Saffarid dynasty

Last updated
Saffarid dynasty

صفاریان
861–1003
Saffarid dynasty 861-1003.png
Saffarid dynasty at its greatest extent under Ya'qub ibn al-Layth al-Saffar
Capital Zaranj, in what is now modern-day Afghanistan
Common languages Persian (mother tongue) [1] [2]
Religion
Sunni Islam
GovernmentMonarchy
Emir  
 861–879
Ya'qub bin Laith as-Saffar
 963–1002
Khalaf I
Historical era Medieval
 Established
861
 Disestablished
1003
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Tahirid Dynasty 821 - 873 (AD).png Tahirid dynasty
Abbasids850.png Abbasid Caliphate
Samanid dynasty
Ghaznavids

The Saffarid dynasty (Persian : سلسله صفاریان) was a Muslim Persianate [3] dynasty from Sistan that ruled over parts of eastern Iran, with its capital at Zaranj (a city now in southwestern Afghanistan). [4] [5] Khorasan, Afghanistan and Sistan from 861 to 1003. [6] The dynasty, of Persian origin, [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] was founded by Ya'qub bin Laith as-Saffar, 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 ayyar, who 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.

Persian language Western Iranian language

Persian, also known by its endonym Farsi, is one of the Western Iranian languages within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and some other regions which historically were Persianate societies and considered part of Greater Iran. It is written right to left in the Persian alphabet, a modified variant of the Arabic script, which itself evolved from the Aramaic alphabet.

Sistan historical and geographical region in present-day Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan

Sīstān, known in ancient times as Sakastan, is a historical and geographical region in present-day eastern Iran and southern Afghanistan.

Contents

The Saffarids used their capital Zaranj as a base for an aggressive expansion eastward and westward. They first invaded the areas south of the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan and then overthrew the Persian Tahirid dynasty, annexing Khorasan in 873. By the time of Ya'qub's death, he had conquered the Kabul Valley, Sindh, Tocharistan, Makran (Balochistan), Kerman, Fars, Khorasan, and nearly reached Baghdad but then suffered a defeat by the Abbasids. [6]

Zaranj Place in Nimruz Province, Afghanistan

Zaranj or Zarang is a city in southwestern Afghanistan, near the border with Iran, which has a population of 160,902 people as of 2015. It is the capital of Nimruz province and is linked by highways with Lashkar Gah to the east, Farah to the north and the Iranian city of Zabol to the west. Zaranj is a major border crossing between Afghanistan and Iran, which is of significant importance to the trade-route between Central Asia and South Asia with the Middle East.

Hindu Kush mountain range near Afghanistan and Pakistan border

The Hindu Kush, also known in Ancient Greek as the Caucasus Indicus or Paropamisadae, is an 800-kilometre-long (500 mi) mountain range that stretches near the Afghan-Pakistan border, from central Afghanistan to northern Pakistan. It forms the western section of the Hindu Kush Himalayan Region (HKH). It divides the valley of the Amu Darya to the north from the Indus River valley to the south.

Tahirid dynasty dynasty

The Tahirid dynasty was a dynasty, of Persian dihqan origin, that effectively ruled the Khorasan from 821 to 873 while other members of the dynasty served as military and security commanders for the city of Baghdad from 820 until 891. The dynasty was founded by Tahir ibn Husayn, a leading general in the service of the Abbasid caliph al-Ma'mun. Their capital in Khorasan was initially located at Merv but was later moved to Nishapur. The Tahirids have been described as the first independent Iranian dynasty after the fall of the Sassanian Empire. However, according Hugh Kennedy: "The Tahirids are sometimes considered as the first independent Iranian dynasty, but such a view is misleading. The arrangement was effectively a partnership between the Abbasids and the Tahirids." And instead, the Tahirids were loyal to the Abbasid caliphs and enjoyed considerable autonomy rather than being independent from the central authority. The tax revenue from Khorasan that was sent to the caliphal treasury was perhaps larger than those collected previously.

