P. 1
[Iraj Bashiri] the Samanids & the Revival of the Civilisation of Iranian Peoples_1998

[Iraj Bashiri] the Samanids & the Revival of the Civilisation of Iranian Peoples_1998

|Views: 182|Likes:
Published by Caesar Parsa

More info:

Published by: Caesar Parsa on Jul 04, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





The Samanids & the Revival of the Civilisation of Iranian Peoples

English version IRAJ BASHIRI 1998, Dushanbe

The outlined section is what is contained in this PDF document

The Samanids and the Revival of the Civilization of Iranian Peoples
(English version)



'7 C


11q 8

Written, Edited, Translated and Supervised by

Preface ix In Place of an Introduction xi Part I: Samanid Renaissance and Establishment of Tajik Identity
Arabs and Non-Arabs 3 Struggle for Independence 10 Samanid Achievements 16 Conclusion 28

Iraj Bashiri
Honorary Doctor, Tajikistan State University Professor, University of Minnesota, USA

Part II: Symposium Articles
Ne'matov, N. Sa'idmoradov, H. Ya'qubsha, U. Bashiri, I. Alimov, K. Isamatov, M. Davudov, D. Baimatov, L. Abdullaev, Sh. Kameli, A. Sultanzada, M. Qasimova, M. Hadizada, R. Nuraliev, U. Rajabzada, A. Maitdinova, G. Rahmatullaeva, S. Mulla-Ahmad, M. Nazirov, U. Ahrarl, Z. Shirmuhammadian.B. Rahmani, R. The Samanid State: A Unique Phenomenon of History 31 Social and Political Relations During the Samanid Era 40 The Doctrine of Self-consciousness 45 The Turk-Tajik Conflict: Ancient Roots 57 Theology and Mysticism During the Samanid Era 68 Formation of National Historiography 78 Numismatics and Cash Transactions 85 Formation of Tajik National Historiography 92 Religious Practices Under the Samanids 101 State of the Sciences in the Epoch of the Samanids 112 Books and Libraries of the Samanid Era 123 Formation of the Literary Language 128 Rudaki and the New Era of Persian Literature 140 Medicine and Medical Care Under the Samanids 149 Tradition Versus Innovation in Music 168 Apparel During the Samanid Era 174 The Peculiarities of Sarnanid Decorative Architecture 179 Humanitarian Issues in the Samanid State 185 The Invention of the Ruba'i at 194 Satire and Pleasantry in Samanid Prose Literature 204 Folklore in Samanid Civilization 213 Popular Stori.es About the Samanids 222

Symposium Articles Compiled by Askarali Rajabzada

This volume contains the results of the most recent studies on the political, philosophical, scientific, literary, and artistic achievements of the Samanid Era. The contributors, present-day scholars of the Republic, assess the contributions of their predecessors as they themselves stand on the threshold of a new age of independence. This bold initiative, it is hoped, will become a means for the further enrichment and growth of Tajik culture. Dushanbe, 1998

Part III: From the Manghits to a Democratic State
From the Manghits to the Soviets 235 The History of the Manghit Amirs of Bukhara I 243 The Vosse Uprising 255 The History of the Manghit Amirs of Bukhara II 266 Soviet Tajikistan 273 Simmering Issues 287 Conclusion 302

Bibliography 305 Index 317

I. Factors Contributing to the Revival
Two factors brought about the development and growth that resulted in the revival of the unique and powerful state of the Samanids. The first factor was related to the dispersion of the Tajiks across a vast area during the transitory rule of the Hephthalites and of the Western Turks (flftheighth centuries). The main aim of these governments was imposition and collection of taxes. The second factor was related to the destructive incursions of the military-cum-religious rule of the Arabs under the Umayyids and the Abbasids (seventh-eighth centuries). This destructive force had an agenda of its own which included social upheaval, an oppressive political system, economic plunder, and a new interpretation of the religion of Islam. Using this new dispensation, the Muslims then set about eliminating a linguistic, cultural, and spiritual milieu that was many times superior· to what they espoused. In addition, at that time the Tajik nation was still in its fonnative stage, uniting the peoples of the Bakhtar, the inhabitants of Ferghana, and the Sakas. It was this circumstance that, in time, evolved into a unique, international ideology buttressed by appropriate social, political, and spiritual dimensions. It should be borne in mind that this movement did not appear in a vacuum. A series of uprisings, including the rise of the Khawarij. he insurrection of Abu Muslim, the immense movement of the followers of al-Muqanna', the Sefidjamigan (white robes); all of these were part and parcel of the same evolving ideology. These movements enjoyed the support of a large spectrum of people, including the 'avam (public), Le., artists, peasants, and bazaaris,as well as the traditional ruling clerics, even the local rulers themselves. Secular and spiritual intellectuals, in cooperation, organized a very exact and steady program usually referred to as the Shu'ubiyyah. The thrust of their efforts was on focusing the divergent ideologies prevalent at the time on a sense of national consciousness. In other words, they wished to emphasize the greatness of the cultures of the conquered peoples-Iran, Khurasan, and Transoxiana-in comparison to the culture of the conquerors. That is why an effort was made to create the valuable works that benefit us today in the Arabic language. These works include research on history, sciences, and literature. It was the publication of these works that stimulated the Arab caliphs' interest in poetry, music, adab. linguistics, mathematics, astronomy, and other artistic and scientific endeav-

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


ors. The foundation of historical Tajikistan was established on these very cultural trends and political struggles, which included: 1) a return to selfgovernment; 2) completion of the formation of the Tajik people, which was, in reality, the author of this type of administration; and, 3) the completion of the trend resulting in the "Revival of the Tajiks."

II. The Structure of the State
The genealogy of the founder of the Samanid State relates him to the House of Sassan, either in relation to King Bahram Our (AD 420-438) or through the famous commander Bahram Chubin (fourth-ruth centuries), or through the Zoroastrian Magi, Arkak, Who lived in Ferghana for a while before moving to the village of Saman, near Tinnidh. There he was honored with the title of Khwata, a semi-temporal, semi-spiritual . office. The real roots of the Samanid State, however, must be sought in the annals of ancient Iran, in the myths of the Iranian people, to wit, YaIDa (Jamshid), Oushtasp, and the Kayaniyan Dynasty, i.e., kings like Kayqubad and Kaykhusrau. As far as a historical perspective is concerned, the Samanid State is a logical continuation of the rule of the Achaemenians, Parthians, and Sassanians. These were mighty empires with well-organized armies and good roads for facilitating governmental interaction and commercial relations. They were also superb centers for the promotion of native, in this case Iranian, culture, politics, and economy. The Samanid State not only continued the tested traditions of the Iranian kings but contributed to their completion by adding its own rules and regulations. It was natural for the Samanids to utilize the 1500-yearlong experience and knowledge of their predecessors in government, law, politics as well as in agriculture and urbanization to their own benefit. The Samanid State was a monarchy in the sense that it was headed by an all-powerful monarch aided by a grana.wazir (hajib-i buzurg). Indeed. it was a source of solace for the subjects of the empire that the latter position was filled by three of the most eminent wazirs of the time, i.e., Bal'ami, Jaihani, and 'Utbi. Not only were these three prominent houses great because they contributed to the well-being of the emirate and the wazirate. but also because at lower levels, they supported the efforts of the intellectuals, teachers, and artists. They were able to unify all the progressive forces of their era and focus them on the revival of the cultural and social values of an Iranian dynasty. Put differently, they were able to revive the customs and the values of the past and inculcate those ancient traditions among the princes, nobles. and peasants alike. It must be borne in mind that the Samanid State was established upon the following two principles: the court and the secretariat.

1) The dargah or the Court The dargah included the king and his retinue, governors, princes, nobles, and officers of the court. The highest rank in the structure was that of the sahab-i harasa or amir-i harasa. This person was in charge of all officials, including the chubdaran that carried out the bulk of the commands. The court also housed officials who dealt with the administration of the realm exclusively. The office of the vakil, the person who was in charge of all the king's functionaries, was one of the most important and worthy positions at the court. 2) The divan or the Secretariat This consisted of all the governmental offices including their branches and divisions. The administration of the secretariat and its branches was entrusted to the Prime Minister or the hajib-i buzurg. The hajib-i buzurg was appointed by the Amir himself from among the members of the three above-mentioned houses. All administrative offices dealing with political and governmental affairs fell within the purview of this office. The activities of the Samanid wazirs were very similar to the activities . of present-day European ambassadors. The following is a list of the ministries of the Samanid State:
• divan-i mustawfi. The official in charge was called the Treasurer • divan-i amid al-mulk dealt with the political affairs of state. This divan was also referred to as divan al-ras'il and divan al-insha' • divan-i sahib al-shurat administered the military affairs of the realm. The official in charge was Called sahib al-shurat • divan-i sahib barid. Administered governmental and local mail • divan-i muhtasib. Administered the affairs of the bazaar, especially with regard to prices, weights, and measures • divan-i mushrif. This office was in charge of government expenses • divan-i az-ziya or divan-i mamlakai khass. Supervised state land holdings • divan-i qazi. SuperVised matters that pertained to law • divan-i waqf. Oversaw the affairs of the endowments in the state

Isma'il Samani (874-907), Nasr Samani (914-943), and the prominent Prime Ministers of the Samanid Dynasty, i.e.• Abuabullah Muhammad Jaihani (914-918) and Abulfazl Muhammad Bal'ami (918-938) contributed immensely to the foundation and development of the Samanid State. In fact, in order to centralize the affairs of the State during the reign of Nasr Samani, ten separate buildings were built at the site of present-day Rigistan in Bukhara to house the various divans. Furthermore, this system became a blueprint for the administration of the other regions of the empire except for Khurasan which had its own administrative apparata. The chief administrator of this large and influential region was the commander in

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


chief of the military and civil affairs, i.e., the Amir. Called the Sipah Salar, he controlled the affairs of the entire empire from his court at Nishapur. It should be mentioned that the Islamic clerics also held very prominent positions in the administration of the State. The chief cleric was referred to variously as Shaykh al-Islam or Khatib. Employment to administrative positions, which entailed a high degree of education, required proficiency in language, literature, and the Shari'a or Islamic law. To sum up, with the assistance of the best and the most suitable type of government, i.e., monarchy-chancellery instituted by the Samanids, within a short time, historical Tajikistan was transfonned into a mighty superpower with a healthy economy, a burgeoning culture, and a progressive social system.! The establishment of the Samanid government as a superpower as well as the comfort and the security that allowed its subject peoples to fonn their progressive society are documented in the annals of the time. It is with the help of these sources that we know, for instance, that at the end of the tenth century, the necessary repairs on the buildings and the fortifications of the State were not undertaken. It should also be borne in mind that the Samanids followed the dictates of Isma'il Samani who said, "As long as I live, I shall serve as the defensive wall of Bukhara." He secured the country and, by so doing, freed the people from the burden of building defensive fortifications. They could now return to their fields and enjoy a prosperous life. The system of government used by the Samanids is explained in a comprehensive fashion by such contemporary historians as the tenth century Muhammad Narshakhi in his History of Bukhara. 2 An even more comprehensive account of the Samanid experience at government is provided by the eleventh-century politician and political scientist Nizam alMulk in his Siyasatnama. As the Prime Minister of the Seljuqs, Nizam alMulk examines every facet of government introduced by his Samanid predecessors. Indeed, the achievements of the Samanid State in the art of government, with certain modifications, have been used as a blueprint by many Central Asian, Middle Eastern, and Near Eastern governments. Even the Emirate of Bukhara benefited from the experience of the Samanids. 3

III. The Government and the City
Although fused in certain respects, the government and the city have enjoyed their own independent existence. In the ancient world as well as in Central Asia, they were recognized as the "city-state." In Central Asia, as late as the beginning of the Middle Ages, two variants of the system were in operation: 1) the "city-village" with an afshin or kadkhuda. In the larger Sughd region, of course, it was the ikhshid who held an elective office; 2) the "city-state." This type of government was used along the Silk Route, especially where the road crossed the path of the nomads, as well as in the valleys. The medieval cities of Central Asia took their present fonn against the backdrop of feudalistic victories and of Islamic expansion. The general and traditional situations of the ancient cities were retained so that the design and topography of medieval cities are still visible in present-day Central Asia. Nevertheless there are many noticeable changes. For example, the commercial and entertainment districts of the city were expanded. These included the bazaar complex, the houses belonging to artists, and some special districts. The development of these districts had reached an extent that they could no longer be accommodated within the ancient city limits. They were, therefore, included as additions to the old structures within the shahristan or province boundary. In essence, they fonned the nucleus for new suburbs. The cities of this era were comprised of three diVisions: kuhandiz, shahristan, and ribat or suburbia. Large cities like Bukhara, Samarqand" Khujand, Merv, Nishapur, Balkh, Herat, and others were considered the traditional cities of this region. There were also cities that consisted of two'; parts, i.e., governmental and commercial centers or shahristan and ribat.'. During the Samanid Era a series of new undivided towns were introduced. In these cities, the governmental and the commercial centers as well as the ; homes of the people from all levels of society were built in the same city complex. In time, however, all new city types were affected by change. lbis is true in particular in the case of religious structures such as the mosques and madrasahs. ! In this way, during the rulership of the Samanids, the theoretical and practical aspects of urbanization for that time, as well as subsequent centuries, were established. The following three divisions seem to have fencompassed the entire administration of the city; ra'is, muhtasab, qazi. The ra'is was in charge of law and order in the city. He was also responsible for the execution of the orders of the Amir, the wazir, and the secretariat. The muhtasib was in charge of the activities of the entertainers and of commercial enterprises. In other words, the amount and quality of goods, prices, weights and measures, among others, were within the
1 Be1enitskii, et al., 1973.

1 Ne'matov, 1977, 1989. 2 Narshakhi, 1954. 3 Semenov, 1948.

Samanid Civilization


Sarnanid Civilization


domain of the muhtasib. Spiritual and ethical concerns became the responsibility of the office of the qazi. The execution of the decrees of the Shari 'a, public morality, and issuance of sentences for all types of crimes were also within the jurisdiction of the qazi. In addition to judicial problems, the qazi was also involved in the resolution of difficult national and societal problems. . The interrelationship between the government and the city administration benefited both systems in terms of cultural and spiritual development. The cooperation resulted in the growth of agriculture and in the creation of an affinity between rural and urban centers 1 and, to a great degree, influenced the development of industry, architecture, urbanization, and the completion of certain art forros. 2 In sum, the government and the city devoted their total energies to the improvement of the country and advancement of its people.

IV. Tajik Renaissance
Research on the ethnographic theory regarding the Tajiks,3 the theory regardmg the formation of the new Central Asian society,4 and the expansion of that research to cover issues related to cultural studies allows us to conceptualize yet another theory: this one is related to the renaissance of the Tajiks, and for communicating which the word ihya (revival) is most appropriate. All the available documents point to the fact that the renaissance of the Tajiks must have taken place during the early centuries of the Middle Ages and ended with the fall of the Samanid State. Furthermore, it must be stated that the relationship between the history of the Tajiks and the history of the world as a whole is fairly succinctly clarified in the addendum to the second volume of the new edition of The History of the Tajiks. This study also clarifies the state of the development of the Tajik people during the centuries subsequent to the fall of the Sarnanid State. The present study, however, cannot undertake either a full discussion of the subject or a thorough criticism of the statements presented in that study. Instead, a very brief outline of the renaissance of the Tajiks is presented. The first requirement of the study, of course, is the establishment of a chronology of the Renaissance of the Tajiks. Many scholars, including the most conservative, place the period of the Renaissance between the ninth
1 Ne'matov, 1978, 1989. 2 Consider, for instance, the revolution in the production and distribution of ceramics, especially the production of large units, or the production of paper. See Ne'matov. 1977, pp. 77-81: 107-120: 144-165, as well as M. S. Bulatov, 1978. 3 Mandel'shtam. 4 Ne'rnatov.

and tenth centuries, a fact that underscores the renaissance of the Samanids as well. Due to the fact that this was, indeed, the period during which the Tajiks as a people became conscious of their own national identity, the expression "Tajik renaissance" becomes very appropriate. In addition, it is important to include the fact that the actual renaissance continued past the tenth and into the eleventh century. This is the century that enjoyed the results of the research of Ibn-i Sina in philosophy, medicine, exact sciences, and the humanities. At the same time, Abu Raihan al-Biruni contributed great advances in astronomy, geodesia, mineralogy, geography, and anthropology. Later on, Nizam al-Mulk contributed to our understanding of government and politics and Umar Khayyam in the exact sciences, philosophy, as well as in the heritage of the ancients and the humanities in general. That is why we can state without hesitation that the eleventh century, i. e., the era of Kliayyam, is the end of the era of the Renaissance of the Tajiks. UndOUbtedly, the early stages of the formation of the Revival of the Tajiks coincides with the period during which the forgotten and scattered cultural and spiritual values of the Iranians, especially the people of greater Khurasan, were reexamined and reassembled. This, of course, Js the glorious time when the Sassanid Empire ruled this entire region' (226651). The contribution of this era to the elevation of Iranian culture is best seen during the fifth and sixth centuries after Christ. The hallmarks of this period included the Pahlavi language that was the lingua franca of the Empire; the Zoroastrian religion and its supreme deity, Ahura Mazda; the Prophet of Ahura Mazda, Zoroaster, and the unique tenets of the faith outlined in the Avesta; and in advances in such areas as orthography, secular and spiritual knowledge, industry, architecture, and urbanization. In short, the Revival of the Tajiks encompasses a long beginning, early in the fifth century, and an end in the eleventh. This was a continuous period of development, except for the interruption incurred by the Arab invasion and the temporary introduction of the Islamic faith. The displacement of the religion by idolatry and Islam, however, should not deter us. The trend towards change continued intact. As early as the beginning of the eighth century, in larger cities like Samarqand, Bukhara, Merv, and Balkh, the temples of fire were replaced by mosques. The same trend, however, did not become prevalent in the capital of Ushrasana or in Panjekent until the ninth century. The Islamic architecture of the area, inclUding the bases of the first Islamic minarets, can be dated to the ninth and tenth centuries. In reality, the actual Islamization of the cities and villages of Khurasan and Transoxiana does not begin until the tenth century and thereafter. It is necessary, therefore, to emphasize that the trend for the revival of the Tajiks did not come to a halt between the eighth and the tenth centuries. This fact is attested to by the research of scholars like A. Abu Dulaf, B. A. Litvinskii, L. U. Mankovskaia, A. L. Khromov, M. A. Ruziev, A. K. Mirzaev, O. A. Sukhreva, and many others. All these

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


scholars attest that the secular and spiritual culture of the Tajiks continued undisturbed until it became a part of the Islamic culture of the region. The culture of the Tajiks is based on the cultures of its predecessors: the Sughdians, Bakhtarians, Marghians, Khwarazmians, Ferghanians, and the Sakas. These forerunners of the Tajiks, in turn, have adopted their culture from the agricultural peoples of the ancient world including the Sarazm, Geoksur, Anob, Namazgahteppe, Arghaim, Sapalli, Jarghutan, Dashtli, and others. These are the sedentary and nomadic peoples of the region during the late Bronze and early Iron Ages. These historical facts, based on the languages of the Iranian peoples, have shed new light on the events of a thousand years before and a thousand years after the birth of Christ. Such new civilizations as Sughd and Ushrasana, Bakhtar and Tukharistan, Marghian and Part, and Khwarazm and Ferghana, with their own social and cultural centers, were instrumental in the amalgamation of the powers of the Sassanians, Great Sughdians, Khwarzmian Mrighis, and the Ferghanians. This also included the confederate states of Tukharistan and the Hephthalites. It was the unification of these diverse trends, centered at the time in and around the greater Khurasan, that was focused on the creation of a great civilization that gave rise to the establishment of the Samanid State. During the eighth and ninth centuries, the usurpers of the Islamic caliphate and the representatives of the Islamic ule ma, recognizing the potential of the vast agricultural resources and the urban facilities of the region moved on to rule over Merv, Balkh, Samarqand, Bukhara, and Khujand. These foreign invaders intended to destroy the Zoroastrian and pagan religions of the peoples of the region. But, as is clear, they did not succeed in removing all the vestiges of the past. Only one social level, the affluent nobility, adopted the new Islamic ways. It remained for the centuries of rule by Samanids, Qarakhanids, and Seljuqs to place Islam on a solid foundation in the region. The values that gave rise to the call for the revival were those of the Sughdians, Tukharistanis, Khwarzmians, Ferghanians, and the Sakians. These are the forces that converged before they appeared as the main power behind the Samanid State. Thus, it is fair to say that the revival of the Tajiks spans a period between the rulership of the Sassanids to the end of the rule of the Samanids. In other words, it covers the period between the time of Borbad and the time of Umar Khayyam. It is a period that also introduced Muhammad Khwarazmi, Abunasr Farabi, Zakariyyah al-Razi, Rudaki, Ibn-i Sina, al-Biruni, Firdowsi, and many others, to the world. Neither did the renaissance of the Tajiks end after the period between the fifth to the eleventh centuries. The Tajik people continued on the path that had been set by their ancestors during the medieval period and continue on that same path at the present time. The strength of the Tajiks as a people is evident from the manner in which they have weathered the onslaughts of the hordes of Chingiz Khan, and the destructive army of Tarnerlane. The following are some of the achievements of the Tajiks:

• The formation of the Tajik people from the Sassanid Era to the Samanids • The formation and expansion of the Parsi-Dari-Tajiki language • The formation of the Tajik people's national government and the . foundation of a central state under the Samanids • The formation of Tajik civilization with global importance. This includes the formation of the theoretical and practical aspects of agriculture, commercial relations, urbanization, architecture, the arts, sciences, and the plastic arts. • The formation of public awareness of organized structures such as theological schools, and high schools. As part of this, mention must also be made of reorganization of education to reflect the progressive nature of society • Recognition as sacrosanct, and entering into legislation of the sanctity of Iranian political thought as it endeavored to create a just nation through democracy, humanism, and peace. This then is the revival that begins with the Aryan ancestors of the Tajiks and the Holy Avesta of the Prophet Zoroaster and proceeds to the Shahname of Firdowsi. In other from the organized state of the Sassanians, and its representative Borbad, to the valuable al-Qanun of Abu Ali Sina, the algebra and mathematical calculations of al-Khwarazmi, the poetry of Rudaki, Daqiqi, 'Unsuri, Khayyam, the Siyasatnama of Nizam al-Mulk, and many other such representatives that are now a part of the heritage of the East and West alike. At the present, standing on the threshold of the twenty-first century, the Tajiks have retrieved their cultural heritage. With the help of the archaeologists, what had been given up to history as lost has come to light again. A comprehensive account of this discovery appears in my Tajiks: A New Historical Conception. There, I have shown that although the ancient heritage of the Tajiks had been extensive, little of it remains in the hands of the Tajiks themselves. A good part of it is, legally or otherwise, scattered around the world. Wherever this magnificent heritage is kept, however, it will continue to be a source of joy and inspiration for the world.

N. N. Ne'matov


Samanid Civilization


One of the main features of the Samanid State (AD 875-999) was the considerable stability and growth of its economy. The best indicator of this prosperity is the revival of agriculture, which had been devastated by the continuous encroachment of nomadic tribes, and the expansion of commerce and commercial relations. For instance, Bukhara, the capital of the Samanids, had established commercial relations with many of the countries of that time. Goods and commodities from India, China, Russia, Kiev, Northern Urals, Byzantium, and the Near East were brought to Bukhara. Conversely, Bukhara exported not only precious stones but various types of manufactured goods. Further evidence lies in the fact that, even today, tangas! minted during the tenth century in Bukhara are being discovered allover the world. In addition, the ancient network of irrigation canals and the remnants of major cities that dot the landscape of Central Asia point to the existence of thriving communities that had lived there and enjoyed the rewards of a prosperous civilization. . The majority of scholars believe that the system of administration outlined above is the same as the goverrnnent that was developed by the Samanid State. One such researcher is Babajan Ghafurov who states, "The formation of the Tajik ethnic group went hand in hand with the development of govenunent in Transoxiana under the total control of the Samanids. Many of the traditional ways were reestablished, thanks to the new conditions afforded by a new, independent administration. Along with what was retrieved from the past, many new cultural and educational values were introduced... "2 The Samanid State was a medieval community with all the trappings of a feudalistic society. Not only its genesis and early growth but all the stages of its development, including peasant-landlord relations, can be traced to a feudalistic existence. As is evident, in that society, the collective production relations were at variance with the transformation and expansion of capitalistic production relations and with the forces that undertook the production process itself. In general, these relations evolved to what was later called social relations, or society. Besides, these relations created

a society that was placed at a particular juncture of historical development; in other words, it was a society with special specifications. The main source of income for the feudalistic state of the Samanids was what they could gain from oppressing the peasant by confming him to the land. In this country, too, as in all the other Muslim countries, the head of the govenunent, the Amir, was the supreme distributor of the land. Land and water were the principal means of production; they were placed at the disposal of the landless either by the Amic, or by high-ranking governmental officials of the feudalistic state. Among the factors that were of great importance in these calculations were the habits and customs summarized in the Islamic Shari'a which served as a protective shield, guarding the rights and privileges of .the ruling elite. According to the Shari'a, theoretically at least, all lands belonged to the Amir. Officially, therefore, all transactions on land were forbidden. Without a doubt, during the rule of the Samanids, the Shari'a played a prominent role in relation to the positioning of high-ranking officials in the administration, those who directly worked the land, the farmers. The mere consolidation of the land in the hand of the Amir, and his ability to assign the amount of tax he wished on those who worked on public land, created the most suitable ground for oppressing the working peoples of the villages. The rule regarding land transaction, like any other transaction, was not enforced at all. The land was divided according to the following categories that had been established in the early Middle Ages:
• davlati (amlaki). This was land that belonged to the government. • sahmi (amiri). This was land that belonged to the Amic. • waqfi (mulki). This was land administered as part of an endow-

ment.! Most of the land belonged to one of the three categories outlined above. The amount of land that could be called "private" was very small indeed. Some scholars, however, believe that the category referred to as sahmi amiri was, in reality, private and belonged to the head of the state. We believe that this kind of land classification, which uses ownership as a criterion, is inexact. It cannot reflect the true nature of land management in Central Asia and Kburasan during the rule of the Samanids. The reason for this is that the Samanid State did not have a system of land distribution. In addition, recent studies indicate that a good portion of the land referred to as davlati-amlaki was divided among feudal lords. These lords then involved the land in several other transactions until the deed was transformed to what was then known as hurr-i khalis. The documents of


1 Tanga is a Bukharan silver coin equivalent of fifteen to twenty kopeks. The kopek is 1/100 of the Russian monetary unit, the ruble (ed.). 2 Ghafurov, 1972, pp. 370 ff.

1 See Kariv, 1930, p. 19; also Ghafurov, 1955, p. 440.


Samanid Civilization



Samanid Civilization


the time, as well as the studies of N. A. Kisliakov and A. Majlisov,l indicate that the davlati-amlaki lands were routinely transferred and that this trend continued to privatize the land holdings in subsequent centuries. The process discussed above operated in one of three ways. The first involved the rehabilitation of unused, public land. This process entailed expenditure of labor on the part of the rehabilitator. The second involved the buying and selling of davlati lands by special arrangement. And the third involved gifting, i.e., a governmental official, the Amir in almost all cases, presented his high-ranking officials with a gift of land and water. Land transaction was one of the most prevalent types of transaction among the feudalists. This kind of transaction, according to most sources, comprised almost fifty percent of all transactions. The Amir, as the chief feudal landlord, supervised all land use. Through a chain of beks. amaldars, and am ins. all responsible to him personally, he divided the land among the peasants and collected taxes, rents, and the like. The amlaki lands were both a source of tax revenue and a means of giving gifts, a trend that had existed in Central Asia since the early Middle Ages. The amlaki lands were also used as payment for debts. In this situation it was no longer called amlaki but tankhah, another mechanism for transforming amlaki land into private ownership. The Amir, the supreme landholder in the country, was entitled to total control of the land. He could use it in any way that he wished. For instance, he could divide all the land among his high-ranking officials as a gift for their services. Similarly, he could give the land and water of a vil'lage to its inhabitants and allow them to pass it to posterity through the mechanism of inheritance priVileges. There was yet another way of apportioning the amlaki lands which included divisions and subdivisions of the land into fairly small portions. These small portions then were given to peasants who, using their labor, turned them into productive fields. The double standard and double use of the amlaki lands have become a bone of contention among Central Asian scholars regarding the types of land ownership prevalent in the region. One group of scholars believes that, in essence, the ownership of the means of production was not limited to the feudal lords but to powerful and centralized unions led by the person of the Amir. Another group of scholars believes that the amlaki lands were officially recognized as government property but that in reality all those lands had been treated as private lands owned by feudal lords. Similarly, in the Samanid State, the ownership of most of the land belonged to the Amir. The government could own only land that did not have a recognized owner, as well as land that was passed into the treasury, and land that was not under cultivation. These were lands that served as the source for creation of new private and endowment lands.
1 Kisliakov, 1962, p. 74; Majlisov. 1967, pp. 86-87.


The principal occupation of the population was agriculture. The Samanid State promoted agriculture at many levels. The basic type of agriculture in the state was irrigation agriculture based on artificial water or water procured by means other than the natural flow into the fields. The sources related to the time also report that both overland (juy) and undergroWld (kariz) methods of water procurement were employed by the state. Among the agricultural products and the volumes of production, food grains occupied a most important position. Furthermore, the sources are of the opinion that the center for the production of such food grains was the area of present-day Tajikistan. This point is confirmed in the writings of many of the scholars dealing with the economy and agriculture of the region. For instance, the leader of the Comprehensive Scientific Expedition of the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Tajikistan in the 1930s, Academic N. P. Gornunov, states that, "Tajikistan is the oldest land-tenure realm. It is the land which, before any attempt had been undertaken to document human activity in the region, possessed fertile lands and agriculture. The entire Near East, Europe, and to a great extent India and China utilized the experiences of the Tajiks in the development of the science of agriculture. As a result of this experience, they became familiar with new strains of grains, species of plants, and an overall improvement in the methods and modes of agricultural production... The land of the Tajiks has introduced a number of new methods in agriculture and new agricultural products; it has also improved the quality of products and brought a degree of excellence in the production of foodstuffs."! In agriculture, the highest value was assigned to the production of cotton. Cotton and goods made from cotton were exported from the Samanid State to the far-off points of the land. The cotton produced in the Ferghana Valley, the Zarafshan Valley, and Istarafshan was in great demand in the markets of the Near and Middle East. . The sources belonging to the ninth and tenth centuries, as well as the results of the investigations of present-day scholars, indicate that many of the main urban centers in Central Asia have been founded during the early Middle Ages, especially during the time of the Samanids. As a result of the establishment of a single, independent central administration, many aspects of society, including industry, especially metallurgy, glass works, and ceramics, were improved and expanded. The urban centers grew into complexes (shahristans) marked with special feudalistic features. They included, for instance, large commercial centers in which merchants could buy sell goods originating in various parts of the globe. It is important to pomt out that the large cities of that time were surrounded by certain "green zones." These zones included orchards, vineyards, and abchakari (vegetable gardens). Some of the produce from these orchards-grapes,
1 Tajiskaya SSR. 1984, p. 190.

Samanid Civilization



vegetables, and the like-were famous among the pOpulations of the neighboring lands. The cities of the Samanids were centers for commerce and cash transactions. The unifying thrust of the politics of the time, centralization of the government and expansion of the cities, all contributed immensely to the growth of the economic system and, in general, to the well-being of the state. Cities were transformed into major commercial centers; the commercial centers, in tum, were connected to a network of international commercial enterprises. The end result was a network of commercial urban centers that catered to the needs of a large population beyond the borders of any single given state. Different types of gold, silver, copper, and bronze tangas were used in the course of these transactions. The tangas were variously referred to as dirham-i musaiyavi. mUhammadi. ghitrifi. and the like. If anything at all, these societal aspects reflected the existence of an elevated level of wealth and cash money; they also indicated that the smaller kingdoms within the Samanid State enjoyed a great degree of autonomy. Regarding this, Babajan Ghafurov writes, "The special thing about the circulation of the dirham-i musaiyavi. muhammadi. and ghitrifi lies in the fact that even during the tenth century a largely centralized state, like the Samanid State, did not enjoy the existence of a unified market economy. The regional markets were extremely conscious of their own capabilities and identified these limits by issuing coins of their own. The government had no choice but to recognize these instinctive impulses and legislate laws that were compatible with these customs."l To summarize, the Samanids afforded the opportunity for a revival of all aspects of life, society, and culture not only for the Tajiks but for the Iranian peoples everywhere.

Self-consciousness rests at the base of the existence of a people or a nation. Peoples unaware of their own "self-worth have a rare chance of survival. Cultural, political, and economic processes unleashed by larger nations easily assimilate them. That is why self-consciousness is tantamount to self-protection, self-guarding, self-awareness and, in general, longevity for a people or' a nation. A nation that is conscious of its own values is indestructible. It is a nation on its way to achieving the highest degree of creativity and progress. The Jews and the Japanese are prime examples of such people. Self-consciousness is achievable through knowledge gained from a comparison of one's own history with those of others. Shah Nasir Khusrav had endured the tyranny of the Mongols but, because he was aware of his own history and' culture, the tyranny of the time only made him a more determined man against those who oppressed him and his people. The following is an example of his self-consciousness:
TypKOH 6a nemH Map,ltOH 3-HH nHm ,ltap XypOCOH. oy,ltaH,lt xopy 0ttH3 J\,aM4YH 3aHH capoH. I1Mpy3 mapM HOSl,lt 030,ltarOHpo (T0ttHKOHpO). Kap,ltaH 6a nHmH TypKOH nymT a3 TaMab ,ltyTOH?

H. Sa'idmuradov

In the past, in the presence of men, the Turks in Khurasan, Were puny and helpless, like women in a harem. Do not the free men (the Tajiks) feel ashamed today, Out of greed, to kowtow before the Turks? Self-consciousness has its roots in ethnic identity. When two people meet, they introduce themselves by stating their names. The designation of a people is indicative of its members' ethnicity, character, and mannerism. It is the aspect of a people's life that can elevate them or destroy them altogether. A second factor in self-consciousness is the language of the people. A high degree of self-consciousness not only insures the survival of the native language but protects and nourishes it. The very honor of a people is tied to its self-worth and self-awareness. A people that ignores Its self-consciousness and self-worth is likely to become a plaything in the of others. It will be tossed around until it crumbles. Such a people IS likely to lose everything, including its most precious asset, its language. The third factor involved in self-consciousness is culture. A person who is devoid of culture is also devoid of a sense of honor. Basically an


1 Ghafurov, 1972, p. 362.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid ClvilllalJ.


observer, such a person is likely to slavishly accept oppression against al-Shu'ara Bahar states: himself and his people.
£lac KJoI Ha.nopeM aMOH a3 MaHy Ty. HOMyey HaHr Ha.nopeM aMOH a3 MaHy Ty.

We are devoid of culture, woe betide you and I, We are devoid of honor, woe betide you and I. The fourth factor in self-consciousness is patriotism, a love for the land in which the individual is born and.for which he is ready to make


qYHJoIH ry<tlT My6a.n, KJoI " Myp.naH 6a HOM, a3 3Jo1H.na .nywMaH 6ap y WO.nKOM".


Thus said the mu'bad, "It is preferable to die in honor, Than to live and witness the enemy rejoice." The self-consciousness of the Tajiks was affected greatly by the takeo 'er of their land by the Arabs and the Mongols. As is well known, the T jiks are the only native Indo-Iranian people of Central Asia who have continuously populated this region. The other peoples of Central Asia include the Turkmens, the Kazakhs, the Uzbeks, and the Kyrgyz who entered this region as invaders during the Middle Ages. Our ancestors are the Aryans who, for many centuries, lived in this land and were identified with it throughout the world. Not only in this region, but in the Middle East and Asia Minor as well, the Aryans were recognized as a great and powetful people. Many large and small nations were assimilated into the great Aryan nation. The Farsi language was the language of all the Aryan people from the Mediterranean Sea to the of China. One of the reasons for the Aryan designation to fall into disuse was the introduction of narrower designations such as Mede, Achaemenian, Parthian, Kushanid, Bannakid, Tocharian, Saffarid, and Samanid. These, however, are designations that have been chosen by individuals, albeit kings. The inhabitants of the regions use geographic designations such as Fars, Kirrnani, Khuzistani, Khurasani, Sugbdi, Khwarazmi, and Bakhtari, to identify themselves. This was a natural development because the entire area was populated by Aryan people. It was logical, therefore, to use the place of one's birth as designator. This trend continues even today. Some people, however, confuse the geographic designation with ethnic and national identity. As a result we come across such erroneous designations as "Pamiri" as opposed to "a Tajik from the region of Pamir." When the Sughdians and the Sakas became acquainted with the Turks and the Chinese, they referred to themselves as Tajiks, their ancient name, i.e., Aryan, was no longer viable. During the fifth and sixth centuries, the Turks conquered the lands of the Sakas and the Sughdians in what are the

present-day republics of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan; they also captured Sichan, Kamghar, and Khutan and established their Khaqanate over all these lands. That is why in Mahmud Kashghari's Lughat-i Turk the Aryans are referred to by one of two designations, Tat and Tajik. The word "tat" means native, local, and bound to the land. The word "Tazhik"I"Tajik" is an ethnic designation referring to the people who spoke the Farsi language. Early in the seventh century, the Arabs captured Western Iran and called its people "Ajam." This new designation became widespread covering the region from the Persian Gulf all the way to China. The Aryans, too, accepted this designation and called themselves ''Ajami.'' The Arabs had been secret enemies of the Iranians for a long time. Apparently they had been told by their leaders that their misfortunes had been directly related to the high levels of taxation levied by the Iranians. As a result, the Arab invasion had, at the same time, been an invasion for retribution. And, as is well known, the Arabs conquered Iran with utmost ease. The real objective of the Arabs was not expansion of the Islamic religion. In fact, Islam served as a pretext. Their real reason for the invasion was the plunder and destruction of the Sassanid State. The perennial wars between the Sassanids and the Romans had ruined the country and divided it into many autonomous governmental entities. The governors of these regions were not as mindful of the central administration as one would expect. The Arabs did not fight Iran's standing anny, rather they fought with the forces that the provincial governors could gather on the spot. Only after they captured Ctesiphon and became the owners of its untold riches did the Arabs realize the extent of the might of the Iranian monarchs. They also understood that, although the Iranians had enjoyed a high degree of civilization and the fruits of a mighty military, they were no longer a united people; they could be easily overrun. The land of the Aryans was simultaneously invaded by the Arabs in the west and the Turks in the east. It should be added that the lands of eastern Iran would not have fallen into Turkish hands were it not for the policies of the Sassanids. It was as a result of those policies that the Turks could extend their Khaqanate all the way to the shores of the Amu River. In any event, the Arabs became the rulers of Aryan lands that stretched from the Mediterranean Sea all the way to the borders of China. The Arabs defeated the Sassanians in AD 637, captured and looted the capital of Ctesiphon, and killed its inhabitants. Ctesiphon had been the capital of the country for many centuries; it was the largest, most populated, and the most beautiful city of the time. In fact, the Arabs treated the entire land of Iran in the same manner. When they captured Samarqand in AD 712, the center of Eastern Iran, they treated it in the same way. The loot they took was about two million dirhams; they also took three thousand men as slaves.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


The Arabs' overlordship of the land and their unjust looting and murder of the population, angered the populace. The murder of women and children; rape; burning of temples of fire and of religious books; enslavement of Sassanian princes, nobles, - and di hqans .. as well as the Hephthalites, Sughdians, Khwarazmians, Tukharians, Istarafshanis, Sistanis, and Parsis infuriated the Aryan population and united them as Ajams. At the court of the caliphs, Aryans were humiliated. Often they were regarded as a people devoid of culture. In order to prove their superiority to the Arabs, the Ajams translated their Pahlavi materials into the Arabic language. The competition that grew out of this sense of superiority led to the development of a sense of self-consciousness and patriotic feeling in the Ajam. For instance, the ninth century Sughdian poet, Ishaq-i Sughdi, who wrote in Arabic, takes pride in his Ajam roots. He states that he is a man from the land of the Sughd with a fair skin bestowed upon him by his Ajam ancestors. The word "ajam. " however, meant non-Arab. Romans, , Armenians, Indians, and others were referred to as Ajams as well. This , word originated in Western Iran and was brought to Sughd, Bukhara, Khwarazm, Ferghana, Zabul, and Kabul at a later time. Because the word "ajam" was not an ethnic designator, words like "nobles" and "dihqans" were used in contrast to it. For instance Rudaki states:
Mati opa,l{ wapa<IJH Map,l{yMe na,l{H,l{, B030,l{a Ha)l(O,l{ a3 ,l{HpaM XapH,l{.

Finally, the statement of Nasir-i Khusrav:
,l{H,l{aMy 03My,l{aM, llIyHH,l{aM ry!llTaH T03HBY

While observing and experiencing the world, I heard the words of the Arabs and noble dihqans. The words "dihqan" and "azadagan" (nobles) are used in the sense of Aryan and Tajik. Using these words Rudaki, Firdowsi, Daqiqi, and Nasir-i Khusrav have elevated their own ethnic roots vis-a-vis the Turks and the Arabs. These words, however, do not express the entire ethnic content of the Aryan identity. To compensate for that, and for reasons of poetic rhyme, the word "Tajik" is and used. The term Tajik, therefore, is born out of the intense struggle of the Western Iranians with the Arabs and the eastern Iranians with the Turks. The Tajiks were never submissive to the Arabs. They had accepted Islam and gained a proper position for themselves. The Umayyids did not wish the Tajiks to rule alongside them. The Tajiks, therefore, engaged the Umayyids and replaced them with the Abbasids. The Abbasids, too, were not fair to the Tajiks. They killed Abu Muslim who had helped them wrest the caliphate from the Umayyids. That, of course, mobilized the Tajiks to rise against the Abbasids as well. The center of opposition to the Arabs was Khurasan and those who partook in the struggle were the people of Khurasan. Out of necessity, therefore, the Abbasids left the rulership of Khurasan to its own people. Khurasani rulers, however, were inVariably eliminated by the Abbasids.' Among those who became the victims of the caliphs' intrigue were Abu Muslim, Haidar, son of Ka'us, the king of Istarafshan, and Babak. Even the Barmacides and the Taherids, who contributed immensely to the wellbeing of the Abbasids, were not spared. The Tajiks were fully aware of the intrigues of the Abbasids. That is why Ya'qub Laith of Sistan made an effort to replace the Abbasid rule of the Arabs with Tajik rulership. It should be mentioned that the unfair policies of the Arabs in the land of the Tajiks (Iran) contributed to the selfconsciousness of Iranian scholars and politicians. Abu Muslim, Babak, MShin, Haidar, as well as the Taherids intended to reestablish the ancient rule of their forefathers. Their struggles, however, were put to naught by the caliphs whose spies kept them abreast of every move. In their literature, the Tajiks regard the Samanid Era as the beginning of their structured government. This is erroneous. The first central government that was distinct from the rule of the caliphs in the region was the Taherid Dynasty. The Taherids belonged to a major House the members of which had ruled over various parts of the then Tajikistan for many centuries. The founder of the Taherid Dynasty was Hassan ibn Taber. Bold as he was, during the reign of Ma'mun, Taher established the

Wine brings out dignity in man, Dignity that nobles purchase with money. And Daqiqi states:
MaH a3 nOK <lJap3aH,l{H 030,l{arOHaM, HarY<IJTaM, KH llIanyp 6HHH Ap,l{aWepaM.

I am from the seed of the pure race of free men, I did not claim descent from Shapur, son of Ardashir. Firdowsi says the following:
By3yproHy 60 ,l{OHHW 030,l{arOH, potiroH. HaBHWTaH,l{ SlKcap


The great ones and the noble ones, Entered their wishes in unison.

