Nizam al-Mulk

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Tell the Sultan, If you have not already realized that I am your co-equal in the work of ruling, then know that you have only attained to this power through my statesmanship and judgement. Does he not remember when his father was killed, and I assumed responsibility for the conduct of affairs and crushed the rebels who reared their heads, from his own family and from elsewhere. Tell him that the stability of that regal cap is bound up with this vizierial inkstand, and that the harmony of these two interests is the means of securing all objects soughts after and the ultimate cause of all objects gained. If ever I close up this inkstand, that royal power will topple. [21]


Aside from his extraordinary influence as vizier with full authority, he is also well known for systematically founding a number of schools of higher education in several cities like Baghdad, Isfahan, Amol, Nishapur, Mosul, Basra, and Herat, the famous Nizamiyyah schools, which were named after him. In many aspects, these schools turned out to be the predecessors and models of universities that were established in Europe.

Nizam al-Mulk is also widely known for his voluminous treatise on kingship titled Siyasatnama (Book of Government) which was written after Malik Shah had requested that his ministers produce books on government, administration and the troubles facing the nation. However, the treatise made by Nizam was the only one to receive approval and was consequently accepted as forming "the law of the constitution of the nation". [23] The treatise uses historical examples to discuss justice, effective rule, and the role of government in Islamic society, and has been compared to Machiavelli's The Prince . [11] The work also discusses various aspects of state surveillance and spying, advising rulers to establish an extensive espionage network. [24]

He also wrote a book titled Dastur al-Wuzarā, written for his son Abulfath Fakhr al-Malik, which is not dissimilar to the famous book of Qabus nama.


Artwork of Nizam's assassination, miniature from the Jami' al-tawarikh of Rashid al-Din Hamadani Assassination of Nizam al-Mulk.jpg
Artwork of Nizam's assassination, miniature from the Jami' al-tawarikh of Rashid al-Din Hamadani

Nizam al-Mulk was assassinated en route from Isfahan to Baghdad on 10 Ramadan 485 A.H. (14 October 1092) The mainstream literature says he was stabbed by the dagger of a member of the Assassins, sent by the notorious Hassan-i Sabbah near Nahavand, as he was being carried on his litter. The killer approached him disguised as a Sufi. [25] [26]

This account is particularly interesting in light of a possibly apocryphal story that first appeared in English in the introduction to Edward Fitzgerald's translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam . In this story a pact is formed between a young Nizam al-Mulk (at that time known as Abdul Khassem) and his two friends, Omar Khayyam and Hassan-i-Sabbah. Their agreement stated that if one should rise to prominence, that they would help the other two to do likewise. Nizam al-Mulk was the first to do this when he was appointed vizier to the sultan Alp Arslan. To fulfill the pact he offered both friends positions of rank within the court. Omar refused the offer, asking instead to be given the means to continue his studies indefinitely. This Nizam did, as well as building him an observatory. Although Hassan, unlike Omar, decided to accept the appointment offered to him, he was forced to flee after plotting to depose Nizam as vizier. Subsequently, Hassan came upon and conquered the fortress of Alamut, from where he established the Assassins. According to Bernard Lewis, this tale is unlikely to be true because Hassan-i Sabbah died in 1124, and Omar Khayyam in 1123 at the earliest. Since Nizam al-Mulk was born in 1020 at the latest, the three were not of similar ages and were probably not students together. [27]


Nizam al-Mulk was an excellent and clever vizier, he represented the majesty, splendor and hospitality of the Barmakids, historians and poets describe him as a great organizer and an ideal soldier and scholar. [28] Only thanks to him it was possible for the Seljuk Turks to establish a powerful empire in their new home. [29] Nizam was not only the leader of the Persian-dominated bureaucratic ( divan ), but was also an atabeg who served in the royal court (dadgar) and played an important role between the politically and culturally different Iranians and Turks. He was also responsible for establishing distinctly Persian forms of government and administration which would last for centuries. [30] Because of his excellent tutorship and close friendship with Malik-Shah, he was usually called "father" by him. [18] He was even greatly respected by his ghulams , who, after the death of Nizam, took revenge on several of his rivals, such as Taj al-Mulk Abu'l Ghana'im. [18]

Even after his death his family continued to play an important role in the Seljuk Empire. He was married to a niece or daughter of Bagrat IV of Georgia, who had previously been married or betrothed to Alp Arslan. [31] All of his twelve sons held important offices in the Seljuk Empire, the most prominent of his sons were: Ahmad ibn Nizam al-Mulk, served as the vizier of the Seljuk Sultan Muhammad I Tapar and the Abbasid caliph al-Mustarshid; [1] Shams al-Mulk Uthman was the governor of Merv and head of the Seljuk military; Fakhr al-Mulk served as the vizier of Barkiyaruq and Muhammad I Tapar; Jamal al-Mulk (who died before Nizam) served as the governor of Balkh; Izz al-Mulk and Mu'ayyid al-Mulk served as viziers of Barkiyaruq; [32] Imad al-Mulk Abu'l-Kasim served as the vizier of the Seljuk governor of Balkh.

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Nizam al-Mulk
Nizam Al-Mulk.png
Vizier of the Seljuk Empire
In office
29 November 1064 14 October 1092
Preceded by Vizier of the Great Seljuq Empire
29 November 1064 – October 14, 1092
Succeeded by