The Saffarid empire did not last long after Ya'qub's death. His brother and successor, Amr bin Laith, was defeated at the Battle of Balkh against Ismail Samani in 900. Amr bin Laith was forced to surrender most of his territories to the new rulers. The Saffarids were subsequently confined to their heartland of Sistan, with their role reduced to that of vassals of the Samanids and their successors.

The Battle of Balkh took place between the armies of the Samanid Empire under the command of Emir Isma'il ibn Ahmad and Saffarid forces under Emir Amr ibn al-Layth in 900. The Saffarid army was defeated by the Samanid forces, and Amr ibn al-Layth was captured.

Vassal person who has entered into a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe

A vassal is a person regarded as having a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch, in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe. The obligations often included military support by knights in exchange for certain privileges, usually including land held as a tenant or fief. The term is applied to similar arrangements in other feudal societies.

Founding

The dynasty began with Ya'qub ibn al-Layth al-Saffar (Ya'qub, son of Layth, the Coppersmith), a coppersmith who moved to the city of Zaranj. He left work to become an Ayyar and eventually got the power to act as an independent ruler. From his capital Zaranj he moved east into al-Rukhkhadj and Zamindawar followed by Zunbil and Kabul by 865. He then invaded Bamyan, Balkh, Badghis, and Ghor. In the name of Islam, he conquered these territories which were ruled mostly by Buddhist tribal chiefs. He took vast amounts of plunder and slaves from this campaign. [13] [14] Nancy Dupree in her book An Historical Guide to Afghanistan describes Yaqub's conquests as such:

Yaqub ibn al-Layth al-Saffar Founder of the Saffarid dynasty at Zaranj in what is now Afghanistan

Ya'qūb ibn al-Layth al-Saffār, or Ya'qūb-i Layth-i Saffārī, born Rādmān pūr-i Māhak, a Persian coppersmith, was the founder of the Saffarid dynasty of Sistan, with its capital at Zaranj. Under his military leadership he conquered much of the eastern portions of the Greater Persia consisting of modern-day Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan as well as portions of western Pakistan and a small part of Iraq. He was succeeded by his brother, Amr ibn al-Layth.

Zamindawar is an historical region of Afghanistan and Pakistan ,it is very large and fertile valley the main sources for irrigation is Helmand River and karizes Helmand borders the road that leads from Kandahar to Herat via Farah. It corresponds to the PakistanI region of Zhob. Zamindawar is located in the greater territory of northern Helmand and encompasses the approximate area of modern day Baghran, Musa Qala, Naw Zad, Kajaki and Sangin districts. It was a district of hills, and of wide, well populated, and fertile valleys watered by important tributaries of the Helmand. The principal town was Musa Qala, which stands on the banks of a river of the same name, about 60 m, north of Girishk.

Zunbils Hindu dynasty

Zunbil, also written as Zhunbil, was a royal dynasty south of the Hindu Kush in present southern Afghanistan region. They ruled from the early 7th century until the Saffarid conquest in 870 AD. The Zunbils are believed to be an offspring of the southern-Hephthalite rulers of Zabulistan. The dynasty was related to the Kabul Shahis of the northeast in Kabul. They are described as having Turkish troops in their service by Arabic sources like Tarikh al-Tabari and Tarikh-i Sistan.