In relation to the term '''dihqan. "Firdowsi says the following:
3H rY<IJTopH BHnatlBaH,l{aM


Employing the words of the noble dihqan. I now compose a poem about the deeds of the ancients.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


rulership of his House in Khurasan. Included in Taber's possessions were most of present-day Central Asia, including Ferghana, Chach, Sughd, Istarafshan, Tukharistan, Zabulistan, Ray, Kabul, Khurasan, Hirat, Sistan, Kinnan, Kumiz, Tabaristan, Ruyan, Damavand, and more. In other words, the Taherid kingdom was much larger than that of the later Samanids. Taber was appointed to the rulership of Khurasan in AD 820. Two years later, he dropped the caliph's name from the khutba. After the Sassanids and the Hephthalites; in fact, subsequent to the expansion of Islam to the east, the Taherid Dynasty was the first Irani an-Tajik dynasty to revive Tajik rule in the region. Dropping the name of the caliph from the khutba required a high degree of Aryan self-consciousness and patriotism. Taber did that. The caliph's spies poisoned Taber and killed him, but the caliph did not dare send someone else in his place. Out of necessity, he appointed Taber's son, Hassan, as the governor of Khurasan. During the reign of Abdullah ibn Taher, Khurasan was absolutely independent from Baghdad. That is perhaps why the caliphs, through their network of spies, tried to poison and kill Abdullab as well. The anti-Tajik and anti-Iranian policies of the Arabs created a sense of resenunent; it also sowed the seed of an awakening and self-consciousness for the Tajiks. The Tajiks no longer wanted to remain under the suzerainty of the Arab caliphs. That is why in Khurasan the Taberids were replaced by the Saffarids. The founder of the Saffarid State, Ya'qub ibn Laith, joined the 'ayyar bands that fought for justice very early in his youth. The 'ayyars were organized groups of bold youth that sought to establish the rule of justice by helping the weak against the oppression of the mighty. Ya'qub rose against the Taberids to curb their oppression against the people of Sistan. Eventually he succeeded in overthrowing that dynasty and establishing a Tajik-Iranian dynasty in the Sistan region. The author of the Sistanname, Iraj Afshar, correctly indicates that, "The historical sources on Sistan do not provide any correct and reliable materials on the genealogy of Ya'qub. In fact, conversely, they provide some material that denigrates this brave and patriotic Iranian who fought for many years to restore his country's bygone glory."! In this article, we do not intend to discuss the history of Ya'qub. Suffice it to say that he was the patriotic ruler who wanted to overthrow Arab rule and reinstitute the ancient ways of his predecessors in his homeland. He was an Aryan noble and a mighty commander of his time. Ya'qub was a major source of distress and trembling at the court of the caliphs. When he was sick with a pain in his side, the caliph awarded him the rulership of the entire province of Fars. In response to the caliph's representative, Ya'qub said, "Tell the caliph that at the present I am ill. If I die, we both will be saved a confrontation. But if I live, only the sword will be able to negotiate the differences that divide us." It so happens that
1 Afshar, 1991, p. 278.

Ya'qub did not survive his illness (appendicitis). Even though he had become the sole ruler of the land of the Tajiks, he did not tum to debauchery; rather, he tried to renovate his motherland and return prosperity to his people. Ya'qub lived among his associates. He wore the same unifonn they wore, ate the same food, and used his saddle for his pillow. Once, when the caliph's representatives came to visit him, he was at his dasturkhan (tablecloth, on the floor, on which food is served). The dasturkhan contained a loaf of bread, a jar of water, and a few onions. He ruled for seven years and nine months. His kingdom included all of Khurasan, Sistan, Kabul, Sind, Hind, Fars, Kinnan, and Khuzistan. Even in Mecca and Medina, it is reported, the khutba was read in his name as the ruler of the entire Islamic world.! Ya'qub was a promoter of the Farsi-Dari language. He encouraged the poets and writers to write in the Farsi-Dari language rather than in Arabic. For instance, at a point, the poet Vasif Sakzi composed a poem in Arabic about the exploits of Ya'qub in battle. Ya'qub censured him by saying, "I don't know Arabic and I don't like the Arabic language. Why are you composing poetry for me in that language?" Vasif rewrote the verses in Dari and read: .
"311 aM"'pe, K'" aM"'poH", 1{aJ\0H xocy OM, BaH,llaBy 40Kapy MaBJIOBy Car5aH,lly FyJIOM."

o Amir! whose captives, slaves, and bondsmen, Are the kings of the world and the greats of the realm.
This couplet is one of the first Dari-Tajiki couplets ever composed. The king's criticism was not lost on the poets and authors residing at the court. In fact, it set a precedent at the court for the promotion of the Persian language and Iranian culture. Had not death destroyed the life of this patriotic and humanitarian Aryan ruler, his empire would have bordered on China and the Persian Gl,llf. In any case, the fact remains that two major dynasties rose against the rule of the caliphs: the Taberids and the Saffarids. Their bold moves could not have taken place were it not for the support of the people and for their ardent desire to rebuild the glory'of their ancient Aryan ancestors. The Samanid State, therefore, should be considered as a continuation of the efforts of the Taberids and the Saffarids. The appearance of these dynasties in eastern Aryan lands, the land of the Tajiks, is indicative of a new ethnic appellation, one chosen to decorate, as it were, the banner of protest against the Arabs and the Mongols that invaded this region in a later time. This is a struggle in which millions of our people had lost their homes and, at times, their lives. This was a time that the entire Aryan
1 Tarikh-i Sistan, 1974, p. 229.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


civilization and the honor of the Aryans was in danger of being eliminated. Were it not for the bold stance that our ancestors assumed, like the Egyptians, Palestinians, Assyrians, Algerians, and the many other people that speak Arabic, we too would be speakers of Arabic. It was because of the struggle of the Eastern Dari-Tajiki speakers of the land of the Aryans that the Persian language was safeguarded to serve our national needs today. The second indication of self-consciousness during the Samanid period was the development and employment of the Dari-Farsi language (Tajiki) and the Aryan culture. Sources reveal that the Arabs made a concerted effort to destroy the language of our ancestors, and obliterate the writing system with which the Avesta was written. They also executed all the experts who could reconstruct the Aryan heritage. In the process of imposing the Arabic language and Bedouin culture on the Aryans, many major temples' of fire and libraries were burned and countless educated people were killed. For instance, Umar ibn Khattab had ordered Sa'd ibn Waqqas to burn all the libraries in Fars.I Related to this SUbject, Abu Raihan al-Biruni writes, "Qutaiba ibn Muslim destroyed all the books in the Khwarazmi language and killed all the scholars so that one could not fmd even one educated person in the whole region." Before the Arab invasion, in Varzrud, many statues of Avestan gods and goddesses adorned the temples of fire. These statues were made of gold, silver, copper, stone, and wood. Many of them wore clothes and precious jewelry. From the fire temple of Sarnarqand alone, Qutaiba and his associates took 50,000 mesqals of gold. 2 The Arabs burned, or otherwise destroyed, everything in our heritage that had to do with the arts. In Bukhara,all residences were divided into two parts so that in every household an Arab family could be accommodated. The Sughdians were obliged to feed these families and see to their well-being. The Arabs, in tum, taught the Sughdians the Arabic language and the Islamic prayers. 3 But the people of Bukhara performed their first prayers not in Arabic but in the Dari language. Even today, in Tajikistan, the introductory words to the prayers are in the Tajiki language. In fact, the Tajiks have continuously used their language and, as was the case under the Sarnanids, have elevated it to the language of administration throughout the land. During the Samanids, the Farsi-Tajiki language displaced the Arabic language as the language of administration, science, and literature. At that time all transactions, official exchanges, and speeches were conducted in Tajiki. Daqiqi and later Firdowsi revived the Farsi-Tajiki language by composing their Shahnames in that language. Firdowsi's entire epic bespeaks

a strong sense of love for the Farsi-Tajiki language and for the Aryan homeland:
)(aMa MyJIKH 3pOH capOH MaH aCT, )(aMa HeKy 6allaw 6apoH MaH aCT.

My home is the land of Iran in its entirety, All the good and the evil therein are mine as well. Most present-day Tajiks, and Iranians, have lost this spirit of patriotism and love for their motherland. Not only that but, unfortunately, this lack of spirit has created divisions among us leading to bloodshed and self-destruction. Have we forgotten that the entire Shahname is devoted to patriotism, and the unification of the Iranian lands, and about guarding the motherland against the enemy? Firdowsi.says:
)(aMa cap 6a cap TaH 6a KywTaH ,lIH'\HM. A3 OH 6e", KH KHwBap 6a ,lIywMaH ,lIH'\HM.

To die one by one at the hand of the enemy, . Is preferable to giving up the country to them. Nasir-i Khusrav, one of the patriots and lovers of the culture of his time, says the following:
MaH OHaM, KH ,lIap not'! XyKOH Hape3aM, MapHH l\.HMaTH ,lIypH JIa<IJ3H ,lIapHpo.

I for one will never sprinkle, These lovely Dari pearls before the swine. Faithful to his words, all the works of Nasir-i Khusrav are written in his native Farsi-Tajiki language. Beginning with the Samanids, the FarsiTajiki language was adopted as the language of science, administration, and literature. Until Sarnanid times, scholars preferred to write their works in Arabic. But during the Samanids, and with their support, Tabari's major work was translated into Farsi-Tajiki. Also, following the directives of the Sarnanid rulers, Abu Mansur Mu'arnmari and a number of Zoroastrian mu 'bads wrote a prose Shah name based on the extant Pahlavi books. Even in subsequent centuries mlply scientific works dealing with history, philosophy, chemistry, medicine, and geography were written in FarsiTajiki. After the fall of the Samanid State to the Turks, the Farsi-Tajiki language continued to serve the state as an official language. In fact, this language remained the main language of government until the October Revolution when it was displaced by Uzbeki. One of the characteristics of self-consciousness is the possession of one's own national culture. The word "culture" encompasses a range of meanings; knowledge, understanding, science, and literature on the one hand, wisdom and humility, on the other hand.

1 Safa, 1988, p. 88. 2 Tabari, vol. 9, p. 5818. 3 Narshakhi, 1923, pp. 61 & 73-77.

Samanid Civilization
Xe't raH'tH HeCT a3 <papJ\aHr 6ex. To TaBOHI1, paB TyBy I1H raHtt HeJ\.


Samanid Civilization


Rudaki There is no treasure better than culture, Strive to depart, without taking this treasure with.
Ba <papJ\aHrl1eH ,l1eJ\ Mapo a3 HaxycT, qy oMyXTaM 3aH,l1y Y CTO ,l1ypycT.

Firdowsi Appoint me to the men of culture from the start, I have already mastered the Avesta and the ZlInd.
It is not our intention here to discuss the specifics of Tajik culture. We would like to emphasize, however, that the establishment of the Islamic culture of the Tajiks happened at this time. All aspects of culture, including . architecture, music, apparel, plastic arts, and literature were promoted within a special national framework. Here Islamic culture is developed in the context of the pre-Islamic culture that already existed and it was promoted by the Tajiks themselves. As for the Arabs, even for the administration of their own lands they had to adopt the Sassanian model. After the caliphs, with the help of Abu Muslim, assumed the rulership of the Islamic lands, they had no option but to choose the Tajiks for the rulership of their eastern lands. The houses of the Barmacides, Taherids, Saffarids, and Samanids were all among the prominent houses of preIslamic Iran. They were well known for their patriotism and love of the Aryan culture. It is related that when Abdullah Taher ascended the throne everyone hurried to congratulate him. One day, he asked if there were any individuals who had not come to meet with him. He was told that two religious figures had not. They were Ahmad Harb and Aslam Tusi. Those two, Taher was told, avoid the presence of kings. Abdullah Taher said, in that case, he would go and visit them. "Then he rode and went to Ahmad Harb. Someone ran to Harb's and announced the arrival of Abdullah Taher. Ahmad did not have enough time to escape. Taher arrived in his house. Upon Abdullah's arrival, Ahmad stood up and, crestfallen, stood a long time before Taher. Taher, too, did not sit down. Finally, Ahmad rose his head and said, "Taher's son. I had heard that you were benevolent and handsome. But now that I see you in person I fmd that they have not done you justice. I hope that you will not tum the wonderful visage that I see into a cauldron of fire. I admit that I have been wrong to disobey you." Abdullah left Ahmad's house, crying. Abdullah Taher was a good administrator and an exceUent commander. He contributed a great deal to the welfare of the land of the Tajiks. His reforms of the land tenure system, water distribution, and taxes contributed immensely to the growth of science and culture as well as agriculture and

the arts. Being a cultured man himself, Abdullah listened carefully to Ahmad's words about patience and, endeavoring to better his peoples' lives, acted accordingly. TraditionaUy, from early childhood princes were taught administration, chivalry, and etiquette. For instance, we know that Nasr ibn Ahmad advised Nub, his son who later became one of the major rulers of the Samanid Dynasty saying, "Son. If you wish to hold to the land that we have acquired with great difficulty, do not put your trust in the treasury. Wealth is unstable by nature. Neither put your trust in the army as the military man easily changes his mind. Rather, put your trust in generosity and humility, virtues that bring the people to your aid."l From the preceding discussion we can easily deduce that the Samanid rulers were not only cultured but just kings. For instance, the Saffarid 'Amr Laith, incited by the caliph, in:vaded Transoxiana but was defeated by the neWly invested Isma'il Samanid. Isma'il, rather than punishing 'Amr, praised him profusely and made him the commander of his army. 'Amr responded in kind. He stated that he had not lost the land as it is God's land and could not have placed it in a hand better than Isma'il's. Having said that, he passed the key to the treasury of the Saffarids to Isma'il to employ its riches for the common good. Ismai'l, even though he was a new king with an empty treasury, did not accept 'Amr Laith's gift. Returning the key, he chastised the Saffarids for giving up their traditional trade of the coppersmith and for corruption. "Were it not for extortion," he asked, "would you have any treasures to bestow on me?"2 The great Arab geographer, AI-Muqaddasi, who had traveled exten-l sively allover the Islamic world, sums up his impressions of the land of the Samanids in the following, "Khurasan is a most splendid land. It has , contributed the largest number of prominent figures and scholars to the ) world of Islam. Khurasan is the mine of hospitality, the dome of science, a most steadfast column, and the fortress of Islam. Khurasan's excellent warriors, its cavalry and infantry alike, are brave, wise, rich, and victorious. The land of the Samanids is endowed with affluent hamlets, prosperous villages, numerous orchards, deep-flowing rivers, abundance par eX:J ceUence, and a just government." The libraries of the Samanids contained books dealing with the history of the world, in the various languages of the world of that time. The court itself was a forum in which poets and<scholars from the East and the West I participated in discussions related to aspects of the sciences and the arts. \ The Samanid government attempted to cleanse Farsi-Tajiki from Arabic, \ and the Aryan culture from the influences of the Turks and the Arabs. It is/ a tribute to the strength of the language and the culture established by the 1



1 Kasbefi, 1991, p. 176. 2 Cf., Nizam al-Mulk, 1989, p. 23.

Sarnanid Civilization


Samanids that we are able to enjoy the Aryan heritage that continues to amaze us. Another characteristic of self-consciousness is recognition of the borders of one's homeland and to guard those borders from infringement by foreigners to the culture. The land of the Aryans of the past was vast. It stretched from the border of China to the Persian Gulf and from the slopes of the Ural mountains to India. Unable to guard these borders, over the centuries, much of it has passed into foreign hands. At the time of the formation of the Tajik people, our land included Chimkent (Isfanjab), Jambul (Sairam), present-day Kyrgyzstan (Haftrud), Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Today, from the wealthy land of Transoxiana-Fararud or Varzarud---Qnly a small portion remains in our possession. This is not to mention the lands in present-day Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Iraq that were integral parts of our homeland. This loss would not have occurred if we had guarded our land against foreign invaders. Four Turkic states sprung from the division of the Samanid State. They were the Qarakhanid, Ghaznavid. Khwarazmian, and Seljuq states. The Seljuqs overran all the western lands of the Tajiks as well as Asia Minor. Devoid of culture and administrative skills, the Turks took over our administrative offices and our cultural heritage as well. As for us, subjected to the perennial invasions of the Turko-Mongols, we lowered our standards, worked with them and became part of them. In the process we lost our heritage and forgot who we actually were. Adhering to an Islamic heritage, we accepted foreign rule and made the Turks and the Arabs our own landlords. In the process we lost our selfconsciousness, distinction, and honor. That is also why, on the eve of the October Revolution. instead of the establishment of a Tajikistan, we established Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Taking advantage of our lack of selfconsciousness, our enemies led us to self-destruction. Even though we know that today population is a major factor in ascription of greatness to a people, guided by foreign hands, we are destroying our own people with our own hands. While we should know that population is a major factor. During the days of our greatness, we contributed to world civilization such greats as Ibn-Sina, Firdowsi, al-Biruni, al-Farabi, Rudaki, Rumi, Sa'di, and Hafiz. Today, when we are reduced to the smallest entity in Central Asia, we don't have even a poet whose poetry would please us. It is time for the Fars-Tajik people to return to their days of glory. Only then the wars among the Iranians, Kurds, Afghans, and Tajiks would cease and we all will reach unity under the guidance of the same motherland and the same cultural heritage.

The conflict between the present-day Uzbeks and their neighboring Tajiks has a long and multi-faceted history. On the one hand, it is related to their ancient history, when the Turks, arriving in Central Asia from the confines of Mongolia, overthrew Iranian rule, including Tajik rule. On the other hand, it is related to the resilience of the Tajik culture and the ability of the Tajiks to retain their authority in spite of the might of the Turkish sultans and amirs. In fact, there are many occasions during which one Turkish group has used the scholarly capability and administrative knowhow of the Tajiks against another Turkish group for political purposes. Such manipulation of an ethnic group is bound to create hostility and, eventually, conflict. A good example of this is Amir Nasrullah's use of the Tajiks to limit the abilities of the Uzbek chieftains in the Manghit administration. Similarly, as explained elsewhere in this volume, the Soviets used the Uzbeks to both overthrow the Manghits and deprive the Tajiks, the allies of the Manghits, from their rightful access to political, social, and economic resources of the USSR. In recent times, especially after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Turks have revived the idea of Pan-Turkism, at least to the point of denying the Tajiks their identity. In this regard, Afrasiyab from the epic of Firdowsi, is often cited as the eponymous ancestor of the Turks. This claim presents several difficulties. To begin with, both in ancient Iranian texts and in the Shahname, Afrasiyab is a mythical character. He is not the real-world king that, for instance, al-Tabari would want us to believe. Secondly, within the myth, he is a Turanian. With the assistance of the concept of the jarr, 1 it will be shown below, that the Turanians of the Shahname are of Iranian ancestry. Thirdly, drawing on the Orkhon inscriptions and life on the steppe, it will be shown that the Turanians of the Shahname do not even resemble the real (oz) Turks of Central Asia.

U. Ya'qubshah
1 For an explanation ofJarr, see further below.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


The Ancient Worldview
Briefly explained, ancient Iranians distinguished the world in which cosmic beings existed from a legendary world in which figures larger than life, figures like Hoshyang,l Takhmorup, Vim, Tusa, and others, lived. This latter, intermediary, world was further distinguished from the world of historical personages like Zoroaster, Darius I the Great, and Alexander III the Great. The Shahname is a medieval retelling of the events in these worlds in light of ancient Iranians' record of their own cosmology, mythology, and history. The cosmic or ideal world, which serves as a blueprint for the legendary world, is guided in its actions by the will of Ahura Mazda. In that ideal setting, Mazda created the sky, the waters, the earth, the plants, the sacred bull, and the first man. He also created Truth to combat Evil and to aid the kingdom of Good. Mazda's creation is not an indeterminate continuum in time and space. Rather, the Mazdians believed the world to have begun with Mazda's creation of the /arahvashis (primary elements of life) and that it would end with the renovation of the universe twelve millennia later when the son of Zoroaster, Saoshyant, appears. 2 The time between the creation of the farahvashis and the renovation is devoted to the conflict between the forces of Good and the legions of Evil. It is decreed, however, that Good will be the ultimate victor. The pivotal concept in the grand scheme of Mazda for the progress and well-being of His creation is the Khvarnah, a weapon that is forged by Mazda and bestowed on select individuals. 3 The Khvarnah cannot be seized by force. The powers of the Khvarnah are many. For instance, it serves the kavis (heroes) as a "window" to the cosmic world and the events that had transpired therein. And it serves them as a means of accessing the will of the Creator to bring about similar events on other planes. It even enables them to foretell events and change the course of future events before they result in calamity. According to the Zamyad Yasht, itself regarded as a synopsis of the Shahname, the kingly glory was made in the cosmic realm. Later on, it was bestowed on the first man, Gayomart, who passed it on to
1 In the first part of this paper, all the ancient names, terms, and titles are presented as they appear in the Ii terature today. 2 With regard to the creation of the world, a detailed chronology is available in West's translation of the Pahlavi Texts. See Milller, vol. XLVII, Pahlavi Texts, Part V, pp. xxviii-xxxi. For a discussion of the substance and role of the jarahvashi, see Zaehner, 1975, pp. 146-148. See also Boyce, pp. 126-128. For a discussion of the Saoshiant, see Zaehner, pp. 58-59. See also Boyce, pp. 234-5. 3 For a discussion of the role of the farr, or Khvarimah. in relation to man's wellbeing, see Zaehner, 1975, pp. 150-153.

Takhmorup.l From Takhmorup the Khvarnah was passed to Hoshyang and Vim. By so doing, these descendants of Gayomart were made impervious to the ruses of Evil, alternately appearing as Azhi Dhaka and Frangrasyan the Turanian. Of these glorious figures, Vim failed to satisfy the requirements of the Khvarnah. The Khvarnah, thus abandoned him and became available for attainment by other heroes. Mithra, Thraetaona, and Kereasp successively captured the kingly glory and used its power to combat Evil. Thraetaona, for instance, used the Khvarnah to overcome Azhi Dhaka and put an end to the long reign of the dragon-king. Again, according to the zamyad Yasht, Thraetaona divided his kingdom among his three sons: Salm, Tur, and Iraj. Tur, the eldest son, after he became the Lord of Turan, conspired with his greedy brother Salm, and together they slew Iraj. This reprehensible act cost the brothers their Khvarnah; their kingdoms were relegated to Evil. The death of Tur at the hand of Manuchihr, a descendant of Iraj, opened the way to hostilities between Iran and Turan. Frangrasyan, the Evil Turanian, invaded Iran with the intention of dispossessing the weak Kavi Usa of his Khvarnah. His strategy, however, was not effective. Rather than being captured, Kavi Usa's Khvarnah infiltrated Turan in the person of Siyavosh, son of Kavi Usa who had, forced by circumstances, defected to Turan. Aided by the kingly glory, Siyavosh built the glorious Gangdezh in the heart of the evil Dragon. By the time Frangrasyan was made aware of the danger threatening his throne from Gangdezh, Good had already gained a strong foothold in Turan. The subsequent arrest and murder of Siyavosh did not change the outcome. Kaykhusrau, Siyavosh's son, defeated and slew Frangrasyan, unified Iran and Turan, and brought about the Age of Renovation, i.e., the advent of the Prophet ZOroaster.

Firdowsi's View
The ancient legend of the kings of Persia was available to Sassanian kings, mu'bads, and nobles before the Arab invasion. After the Arab conquest, a new, Arabized version, of this legend took form and gradually became standardized. This version w)1ich appears in al-Tabari's Tarikh alRusul w-al-Muluk. interprets the Iranffuran ideological struggles for legitimacy as a series of territorial battles between the Iranians and the Turks (not Turanians) on the banks of the Oxus. The Khvarnah, the main bone of contention for legitimacy, must be inferred: "The Persians," Tabari informs, "claim that rule will belong to the clan from which Awshhanj, Jam, and Tahmuras came."2 He further explains that Kabi (the Persian Kaveh)
1 For 7Amyad Yasht, see Darmesteter, 1972. pp. 286-309. 2 al- Tabari, 1980, vol. II, p. 6.

Samanid Civilization



Samanid Civilization



chose not to assume the kingship of Iran in spite of the general consensus that he should, "because he was not of royal lineage" .1 But al-Tabari relates neither Frangrasyan, whom he calls Frasiyat the Turk,2 or Piran, whom he refers to as "Firan b. Wisaghan, a Turk of great standing"3 to their Turanian background. In the case of Frangrasyan, this is a serious shortcoming as the Turanian king is di vested of his Iranian bonds. After all, he is of the seed of Thraetaona, but is dispossessed of the kingly glory. Tabari's Tarikh not only simplifies the ancient story tremendously, but it deprives the account of its main conceptual frame, i.e., the Khvarnah which decides the ultimate fate of the contending nations. Daqiqi (d. circa 978), recognizing the role of the Khvarnah in the ancient legends, revived the term as thefarr. 4 And Firdowsi madefarr the fulcrum of his epic so that in the Shahname two contending kingdoms emerge. Iran is endowed with the farr and has a blessed army. Turan is divested of thefarr and is in contention for it with the aid of an army comprised of infidel Turks. The Turks are a subject nation with no governmental and command structure of their own. This view is implicit in Faridun's 5 division of his kingdom and in the subsequent murder of Iraj byTur:
llHrap Typpo ,llO,ll TypOH 3aMHH, BHpO Kap,ll COJlOpH TypKoHy l.lHH. 6


After the murder of Iraj this is how matters stood. Iran had all the necessary trappings for rulership. It had the farr and a standing army composed of Iranians. Turan, on the other hand, had the potential for the farr, but lacked the farr itself. It also lacked a standing army composed of Turanians. Turan's army was composed of the contingent brought by Tur and of indigenous Turks. As for the Turks, they had neither the farr nor the potential for the farr. They constituted a faceless force referred to 319 times in the epic merely as turkan (the Turks). Figure 1 illustrates this relationship:
potential for
farr farr

own army

Iran Turan Turks

+ +






Figure 1

He then gave Tur the land of Turan, And made him the overlord of the Turks and the Chin. Tur moves to Turan accompanied by an Iranian contingent. When he arrives in Turan, he is a legitimate king invested with the farr. His army, too, is blessed. Tur's nature changes gradually after he mingles with the infidel Turks. As a result of this increasing involvement with Evil, he conspires with his greedy brother, Salm, murders king Iraj, and, finally, places himself at the service of the Dragon. He is then ready to destroy the kingdom of Good. The identity of Tur and of Turanians like Frangrasyan, therefore, must be determined in the context of the farr.


1 al-Tabari, 1980, vol. II, p. 7. 2 al-Tabari, 1980, vol. IV. p. 8. 3 al-Tabari, 1980, vol. IV, p. 3. 4 farr is derived from the Middle Persian khvar which itself is based on the ancient form Khvamah. For further detail, see Yarshater, 1983. pp. 325. 345-6. 371-2. 414-66 passim. See also Boyce, 1975, p. 151. 5 It should be mentioned that Firdowsi introduces a number of changes in the ancient materials. For instance, rather than the ancient names. he uses standardized "new" names such as Faridun, Tur. and Afrasiyab. 6 See, for instance, the Shahnameh. Moscow edition. vol. I, p. 90.

As a symbol of legitimacy, farr is used 451 times in the epic. It is not used merely to attach divine right to kings, but to create a blessed order, a hierarchy. For instance, thefarr is used 41 times to bless the Creator; 180 times to bless kingship; 50 times to bless princesses and princes; and 38 times to bless Iranian champions. Even non-Iranian kings, like Alexander the Great, prophets like Jesus, and philosophers like Aristotle-those with legitimate right to their status-are blessed. The farr even reaches the animal kingdom (Rakhsh), and the birds (Simurgh). This pyramid of light, topped by Mazda and peopled hierarchically by the blessed, is juxtaposed with a similar pyramid of darkness topped by the dreaded evil Dragon and peopled by the legions of darkness. Tur, Afrasiyab (same as Frangrasyan), Piran and the Khaqan of China control the upper echelon of this deadly pyramid, the main frame of which is made up of the faceless Turks mentioned. above. As can be seen, the arrival of Tur aRd his contingent does not change the nature of Turan. Conversely, Turan affects Tur. The first 10 times that Tur is mentioned in the epic, he is mentioned as an auspicious king. Then for some 70 times he is mentioned as the progenitor of Evil (dam- i AzlJdaha or the breath of the dragon). Tur also brought the farr and rulership to Turan. In time, in the eyes of the Iranians, he lost his farr, but not so in the eyes of his descendants. Afrasiyab claims to have the farr; Piran, Afrasiyab's commander in chief,

Samanid Civilization


Sarnanid Civilization


and Garsivaz, Afrasiyab's brother and coooselor, both recognize Afrasiyab as a king with thefarr. 1 Firdowsi uses thefarr as a criterion to distinguish the Turanian minority in government and the upper echelon of Turanian military from the Turkish majority. He does so by a) referring to the Turks in the plural (lurkan); b) refraining from the overt use of the terms Turanian and Turanians-the latter is used only 9 times in the entire epiC, the former even less; and c) consistently using the highly-context-sensitive ezafe construction to identify the government and the upper levels of the Turanian military: shah-i turkan; salar-i turkan; sepahdar-i turkan; gurdan-i turkan, and the like. Outside of the context of the farr, of course, these constructions would be translated as Turkish king, Turkish commander, Turkish champion. Thefarr, however, transforms Turk to Tur. Only the Turanians had claim to divine right and, thereby, to rulership and command. National identity, too, becomes a prerogative of the Turanians. Figure 2 illustrates how Firdowsi, by using the ezafe construction, creates a logical balance between Iranian command and Turanianffurk command structures:
shah-i salar-i buzurgan-i sepahdar-j namdaran-i gurdan-i savaran-i

Similarly, Tus refers to Farud, Kaykhusrau's son from Piran's daughter, as a raven of a Turk. 1 These prominent Iranians degrade their counterparts who do not carry the farr to the level of infidel subjects. The greater use of the singular, however, is when the bard himself refers to Turkish champions, maids, servants, and sorcerers.2 As the above analysis shows, Firdowsi's Turanians and Turks must be understood in the Iranian context from which they emerge. The epic's Turanians should by no means be confused with the real (oz) Turks, Le., nomadic peoples in whose life the horse, the yurt, and the prairie played a central role. The name, the solid color, and the age of the horse do not matter to the Turanians 3 of the epic in the same vein that they mattered to the balirs of Central Asia; they do not constitute the very character of the individua1. 4 The Iranians' horse might be endowed with special powers, such as Siyavosh's steed was, but that, as mentioned, is an aspect of the farr. This development entered the Turkish epic genre in later Islamic times when diildUl and baychobar became model horses. 5

Turanians and Turks
The cosmological doctrines and the material culture of the ancient Turks set them apart from their Iranian neighbors; the two peoples' world views distinguish them even more. According to the Orkhon inscriptions,6

Iran Turan 1'uJkan

1I8 26 35

6 8 9

28 2 2

20 10 17

12 1

24 5 2

12 4 9


1 See, the Shahnameh. Moscow edition, vol. IV, p. 48, especially the following:

Figure 2 The use of the term Turk (singular) is thought provoking. Unlike the plural form Turkan, Turk is used 116 times to express different concepts and peoples. And, in most cases, the usage is subject to interpretation according to the farr: Those who carry the farr, Iranian kings and princes, for instance, use the term Turk to degrade and mock those who do not, the upstart Turanians, for example. That is why Kayka'us calls the Turanian Afrasiyab's family "a bOOCh of Turks" ignorant of their own genealogy.2
1 See, for instance, the Shahnameh. Moscow edition, vol. V, pp. 305; 345; 373. 2 For further detail, see the Shahnameh. Moscow edition, vol. III, p. 62, especially . I the following: bisad turk-i bichareh va bad nizhad, ki nam-i pidarshan nadarand biyad. A hundred destitute, ignoble Turks, With no recollection of their own parentage.

yeki turk zadih cho zagh-i siyah, barin gunih bigrift rah-i sipah. That the offspring of a Turk, like a black raven, Should block the way of this host. 2 An explanation of the image of the Turk in the epic would entail more room than this article permits. 3 We do not know whether they mattered to the Turks; the Turks, due to their lack of farr, are not discussed in any detail in the epic. 4 See SUmer, 1972, passim. "Choose your horse, I will tell what kind of a man you are." See also Paksoy, 1989, p. 66. See especially Hallo, 1977, pp. 13-15. 5 For baychobar (Alpamysh's horse) and dUldU[ (Ali's horse), see Paksoy, 1989, p. 104. 6 The Orkhon inscriptions, the oldest known Turkish steles, were found on two occasions, in 1712 and then again in 1889. The 1712 set was found in Siberia on the Yensei River while the 1889 set was discovered on the Orkhon River in Mongolia. Both sets of runes were deciphered in 1892 by Vilhelm Thomsen, a Danish professor. See also Hostler, 1993, p. 7.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


the ancient Turks believed in the existence of three worlds: the abode of Tengri (the uppenuost level), the abode of Umai, the goddess of fertility, whose abode also accommodated the deities of earth and water (the middle level), and the abode of Erlik-Khan, the ruler of the Underworld (the lowermost level). Born of the sky and the earth, man's fate, spiritually as well as materially, was tied to the elements. The inscriptions describe this eternal relationship in the following terms:
When the slcy above was blue and the earth below was dark, the son of man appeared between them. 1

The ancient history of the Turks also set them apart from the Iranians. Again, from the Orkhon inscriptions, we understand that, as early as the sixth century, the Turks had occupied a vast region of the ancient world, stretching from the Wall of China to the Balkans and from Siberia to present-day Afghanistan. 2 These Turkish tribes lived in separate tribal formations as vassals of A-na-kuei, their Mongol-Juan-juan, to be precise-overlord. In AD 552, the Turkish warrior Bumin defeated A-na, kuei and unified the Turks of the Altai. Essentially, he became the Khaqan of all the Turks. 3 When in AD 553 Bumin suddenly died, his kingdom was divided between Bumin's son, Muhan, and Bumin's brother, Ishtemi. Known as the Khaqans of the eastern and western Turks respectively, the new rulers expanded Bumin's domain far afield. Muhan defeated the Khitans and captured northern China while Ishtemi expanded his kingdom to the shores of the IIi and Chu Rivers; in other words, he expanded his realm to the borders of the Hephthalites. This historical event is recorded in the Orkhon inscriptions as follows:
Above the sons of men stood our ancestors, the khagans Bumin and [shtemi. Having become masters of the Turkic people they established and ruled its empire and fcud the law of the country. Many were their enemies in the four comers of the world, but. leading campaigns against them, they subjugated and pacified many nations. These were wise khagans, these were valiant khagans; all their officers were wise and valiant, the nobles, all of them. the entirtt people. were just. This was the reason why they were able to rule an empire so great. why. • goveming the empire, they could uphold the law. 4

This was, of course, the heyday of Turkish ascendancy. It was the era of valiant and wise khaqans who, with small contingents, were able to capture vast lands and bring great rulers to their knees. This latter expansion, for instance, meant that the lands south of the Balkhash, the entire region of Sughd; in fact, the entire Transoxiana to the Aral sea, was opened to the Turks of the Altai for the first time. In other words, lands that since the time of Cyrus the Great had been predominantly occupied by Persians, fell into the hands of the Turks, and the Oxus became the border between Turan and Iran. Before long, however, the Turkish warrior kings of the past became the substance of dreams and the new khaqans proved to be incapable:
Weeping and lamenting came from where the sun rises; the strong peoples of the desert carne, lamenting and weeping, for these had really been valiant khagans. After that their younger brothers becarne khagans, their sons becarne khagans. But the younger brothers were unlike their elder brothers, the sons were unlike their fathers. Unwise khagans, weak khagans ascended the throne, and their officers were also unwise and weak. And because of the iniquity of the nobility and of the people, because of Chinese guile. because the elder brothers and the younger brothers were plotting against each other, because of the quarrel ofthose who favored the nobles and those who favored the people, the Turkic people brought about the dissolution of the empire that had been its empire, and ruined the khagan who had been its khagan. The sons of the nobles became the slaves of the Chinese people, their pure daughters became its servants. The noble Turks abandoned their Turkic title and, assuming Chinese titles. they submitted to the Chinese khagan. But the small people. in its entirety, thus said, "We were a people that had its own empire. Where is now our empire? We were a people that had its olm khagan. Where is now our khagan? And thus speaking they became the of the Chinese. 1


We learn from the Orkhon inscriptions that the Turks had a glorious past of their own. The fact that their nomadic ancestors, due to their lifestyle, have left no record of it, does not negate its existence in the annals of time. Even in real tenus, the boldness, wisdom, and humanism of Khan Bilge, as outlined in the Orkhon inscriptions, rivals those of any of the great rulers of ancient times:
[ [Bilge J did not reign over a people that was rich; [ reigned over a people weak and frightened, a people that had no food in their bellies and no clothes on their backs. To preserve the reputation achieved by our father, for the sake of the Turkic people, [ spent the nights without sleep and the days without rest. When [ became khagan, the people who had dispersed in different countries returned, at the point ofdeath, on foot and naked

1 Lawton,' 1994, pp. 2-11. 2 Chinese sources mention the Hiung-nu, a nomadic people to the north of China as early as BC 2000. The first substantial record of Turkish presence, however, does not appear in Chinese annals until the middle of the sixth century A.D.; Cr., Hostler, 1993, p. 7. 3 ce., Grousset, 1970, pp. 80-87. 4 Lawton, Ibid.

1 Ibid.

*,:r.. '

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


To re-establish the nation [led 22 campaigns. And because of good fortWte and propitious circwnstances, [ brought back to life the dying people, the naked people [ clothed and the few [ made numerous. 1

Besides, in their speech, Turkish warriors used stylized expressions, as if talking in riddles. These expressions, which highlight works such as Dede Korkut Kitabi, Alpamysh. and Manas. are totally absent from the orations of the Turanian,heroes of the Shahname. On the contrary, the Turanians of the epic share the salutations, epithets, values, and customs of their Iranian counterparts. 2 For instance, like Kayka'us, Afrasiyab keeps a large harem in his fort while the ancient Turks did not marry more than one wife. Heroes like Bamsi Beyrek are exceptions to the nonn of Turkish monogamy rule. 3 Indeed, the question of treatment of women itself constitutes a major difference. Turkish women, especially in preIslamic times, enjoyed equal status with men, fought alongside them and gave them counsel in solving difficult problems. Banu Chichek,4 Burla Hatun5 and Seljen Sultan6 are examples of women who entered physical combat against male antagonists.? In the organization of the Turanian anny, there is no mention of beys and their forty warriors and of beylerbeys. Neither are there the expected great banquets thrown by the khan on various occasions, banquets for which stallions, young male camels, and rams are slaughtered. s Neither do we encounter the annual yaghmali toy (plunder feast) or the Kok BOrU. 9 There is no mention of the funerary feasts of the type thrown in Manas for KokotOy Khan. 10 Most importantly, in the early Turkish tradition, the shaman's role was of great importance. In touch with the spirit of the ancestors, he provided counsel and, through his ability to view the "Unseen," influenced the affairs of the ruler and of the state. His kopuz and odes softened the harsh circumstances in which awesome decisions had to be made. l1 Similarly,
1 Ibid. 2 Cf., SlImer, 1972, pp. ix and xx. 3 See, Silmer, 1,972, pp. xiii and 179. 4 See SlImer, 1972, p. iii 5 See SlImer, 1972, pp. iv; 85-88 6 See Silmer, 1972, pp. vi; 115 7 See Silmer, 1972, p. xvii 8 See Silmer, 1972, pp. xv and 15-16. See also the opening statement of kokotOy Khan in "Memorial Feast," pp. 3 passim. 9 For Yaghmali toy, see Silmer, 1972, pp. xvi; 168-175; 205. KlJk BlJrU, is the same as oglak tartish in the Persian-speaking areas of Central Asia and Buzkashi in Afghanistan. See, Paksoy, 1989, p. 116, for further detail. 10 See, Hatto, 1977, pp. 3-88. See also, Dede, pp. 153,202 11 See, Silmer, 1972, p. xviii

the aksakals then, as now, played a major role in Turkish life. The Turanians of the Shahname, on the contrary, do not employ the services of shamans and aksakals. Rather, they resort to the ancient Mazdian tradition of consultation with the fire and in the assembly of the mu'bads. They are inspired by Yazdan and led by the hope of attaining the elusive farr, not from either the shaman or the spirit world, but from Ahura Mazda. 1 Cultural differences between the Iranians and Turkish peoples are many and need riot be enumerated here. Suffice it to say that the Turanians of the Shahname are of Iranian descent and that their appearance is foretold in a prophesy in the Bahman Yasht. 2

Thefarr played a central role in the lives of the cosmic and legendary heroes of Iran. Eclipsed by the Arab conquest, it was revived by Daqiqi and later by Firdowsi to, once again, play its distinctive role in the history of medieval Iran. Used as a symbol of legitimacy and divine right by Firdowsi, thefarr distinguishes the Iranian from the Turanian and the Turanian from the Turk. In spite of their irreconcilable differences, the Iranians and the Turanians of the Shahname emerge from the epic as two branches of the same ethnic group. The Turks, whose culture does not recognize the farr, emerge as extras in a world dominated by Iranians. Thefarr. however, is not the only deciding factor. The devotion of the Turks to the spirits of their ancestors, their unique tribal lifestyle, and their' traditions set them apart from the Iranians. Conflicts that plague the region today. are the results of centuries of interaction between the Turks and the Tajiks, especially where legitimacy and ethnic identity have played pivotal roles.

Iraj Bashiri United States

1 Cf., for instance, Silmer, 1972, p. xviii. 2 Pahlavi Books, Part I, Bahman Yasht, ch. III, nos. 8 and 9.

Samanid Civilization




Any discussion of theology lake the latter part of the tenth-cenfUff," the period offhe demise of the S,unanid Dynasty, into accountVuiUig this time, a number of Sufi intelb '''i.tls entered the circles of the mystics whose contributions continue(llo itliluence Sufic thought for centuries to come. As stated by the well-ki''-'. n Tajik philosopher, Alaiddin Bahavaddinov (1911-1970). the Khura,;alH school of mysticism tenth and the ,il the eleventh century, was founded d_':19Dg Great Shaykhs, like A uIhassan Kharaqam (d 10-\ -\ i. Abu Abdurrahman-i I Sullami (d. 1021), Abu al-Qasim Qushain 1074), Abu Sa'id Mihani . (967-1049), and others contributed to the grllwtilul mysticism by writing treatises and by training initiates. , But during the tenth century mysticism did Il' \I encompass all the facets of social thought. The poetry of Abu al-Qasim Flldowsi and Abu Abdullah I Rudaki, for instance, are devoid of any religious and mystical content. I After the Samanids, of course, mysticism grew and pervaded almost all , facets of the spiritual life of society I The reason for this rapid growth and expansion is that during periods ! of hardship and decline people become desperate; they seek the remedy for ' their misfortunes in almost anything. In situations where spiritual disconi tent and intense feelings of disappointment are prevalent, the individual seeks salvation in a world that can take hIm away from his troubles, a \ world where the harsh realities of everyday life do not exist. Theology and religion provide that world; they presumably guide the individual through the turbulent waters to the shore of happiness and contentment. Conversely, during periods of affluence, people are less likely to become engaged in discovering the religious and mystical dimensions of life. Consequently, the period remains devoid of materials expressive of the more I)' spiritual side of existence. During such times the entire society has a [ worldly bent; problems encountered and the solutions reached also reflect I this leaning, Take the history of philosophy in Greece, for instance. We observe invariably that the philosophy of Thales, Anaximander, Democritus, and Heraclitus was very distant from religious and mystical issues while, conversely, during the time when Greece was no longer as powerful as it had been, a very strong spirit of pessimism and mysticism prevailed. The philosophy of Plato, Proclus, and others are indicative of the material and spiritual decline of the Greece of their time.


