962 until his death in 963.
Abdallah ibn Amir was a governor of Basra (647–656) and a notably successful military general during the reign of Rashidun Caliph Uthman ibn Affan. His father was a maternal uncle of Caliph Uthman, thus making Abdallah a cousin of Uthman. He is 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 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.
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 (Oxus River) 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.