Arab armies carrying the banner of Islam came out of the west to defeat the Sasanians in 642 and then they marched with confidence to the east. On the western periphery of the Afghan area the princes of Herat and Sistan gave way to rule by Arab governors but in the east, in the mountains, cities submitted only to rise in revolt and the hastily converted returned to their old beliefs once the armies passed. The harshness and avariciousness of Arab rule produced such unrest, however, that once the waning power of the Caliphate became apparent, native rulers once again established themselves independent. Among these Saffarids of Sistan shone briefly in the Afghan area. The fanatic founder of this dynasty, the coppersmith’s apprentice Yaqub ibn Layth Saffari, came forth from his capital at Zaranj in 870 and marched through Bost, Kandahar, Ghazni, Kabul, Bamyan, Balkh and Herat, conquering in the name of Islam. [15]

Afghanistan A landlocked south-central Asian country

Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in South and Central Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east; Iran in the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the north; and in the far northeast, China. Its territory covers 652,000 square kilometers (252,000 sq mi) and much of it is covered by the Hindu Kush mountain range, which experiences very cold winters. The north consists of fertile plains, whilst the south-west consists of deserts where temperatures can get very hot in summers. Kabul serves as the capital and its largest city.

Herat City in Afghanistan

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.

Caliphate Islamic form of government

A caliphate is an Islamic state under the leadership of an Islamic steward with the title of caliph, a person considered a religious successor to the Islamic prophet Muhammad and a leader of the entire ummah (community). Historically, the caliphates were polities based in Islam which developed into multi-ethnic trans-national empires. During the medieval period, three major caliphates succeeded each other: the Rashidun Caliphate (632–661), the Umayyad Caliphate (661–750) and the Abbasid Caliphate (750–1258). In the fourth major caliphate, the Ottoman Caliphate, the rulers of the Ottoman Empire claimed caliphal authority from 1517. During the history of Islam, a few other Muslim states, almost all hereditary monarchies, have claimed to be caliphates.

Nancy Dupree, 1971

The Tahirid city of Herat was captured in 870 and his campaign in the Badghis region led to the capture of Kharidjites which later formed the Djash al-Shurat contingent in his army. Ya'qub then turned his focus to the west and began attacks on Khorasan, Khuzestan, Kerman (Southeastern Iran) and Fars (southwestern Iran). [16] The Saffarids then seized Khuzestan (southwestern Iran) and parts of southern Iraq, and in 876 came close to overthrowing the Abbasids, whose army was able to turn them back only within a few days' march from Baghdad. These incursions, however, forced the Abbasid caliphate to recognize Ya'qub as governor of Sistan, Fars and Kerman, and Saffarids were even offered key posts in Baghdad. [17]

Badghis Province Province in Afghanistan

Bādghīs is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan, located in the northwest of the country next to Turkmenistan. It is counted as one of the most underdeveloped of the country's provinces. The capital is Qala i Naw, while the most populous city and district is Murghab. The ruins of the medieval city of Marw al-Rudh are located in the province near the modern city of Murghab.

Kerman City in Iran

Kerman is the capital city of Kerman Province, Iran. At the 2011 census, its population was 821,374, in 221,389 households, making it the 10th most populous city of Iran.

Fars Province Province in Region 2, Iran

Pars Province also known as Fars or Persia in the Greek sources in historical context, is one of the thirty-one provinces of Iran and known as the cultural capital of the country. It is in the south of the country, in Iran's Region 2, and its administrative center is Shiraz. It has an area of 122,400 km². In 2011, this province had a population of 4.6 million people, of which 67.6% were registered as urban dwellers (urban/suburbs), 32.1% villagers, and 0.3% nomad tribes. The etymology of the word Persian, found in many ancient names associated with Iran, is derived from the historical importance of this region. Fars Province is the original homeland of the Persian people.

In 901, Amr Saffari was defeated at the battle of Balkh by the Samanids, which reduced the Saffarid dynasty to a minor tributary in Sistan. [18]

In 1002, Mahmud of Ghazni invaded Sistan, dethroned Khalaf I and finally ended the Saffarid dynasty. [19]

Culture

The Saffarids gave great care to the Persian culture. Under their rule, the eastern Islamic world witnessed the emergence of prominent Persian poets such as Fayrouz Mashriqi, Abu Salik al-Jirjani, and Muhammad bin Wasif al-Sistani, who was a court poet. [20]