Similarly, at the beginning, and during the growth of the Samanid tended to emphasize the natural and the logical sciences; State, but upon the meleonc fall of the dynasty, the (fifection was changed to the more spiritual aspects. The many invasions of the tribal peoples added to the speed of this detachment from the world and to the assumption of the mystical ways.! The srofound influenc.e of the mystical Neo-Platonic and Vedantic thought uring the tenth and eleventh centuries' in the philosophy of the people of Transoxiana and Kburasan was both a natural and a logical consjuence of the political and social trends 'of the time. IIi fact, thIS fiislorica Juncture atlordS the best opportunity for explaining the mystical thoughts that are expressed in Ibn-i Sina's risalahs, and in his famous [sharat wa Tanbihat. Indeed, the tenth and eleventh centuries expected the appearance of such intellectuals as Abu Ya'qub Kalabadi, Abdurrahman Sullami, Abu al-Qasim Qushairi, Mustamalli-i Bukhari, and others. The works of these authors bespeak the need a.nd-the search for new ways for the explanation of the material and spiritual 'exiStence of man here below. During this time, reclusive and ascetic trends in Islam required a material dimension. As a result, reclusiveness· became a main contributing factor to the development of Islamic mysticism. In fact, the amalgamation of the theoretical and the practical aspects Qf mysticism is the hallmark of the studies of the above-mentioned mystics. Tenth century mysticism assumes two aspects. One aspect is that set forth by Bayazid Bistami. This school, which follows the promotion of intoxication advocated by Abulhassan Kliaraqani, is opposed to superstition and prejudice. The other is a mild, religious and philosophical mysticism which bases itself on the Qur'an and the ahadith. This mysticism delves into the profound meanings of tawhid, hasti, ma'ri/at, haqiqat, akhlaq, and the like. The intellectuals of this era, who invariably added a mystical dimension to their studies, have created many interesting works. The degree of the importance and influence of this literature becomes increasingly clear as the thoughts of subsequent generations are examined and analyzed. After the tenth century, the discussions in the khaniqahs, and the accounts of the lives of the shaykhs, could no longer satisfy the needs of either the shaykhs or their disciples. Cgll8equently, a great need arose for comprehensive studies that dealt with the theoretical and practical aspects of the lives of the Sufis. To satisfy this need. it was necessary to thoroughly document all the stages and stations- that were involved in the crossing of the Sufi Path. Each school had to clearly delineate the specifics of its stages and stations for the achievement of the most sublime state. In Bukhara, Abu Ishaq Kalabadi, accepting this immense task, wrote At-Taarru/ Ii Mazhab it-Tasawwuf. The book, which was written in
1 For a detailed study, see Ghafurov, 1972; Bogoutdinov, 1980; and Ne'matov, 1989,

Samanid Civilization


Arabic, was not accessible to all who needed the· infonnation therein. To make some of the infonnation accessible, a number of commentaries were written about the book. The most comprehensive commentary on the work, along with a Dari translation was provided by a student of Kalabadi called Mustamalli. Like Imam Ghazali's Ihya-i Ulum-i Din, the commentary in Sharh-i Taarrufwas one of the most important contributions of its time. The complete name of the author of ar-Taarrufis Shaykh Abubakr ibn Abi Ishaq Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn Ya'qub. His pen name refers to the village of Kalabad in the region of Bukhara. His forte in ahadirh and jurisprudence had gained him the eminent title of Taj al-Islam. We have no indication of the time of his birth but the time of his death is certain. He died in his place of birth, on the ninth of Jamadi al-awwal of the year 380 AH (or AD 990), and was buried there. According to the studies that have reached us from the time of the Samanids, the authors of the time have put a great degree of emphasis on ontology, gnosticism, and social ethics. The other mystic, who had gained a great deal of eminence in Khurasan at this time was Abul Hassan Kharaqani. Combining the 'ayyar culture of Khurasan with the wahdar al-Wujud of Bistami, Kharaqani imparted a special feature of his own to Islamic mysticism. The wellknown Russian Orientalist Evgeni Bertels correctly emphasizes that "the relationship between Kharaqani and Bayazid is one of the most interesting questions of the early stages of Sufism, a question that requires further explication." 1 The only work of Kharaqani that has reached us is called Nur al'Vlum. This work reflects much of Kharaqani's bold stance in expressing his love for freedom. It also introduces Kharaqani as a humane individual virtually certain of the existence of a sublime state to the achievement of which man can direct his efforts. In addition, as stated, Kharaqani is an advocate of the 'ayyar school of thought. According to him a clear connection between the individual and the godhead is superior to the performance of the prescribed rituals, even to the visit of the faithful to Mecca. 2 One of the interesting aspects of Kharaqani's thought is that, following the wahdat al-Wujud theory, which views the individual-indeed man per se-as part of a whole, one communicates with the godhead without a need for intennediaries. He says to God, "You are us and we are You. "3 Such thoughts, which were specific to Bayazid and Mansur al-Hallaj, were not only at variance with the Islamic Shari'a, but promoted pantheism in the garb of Islamic thought. And obviously, there was a hidden danger in this difference of opinion between the Islamic Shari'a and some members of the community.
1 Bertels, 1965, p. 233. 2 Minovi, 1989, p. 69. 3 Ibid., p. 42.


Samanid Civilization


The works of Abdurrahman Sullami, however, are indicative of his endeavor to bridge the gap between mystical thinking and the Shari'a. He is especially specific on this issue in his commentaries on the Qur'an and the ahadirh. Other works with similar themes are Haqaiq ar-Tafsir and Amsal ul-Qur'an. According to most scholars, his commentaries tend to illustrate and strengthen the foundation of rasawuuf Evgeni Bertels has made an excellent assessment of Kharaqani's contribution to Iranian mysticism. l . Most of Sullami's works deal with mysticism directly. Adab al-


indicative of Sullami's untiring effort in explaining this aspect of Islam. Sullami trained many students. Among the most famous of them, mention can be made of Ahmad ibn Hussein Baihaqi, Abu Muhammad Juvaini, Abul Qasim Qushairi, Abul Hassan Nishapuri, Abu Sa'id Abulkhair, Abu Abdallah Juybari, Abu Ala Vasiti, and others. Abdurrahman Sullami has written extensively on the history of Sufism and about the lives of the Sufi shaykhs, especially in his Tabaqar usSufiyya. In fact, his Tabaqar us-Sufiyyah has been the guiding light for such future seekers as Abdullah Ansari, Abdurrahman Jami, and many others who have dealt with the history of rasawuuf Sullami has also written a treatise about the malamariyya. In it he provides vital infonnation about the school and discusses the genesis of the malamari doctrine, its shaykhs, and its principles. This treatise is pub-' lished by Abu Ala Afill; its Farsi translation has been published in Kabul, Afgbanistan. During the rule of the Samanids, in Khurasan, two trends, the 'ayyars and the Malamaris, grew and merged. The union of these two practical and intellectual trends affected Sufism to a considerable degree. Sullami attributes the establishment of the Malariyya in Khurasan to Hamdun Qassar and Ahmad Khizravi, two of the most influential shaykhs of the time. 2 It is necessary at this point, in the context of Sharh-i Taarruf, to examine the thought patterns of two major shaykhs, Kalabadi Bukharai and Mustamalli Bukharai. After all,' Sharft-i Taarrufreflects the discussions, opinions, and the theoretical issues that had been prevalent at that time. One reason for the writing of ar-Taarrufwas the appearance of diverse and contradictory ideas in rasawuuf at the close of the tenth century. The very lack of unity among the Sufis was preparing the ground for the appearance of conflict within the Sufi community at large. To prevent the appearance of such conflict and to promote unity, the Sufi leaders authored
1 Bertels, 1965, p. 224. 2 See Sullami, 1965 & Alimov, 1989.

Sufiyya. Tarikh-i Ahl-i Sufta. Tarikh as-Sufiyya. Javami'-i Adab asSufiyya, Risala fi Ghalarar us-Sufiyya, Suluk ul-Arifin. Sunan usSufiyya, Tabaqar us-Sufiyya. Al Farq bain-i Shari'ar wa Haqiqar, Lisan su-Sufiyya. Muqaddimarfi Tasawuu[. Maqamar ul-Awlia. and the like are


Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


a number of works that dealt with both the theoretical and the practical aspects of tasawuuf Abu Nasr Sarraj's ai-Lam' was written specifically for this purpose. Many of the major questions regarding beliefs, opinions, and the struggle among the various schools are dealt with in at-Taarruf and, more specifically, in Sharh-i Taarruf It is important to mention that these issues are discussed from the perspective of tasawuuf rather than from a more general perspective. · A study of these works reveals that the Sufi intellectuals. of the time of the Samanids were influenced by theology, philosophy, and rationalism. This fact underscores the importance of Sharh-i Taarruffor a clear understanding of the intellectual vista of Samanid intellectual interaction. In tenth-century tasawuuf, as in the teachings of the Masha'i school, the Isma'His, and in theology, issues like existence. the relationship among the godhead, the world, and man are of paramount importance as are the means by which knowledge of the divine is acquired and perfection is achieved. According to the thought of Kalabadi and Mustamalli, existence is composed of two parts: matter and essence. But the meaning of existence is quiddity. "And quiddity is existence in the same way that creatures, things, and self are all existences."l God, however, is not matter or essence; because, logically. as the Creator of all things, He cannot be part of His own creation. God's attributes are not accidental because all accidentals are ephemeral. God's attributes, on the other hand, are Eternal and ·Unperishable. 2 · Mustamalli also talks about time and regards it as a part of the visual logic of the material world. The reason for movement in time is attributed' to the qUality of the Creator's will. "Time is a result of the movement of the firmament when the firmament was put into motion." The important point here is that both Kalabadi and the commentator of his work regard time and motion as inseparable parts of the same continuum. They place God before time because He is the One Who set the world into motion in the fIrst place. A comparison of the thoughts of Kalabadi and Mustamalli in relation to existence, essence, and accidence with the ideas of· the Masha'is, indicates a number of differences. Mustamalli regards matter to be separate from essence. He places the being of things beneath the understanding of their essence. In other words, he divides existence into matter and essence. As for Ibn-i Sina, he divides existence int¥ssence and accidence. Ibn-i Sina believes that essence is all that exists in the thing, it is a quality the existence of which is not contingent upon the existence of things other than itself. The essential characteristic of essence is its absoluteness and its independability. 3 The views of Kalabadi and
1 Sullami, 1950, p. 4. 2 Ibid. 3 Dinarsbaev, 1985, p. 67.


Mustamalli on the issues of time, motion, eternity, origin, and the nature of creation are also different ..from those of the Masha 'i school. They recognize the origin (azal) as the beginning of time, which itself is not eternal, because it is contingent upon the action of the Creator. God is the Origin, because He is the beginning of all time. l The author and the commentator of at-Taarruf are of the opinion that changes occur in the material world because the material world is a creation and its Creator is God Almighty. In the same way that a thing manufactured needs someone to manufacture it, that which is created must have a creator. Mustamalli voices his dissatisfaction with the beliefs of the Mu'tazilites about the agent and action and fmds them to be very close to the Dahris. Because, according to Kalabadi, the Mu'tazilites. stretch the theory to the point of accepting the inevitability of action, i.e., that action can take place without an agent. The Dahris, of course, rejected the existence of any supernatural agent. Claiming any agreement between them and the Mu'tazilites in this regard is, simply, incredible. While transmitting Kalabadi's thoughts, his commentator says the following, "It is agreed upon that no action can take place without the existence of a powerful agent. And the agent must have power to be powerful. Power is accidental to the witness and accidentals are ephemeral. If we think otherwise, we would be placing power before action, i.e., we would be negating action because action is not possible without power. We will be left with an agentless action... This is an argument that can connect the Mu'tazilites to the Dahris because some Dahris believe that action can come into existence without the need for an agent. "2 Even though problems of natural philosophy were not dealt with in an organized fashion in tenth century Sufism, they were regarded as germane to the thought of the time and were entered into general discussions. The discussions of Kalabadi and Mustamalli on the question of opposites, possibility of existence, and unity of existence are indicative of both the width and the depth of the knowledge of the time 'of the Samanids. Mustamalli and the author of at-Taarrufbelieve that changes in the material world are proof of the fact that the world is a creation. Because creation is something that is acted upon and that which is acted upon, by necessity, needs a creator. That is what put the material world and all'its accidentals into motion. Motion,·the,author and the commentator believe, is the creator of opposition in the material world. "Motion between two opposites creates proximity and distance. And opposition means that the two opposites cannot appear in the same place at the same time, in the same way that motion and stagnation, wakefulness and sleep, life and death, and light and darkness cannot be conceived of together. "3
1 Sullami, 1950, p. 5. 2 Ibid, p. 201. 3 Ibid., pp. 5-6.

Samanid Civilization


The followers of the Masha'i school recognized the world as something that could come into existence and, consequently, could speak about the possibility of its having been there before everything else. Islam, on the other hand, regards the world as the creation of Allah and regards any deviation from this dictum to be kufr and ilhad. Mustamalli emphasizes that in Sufism opinions about the creator and creature are also at variance and that, indeed, are often in opposition. The author and the commentator of at-Taarrufrelate this issue to the oneness of God and, in this way, bridge the gap between their thinking and that of the IsIiunic juriSts. "The majority of the jurists, mystics, and most theologians regard God to be the Creator, Eternal, and Provider. We, too, concur with this view. "1 A group of mystics who followed the wahdat al-Wujud school and who were influenced by Plato's emanation theory are identified as extremists. They consider the creature and the creator to be one and the same. Consequently, at heart, they reject the religious beliefs concerning the creation of man. About this group, the author of at- Taarruf says the following, "Those who speak about the eternal creator say that the creature and the creator are one and the same and that action and what it acts upon are the same. But when we speak about an Eternal Creator, we distinguish between the action and what the action acts upon, i.e., we distinguish the Creator from the creature. We say this because we recognize action as an attribute of the agent, but that which is acted upon is not an attribute of the agent. "2 Yet another group speaks of an eternal creator. They state that the existence of a creator requires the existence of creatures. In other words, there cannot be all agent if no action has happened and nothing is acted upon. Using this logic, therefore, they posit that the world, too, is eternal. The quotation above, intentionally more extensive than usual to illustrate the conflict of opinion and world view among the various branches of tasawuuf, indicates that among the Sufis there were some, without mentioning any names, or discussing any particulars, who quietly followed and supported the Eastern Masha'i philosophers. After all, the idea that the world has always existed (qadim) constitutes a good portion of Masha'i philosophical discussions. The Islamic jurists, of course, regard this idea to be the exact opposite of kalam. The existence of such anti-orthodox ideas in Sufi circles indicates that a group of mystics must have focused their energies on the primordial nature of the world in order to present a practical solution to the question of the primordial nature of man. In other words, they had moved in the direction of materialism in order to disprove the doctrine of the materialists.


Samanid Civilization




That is why the information that Mustamalli places at our disposal is of great importance and must be studied in depth. In medieval times, theology and tasawuufplayed very crucial roles, especially in relation to God and man's understanding of the godhead. The idea of "soul" (ruh) took center stage only when philosophers tried to understand the reasons behind change and the cause for it, Le., when they became involved in the reasons for the existence of man. The author of atTaarruj, using the text of the Qur'an. "qui al-ruh. min amri rabbi" (17:85), follows the dictates of the Islamic jurists. This further proves that both the author of at-Taarrufand its commentator chose an intermediary position between tasawuufand orthodoxy. They have endeavored to bridge the gap between tasawuuf and Islamic jurisprudence. There were also those among th,e Sufis who did not agree with the jurists and who rejected the ideal quality that the jurists ascribed to the soul. For instance, Abu Abdallah an-Nabbaji states, "The soul is too delicate for the senses to pick it up and is too large to be contained. The most logical deduction is, therefore, to concur that it exists."l This statement of an-Nabbaji can easily be interpreted as an anti-Shari'a argument. First it rejects the fact that the soul is holy and that it is created by God. Second, if the soul is a delicate substance, it will not be eternal like other things; it will be ephemeral and doomed to extinction. And that, of course, leads to heterodoxy and ilhad. Because an-Nabbaji was one of the sUfi shaykhs. neither Ibrahim Kalabadi nor Mustamalli regard him to be a Zindiq. Both of them, however, quietly disapprove of his thoughts and reject his doctrine. "However, the one who stated that the soul is material is in error; because, as is well known, the soul is accidental and accidentals are material. In the presence of the jurists and the imams one cannot speak of materialism, accidence, or even of essence. All these are impossible. "2 An-Nabbaji's thoughts bring the statements made by Democritus and Epicurus about the atomistic nature of the soul (self) to mind. If that were the case, then materialistic thought could have influenced Sufic thought. Or perhaps that the thought of Abu Bakr al-Razi, and the other Tajik philosophers opposed to Islamic religious thought, could have been studied in Sufic circles. There is another quotation in Sharh-i at-Taarruf about the soul that could be ascribed to An-Nabbaj. And he said. "The soul is delicate. It is associated with impurity in the same way that the eye is delicate and is associated with impurity. In other words, the eye socket provides the material existence for it."3

1 Ibid., p. 71. 2 Ibid., p. 6.


1 Ibid., p. 171. 2 Ibid. 3 Ibid., p. 172.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


According to Mustamalli, whose ideas are accepted by most Sufis, the soul and the self are on two opposite poles. The heart is placed between these two sources of energy. liThe heart is independent between these two forces. The attribution of the soul is all that is pure and agreeable and the attribution of the self is all that is impure and disagreeable. Positioned in the middle, the heart at times accompanies the soul to the highest levels and, at times accompanies the self to the lowest of all levels. When the heart accompanies the soul, it breaks away from self. The result is agreement. When it accompanies the self, it breaks away from the soul. The result is a lack of agreement. " I In relation to this question, Mustamalli identifies the position of tasawuuj with regard to causation (cause and effect). Using Abu Ya'qub Kalabadi's logic, Mustamalli argues that God does not operate in a cause and effect type of situation, "because God does not do things for an effect. Were He to do that, that in itself would constitute a cause in need of an effect, a process that would have limitless generative power. And that is erroneous."z In his exploration of cause, Mustamalli distinguishes two factors: cause and effect. "The difference between cause and effect is this. Whatever cannot exist without a quiddity to affect, that is cause. And whatever can exist without quiddity as well as with it, that is effect."J Cause is always accompanied by effect; effect cannot exist without cause. For instance, heat in the fire causes burning, but burning cannot exist without heat (cause). Mustamalli illustrates this important point even further. "Whatever cannot be accomplished without assistance of other, that is cause. Whatever can be accomplished without assistance of other is effect. "4 This discussion shows that cause is a feature of the material world and effect is specific to man's action and, ultimately, to God's action. Whatever action remains with the effect is interpretable as cause. God's action, however, is devoid of effect. He does all by causation. s The literature on tasawuuj at this time is redolent with Sufic thought. In fact, the states and stages that the Sufi passes constituted a major portion of the literature of the time. After all, the elevation of the murid to the level of the shaykh is not possible unless the states and stations are recognized and traversed. On the Sufi path, one encounters tawba. zuhd. sabr, riza. tawakkul, qano'at. uns, muhabbat. kashj. shuhud, jana, baqa, and others. Some of

these are states and some are stages. Altogether, however, they are the path of spiritual elevation to man's perfection: l The Sufis of this era de not reject the roles of the senses and reason in the achievement of perfection altogether. They recognize the significance of both the senses and reason for understanding the workings of the material world. It is in the higher stages, when the Sufi prepares to reach the godhead, that these factors become inconsequential. Only love can lead man to His real essence. Sufic love, along with its own brand of irrationalism, contained a deep sense of humanism. It elevated man's value. It lifted man to the level of the godhead and, in the process, imbued him in the sort of divinity that is attributable to God alone. It asked for equality among all men, irrespective of any social standing. The Sufi thought of the Samanid period spread even wider during the time of the Ghamavids, Seljuqs, and Timurids. The works of Kharaqani, Sullami, Kalabadi, Abu Sa'id Abalkhair, and others not only played a major role in the development of the Khurasani school of mysticism, but influenced the schools of thought in other regions of Central Asia.

Karamatulla Alimov


1 Ibid., p. 174 2 Ibid, p. 216. 3 Ibid., p. 218. 4 Ibid. 5 Ibid.

1 See Bashiri, i 996, pp. 52 & 47-78.

Abu Ali Bal'ami was a major scholar of the era of the "Revival of the Tajik," i.e., the period during which the Samanid Dynasty ruled Transoxiana. With his expansive knowledge and limitless stamina, he collected a considerable amount of knowledge, especially in historiography, and presented it to succeeding generations, garnering accolades all along. Scholars dealing with the history of the ancient and medieval civilization of Iranian peoples can in no way ignore the contributions of Abu Ali Bal'ami, especially in relation to his translation and emendation of Tabari's alTarikh. The significance of this work lies not only in its being a most important and comprehensive work but in that it fOnTIS basis of much of our present-day research on ancient and medieval history. Additionally, Bal'; work informs us about religion, culture, epic, rhetoric, antllJ Jpdogy, ecology, linguistics, geography, and the arts. -':"arikh-i Tabari is based on a free translation of the Tarikh-i Rusul wa al-Muluk of Imam Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari (829-923). It is possible that portions of this work are based on such documents as Khudainame, Gahname, A'inname, Tajname, Bahram Chubinaname, Akhbar-i Anushirvan, and other ancient Pahlavi sources. These characteristics elevate the value of this work from a mere translation to a study of methods of historiography as developed by medieval historians of the time. This is why this book should stand apart from other books of its time as an example of the early stages of the study of history and of historiography. . Abu Ali Bal'ami's Tarikh-i Tabari is one of those prose works of literary and epical proportions that deal with the history of the Tajik peoples in the larger context of the national literature of Iran, especially Iranian cosmology, mythology, and history. Prominent in these works, of course, is the role that the Sassanian Dynasty (224-651) played in the history of the greater Iranshahr. There are, of course, other Iranian literary and historical works like Kalila wa Dimna, the Mansuri Shahname, and the Abu Mu'ayyid Balkhi Shahname, all of which were written during the early decades of the rule of the national Tajik dynasty of the Samanids (875-999) and all of which were used by Bal'arni in the writing of his Tarikh-i Tabari. Other works that belong to the latter part of the Samanid Dynasty or, more exactly to the period of the fall of the dynasty, include Hudud al'Alam, the author of which is unknown, Gardizi's Zain al-Akhbar,

Samanid Civilization


Baihaqi's Tarikh-i Mas'udi, Tarikh-i Sistan, and Mujmal al-Tawarikh wa al-Qisas. These works, too, have been of great importance in Bal'arni's presentation of the knowledge of his time. Today, of course, these works serve as signposts, indicating the level of greatness to which Sassanian and Samanid monarchs elevated the self-consciousness and tfie self-worth of their people.! According to the Arabic introduction of the Tarikh-i Tabari and the authors of MUjmal at-Tawarikh and Kasha us-Zuni, Abu AU Bal'arni was conunissioned by Abu Mansur ibn Nuh-i Samani to translate the work into Dari Farsi. "The order for the translation of al-Tarikh-related to Muhammad ibn Jarir Tabari, the author of Tarikh-i Kabir-was placed by the Arnir's special scribe, Abu Hassan Faiq al-Khassa, in AD 963 (AH 352). The contents of at-Tarikh includes primary knowledge and a history of the ancients. It was to be reduced by summarizing reports that were not properly documented and omitting all repetitions but including all customs, entire stories of prophets and kings, and reports on aU lands and people, including their specific habits and customs."2 Bal'ami himself describes the reason for his undertaking the translation as follows, "And then it was translated into the Farsi language for the king and his subject to study and learn and to ease the task of all those who consult it "3 The above-mentioned text of the introquction highlights a number of points that were instrumental in Bal'ami's undertaking the task, points that Bal'arni adheres to in the completion of his translation. These points are: . First, Arnir Mansur ibn Nuh and his Prime Minister, Bal'ami, vieWing 'the intense struggles for power, reduction of internal unity, and a decrease in political and military might of the Samanid State as opposed to the ever-' increasing might of their neighboring Turks sought a political weapon with which to stem the tide of Turkish overlordship. They found this weapon in the Dari language, the native language of the population of the region. They promoted the Dari language and afforded every facility for its improvement and expansion. It was for implementing this noble cause that Bal'ami, the Prime Minister, undertook the translation of 1;p.rikh-i Tabari to set an example for other scholars. Second, the representative of the intellectual struggle known as the Shu 'ubiyyah, a group that sought cultural unity among all Iranian peoples, resorted to yet another source, the Khudainame which dated back to Sassanian times. They intended to prove to the Arabs that their Iranian



Arabic introduction appears in only six fourteenth-century manuscriptS of "Tarikh-i Tabari" of Abu Ali BaI'ami. These copies are kept in major European libraries. The text of the introduction to the work is based on the research of OrientaIists P. A. Griaznevich and A. N. Boldirov. 2 Griaznevich, 1957, pp. 52-53. 3 Ibid.

1 The

Samanid Civilization



Samanid Civilization


culture was more ancient and more profound than the Arab culture that sought to displace it. Third, a special zeal appeared among the Amirs, wazirs, and the nobility of the Samanid State to learn more about the governmental style and political knowledge of earlier Iranian ruling houses. "Reading of books on history, and learning about the deeds and experiences of the ancients (Hikmat-i Siyasi)."\ also fueled this zeal. These three principal factors compelled Prime Minister Bal'ami to translate the Tarikh ur-Rusul wa al-Muluk of Imam Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Jarir at-Tabari from Arabic into Dari Farsi at a time that the Samanid State was passing its most difficult stage. Present-day researchers donot consider Abu Ali Bal'ami's Tarikh-i Tabari to be a mere translation. This is obvious from a comparison of three texts of the Tarikh with the complete translation of Tarikh ur-Rusul wa alMuluk. 2 Bal'ami says the following about his own work, "And I translate this book and I will compare its contents with Tatsir-i Kabir. I shall present all that is necessary to present and I shall postpone all that is not of immediate use. I shall do this so that every story or report can find its own proper place. I shall study the circumstances of all events and I shall place each circumstance where it fits best temporally and otherwise. Finally, I shall compare this material with the verses of the Qur'an and with the words of the Prophet of Islam. "3 Studying the introduction reveals that Bal'ami has used his own thought and world view in the context of tenth-century historiography to present the contents of Tarikh ur-Rusul wa al-Muluk in comparison with the verses of the Qur'an. ahadith and akhbar regarding the Prophet of Islam. In this endeavor, he also used Tabari's Tatsir-i Kabir or Jami' alBayan aI-Tawil al-Qur'an which, according to Brockelmann, has made its own contribution to historiography.4 Bal'ami compares the texts in Tarikh ur-Rusul wa al-Muluk in this way. Where there are six stories recorded by Tabari about the same incident, he compares the six and finds the one that is most "correct" in his own thinking. He then compares this result with the reports and knowledge of other scholars of the time and presents a final version of that story or report. Disclaiming some outstanding examples. he states, "To those familiar with Tabari's al-Tarikh, there are some items in the book which may not be known. These items are not mine. I have recorded them as they have been transmitted to me."5 Similarly, Bal'ami has avoided the translation of lengthy documentation (isnad), of the type that is incomprehensible to the general
1 Rosenthal, 1987, p. 61. 2Ismalov, 1996, pp. 18-29. 3 Griaznevich, 1957, p. 53. 4 Be!yaev, 1987, pp. 7-9. 5 Tabari, 1973, p. 6.


reader. Whenever absolutely necessary for understanding the text, however, he has provided a concise summary of such documents. In addition, while translating Tabari's at-Tarikh ul-Rusul, Bal'ami introduces certain other changes of his own. For instance, while following the Arab tradition of historiography, Tabari discusses events as they happen among peoples, tribes, and nations irrespective of the existence of any particular relationship among those events. Bal'ami, on the other band, using an Iranian national blUeprint, organizes Tabari's materialS'aCci:!Eding to spiritual (lives of the prophets), temporal (lives of the kings).. and,historical (events that follow, each other chronologically) dimensions: About this reorganization, Bal'ami says, "I have divided the book into sections dealing with prophets and kingS."1 Indeed, the divisions that presentlY facilitate fmding major themes in Tabari's Tarikh are a result of the contributions of Bal'ami. Besides, Bal'ami makes the content of the Tarikh more accessible to Tajik speakers by using a less formal form of Farsi, easily understood by the general reader. The additions of Bal'ami to the text of Tabari are numerous. They number at least a hundred and eighty and most of them are substantial additions and emendations. Bal'ami's introductory words before each section are very precise. For instance, he writes such statements as, "This is not attested to by Tabari, it is my own addition," or "Tabari provides a concise version of this event, I am proViding the full text," or "This report is not recorded by at-Tabari, I am adding it," or "at-Tabari records this event as follows ... But the facts of the matter attest to the contrary." Interestingly enough, since in the course of additions, deletions, and augmentation he uses books that are no longer in existence. he provides us with a good study of the sources that have perished during the centuries subsequent to his work and with some of the knOWledge that they had contained. In general, Bal'ami has not distinguished his own additions. When criticizing Tabari, however, he uses a simple and fluent style. He criticizes Tabari for giving credence to undocumented reports or for incorrect reportage. Bal'ami's additions, with regard to their content and style, can be classified as follows: A) Additions with specific themes are added to Tarikh-i Tabari in the form of independent chapters. In most cases, these chapters do not appear in the text of Tarikh ur-Rusul wa al-Muluk. They are recorded in this form only in the Persian version of Tabari. Apparently, these are additions that have been included in the course of translating the history of the ancient Iranians or of other peoples. B) Additions that are made to better describe the contributions of prophets, kings, and nobles or to provide designations for lesser known

1 Griaznevich, 1957, p. 54.

Samanid Civilization



Samanid Civilization


peoples, tribes, places or, indeed, to Wlderscore the importance of an event that is not sufficiently emphasized. C) Additions that begin with, "At-Tabari records this event as follows... But the facts of the matter attest to the contrary." D) Additions that serve as commentaries on the verses of the Qur'an as well as on those that provide defmitions of certain vocabulary items. These are additions required by the text; Bal'ami had no option but to add them. Furthermore, Bal'ami has added certain additions that cannot be traced either to Tarikh ul-Rusul wa al-Muluk or to any other extant Arabic or Persian sources. And this is what makes Bal'ami more like an author of Tarikh-i Tabari than its translator. In fact, it is appropriate to give Prime Minister Bal'ami the credit due an author-cum-translator of Tarikh-i Tabari. The style of Tarikh-i Tabari, with the exception of some vocabulary and certain phrases, is quite simple and fluent. For instance, even though the text contains many frequently used Pahlavi words, it still retains its simplicity to the point that scholars refer to any simple style as the "Bal'ami style."! Furthermore, because Tarikh-i Tabqri is a translation of an Arabic text into Farsi, the number of Arabic words in it is more than one encoWlters in other contemporary Samanid works such as the Abu Mansuri Shahname or the Shahname of Abu al-Qasim Firdowsi. Indeed, some 8 to 10 percent of the total vocabulary in the work is in Arabic. 2 The authorship and translation of the Tarikh-i Tabari by Bal'ami constitute an official political work which, at its time, satisfied a real administrative need. It upheld the national identity of the Tajiks, other Iranian peoples, as well as the Samanid State. It served as the mainstay of ethnic and cultural unity among the Iranian peoples. What distinguishes Bal'ami's work from the brief Abu Mansuri Prose Shahname, written for the court of the Samanids, lies in its historical value. Bal'ami's work bridges ancient Iranian history, literature, and culture and its Perso-Islamic successor. The rapid expansion of historiography compelled other scholars to recognize the knowledge contained in Tarikh-i Hal'ami and to promote ils simple language. Later historians, like Baihaqi and Gardizi, have used Tarikh-i Tabari but have not mentioned the name of its author, Bal'ami. Even the author of Mujmal at-Tawarikh (written in 1126) has had a copy of Bal'ami's work in his possession. When he discusses ancient Iran, especially the Sassanids, he cites Tarikh-i Tabari among his reliable sources. The author of Mujmal at-Tawarikh, too, relying on Bal'ami's work says, "What is presented here about the lives of the prophets and kings is adopted from the work of Muhammad ibn Jarir Tabari, which is translated into Farsi by Abu Ali Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Wazir al-Bal'ami."
1 Bahar, 1940, p. 45. 2 Ibid., pp. 47, 51. and 64.

According to M. T. Bahar, like Baihaqi and Gardizi, the author of Mujmal
at-Tawarikh, too, has utilized Bal'ami's simple and fluent style.!


After the victory of the Mongols, especially during the Timurid Era, Perso-Tajik historiography as a genre made a great deal of progress. This progress, whether from the point of view of form, content, style, or from the perspective of historical categorization, followed the Tarikh-i Tabari of Bal'ami. In fact, most of the historiographers and geographers of the "Golden Age of Farsi Historiography" (thirteenth to fifteenth centuries), including Hamdullah Mustawfi Qazvini and Shihabuddin Hafiz Abru, benefited from the Tarikh-i Tabari of Bal'ami. According to most scholars Hamdulla Qazvini bases his entire Tarikh-i Guzida (fourteenth century) on the materials of Tarikh-i Tabari. Almost all the interesting events dealing with the history of Pre-Islamic peoples, whether in the form of history, story, or reportage are copied directly from Bal'ami's Tarikh-i Tabari. It is certain that during the fourteenth century some Wlknown historian wrote a history for the Wazir of Isfahan, Mahmud Jamaluddin, placing some thirty pages about the Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, and the Seljuqs between the Tarikh-i Tabari and. the Tarikh-i Jahangusha of Atamalak Juvaini (thirteenth century).2 Hafiz-i Abru (fifteenth century) has copied most of the historical events, myths, epical deeds pertaining to personages from Adam to the time of Caliph al-Mu'tasim (833-842) into his own Zubdat at-Tawarikh directly from Tarikh-i Tabari. Yet Zubdat at-Tawarikh, which came into existence as a result of the fame of Tarikh-i Tabari, is regarded as one of the most celebrated of the Timurid histories (1416-1420).3 This, of course, is a most poignant point in determining the role of Bal'ami's Tarikh-i Tabari in the history of historiography. After all, Bal'ami's materials must have seemed accurate and complete for Gardizi and Baihaqi, Zain ulAkhbar and Tarikh-i Mas'udi or for the Wlknown author of Mujmal utTawarikh or for Qazvini and Hafiz Abru. These scholars recognize Abu Ali Bal'ami as the founder of the science of Perso-Tajik historiography. Towards the end of the Middle Ages, Turkish historiography began to grow as well Wlder the auspices of Perso-Tajik historiography. They, too, have tumed to Tarikh-i Tabari and reiterated or translated its contents for Turkish readers. At the beginning of the sixteenth century, Sultan Suleyman I (15201566) had a copy of Abdullah Matriqi's Tarikh-i Tabari translated into Ottoman Turkish. According to Haji Khalifa, the "general public in Anatolia (Rum) still widely used that version."4 Only five copies of the Ottoman Turkish translation, rendered between seventeenth and nineteenth
1 Ibid., pp. 45-47. 2 NafIsi, 1966, p. 760. 3 Ibid., pp. 237-238. 4 Haji Khalifa, 1967, pp. 297-298.

Samanid Civilization


centuries, are kept in the archives of the Oriental Research Center in Moscow. Another translation of Tarikh-i Tabari was made in 1521-1522 by the famous librarian of Amir Kuchkunjakhan Shaibani (1510-1530), Vahid Balkhi, into Chaqatai Turkish. For the four subsequent centuries, this translation was one of the most widely read histories among the Uzbeks. Tarikh-i Tabari was translated from Farsi-Dari into Chaqatai Turkish again in 1882. The translation, rendered by Muhammad Yusuf ibn Babiiau. was ordered by the Amir of Khiva (Khwarazm), Muhannnad RabimfOlan (1865-1910). B'abajan completed his translation by addfug some iIiformation about his own time as well as about the teachings of the fout schools of SunniIslam. Two manuscript copies of this translation are kept in Uzbekistan (Fund Uzbekleri). Tarikh-i Tabari was translated into Arabic by Khizr ibn Khizr ai-Amini (1528-1531). Translations into Uighur, ordered by the ruler of Yarkant, Mirza Muhammad Hussein Ifakimbek (eighteenth century), Urdu by Ja'far Shah Razavi (nineteenth IlIld century), English (nineteentbcentury), German (nineteenth Frenth(nineteenth century) are also available. l In conclusion, it can be said that Bal'ami's Tarilch-i Tabari has been an ideal model and an excellent guide for the historiographers of Iranian civilization from the Middle Ages to the present. General and specific issues, including Bal'ami's own methodology, indicate that historiography had been a tested science in the region, during the Samanid Era. In fact, the latter revived what had already been a tradition at the courts of the Sassanids. The significance of the efforts of Bal'ami and the Samanids who supported him rested in the safeguarding of the increasingly diminishing Iranian identity and the preservation of the only symbol of that identity, the Farsi-Tajiki language. Three centuries of Arab overlordship had all but replaced Tajiki with Arabic.



Ma'ruf Isamatov

The Samanid State was one of the major powers of its time. Many factors including cultural, political, and economic advances in Khurasan and Transoxiana as well as good government and social engineering contributed to the rise of the Samanids. Without the support of such an infrastructure, the Samanids would not have been able to break away from the caliphate and survive on their own. 'They would not have been able to, within the shon period of 180 years, create one of the most progressive societies of their time. In fact, under the Samanids, the Iranian civilization that was all but destroyed by the Arab invasion, was revived; it resumed its glorious past with a new vision, a Perso-Islamic vision. Born to that culture, the Samanids provided every means to facilitate the restoration of the ancient heritage of the Iranian peoples. There is no doubt that the power of a nation rests on its economic might and on its ability to negotiate cash transactions. The Samanids were blessed with both. They had a progressive economy and an expanding cash-money market. The proof of this, of course, is found in the many coins of the time that are being discovered in various parts of the world of that time. Besides, in eastern countries, the ability to mint coin, in addition to economic importance, carried considerable political weight. For this reason, upon ascending the throne, Samanid kings proceeded to mint their own coins. The most ancient of these coins that have reached us date back to AD 821. They were minted in Samarqand for the sublime Amir Nuh ibn Asad. The metal used for the production of these coins is copper. Being "vassals of the Taherids at the time, the Samanids did not have permission to use silver and gold as the base for their coinage. Even their minting of copper coins was restricted to several known cities of the region. . The expansion of minting occurred during the second phase of Samanid rule (AD 874-999). In874, the Jaherid Dynasty came to an end and the Samanids became the independent rulers of Transoxiana and Khurasan. The caliph in Baghdad, al-Mu'tamid, sent the Samanids an exclusive patent, empowering them to rule in the region in his behalf. The patent, of course, empowered the Samanids to mint not only copper but silver and gold coins in their own names. The first Samanid Amir to mint silver coin in his own name was Nasr ibn Ahmad. But it is during the reign of Isma'il Samani (AD 892-907) that a large number of silver coins were minted in a regular and organized fashion. In fact, this process lent its name to the dirhams which, thereafter, were referred to as the Ilsma'ili" dirhams. Sub-

1 Storey, 1972, pp. 285-288.

Samanid Civilization



Iranians have neither loved nor respected their own past. Related to this subject, Qarshi continues:


Historiography began during Islamic times with Islamic themes. In fact, religion created a need for historiography in the community, a need hastened by the urgency of recording the deeds and words of the Prophet before any doubt set in. In other words, historiography became a necessary tool in the hands of the Muslim theologians. l And here is Qarshi's last remark on the subject of historiography: The rise of Prophet Muhammad created a feeling for historiography in the Arabs. 2

Considering its position and importance, the science of Tajik historiography deserves a history similar to that of literature. Although many aspects of literature from the ancient times to the present have been studied and many books have been published on the sUbject, the same cannot be said for historiography. A number of studies, of course, have appeared on historiography as it relates to aspects of the sciences arid the arts during the Samanid period, but none is devoted to historiography itself during the ninth and tenth centuries. The present study attempts to partially bridge that gap. Two very different theories have been proposed with regard to the question of the formation of Perso-Tajik historiography. Some scholars believe that pre-Islamic Iran did not have any knOWledge of phy. The Pakistani scholar, H. Qarshi, provides the following example in his History ofPhilosophy in Islam: The other two great civilizations with which Islam came into contact 'were those of Iran and India. The Indians have not shown any predilection to recorded history. Neither are there any documents that would indicate pre-Islamic Iranians' documentation of major historical events. l
In his footnotes, he further explains:


The only work of this nature that has reached us from that time is the Khudainama, which cannot be called J1istory. The other historical sources of Iran have been translated into Arabic in the second quarter of the eighth century. The Iranians themselves have not ascribed any importance to these sources, not at least enough significance to safeguard them from harm. In addition, Firdowsi's Shahname, written in the tenth century, is primarily an account based on myths and legends. If any real history was in existence at the time, it would have entered Persian literature. 2 As can easily be seen, H. Qarshi not only does not ascribe any credit to historiography that was undertaken during Islamic times, but states that
1 Qarsbi. 1989, p. 297. 2 Ibid., p. 321 ..



The above-mentioned remarks underscore the fact that Qarshi has traced the genesis of historiography to Islam. Of course, there is no doubt that, as a new world view, Islam contributed immensely to the formation and development of history but, as we shall see, Islam was never the background or the initiator of history. Qarshi, of course, is an advocate of the first theory. A different group of scholars, following the second theory, believe that pre-Islamic or ancient Iranians had a glorious past and a good understanding of history. This group is of the belief that Islamic historiography is a continuation of Perso-Tajik historiography; they believe that Iranian historiography fmds its completion in Islamic historiography.3 Supporting the latter view, it is worth mentioning that the advocates of the frrst theory base their studies exclusively on the Umayyid (661-750) and Abbasid (750-1258) sources. As a result, their assertions are not based on a well-grounded knowledge of the ancient history of the Iranian peoples, especially of the Sassanians. Their views, therefore, are unscientific. A most cursory look at history shows that ancient Iranians not only paid attention to their heritage but that they respected it. Besides, the Perso-Tajik scholars of the ninth and tenth centuries had other reasons for reviving historiography. These reasons span the whole spectrum of political, ideological, and cultural needs of the time. Obviously, the House of Saman that intended to revive the civilization left it by its ancestors would be the greatest contributor to this revival. According to one of the scholars, "This is the period of fonns and themes, intentions, and rules. The Samanid style permeated all aspects of the cultural life of the people. In fact, the era became the model, thesolution, and the basis,of subsequent developments in Central Asia and the Middle East. "4 The science of historiography was rooted in the Samanids' policy of enlightenment. It would not be correct, however, to state that the Samanid
1 Ibid., p. 302. 2 Ibid., p. 297. 3 Zarrinkub, 1990, pp. 19-25; Ismatov, 1996, pp. 31-34. 4 Ne'matov, 1994, p. Ill; Nematov, 1989.

-----,-Samanid Civilization 94 . Samanid Civilization


Era was the era in which Perso-Tajik historiography began. Rather, the formation of Perso-Tajik historiography is related to the development of Arab historiography which took its [mal form during the Umayyid period. In fact, before the advent of the Samanids, almost all those who wrote Arab history were of Iranian origin and many of them emphasized Iranian history, especially accounts of ancient kings and the like. It would not be wrong, therefore, if we said that Arab historiography before the Samanid Era is Perso-Tajik historiography as well. In what follows, the reasons for the emergence of Perso-Tajik historiography are outlined briefly: 1. The existence among the ancient Iranian peoples of materials, methods, and styles for dealing with literature and history. Abu Raihan al-Biruni states that, upon his defeat of the people of Khwarazm, Qutaiba ibn Muslim put everyone who could write in Khwarazmian language to the sword. The dearth of people conversant in the Khwarazmian dates back to that era. Here are al-Biruni's exact words, "And the reason for our remaining uninformed is that Qutaiba ibn Muslim Bahili put all the scholars and priests of Khwarazm to the sword and set all their bookS and pamphlets on fire. Since then the people of Khwarazm have been illiterate. Their ffiLli.n ability in keeping up with events rests in their power of memorization."! Information on the destruction of libraries and burning of books are reported by other authors and historians as well. In spite of the many difficulties brought about by Fate and by sheer ignorance, many of the jewels of Sassanid times, like the Kalila wa have reached us through Arabic translation. 2 2. The prophethood of Muhammad and the dictates of the Holy Qur'an, as well as the ahadith, related to the Prophet of Islam. The Prophet himself was a historical personage and his message was the essence of all knowledge of the past. According to scholars and historians, the Holy Qur'an is the most significant Arabic document; references in the Qur'an create a sense of devotion to history and to the past. The Qur'an makes the experiences of past generations and of the other peoples meaningful to the Muslim believer. In fact, it emphasizes that scholars must acquaint themselves with the achievements of man in the past and must study such achievements. The events of the past are teaching materials for future generations. The Holy Qur'an has established the most fundamental rule for the
1 al-Bintni, 1990, p. 71. 2 Frye, 1965, p. 199; de Menasce, 1975, p. 564; Tavadia, 1956; Boyce, 1968; Rozen. 1895; Bartold, 1971.

study of history. Similarly, the ahadith of the Prophet teaches that links exist between the past and the present and between the present and the future. These links, they state, must be strengthened, as an understanding of history leads to an eventual understanding of life. These factors made Islam one of the contributors to historiography.! 3. The Shu'ubiyyah Movement and the new Iranian ideology of the time of the Umayyids and the Abbasids. It is not a secret that, under the oppressive rule of the caliphS, a movement appeared that was named the Shu 'ubiyyah Movement. The Shu 'ubiyyah were Iranians who countered the pride of the Arabs in their culture with the sound heritage of their own forefathers. Almost all the Shu 'ubiyyah were of Iranian origin and at every turn criticized and humiliated the Arabs and their culture. RegCU'ding the Arabs as the lowest, the Shu'ubiyyah alleged that the Arabs did not have any idea what the arts were all about. They chastised the Arabs for their prejudice. a vice that would place the Arabs outside the pale of Islam. The Shu 'ubiyyah 's pride in their heritage influenced the culture of the Samanid Era and contributed immensely to the formation of a new world view in Transoxiana and Khurasan. 2 4. The need of the Iranian dynasties and the Iranians themselves to know their own genealogy. There was also a need for the revival of the stories of the past. Archeological work in Samarqand, Bukhara. and Panjekent, Merv, and Khwarazm has contributed a great deal to bringing this aspect of the revival of the culture of the Iranian peoples into perspective. 3 5. The great strides that the Iranian people had made in various scientific and literary fields including philosophy, geography, and economics, all of which were intimately related to historiography.