In the later 9th century, the Saffarids gave impetus to a renaissance of New Persian literature and culture. Following Ya'qub's conquest of Herat, some poets chose to celebrate his victory in Arabic, whereupon Ya'qub requested his secretary, Muhammad bin Wasif al-Sistani, to compose those verses in Persian. [21]

From silver mines in the Panjshir Valley, the Saffarids were able to mint silver coins. [22]

Rulers of the Saffarid dynasty

Part of a series on the
History of Afghanistan
Timeline
Associated Historical Regions
Titular NamePersonal NameReign
Independence from the Abbasid Caliphate.
Amir
أمیر
al-Saffar
coppersmith
الصفار
Ya'qub ibn Layth
یعقوب بن اللیث
861-879 CE
Amir
أمیر
Amr ibn al-Layth
عمرو بن اللیث
879-901 CE
Amir
أمیر
Abul-Hasan
أبو الحسن
Tahir ibn Muhammad ibn Amr
طاھر بن محمد بن عمرو
co-ruler Ya'qub ibn Muhammad ibn Amr
901-908 CE
Amir
أمیر
al-Layth ibn 'Ali
اللیث بن علي
908-910 CE
Amir
أمیر
Muhammad ibn 'Ali
محمد بن علي
910-911 CE
Amir
أمیر
Al-Mu'addal ibn 'Ali
المعضل ابن علي
911 CE
Amir
أمیر
Abu Hafs
ابو حفص
Amr ibn Ya'qub ibn Muhammad ibn Amr
عمرو بن یعقوب بن محمد بن عمرو
912-913 CE
Samanid occupation 913-922 CE.
Amir
أمیر
Abu Ja'far
ابو جعفر
Ahmed ibn Muhammad ibn Khalaf ibn Layth ibn 'Ali 922-963 CE
Amir
أمیر
Wali-ud-Daulah
ولي الدولة
Khalaf ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Khalaf ibn al-Layth ibn 'Ali 963-1002 CE
Conquered by Mahmud ibn Sebuktigin of the Ghaznavid Empire in 1002 CE.

See also

Related Research Articles

Muslim conquests of Afghanistan

The Muslim conquests of Afghanistan began during the Muslim conquest of Persia as the Arab Muslims were drawn eastwards to Khorasan, Sistan and Transoxiana. Fifteen years after the Battle of Nahāvand, they controlled all Sasanian domains except parts of Afghanistan and Makran. Nancy Dupree states that Arabs carrying the religion of Islam captured Herat and Sistan, but the eastern areas often revolted and converted back to their old faiths whenever the Arab armies withdrew. The harshness of the Arab rule caused the native dynasties to revolt after the Arab power weakened like the Saffarids. Fuller Islamization wasn't achieved until the period between 10th-12th century under Ghaznavid and Ghurid dynasty's rule who patronized Muslim religious institutions.

Samanid Empire

The Samanid Empire, also known as the Samanian Empire, Samanid dynasty, Samanid Emirate, or simply Samanids, was a Sunni Iranian empire, ruling 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.

Greater Khorasan historical region of Persia

Khorasan, sometimes called Greater Khorasan, is a historical region lying in northeast of Greater Persia, including part of Central Asia and Afghanistan. The name simply means "East, Orient" and loosely includes the territory of the Sasanian Empire north-east of Persia proper. Early Islamic usage often regarded everywhere east of so-called Jibal or what was subsequently termed 'Iraq Ajami', as being included in a vast and loosely-defined region of Khorasan, which might even extend to the Indus Valley and Sindh. During the Islamic period, Khorasan along with Persian Iraq were two important territories. 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.

Ibrahim ibn Ilyas was a Samanid ruler of Herat. He was the son of Ilyas.

Amr ibn al-Layth

Amr ibn al-Layth or Amr-i Laith Saffari was the second ruler of the Saffarid dynasty of Iran from 879 to 901. He was the son of a whitesmith and the younger brother of the dynasty's founder, Ya'qub ibn al-Layth al-Saffar.

Abu'l-Hasan Tahir ibn Muhammad ibn Amr was amir of the Saffarid amirate from 901 until 909. He was the son of Muhammad ibn Amr.

Al-Layth ibn Ali ibn al-Layth was amir of the Saffarid amirate from 909 until 910. He was the son of Ali ibn al-Layth and nephew of the first two Saffarid rulers, Ya'qub ibn al-Layth and Amr ibn al-Layth.

Abu Hafs ‘Amr ibn Ya'qub ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Amr was the Saffarid amir of Sistan for slightly over a year (912–913). He was the son of Ya'qub, the brother of Tahir ibn Muhammad ibn Amr.

Abu 'Abdallah Muhammad ibn Tahir ibn 'Abdallah was the last Tahirid governor of Khurasan, from 862 until 873.

The Battle of Dayr al-‘Aqul was fought on April 8, 876, between forces of the Saffarid amir Ya'qub ibn Laith and the Abbasid Caliphate. Taking place some 80 km southeast (downstream) of Baghdad, the battle ended in a decisive victory for the Abbasids, forcing Ya‘qub to halt his advance into Iraq.

Hindu and Buddhist heritage of Afghanistan

Before the Islamic conquest of Afghanistan communities of various religious and ethnic background lived in the land. South of the Hindu Kush was ruled by the Zunbil and Kabul Shahi rulers. When the Chinese travellers visited Afghanistan between 399 and 751 AD, they mentioned that Buddhism was practiced in different areas between the Amu Darya in the north and the Indus River in the south. The land was ruled by the Kushans followed by the Hephthalites during these visits. It is reported that the Hephthalites were fervent followers of the god Surya.

The term Iranian Intermezzo represents a period in history which saw the rise of various native Iranian Muslim dynasties in the Iranian plateau. This term is noteworthy since it was an interlude between the decline of Abbāsid Arab rule and power and the eventual emergence of the Seljuq Turks in the 11th century. The Iranian revival consisted of Iranian support based on Iranian territory and most significantly a revived Iranian national spirit and culture in an Islamic form.

Sajawand village in Logar Province, Afghanistan

Sajāwand is a village in Baraki Barak district, Logar province, Afghanistan.

Rāfi‘ ibn Harthama was a mercenary soldier who in the turmoils of the late 9th century became ruler of Khurasan from 882 to 892.

Laith, also romanized as Layth, is an Arabic and Scottish Gaelic name.

Amīr Sūrī was the king of the Ghurid dynasty from the 9th-century to the 10th-century. He was a descendant of the Ghurid king Amir Banji, whose rule was legitimized by the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid. Amir Suri is known to have fought the Saffarid ruler Ya'qub ibn al-Layth al-Saffar, who managed to conquer much of Khurasan except Ghur. Amir Suri was later succeeded by his son Muhammad ibn Suri. Although Amir Suri bore an Arabic title and his son had an Islamic name, they were both Buddhists and were considered pagans by the surrounding Muslim people, and it was only during the reign of Muhammad's son Abu Ali ibn Muhammad that the Ghurid dynasty became an Islamic dynasty.

Pushang, also known by its Arabicized form of Bushanj, Bushang, Pushanj, and Fūshanj, was the name of a town in Khorasan, close to Herat in present-day Afghanistan.

Muslim conquest of Khorasan was the last phase of the heavy war between the Rashidun caliphate against Sassanid Empire.