Dimna. Tajnama. Ainnama, Karun wa Javidan, Vis wa Ramin, Taranaha-i Khurasani, and the most significant work, Khudainama,

6. Internal and foreign affairs of the Samanid State. As is well known, during the reign of Mansur ibn Nub (961-976). the might of the Samanid State was very much reduced. At the same time, the power of the Turks was on the rise. This led to a struggle for power among the governors and the nobles. As a result of this type of unrest, it became necessary tb ste!Jl the tide of fragmentation at all costs. In order to restore full control to the government, an attempt was made at a revival of the ancient Iranian ethnic identity. Scholars. including the Prime Minister Abu Ali Bal'ami, began to

1 Qarshi, op cit, p. 297; Zarrinkub, op cit, p. 21. 2 Zarrinkub. op cit, pp. 157-58. 3 Ne'matov. pp. 36-73 & 151-254.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


publish materials on the subject. Indeed, Bal'ami's Tarikh-i Tabari is the product of this very effort. I As mentioned above, most ninth and tenth century authors wrote their works in the Arabic language. In fact, almost none wrote on history using the Persian language. Nevertheless, the Arabic-speaking Iranian historians did not neglect the methodology used by their ancestors in organizing books dealing with history. Rather, they used those methods, especially those developed by the Sassanians, as their guide for furthering the study of history. In their writing, too, they retained the warmth that they felt about their ancient Iranian heritage. That is how local Sassanian, Sughdian, and Khwarazmian reports creep into contemporary works by Sa'alibi, Biruni, Dinavari, and the like. Without a doubt, these works are influenced by the ideas of the Shu 'ubi thinkers. The most famous of the ninth and tenth century authors, to wit, Abu Muhammad Abdullah ibn Muslim Marvazi-i Dinavari, Ibn-i Qutaiba, Ahmad ibn Abutahir-i Taifur, Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Azhar-i Akhbari, Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Sulaiman-i Bukhari, Abu Ali Hussein ibn Ahmad Sallami, Ibrahim ibn Muhammad Baihaqi, Abubakr Muhammad ibn Ja'far Narshakhi, Abusa'id Abdurrahman ibn Muhammad Idrisi, Hakim Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Abdullah Bai-i Nisaburi, Abulharis Asad ibn Hamdun-i Varasini, Abu Mansur Muhammad ibn Abdurrazzaq, Abu Muhammad Abdullah ibn Ahmad-i Muhammad-i Farghani, Ahmad ibn Abdullah-i Farghani, Abubakr Muhammad Khwarazmi, Abu Ishaq Ahmad ibn Yasin-i Haddad, Mutahhar ibn Tahir-i Maqdisi, Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Ahamad ibn Yusif-i Khwarazmi, Mas'udi, Abuali-i Miskavaih, Sa'alabi, Ibn-i Faqih, Muqaddasi, Ibn-i Vasih-i Ya'qubi, Abulabbas-i Ma'dani, Abu Raihan-i Biron, and many others, wrote their most important works in Arabic. 2 It is unfortunate, however, that most of these works are apparently not available today. Excerpts, reports and discussions of their works, however, have come to us by means of other, more recent, works. For instance, the famous tenth-century historian, Mas'udi, enumerates the names of some eighty historians in the introduction to his Muruj az-Zahab. 3 Basing their evaluation on that kind of scholarship, scholars like E. G. Browne and H. Qarshi state that Iranians have not been as progressive in historiography as the Arabs. 4 Such cursory remarks regarding Iranian historiography are, of course, unacceptable, a point that we have already made. In a separate study, we will deal with the histories written by PersoTajik authors in the context of the work of Abuali Bal'ami. At the present,
Ilsmatov,p.I996,p.19. 2 Zarrinkub, op cit, pp. 23-66. 3 Ibid., p. 25. 4 Browne, 1930. pp. 442-43; Qarshi, op cit, p. 297.

let us cast a glance at the type of works that are intimately related to scientific historiography. The following types of histories were formed during the reign of the Samanid rulers of Transoxiana:

1. The Calendars
Calendars were the most usual types of historiography. The important event of the year were recorded chronologically under each given year. The interesting thing about this type of historiography was that the dates (tarikh) were assigned by the authors. Could it be that history (tarikh) as a field grew out of assigning dates? In almost all calendars, the time, the location, and the perpetrator of the event are recorded. The most famous calendar at the time of the Samanids was Tarikh alRusul wa al-MuIuk of Abu Ja'farMuhammad ibn Jarir ibn Yazid atTabari (829-923).

2. Dynastic Histories, also known as Tabaqat
The word "tabaqat" usually a reference to one generation, embodies the different histories of the other people of the time as well. A careful study of the contents and themes of these dynastic histories reveals a close resemblance between these and the tazkiras. Tarikh-i Saffarian of Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Azhar-i Akhbari (d. 924) is a good example of such dynastic histories. Although these histories include interesting and, at times, crucial information, their contents must be considered carefully. There is, usually, a tendency towards embellishment that is absent in more serious works on history. In Zarrinkub's words, "These histories, supported and promoted by the government and the ruler, cannot remain impartial. They had to include high praise for the ruler, the victories of major commanders, and the like. At times unwillingly and often forced, the authors engaged in fabrication of events and in high praise of those who, allegedly, participated in them."1 Another good example of such histories is the Tarikh-i Yamini of Abu Nasr Muhammad Abdul Jabir-i 'Utbi, which deals with the end of the Samanid and beginning of the Ghaznavid Era.


3. Tazkiras
Tazkiras are among the best types of historiography. In the tazkiras we can access information on the lives of scholars, literati, shaykhs. faqihs. theologians, mystics, medical doctors, wise men, poets, intellectuals, nobles, and other greats of the land. According to their content and the type of information provided, the tazkiras can be called

1 Zarrinkub. op cit, p. 43.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


"literary reports." The most interestiQg aspect of these works is their lack of political bias.

nors, but they have not survived. There are also books that deal with the lives of different nations and peoples.

4. World Histories
This is, of course, the mo'St usual and the most well-known type of history. Several accounts of world history exist that have been written before or during the rule of the Samanids. Tabari's al-Tarikh, for instance, is a kind of world history. A majority of these histories begin with the story of creation, the advent of Adam and Eve, and end with the events at the historian's own time. The history of dynasties was also somehow included in these works. During the Samanid Er.a, most of the world histories presented placed an unusually heavy empnasis on Islamic history, making the histories of the time primarily histories of Islam. Tarikh-i Kabir. Tarikh-i Ya'qubi of Ibn Vazih-i Ya'qubi, 'Uyun al-Akhbar of Ibn-i Qutaiba, Muruj az-zahab of Abulhassan ibn Ali-i Mas'udi, Tarikh-i Sana-i Muluk ul-Arz wa al-Anbia of Harnza Isfahani, Tajarib ul-Umam of Abu Ali Muskavaib, and Tarikh-i Tabari of Abuali Bal'ami are examples of this kind of historiography.

7. Life Histories
The lives of kings, rulers, wazirs, poets, intellectuals, learned men, among others, produce material for life histories. A main feature of these histories is their emphasis on literature. The Akhbar of Abu Ubaid Abdul Vahab ibn Muhammad-i Juzjani about the life and time of Ibn-i Sina is an example of this type of historiography.) It should be mentioned that, in the Middle Ages, genealogies assumed many forms.

8. Futuhnamas
These histories deal with political and military affairs. Histories of Sa'alibi, Mutahhar-i Maqdisi, Dinavari, Firdowsi, and many others fall into this category. The Futuhnama is the most widespread type of history produced during the Middle Ages. In addition to the categories outlined above, there exists also a series of works that are encyclopedic in nature or have history-cum-geographic value. At times, they are also introduced as histories. As can be seen, the Samanid Era introduced fundamental changes in the manner histories were recorded and presented. Indeed, at this time historiography as a science was formed, various types of histories emerged, and many scholars contributed to the development and growth of the field. Furthermore, there was a special consciousness about history whereby historians sought new methods for discovering and documenting history. An example of such dedication is Abuali Bal'ami, whose worthy legacy continues to benefit historians. In fact. the contribution of Bal'ami to historiography is in many ways, comparable to the contribution of Firdowsi to the revival of the Persian language and the epic tradition. Rather than a translation, Tarikh-i Tabari. as shown by other scholars, is a study of history as well. 2 Diverse subjects, including methodology, selection of written and oral sources, comparison of reports and documents, addition of explanatory notes, criticismof reports received, classification of data, establishment of chronologies for peoples and nations, lives of prophets, kings, governors, and nobles, and the promotion of language, culture, and religious thought of the Samanids fall within the purview of Bal'ami's oeuvre. Besides, at this time, a great deal of attention was paid to the relationship between history and other fields. especially the field of political sci1 See Sultanov, 1980. 2 Ismatov, op cit, pp. 20-21.

S. Local Histories
Although many such histories were written during the Samanid period, not many of them have survived. These histories are usually devoted to accounts of social and economic life of particular cities, regions, villages, and the like. Often, documents found in these histories cannot be found anywhere else. Tarikh-i Baghdad of Ahmad Abu Tahir-i Taifur, Tarikh-i Bukhara of Abu Abdullah Bukhari, at-Tarikh /i Akhbar Wulat-i Khurasan of Abu Ali Sallami, Tarikh-i Bukhara of Narshakhi, Tarikh-i Samarqand of Abusa'id-i Idrisi, Tarikh-i Muluk-i Kish wa Nasa/of Abul Haris-i Vrasini, Tarikh-i Hirat of Abu Ishaq-i Haddad, Qumnama of Hassan-i Qumi, Tarikh-i Nishapur of the governor of Nishapur, and many others are examples of this type. As can be seen, many local histories have been written about the cities and provinces of Khurasan and Transoxiana, but not all have reached us. Those which have, of course, are of immense value for our studies of those regions.

6. Genealogies
These histories are devoted to the bloodline of particular individuals of distinction. During the Middle Ages, this kind of history, also referred to as shajaranevisi. belonged to important religious personages. A number of genealogies have also been devoted to the kings and gover-

Samanid Civilization


ence. In relation to this. the policies of the Amirs were scrutinized by the scholars and cruel aspects were criticized and excised. Many historians chose to leave the comfort of the court for the freedom of writing critical accounts about the kings and nobles. Bal'ami's Tavqi'al is a case in point. 1 The full exercise of these efforts led to the establishment of a new field. political science. Traces of that field during the Samanid Era are still detectable. While some scholars emphasized the interrelationship between politics and history. others underscored the relationship between philosophy and history-philosophy. of course, in the wider or encyclopedic sense of the word. In this regard Abu Raihan al-Biruni's Asar al-Baqiyah and Mal ulHind come to mind. Blending his philosophy of history with scientific logic, al-Biruni presents a view of the culture of his time that is as advanced as any culture during subsequent centuries to his time. Habits, customs, national and ethnic classifications, and religious and ideological biases are all examined with detail that is not found aI}.ywhere else in the literatures of the time. Of course, in this regard, al-Biruni was not the only scholar who allowed his own world view and ideas to influence his work. He belonged to a group of historians which also included Bal'ami, 'Utbi, and Miskavih. Finally, there was a view of history that continues to fuel our understanding of the field. That is history used as a guiding light or a teaching tool by the future generations. 2 Due to their complexity, many issues involved in an understanding of Perso-Tajik historiography cannot be accommodated within the space afforded here. It can be stated, however, that the impact of historiagraphy on Samanid society was not much less than that of the literary genres, especially poetry. In fact, the rules and regulations that were devised for historiography at this time became the guiding light of future historiographers of Perso-Tajik. culture. In his most unique work, Abuali Bal'ami has preserved the essence of the knowledge of historiography both as it was during his time and as it had been in ancient times. In other words, he has preserved the very source on which the Sarnanids drew for the revival of their heritage.

After the advent of Islam, from the point of view of religious thought and religious sciences, the Samanid Era is unique. No other era has witnessed the type of religious diversity, freedom, collaboration, and open discussion of religious matters as the Samanid Era. During this time! not only was prejudice reduced to its lowest level, but philosophical and theological discussions were promoted and.freethinking was encouraged.

The Situation of the Ancient Religions
The view that the Arabs and the Islamic religion destroyed the ancient creed of the Iranians by obligation or brute force is not correct. We should not condemn the Arabs and the religion of Islam for atrocities committed by tribal peoples like the Turks and the Mongols. Documenting his statements with materials from Sural al-Arz, Hudud al- 'Alam, Masalik atMuluk. and other pertinent sources, Zabihullah Safa says, "During the fourth century of the Islamic Era in Iran, the ancient religions continued to flourish. Christianity, JUdaism, and Zoroastrianism were practiced by large numbers in the population. Among these religions, Zoroastrianism was the most widespread. "I According to these sources, Zoroastrianism had been practiced widely in Tabaristan. Khurasan. Transoxiana, Sistan, and Khuzistan and had enjoyed the presence of large congregations. According to Sural al-Arz, the strength of non-Islamic factions in areas like Ghur had been to a degree that geographers had referred to the region as "Dar al-Kufr" or the "abode of the irreligious." Zabihullah Safa further states that, "Large numbers of Zoroastrians and Manicheans lived in Transoxiana and its environs. "2 Academic V. V. Barthold stares "Already during the ninth century, Transoxiana was considered a true Muslim land whose people fought the infidels. Yet, during the tenth century, in addition to Jews, who still lived there, Zoroastrians (Magi), Christians, as well as a smaIl community of Manicheans resided in Samarqand. "3
I Safa, 1964, p. 230. 2 Ibid. 3 Barthold, 1965, p. 122.

L. D. Baimatov

1 Ibid., p. 17. 2 Qarshi, op cit, pp. 299-303; Rosenthal, 1952, pp. 122-24.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


Barthold's statement is supported by Abu Raihan al-Biruni (end of tenth, beginning of eleventh century) who attests that a group of Manichaens, known as the Sabiin, resided in Samarqand.' This idea is further elaborated on by Barthold in two of his other articles, i.e., "Cultural History of Turkistan" and "Turldstan during the Islamic Era."2 Both works also discuss the religious situation during the rule of the Samanids. According to Barthold, the Zoroastrians were in charge of the city's water distribution. As a compensation for their efforts, they were exempt from taxes levied on non-Muslims (jiziyah). He further states that there had been mention of Zoroastrians in Bukhara and Khwarazm as late as the eleventh century. 3 The Samanids had given religious freedom to the minorities, allowing them to hold their festivals freely. For instance, Muslim Iranians held their Iranian festivals in full form alongside their Muslim al-Biruni, in several instances, refers to Iranian festivals that had been held during his time. For instance, he writes the following about the Azar Jashn, "But during our time, the people of Khurasan hold this festival during the month of Tir. "4 Zabihullah Safa writes the following about the same subject, "The Zoroastrians, as well as other people, were free in the exercise of their religious beliefs. Some of their customs were even adopted by other peoples of the region. During the celebration of pagan (Zoroastrian) festivals, the bazaars were decorated and during the Nau Ruz and Mihragan, too, they held the festivals of the Magi. They even used the same names for their months and days as the Zoroastrians."5 According to Mas'udi and Maqdisi, Zoroastrian temples of fire continued to operate until the fourth century, i.e., until the time of the Samanids. They write, "The fire temples were still in operation. In fact, Muslim rulers guaranteed that the religious structures of the "ahl-i kitab, " or people of the book, including Zoroastrians, would be safeguarded." Zabihullah Safa, too, echoes the above-mentioned medieval geographers and states that Zoroastrian temples of fire were numerous and that the written sources, on both geography and history, attest to that. 6 Mutual cooperation and understanding was, of course, often marred by instances of prejudicial struggles, such as an incident that occurred in Shiraz in 369 A. H.7 The general trend of the era, however, promoted cooperation and coexistence. According to written sources and the research of Western scholars, during the Samanid Era, Manicheism continued to flourish in Transoxiana,
1 al-Biruni, 1990, p. 224. 2 Bartold, op cit, pp. 211-221. 3 Ibid., pp. 122-211. 4 al-Biruni, 1990, p. 241-42. 5 Safa, op cit, pp. 230-231. 6 Mutahhari, 1992, p. 162. 7 Safa, op cit, p. 231.

especially in Samarqand and Bukhara. Even during the Sassanid period, the followers of this creed found more freedom for themselves here than in southwestern Iran. During the tenth century, even into the eleventh, according to al-Biruni, Manichaen communities lived in Samarqand. According to the anonymous geographer of Central Asia, they even had their own temple which they called Nigoshak. According to an-Nadim's Fihrisl, the number of Manichaens was 500. 1 Mazdakism is another religion that exerted a great deal of influence on the people of Transoxiana. This religion appeared in Iran in the late fifth and early sixth centuries of the Christian Era. As a young religion, especially one imbued in political intrigue, Mazdakism had many followers in Sarnarqand, Irak, and Chach. Manichaen and Mazdakite thought even influenced the two branches of Shi'ite Islam-the twelvers and the Isma'ilis. The al-Muqanna' insurrection, which was inspired by Mazdakism, included many Manichaens, Zoroastrians, and Mazdakites among its ranks. Subsequent sources have testified to the great influence of Mazdakite teachings on anti-Abbasid revolts, as well as on the Samanid State. Among others, in his Siyasalname, Khwaja Nizam al-Mulk discusses the role of the Mazdakites, and the Khurramites (followers of Khurram, Mazdak's wife).2 Nizam al-Mulk provides further information on this issue in relation to the insurrection of Sunbadh the Zoroastrian (Sunbadh the Magi) in the middle of the eighth century and in the context of the reign of Isma'il ibn Ahmad Samani. 3

Islam and Islamic Sects during the Samanid Era
The nrst question that strikes the scholar dealing with this era is: Why didn't the Samanids, who were descendants of Bahram Chubin and who claimed to have a desire to revive Iranian values in the context of the Shu'ubiyyah movement-the so-called Iranian renaissance--have a desire to return to the ancient religions of their forefathers, Zoroastrianism, Manicheism, and Mazdakism? The initial response to this question is that the Samanids were not only very wise, but that they had developed a high political proflle. This is attested to by Malak al-Shu'ara Bahar where he indicates that, "The Samanids 'were. astute enough to oppose Baghdad without generating enough animosity to require punitive measures."4 The change of one religion for another, or from one ideology to another, seems
1 Barthold, op cit, p. 216. 2 Nizam al-Mulk reports that Khurrama binti Oracla, Mazdak's wife, surviving Anushiravan's persecution, fled to Ray where she continued Mazdak's preaching. 3 Nizam al-Mulk, 1991, pp. 258, 274. Bahar, 1975, p. 166.



. Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


to have been detrimental to the political well-being of the State. The history of our Nation has proved that moves of that nature are bound to have farreaching adverse effects. Viewing this reality, the Iranians promoted Islam. The fame and renown that was ascribed to Islam, therefore, truly belonged to them. This is evident in the role that they played in the elevation and promotion of philosophy, theology, and other religious sciences. We cannot fmd even one Islamic science at that time in which Iranians were not leaders or did not playa major role. Take, for instance, the field of Qur'anic commentary. Iranian contributors to the field included Tabari (Jami' al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Qur'an), al-Razi (Miftah al-Ghaib), and Zamakhshari (Tafsir-i Kashashafi). Similarly, in the field of hadith, there are no personalities greater than MuI!ammad ibn Isma'il Bukhari (as-Sahih), Muhammad ibn Isa Termezi (al-Jami'), and others. Contributions like Abu Ali Bal'ami's translation of Tabari's Tarikh, building of mosques I and theological schools, and the like are indicative of the Samanids' contribution to the development and expansion of Islam. The next question is whether Islam was imposed on Iran and the Iranians or whether there were other reasons for Islam's speedy expansion among Iranians? Modem scholarship provides some insights. To begin with, Zoroastrianism, after Zoroaster's demise, especially during the Sassanian Era, had lost its doctrinal appeal. Its theology, originally monotheistic, had transcended dualism and was well into the realm of polytheism. As a result, in addition to Ahura Mazda and Ahriman, many yazatas and their evil counterparts-all elevated to the status of deitywere worshiped. Secondly, class discrimination, compounded by the mu'bOOs' prejudicial stance, especially with respect to the kings' oppressive policies, had alienated many people. Edward Browne speaks about .this fact quite plainly when he states, "Obviously, many of those who chose the new religion did so knOWingly and willingly. For instance, follOWing the Iranians' defeat at al-Qadisiyyah, four thousand Dylamite soldiers (near the Caspian Sea) discussed the situation among themselves and defected to the Muslim side. "2 Doubtless, there were some economical and other concerns as well, but none of them by itself is sufficient to displace the ideology of a people that is civilized and that values the heritage that is bequeathed upon it. Regarding the various sects and schools of thought of the time it can be stated that, in general, religious sects and intellectual movements had subsided and four basic schools of hadith: Ash'ariyyah, Malikiyyah, Hanafiyyah, and Hanbaliyyah had emerged. In addition, there were other sects and movements that included the Zahiriyyah (Davudiyyah), Savriyyah, Ithna 'Ashari Shi'ism, Isma'ilism, Ghaliya Shi'is, Qarmatians,
1 Narshakhi, 1897, pp. 62-69. 2 Quoted by Mutahhari, 1992, p. 101.

Khwarijiyyah, Karamiyyah, and the Jahmiyyah. Furthermore, there were some theosophical schools led by hOOith specialists. They included the Qadariyyah, Ash'ariyyah, Mu'tazilah, Sufiyyah, and others. What was left to decide, therefore, was not whether the religion should be followed, but which sect, movement, or intellectual group should be upheld. Contrary to the statements of the sources, religious prejudice was not strong. Sectarian conflicts occurred occasionally in various parts of the caliphate such as between the Shi'ites and the Karamiyya.in Nishapur; Samakiyya and Sidqiyya in Sistan; Arusiyya and Ahliyya in Sarakhs; Ilmiyya and Karamiyya in Hirat; and others in Merv, Nisa, Balkh, Ray, and other places. Fortunately, the governments did not enter these conflicts. Rather, they tried to adjudicate them and maintain peace and harmony. The Samanids in particular allowed a great degree of freedom for all religions and sects. In fact, it can be stated that during the tenth and at the beginning of the eleventh centuries, except for the areas that were already under the rule of Mahmud of Ghazna, religious fanaticism was at a minimum. I The religious scene changed drastically with the advent of the Turkish dynasties, especially with the rise of Sultan Mahmud Sabuktekin of Ghazna. Abbasid superstition, promoted by Turkish overlords assigned by al-Mutawakkil and ai-Qadir, permeated the land. At this time, not only the traditional religions of ancient Iran, but other Islamic sects not sanctioned by the government, were also persecuted.

National and Intellectual Movements in Islamic Garb
Iranian political and national movements, such as the rise of the Samanids in Transoxiana and Khurasan, could not have taken place in a vacuum. They occurred in an intellectual context which itself cannot be fully understood without examining the general state of religious ideology and the theological trends of the time. These trends can be divided into four categories: ahl-i qal, who specialized in hadith and imitation; ahl-i 'aql or rationalists; ahl-i batin or Isma'ilites; and ahl-i hal or mystics. . It should be stated that in n6neof the other countries with an ancient heritage, like Syria and Egypt, had intellectual and national movements been accompanied with a struggle for freedom. And in no other country had the native people used Islam as a shield against Arab bigotry and discrimination. That is why, perhaps, the Arabs succeeded in extinguishing the linguistic, national, and cultural flames of Egyptian and Syrian civi·lizations, but could not repeat the same act with respect to the ancient heritage of Transoxiana and Khurasan.
1 Safa, p. 234-235.

r ..

Samanid Civilization

Samanid Civilization "There is nothing beyond Our ftrst death, And we shall not Be raised again.


Dwing the Umayyid rule, when Arabism was at its peak, Iranians paid special attention to the learning of the philosophy of the ancients. They also studied Islam itself-Muhammad's religion to which the Arabs themselves were alien. This was the best way, perhaps the only way, by which Iranians could demonstrate the depth of their intellectual ability and their sense of ·political perspective. These combined efforts resulted in the installation of the Abbasid caliphate which, in many ways, was compatible with the Iranians' political, intellectual, and national inclinations. The Iranians realized that, while the tenets of Islam were not at great variance with those of the Zoroastrian creed, they were baffling to the Arabs who, as the early Muslims, wished to carry them out to the letter. About the similarities between ancient Iranian creeds and the tenets of Islam, Muhammad Taqi Bahar states, "There exists a great deal of difference... between original Arab thought (i. e., thought introduced by Muhammad rather than by Jahiliyyah thinking, A. Sh.) and the basic Iranian ethical and social norms. Similarly, Zoroastrian monotheism was the same as Islamic Tawhid as opposed to either Greek and Indjan idolatry (and, of course, Jahiliyyah idolatry, A. Sh.) or the Christian trinity.l Islam prevailed in Iran for two reasons. One reason was that, compared to the other civilizations that fell to the Arabs, Iranian civilization received special attention. The other was that the Iranians liked Islam and accepted it without giving the matter a second thought. Compared to the Bedouin Arabs of Jazirat al-Arab from among whom he rose to prominence, Muhammad was an intellectual with germane, innovative concepts for his time. Such concepts were new to the Arabs; they did not have a precedence in their traditional thought patterns with which they could compare these new teachings. In addition to Tawhid. already alluded to, there are several other noteworthy aspects to which attention should be drawn. One such aspect is the concept of resurrection which, in Islam, is regarded as one of the principles of the religion. When this principle was fIrst revealed by Muhammad, the Arabs did not believe it. They thought he was talking about myths that belong to the realm of the incredible. The Qur'an refers to this in several places, among them in the chapter called An'am, verse number 29: And they (sometimes) say: "There is nothing except Our life on this earth, And never shall we be Raised up again. "2 This theme is repeated in the chapter entitled Dukhan, verses 35-36:

"Then bring (back) Our forefathers, if what Ye say is true!"l In the chapter entitled Jathiyah, verse 24, the pre-Islamic ideas of the Zurvanites emerge, ideas that belong to the Jahilliyah times in Arabia: "And they say: "What is There but our life In this world? We shall die and we live, And nothing but Time Can destroy us.''2 As can be seen, the concept of resurrection either did not exist in Arabia or, at least, it did not playa role in their religious world view. Other concepts that were new to the Arabs included the existence of a Sole Creator and of a Detached Supernatural Power. Contrary to the situation in Arabia, the two major principles introduced by Muhammad were not alien to the Iranians. In fact, these were among the cherished elements of Iranian culture that had influenced Islam by way of Semitic religions, themselves influenced by Judaism. It was advantageous for the Samanids to deemphasize a return to the old Iranian religions and promote Iranian culture in the context of an Islamic state.

Prominent Religio-Philosophical Currents
One of the outstanding religio-philosophical trends at the time of the Samanids belonged to the Mu'tazilah. Taking root in the eighth century in Syria and Iraq, the religio-philosophical school quickly spread throughout the Islamic world. The founders of the Mu'tazilah school were Abuhuzaifa Vasil ibn Ata (699-748) and 'Amr Jbn 'Ubaid (d. 744). The conceptual frame of Mu'tazilah thinking consisted of Greek religious thought as well as Zoroastrian and Christian beliefs. As a socio-political movement, the Mu'tazilites were in opposition to the Umayyid Caliphate. This opposition, as is welllmown, resulted in the overthrow of the Umayyid rule and the establishment of the Abbasid Dynasty. In fact, during the reign of the learned Caliph al-Ma'mon (813-833), the creed of the
1 Ibid., p. 1350. 2 Ibid., p. 1361.

r ..


1 Bahar, op cit, p. 155. 2 Yusuf Ali, p. 296.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


Mu'tazilites contended for the position of the official religion of the State.
This, however, did not last long. During the rule of Caliph al-Mutawakkil (847), persecution of both the Mu'tazilites and the Isma'ilis became routine. To escape persecution, the Mu'tazilites scattered all around the country. They gained considerable prominence again during the rule of the Buyids and the Samanids. It was not until the overthrow of the Samanid Dynasty and the establishment of the Ghaznavid Dynasty, and even the later Mongols, that the Mu'tazilite movement finally came to an end. According to Zabihullah Safa, liThe defeat of the Mu'tazilites was a great loss to Islamic civilization because, in, essence, most of the leaders of this movement were the progressive intellectuals, philosophers, and theoreticians of the Muslim world."l

The Ashlari School
The Ash'arite school, developed as a counterpoint to the Mu'tazilite school, brought about the downfall of the Mu'tazilite world view. Abulhassan Ali ibn Isma'il al-Ash'art, himself a student of the Mu'tazilite school, was fully equipped with the logical and deductive equipment of that school. At about age forty, he distanced himself from the Mu'tazilite school of thought and went on to write many books and treatises in refutation of the Mu'tazilite school. Among the points in dispute between him and the Mu'tazilites were the issues of free will and predestination. In this regard, Zabihullah Safa observed, "God is in control of his people. He does what He wishes. His will is paramount. His choice of paradise or hell for them does not constitute any benevolence or tyranny on His part. After all, tyranny enters the picture only after ownership of the oppressed is established. liZ Were we to seek the reasons for the demise of Islamic civilization, we would reach the conclusion that two major factors played prominent roles in this regard. One was the entrance of Turkish rulers on the political scene; the other was the triumph of the Ash'arites, which opened the way to hadith and imitation.

ficial religion was Swmite Islam,l like other religions and sects, Shi'ism was recognized and enjoyed a degree of freedom The fourth century coincides with the occultation of the twelfth Imam of the Shi'ites. The absence of a living imam required the establishment of certain means whereby deputies to the imam could be chosen. The knowledge required to meet this need resulted in profound studies in hadith, fiqh, and kalam. Abu Ya'qub Kulaini, Shaykh Saduq, and Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Hassan Tusi were among the prominent Shi'a scholars of this time. Furthermore, at this time, Isma'ilism had gained prominence among the Shi'ites. The extent of the lnf1uence of this sect in the entire Muslim caliphate on the one hand, and in the Samanid State on the other, is of prime importance. The influence of the sect at the court of the Samanids had reached a point that, for a while, both Nasr ibn Ahmad, and his courtiers, had joined it. Abu Abdullah Rudaki, too, had been among those following the Isma'ili creed as attested to by Ma'ruf Balkhi:
A3 PY.l'aKA myHH.l'aM yCTO.l'H mObHpOH, K-aH,l{ap 6a Kac MarapaB 6a <I>OTHMA.

I heard this from Rudaki, the master of all poets, Follow not anyone in this world, but the Fatimid. The reason for the appearance of Shi'ism is a conflict that arose after the death of the sixth imam of the Shi'ites, Imam Ja'far Sadiq. The question was which of his two sons, Isma'il or Musa, should assume the leadership of the Shi'ite community. Actually, Isma'il, the Imam's older son, had died before his father which, automatically placed the imamate at the reach of Musa. Isma'il's 'followers, however, rejecting Musa's initiation, announced their own candidate, Isma'il's son, Muhammad. From then on, Isma'ili da'is becafhe active both overtly and in hiding. The followers of the sect had been mostly from the villages. As mountain dwellers, they ruled the regions surrounding their territory from fortifications built high in the mountains. 2 The Alamut Fort, north of Qazwin, was the headquarters of the leader of the sect. The main territory ruled by the Isma'ilis included North Africa and the Middle East where the Fatimid Dynasty (909-1171) ruled. . One of the Isma'ili da'is, who had been in charge of Isma'ili propaganda during the Samanid rule, is Muhammad ibn Ahmad Nasafi (d. 331 AH). A learned man of his time, Nasafi's was instrumental in the acceptance or, at least, in the support that the Isma'ilis received from Nasr ibn Ahmad Samani. If Nizam al-Mulk is correct, as a result of this

The Shi'ites and the Isma'ilites
Iranians were attracted to Shi'ism from the very inception of the sect; apparently it provided fertile ground for the growth of their national and political aspirations. During the rule of the Samanids, even though the of1 Safa, op cit, p. 239.. 2 Ibid., p. 241.



I Bosworth, 1971, p. 146. 2 Barthold, op cit, p. 185.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


afmiation, the people and the court broke away from Nasr, forcing him to divide his kingdom among his sons. 1

The Qaramatiyya
The uprisings that took place under the rubric of the Qaramatiyya constitute one of the more challenging phases of the religio-political phases of Samanid rule. 2 The founder of the Qaramatiyya movement is Hamdun al-Ash'as, known as Qarmat. Hamdun was from Kufa. He was recruited by an Isma'ili da'i, Hussain Ahwazi. Later, in 280 AH, as a result of a conflict between Ahwazi and Hamdun, the latter chose his own sect. Qarmatiyya, therefore, for all intents and purposes, is a sect of the Isma'ili creed. The Qaramatiyya believed that Muhammad ibn Isma'il was the seventh Imam and the Sahib ai-zaman or "Imam of the Time." In defense of their creed they would resort to any means, including murder, especially of those belonging to other Muslim sects. In the tradition that was later to be follo'ved by Ibn-i Taimia and the Wahhabis, they considered visitation of tomt 3, kissing the Black Stone in Mecca, and engagement in religious rituals ':0 constitute kufr or sacrilege. Among the principles of the Shari'a. they believed in tawil. 3 About the relationship between the Isma'ili sects and the national aspirations of the Iranians, Zabibullah Safa says the following, "Some historians and authors have accused the sects of Isma'ilism, whether orthodox or Qarmati, of leaving the fold, masquerading Islam in order to undermine its strength, and restoration of the Zoroastrian creed. If this assessment is correct, then the Qaramatis' creed had combined itself with national zeal in Iran."4 Further on, alluding to the opinions of others, including Shahristani, who included the Isma'ili movement among the overtly national Iranian movements, like the Babak and Maziyar uprisings, he states, "Due to this very nationalistic tendency, in the third and fourth centuries of the Hijra, the Isma'ili da'wa became widespread in Iran. In fact, the creed was offered to many of the prominent figures of the time. Some accepted, while the others rejected it."s In conclusion, the ideologies that created incentives for the movements and the political uprisings during the Samanid rule were religious in nature. Using Islamic sectarian slogans, and appearing sacrilegious, they
1 Safa, op cit, p. 247. 2 For a detailed discussion of the Qaramatiyya, see Ne'matov, 1989, pp. 139-141. 3 Safa, op cit, p. 752. 4 Ibid., p. 253. 5 Ibid.

opposed both the rule of the Arab caliphs and those of the local overlords. Neither was there a dearth of desire in their activities for the reestablishment of the old Iranian creeds. The only conclusion that can be reached, therefore, is that at the time, Islam was in firm control of all aspects of the social life of the region.

Shirzad Abdullaev

Samanid Civilization




In this article, we shall not dwell either on the political and social history of the Samainds or on the reasons for the rise and fall of the dynasty. Many works by eminent scholars have already appeared on the subject. We want to emphasize, however, that in the ninth and tenth centuries, greater Khurasan, i.e., present-day Khurasan and Transoxiana, had a particular importance of its own. That is perhaps why Eastern and Western scholars have distinguished those centuries as "The Golden Age" of the development and maturation of the civilizations of the Near and Middle East.! Others have called the same period, "The Renaissance of the Iranian Peoples" and the "Renaissance of the Tajiks. "2 During this period, all areas of mankind's creative endeavor, not only the sciences and the arts, but government, economics, and sociology as well, were at their zenith. According to the Russian Orientalist O. G. Bodshakov, during the period between the ninth and the eleventh centuries, Transoxiana alone had about three hundred towns and cities. 3 Regarding this, the famous Tajik civilization expert, Nu'man Ne'matov, says, "The ninth and tenth centuries were the period of revival, consolidation, and growth of Tajik civilization in all fields, especially in classical prose, science, music, architecture, and urban construction. Many worthy contributors to the various fields of the sciences and the arts appeared. "4 Furthermore, many worthy studies dealing with Transoxiana and Khurasan were undertaken and published. In the present article, however, we are dealing with only one of the branches of man's knowledge, a most ancient and important branch of human actiVity-the history of science. In relation to the word "Ajam, " the majority of scholars understand this word to mean Iranian, i.e., people who lived within the Iranian kulturbund. There are other scholars, however, who would consider Turks, Georgians, and Armenians to be Ajami as well. This view is appropriate only from one perspective. Being an Arabic word, Ajam means non-Arab. It is' natural for a people to name other peoples using their own tenos. For instance, the present-day call the descendants of Ubaidullah
1 Mez, 1922; Tursunov, 1984; Ne'matov, 1992, 1993. 2 Miras-i Niyagan, 1992, p. 100. 3 Ne'matov, 1992, p. 31. 4 Ghafurov, 1983 and 1985; Ne'matov, 1989; Nasr, 1968.

Shaybani, Uzbeks. Iranians themselves called the Arabs "Tazi." It is possible, therefore, that the term Ajam was originally used to refer to Iranians, but was expanded later to include non-Arab peoples. The study deals with a major network of scientific projects undertaken by competent philosophers, mathematicians, and opticians who provided the lifeline of the enlightened dynasty of the Samanids. The many volumes written about the civilization and culture of the era testify to the greabless of the epoch. The present work deals with only the history of the development of the sciences of the time, man's earliest, and most important, accomplishment.

A Word about "Arab Science"
From the beginning of Orientalistics, more accurately, from the beginning of scholarly investigation of the historical roots of the sciences in the Near and Middle East, most scientific workers and historians have attributed the achievements of Islamic scholars to the Arabs. As if the words Islamic and Arabic were synonymous. Unfortunately, that trend is still followed by some scholars. More recently, the term "Arab" has been replaced by Muslim and the sciences have become Muslim or Islamic sciences. This is an improvement, considering what the scientific scene was like during the heyday of Arab rule. After all, these scholars were Muslims. It is ttue that the official religion of most of the countries in the East, from medieval times to the present, has been the religion of Islam. It is not fair, however, to use the term "Arab science," .as a point of reference to the achievements of the Islamic scholars. The famous, contemporary Iranian scholar, Sayyid Hussein Nasr, correctly writes, "We can, without any doubt, identify most of the philosophers of Islam with Iran. And, we can distinguish what has been achieved in philosophy in the Eastern Islamic domains as Iranian. In fact, in later medieval periods, Iran became the center for philosophy; it was in these regions that the greatest thinkers of the recent period of philosophical thought grew."! However, if Nasr would use "Iran and Transoxiana," instead of only "Iran," his statement would be even closer to justice. I believe that we should expand this concept to cover all other fields of knOWledge. We have to recognize the fact that, during the Middle Ages, Arabic served as the lingua franca. It served very much the purpose that English and Russian serve at the present, or that Latin served in Medieval Europe. Scholars from diverse racial and religious backgrounds-Iranian, Transoxianian, Arab, Jew, Christian, Greek-were involved in creative work. Can we lump all these people together and label them scholars enhancing "Arab Science"? All these
1 Nasr, 1969, p. 19.


Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


scholars had in common, besides an interest in the sciences, was the use of the Arabic language. Another point worthy of mention is that during the Middle Ages, most scholars, in fact, most poets and physicians, were ethnic Iranians. The very method used for the classification of the sciences at the time is indicative of this fact. The concept of classification, of course, dates back to the Greeks but, during the ninth and tenth centuries, in Eastern Islamic lands, major scholars like Abu Yusif Ya'qub ibn Ishaq Kundi (d, 873), Abu Muhammad ibn Zakariyya ibn Yahya al-Razi (865-925), Abu Nasr Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Farabi (873-950), Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Yusif al-Khwarazmi (tenth century), Abu Ali Hussein ibn Ali ibn Sina al-Bukhari (980-1037), Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad Tusi al-Ghazali (1058-1111), and others, contributed to the classification of the sciences of their time. Some of them, like Sharafulmulk Abu Ali Sina and Abu Abdullah ibn Ahmad Khwarazmi (not to be confuse with Muhammad ibn Musa Khwarazmi) have written essays on the subject of the classification of the sciences. Khwarazmi, for instance, has classified all the sciences of his time under the two categories of Arab and non-Arab sciences. Medieval scholars, as well as present-day scientists, believed that the sciences that were not classified as Arab sciences were known as Ajam sciences. These latter were regarded as rational (aqli) sciences as opposed to illusory (naqli) sciences. This is not to mention that, according to some, Iranian rational thinking is deemed to have inspired Greek thought. In order not to deviate from the subject, however, here we shall mention only one instance, the fourteenth centUry Islamic scholar par excellence, Abu Sa'id Abdurrahman ibn Muhammad ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), who says, "Iranians contributed to the rational sciences which made a great deal of progress in their land. This is because their country was vast and because, it is said, after Alexander killed Darius III, the sciences passed from the Iranians to the Greeks." 1 During the Middle Ages, the Perso-Tajik civilization, alongside prose and poetry, has contributed a great deal to the promotion of the exact sciences, especially to mathematics, geometry, astronomy, geography, philosophy, physics, alchemy, medicine, mining, zoology, agriculture, and irrigation. In general, all branches of knowledge dealing with the discovery of nature reached their zenith at this time. In what follows, we shall give a brief outline of the work of the scholars of the tenth and eleventh centuries in several fields of research.

Mathematics and the Theory of Numbers
The Islamic scholars of the eighth and ninth centuries (the greatest among whom was Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarazmi [784-850], also known as the Father of Algebra, in both the East and the West), organized the use of Arabic numbers that had been taken from India. These same Arabic numbers, at the time of Firdowsi, were taken from the Muslim East to the Christian West, where they brought about fundamental changes. Abu al-Vafa Muhammad ibn Muhammad Buzjani (940-998), Abu Sa'id ibn Muhammad Sijzi (951-1024), Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Hassan-i Karaji (d. 1030), Abu Raihan Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Biruni al-Khwarazmi (973-1048), Abu Ali Hussein ibn Abdullah ibn Sina al-Bukhari (980-J037) are among the scholars who studied mathematics and the theory of numbers, and who have left their publications as a heritage for future generations. One of the works of Abu al-Vafa Buzjani al-Khurasani, which discusses the theory of numbers and which has provoked much discussion is Risalah fi Arithmatiqi. 1 The numbers that have the same total, whether added or multiplied, are considered among the discoveries of this scholar: 1+2+3=lx2x3=6 Furthermore, we must add here that European scholars did not use the so-called "Indian numbers" in their calculations until the twelfth century. While Iranians were familiar with the concept of zero some 250 years prior to the westerners.

The Science of Algebra
The completion of the science of algebra is one of the major achievements of the Muslim Iranian scholars. Abu al-Vafa Buzjani started the study of the fourth power equations as follows: 2

x4 =a

'. Abu Raihan al-Biruni divided ax 2 + bx + C = 0 into ax 2 = c, bx = c, 2 ax + bx = c, and ax 2 = bx + c and, for each, he wrote a formula. 3 Another tenth century scholar, one of the greatest mathematicians and astronomers, Abu Mahmud Hamid ibn Khazr al-Khujandi (d. 1,(00), explained the following as yet unresolved equation:
1 Matviyevskaya, 1972, pp. 76-169. 2 Sharif, 1989. p. 405. 3 Asimi, 1973, p. 13.

x:4 + ax 3 = b

1 Nayyer-Nuri, 1967, p. 339.

Samanid Civilization Samanid Civilization 116


x 3 +y3=z3 This equation remained unresolved for another 650 years in Europe until, in 1637, it was subsumed by Peer Fenna (1601-1665) in the following theorem: xn+yn= zn n>2 Even then, as can be seen, the equation does not fmd its own solitary resolution. 1 Another outstanding figure in algebra at this time was Abu Bake Muhammad ibn Hassan-i Karaji. His works, especially Kitab al-Fakhri and al-Kafifi al-Hisab, have attracted much attention. It is also noteworthy that the question of Archimedes, i.e., the question of the division of the globe into two nearly equal parts, was first set forth by Abu Ja'far Khazini-i Khurasani, in the tenth century.

Sin a

=....h...- = ----LSin b Sin c

The Science of Astronomy
The scientists of the Middle Ages, who used Arabic as the medium for their research, regarded astronomy as one of their domains. In fact, dominated by the Muslim astronomers of Iran, astronomy contributed immensely to the field from the beginning of the eighth to the fIfteenth century. During the tenth and eleventh centuries alone, the following observatories were established throughout the Islamic Empire: 1. The observatory built by Abu Raihan al-Biruni 2. The Shams ai-Din observatoiy in which Abu Hamid Ahmad ibn Muhammad-i Saghani (d. 990) and Abu Sahl Vijan ibn Rustam-i Kuhi carried out their work 3. The observatory established by Abu Ali ibn Sina 4. The Buzjan observatory named after Abu al-Vafa Buzjani 5. The Egyptian observatory in which, Abu ai-Hassan Ali ibn Sa'id ibn Yunus made his calculations I The most important publication of this time is Abu ROOan al-Biruni's al-Tafhim Ii Awa'ili Sana'at ta-Tanjim, which was authored in both Arabic and Persian. In it, in addition to important points of astronomy, other scientific fields like mathematics, geometry, and geography were also explored. Al-Biruni is one of the outstanding scientists of the world of Islam, almost of the same status as Abu Ali ibn Sina. Our contemporary scientists, from George Sarton to the Russian researcher M. M. Rojanskajo, have praised his work and stated that al-Biruni thinks like a scientist from the twentieth century. Furthermore it is, indeed, appropriate to mention here that this Iranian scientist, from Khwarazm, discussed the movement of the earth. In other words, five centuries before Copernicus espoused his theory, al-Biruni had already established the heliocentric system, i.e., the idea that the sun is located at the center of the solar system. Another noteworthy point is that the genius Tajik sage, the greatest Muslim-Iranian, and the most prolific scholar of medieval times, Abu Ali ibn Sina, devoted eight years of his life to the science of astronomy, and has some twenty publications in the field. Studying the movement of the planets, Ibn-i Sina discovered the workings of the device now called Nonius. The name, of course, is that of the Portuguese scientist, Pedro Nonius, who rediscovered the same principles in 1542.
1 Sharif, 1989. p. 410.

Geometry and Trigonometry
The tenth and eleventh centuries are also distinguished for achievements in geometry and trigonometry. Among the most outstanding figures in these fields are: Abu Ja'far-i Hazini (d. 971), Abu al-Vafa-i Buzjani, Ahmad ibn Muhammad-i Sijzi, Kashigar ibn Laban-i Jaili (950-1030), Ali ibn Ahmad-i Nasavi (970-1070), Abu Mahmud Khujandi, Abu Nasr Mansur ibn Iraq (925-1036), Abu Raihan al-Biruni, and Abu Ali ibn Sina: The scientists of the time of Firdowsi were fully familiar with sinus, cosinus, tangent, and cotangent. Indeed, Abu al-Vafa Buzjani is the first scientist to resolve the theorem regarding special triangles by introducing the following equation: Sin (a ± b) = Sin a Cos b ± Cos a Sin b Other important figures in trigonometry, who have contributed to a great extent, are: Khujandi, al-Biruni, Ibn-i Iraq, and Abu aI-Hassan Ali ibn Sa'id ibn Yunus (950-1009). The latter, for instance, proved the following equation: Cos a Cos b = 1/2 [Cos (a + b) + Cos (a-b)] Abu Raman al-Biruni calculated the approximate sinus of one degree. He also was the first to discover the following equation for the equilateral triangle:

I Dickson, 1966.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


From among all the aspects of scientific investigation of nature, the contributions of medieval Muslim scientists is greatest in astronomy and mathematics. These contributions cannot be covered in a brief article.

Chemistry and Alchemy
After Imam Ja'far Sadiq (700-765) and Jabir ibn Hayan (722-815) the most celebrated scientist of the world of Islam of the time was Abu Bake Zakariyya ibn al-Razi (865-925). He wrote 22 books on the subject of alchemy alone. The translation of only one of these, Kitab as-Sirr ulAsrar, brought world renown to the Uzbek scholar U. I. Karimov of Uzbekistan. l During the ninth and tenth centuries, two other major naturalist and philosophical scientists, Abunasr Muhammad Farabi (870-950) and Abu Ali ibn Sina, have published on the subject of alchemy. Still another major naturalist and philosophical scientist of the time, Ibn-i Maskuvih (d. lO30), was intensely attracted to alchemy. According to the sources, except for Muhammad Zakariyya Razi, Ibn-i Maskuvih spent more time on this subject than any other scientist. In addition, mention should also be made of two skillful alchemists of the second part of the eleventh century, i.e., Abu Muslim Muhammad ibn Ibrahim-i Majriti, the author of Al-Awzan fi Ilm al-Mizan, and Abdulhakim Muhammad Kasi. the author of Ain us-San'at wa 'Awn usSinaat. The works of these two authors are among the most meritorious publications of that era.

We have already mentioned the name of Abu Bake Zakariyya ibn alRazi. It is important that we also speak about his achievements and contributions. First, as an encyclopedist, Razi was involved in a number of fields to which he contributed. For instance, in his Fihrist, Abulfaraj Muhammad ibn Ishaq ibn Nadim (909-990), the well-known scholar of his time, attributes some 167 publications to Razi.2 Similarly, in his Risala fi Fihrist Kutub Muhammad ibn Zakariyya Razi, al-Biruni attributes 184 publications to him. 3 Biruni even classified Razi's contributions according to the various fields about which they were written. The list included 56 books on medicine, 16 on philosophy, 14 on theology, 7 on logic, 6 on


supernatural forces, lO on mathemaPcs and astronomy, 22 on alchemy. and 33 on other subjects. It is noteworthy, of course, that the word "physics" did not have the same connotations for the scholars of the ninth and tenth centuries, like Razi, as it does for contemporary scientists. The word "fisic" is taken from the Greek word fiYus, which means nature. Even ancient Greeks did not conceive of their ownfiyus in present-day terms. Nevertheless, the ancients' conception of natural phenomena has contributed to the development of the sciences in the Middle Ages. Assignment of special weight to matter eliminated one of the major stumbling blocks in medieval science. Abu Bake Zakariyya ibn Razi has worked particularly on this aspect of physics and has devised rules that enhance those of Archimedes (Archemid, BC 287-212) and Menelaus (Menelai,. first and second centuries). In fact, he even wrote an essay on the subject entitled, Mizan at-Tabi'a: Both al-Biruni and the twelfthcentury physicist, Abdulrahman Khazini, mention this work. Khazini goes even further and discusses the work in his own Mizan al-Hikma. In short, Abu Bake Zakariyya ibn Razi was one of the founders of Perso-Tajik practical sciences. Abu Bake Zakariyya ibn Razi has also contributed to the science of optics. He published a work on optics entitled Kitab fi KaijUa al-Absar buiina fihi 'an al-Absar Laisa iakunu bi whu'a iykhraju min al- 'ain wa iynkadu fihi ashkal min kitab Uqlidus fi al-Manazir. In this work, usually referred to as Kitab fi Kaijiia al-Absar, Razi rejects the theory set forth by Euclid (BC 365-3(0) that light emanates from the eye. Further discussion of Abu Bake Razi's work can be found in the twelfth-century scholar Fakhriddin Razi's Kitab al-Mubahis al-Mashriqiyya. l Abu Bake Razi's discussions on optics were accepted by both Abu Raihan al-Biruni and Abu Ali ibn Sina. During the tenth and eleventh centuries, Abunasr Muhammad Farabi, Ahmad ibn Hussein Ahwazi (tenth century), Abu Sahl-i Kuhi, Abu Ali Isa ibn Ishaq Marqus (943-1008), Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Khwarazmi (latter part of the tenth century), Abu Sahl Isa ibn Yahya Jurjani-i Masihi (977-1011), Abu Ali Hassan ibn Haitham (8651039), Abu Raihan al-Biruni, Abu Ali ibn Sina, Abu Ali Hassan ibn Jayani (989-lOPi», and several others, are among the prominent figures in _ the field of phySICS. Abunasr Farabi was interested in optics, geometry, and acoustics. His works reflect his discussions on those subjects. The most famous physicist of the Islamic world, known as the "Father of Optics," is Abu Ali Hassan ibn Haitham of Basrah, known to the West as ai-Hazen. Ibn-i was recognized by Eastern and Haitham's research in optics and Western scientists to be among the best until the Renaissance. His most
1 Fakhriddin Razi, 1966.


1 Karimov, 1957. 2 INadim, ibn al-, 1971. 3 Kraus, 1936.

Samanid Civilization.


Samanid Civilization


important book is a discussion of light, entitled Kitab al-Manazir, which is known to the Europeans by its Western name of Optical Thesaurus. l Roger Bacon (1214-1292), Leonardo DaVinci (1452-1519), and other Western scientists interested in optics, used Ibn-i Haitham's book extensively. Recognized as one of the most celebrated of Islamic physicists, esalso known for his rules for the pecially in geometrical optics, he fraction of light in transparent materials, and rules for the reflection of light-partial and spherical deflection. His rules for the fraction of light were formalized later under Snell's Law. 2 Ibn-i Haitham also contributed to the fields of mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy. . One of the outstanding physicists of this time was Abu Raihan alBiruni who, as we have seen, was also an expert in mathematics and astronomy. He can easily be recognized, alongside Muhammad Zakariyya Razi, as one of the founders of practical physics in medieval times. He measured the net weight of many solids and achieved a high degree of accuracy. In fact, some of his measurements are the same, or very close, to those achieved today with the aid of sophisticated machines and progressive techniques. In 1923, the Russian physicist, A. D. Khvolsin, recognized al-Biruni as a foremost scientist in the field of the measurement of , solids. The following chart compares al-Biruni's measurement's in comparison to currently accepted measurements: Metal gold silver copper iron tin (arziz) mercury (simab) lead (surb) ruby (la'l) crystal (bulur) emerald (zumurrud)
amber (kahruba)

also one of the accomplished physicists of his time. However, even though the amount of publication and research on the works of Ibn-i Sina is considerable, recognition of his work, especially the study of his oeuvre, has not proceeded as expected. In fact, until Sa'id Nafisi who, in his Pur-i Sina, ascribes 450 works to Ibn-i Sina, the full extent of his contributions has not been delineated. l Needless to say, in spite of all the efforts of the Sina experts, here, at home, and abroad, a full understanding of his works remains a goal. For instance, we do not know the full extent of his contribution to alchemy, or whether he cooperated with other medieval alchemists, especially Abu Bake Razi. What was his position on mathematics and geometry? Did he contribute to mineralogy, botany, zoology, and geology? Ibn-i Sina's approach to the natural sciences was through the medium of philosophy. Even discussions of some subjects related to physics can be found in such works as Danishnama, Kitab as-Shifa, Kitab an-Najat, and others. There are, of course, treatises that deal specifically with a specific subject, such as Mi'yar al-'Uqul dar Fahm-i Jarr-i Isqal and Risalafi
It is believed that Mi'yar al-'Uqul, dealing with mechanics, was originally written in Persian. Known as a craft, in the sense of the ingenious use of devices, the science of mechanics included the use of pulleys, levers, and other implements that facilitated the accomplishment of otherwise difficult tasks. Mi'yar al- 'Uqul, published by Jalal ai-Din Huma'i in Tehran in 1952, was studied by scholars both in the former Soviet Union and abroad. In the former Soviet Union, this treatise was studied by the famous Soviet mathematician, M. Ahadova, who included a Russian version' of it in her doctoral dissertation in 1965. In 1983, the work was published again, in Dushanbe, as part of Ibn-i Sina's Collected Works. Another treatise, called Quraza'i Tabi'iyyat, consists of four chapters, and discusses zoology, mineralogy, and botany. Chapter four also includes some discussion of philosophy and astronomy. The work was published for the first time in 1953, in Tehran. It was published again, in Dushanbe, in 1983 as part of Ibn-i Sina's Collected Works. This, however, was not a critical study of the work but a mere copying of the manuscript. , The frrst critical study of Quraza'i Tabi'iyyat was accomplished by three Uzbek scholars: F. Zikrillaev, M. Saidmurodov, and M. Usmanov. ' .. Adding a brief description, they published five chapters of the treatise that dealt with physics in the proceedings of the International Conference on the History Of Science, in 1974, in Russian. 2 The present author published the remaining three chapters dealing with physics in 1988, and the entire
I Nafisi. 1955. 2 Zikrullaev. 1974, pp. 152-154.

Asbab ar-Ra'd.

al-Biruni's Measurement 19.05 10.43 8.70 7.87 7.31 13.58 11.33 3.58 2.50 2.75 0.85

Contemporary Measurements 19.25 10.50 8.93 7.86 7.28 13.55 11.34 3.5 - 4.1 2.59 - 2.66 2.67 - 2.77 1.05 - 1.10

This type of discussion of problems of physics are found in his works as well as in his discussions with Ibn-i Sina. He, too, like Ibn-i Sina, discovered that light travels faster than sound. The most distinguished figure among the Muslim scientists of the Middle Ages is Ibn-i Sina. He was a doctor of medicine, a philosopherastronomer, a linguist, a vagabond poet, and a mathematician. He was
1 Zendegi Nama-i Farahi, 1976, p. 6. 2 Sharif, 1989. p. 424.

Samanid Civilization


work in 1990.! There are, of course, a number of parts of this treatise that await investigation. Ibn-i Sina's Collected Works also included his Risala dar Zikr-i Sababha-i Ra 'd. 2 The Russian version of this Risala appeared in 199J.3 Ibn-i Sina's works on philosophy and physics include movement, friction, force, infmity, light, and heat. He considered physics to include matter, as he explains in his Danishname. "And physics deals with that which cannot be conceived of, without the inclusion of matter."4 He also devised a device for measuring distances that was very much like the present-day Vernier. He even indicated that although light travels faster than sound, its speed is limited. s In the field of optics, using simple observations, he refuted the erroneous concepts of the ancient Greeks. At the time three theories were accepted. The first theory indicated that light issued from the eye; the second indicated that light emanated from the object. The third accepted both of those theories. On this subject Ibn-i Sina wrote, "Opinions vary on the subject of optics. It is thought that light issues from the eye, strikes the object and makes it visible. This, however, is an impossibility. How much force would be necessary in the eye to enable it to see half the world! Then a group of physicists (he is thinking of Galenus and his followers, A. K.) explained the impossibility by relating that light emanates from the eye with a possible reinforcement by the outside air. This, too, is impossible, because a lot of viewers will be needed for a task to be performed. In other words, those with weak eyes should be able to see better when in the company of others, which..." In this article, an effort was made to briefly outline the contributions of the scientists of the Samanid Era. However, space did not allow a full discussion; scientists involved in zoology, animal husbandry, agriculture, mining, medicine, and philosophy were not discussed at all. It is hoped that future scholars would credit the efforts of the scientists of the Muslim East, who not only illuminated their own world, but went on to serve as beacons showing the way to future generations. Indeed, we can state, that within the civilization of the Fars-Tajik peoples, Ibn-i Sina maintains the same status that Newton does for the British, that Galeleo and Dekart have for the Italians and the French, and that Lamansev has for the Russians.

Books and libraries have a special place in the history of the PersoTajik people. The many manuscripts that have survived, more importantly, the contents of these manuscripts, indicate that our ancestors commanded vast reserves of knowledge. This, of course, makes the manuscripts an indicator of the level of the community's willingness, and ability, to document and distribute the fruits of the research of its members. Indirectly, of course, the community helps itself as well by recruiting new contributors from among its members.! . An understanding of the role of books, and the manner in which books were cataloged and circulated during the time of the Samanids, is essential. Such a study will, no doubt, help us understand the social, governmental, and other aspects of the state. It will also show us how the affairs of state were organized and carried out. It also should be added, that the library system of the time of the Samanids was complex. Illustrating its role would require an understanding of the following considerations: the shape and themes of the books; methods of library management; guidelines for keeping books; cataloging (private and state-libraries); book markets; and guidelines for the exchange of books. Other considerations include serving clients, the impact of books and libraries on society, the role of libraries outside the community, and the distinction among primary sources, translations, commentaries, stories, scientific manuals, and literary books in 10cal libraries those in libraries belonging to neighboring domains. Without a doubt, libraries played a major role in the endeavor of the Samanids to revive the past glory of our ancestors. Learning about their efforts is also instructive for the present-day Tajiks as they struggle with similar social, political, and economic issues. Books and libraries served the Samanids as a means of liberation; books helped them discover their own identity as Iranians who were suppressed by the Arab culture. In fact, books and libraries can easily contribute to our understanding of the current situation, as we try to extricate. ourselves from the binds of the past decades. What lesson can be more instructive for us than an understanding of the dynamics of the rise of TraIisoxiana and Khurasan after centuries of Arab domination12 The Arab invasion introduced many changes into Central Asia. These changes, in our way of thinking, included the following:
1 Dmitrieva, 1987, p. 407. 2 Jalilov, 1980, p. 3.

A. Kameli
1 Kamilov, 1988, pp. 21-25; Kamilov, 1990. 2 Ibn-i Sina, 1983. 3 Kamilov, 1991, pp. 64-68. 4 Ibn-i Sina, 1980, p. 108. 5 Sharif, 1989. p. 425.

Sarnanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


1. Sale of manuscripts. 2. Appearance of new literary genres such as qasida. masnavi. ghazal. ruba'i, and qit'a. 3. Appearance of new architectural fonns such as mosques, madrasahs, and khaniqahs; most of these structures housed large numbers of books. 4. Creation of bibliographies that encompassed all the books circulating in the caliphate. 5. Enrichment of terminology and enhancement of the science of library management.
In talking about the contributions of the Sarnanids, we should recall that it was under the Sarnanids that the Persian language was revived and employed in the production of books, and that the Tajiks as a people carne into existence. If the civilization of the Sarnanids is known for one thing, it is for its recognition of the value of books and for the science of library management. According to Dinarshaev, "The spiritual values of the era [i.e., the Samanid Era], too, were high. We know of hundreds of philosophers, mathematicians, astronomers, physicians, alchemists, geographers, historians, literati, and others, who lived in cities like Bukhara, Sarnarqand, Merv, Tirmidh, Balkh, Gurgan, Farghana, and Khujand, and who contributed to aspects of Sarnanid civilization. In other words, this period created many "greats" in diverse fields of knowledge, who went on to establish schools that taught their descendants the knowledge that they themselves had learned and enhanced." I Great men of literature and science like Rudaki, Firdowsi, al-Biruni, Ibn-i Sina, Narshakhi, Balkhi, and others contributed to the enrichment of the fund of manuscripts that promoted the sciences and the arts in subsequent centuries. We can say, with certainty, that books and libraries had a prominent place in the administration of the Sarnanids; we can also say that this special attention to knowledge served the Samanids very well. The tradition, of course, we should add, was primarily urban, with the capital of Bukhara receiving the most benefit. Perhaps it was the output of the many scholars in Bukhara that demanded exclusive attention to library management. What were some of the factors that contributed to the Bukharan tradition of library management? Here is a brief list: I. Availability of Greek and Syriac sources. 2. Use of religious texts such as the A vesta, the Bible. the Torah, and the Qur'an. It should be added that in this regard, we' are not dealing with conjecture, but with facts reported by Abu Raihan al-Biruni. In
1 Dinarshaev, 1980, p. 6.

his Asar al-Baqiyah. al-Biruni emphasizes the fact that Zoroastrian, Manichean, and Buddhist communities were active in and around Bukhara. In addition to al-Biruni, the works of Ibn-i Sina testify to the existence of Greek works at the disposal of the scholars of the time. In fact, in his Risala-i Sarguzasht, Ibn-i Sina addresses access to Greek materials directly. Helped by his teacher, Abu Abdullah Natili, he studied the Introduction (isaquji) of Farfurius, the Principals (usul) of Euclid (Uqlidus), and the Majesty of Ptolemy (B atlarnius). 3. The elevation of the literary works of such poets as Abu Abdullah Rudaki, and the appearance of genres. 4. The appearance of prose works, especially of scientific prose. Examples of this kind of prose can be found in Hodud al- 'A lam. written by an anonymous author, and in Abul Mu'ayyid's 'Aja'ib ul-Buldan, Muhammad Ayub's Risala-i Istikhraj, Tabari's Tarikh ul-Rusul wa al-Muluk, Ibn-i Howqal Hamadani's Kitab al-Buldan, and Abu Bairr Narshakhi's Tarikh-i Bukhara. 5. The publication and distribution of books on theoretical and practical aspects of knowledge, exemplified in the record of accomplishments of the great Abu Ali ibn Sina. 6. Increase in the number of translations into Persian of the Qur'an, as well as commentaries, in Persian, of the other holy scriptures of the Muslims. In this category, mention must also be made of such books as the Kalila wa Dimna, as well as translations of a host of other technical manuals, and books dealing with diverse subjects. The existence of these books, of course, begs the question: Where were these books kept and under what conditions? They were kept in libraries, the existence of which at such an early age was one of the achievements of the Sarnanids. In fact, at the time, two types of libraries were in operation: state and private. We know about the libraries that belonged to the state from our knowledge about Sivan al-Hikmat. one of the most well-known libraries of the time. Knowledge about the workings of this library is provided in Ibn-i Sina's directions to his student, Abu Ubaid Juzjani. Recorded in Risala-i Sarguzasht. Ibn-i Sina's account reads as follows, "One day I asked his (Nuh ibn Mansur Samani's) permission to visit his library and study the books on medicine. When permission was granted, I entered a large building with many rooms. In each room there were a number of boxes placed one on top of the other. In each box, there were many books. One room was dedicated to the books on Arab science and poetry, another to jurisprudence, and the like. After I studied the list of books on the works of the ancients, I asked for the books that I needed. At the Sivan al-Hikmat. I saw books that no one knows their names, books that I had never seen before, and which I never carne across there-


Samanid Civilization


Sarnanid Civilization


after. I learned a great deal from those books; I certainly came to understand the limits of every individual's knowledge."l A careful study of the facts presented thus far yields the following results: 1. At the time of the Samanids, especially in Bukhara, there were a number of well-equipped libraries which operated at a high level. Sivan al-Hikmat exemplifies those libraries to a great extent. 2. Libraries operated according to the tradition of library management of the past, in taking care of books, serving clientele, keeping a list of their holdings, along with a description of the contents of individual items. 3. In addition to State libraries, there were a number of personal libraries. According to S. Sulaimanov, Rudaki owned a personallibrary that housed books on science, literature, and religion. 2 Ibn-i Sina's teachers, Mahmud Massah, Isma'il Zahid, Abu Abdullah Natili, and Abu Man':lf Qamari also owned their own personallibraries . . is important to recall that during the Samanid Era, the revival of ancien. trc.ditions reached its zenith. As mentioned, this revival could not have been realized without the publication of books. In fact, authorship of books in the Persian language had achieved a special status. A major feature of these books was the use of scientific tennin()logy devised exclusively for the Persian language. Rudaki wrote his Kitab al-Tajhim, following the order of Ali ibn Ma'mun Similarly, Ibn-i Sina wrote his Danishnama, following the directive of the governor of Isfahan, Alauddaula Kakavih. Besides the libraries, other places where books were housed included temples of flre, churches, mosques, and khaniqahs (cloisters). Another characteristic of the book situation during the Samanid Era was its relationship to the book market. About this. too, Ibn-i Sina's reminiscences are helpful. He reportedly bought a copy of al-Farabi's Sharh-i Maba'd at-Tabi'a from a stall in the market. According to Ibn-i Sina himself, Farabi's work answered many of the questions for which he had not been able to fmd answers elsewhere. Finally, a study of the books, and library management of the Samanid Era, provides the following information about the social, political. and economic aspects of the time: 1. Manuscripts were the main form in which books of the time reached the libraries. The Avesta, Dinkard, and other ancient books are examples provided in the sources.
1 Ibn-i Sma, 1980, p. 19. 2 Sulaimanov, 1994, p.50.

2. Books and libraries were instrumental in the formation of Tajik identity. 3. State and private libraries worked according to their own sets of rules and regulations. 4. Book sellers and publishers played a major role in facilitating access to books.

Mahirkhoja Sultanzada

Samanid Civilization
3ft FaMo. K-oMa.zty WO.ztH ry3awT, By.zt .ztHJlaM .zt0HM a3 HH nYPJ\apoc. J(ap '4H 6HKap.ztaM, 6HXOJ\HM .ztH.zt. Cy.zt Ha.ztopa.zt 3H 3J\THpOC. ... My JlK a60 J\a3Jl HaKap.zt HHTHco6, Hyp 3H 3YJlMaT HaKyHa.zt


The Samanid Era was one of the most interesting epochs in the development of Central Asian civilization. Indeed, it was the "Golden Age," the age of the fruition of sciences, fine arts, literary languages, and government. It was the era in which, according to most scholars, Tajik identity was formed and the Tajik nation came into existence.' Several factors contributed to the formation of a nation. These include territorial boundaries, conunonalty of culture and, especially. conunonalty of language. It is believed that, along with the formation of the nation, the literary language (i. e, the present-day Tajiki language), was also fully formed at that time. In fact, according to Babajan Ghafurov, the formation of the Tajiki literary language began long before the advent of the Samanids. He further states that the language under discussion had a literature of its own. "There is no doubt that people did not forget their language and culture and that the literary history of the Tajiks pre-dates that of the Sarnanid State. "2 No doubt, in the period immediately preceding the Samanid State, there had been attempts at bridging the gap between the vernacular and the literary language. The following couplet from Abu Hafs of Sughd is indicative of the existence of such an attempt:

Sadness has arrived, joy has departed. I was continuously apprehensive of that. What we have sown will be what we reap, Fate is not something one can avoid. ... Rulership and satire were not enemies, Light does not borrow from darkness. From this time on, composing v.erses in Persian became a tradition and subsequent poets. especially during the Samanids, elevated it even higher. In fact. by providing the poet with appropriate means of living and education, they facilitated his work. About this situation, Ne'matov says, "For the development of the local cultures of Transoxiana and Khurasan, which had been established by several previous Tajik generations, the Samanids· allowed the Perso-Tajik language to gradually displace the Arabic language as the official language of literary productions and scientific treatises.' During the Samanids, Bukhara, Samarqand, Nishapur, Tus, Hirat, and Khujand all became centers of scientific inquiry and culture. In fact, the importance of Persian grew not only in Transoxiana and Khurasan, where their mother tongue was Persian, but in the Caucasus. Asia Minor, and India as well. "2 This shows that as early as the Sarnanid Era, scientific and literary, as well as delicate and critical concepts and views could be easily expressed using the Perso-Tajik language. In other words. the language was already at a high level of development with regard to vocabulary, syntax, and style. This was particularly true of poetry and that is why the tenth century has presented us with a group of poets, each of whom excels the other. It was at this time that the linguistic and literary styles of Transoxiana and Khurasan formed the basis of Modem Persian language and that subsequent generations refmed these styles and produced a conunon language for all Perso-Tajik speakers. In fact, it must be emphasized that the role that Transoxiana played in the establishment of Persian as the language of socio-political change, and of the Arabic-based Persian alphabet for expression of the Persians' needs and aspirations, is admirable. 3 Due to this generous assistance, Persian became the official language not only of

Y Ha.ztopa.zt ep, 6e ep '4H ryHa 6YB a .zt o ?3
How can the mountain goat roam about on the plain? He doesn't have a mate, how can he run about without a mate?
If not that, at least it can be stated that during the Samanid Era, the Perso-Tajik language had strengthened itself and that its situation had become stabilized. Muhammad Vasif is among the first Perso-Tajik poets whose verses have reached us. It is related that he had praised Ya'qub ibn Laith in an Arabic verse. Ya'qub had ordered him to compose in a language that he could understand. Vas if then had rewritten his poem in Perso-Tajik. Ya'qub had liked the verse. The same is reproduced below:

.ztap .ztaWT '4H ryHa .ztaBa.zto,

1 Ghafurov, 1983, p. 494. Ne'matov. 1989, p. 233. 2 Ghafurov, op cit, p. 511. 3 Bertels, 1960, pp. 109-110.

1 Ne'matov, op cit, p. 151. 2 Ghafurov, op cit, p. 508; Ne'matov, op cit, p. 153. 3 Ne'matov, 1989, p. 246; Khromov, 1953, p. 222; Fazilov, 1954.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


Transoxiana, but of the entire population of the Middle East. l In order to measure the impact of this innovation on morphology and syntax as well as the literature of the time, we shall provide a few examples. First, let us examine the use of such vocabulary items as: nigarin, gul-

Live a happy life, enjoy the company of black-eyed beauties, What is the world, but a story written on the wind?
3H nocyx 6apomYIfITy TaHype 3H qyH naJlaHr. TaHr.

gun. nikbakht. guftar. siyahchashman. kala. naghz. maghz. dast, sitara. asman, pas, ragh. bagh. rast. sada. tarazu, bulbul. bazu, tanur. pasukh, zistan, farmudan. shabo zamin. ruz. hurnizhad, ghaliyabuy; and the like.
rap AHrHWT 6a 6emaKK a3 cyxTaHH MaH aHrywT.

Firdowsi Hearing the reply, he became angry like a leopard, Then ordered a narrow oven to be built out of steel.
llapBH3 60 ePOH ma6 OH "to

These precise and sweet-sounding words are understood by all members of the Iranian family of languages.

Bal'ami Parviz and his companions spent the night there. Archaic words (words either not used or rarely used today) are also found in the compositions of the poets of the time:
MaH Hae6aM. KH Mapo 3-OTaWH ramTaCT fly lIapxywT.

Rudaki Were I to touch my burning heart with my hand, • No doubt, my fmgers (angusht) would turn to coals (angisht).
3aH qy HH 6HmHJ.i,lta Kalflwrap KOHOBy xOMym Jlym

Rudaki When this was being said. the woman was silent, The shoemaker was ignorant; stupid, you could say.
qy palflTaH lfIap03 Ba oH)I(aH HHe3 MaHH)I(a J.ly oe)l(aH 6apH xem

I don't feel the cold; because of the fire of separation, My heart to is a temple of frre, my eyes a wine press.
Myfl KH KaHHHa 6a KH 3H FaM 3a60H qaHrH a3 FaMH ryJl. 6ap pyfl 3aHOH HOXOHO. a3 SlK a3 X(B)OHO.

Firdowsi When the time for departure arrived, She felt a need to see Bizhan again. Like Bizhan's, Manizhe's face was melancholy, As she called her attendants to her side. According to Babajan Ghafurov, if we do not include proper nouns in our calculation, the Arabic vocabulary in the Abu Mansuri Shahname will not constitute mpre than 2% of the total. This points to the untiring efforts of intellectuals and authors who intended to purge the language of elements. In the ninth and tenth centuries, this had resulted in a simple language that was accessible to the king and pauper alike. Ornate speech, of hyperbole and Arabism, was not a feature of this time: 2

Firuzi-i Mashriqi The sad lute sings about separation from flowers, It's hair undone, beating its face about. singing. The glass bottle should fall prostrate in prayer, To, momentarily, drive sadness away from the heart.
oa JlaTOM my 3aH6HJly JlaTe JlamKapH 3aH6HJly 6a JlHHr, raWT KyHOM

Muhammad Vasif Zanbil came to Latam, was beaten-about the leg, His army went to pieces, the desert turned to dust.
IIHmaM 00 pyx a3 OH HHropHH a3 KalU1X ryJlryH. 60 lIaWM a3 myx.


3&1 60 KH HeCT "tY3 lfIacoHaBy


Rudaki That beauty came to me in the morning from the tavern, Her cheeks flushing from wine, her eyes enchanting.

1 Gbafurov. 1983, pp. 504-506 and 108-HJ9. 2 Ne'matov. 1989, p. 246.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization




As can be seen, there is very little use of Arabic vocabulary in the literature of the time, especially in poetry. The poetry of the great poets of the time such as Malak aI-Shu'ara Abu Abdullah Rudaki and Hakim Abu al-Qasim Firdowsi are prominent examples of the Persian of the time. In this respect, the assonance created by appropriate vocabulary is of special value:
rYJIJof 6YTH TaTopR, Ha6H.l' .l'opR, 4a,pO HaepR? Ha6H.l'H paBwaH, 4Y a6pH Ba Ha3.l'H rYJlWaH, 4apo HaepR?

Even the eyes of the uncouth rogues, it seems, Can see the bride of the garden, through the eyes of the wind.
Arap FaMpo 4Y OTaw .l'Y.l' 6Y.l'R. TOpHK 6Y.l'R 90BHlIOHa llap HH rHTR capocap rap 6Hrap.l'R, X!1pallMaHlIe Hae6R WO.l'MOHa.

Shahid-i Balkhi
If sadness, like fife, was accompanied by smoke, The world would live in darkness for eternity. If you search this world, from comer to comer, You will not fmd a learned man who is happy.

Rudaki Spring flower, Tatar idol, You have the wine, Why don't you serve it? Clear wine, Like autumn clouds, To the flower patch, Why don't you take it?
ByH IiYH MyJlJofeH O}f.l' E.l'H epH O}f.l'

Compound word formations, a speciftc feature of the literature of the time, have also survived:
03apMox; 6a pY3ropH aBBaJlH 6Y.l'aacT.

al-Biruni During the time of the Khusraus, the month of Azar coincided with the Jeginning of the spring season.
Ba caBTy HaBOIO 6a CHTH MaOHR Tapa66axWH ¢!apaX30H ttOHaM.

Rudaki I detect the fragrance of the Mulian brook on the breeze, I recall the kindness of my love, the recollection I hold so dear.

Rudaki The sound of the instrument and the depth of the meaning, Replenish my and refresh my body.
Ba xywlIHJlR rY3apOH 6ab.l' a3 HH, KH 60.l'H attaJl, llapaXTH YMPH 6allaHl1JofWpo 3H no a<l!KaH.l'.

illaJV-I BaJ\.<I! Kap.l'a 6ap OMOJI MOJI qYH Y He6HMYP.l'R Kace 3-0JlH 30Jl,

A king who bequeathed all his wealth on desire, No one died, from the House of Zal, like he died. Word formation afforded the poet a great deal of flexibility. The affixes used at the time continue to be of use today:
Arap 6yrrap 4Y y naAKap HHropa.l'. Mape3a.l' OH .l'aCTH 6yTrap.

Rudaki Hence forth, live a happy life, as death, Destroys the evil-doer's life, as it would a tree.
Kace. K-aT xyw O}f.l' caponoA yA, KyH 6a .l'H.l'0PY 60JlOH YA.



Also look at the nature and the disposition of one. Whose outward appearance really pleases you.
qyH rYJlH cypx a3 MHeHH HHJlryw E 9Y 3a,pp11HryWBOp a3 xy6ryw

If the idol-maker can make a body like hers, May God bless the incomparable hand of the idol-maker.



BapoH 4aWMH HOaXJle ryR, ApyCH 60f'po WY.l' tU1J1Barap 60.l'.

Rudaki Like a red flower from the waist of the bad, Or a bejeweled ear ring from the ear of the good.

Rabi'a-i Balkhi

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization Forsake the world, stay in, Close the door of the hoUse. bar it up. lock it.


To 6a XOHa 3aHpo 60 3aH HHwacTy W04KOM

Rudaki He took her home at the point of a spear, She stayed there, happy and content. Most of the proverbs and adages used during the time of the Samanids are still in use. This is true both with regard to the spoken as well as the literary language:
rap 4!apoMyw xotta Mapo. XewTaHpo 6a pYl\.ba WHpxopa TO HarHpHCT, ypo 6a Me'\P WHp

Advice, a feature of medieval Iranian literature. continues to be used in various fonns to denote the comfort, harmony, and peace they sQught:
4H3 Map 3H raM TaHH XYH HeKY HOMH HeKY X,ap OH KH HH PY3R KH raM Hax (B)

Rudaki Four things may rid the carefree from sadness, A healthy body, good humor. a worthy name. and wisdom. Whoever is blessed by the possession of these four. Should live a happy life, free from care.
AHrywT MaKyH paHtta 6a To Kac paHtta 6a Ky4!TaHH Kac, Ky4!TaHaT MyWT.

Shahid-i Balkhi

When the master forgot me, I reminded him by sending him a letter. Unless the suckling baby cries, Mother will not wean it, out of love.
HeK 6a jIK rap xop HaTaBOH 4!apoMyw. XYMPO HaTaBOH

ROOaki Don't use a fmger to destroy someone's life. Expect a fj.st to destroy yours, otherwise.
oa OMyXTaH rap MHeH. 3H paBR 6ap cHne'\PH paBOH.


A hundred good deeds are not outshone by one evil act,
If preoccupied with the thorn, you will not enjoy the rose.
Kace. 06 aCTY 060WHOCT, A3 06 ap 4Y 3-OTaw paBocT.

If you detennine to educate yourself,

Through wisdom you will traverse the universe.
HaxycTHH cyxaH a3 HOMaH OH aCT, KH 6a Ma

Abu Shakur-i Balkhi

A swimmer, acquainted with water. Need not fear water, as he would fIre. As we work with the literature of the time, we also encounter certain peculiar phrases:
oHeMy3, TO py3, qy napBOHa Map xeWTaHpo Macy3.

Labibi It is said that the fIrst chapter of the conunentary on the Avesta, Teaches avoidance of the company of the ignoble.
qy a3 OWTR 6a 4aHr, HaKyma4 6a ttaHr .

Abu Shukur-i BaIkhi

Abu Shakur-i Balkhi Acquire knowledge and improve your life. Don't, like the moth, bum yourself.
.llHJI a3 6a XOHa 6HHWHH naCT. XOHa 6a 4!aJIttY

Since reconciliation ends in happiness. The wise would never seek conflict.
5IKe HacID\aTH MaH ryw KH a3 OH X,aMa 6a cy rHpolO KH a3 Ma,nopo 4!apMoH KyH, KH 4!apMoH KyH. Map,n.


Samanid Civilization
Arap4W T ,ltOpWBy W,lt,ltaTW 6wcbep, Ba rwp,ltW rwpolO 6a rwp,ltw ttaHr Marap,lt: Ha KW ,ltopa,lt waMWWp, 605l,lt pa4lT, Ha KW ,ltopa,lt 605l,lt x(B)ap,lt.


Samanid Civilization

Abu Abdullah-i Busti I would like you to listen to my advice, and heed, Only those benefit from advice who follow advice. Seek not but peace and do not forsake moderation, Moderation tests a man's strength of character. Although you are strong and have a large following, Seek peace, never look for, or create, conflicts. Not everyone who owns a sword must go to war, Not everyone who has antidote must drink poison.

According to Fazilov and Ne'matov, syntactic norms also were formed at this time:' Simple Sentences:
Ba XWpBOp CWMy UPY By6axwa,lt <IJappyx 6a 3poHweH.

Firdowsi The auspicious king will bestow upon the Iranians, Tons upon tons of silver, gold, and rubies.
XycpaB a3 3WH,ltOHWeH Ba 6ury:m,lt Ba nywoHW,lt. Map,ltW HeK

Literary phrase construction is another aspect in which the poets of the time of the Samanids were very skillful:
6yTe aflepy lIwJI6ap Hwrope capBKalIlIY MoxMaH3ap. KW TO pyaw 6W,ltW,ltaM, CwpWWKaM XYH wy,ltacTy 6ap Mywattttap.

Introduction to the Abu Mansuri Shahname The Khusrau chose a. thousand good men from among the prisoners and equipped them with armor.
MaH 6a,lt-OH WO,lt wy,lt Ba cyxaHw HeKy ry<IJT Ba MyH3WppO WYKP Kap,lt.


Looking like a She was lovely and tall, with a pleasant face. Since seeing her black eyes, My tears have been blood, my lap a g!Ove.
Hopa4lTa 6a WOxpOXW BaCJIaT rOMe, Hoe4lTa a3 2liYCHW HaMOJIaI KOMe.

Abu Ali Bal'arni I am Bahram. Delighted by those words, Bahram praised them and thanked the adviser. Questions:

KapOHa HOna,ltW,lt. Ka&:f TaBOH Kap,ltaH WWHO, e&:f

Rabi'a-i Balkhi

Rudaki No one who has crossed the path to your door, Has fulfilled the desire of capturing your beauty.
Cuno2li11 wa6w Tupa 6ap ,ltawTy pOf', $IKe <IJapw a<IJKaH,lta 4yH nappw 30f'.

Love is a boundless sea, 0 wise one! How can one swim across it? Use C?f Incomplete Sentences:
OMa,lt 6apu MaH. KR? Ep. Ka&:f? BlU\TW TapcaH,lta. 3w KR? 3w xaCM. XaCMaw KR? lla,ltap. }lO,ltaM-W ,lty 6yca. Bap KyjO? Bap JIa6w Tap. JIa6 6y,lt? HalllR 6y,lt? 9yH 6y,lt? lIy waKapl

Firdowsi Like an army, the dark night has taken over, A quilt, as black as a raven, is spread over the fields.


fylm xyw6Yfl npcaM, OBapa,lt paHr, A3 WH faMM03 cy62liu naplIanap 6o,lt.

Rabi'a-i Balkhi I fear that the fragrant rose might change color, Caressed by the loquacious breeze that passes her by.

Came to my side. My lover. When? At midnight. She fears? Whom? Her enemy. Who is her enemy? Her father. Gave her two kisses. Where? On her wet lips, Were those lips? No. What then? carnelian. How were they? Like sugar.
1 Ne'matov, 1989, p. 246.

Samanid Civilization Complex, Connected Sentences:


Samanid Civilization Cup bearer, pass the cup; musician, play the lute, Let me drink today, our allotted time for merry-making.


3aMHH rHp.l' aCT l,lYl:l ryl:i Ba cIlaJiaK aCT 6ap Bal:i rap.l'OH 6ap .l'Y SlKepo WHMOJIR XOHaH.l' Ba .l'HrappO

Dialog is another feature of the literature of the time. It is used quite frequently in both prose and poetry:
Ty a3 A3 6aHHH Tal:i. A3 Ka.l'OM "a6HJIaH Tal:i? A3 "a6HJIaH 6aHR qH HOMR? Aec 6HHHH I\.y6aMa.

Hodud al-'Alam The earth is spherical like a ball, and the firmament is placed thereon; revolving on two poles: the north and the south poles.
CapB aCT OH e 60JIO, OH e pyl:i, 3yJIcIl aCT OH e l,laBrOH, XOJI aCT OH e ryl:i?

Rudaki Is that a cypress, or someone's stature? Is that the moon, or someone's face? Is that someone's hair, or is it a chavgan?l Is that someone's beauty spot, or is it a ball? Complex, Dependent Sentences:
BaCOHH OTaWH Te3 aCT Hw"aM, qYHOH l,lyH .l'Y pyxaw 03ap.

Abu Ali Bal'ami Where are you from? From the Bani Tai. From which tribe of the Bani Tai? From the Bani Hanzala tribe. What is your name? Ayas ibn Qubaiba. The analysis and discussion presented above indicates that during the Samanid Era the Perso-Tajik language had already made great strides in self-suffIciency and in its ability to meet the needs of the state, as well as of the intellectuals of the time. As such, it remained a major pillar in retaining Tajik identity during the diffIcult centuries that followed the demise of the Samanid State.


My love is like fIre ablaze, Just like her cheeks, just like fIre.
TaBcaHR Kap.l'aM, Ha.l'OHHCTaM

K -a3 KaWH.l'aH caxTTap rap.l'a.l' KaMaH.l'.

M. N. Qasimova

Rabi'a-i Balkhi

I pulled the reins, Wlaware that, A tauter string produces a tougher bow.
.l'ap 3aMOHa MaHaM, A3epo rHpHcllTopH MaHaM.

Firdowsi Having committed the most sin in the world, I deserve to be captured by the whoremonger. Mixed, Complex Sentences:
Ty 60.l'aBy MyTpH6, Ty 6H3aH PY.l', To MaH xypaM HMpy3, KH Ba"TH Tapa6H MOCT.