References

  1. "Persian Prose Literature." World Eras. 2002. HighBeam Research. (September 3, 2012);"Princes, although they were often tutored in Arabic and religious subjects, frequently did not feel as comfortable with the Arabic language and preferred literature in Persian, which was either their mother tongue—as in the case of dynasties such as the Saffarids (861–1003), Samanids (873–1005), and Buyids (945–1055)...".
  2. Robinson, Chase F. (2009). The new Cambridge history of Islam. Vol 1, Sixth to eleventh centuries (1. publ. ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. p. 345. ISBN   978-0-521-83823-8. The Tahirids had made scant use of Persian, though the Saffarids used it considerably more. But under the Samanids Persian emerged as a full "edged language of literature and (to a lesser extent) administration. Court patronage was extended to Persian poets, including the great Rudaki (d. c. 940). Meanwhile Arabic continued to be used abundantly, for administration and for scientific, theo logical and philosophical discourse.
  3. The Islamization of Central Asia in the Samanid era and the reshaping of the Muslim world, D.G. Tor, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 72, No. 2 (2009), 281;"The Saffārids were the first of the Persianate dynasties to arise from the remains of the politically moribund ʿAbbāsid caliphate".
  4. The Cambridge History of Iran, by Richard Nelson Frye, William Bayne Fisher, John Andrew Boyle (Cambridge University Press, 1975: ISBN   0-521-20093-8), pg. 121.
  5. The Encyclopedia of World History, ed. Peter N. Stearns and William Leonard Langer (Houghton Mifflin, 2001), 115.
  6. 1 2 Clifford Edmund Bosworth, Encyclopædia Iranica SAFFARIDS
  7. "First, the Saffarid amirs and maliks were rulers of Persian stock who for centuries championed the cause of the underdog against the might of the Abbasid caliphs." -- Savory, Roger M.. "The History of the Saffarids of Sistan and the Maliks of Nimruz (247/861 to 949/1542-3)." The Journal of the American Oriental Society. 1996
  8. "The provincial Persian Ya'kub, on the other hand, rejoiced in his plebeian origins, denounced the Abbasids as usurpers, and regarded both the caliphs and such governors from aristocratic Arab families as the Tahirids with contempt". -- Ya'kub b. al-Layth al Saffar, C.E. Bosworth, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. XI, p 255
  9. Saffarids: A Persian dynasty.....", Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature, Volume 2, edited by Julie Scott Meisami, Paul Starkey, p674
  10. "There were many local Persian dynasties, including the Tahirids, the Saffarids....", Middle East, Western Asia, and Northern Africa, by Ali Aldosari, p472.
  11. "Saffarid, the Coppersmith, the epithet of the founder of this Persian dynasty...", The Arabic Contributions to the English Language: An Historical Dictionary, by Garland Hampton Cannon, p288.
  12. "The Saffarids, the first Persian dynasty, to challenge the Abbasids...", Historical Dictionary of the Ismailis, by Farhad Daftary, p51.
  13. The Development of Persian Culture under the Early Ghaznavids, C.E. Bosworth, Iran, Vol. 6, (1968), 34.
  14. Saffarids, C.E. Bosworth, Encyclopedia of Islam, Vol. VIII, Ed. C.E.Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P.Heinrichs and G. Lecomte, (Brill, 1995), 795.
  15. Dupree, Nancy (1971) "Sites in Perspective (Chapter 3)" An Historical Guide To Afghanistan Afghan Tourist Organization, Kabul, OCLC 241390
  16. Saffarids, Encyclopedia of Islam, Vol. VIII, 795.
  17. Esposito, John L., The Oxford History of Islam (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 38.
  18. The Development of Persian Culture under the Early Ghaznavids, C.E. Bosworth, 34.
  19. C.E. Bosworth, The Ghaznavids 994-1040, (Edinburgh University Press, 1963), 89.
  20. The Ṭāhirids and Persian Literature, C. E. Bosworth, Iran, Vol. 7, (1969), 104.
  21. The Tahirids and the Saffarids, C.E.Bosworth, The Cambridge History of Iran: The period from the Arab Invasion to the Saljuqs, Vol. IV, Ed. R.N.Frye, (Cambridge University Press, 1999), 129.
  22. Pandjhir, Encyclopedia of Islam, Vol. VIII, 258.