1 Stick with one end bent, used at the game of polo.

Samanid Civilization


The beginning of the new phase of Persian literature dates back to the Samanid Era, when Persian became the language of government as well as of innovations in the sciences and the arts. The quality of Persian literature was bound to the integrity of the language that served as its medium and to the subject matter with which it dealt. A great deal of the materials of the time dealt with the Islamic Shari'a, conunentaries on the Qur'an, and instruction in the ahadith. Nevertheless, the literature that emerged was at once grand. poetic. expressive and, on the whole, comparable with Arabic literature. During the Samanid Era, there was a resurgence of Iranian habits and customs, a particular devotion to the sciences and, as outlined above. in Iranian spirituality. This resurgence included the revival of the Ajam pattern of thought which, of course, permeated the entire gamut of Persian literary tradition, especially Persian poetry. It is worth mentioning that this great national. economic, political. and cultural renaissance did not explode on the Samanid scene without any prior cause. Rather, before the invasion of the Arabs, Iranian society had its own economic, political, and cultural dimensions. During the rule of the Arabs, these aspects of society continued to grow and reach fruition. The time of the Samanids was simply the era during which these fruits of the society's past endeavors were ready to be reaped. That is why it is imperative for us to understand the Samanid Era not only for the great period it was, but for its contribution to the revival of the Iranian heritage. irrespective of the repressive measures of the Arab overlords. . Islam, upon its expansion into Central Asia, began to change the life and cultures of the indigenous people of the region. Indeed, it served as a breath of fresh air that transformed an already existing culture into a burgeoning Islamic culture. It brought many peoples. including the Persians, Turks, Arabs, Kurds, Baluches. and Indians within the same fold and created a suitable ground for the development of an Islamic culture. The veneration of Islam for the newly conquered people was such that it outshone the Arabs' in contribution to the promotion of the new way of life. Rather than a religion, the new believers conceived of Islam as a source of new knowledge and culture. In this regard. the pre-Islamic civilization and culture of the Iranian peoples influenced not only the culture of the Muslim Arabs, but their approach to government as well. Many pre-Islamic literary works, as well as



books on history, ethics, and theoretical philosophy, were translated from Middle Persian (pahlavi) into Arabic. To some extent, we can claim that they were the basis of the Perso-Islamic civilization that emerged after almost three centuries of Arab domination in Central Asia. Arab poets began to use not only the literary devices contributed by ancient Iranians, but the very names and attributes of the mythical heroes of Iran. After the fall of Iran to the Muslims, Arabic became the dominant language. permeating every aspect of the social and cultural life of the region. Scholars and literary figures who hailed from Iran and Transoxiana tended to write their works in Arabic. This to the point that the local Iranian scholars became known as "Arab" poets and "Arab" scientists to the growing Islamic community of the time. Some of these poets and scholars became well-known figures in the so-called Arabic sciences and Arabic literature. In spite of all that. the dialects of Persian, such as the dialects of Samarqand, Bukhara, and the Iranian towns and villages, did not lose their integrity. Moreover, not only the general public, but also literary figures and poets, presented creations of their own in the local dialects. These compositions, excerpts of which are scattered in the.works of Arab historians and in other related sources, are indicative of the level of refinement that the Persian language had achieved at the time. These compositions, however, are varied. While during the initial stages of the development of Islam, they are predominantly influenced by the civilization and culture of pre-Islamic Iran; in later times, they are influenced exclusively by Arabic poetry. From among the local Iranian languages, Dari Persian was a more widespread language and its use was on the rise, especially in the Eastern lands of the caliphate. The reasons were that these regions were at a considerable distance from the center of the caliphal influence and that powerful local rulers continued to uphold the traditions of the past. In other words, the caliphs were nominal rulers of the Eastern lands of Islam. It was as a result of the steadfast resolve and untiring struggle for national independence of the people of Transoxiana and Khurasan that the Taherid and Saffarid Dynasties were established in the East. The formation of these dynasties was a positive step towards the achievement and retention of precious ancient traditions. About the Taherid Era. Ghafurov writes, "[The rise of the Taherid Dynasty] was the beginning of the revival of 10eal civilizations. The credit for playing the crucial role in the renaissance of local cultures, however, should be given to the Saffarids."l The Saffarids promoted the Persian language and used it at court. Imitating, if not rivaling, the caliph in Baghdad, Saffarid rulers, especially Ya'qub Laith Saffar, kept a large number of poets at their courts to glorify their conquests. The poets' task at the court of the Saffarids was difficult. They had to apply all the rules that governed Arabic verse while imparting
1 Gbafurov. 1983, p. 447.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization The perseverance of a Ya'qub is needed, For Ayas to emerge from Jiddah.


fluidity and expressiveness to their Persian creations. In other words, they had to compose poetry that was Arabic in form but Persian in style. As a result, the local color of Persian poetry gradually changed. For instance, from a poem by Hanzila Badghisi, who wrote for the Taherid court, it can be deduced that, by his time, Persian poetry had already internalized the Arabic meters. The simplicity and the national feeling of the poem, however, remain Iranian. Here is that poem:
EpaM CJ.maH,A araplHI 6ap OTam 4Jl-lraH,A. A3 6aJU>1-I qaWM, TO Hapaca,A Map Bapo ra3aH,A. Ypo Cl-lnaH,AY OTam H-OSJ,A 6a KOp, Bo pyl-l oTawy 60 XOJlI-I qyH Cl-lnaH,A.1

My love placed wild rue on the fIre, To drive away the evil eye. No need for the wild rue, or the fire, Her face is fife, her mole the wild rue. Even though a superficial view may not reveal it, the influence of Arabic poetry on the composition is considerable. In general, the poetry has more Arabic words, themes, and metaphors than expected and, conseque ,tly, it is more difficult to appreciate. A few couplets from the poetry of 1lut.ammad ibn Vasif, who wrote for Ya'qub Laith Saffar, illustrate this point:
MaMJlaKaTe 6y,A my,Aa 6e1Vfec. AMp 6ap OH MyJlK my,Aa 6y,A poc. llaBJlaTI-I Slbl\Y6 ,Aapef'o 6I-1pa4JT. MOH,A Yl\Y6aT 6a 6ap xasoC 3ft f'aMO K-oMa,Ay wo,ACl ry3awT. By,A ,AI-IJlaM ,AOI-IM a3 I-IH My JlK a60 HaKap,A I-IHTI-IC06. Hyp 31-1 3YJlMaT HaKyHa,A Slbl\Y6 60SJ,A To KI-I 31-1 l{a,A,Aa 6a,Aap OSJ,A Aec. 2

The above discussion indicates that after the fall of Iran, Khurasan, and Transoxiana to the Arabs and the e?,panding Islamic Empire, neither the local customs and cultural traditions, nor the reverence and vigilance of the people, were considerably undermined. Rather, efforts were exerted to prepare the ground for a revival of ancient customs and cultural traditions. The leading figures in the implementation of this renaissance of language and culture were the Samanid amirs. During subsequent centuries the sapling, that was so carefully planted, grew to the present-day civilization of the Iranian peoples. It should be emphasized that the cultural renaissance that the Samanids spearheaded was not benefIcial to the Iranians of Khurasan and Transoxiana alone; it was a source of pride for Iranians who lived outside the borders of the traditionally recognized Iranian lands as well. That is why scholars from all around the caliphate, all those interested in the language and culture of Iran, visited Samarqand and Bukhara, two of the major cities of the Empire, and participated in the scholarly activities of those centers. It would not be an exaggeration, in fact, if we were to state that Bukhara in the Eastern lands of the caliphate enjoyed the same eminence that Baghdad enjoyed in the Western lands.
HMpy3 6a BaF,Ao,A ByXOpOCT. KYl\o Ml-lpl-l XypOCOH aCT. nl-lpY3Cl OH I\OCT. 1

By all accounts, Bukhara is Baghdad today, Victory resides at the seat of the Amir of Khurasan. The Persian language (Dart) was the main source of great pride, and a tremendous force in propelling patriotism; it was destined to become the official language of the State. The main burden of this responsibility, of course, was on the shoulders of the scholars and the literati of the time, and they carried their burden successfully. They proved that, in all branches of knowledge, including philosophy (Danishname-i 'Ala'i), historiography (Tarikh-i Bal'amiJ, commentary on the Qur'an and in the compilation of ahadith (translation ofTafsir-i Tabari), jurisprudence (Sawad-i 'A 'zamJ, and in composition of eloquent qasidlls and enchanting ghazals, the Persian language easily rivaled Arabic. In the case of literature, for instance, great 1,lSe was made of the vocabulary and syntactic structures of regional dialects, mostly spoken in areas where Arabic had not penetrated. According to Sadriddin Aini, although Ibn-i Sina wrote the bulk of his materials in Arabic, the extent and impact of his scientific and literary explanations is most prominent in works that he wrote in his native tongue. 2
1 Rudaki, 1974, p. 19. 2 Aini, Kuliyyat, pp. 71-72.


The country had become unique, A country that followed (Amr) the law. Alas, Ya'qub's rule came to an end. Torture remains the lot of the great. Sadness has arrived, joy has departed. I was continuously apprehensive of that. Rulership and satire were not enemies, Light does not borrow from darkness.
1 Ash'ar, 1958, p. 14. 2 Ibid., p. 17.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


Rudaki and his contemporary poets made extensive use of the everyday vernacular, including proverbs. local slang, and regional interpretations. Asadi Tusi provides ample examples of this kind of usage. In his Lughat-i Furs. he presents actual couplets in the vernaculars of Khurasan and Transoxiana, as well as explains the Samanid poets' use of them. Rudaki 's verses provide such forms as alfakhtan. anbudan. andama. a/shako baifuz. barkas. baraz. dand. darghan. and others. These fonns are either no longer employed by the people of Khurasan and Transoxiana or are used in some far-off regions of Tajikistan. But, at the same time some forms, like chaghbut. azhida. and lunbak. are still being used in some parts of Samarqand. Tenth century Persian poetry had many of the characteristics of Arabic poetry. Not only the meter and the rhyme, but genres like qasida and ghazal were also taken from Arabic. What was Iranian about the poetry of the time was the themes on which it drew, themes that harkened to ancient Iranian cosmology and mythology still available in Pahlavi manuscripts. In fact, a number of epics based on mythology, masnavis on ethics, and stories dealing with the subject of love were created at this time. All of them dealt with materials belonging to Pre-Islamic Iran. Also, a number of Shahnames came into existence which were based on the Pre-Islamic Khudainame and which bespoke the Iranians' untiring love for their cultural heroes. Rudaki. for instance, versified the ethical masnavi called Kalila wa Dimna. followed by the ancient story called the Sindbadname. His verses. which are scattered among various sources and which appear in mutaqarib. khafif, and hazaj meters, share their rhythm with the love poems of the epics. The efforts of Daqiqi, who began the writing of the Shahname. and of Firdowsi, who finished it at the time of the Samanids, are prime examples of the literary activities of the time. The Iranian spirit discussed above is also a feature of the lyric poems of the time. Ghazal. in spite of its Arabic name, was nothing more than the Iranian tarana or love songs. Along with the popular tarana. chakama. surud. dubaiti. and ruba'i also entered the written literature at this time. Poets took a great deal of pride in presenting their compositions, even in the garb of Arabic verse, to their patrons and the public. The feeling of the time is expressed by Abulabbas Marvazi:
Kac 6atl-HH MHHBOJI nHm a3 MaH lIyHHH mebpe HarylfJT, Map 3a6oHH nopcHpo TO HH HaBbH 6aftH. JIHK a3 OH rYlfJTaM MaH HH TYpO TO KH JlyFaT. rHpatl a3 caHOH Ty 3e6y 3aftH.

In the same vein, in the following. Abulhassan Aghaji Tukhari states that, although as a poet he is as good as any Arab poet, he writes his poetry in Persian:
MaHy 6aftFy JlaKaKe TaHr 6a 5lK cy 3H Apa6HBop 6Hry51M 6a 3a6oHH

Even in this forlorn comer of the world, I compose Persian poetry. in the style of the Arabs. Rudaki elevated Persian poetry to a degree that almost surpassed the fame of Arabic poetry. He considered his own poetry to command more clarity and to be more expressive and thrifty than those of Jarir, Tai, Hasson Sari', and Sahban. This was not, of course, praise for a single the literary world of its time: poet, but for Dari poetry that had
HHaK lIyHOH KH T01\aTH MaH 6ytl. JIalfJ3 xy6y 6a MabHR OCOH. l{y 6a Ca30BOpH MHp rylfJT HatlOHaM. B-ap lIH l{apHpaM 6a mebpy TOHIO X,accoH. aMHpe, KH 3-yCT 3HHaT 3-ylO lfJappy COMOH. CaXT KH MaH 6HHaM051tl. B-aplHl CapeaM a60

Now a poem, composed to the best of my ability. In appropriate words, and meaning, easy to grasp. Since I cannot praise the Mir as well as he deserves, Even though I rival Jarir, Tai, and Hasson. Who can praise an Amir, whom the world praises, Who rules beauty, glory, greatness, and pennanence? I am apprehensive that my shortcoming would show, Even though I am Sarir, eloquent as Sahban.


The poets of the Samanid Era paid special reverence to the religious (Zoroastrian) materials that had survived the Arab onslaught. This was not simply a case of safeguarding one's heritage and cultural values, but that in each of the facets of the religious life of the past they saw a bit of themselves. In a verse that begins witltthe f,Pllowing bayt:
llep 3Hetl OH 6y3yprBop xy tlOBaHtl. l{OHH rHpoMR 6a aHtlap naftBaHtl.

No one, before me, has composed this kind of poetry, To showcase the lucidity of the Persian language. I composed this song in your praise, however, To embellish my rhyme with your glory.

May that great lord live an ever-lasting life, May my dear soul join his gracious soul. Rudaki praises the knowledge and wisdom of his patron as follows:
1 Rudaki, 1974, p.66.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization
Bapxe3y 6apa<l>py3, I\H6J1a1-1 3ap,ltywT, BHHWHHy 6apa<l>raH WHKaMH I\Ol\YM 6ap nYWT. Bac Kac, KH 3H 3ap,ltywT 6Hrap,ltH,lty ,ltHrap 6op, Hotwp KyHa,lt py 6a CYH I\H6J1aH 3ap,ltywT. 1


J(aMLJy MyaMMocT <l>axpy y wap'\. J(aMLJ y A6HCTOCT <l>a3J1y cHpaTH y 3aH,lt.l

His nobility is an enigma, his courage the key, His knowledge is the Avesta, his character the Zand. As can be seen, the poet regards himself as a barometer for gauging the wisdom and sagacity of his patron. In this regard, he compares himself to the commentary of the Avesta (Zand) as opposed to the Avesta itself (his patron). Rudaki is not boasting about his own abilities; rather he is confessing that, even during his time, the Avesta and the Zand were esteemed. In fact, reverence for the Avesta transcends the Samanid Era and continues into centuries that follow the fall of that dynasty. About this, Khusravani says:
q&l M05.1 caBMHar&l, KH HyCKXOH wy,lta a3 HWl\awy

Rise and kindle the [rre in the temple of Zoroaster, Sit down and forget the cares of day by day living. So many were those who abandoned Zoroaster, Only to return to him out of necessity. We believe that, rather than discussing a return to the Zoroastrian religion, Daqiqi is discussing the situation of those who have abandoned the religion. He invites all those who feel the chill of the status quo to take refuge in the warmth of the temples of [rre, participate in celebrations, and enjoy the type of life that existed in the region not very long ago. In the following, the sacred books of the Zoroastrians are recalled:
. By6HHaM OXHp PY3e 6a KOMH ,ltHJI xy,ltpO, Hep,lta XOHaM, Xyp,lta. 2

What does it matter, when the hennit,the abstinent, and the monk, Out of love, read the Nusk and recite the iyarda?3 In voicing his opinion in the context of the ancient book of the Zoroastrians, the poet sees his own freedom and capability. Indeed, at the of liberty, composition of lyric potime of the Samanids, any etry, expression of love, as well as drinking wine was intimately related to the cultural mores of ancient Iranians whose sacred books were used as a source for new compositions. Daqiqi's works are a good example of this:
.llaJ\.Hl\flLJOp XHCJlaT 6apry3H,ltaCT, Ba reT&l a3 Xy6HIO 3HWT&l; JIa6H el\YTpaHry HOJIaH qaHr. MaH xywpaHry ,ltHHH

At last, one day, 0 king, I shall attain my desire, Then I shall read the lyarda and the Khurda alternately. Zoroastrian worship was accompanied by singing hymns and songs. It was natural, therefore, for the Iranians to lean in the direction of their ancient religion for entertainment and merriment. This was in addition to the recognition of those traditions as a source of self-esteem and pride. Traditionally, it is believed that, during the time of the Samanids, Muslims looked down upon poems that elevated the sacred books of ancient Iran or spoke well of the hymns of Zoroaster. These are no more than groundless assumptions. RUdaki, Daqiqi, Khusravani, and other poets who have praised the Zoroastrian faith have also proved to be steadfast Muslims. Even in the works of Daqiqi, the poet who is most likely to fit that pattern, we find well-founded stories, adopted from the Qur'an and the Islamic traditions with utmost precision. In fact, this type of symbolic gravitation to religion for expression of liberty was not exclusive to Zoroastrianism. Christianity was, perhaps, even more cited in the poetry of the time than Zoroastrianism. The following stanza from Khusravi is indicative of the reverence accordedto Christ and Christianity:
Myp,ltaCT 3aM&l, a6p 6ap Y aCT BeMOp 60,ltH ca60 ,ltOpyH 6eMop. To a6p wy,lt, 6yJl6YJl HHt.tH JI , BapXoH,lty 6ap na,ltH,lt 05.l,lt 3yHHOp.3
1 Ibid., p. 284. 2 Ibid., p. 291. 3 Ibid., p. 330.

Daqiqi has chosen four virtues, From all the virtues that are in the world. A ruby-color lip, the lament of the lute, - Red wine, and the creed of Zoroaster. In these couplets Daqiqi, by declaring his devotion to the Zoroastrian faith underscores the values that are held dear by the followers of the Prophet. Elsewhere he states:
1 Ibid., p. 69. 2 Ash 'ar, 1958, p. 317. 3 Nusk is a section of the twnty-one parts of the Zand; Iyarda is a commentray on the Zond; Pal/11ld 4 Ash'ar, p. 283.



Samanid Civilization


The earth is dead, the cloud, like Jesus, suspires it, The world is sick, the zephyr is the remedy for the sick. When the cloud inspired life, and the nightingale recited the Bible, The Christian cord adorned the side of the mountain. Similarly, in the following, Rudaki pays homage to the same kind of love, i.e., love that is not bound to a terrestrial existence:
PyA 6a Me'U>o6
qtt ltHJI 6a ByXOpoBy 6yTOHH Tapo3! MO BaCBacaH OillHI<Jl. A3 Ty HaMo3. 1

In an international forum that evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of nations, the accessibility of a nation to medicine and medical care plays a most prominent role. Without a doubt, the art of medicine, practiced at the time of the Samanids, did not have a rival either in the East or in the West. Two giants of medicine, Muhammad Zakariyyah al-Razi and Abu Ali ibn Sina elevated the international prestige of Samanid medicine to exclusivity. Partly due to the rare books and manuals they have authored, and partly due to the innovations they have introduced, Samanid physicians have contributed immensely to an enhancement of world civilization. As we shall see, many of the classical books on medicine produced during the Samanid Era have been translated into the various languages of the world and many books and articles have been written about the state of medicine and medical care during that period. I In addition, during tile past centuries, researchers and scholar have examined the achievements of the 'physicians of the Samanid Era and have praised their work. 2 None of these scholars, however, have concerned themselves either with the milieu from which Razi and Ibn-i Sina have emerged, or with an understanding of the culture that contributed to the education of the likes of Razi and Ibn-i Sina. Unless some attention is paid to this aspect of the knowledge or" the time, our understanding of the Samanid Era will remain incomplete: The present article is designed to provide a comprehensive look at the theoretical, as well as the practical, aspects of Samanid medic.ine. It will also investigate the achievements of the physicians of the era in such areas as the history of hospitals, pharmacology, and training of physicians. The contributions of Samanid medicine to Western medical practice will also be dealt with. It should be stated at the outset that medical achievements of the Samanid Era were neither accidental nor based on superstition. They were founded upon the experience that the Sassanian physicians had contributed to the resOlution of medical problems. The effort began at the University of Gundishapur; there the practice expanded so that during the next one and a half century, Baghdad and Khurasan could bring it to fruition.

What benefit is there in facing the mihrab. When the heart seeks Bukhara and the Tarazi beauties? Besides, our God is likely to accept temptations of love, More readily than acceptance of ritual prayer. In conclusion, the worship and protection of the traditional values of the Iranian culture was a sign of nationalism and intellectual awakening. It was also a statement about the Iranians' esteem for liberty; the liberty that after two centuries was being returned to them by the House of Samano Although the literature of subsequent centuries does not evince a real continuation of the trend; it indicates that the Samanid Epoch, placed the Persian language on a finn foundation. It created a literature that continues to contribute to an enduring Iranian civilization..

Rasul Hadizadeh

I Rudaki. 1974, p. 28.

I Petrov, 1980; Sbidfar. 1981; Ramadin, 1952 (all three, in Russian). 2 Braginskii, 1976; Kadirov, 1963; Ne'matov, 1977 (all three, in Russian).

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


The Samanid Era is well known for its contribution to the revival of the Persian language. It was at this time that Persian became the official language of government, as well as of scientific and literary discourse. As a result, within a short time, great inroads were made in various branches of the sciences and the arts. l Achievements in medicine were closely related to progress in other fields including pharmacology, pharmacy, botany, alchemy, mineralogy, and glassworks. 2 In order to revive the medical practices of the Sassanian times, Samanid authorities proceeded with reviving the various departments that had contributed to the maintenance of good health and well-being. What follows is a roster of departments created by the Samanid State, along with a brief description of the activities in each:

members of his family, the physician prepared all kinds of simple and complex drugs. Plants, minerals, and other products were used as medicine at the time. The Samanids exported rose water and mercury to India and China and imported foreign drugs. l

4. Education of the Physicians


1. Institution of Hospitals
According to the sources, during the Samanids, major cities like Ray,3 Balkh, 4 Merv,5 Nishapur, Isfahan,6 and possibly other cities, had their own hospitals in each of which experienced physicians were at work. According to Abu Raihan al-Biruni, "Each [physician] was a specialist in an aspect of practical medicine. Among the physicians there were eye doctors, surgeons, chiropractors, and blood-Ietters."7

2. Court or Family Medicine
During the ninth and tenth centuries, physicians visited the homes of the patients in order to restore them to health. The famous specialists of the time lived at the court of the ruler and served his family. In general, medicine was family oriented. Different levels of society afforded a different type of physician who visited their homes and restored them to health.

Medical students received their training either by working with experienced doctors or by attending medical schools. Students were mostly sons, or relatives, of medical professionals. Students from abroad often joined the schools to learn the profession. Such schools were, at times. instituted in the hospitals. Often the student lived with the teacher and, over a long period of time, learned the fme points of medicine from him. During the first half of the tenth century. in Bukhara, Khurasan, Transoxiana and, later, in the rest of the country, the Samanids initiated a new school system. 2 The textbooks used in these schools were based on the achievements of the ancient Greeks (Hippocrates. Galenus, Dioscorides), as well as contemporary Iranian physicians such as Muhammad Zakariyyah al-Razi. During the second half of the tenth and the beginning of the eleventh century, more textbooks. like al-Hidaya, written by Abubakr Akhavaini, Kamil us-Sana'at or Sad Bah, by Busahli Masihi, and alQanun by Ibn-i Sina became available. Still later, Sa'id Isma'il Jurjani's 'Zakhira-i Kharazmshahi became available. In order to enhance their knowledge, Samanid physicians visited physicians in other Iranian cities. At times, they traveled to Baghdad or to India and stayed there for a few years to study new methods. As a result of this kind of interaction, Samanid medicine assumed a more intemational aspect.

3. Pharmacies
Large and small shops in cities, towns, and villages were dedicated to selling medicine. As a rule, physicians used one of the rooms in their houses as a medical center in which they prepared drugs and stored the drugs that had already been made. Helped by his assistants, or by the
1 Gbafurov, 1983. 2 Karimov, 1954, pp. 20-21; Bubnova, 1971, pp. 120-142; Abdurazzaqov, 1963, pp. 821 (all three, in Russian). 3 Eberman, 1925, pp. 47ff. 4 NUraliev, 1981, pp. 126-127. 5 Kovner, 1893. 6 Najrnabadi, 1992. 7 Biruni, 1973, pp. 134-153.

S. The Education of the Pharmocologists
As mentioned, during the Middle Ages, physicians undertook the preparation of the necessary drugs themselves. There were, of course, others who had inherited the professio1! and who were known as pharmocologists. In that case medicine was hereditary in the family or withirl a generation. There were also those who specialized irl a particular branch such as preparing rose water or acar. They were usually known by that particular product, for instance, as an attar.

1 Shafer, 1981. 2 Aruzi Samarqandi, 1986, pp. 102-131.

Samanid Civilization Samanid Civilization



Greats of Medicine at the Samanid Court Basic Characteristics of Samanid Medicine
Samanid medicine had four major characteristics as follows: Among the greats of medicine at the court of the two names stand out, Abubakr Muhammad ibn Zakariyyah al-Razi (Razes) and' Abuali ibn Abdullah ibn Hussain ibn Sina (Avicenna). Both of these outstanding physicians grew up in a milieu that had valued medicine and medical practice over centuries. During the time of Zoroaster (BC ninth to the sixth centuries), Achaemenians (BC sixth to fourth centuries) and, especially during the Sassanian Era (AD third to seventh centuries), the court paid special attention to medical care, sanitation, and education of the physicians. As a result, a system of medical care was created in Iran and Central Asia that came to be known as the Fars Medicine or the Avesta Medicine. l During the ninth and tenth centuries, many of the traditions of the Sassanians were still being practiced.2' Among the physicians of the time, there were many who had studied medicine under the care of their ancestors who had attended the University of Gundishapur. Their experience and knowledge greatly enhanced the world of medicine of the time and took pride in the likes of Razi and Ibn-i Sina. The writings of physicians like Tabari, Ahwazi, Abumansur Qamari, and Abusahl Masihi contributed tremendously to the development and expansion of medicine in Iran and Central Asia. The contributions of the physicians of Khurasan, especially those of Abumansur Muvaffaq Hiravi, Abubakr Rabi'-i Bukharai. and Hakim Maisari, lie in the fact that they have written their works in the Farsi-Tajiki language.

1. Preventive Medicine
Known to the Greeks as the "method for retaining the health of the healthy individual," preventive medicine was at the top of the list of advice that Samanid physicians gave their patients. Over the years, they had real, ized that preventive medicine was simpler, less fear-inspiring, and less expensive. Following the same tradition, they also paid special attention to keeping their food in a safe place and to the cleanliness of their living quarters and places of work. Regular bedtime hours, and observance of alternating work with rest, were also high on their list.

2. Scientific Basis
All theoretical and practical aspects of medicine were subjected to scientific testing, i.e., to a comparison between what had already been accomplished and what was projected as new discovery.

3. International Characteristics
Using the medical knowledge bequeathed to them by the Sassailians, Samanid physicians and scholars synthesized knowledge gained by studying the medical methods and practices of the Greeks, Arabs, and Indians. In other words, by synthesizing the knowledge of the ancients with those of their contemporaries world-wide, they produced a system of international medicine. Their approach, especially because of its international inclination, resolved many.intercultural problems and boosted the study of medicine to higher levels.

Medical Heritage
The medical heritage of the Samanid Era was very rich. Two languages, Perso-Tajik and Arabic, were used for documenting this heritage. The following detail the manner in which this rich heritage was initiated. developed, and brought to fruition: 1. As mentioned, a network of physicians. within the Samanid realm and outside, contributed to the treasury of knowledge of the time. Samanid physicians like Muhammad Zakariyya Razi and Abu Ali ibn Sina synthesized that knowledge and used it as the foundation of subsequent developments in medical research and practice. 2. Using their own experiments and understanding of germane problems, the physicians of the time of the Samanids reexamined the
1 Najmabadi. 1992; Nuraliev, 1981. pp. 13-70. 2 Nuraliev, Ibid.• pp. 120-170.

4. Humanitarian Characteristics
During the time of the Samanids, the medical profession was absolutely free from superstition and from all problems arising from ethnicity. Following the Hippocratic Oath, the Islamic Shari'a, the wisdom of Razi and Ibn-i Sina, as well as the advice of the physician Ahwazi, Samanid physicians served their patients with the best of intentions without paying attention to race, religion, and other extraneous concerns.

Sarnanid Civilization


Sarnanid Civilization


theoretical and practical aspects of the knowledge of the ancients on the subject and, where necessary, amended and documented that knowledge. 3. They provided a direction for the development of medicine to be followed by future generations. What follows is a series of short biographies of the great physicians of the time of the Samanids who have contributed a great deal to our diagnostic ability and administration of appropriate drugs:

al-Havi teaches the students through the process of comparison. The book also deals with hygiene, benefits of specific foods and drinks,


curative value and harms related to simple and complex. drugs, medicinal plants, as well as a series of other medical problems. In providing solutions to medical problems, Razi makes use of the experiences of Hippocrates, Galenus, and other Greek physicians, as well as the Gundishapur Center, and Iranian and Indian doctors. Al-Havi was translated into Latin in 1279 and was published in 1486. It was reprinted in Vienna in 1505 and, again, in 1509.'

Muhammad Zakariyyah al-Razi
AI-Razi was born in the month of August of the year 865 and died in October of 925. A leading figure at the Samanid court, Razi was an encyclopedist with strengths in medicine and philosophy. He was also an alchemist, a teacher, a mathematician, and a naturalist. According to the sources, he wrote anywhere between 164' to 2642 books and articles on various subjects. Among them, more than 60 books were devoted to medicine, 3 and 26 to alchemy. 4 The heritage of Razi is of immense value. He not only contributed his own discoveries but, in a concise manner, he also presented the results of the fifteen centuries of efforts by physicians and scholars before his own time. Among those works, the following are of great importance:

Kitab al-Tibb al-Mansuri or Tibb-i Mansuri
Tibb-i Mansuri consists of ten volumes written by Muhammad Zakariyyah al-Razi and dedicated to the governor of Ray, Mansur ibn Ishaq Samani. Each volume is devoted to one or more aspects of theoretical and practical medicine. As if graded, this compendium allows the student to learn one aspect thoroughly before embarking on another. The table of contents of Tibb-i Mansuri is reproduced below:

Al-lami' ul-Hazir lis-Sina'at at-Tibb or lami'-i Kabir
Also known as al-Havi, Jami'-i Kabir is the most important encyclopedic work of that time. It consists of thirty volumes and contains all the theoretical and practical aspects of medicine known at the time of Muhammad Zakariyyah al-Razi. Internal and external diseases, psychological problems, diseases of the head, eyes, nose, ear, tongue, teeth, throat, lungs, digestive organs, liver, as well as various types of swelling, different types of fever and related crises, cancers, women and children's ailments, skin diseases, different types of toxins and matters related to diagnosis, cure, and prevention are aU included in alHavi. 5 Each section of the book begins with the description of a healthy organ and shows the changes that are brought about by various diseases, as the natural form of that organ is changed. As a textbook,
1 Nadim, ibn at-, 1970, pp. 680-697. 2 Abi Usaibi'a, 1882, pp. 10-20, 164, 197-200. 3 Nuraliev and Dadalishaev, 1989, pp. 14-15. 4 Karimov, 1957, pp. 23-24. 5 Kovner, 1893, pp. 30-63.

Book One: Anatomy and Physiology Book Two: The Limits of Medicine, Diagnosis of Temperament and Humor Book Three: Diet and Different Drugs Book Four: Hygiene and the Values of Foods and Drinks Book Five: Cosmetology Book Six: Explorers Book Seven: Surgery, Chiropractic, Urology, and Cancers Book Eight: Toxicology Book Nine: Diagnosis Book Ten: Fevers and Fever Diagnosis2 For several centuries, Tibb-i Mansuri served as a textbook, along with al-Havi and al-Qanun, in schools and universities in the East3 as well as in the West. 4

Kitab al-ladri wa al-Hasba (Kitab-i Abila wa Surkhak)

Razi devotes this entire volume to a complete study of one of the most dangerous diseases, smallpox. He was the first to discover, and convincingly explain, the differences between smallpox and typhoid fever. Containing fourteen chapters, the book explores the initial
1 Brockebnann, 1949, pp.419-426. 2 Najmabadi, 1992, pp. 300-360. 3 Aruzi Samarqandi, 1986, p. 105. 4 Sarton, 1927, p. 573.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


stages of the disease, its symptoms, cure, and methods of prevention. Regarding it to be a contagious disease, Razi explains the manner by which the disease travels in polluted air, water, and even fruits and foods. A good portion of the book is devoted to curing smallpox, taking care of its effect on the skin, eyes, and the like.' I. Jenner's 1796 discovery of the basics of the relationship between the disease and blood cells is actually based on Razi's earlier discovery of the same. 2 Before Jenner's discovery, Razi's book had been published six times in Europe (in Latin: 1498, 1525, 1544, 1746; in Italian: 1548; in French: 1768). It was also published in English in 1848, in Russian in 1896, and in other languages. 3

Risala-i Qissaha wa Hikayat-i Bimaran
Consisting of 37 stories, the boOk presents Razi's personal analysis of illnesses that have been difficult to cure. 1 The stories, which actually are reports on treatment of specific cases, acquaint young doctors with proper relationship between the physician and the patient. As such, this is the first book of its kind in the history of medicine to be dedicated to written reports on the conditions of individual patients as they are being treated. Using this method, Razi isolates the patient, the disease, and the drugs to be administered and deals with the situation in a controlled environnient. 2 Among these stories, one stands out. Il is about a special fork that Razi had created to extract objects from within a patient's throat. 3 There is much that can be learned from the experiments and instructions of Razi. He remains a foremost physician and a major inspiration for the medical profession.

Tibb-i Ruhani
Tibb-i Ruhani is an approach to medicine based on human behavior. A healthy body is a body that thinks and acts properly. Although small in size, this book contains information that would fill a multivolume encyclopedia. In this book, Razi makes the individual responsible for his or her own well-being. In other words, he places education high and enables it to perfonn what otherwise would be done by the physician and the surgeon. Razi's is the first not only to talk about preventive medicine, but to refer to knowledge and wisdom as guides for the achievement of longevity in life. Tibb-i Ruhani is like a scales on the one side of which wisdom and on the other side harmful acts, arising from unethical behavior, are placed. Razi strikes a balance here by distinguishing evil, and by deemphasizing its role in the life of the individual. The individual is made to understand that calamity, existence, selfishness, opportunism, pride, greed, anger, and the like, arise from the nafs (self). Naturally, being harmful, they lead to destruction. 4This book, rather than with drugs, cures the individual by providing psychological advice based on a long life of experience. It makes the patient understand that good words, deeds, and thoughts influence health as much as drugs and surgery. Tibb-i Ruhani has been published in Arabic (1939, 1979), English (1950), Russian (1990), and Tajiki (1989).5

Abuali ibn Sina (980-1037)
In the annals of world civilization, the name of Ibn-i Sina is usually cited alongside the names of such greats as Hippocrates and Galenus. He is known in the East as "Shaykh al-Ra'is" and "Hujat al-Haqq" and in the West as the "Prince of the Physicians."4 According to Qanavati, he has left between 276 and 456 manuscripts. s Ibn-r Sina has contributed to many branches of the sciences and the arts including medicine, phenomenology, philosophy, alchemy, mineralogy, mathematics, literature, astronomy, and music. Of these contributions, between 44 to 59 books and articles are devoted to medicine. 6 The contents of nine of these books, written in Arabic and Perso-Tajik languages, are in poetry; the rest are in prose. 7



Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb or al-Qanun or Qanun
Al-Qanun. an encyclopedtc work comprised of five books, encompasses all the theoretical and practical aspects of medicine known
1 Razi, 1989, pp. 140-156. 2 Nuraliev, 1982, pp. 133-134. 3 Kovner, 1893, pp. 30-63. 4 Aini, 1951. 5 Qanavoti, 1950, pp. 175-296; Sa'id Nafisi, 1955, pp. 9-38. 6 Abi Usaibi'a, 1888, pp. 4-20; Nuraliev, 1982, pp. 180-183. 7 Nuraliev, ibid., pp. 4-5.

1 Hubert, 1896, pp. 21-60. 2 MUltanovskii, 1967, p. 58. 3 Hubert, 1896, pp. 21-26. 4 Razi, 1989, pp. 34-117. 5 Razi, 1990.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


during the Samanid Era. It was written between 1010 and 1020 in the Arabic language. Book One: This book deals with the limits of medicine, anatomy, physiology, health, causes of sickness, and the general rules for health care. 1 Book Two: This book deals with pharmacology, especially with the curative value of 811 types of drugs. The effects of some 150 simple and some 80 compound drugs are investigated. Plants and herbs constitute over 80% of these drugs. The positive and negative effects of each drug on the various parts of the body (brain, liver, heart, lungs, kidneys) are assessed and docwnenled. 2 Book Three: In two volumes, this book is devoted to maladies that affect various parts of the body from head to toe. These maladies include those related to neurology, psychology and gynecology, as well as to the diseases of the eyes, ears, nose, throat, mouth, lungs, heart, and stomach. Other diseases covered in these volumes include diabetes, rheumatism, gout, and the like. 3 Book Four: This book deals with the various types of fevers and crises arising from such contagion, chiropractic, cosmetology, and toxicology.4 Book Five: This book is devoted to pharmacology. It deals with the preparation of some 716 complex drugs, as well as with prescription and dispensing of drugs. s Although al-Qanun contains many of the contributions of Greek, Arab, and Indian physicians, as well as those of the scholars who taught at the University of Gundishapur, the bulk of the innovations in the book are the result of Ibn-i Sina's own personal experiments on the subject Al-Qanun was translated into Latin in the twelfth century by Gerard Kremani and Andre Alpagus. The first printed edition of this translation became available in 1743. Since then, it has been published more than forty times in its complete form, or in parts. 6 Similarly, in the East, over thirty commentaries have appeared on al-Qanun and its various parts. Until the seven1 Ibn-i Sina, 1954, pp. 2-60. 2 Ibid., pp. 10-200. 3 Ibid. 4 Ibid. 5 Ibid. 6 Ternovskii, 1969, p. 32-45.

teenth century, al-Qanun was used as a textbook in Europe. It is obvious, therefore, that this masterpiece has played a crucial role in the development of Westem medical tradition. During the second half of the twentieth century, al-Qanun was translated two times into Russian, Uzbeki, and Farsi and, thus, has become available to millions of readers. In 1984, Sainuraddin Shahabuddinov completed the translation of the entire al-Qanun from Arabic into Tajiki. The ftrsttwo volumes are already available to Tajik speakers. We shall end our discussion of al-Qanun with the assessment of the work by Nizami Aruzi Sarnarqandi who says, "Knowledge of the fIrst volume of al-Qanun is tantamount to the knowledge of the basics of medicine. Were Hippocrates and Galenus to come to life, it would be appropriate for them to pay homage to this book. "I

Urjuza fi-Tibb
This is one of the greatest medical treatises to be created in verse. One thousand three hundred and twenty-nine bayts in length, the volume contains an introduction, followed by a discussion of the theoretical and practical aspects of medicine. 2 In the introduction, with regard to the difference between the world of man and the animal kingdom, Ibn-i Sina writes, "Hands and the tongue distinguish man from the beasts." He further makes a comparison between poets and physicians. He says, "Poets are the rulers of the kingdom of words while physicians are kings over the human body. One nourishes the soul while the other maintains the body." The theoretical aspect of the work deals with symptoms of diseases, pulse, food values, and hygiene. The practical aspect deals with the principles of healing, including surgery and preventive measures, such as diet Each bayt of the work contains a particular health care message. In general, the volume could have served as a pocket reference for young physicians. Urjuza was translated from Arabic into Latin in the twelfth century by Gerard Kremani. It was translated into Hebrew in 1260 by Musa ibn R,lhbon. The ftrst printed editidn of this translation became available in the sixteenth century. Thereafter, it was translated into English, German, French, Italian, Tajiki (1980), and other languages. 3


1 Aruzi Samarqandi, 1986, p. 106. 2 Ibn-i Sina, 1980. pp. 253-316. 3 Nuraliev. 1982, pp. 91-94.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


Treatise on Pulse (Ragshinasi)
This volume is written in Perso-Tajiki, Ibn-i Sina's native tongue. The book, a special work on the subject, deals with the study of blood circulation in the body, and, of course, related diseases. Using over 50 symptoms, Ibn-i Sina identifies more than 60 types of simple and 20 types of complex pulses, including narrow, wavy, and serrated. This work has been published both in Iran and in Tajikistan. l

Risala Ii Adviyat ul-Qalbiyya
A contribution to cardiology, this treatise on the various types of medicine for heart ailments was authored in 1020-1021 in the city of Hamadan. 2 In it, Ibn-i Sina enumerates stress, intense fear, sorrow, and anxiety among the causes of heart ailment. A large portion of the study is devoted to the rules and regulations governing care of the heart. In this context, some 40 types of drugs are analyzed. In general, he discusses 83 types of drugs (65 simple and 18 compoWld drugs), most of which he had prepared himself. Of these 80% are drugs prepared from plants and 15.3% from minerals. This treatise was translated into Latin in the fifteenth century, Turkish in 1947, and Uzbeki in 1966. The treatise was published in Tajiki in 1980. 3

Ibn-i Sina has contributed to almost all branches of medicine. He is the frrst, for instance, to describe the seven pairs of nerves that branch out of the brain and spread into the body. 1 As far as humors are concerned, he distinguishes between the state in which the individual is born (ersi), and the state in which the individual is fOWld, i.e., the body after it is exposed to various foods and drugs. In this context, he is the frrst to speak of the role of the endocrine system. 2 Similarly, he discovered the treatment for the knot in the shoulder,3 as well as the use of needles in injecting drugs into a patient.

Ahwazi (930-994)
. The name of Ali ibn Abbas Majusi Ahwazi heads a list of names that also includes Tabari, Razi, Ibn-i Sina, and Jorjani. 4

Kamil us-Sana'at or AI-Malik
AI-Malik is regarded to be as important as both the Jami' of Razi and the Qanun of Ibn-i Sina. s It consists of two parts: theoretical and practical medicine. Each part has its own introduction followed by tenarticles devoted to various subjects. The first part deals with the limits of medicine, including dissection, discussion of various humors, and the fWlctions of various body parts. It also includes a knowledge of the temperament or the states of' the body, hygiene, conditions of food, drinks, sleep, residence, and other such matters. The second part deals with aspects of practical medicine, including diagnosis as well as surgery on eyes, ears, and throat. It also deals with crises, tuberculosis, skin diseases, and the like. In the writing, description, and analysis of each theoretical or practical aspect, Ahwazi uses the profoWld experiences of ancient Greek, Arab, and Indian physicians. In other words, ai-Malik is a synthesis of the experiences of the ancients and Ahwazi's own innovations. In essence, Ahwazi rids medicine from the chaos created by Socrates and Galenus, and the copiousness brought about by Razi, by introducing it in simple terms, in a single volume.

Alvohiya or Faiziya
This treatise, written in Arabic, contains 149 sections each of which deals with curing a group of maladies or a particular sickness. After each disease, Ibn-i Sina lists, alphabetically, and in order of effectiveness, all the drugs that can be employed in curing that disease. A physician with little time to spare could easily check with that list and administer the correct remedy. Some drugs are further distinguished as sedatives, pain killers, and the lijce. Altogether, there are 689 types of drugs listed in Alvohiya. Of those'562 (81.6%) are plant-related, 60 (8.7%) minerals, and 67 (9.7%) are from the animal kingdom. Alvohiya was published in Arabic in 1975 and in Tajiki in 1980. 4

1 Ibn-i Sina, 1980, pp. 386-396. 2 Ibid.. 397-430. 3 Nuraliev, 1982, pp. 98-101. 4 Ibn-i Sina, 1980, pp. 317-384.

, 1 Ternovskii, 1969, pp. 39-90. 2 Nuraliev, 1982, pp. 22-36. 3 Jumaev, 1965.

4 Najmabadi, 1992, p. 443. 5 Kovner, 1893, pp. 224-228.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


As a book on medicine, ai-Malik occupies a special place. It encompasses not only the methods and systems developed over centuries, but also the schools in which those methods and systems were developed. AI-Malik was translated from Arabic into Latin in the eleventh century by Constantin Afriqai. Stephan Antahi translated it into Latin again in 1127. This latter translation has been published several times in Europe. Alongside the contributions of Razi and Ibn-i Sina, Ahwazi's ai-Malik was used as a textbook in the East and the West. l

Aqrabadin. 1 Consisting of seventeen chapters, this manual is devoted to an explanation of the benefits of herbs, minerals, and drugs prepared from animal byproducts. The manuscript of this book is kept at a library in Munich. 2

Abu MansurKamari (Abu Mansur Hassan ibn Nuh al-Kamari)
Considered Ibn-i Sina's teacher of medicine, al-Kamari was one of the most important physicians at the court of the Samanids. He died at the end of the tenth century (999).3 Among his books Kitab-i Ghani wa Muni is priceless. It consists of an introduction and three chapters. The first chapter deals with internal illnesses and their cure. The second chapter deals with external diseases of the body, and the third chapter deals with fevers and their treattnent. 4 In this book, Kamari skillfully examines the initial stages of each illness and charts its progress. More than ten plants, including mint, cinnamon, myrobalan, sugarcane, and COWSlip, are prescribed for stomach ailments. Kitab-i Ghani wa Muni served both as a reference book and a textbook.

Pandnama-i Pizishki
The rust and best book of its kind, Pandnama deals with medical ethics. It specifies the manner in which physicians should receive and deal with their patients. Both the pre-Islamic rules, and the dictates of the Islamic Shari'a. are taken into consideration.

Abu al-Hassan ibn Rabban at-Tabari (808-855)
At-Tabari was born in the city of Merv and spent most of his early life in Tabaristan. He wrote Firdaws al-Hikmat. in Arabic, in the early years of the ninth century. The book, consisting of seven sections and 360 chapters; covers all aspects of theoretical and practical medicine. Firdaws al-Hikmat is the first book in which the Iranians' knowledge of medicine and the contributions of Indian, Greek, and Arab physicians are synthesized. Among these, the author has paid special attention to the Indians' dietary system. The benefit of every drug is measured carefully so that doctors can administer it without having to guess at the amounts needed. 2 Firdaws al-Hikmat was instrumental in acquainting the Central Asians with the medical scene in India, and the Indian physicians with the medical progress in Central Asia.

Abu Sahl ibn Yahya Masihi (d. 1(03)
Yahya Masihi was an influential physician, philosopher, and naturalist at the court of the Samanids. He was born in Jurjan, but lived most of his life in Khwarazm where he practiced medicine until his death. He was a teacher and later a colleague of Ibn-i Sina. s Eight ofhis works devoted to medicine have survived. The most important among these is Kitab usSana'at or Kitab al-Miafi Sina'at at-Tibbiya. An encyclopedia, this book encompasses all the theoretical and practical aspects of medieval medicine. The contribution of Kitab us-Sana'at rivals those of Razi's al-Havi, Ibn-i Sina's al-Qanun, andJurjani's Zakhira-i Khwarazmi. This book, too, was used as a textbook. 6

Sabur Shapur ibn Sah1 (d. 869)
Ibn-i Sahl was born in Gundishapur. His father was a physician. Most likely, he studied medicine with his father or with other physicians in that ancient cerlter of medical studies. He was the director of the Gundishapur hospital for several years and for two years (848-850) he worked in Baghdad. He is the author of the rust book on pharmacology, Kitab al1 Leclerk, 1786, pp. 381-388. 2 Kovner, 1893, p. 57.

1 Sarton, 1927, pp. 74-79. 2 Meyerbof, 1857, pp. 15-80. 3 Abi Usaibi'a, 1888, pp. 327-330. 4 Najmabadi. 1992, pp. 653-654. 5 Abi Usaibi'a, 1888, p. 328. 6 Aruzi Samarqandi. 1986, p. 105.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


Abubakr Rabi' ibn Ahmad Akhvanin al-Bukhari
He is one of the most prominent of the Samanid physicians and the flfSt to write a textbook, Hidayat ul-Muta'allimin fit-Tibb or simply alHidaya, in the Perso-Tajik language. We do not have any information on the date of the composition of the book. According to the introouction, the author, who considers himself a student of Razi, has written the book as a gift to his son. According to the estimate of some historians, al-Hidaya had been written toward the middle of the tenth century. 1 The book consists of an introouction and 180 chapters each of which begins with: "On the subject of... " Part One consists of 58 chapters, in which the following are discussed: theoretical medicine, the limits of medicine, recognition of humors, liquids, dissection of bones, cartilage, and other internal parts. Other subjects in this part include temperament diagnosis, proper conditions for air, sleeping and waking, foods and drinks, symptoms of diseases, and other such subjects. He evaluates diseased limbs in conjunction with other 'ldjacent limbs. For anatomy, he provides both functional and topographic ipecifications. Part Two, consisting 113 chapters, is devoted to diseases from the hair :0 the toe nails. It deals with diseases of independent parts of the body, ike the head, eyes, ears, nose, tongue, throat, lungs, heart, stomach, ntestine, liver, kidneys, bladder, gal-bladder, uterus, skin, as well as with liseases such as tuberculosis, cholera, jaundice, swelling caused by orrow, ulcer, plague, leprosy, cancer, impotence, wounds, and other ypes of fevers and crises. Part Three, the largest part of al-Hidaya, is devoted to the pulse Mhz). In it, the experienced physician evaluates more than 30 simple and omplex pulse types. In the section that deals with healing diseases, a simple description of ach disease, including its source, symptoms, knowledge about the disase, areas still unknown, and parts affected, is prOVided. For each disase, he provides some ten simple or compound drugs with their beneficial nd hannful effects. If the drug is not original to himself, the name of the ruggist is mentioned. The names of diseases are prOVided in Arabic and .atin, before they are mentioned in Persian. al-Hidaya is compiled in a way that it can be used independently of ther works. Learning it is simple; before long, the novice can begin iagnosing and healing diseases. In his discussions, Abubakr employs the knowledge gained from the rorks of Socrates, Galenus, Razi, Musavaihi, and others. Nizami Aruzi

Samarqandi regards al-Hidaya to be as important a text as al-Havi of Razi and al-Qanun of Ibn-i Sina. 1 There is much in al-Hidaya that is original to Abubakr al-Bukhari. For example, he is the first to investigate the causes of falling into a coma. He also provides analyses, as well as diet and remedy, for the disease. alHidaya was published in Tehran, in its original language, in 1966.

Hakim Maisari
He is the author of the first book in medicine that is written in verse. The only extant manuscript of this text is at the National Library of France. It was published in Tehran in 1987.2 ' We do not have any information about the life of the author. His Danishnama is supposed to have been composed between 977 and 980. 3 It consists of 4,480 bayts. Called a divan by the author himself in the introduction, the book consists of 370 chapters. According to tradition, the first part is devoted to theoretical medicine, limits of medicine, humors, temperament, the body, and rules in general. The main body of the text is devoted to diseases affecting individual parts of the body. The fact that the content was versified helped the students remember the details more readily, and the fact that the author addressed ethical issues ensured that all ethical values were transmitted to students and patients alike.

Abu Mansur Muvaffaq ibn Ali Hiravi
A pharmacist and pharmocologist, Hiravi was familiar with all kinds of drugs and with drug production, especially in relation to botanical remedies. He is the author of the famous Kitab ul-Abnia an Hikayat ulAdvia or simply Hikayat ul-Advia. wei,tten in Farsi-Tajiki. In the history of medicine, this book is recognized as one of the early pharmaceutical encyclopedias. 4 Hikayat ul·Advia contains the descriptions of 584 types of drugs including 465 (70.7%) plant.]4 (12.6%) mineral. and 45 (7.7%) animal-related medicines. The descriptions include recognition, as well as benefits, and hanns of individual drugs. Abu Mansur Muvaffaq dedicated his book to the Samanid king Abusalih Mansur ibn Nub (961-976). The book was published in Latin in
1 Aruzi Samarqandi, op cit, p. 105. 2 Maisari, 1987, p. 325. 3 Nucaliev, 1981, pp. 162-168, 4 Hicavi, 1989, p. 188; Kovner, 1893, p. 60.




aq bq
--j 1


Lazar, 1958, pp. 84-95.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


1859, in German in 1893, and in Farsi in 1966. Parts of it have been published in Dushanbe between 1989 and 1990.\

Abu Raihan al-Biruni (973-1047)
He is the author of As-Saidanafi at-Tibb or simply al-Saidana. perhaps the most influential book dealing with pharmacology, especially traditional medicine that dealt with the efficacy of herbs. 2 1n fact, a better name for the work is Book of Names. as it is the first book to systematize the naming and classification of the many drugs that had become available to that date. Just the overwhelming number of drugs, it seems, had created a great deal of confusion in the minds of the doctors and patients alike. To ward off the threat of misuse of drugs purely due to attribution of wrong names, al-Biruni, the head of the Ghazna Medical Service, sought the assistance of another experienced physician, Abu Ahmad ibn Muhammad an-Nakhshabi, who was also familiar with many languages. 3 Together they identified 1,116 entries, including 878 (78.7%) plant-, 107 (9.6%) mineral-, and 101 (9.1 %) animal-related medicines. The names of these drugs were entered in al-Saidana according to the order of the Arabic alphabet. This compendium contained the contributions of diverse peoples such as the Greeks, Perso-Tajiks, Arabs, Indians, and Chinese. Indeed, alSaidana contained all the information on medicine that had been accumulated from ancient times to the time of the Samanids. Of the 4,500 items entered, the names of 1,600 (35.5%) are in Arabic, 1000 (24.5%) in Farsi-Tajiki, 750 (16.6%) in Greek, 400 (8.8%) in Syrian, 350 (7.8%) in Hindi, 15 (0.32%) in, and 285 (6.45%) in Chinese and other languages. The book also contains the names of some 240 world-renowned physicians from ancient times to the time of the Samanids. Al-Saidana was translated into Persian at the beginning of the thirteenth century. Thereafter, it was translated into German, Turkish and Russian. 4

ume, Dinavari describes the properties of 482 medicinal plants, most of them aromatic plants. Appearing quite early in the sequence of the major works on the subject, Dinavari's Fi an-Nabat is quoted by almost all subsequent authors including Abu Raihan al-Biruni, Muhammad Zakariyya Razi, and Abu Ali ibn Sina. After the 'tenth century, Samanid medicine served as a most brilliant legacy in the East but, more importantly, in the West, it became the foundation of a new phase in medical practice. In a way, this article was the summary of some colorful events in a journey that had begun in Khurasan and Transoxiana by physicians like Said Isma'il JUIjani (1045-1137) and extended to our own time, the time of Shabzada Muhammad Badai (d. 1937). During this period hundreds of books and treatises were written in Farsi-Tajiki and other languages on aspects of medicine. And many physicians from Khurasan and Transoxiana traveled to different parts of the world, carrying the legacy of Razi and Ibn-i Sina. It is hoped that an understanding of the selfless efforts of physicians whose lives were outlined above would serve as a beacon for young doctors. Because, after all, it is.on the strength of the ethical values, and the knowledge of the likes of Razi, al-Biruni, and Ibn-i Sina, that the practice has reached the heights it enjoys today.

Yusuf Nuraliev

Abu Hanif Ahmad ibn Davud ibn Vanand Dinavari (825-895)
A botanist, philologist, and mathematician, Dinavari is the author of Fi an-Nabat. a book that deals with medicinal plants. The only extant manuscript of this work is in a library in Istanhul, Turkey.s In this vol1 Nuraliev and Dadalishaev, 1989, pp. 6-36. 2 Biruni, 1973, p. 1020. 3 Ibid., p. 141. 4 Nuraliev and Dadalishaev, 1989, p. 148. 5 Karimov, n.d., pp. 89-91.

Samanid Civilization


With regard to the development of the sciences and the arts, the Samanid Era was one of the most eminent periods of Iranian history. At Bukhara, the capital of the State, one could observe gatherings of wellknown scholars, poets, and artists that could not be found anywhere else in the world of that time. The innovative edge of the Samanid civilization reached far beyond literature and the arts and into the domain of the natural sciences and music. After the establishment of the Samanid State, internal and, to some extent, external struggles for power subsided. In fact, according to ''A. Toynbee, the union of the Iranian and the Arab cultures resembled a 'recreation of the might of the earlier Achaemenian monarchs like Cyrus, Darius, and Xerxes. l It should be noted, however, that the Arab element in the Samanid State did not have the strength that it had commanded in the seventh and eighth centuries. Rather, the thrust of the development of the new civilization was almost exclusively local and Iranian. Additionally, the Samanids enhanced both Iranian civilization, which they had inherited from their Achaemenian ancestors, and the Islamic civilization which, at the time, was the dominant civilization in Iran, Khurasan, and Transoxiana. In fact, the civilization that the Samanids established, for all intents and purposes, was more progressive than its socalled contemporary Christian civilization in Europe. This was the time when giants like Abu Hafs Sughdi Samarqandi (d. 919), Muhammad Khwarazmi (ninth century), Abulabbas Sarakhsi, Muhammad Narshakhi (ninth and tenth centuries), the Bal'amis (father and son), Katibi Khwarazmi (ninth and tenth centuries), Abulabbas Bakhtiyar (d. 920), Rudaki (884-940), Daqiqi (ninth and tenth centuries), al-Biruni (tenth century), Abunasr Farabi (873-950), Abubakr Razi (tenth century), Abu Ali ibn Sina (980-1037), Abu al-Qasim Firdowsi (934-1030), and others entered the creative cycle of the Iranian renaissance and contributed to the enhancement of world civilization. Among the major contributions of the Samanid rulers to world civilization were the approach that they took and the attention they paid to the development of the art of music. Rather than concentrating on Iran and the Iranian culture, the Samanids conceptualized a world culture to which Europe, India, and the Arab world contributed; the Samanid kingdom was
1 cr., Toynbee, pp. 71-77.


an integral part of this world. Indeed, they intended to revitalize the ancient culture that had given rise to their own greatness. In this respect, the Sassanians' recognition of music as an official function of the court and their inclusion of innovation, whether in instrumentation, voice, or in institution of schools for instructing a scientific approach to music, was a major achievement. In this context, it shOUld be stated that music at the court of the Samanids was devoid of regionalism. It was a direct descendant of the music of the Sassanians which, itself, was enriched by influences from Greece, Babylonia, Egypt, Syria, India, aBd other realms. In a way, the Samanids continued the tradition of incorporating the aesthetic values of the Greek authors by translating their major works as they became avail-' able, and by incorporating the knowledge gained from working with-.t!Jt::!. new theories in their own innovative creations. It was as a result of similar efforts that the ancient Persians had achieved the creation of centers of knowledge like the University of Gundishapur. In fact, the Samanids' Sivan ul-Hikmat (Institute of Philosophy) was planned as a continuation of the Sassanians' effort in building Gundishapur. One of the major de'partments in this institute was devoted to the art and science of music. In order to understand the impact of this institute on the culture of the time, and the renaissance that was being ushered into Khurasan and Transoxiana, it is sufficient to cast a look at the roster of the names that was provided earlier in relation to the development of the culture of the Samanid Era. The main task of the creative scholar of the Samanid Era was to distinguish between the remnants of Iranian culture after over two centuries of Arab rule and the culture of the Muslim Arabs. If any Iranian renaissance was to occur, it had to be a continuation of the efforts of the Achaemenians and the Sassanians of the past. The list of scholars who devoted their lives to this task is long. Among them, mention must be made of Abu Hafs Sughdi, Abunasr Farabi, Abulabbas Bakhtiyar, Abulabbas Sarakhsi, Muhammad Sarakhsi, and Abu Ali ibn Sina. Music, as an artistic and aesthetic endeavor, played a prominent role in Samanid society. It was, of course, a role that had already been recognized and, to a degree, nurtured by the Barmacides, the Taherids, and the Saffarids. In fact, during the Samanid Era, the instruction in schools of music, especially the rules governing instrumentation, became obligatory. In Bukhara and the other centers of cUlture of the Samanid realm, new centers for instruction as well as research in music were opened. The programs of these centers were not only well organized but highly informative. According to the sources, the students were not limited to the local music scene, but were exposed to the works of the ancient Greeks and Indians as well. Looking back on Iranian history, too, this 'interpretation makes sense; Traditionally, Sassanian monarchs welcomed foreign philosophers, physicians, and others to be entertained at their palaces. They even participated in debates and discussions. .

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


According to Ibn-i Khaliqan ibn Abusaibiya, the Bukharai musicians (by Bukhara is meant Transoxiana, Khurasan, and Iran) worked with the theoretical as well as the practical aspects of the works of Greek scholars, including the works of Nikamakhus, Pythagoras, Aristotle, SextusEmpiricus, Plato, and others. In other words, while seeking innovative ways to an appreciation of music, Samanid musicians were also exploring the works of the greats of the past, writing commentaries on their contributions, and establishing a fInn foundation for the fIeld. In this respect, the Bukhara school, led by Abulabbas Bakhtiyar, was of great importance. Translations, commentaries, and emendations to the musical works of Aristoxenus (Rhythm and Harmonica), Aristotle (Qanunha), Euclid (Harmonika), Nikamakhus (Harmonika), and others were copied many times. The major point to understand about these works is that the artistic circles that used these works did not regard them as mere translation, but as new and complete editions with appropriate emendations according to the most recent fmds in the study of music. In other words, the study of music, like the study of literary works, philosophy, and aesthetics, had gained the respect of scholars and students alike. There is no doubt that the Sarnanid scholars benefIted a great deal from the musical knowledge of the ancient Greeks. Similarly, there is no doubt that, in perfecting that knowledge, they depended very heavily on their own ancient traditions, especially that of the Sassanians, and the encyclopedic tradition for the promotion of the arts and sciences. The encyclopedias of the time included comprehensive articles about music among their subjects. Many European authors are of the opinion that the idea of presenting knowledge in an encyclopedia was brought to Iran (the East, in general) by the Greeks. This is not true; the composition and the style of Iranian encyclopedias are completely different from those produced either in Greece or in India. Besides, we should not ignore the fact that the genesis of European and Indian "science of music" is based on mythology and cosmogony. The history of Iranian music, on the other hand, related it to a scientifIc understanding of the instruments. Any intrusion by myth or stories in general is accidental. inclusion of such stories in no way in!erferes with the scientifIc investigation of the essence of the research. The tradition of composition of encyclopedias goes back to the Sassanian times. It may even go .as far back as to the time of the Achaemenians, but we do not have any evidence of the existence of such literature at that time. During the Sassanians, however, works worthy of appearance in encyclopedias were widespread. An example of such works is the Taraniknamak or Book of Songs. Another example can be found in the segments of Khusrav-i Qubadan wa Ghulam. The latter is one of the best examples of research in the structure of the songs of the time. In fact, it was this tradition that was to be continued, during the Abbasid caliphate, by the Mavsulis, Hashiti Fars, Yunus Katib, Ibn-i Mubriz, and others.


The most important encyclopedia produced in the East is the work of Abulfaraj Isfahani; it is called the Kitab al-Aghani, or Book of Songs. It is true that some of the characters are presented in IIlOre mythical and anecdotal form, but there is no doubt that, logically speaking, the work is a continuation of the tradition of the Sassanians. Abu Hafs Sughdi Samarqandi, Katibi Khwarazmi, Abulabbas Bakhtiyar, Abunasr Sarakhsi, Farabi, and later, and Abu Ali ibn Sina not only contributed to this science by introducing their own innovations, but sowed the seed of respect for the artist and the art. One of the features of the encyclopedic works of this period is the classification of the components of the musical arts. The need for a scientifIc understanding of music then directed the research in the field toward an understanding of method, Ihythm! and style. The schools and institutes of the time were also benefiting. from the advances that were being made in the field. One of the founders and leaders of the scientifIc and practical aspects of the classical music of Bukhara was Abu al-Abbas Bakhtiyar, who not only inaugurated research and instruction in the genre, but found new grounds in composition of songs as well. Among the prominent works of the time, mention can be made of at-Tariqat ul-Ajamiya (style, principles, Iranian) and Sabk-i Khurasani (Transoxianian style). Both of them contributed to what was, in reality, an artistic renaissance. At-Tariqat ulAjamiya was instrumental not only in the perpetuation of the tradition, but in fueling the works of the likes of the Mavsulis, who worked for the court of the caliph in Baghdad. In fact, the school thus created was responsible for the many skillful musicians who entered the stage at that time. Furthermore, music teachers expanding their investigations into Persian poetry, inaugurated a new phase in the development of that genre. According to Abunasr Farabi, the music of this period is devised for the heart, the soul, and the ear. This approach to music entailed an understanding not only of the instruments and notes, but also of methods, rhythms, and the whole structure of the musical piece. Indeed, scientifIc and artistic concerns aside, the musicians had to understand themselves, as well as their audiences. They also had to have a fair grasp of the status of their audiences, their needs, as well as their demands. As social considerations became more prominent, scholars began to address some of the pressing issues of the time:'These issues were, to a great extent, related to the disarray that had resulted from the dismemberment of the great Sassanian Empire. The objective of the scholars was not so much to criticize the works of the Iranian or Greek predecessors as it was to implement their own innovations and revitalize the traditions of the past. They intended to synthesize the knowledge of the past while expanding their contemporary knowledge base to cover adjacent genres, such as poetry. That is why ancient figures like Borbad were of prime importance; they were exemplary not only in

Sarnanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


familiarity with methods, notes, rhythms, and style, but also as resourceful poets and literary figures. It is well known that the nomad Arabs were not familiar with music and that, during the initial phases of their rule, did not pay any attention to music. Later on, however, helped by musicians from Khurasan, schools of music were opened in Damascus, Baghdad, Basra, Musil, and even in Mecca and Medina. According to Bushar ibn Bard of Tabaristan, "[Khurasani musicians] gradually lifted the veil of ignorance and aquatinted the Bedouin with the voice of the nightingale." Abunasr Farabi, who established classical Samanid music on the basis of theoretical and practical applications, and who revived the art of music in such works as Kitab al-Ihya al-Ulum, Kitab al-Madkhal al-Sina'at alMusiqi and Kitab al-Musiqi al-Kabir, speaks eloquently about indigenous works such as Farsiyyat (Khusravaniyyat) or al-Tarikh al-Mulukiyya, and about Borbad (Fahlbad or Fahbaz). The assessments of Farabi, Katibi Khwarzmi's section on music (Miftah al-Ulum), and Abulabbas Sarakhsi (Kitab al-Musiqi) are all based on the quality of the indigenous Iranian musical compositions of the time of Borbad. This point is particularly underscored in Farabi's Kitab al-Musiqi al-Kabir. Before embarking on a discussion of Western assessment of the efforts of Eastern scholars and musicians, let us emphasize the fact that much of the civilization of Sassanian Iran, including classical Iranian music, was masked by Arab chroniclers and represented as Arabic or Islamic innovations. Samanid scholars, like Farabi and Ibn-i Sina, unmasked this hypocrisy by investigating the historical background of aspects of Islamic society; they traced every aspect of that society to its origin, and every feature to its promoters. Many features of classical Iranian music, for instance, are traced to Borbad. European researchers, like Kosegarten, Land, Kiesevetter, Hammer Pugstall, Salvador Daniel, Rosenvall. Henri Farmer, Carra de Waux, R. de Erlanger, A. Danieleu, and others, have contributed many articles dealing with the well-known figures of the Samanid Era, especially Farabi and Ibn-i Sina. Although many of these studies date back to the nineteenth century, the ideas set forth in them are quite current. They advocate that the root of the efforts and contributions of theoreticians like Farabi must be sought in the works of the ancient Greeks. Such assessment, however, . can hardly be credible because its authors themselves are not familiar with the primary sources, i.e., with the works of Farabi and Ibn-i Sina, or with the works of Katibi Khwarazmi, Ibn-i zail Isfahani, and others. The theoretical works of Ibn-i Sina appear in his Ihsa al-Ulum, Kitab al-Musiqi alKbir, Danishnama, Kitab al-Shita. and Kitab al-Nijat. There is no doubt that thdranian authors mentioned above were influenced by the works of the ancient Greeks. They themselves are the frrst to credit their Greek predecessors (Pythagoras, Nikamakhus, Euclid, among others); but, can we




credit the assessment of those who themselves are not intimately familiar with the total efforts of scholars they evaluate? A comprehensive study of the works of Farabi and Ibn-i Sina indicates that these scholars categorically rejected any relationship between the various branches of music and mythical or astrological phenomena. They adhered to a realistic and scientific view of music and established a new foundation for it. In other words, neither the Sassanian nor the Samanid musicians were dependent on the thought patterns of Pythagoras and his followers. The knowledge gained from ancient Greeks is used in the conwith appropriate credit given to each context of indigenous tributor. Otherwise, the findings of Farabi, Ibn-i Sina, and others, are based on the workings of barbat, tanbur-i Khurasani, and the recognition of the relationship between the divisioll;S and the strings of the instrument. M. Barkashli, who has investigated the works of Farabi and Ibn-i Sina, has reached the same conclusion. In this context, it is important to note that the translations provided during the early years of Islam were neither thorough nor accurate. The task of correcting the mistakes of the , past and amending the texts fell on the shoulders of those who recognized the shortcomings and decided to remedy the mistakes. And that is, perhaps, why special attention is paid to the study of such instruments as barbat. rubab. tanbur-i Khurasani, and nai. In Khusrav-i Qubadan wa Ghulam, for instance, not only the strings and the divisions, but also each song and appropriate instruments, are thoroughly examined. Furthennore, Farabi and Ibn-i Sina paid special attention to the contributions of Abulabbas Bakhtiyar, Isa Barbati. Abubakr Rubabi and, consequently, elevated the compositional capabilities of barbat and tanbur-i Khurasani. By the end of their investigations and innovations, the capabilities of these instruments had become manifold. In conclusion, music of the time of the Samanids is rooted in the experiments of Sassanian musicians of the caliber of Borbad. Using the traditional classifications of their Sassanianpredecessors, later Iranian musicians continued the tradition of creating encyclopedias and of categorizing instruments. This clear and simple view of Iranian music, however, is distorted by both the Arabic/Islamic and the current European views. The fonner distorts and discredits all Iranian effort under the rubric of Islam, the latter does very much the same by attributing the original theoretical and practical contributions of scholars like Abunasr Farabi and Abuali ibn Sina to Pythagoras, Euclid, and other ancient Greeks. Unless scholars devote themselves to a thorough understanding of the works of these scholars, through an analysis of their original works, we will not be able to fonn a correct and coherent view of their gennane contributions.


Askarali Rajabzada

Samanid Civilization


The Arab invasion, the expansion of Islamic culture, and the mingling of Islam with the local religions affected the appearance, as well as the style, of the apparel of the people of Central Asia. Although the actual clothes worn during the ninth and tenth centuries are no longer available, the Holbuq paintings, studied by E. G. Gulyamova, allow us to conceptualize those clothes and imagine what they could have looked like. l Archaeological fmds and medieval manuscripts further assist us in observing and studying the various parts of those paintings. Soldiers and musicians populate the Holbuq paintings. Although in these paintings, the clothes worn by the musicians and the dignitaries s.hare the same style, they differ as far as the quality and the use of the fabric is concerned. Furthennore, certain decorations adorn the apparel of the lI'usicianswhich are absent in those of the dignitaries. 2 Clothes worn by th. soldiers are everyday clothes. consisted of two parts: an under gannent and an over ganne!1t (khi/'at). The under gannent, usually a shirt, had long sleeves that became narrow at both the wrists and the shoulders. The over gannent looked very much like the tunic (ghamzul) worn by the Hephthalites. It was an accommodating gannent (zihkalan) that was worn by the local people. The style of the gannent, which corresponded to the time for which it was made, differed from the traditional or ancient style. The Holbuqi over garments had collars that were folded over, a wide space above the sleeves, and sleeves that narrowed progressively till they met the wrists. The lower portion (daman) of the over gannent had a very heavy decoration and the top portion was quite wide, making it distinct from the clothes depicted irrthe paintings of Lashkar Bazar (northern Afghanistan). A belt with certain hanging elements, was worn with the over gannent. In length, the over gannents reached the middle of the calf muscle. Their footgear consisted of shoes that were often decorated. The hair style of the men was very much like the hair style of the Tukharian men of ancient times, i.e., short hair with locks near the ear. In the Holbuq paintings, women's apparel includes nicely styled, ornate dresses. Looking at the paintings alone, it would be impossible to distinguish the various parts of the clothes. In general, however, there are two types of dresses: a shirt and a tunic-pantaloons combination. Without a doubt, the pantaloons were worn exclusively by women musicians. In
1 Gulyamova, 1985.. 2 Maitdinova, 1989, p.'n.

previous centuries, especially between the fifth and the eighth centuries, the most widespread type of clothes for women was a long dress that covered the entire body. During the ninth and tenth centuries, as the dress code dictated by the Shari 'a corresponded closely with that style of dress, that dress code became even more prevalent. According to Islamic law, a woman's dress must be long and wide; it should certainly cover all the body. The exquisite silk tunic worn by the Holbuq musicians, however, was exclusively made for professionals. . One of the women musicians in the painting wears a long, green dress. The collar of the dress is straight (rast), the sleeves are long and wide with a lot of decorations in the lower portion. Belts, made of the same fabric as the dress, decorate the places where the sleeves are attached to the body. On the shoulder of the woman musician, there is a delicate yellow scarf, lightly decorated. Her hair consists of six braids, each decorated with precious stones and there are some special curls near the ear. The style of the woman's hair is very beautiful. It consists of golden crowns (qash), in the middle of each of which there is a lotus. The second woman musician wears a silk tunic and black pantaloons. Her decorated, black curly hair reaches her shoulder. In women's apparel, too, as was the case with the men's, the style resembles that of the Tukharians, i.e., the same wide shirts, scarf, hair style, and hair decoration. The only difference is that, in the painting, the collars and the exterior portions (zaheri) of the clothes are made from the fabric from which the clothes are ma<M. The aesthetic content of the clothes in the various paintings bespeaks the continuity that existed between the civilizations of the past and the civilization of the time of the Samanids. The style of the clothes worn by the Hephthalites had reappeared, but they were fashioned to fit the needs of the contemporary wearer. Men are depicted in an ideal style with <l happy face, almond-like eyes, beardless, with thin mustaches, and short hair. Wide, long tunics were considered beautiful at the time. Woman as mother depicts the ideal woman of the ninth and tenth centuries. She has a happy face and is slightly heavy. Other speCial features of the ideal woman included eyebrows resembling a bow, black, almond-shape eyes, straight nose, and delicate, chubby hands. The hair style was braided (marghula) in large curls. Before long, the aesthetic requirements of the Central Asian society gradually replaced the current Zandanichi materials with soft and delicate materials made of silk and cotton. The production of the materials and fabrics (gazwars) not only satisfied the needs of the society, but were also exported to neighboring lands. The materials and the fabrics produced in the city were of the type of "Simgun," "Tabaristani," "Ushmuni," "Mamarjal," and others. According to the infonnation provided by the historian Narshakhi, Bukhara exported white, red, and green materials to lands as distant as Rum (present-day Anatolia) and Egypt. The locations, where good quality fabrics were produced, are well known. They are:

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


Zandana, Vardana, Iskejkent, Dabusiya, Darzangi, and others. Zandana and Vardana (Vidar) specialized in the production of fabrics that were known as Zandanichi and Vidari respectively.l It seems that, in the past, the Zandanichi materials were produced out of coarse shahi material. But in later times, due to a change in taste and style, as well as in the demands of a changing climate in Central Asia, softer and thinner materials became prevalent. These cotton fabrics were not inexpensive; in the bazaar they competed with the local materials (dibacha or parcha) and they were worn by the nobles and the amirs. 2 Ibn-i Howqal provides some useful information on the Vidari materials. 3 We can surmise that the yellow scarf worn by one of the figures in the Holbuq portrait might be made of Vidari material. A piece of material, currently housed in the Louvre, provides some useful information on the tenth century materials. 4 On this material, even the name of the owner, i.e., Samanid commander Bukhtegin, is recorded. On the two-part material there is a picture and in the center of the picture there are two elephants facing each other. There are also pictures of mythical creatures, resembling griffms, below the elephants. The border and sides of the material carry various types of decorations. Among some strap-like decorations, pictures of camels are accommodated. The corners of the fabric are devoted to pictures of birds. Even a cursory look at the material reveals a great deal of affinity between the decorations on this fabric and the Sughdian decorations discovered in Varakhsha and Panjekent. 5 The same type of decoration is also found in Lashkar Bazar. The fabric also reveals the type of skills and artistry that existed in Central Asia in pre-Islamic times. For instance, the paintings belonging to the beginning of the tenth century include a lot of animal motifs, while those belonging to the latter part of the same century carry plant motifs, which are more in accord with the dictates of Islam. During the tenth century, Chinese shahi materials were very much in demand. About this, the author of the Hodud al-'Alim writes, "China exports many types of shahis, like plain and shot silk, and brocade, The robes of the nobles and the amirs are made of these same materials. "6 The brocade (parind or farind) was a monocolor fabric with decorations. The decorations were mostly dark. Sughdian materials refer to this type of fabric variously as "pring-i kabud rang-i tira" and" pring-i kabud rang-i ravshan." Sometimes they are also referred to as ''pring-i safid rang" and

''pring-i sabz. "1 Taking the needs of the Central Asian market into consideration, from the end of the eighth to the beginning of the tenth centuries, demand for "Sassanian" materials in China decreased. The old decorations, too, became obsolete. 2 The spectrum of colors used in the production of fabrics was well known. Among others, red (qirmizi), blue, yellow, green, white, and black are the colors employed the most. Clothes were made out of fabrics, the colors of which were in harmony. During the tenth century, the undergarment and the over garment tended to share the same color range. It was not just the apparel that was important; the accessories that were worn along with the apparel were also of great importance. At the time, stripes came into vogue. They were added to clothes as well as used to adorn the hair. The trend, going beyond the tenth century, continued to be practiced in subsequent centuries. Earrings with many sections also found a certain official status. All these decorative devices were somehow symbolic representatives of the sun. Of course, hats that carried the symbols of the sun and the moon were not alien to Central Asia. Evaluation of apparel, in general, was made on the basis of its appearance, the upper versus the lower. In addition, there were many decorative pieces, that could be worn on hands, feet, neck, and around the waist. These were mostly produced by processing minerals found in the nearby 'mines. Proof for some of the assertions made above is found in the dis,coveries at Kafar Qal'a. 3 The research of A. M. Belenitskii, too, supports the assertions madeabove. 4 More supporting evidence can be found in the ninth century earring discovered at Afrasiyab. That earring, too, carried the symbol of the sun. Creating harmony among gold and other jewelry was one of the features of the decorative arts of the ninth and tenth centuries. A number of pins, in the shape of birds, carrying the symbol of the sun, are also discovered and can be used as supportive evidence. From what can be gathered from the coronation of the tenth century kings, the decorative aspects of the throne and the crown had not undergone any degree of change. At this time, too, a highly bejeweled crown was placed on the bead of the ruler. Similarly, recently promoted notables and amirs were rewarded w.ith very valuable bracelets (daspons), decorated with precious stones. 5 , In the paintings at Holbuq, women are portrayed wearing beads and chains around their necks. The jewels psed for the neck are very similar to those found in Tukharistan'and Sughdiana. The charms (tumars) that are

1 2 3 4 5 6

Maitdinova, 1983, p. 69. Ibid., p. 72. Barthold, V. V. 1965, p. 441. Belenitskii and Bentovicb, 1961, p. 75. Ibid., p. 74-75. Belenitskii and Bentovicb,1963. p. 114.


1 Ibid., p. 115. 2 Luba-Lesnicbenka, 1987, pp. 93-94. 3 Belenitskii, 1950, p. 132. 4 Fekbretdinova, 1988, pp. 46-47. 5 Mets, 1966, p. 118.

Samanid Civilization

.;(1 ";,c,1

. Samanid Civilization


depicted in the Holbuq paintings are unique. Abu Raihan al-Biruni provides some very useful information about the making of charms, which were made of precious metal.' Strands of necklace, too, were used as means of adornment. The rruike, quality, and the color of the strands of the necklace were associated with a certain degree of magic as well. The jewelers used the many forms including' global, conic, prismatic, triangle, hexagon, and other shapes (rhomb) in the making of their desired objects. In fact, geometrical shapes were prevalent in the general stock of tenth century designs. The adornments on the decorative pieces, however, were usually in botanical forms. In contrast, there were some portraits that reproduced the strictly traditional Iranian forms. During the tenth century, the aesthetic sense of jewelry was delicate and exact. This is apparent from their choices of color, shape, and quality of the metals they employed. 2 During the ninth and tenth centuries, precious stones like ruby, turquoise, emerald, pearl, coral, and carnelian were among the most desired types of adornment. Strands of these precious stones were sown on clothes and hats as well. They were also used for earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and annJets. 3 Strands made of metal as well as precious stones such as carnelian, lapis lazuli, turquoise, coral, mountain crystal, amber, white carnelian, topaz, agate, marble, sea shells, Yemeni carnelian, quarts, ceramic, glass, fish gills, bones, and others, formed the main body of the necklaces. The amount of metal and precious stone depended on the social status of the individual. For instance, there were some necklaces that were made exclusively of jewels. Al-Biruni provides some very useful information about use of single pearls, turquoise, and lapis lazuli in the making of necklaces. He explains the way jewelers preferred to use gold and pearl together to achieve the correct reflection of the gold on the pearl. 4 . The depiction of women's clothes in the Holbuq paintings indicates that the use of apparel was governed by certain rules and regulations. These paintings also indicate that, in spite of the new trends that developed after the Islamic conquest, ancient Iranian forms did not disappear altogether; rather, they continued to keep the trend setters occupied.

The epoch of the Samanids was devoted to the creation of a large-scale centralized state. Special attention was given to the formation and flowering of the literatures, sciences, and the arts. The epoch also made major advances in urbanization. It was an era of improving technical methods and nourishing new artistic qualities. Altogether, it was a constructive period during which a new spirit permeated all spheres of the cultural life of Transoxiana and Iran. . The culture of the Samanid Era was fueled by a feudal ideology and a relatively new religion, Islam. A striking phenomenon. Islam renders an essential influence upon both the architecture and the monumental arts of the region. This influence, which involves a gradual prohibition in the depiction of living beings, is anathema to realism; it forces the artist to, gradually, abandon realism. But more importantly, it involves a process that results in the disappearance of the three-dimensional SCulpture, of figurative arts, and of the decorative origin of fine arts.' This kind of general gap in artistic traditions is quite unusual for the medieval cultures. 2 The gap involves a process that forces the ornamental decoration to compensate the loss incurred by prohibition in creation of realistic phenomena. This means that the decorative motifs, originally derived from the world of the plants and from geometry, will have to enter totally new proportions with absolutely original harmony of colors and forms. Since, the problems that arise from Islam's interaction with the indigenous cultures, especially with indigenous arts and modes of life, were complex, it is necessary to study the dynamics of these early interactions. By developing appropriate methods, we can not only distinguish the mutual effects on either culture but gauge the benefits and, indeed, the harms that such a processes might entail. , The iqeology bf affirmed Islam promoted the appearance of new types of buildings which had been unknown earlier. These included towns and settlements, as well as mosques with minarets, mausoleums, madrasahs.

G. Maitdinova

I Biruni, 1963, p. 84. 2 Fekhretdinova, op cit, p. 56. 3 Ibid., p. 57. 4 al-Biruni, opcit, p. 105.

I According to Boisbakov, the probibition was not formulated defmitively until the end of the II th century (probably, even earlier). The use of portraits, bowever, was permitted in a number of cases. See. Bolsbakov, 1969, pp.142-153. 2 Khmelnitskii, 1994, pp. 52-54.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


and khaniqahs. I At the same time, the Sarnanids spared neither zeal nor resources in erecting magnificent palaces, administrative centers, caravansaries, covered markets, public baths, bridges, and canals. According to the tenth-century Bukharan chronicler, Muhammad Narshakhi, the beauty of some of those palaces had become proverbiaJ.2 In this regard, Narshakhi makes the foUowing interesting remark, "The most skillful masters and architects of the time were invited to Bukhara to create a complex of splendid palaces surrounded by beautiful parks and open spaces. The beautiful palace called Jui Mullian, which itself resembled the much longed-for paradise, is an example. "3 Apparently similar countrypalaces and architecturally-organized gardens were built all over the region. All these complexes were built according to blueprints created by skilled architects, specialists in laying out parks and devising systems for distribution of scarce water. Raw brick-pakhsa (derivative of loess) and wood---eontinued to remain the major materials used in constructions in general. According to infonnation from the ninth and tenth centuries, in Samarqand, Kesh, and Bunjikent (Panjekent) wood and clay were major elements used in the construction of houses. "4 Narshakhi provides us with a good description of several fires that, at different times, had destroyed whole housing complexes in Bukhara. 5 Could this have been a consequence of the wide application of wood in clay-frame walls, plane floors, and in the provision of supports? The separate, well-preserved wooden details of buildings provide materials not only about the tectonics of the buildings, but about the artistic value of carved wood as well. Widespread application of baked brick in the construction of the ninth and tenth centuries monwnental structures created an upheaval not only in the architectonics of buildings, but in the infusion of original artistic ideas. We observe that although baked brick was used in more ancient structures, it was not used widely. During the excavation of the Parthian capital of Nisa (third to second centuries, BC), for instance, baked bricks were discovered in both square and curved shapes.6 In spite of this, until the ninth century, baked bricks were used only in very special circumstances. One such circumstance was its use in areas that were in need of high durability, i.e., in the foundations, plane roofs, domes, pillars, steps, and the surfaces of the yards?
1 Pugachenkova, 1963, p. 28. 2 Narshakhi M. Istoriya Bukhari.- Tashkent, 1897.- P.37-38 . .3 Voronina, 1975, pp. 50-51. 4 Belger, 1957, pp. 16,19,21. 5 Narshakhi, 1897, pp. 37, 118. 6 Pugachenkova, 1951, pp. 143-146; Davidovich, 1951, pp. 108-142. 7 Prybitkova, 1973, p. 19; Khmelnitskii, 1992, p. 37.


There were other aspects that contributed to the appeal of using baked bricks in constructions. These included the high level technical qualities of the material, as well as its lightness and adaptability to diverse tones. Combined, these features allowed baked bricks to become one of the main contributors to the creation of architectural decorations in the ninth and tenth centuries. The monochrome ornamental processing with baked brick is gradually becoming the means of artistic enrichment of the interior and exterior walls of monwnental buildings. COIUlected constructively with the principal brickwork, it is meant to impart a chiaroscuro perspective and a concrete texture. Rather than hiding, it uses artistic means to highlight the main architectural fonns of the building. The use of bricks in pairs, although one of the simplest types of decorative brickwork, was unknown in pre-Islamic architecture. 1 A row of brick work was usually inlayed, with a pair of bricks in which one brick was placed on top of the other. Owing to this device, the rows turned out not only twice as thick but as accurate vertical seams. This device provides a striking example for a situation, in which, the intention to simplify a process results in the birth of a new artistic technique in brickwork. Later masters filled the space between the pair of bricks with gaj (alabaster) and formed a wide vertical seam to emphasize the effect of the invention. Further along in the process, the stripes of gaj were enlivened with simple ornamentation. This remarkable combination of brickwork and alabaster then fonned the basis for subsequent developments in the application of still more decorative techniques. 2 Apart from the ornamental motifs, epigraphic ornaments played an increasingly larger role in the decoration of monumental buildings. The genesis of this motif, too, was related to Islamic ideology. Calligraphic inscriptions, executed in geometrical print, or "Kufic," were among the earliest and the most universal. In fact, thanks to the peculiarities of the Arabic Script, some extraordinarily wonderful decorative images were proVided in this way. That these decorative images could easily be accomplished in baked brick was a bonus. 3 The mausoleum of the Samanid Amir is a precious complex indeed. Resembling a pearl in Central Asian architecture, it displays the indissoluble unity of architectural fonn, construction, and decoration Visually. Furthermore, this unique monument crowns the achievements of centuries of experimentation, unsurpassed composition, attention to details, and ornamentation. The composition of the mausoleum is strictly pivotal, i.e., all four facades are identical (l0.8 x 10.8 m). The cubic building of the mausoleum is completed with a high refined arcade and

I IO.Kbmelnitskyi, 1992, pp. 38-39. 2 Prybitkova, 1973, pp. 132-133; Kbmelnilskii. 1992, pp. 38-39. 3 Orbeli, 1923, p. 13; Voronina, 1960, p. 81.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


cupola. The high-powered round colunms. at the coins, and the light bordering of the walls, give the monument an impressive outlook. The surface of the interior and exterior walls, the tympanums of the arches and the details of the arcade are all covered with elegant geometrical and plant ornamentation. The original brickwork, comprised of small square bricks stacked horizontally and vertically. produce the illusion of wicker-work. The narrow plate of the bricks (22-23 x 22-23 x 3cm) permits the use of ornaments. The brickwork of the interior achieves an unusual artistic form in the tier of the cupola drum, where form and plasticity combine. Here brickwork achieves its polished and ornamental com. position. The interplay of light and shadow of a distinctive brick mosaic, festively decorated, imparts a certain charm to the mausoleum, a charm that allows the complex to join the other masterpieces of ornamental art. The tendency to artistically expose the decorative characteristics mentioned above, as primary building materials, is increased in the Arab-Ata mausoleum, in the hamlet of Tim. While the texture of baked bricks prevails and the covered gaj inlays appear only in insignificant amounts in the Samanid mausoleum ornamentation, the Arab-Ata complex is a combination of brick and gaj. The carved gaj does not completely plaster the facade of the Arab-Ata mausoleum, of course, but it organically combines with the brickwork, filling the wide seams. In certain places, like the small arches belonging to the portal arches, the carved gaj covers the surface completely, as would plaster. Other instances include Kufic inscriptions. An imitation of figure brickwork was provided above in the context of gaj coating in tomb interiors. By using this device, a patterned unity was introduced to underlie the exterior and the interior spaces in the decorative design of buildings.! The carved stucco was of wide-spread use as a decorative device. In this regard, a number of brilliantly executed ornamental panels were discovered in the excavations of the ancient town of Afrasiyab. A study of these panels. I am sure, will add much to our understanding of this aspect of the architecture of the time. As the Varakhsha wall relief, with rich portrayals of animals, birds, and man shows, the high culture of this branch of the art was also affected by the structures discussed earlier in this study. The ornamentation motifs of Afrasiyab fragments are efficient examples of monocharacter patterns. They draw on a combination of geometrical designs, which represent some organized base, and plan motifs, which serve as fIller. The rightness of the geometric patterns and the construction of their intersections indicate a knowledge of applied geometry. The craftsmanship of the ornamentation and the refmement of the patterns, combined with their rhythm for geometrical contours, produce an excellent technique for fretwork on alabaster. Side by side with this, some ornaments are

preserved which date back to the early Middle ages: a roller with scaly ornament and strips of intertwined vine stems. A. M. Prybitkova remarks that this pattern is notable for a lesser reality of representation than the same type of ornament found in Varakhsha and Panjekent. The vine motif, which is repeated in ornaments of different times periods, endures the process of abstraction quite well. It can, therefore, serve as a standard for the dating the monuments.! The carved decoration of the Afrasiyab panels has a number of analogs in the Tarikb (Nu Gumbad) mosque, in Balkb (in present-day Afghanistan), dated to the ninth and the first half of the tenth century.2 There• carved gaj covered all the interior and exterior surfaces of the mosque. Because of its instability in the face of adverse atmospheric conditions. gaj was very seldom used in the building of the facades. Among the preserved monuments with exterior decoratioij, the Arab-Ata tomb, the portal of which is decorated with gaj, and the Nu Gumbad mosque. are distinct. To raise the durability of alabaster, thin ears of cereals were included in the composition. 3 The tympana of the arches, the round capitals o( massive pillars. and the base of the pillars and columns of the Nu Gumbad mosque were covered with ornamental fretwork, entirely on gaj. In various places. the fretwork turns into sculptural decoration, so that the rosettes which, adorn the tympana of the interior arches, appear as distinct three-dimensional sculptures. The geometrical and stylized plant motifs are combined in mosque ornamentation. Here the fme-Iaciniate vine is more naturalistic and, probably, belongs to an earlier period than the Afrasiyab panel which prevails in plant decoration. 4 One cannot help marveling at the ancient, remarkable, covered mihrab of a mosque at Dabistan burial-ground in northern Khurasan, a mihrab also known as the Shir Kabir Mosque. s In spite of a lack of security for the mihrab, its spectacular carved stucco decoration discloses its general composition. The plant, geometrical. and epigraphic motifs fill the splendid mihrab. Although in complete contrast to the Afrasiyab decoration,6 it has a wide circle of analogs among the religious buildings in Samarra, Cairo, and Nain.? There has existed an ancient (pre-Islamic) artistic tradition of combining plaster work with woodwork. This tradition is evidenced in the magnificent monuments in carved wood in.the Zarafshan river valley; colunms
1 Prybitkova. 1973, p. 122. 2 Go1ombek, 1969, pp. 173-174; Pugachenkova, 1970, pp. 241-244. 3 Grajdankina. 1963. p. 127. 4 Prybitkova, 1973, pp. 124-125. 5 Kotov, 1939. p. 105. 6 Prybitkova, 1973, p. 128. 7 Kroger, 1982. Abb. 56, 77, 135, 138; Khme1nitskii. 1992, p. 89.

1 Pugachenkova, 1963, pp. 98-99.

Samanid Civilization


in the mountainous settlements of Kurut, Obburdon, Fatmev, Unnitan, the
mihrab of the settlement of Iskodar; and the wooden freeze from

Obburdon. The columns are dated about the ninth to the tenth centuries. Only the more recent columns from Urmetan, and the mihrab from Iskodar, are exception. I In the wooden decorations, images of living beings whimsically interlace with the floral, geometric, and epigraphic motifs. The ornament, which is carved deep, and which is supplemented by prominent details, is accompanied by a beautiful flair of stylization. On the whole, the arrangement is concentrated on the capitals. The capitals of the columns of Obburdon and Unnitan contain rich animal subjects, including portrayals of animals, fishes, and birds. The prominent eyes, scales, and tail fms, and the heads of the birds on their long necks, are reproduced with a great deal of imagination, fmesse, and delicate taste. Additionally, there is a cylinder, the composition of which includes zoomorphic elements in the form of playing fish and four projections on columns with wonderful owl figures decorating their trunks. The floral ornamentation of the column at Kurut absorbs the images of the animals in their entirety. One views only the fish, which is depicted in a wonderful, stylized form, within the pattern of the column. At Fatmev, the deep and rich floral ornamentation completely covers the column, while geometric and epigraphic motifs dominate the Iskodar mihrab. V. L. Voronina relates the zoomorphic subjects of the Zarafshan columns with intricate patterns, dating to pre-Islamic local traditions reflected in folk mythology.2 The priceless architectural ornamentation of the epoch of the Samanids bespeak a richness of creative forces that is unsurpassed in artistic qualities and in expressive equilibrium. The artistic aspect of the architecture is indissolubly connected with the best traditions of ancient times. Nevertheless, the new qualities appear more clearly: the organic unity of constructive and artistic aspects of the architecture combined with a wide use of baked bricks. In the constructions, the decorative wealth of the brickwork is expressed not only in the ornamentation, but also in architectural volume and space.

Humanitarian issues have always been among the prominent SUbjects of Perso-Tajik literature; the contributions of the Perso-Tajik authors from ancient times to the present attest to the veracity of this statement. Indeed, the earlier poets Abu Abdullah Rudaki and his contemporaries are to emphasize the significance of the issue at hand. The Samanid State, too, was very much involved in humanitarian issues. It was a newly-established state in search of means whereby it could consolidate its power, expand its borders and, more importantly, reach its subjects. What tool could serve the state better than a reformed language, a powerful assembly of scholars and literati, and an issue around which they could rally. The Samanids adopted humanitarianism to serve as the fulcrum of their state. That is why the Samanid arnirs made every effort to assemble the scholars and literati of every realm at their court in Bukhara. And that is precisely why Rudaki was awarded the title of "Malak al·Shu'ara." Although the contributions of Rudaki's contemporaries, like Shahid Balkhi, Abushakur Balkhi, Imara Marvazi, Rabi'a Kazdari, Bushar Marvazi, Kisa'i, Munjik, Daqiqi, Abulmu'ayyid Balkhi, Ma'rufi, Khufavi, and others, have not reached us in full, their choice of themes testifies to the richness of the culture that supported them. Even these excerpts sufficiently delineate the esteem that human beings were awarded in the scheme of things. Rudaki and his contemporaries summed up the essence of humanity in benevolence. At the end of their lives, every minute of which was irreplaceable, they left a legacy of virtues. Rudaki has expressed these humanitarian ideals in the simplest possible form:
HH HHrap 6a lIalDMH xHpa,n. He 6-a,lt-OH lIalDM. K-aH,nap y HHrapR. Xa-Mlly ,napecT B-(l3 HaKyKopA. KHIDTHe C03 TO 6a-,n-oH

Sulhiniso Rahmatullaeva

Watch this world through the eyes of wisdom, Not through the eyes that you look upon the world. It is a sea, to cross which you need, To build a ship out of the goodness of your heart. In his adulation of humanism, Rudaki has remained quite loyal to the values of his ancestors. After all, ancient Iranians based their creed on the

1 Voronina, 1954, pp. 47-48. 2 Voronina, 1954, p. 48.

1 Rudaki, 1958, p. 528.

Samanid Civilization


o you whose crown the moon and Saturn adorn, How long should poor Munjik sit in his lonely hut? Is he confined to his small room for ever, Without clothes, bread, a cauldron, or a table cloth?
An examination of the state of Munjik, of course, can provide us with a clue as to the living conditions of the other poets and scholars of the time. In the following, Abulfath Pindar criticizes a preacher from Ray for his illogical sermon. The fact that he uses Dailami words to poke fun at the superstitions promoted by the mullah is interesting:
na WaxPH Paw 6a MHH6ap 6ap S'lKe PYI.l BOH3aK 3-HH KH ab30H Map.l'yM PY3H 6ap Y ryBoR. 3aHe 6apboHa Me3a.l' .l'acTy Mery<IJT: naco )1(0)1<0. KH Ta OH PYI.l xoR.

Folklorists are aware of the richness and the expanSiveness of the traditions that have contributed to the formation of the Tajik culture from the time of the Samanids to the present. During the last ftfty years, actually since the formation of the Tajik Folklore Fund at the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan, more than 200,000 pages of materials on various aspects of the genre have been collected and systematized. In addition, Tajik researchers have prepared 35 volumes, entitled Kuliyyat-i Foklor-i Tajik. on the subject and have published several books based, exclusively, on the materials outlined above. I The Tajik Folklore Fund was founded in 1958 by four young Tajik researchers led by Rajab Amanov. To complete their mission of presenting a comprehensive survey of Tajik folklore, these dedicated individuals searched the official archives, explored personal libraries, and consulted with professors interested in cultural studies in both Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. They even examined materials provided in newspapers and broadcast on radio and television. This, of course, would not have been possible without the support and close cooperation of Soviet authorities at the national, regional, and local levels. In fact, it is worth mentioning that Soviet authorities paid special attention to the promotion of the aesthetic and artistic dimensions of Central Asian societies. A distinction, of course, needs to be made between the seventy or so years during which Tajik folklore has been subjected to scholarly investigation and the history of Tajik folklore. This latter history, of course, is related to the age of every poem, story, puzzle, anecdote. or song that graces the Tajik Fund materials. Who knows when a groom may have sung a given song to his bride or what ruler may have puzzled his audience with an enigma? In this regard. our study of the history of Tajik folklore has a long way to go. For instance, there is nothing in the Fund that could help the present writer in the writing of this article. History and folklore have a particular affmity. Although different in substance, both draw on the same. set of circumstances and support each other. Many of the histories, espedally the history of literature, contain materials that can be classified as folklore only. In fact, were it not for the historians, poets, and others who recorded some of the related cultural materials, our folklore Fund would indeed be very poor. The fact that a great deal of information is recorded in books that have survived from the time of the Samanids bespeaks the greatness of the civi1 See Kuliyyat-i Foklor-i Tajik in the Bibliography.

One day, a preacher in the city of Ray, Said the following nonsense to his audience. On Resurrection Day every limb of your body, Would testify to your deeds in this world. A woman beating herself about the..., shouted, And what frivolities would you have for us then!? A lot is written about wealthy skinflints. The language of this literature, however, is not suitable for inclusion in a scholarly article. Suffice it to say that during the tenth century a great deal was written in jest about tightwads, greedy individuals, and their heirs. In conclusion, like other literary genres, tenth century satire contributes a great deal to our understanding of Samanid society and, indeed, societies that followed. A major contribution in this respect was the foundation that poets like Rudaki and his contemporaries established for future satirists like Mushfiqi and Zakani. It would not be wrong if we said that the poets of the tenth century were the true founders of present-day social and political criticism

Zahir Ahrari

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


lization that was created by the House of Saman in Central Asia. A great deal of the beauty and richness of our present work on the subject, however, is due to our ability to reproduce the gems that had been produced centuries ago and which we can admire and study today. About the beginning of Tajik folklore Babajan Ghafurov correctly states, "A long time before the advent of the Samanids, the Tajiks created an oral tradition centered on their native language."l This, of course, includes the time when the Arabs were the dominant power in Central Asia, as well as centuries before that when ancient Iranians created their own civilization and folk traditions. Much of what was produced during this period were popular reactions to tyrannical rule. Such reactions to social and political norms were given aesthetic and artistic value for a while but, in the long run, they died out. For instance, thanks to Tarikh-i Tapari, a couple of instances of popular reaction to Arab rule in Central Asia are documented. 2 Here is one of those rare pieces:
A3 XaTJ10H OMa.l\aaCT, Bo pyH OMa.l\aaCT. QBopa 603 oMa.l\aacT, Be.l\HJ1 <lJap03 OMa.l\aaCT.

He has returned from Khatlan, Angry and stem as ever. He has returned, twice defeated, He has returned broken hearted. This piece is significant because it marks a particular incident in the lives of the Tajiks and underscores their sense of patriotism. The story that imparts meaning to this poem must be told. Asad ibn Abdullah, the Arab commander in Central Asia, moves on Khatlan. He is defeated decisively by the Khatlanis. He returns to Balkh. In Balkh, some poet composes this piece and presents it to the public. Before long, it becomes the Balkhis "welcome" song as they greet their defeated Arab enemy. Children and youth, in particular, love satire and recite satiric poems at every turn. In fact, "A3 XaT J10H OMa.l\aaCT" continues to be one of the favorite songs sung by children in present-day Afghanistan, especially in the province of Balkh. 3 We encounter this poem for the first time in the wonderful translation into Farsi-Tajiki language by Muhammad ibn Muhammad Bal'arni of the monumental work of Muhammad ibn Jarir Tabari (838-923), entitled Tarikh-i al-Rusul wa al-Muluk or Tarikh-i Tabari. It is referred to as a

popular satire sung by the people of Balkh.' It should be added that the poem was not part of Tabari's work; rather, in his expansion of the work of Tabari as he translated it, Bal'ami added illustrations of his own to make the work more meaningful to his Central Asian readers. This poem is one of those special additions of Bal'arni; an addition, however, that adds a great deal to our understanding of the sentiments of the Central Asians towards their Arab overlords. 2 Could it be that the Samanids promoted this anti-Arab satire to the high status that it reached? After all, it seems that, not only in Central Asia, but in the Arab domains, too, this poem was well known. It is noteworthy that the current situation in Tajikistan has created grounds for the revival of this old satire. Different provinces have created analogs that express the same sentiment, albeit with different vocabulary. Even more noteworthy is the fact that the Tajik Folklore Fund, of which we spoke earlier, does not contain a record of this most famous satire. Why is that? Thanks to the attention that Soviet authorities paid to the promotion of the cultures of the republics, this song was included in the elementary textbooks and was read by almost every Tajik student. As a result of this republic-wide exposure, poets from different regions of the republic attempted to write parodies and analogs of their own for this song. During the past decade, especially after the wlification of Qurqanteppe and Kulab under Khatlan, this song has acquired a new dimension and value. In fact, , it has become a symbol of the expression of the love of the people for the region. Manuchehr Safarzada, a student in the Department of Journalism, records the following version sung by the Khatlan native, Salih' Khudaiberdiev (village of Kaduchin, Khatlan). Khudaiberdiev was 75 at the time of the redaction of the song in 1996:
A3 XaTJ10H OMa.l\HH. Bo py OMa.l\HH. QBopa 603 OMa.l\HH, }\.awaHi HH30p OMa.l\HH.

He has returned from Khatlan, Angry and stem as ever. He has returned, twice defeated, He is pretty much done for. There is virtually no substantial difference between the text of this poem and the one recorded by Bal'ami. The context that Salih Khudaiberdiev provides for the poem, however, is noteworthy. He chums that the very name of the Khatlan region is derived from the event men1 Ghafuroy. 1983, p. 504.

1 Ghafurov, 1983, p. 511. 2 See Bal'ami's Tarikh-i Tabari, in Bibliography. 3 Shu'ur. 1975, p. 390.

2 Ibid.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


tioned earlier in relation to Asad ibn Abdullah. the Arab commander in Central Asia. who moved on Khatlan. After being defeated for a second time, Khudaiberdiev says. Asad lured the king of the region who. at the time. had a different name and eliminated him. To avenge the death of his men in previous battles. Asad had the people of the region massacred. Massacre in the language of the region is "qatl-i 'am." This phrase. Khudaiberdiev says. has been corrupted into Khatlan. Some flfty years ago. Kh. Mirzazada,l and some forty years ago. I. S. Braginskii2 directed the attention of the folklorists to this particular song. It was, perhaps. due to this attention to the works of the Samanid writers that the compilers of the Works of Rudaki's Contemporaries reproduced this very poem on the opening page of their book. Was it because the simplicity of the content and structure of the poem represented the literary tradition of its era? They explained that they detected an affmity between this poem and the ancient tradition of syllabic rhyme (eight syllables). and with the metric values of the poetry of the ninth and tenth centuries. 3 As mentioned, similar songs with the same meter appear in the folklore of both Tajikistan and Afghanistan. They are Variously referred to as tarana, minor tarana, and ashula. The following two songs are prevalent in Tajikistan as well as among the Dari-speakers of Afghanistan:
A3 l\,apOTOf' oMa,lleM,4 CHHa 6a ,lI0f' OMa,lleM. CHHa 6a ,lI0f' OMa,lleM, .llH,lIaHH ep OMa,lleM.

We have come from Qarataq. Our hearts are broken. Our hearts are broken. We have come to meet the beloved. And similarly:
A3 60JJO 60pOH OMa,ll, EpaM 6a ,lIOJJOH OMa,ll. XOCTaM 5lK 6yca rHpaM, qalllMalll 6a rHpeH OMa,ll.

When rain fell from above, My love came to the patio. I tried to kiss her lips. _ Tears ran down her cheeks.
1 Mirzazada, 1949, p. 21. 2 Braginskii, 1956, p. 254. 3 Ash 'ar, 1958, p. 2. 4 Qarataq is a village in the region of Hissar in southwestern Tajikistan.

Examining this poem, we can surmise that, during the Samanid period, folklore, too. must have had a place of its own among the arts and sciences of the time. Like the other popular arts. it must have received the special attention of the scholars. poets. and researchers. In fact. it could well be that such culturally important aspects had the undivided attention and the support of the Samanid administrators and amirs. After all. the motive behind the revival of the Dari language was to gain access to knowledge that was either lost during the Arab invasion or knowledge that existed but was neglected. About this. Babajan Ghafurov says. "The Samanid Amir gathered the scholars of Transoxiana and asked them to write a book about the habits and customs of the region. The sages of Bukhara chose Abu al-Qasim Hakim of Samarqand to lead the study. He authored a book in Arabic which was accepted by all. In order to be of benefit to a wider audience. the Amir then ordered the book to be translated into Persian."l As a result of this effort of the Samanids. many of the ancient festivals of the Iranians were reintroduced. For instance. during the rule of the Samanids. the Nau Ruz, Mihragan, and Sada were all held nationwide as they had been during the rule of the Sassanians and the Achaemenians. Furthermore, scholars and poets were encouraged to write about these activities. As a result, today we can be proud of our possession of a relatively rich store, containing accounts that directly speak to those traditions. For whatever reason. however. Tajik researchers have not had the opportunity to access the accounts that describe the conduct of such well-known events as the Nau Ruz. Mihragan, and Sada. During the Samanid Era. folklore occupied a prominent place in the literature. The adoption of Persian as the official language. and attempts at expanding its domain and enriching the fields to which it contributed, resulted in the production of many worthy contributions at a popular level. According to Babajan Ghafurov. "Collection of myths and of reports about the ancients became a governmental concern. Used as an instrument for unifying the people against a common foe. production of such compendiums required an untiring search in the mythologies in Pahlavi books, and in other ancient books that had been translated into Arabic. "2 The fact that these stories were being recorded according to the recollection of the mu'bads in no way detracted from the reality that they were originally created by an Indo-Iranian people. In fact. those stories not only survived the Arab invasion. but the Mongol invasion and the destruction of Tamerlane as well. Many of them are still being repeated by the story tellers of Transoxiana and Khurasan. The case in point. of course. is the genre that contains such stories as the exploits of Rustam. Afrasiyab, Siyavosh. Isfandiyar, Jamshid. Suhrab. Zal, and Zahhak. These stories
1 Ghafurov, 1983, p. 507. 2 Ghafurov, 1983, p. 515.

Samanid Civilization





Samanid Civilization


have been collected and presented in volumes dedicated to the study of Tajik folklore. 1 A similar story, prevalent in Samarqand at the time of the author of the Tarikh-i Sisran, is known to have been in use during the time of the Samanids as well.2 At the end of 1996, Mr. Ubaidullah Shirin, a teacher in the district of Yaban of the province of KhatIan, sent me a letter. His letter also included a version of the story of Rustam and Isfandiyar. The theme of the story was not very different from what we read in Firdowsi's Shahname. The difference was in the details. As a story teller, Ubaidullah had added his own descriptions regarding boldness, wisdom, agility, and the like for each character. These descriptions are not include.d in Firdowsi's version. Ubaidullah's letter is indicative of the fact that much of the folk culture of the Samanids is still current among the Tajiks. Only the appearance of the stories, enigmas, and anecdotes may have changed to a degree that they are not recognizable at first sight. It also points to the store of knowledge about Tajik folklore that is locked in the works of Daqiqi, Firdowsi, and others, stores of knOWledge that need to be researched and studied. A scientific understanding of the full import of these stories, of course, is not possible Wlless a comparison is made between these stories and contemporary stories for which the former has served as a prototype. Obviously, if we cannot achieve a scientific reconstruction, we can imagine that in the past, as at the present time, people have used their talent in the production of stories and poems like "Az Khatfan omadaast" and "Samarqand kandmand." We are certain, however, that poems like the following have beed universally known:


,Aap ,AaWT lIA ryHa ,AaBa,Ao? ep, 6e ep lIA ryHa 6yBa,Ao?3

How can the mountain goat roam about on the plain? He doesn't have a mate, how can he run about without a mate? After all, people are bound to include songs in their wedding ceremonies, in their wakes for the departed. and in their celebration of the Nau Ruz. Mihragan. and the like. Besides, children and youth, inspired by the beauties of nature, are likely to sing and, thereby, preserve the praises of the spring flowers, murmur of the brooks, and the caress of the zephyr. In addition, throughout the year, children played certain games. The names of two of these games, played during the Samanid Era, have reached us by way of the works of Rudaki. These are the game of Kajabazi and Kuzbazi.

The same games are being played by children in Bukhara and Samarqand under the names of Gachabazi and lshtibazi respectively. 1 It is true that, during the overlordship of the Arabs, the literati of the time, willingly or otherwise, composed their poetry in Arabic. The working class, however, used the Persian language as the medium for the expression of its sentiments and aspirations. And, of course, these were the works with which the public at large could identify the best. Babajan Ghafurov says the following about this historical event, "Since these compositions were not recorded in the Arabic script, they were gradually destroyed. Only some of them have reached us by way of the writings of the Arab geographers and historians of early Islamic times. "2 In their research on the subject, Babajan Ghafurov, V. V. Barthold, 1. S. Braginskii, and Kh. MiIzazada have used these sources extensively. The Samanids were the first ruling dynasty of Central Asia to attempt a revival of the traditions of the past. This was not a whim. They intended to use the enthusiasm generated among their people as an instrument for unifying their realm and strengthening it against foreign invaders. In this respect, therefore, they became the first to officially uphold the habits and customs of the Iranian peoples. The people, too, responded positively. They rallied around a king who was one of their own, who was familiar with their past, and who intended to elevate their status as a people in the world of their time. According to Babajan Ghafurov, one of the mandates of the Samanid amirs focused on the revival of the traditional Iranian celebrations of the Nau Ruz. Mihragan. and Sada. Using their mandate, the Samanid rulers revived many of the traditions that the Arab overlords, using the might of their sword, had dispensed with. Among these revivals were, of course, many of the relics of literature, including folk literature. In fact, a careful study of the literature of the Samanid Era indicates that the oral tradition (folklore) and the written literature were very closely connected. Devices such as bayt. ruba'i, ghazaf. naqsh, qissa. and the like were shared between the two. Neither were they very different in content. In fact, Khaliq MiIzazada recognizes folklore as the only vehicle by means of which native literature could have been transmitted in the centuries preceding the advent of the Samanids. 3 This trend is specially noticeable in the literature of the early decades of the ninth century when there was an overt attempt at basing the written literature upon oral traditions. This is especially true of the works of Abu Abdullah Rudaki and Abu al-Qasim Firdowsi who, using the oral literature of the ninth and tenth centuries, have created monumental works of an eternal nature. Scrutiny of their works, no doubt, can lead to the reconstruction of many aspects of the folk literature of the ninth and tenth centuries.
1 Aini. 1972. p. 14. 2 Ghafurov. 1983.p. 504. 3 Mirzazada, 1987, p. 167.

1 Mirmuhammadian. 1994. pp. 6-52; Mirmubammadian, 1996, pp. 12ff. 2 Mirmuhammadov, 1995, pp. 31-33; Mahdiev, 1963, pp. 130-131. 3 Mirzazada, 1987, p. 69.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


Abu Abdullah Rudaki is known as the inventor of the ruba'i genre. This is now a fact. The poetic form which had the same rhythm and meter and which was prevalent among the people of Khurasan, however, was called naqsh. About this, Shams ai-Din Muhammad ibn Qais Razi has the following story in his Kitab al-Mu'jamfi Ma'ir-i Ash 'ar al- 'Ajam: One day Rudaki was visiting Ghazna. He saw a few children who were playing Kuz. One of the children sang the naqsh in a wonderful voice. He also improvised. When one of the players left the Kuz for a while and returned, the boy who sang well said:
FaJlJlOH-FaJlJlOH TO capH Ky3.

As can be seen, Rudaki's simple, rhythmic poetry recalls the songs sung by the Tajiks of the twentieth century. The following is another example:
ry JlH 6ax,opR, Bynl TaTopR Ha6H,lI ,lIopR. qapo HaepR? Ha6H,lIH paBwaH, qy a6pH 6ax,MaH. Ba Ha3,l1H ryJlwaH. qapo Ha6opR?

So ever slowly he goes till he reaches the top of the hump. 1 According to Razi, Rudaki invented the ruba'i based on the naqsh sung by this boy.2 Subsequent to this, other poets created oral ruba'is of their own. In as much as none of those ruba'is has survived, it would be difficult to compare them with the ruba'is that were recorded in the following centuries. This, as well as dubaytis c<;Hnposed by later poets, prove that the ruba'i as we know it is a product of the oral tradition. In fact, the very existence of the word "naqsh" in the works of Rudaki indicates that popular songs had a place of their own in the literary world of the Samanids. After a thousand years, we still can find examples of naqsh in Khujand, Urateppe, and some other parts of northern Tajikistan. Naqsh is sung by youths at wedding receptions, especially on the wedding night. Their naqsh consists of ruba'is and dubaytis in which refrain plays a prominent role:
qawMH 6a,llH Kac 6a lIaWMH MaCTaT HapaCa,ll. OeJlaT 6a Jla60HH Maj;inapacTaT Hapaca,ll. MaH nHWH xy,llo MypO,ll MeTaJla6aM. Bap My60paKaT WHKaCTH HapaCa,ll. X,aH. ep, epaMe, EpH ,lIHJI,lIOpaMe... 3

Spring flower, Tatar idol, You have the wine, Why don't you serve it? Clear wine, Like autumn clouds, On the flower patch, Why don't you pour it? From the foregoing, we can conclude that a great deal more needs to be learned about the literatures of the ninth and tenth centuries before a true, scientific assessment can be made of the contributions of Samanid folklore to the revival of the Tajiks. Furthermore that, alongside written literature, oral literature has played a prominent role in the formation of the culture of the Samanid Era. Oral literature, after having been discarded by the Arabs, not only makes a comeback, but becomes a major source of inspiration for written literature. In fact, twentieth century researchers can learn a great deal more about the culture of the Samanids by studying the oral literature that has been documented in the form of written literature. A more systematic approach to an understanding of the Samanid folklore, I am sure, will tremendously enhance our appreciation of Tajik folklore in general.

May no evil affect your charming eyes, May your wine-loving lips not be ailing, My only wish from the Almighty is this: May your auspicious stature remain unharmed. o my love, my love, You are my only love.

Bahram Shirmuhammadian

1 Elwell-Sutton. 1975, p. 633. 2 Rudaki, 1958. 3 Kuliyyat-i Foklor-i Tajik, 1981.



Samanid Civilization


Hikayat, often also referred to as rivayat, is a genre related to folklore. In this written version of popular stories, accounts of the lives of prophets, kings, wazirs, national champions, poets, writers, scholars, and other important figures are documented for posterity. This literature is used in the preparation of books of advice for the education of the young. Indeed, by combining the wisdom of the ancients with contemporary experiences, Samanid authors have contributed a great deal to the education of subsequent generations. The stories with which we are acquainted fall into several categories. Some deal with the lives of prophets like David, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Jesus. Moses, and Muhammad; others recount the exploits of national 'Champions like Rustam, Siyavosh, Shirak, Mazdak, Ali, Abu Muslim, and Muqanna'; and still others deal with scholars and literati like Luqrnan . Hak. '11, Buzurgmihr, Rudaki, Firdowsi, Sina, Attar, Maulana, and Jami. It is to the lives of kings like Cyrus, Darius, Alexander, Ardashir, van, and Mahmud of Ghazna that we turn for examples of advice, proper behavior, justice, and benevolence. The changes that the Samanid Dynasty introduced, being profound, have impacted almost all aspects of the lives of the Iranian peoples. The great Tajik writer, Babajan Ghafurov, after investigating this issue thoroughly, writes, "In sum, we can state that, during the ninth and tenth centuries, the contributions of the people of Central Asia and Khurasan (Iranian peoples in general and Tajiks in particular), to all fields of knowledge are considerable. Many factors contributed to this achievement. Among them, mention can be made of the formation of a national government; renunciation of the tyrannical rule of the Arab caliphs; unification of the Tajiks as a people, and the revival of their language. Centralization of the bureaucracy and creation of a united economy in the context of the rest of the region were additional contributions of the Samanids. "I Nizam al-Mulk's Book of Government is not only a historical document, but a compendium in which many stories about the important figures of the past appear in rivayat form. One of its major contributions to our understanding of the Samanid Era lies in the fact that many of the stories therein are devoted to the history and culture of the Sarnanids. As its name indicates, Nizam al-Mulle's Book of Government is a handbook intended to specify how "just rule" can be achieved and how stability and prosperity are ushered into the country. Thus, using the just
1 Ghafurov, 1983, p. 521.

kings of the past as models, Nizam al-Mulk leads his contemporary kings on the right path. As mentioned, the mode of rulership of the Sarnanids is an acceptable model for him and, for this reason, he draws on the wisdom of the Samanid amirs for illustrating his views. About this, A. Devanaqulov writes, "In government, Nizam al-Mulk is partial to the methodology of the Samanids (AD 875-999) and, to a degree, of the Ghaznavids (AD 962-1186). Regarding those to be rules that have been tested, he uses them as models for just rulership. He also uses the same to illustrate the characteristics of the experienced rulers of the past as well as the skills that are required of competent administrators. "I Based on his sense of justice, and the capability that he had shown in practice, Amir Isma'il Sarnani has been called the Just Amir by both his contemporaries and his successors. This is what Nizam al-Mulk writes about him in the third chapter of his Book OfGovernment:
It is absolutely necessary that on two days in the week the king should sit for the redress of wrongs, to extract recompense from the oppressor, to give justice and to listen to the words of his subjects with his own ears, without any intermediary. It is fitting that some written petitions should also be submitted if they are comparatively important and he should give a ruling on each one. For when the report spreads throughout the kingdom that on two days in the week The Master of the World sununons complainants and petitioners before him and listens to their words, all oppressors will be afraid and curb their actiVities, and no one will dare to practise injustice or extortion for fear of punishment. 2


Using this brief opening, Nizam al-Mulk establishes the foundation of a just and kind government. Then, adding related stories, he elaborates on aspects of the subject by including a comprehensive set of theoretical and practical rules for the conduct of just government. The blueprint outlined, of course, is not applicable to kingship alone. Others, rich or poor, can adopt Nizam al-Mulk's method and build a prosperous life for themselves. In a way, he advocates the same type of experience that Rudaki spoke

DHpaB 3H TattPH6aH PY3rop 6HrHp, KH 6aJU>H ,l1a<IJbH >e;.aBO,l1HC TYpO 6a KOp OSl,l1.

Take stock of the ups and downs of life, Use your experience in the resolution of your problems.

1 Devanaqulov. 1989, p. 7. 2 Nizam al-Mulk, 1989, p. 17; Darke. 1960, p. 14.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


The stories that Nizam al-Mulk produces as illustration have two sources: public accounts, and the scholarly heritage of the region, i.e., popular stories that are docwnented. Among these stories, there is a story about Amir Isma'il Samani. It is a relatively lengthy story but, for our purposes, only excerpts will be reproduced here. According to Nizam al-

One of the kings of the Samanid line was called Isma'il ibn Ahmad. He was extremely just, and his good qualities were many. He had a pure faith in God (to Him be power and glory) and he was generous to the poor-to name only one of his notable virtues. His seat was at Bukhara. Khurasan, 'Iraq and Transoxiana all belonged to his ancestors.! As mentioned, this is a long story. The gist of it is that Ya'qub ibn Laith disobeyed the caliph and sent him a curt and unsavory reply: Go and tell the caliph that I was born a coppersmith; I learnt that trade from my father, and my victual used to be barley-bread. fish, onions and leeks. The sovereignty, treasure and wealth which I enjoy, I have acquired by my own bold enterprise and daring; I neither have it as an inheritance from my father, nor did I get it from you. I shall not rest until I have sent your head to Mahdiyya and destroyed your family. Either I shall do as I say or I shall go back even to my barleybread. fish and leeks. He despatched the courier. The Caliph then sent many couriers and letters but he refused to abandon his project. He collected his army and set his course towards Baghdad. When he had gone three stages the colic gripped him, and his condition reached the point where he knew that he would not be delivered from the pain. He nominated his brother 'Ame ibn Laith as his heir, gave him the treasure-books, and died. 'Ame ibn Laith returned to Kuhistan and stayed there a while. Then he went to Khurasan and reigned as king, keeping allegiance to the caliph.2 Seeing this, the caliph refused to believe Ya'qub's brother, Arne ibn Laith. Instead, he consulted with the Samanid Arnie Isma'il, whom he knew to be a just and upright ruler. At the end of the story, Nizarn al-Mulk refers to this decision of the caliph in the following words: However the caliph continued to be apprehensive, lest 'Ame too should follow the ways of his brother, and later engage in the same
1 Ibid., pp. 17-18; Darke, op cit, p. 15. 2 Ibid., pp. 20-21: Darke, op cit, pp. 18-19.

activities. Although 'Ame had no such intentions, still the caliph was anxious on this score. Frequently and secretly he sent messengers to Bukhara to Isma'il ibn Ahmad to say, 'Go out against 'Ame ibn Laith; lead your army and wrest the kingdom from his grasp, for you have more right to govern Khurasan and 'Iraq, seeing that this was the kingdom of your fathers, and they [the Saffarids] have usurped it. Firstly you have the right, secondly your conduct is more acceptable. and thirdly my prayers are behind you. Considering these three points I have no doubt but that God will assist you against him. Regard not the fact that your supplies and troops are few; look at what God says [in the Qur'an: 2, 250]: How many a little company has overcome a great company by Allah's leave! Allah is with the steadfast.' The caliph's words had their effect on Isma'il. He firmly resolved to oppose 'Ame ibn Laith. He 'gathered all the forces he had, and having crossed to the near [south] side of the Oxus. he counted them with the tip of his whip. They amounted to 2,000·horsemen; one in two had a shield, out of twenty men one had a coat of mail, and of every fifty men one had a lance; and there were men who, for lack of a mount, were carrying their coats of mail themselves, tied on to saddle straps. Then he moved off from Amuy [Amu] and came to the city of Marv. 'Ame ibn Laith was informed that Isma'il ibn Ahmad had crossed the Oxus and come to Marv, whose city prefect had fled; Isma'il was aiming at capturing the province. 'Ame ibn Laith. who was at Nishapur, laughed. He paraded 70,000 cavalry, all clad in llorsearmour with weapons and full equipment. He set out for Balkh. When the two armies met they joined battle. It so happened that" Ame ibn Laith was defeated at the gates of Balkh and his 70,000 horsemen fled without one man being wounded or taken prisoner; of them all'Ame alone was captured. When they brought him in front of Isma'il, he ordered them to hand him over to his guards.] The transient nature of power and wealth is also discussed by Nizam al-MuIk:. About that he says: And this is one of the wonders of the world. At the time of afternoon prayers a certain groOm belonging to 'Ame ibn Laith was wandering in the camp. He happened to see 'Ame; his heart stricken and he went up to him. 'Ame said, 'Stay with me tonight for I am left all alone': then he said 'As long as a man is alive, there is no escaping the need for food; contrive to find something to eat.' The groom procured one maund of meat and borrowed an iron frying-pan from the soldiers. Then he ran around and collected a little dry dung. and he
1 Ibid., pp. 21-22; Darke, op cit, pp. 19-20.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


put together t\\'" c three clods of earth, intending to make a dry fry. When he had put the meat in the frying-pan, he just went to look for some salt. The day had then come to its close. A dog came and put its head into the frying-pan and took out a bone, so burning its mouth; it raised its head and the ring of the frying-pan fell round its neck. On feeling the heat of the flre it leapt up and carried off the frying-pan. When 'Arne ibn Laith saw that, he turned towards the soldiers and guards and said, 'Take warning: I am that man whose kitchen in the morning was transported by four hundred camels; at evening a dog took it away. [In Arabic:] I was an amir in the morning: I became an asir [prisoner] in the evening.' I The following story serves two distinct purposes. In it, Nizam al-Mulk portrays Ya'qub ibn Laith and his brother, 'Arne, to be the epitome of deceit, ungodly acts, and egoism, while Isma'il Samani is praised as a God-fearing, just, and righteous king. For instance, he illustrates Isma'il Samani's devotion to justice by portraying him as a person who, in spite of 'Arne's mistakes, endeavors to free him from the caliph's prison; 'Arne, on the contrary, tries to double cross Isma'il, his benefactor; he tries to bribe Isma'il Samani. Isma'il, however, is not easily deceived: When 'Arne ibn Laith heard this, he said, 'I know that there will never be any escape for me from these bonds, nevertheless, thou who art Isma'il, send me a confidant, for I have some words to say; let him report them to YOJ.l just as he hears them from me.' The man came and told Isma'il. Isma'il at once sent him a confidant, and 'Arne said to him, 'Tell Isma'il: It was not you that defeated me, but it was your piety, faith and character, together with the displeasure of The Commander of the Faithful. God (to Him be power and glory) has taken away this realm from me and given it to you, and you, by your goodness are more worthy and deserving of this favour. I have surrendered to God (to Him be power and glory), and I do not wish you anything but good. Meanwhile you have acquired a new kingdom, but you have no wealth or backing. Now I and my brother have many treasures and buried hoards, and the list of them is in may possession; I offer them all to you, so that you may gain backing and power; you should procure supplies and stores, and replenish your treasury.' Thereupon he revealed the treasure-list and sent it to Isma'il by the hand of that conftdant. When the confidant came and repeated what he had heard and placed, the treasure-list in front of Isma'il, he turned towards the nobles and said, 'This 'Arne ibn Laith is so cunning that he thinks he .can escape from our cunning hands and catch us in the traps and
Ibid., p. 22; Darke. op cit, p. 20.

snares of eternal ruin.' He picked up the treasure-list and threw it in front of the confidant, saying, 'Take this treasure-list back to him and say: You with your wiles think you can escape from everything. Whence fell treasure to you and your brother, for your father was a coppersmith and taught you the trade? Through some celestial chance you seized dominion, and by reckless ventures your affairs prospered. This treasure with its dirhams and dinars is all that which you have taken from the people by extortion; it comes from the price of thread spun by decrepit old men and widowed women, from the provisions of strangers and travellers, and from the property of weaklings and orphans. Tomorrow you will have to answer for all this before God (to Him be power and glory); so now you promptly want to cast these wrongs about our neck, so that on the morrow at the resurrection when creditors seize you and ask you to give back all the property which you wrongfully took, you will say, "All that we took from you, we gave to Isma'il; seek it from him." You will transfer it all to me and I shall be powerless to answer the creditors and to withstand the wrath and interrogation of God.'1 This story convinces even the most skeptical of readers of Isma'il Samani's honesty and benevolence. It should be mentioned, that Nizam alMulk is not the only author to use these stories. Succeeding generations have documented the same stories, at times with varying emphases. AlGhazali, for instance, reports the same story in his Nasihat al-Muluk. 2 Both Nizam al-Mulk and al-Ghazali create forums of their own in which to judge Isma'il Samani and his contemporary kings. By praising Isma'il's devotion to God and justice, they emphasize the weak points of Isma'il's contemporary kings, without resorting to overt criticism. Nizam al-Mullc continues: Such was his piety and fear of God that he did not accept the treasure-list but sent it back to 'Arne. So he was not deluded by worldly goods. 3 Al-Ghazali sums up his statement by quoting the Prophet as the latter compares the justice of kings with worship of kings. It turns out that, one day's rule with justice outweighs sixty years of worship. Furthermore, al-Ghazali speaks against infringement upon the right of others by stating, "Whoever conquers with the sword will eventually be conquered by the sword. "4
1 Ibid., pp. 22-23; Darke, op cit, pp. 21-22. 2 al-Ghazali, 1993, pp. 57-58. 3 Nizam al-Mulk, 1989, p. 23-24; Darke, Darke, op cit, p. 22. 4 al-Ghazali, 1993. p. 58.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


put together tw" 0 three clods of earth, intending to make a dry fry. When he had put the meat in the frying-pan, he just went to look for some salt. The day had then come to its close. A dog came and put its head into the frying-pan and took out a bone, so burning its mouth; it raised its head and the ring of the frying-pan fell round its neck. On feeling the heat of the fire it leapt up and carried off the frying-pan. When 'Amr ibn Laith saw that, he turned towards the soldiers and guards and said, 'Take warning: I am that man whose kitchen in the morning was transported by four hundred camels; at evening a dog took it away. [In Arabic:] I was an amir in the morning: I became an asir [prisoner] in the evening.' I The following story serves two distinct purposes. In it, Nizam al-Mulk portrays Ya'qub ibn Laith and his brother, 'Amr, to be the epitome of deceit, ungodly acts, and egoism, while Isma'il Samani is praised as a God-fearing, just, and righteous king. For instance, he illustrates Isma'il Samani's devotion to justice by portraying him as a person who, in spite of 'Amr's mistakes, endeavors to free him from the caliph's prison; 'Amr, on the contrary, tries to double cross Isma'il, his benefactor; he tries to bribe Isma'il Samani. Isma'il, however, is not easily deceived: When 'Amr ibn Laith heard this, he said, 'I lcnow that there will never be any escape for me from these bonds, nevertheless, thou who art Isma'il, send me a confidant, for I have some words to say; let him report them to yop just as he hears them from me.' The man came and told Isma'il. Isma'il at once sent him a confidant, and 'Amr said to him, 'Tell Isma'il: It was not you that defeated me, but it was your piety, faith and character, together with the displeasure of The Commander of the Faithful. God (to Him be power and glory) has taken away this realm from me and given it to you, and you, by your goodness are more worthy and deserving of this favour. I have surrendered to God (to Him be power and glory), and I do not wish you anything but good. Meanwhile you have acquired a new kingdom, but you have no wealth or backing. Now I and my brother have many treasures and buried hoards, and the list of them is in may possession; I offer them all to you, so that you may gain backing and power; you should procure supplies and stores, and replenish your treasury.' Thereupon he revealed the treasure-list and sent it to Isma'il by the hand of that confldant When the confidant came and repeated what he had heard and placed, the treasure-list in front of Isma'il, he turned towards the nobles and said, 'This 'Amr ibn Laith is so cunning that he thinks he .can escape from our cunning hands and catch us in the traps and
. Ibid., p. 22; Darke, op cit, p. 20.

snares of eternal ruin.' He picked up the treasure-list and threw it in front of the confidant, saying, 'Take this treasure-list back to him and say: You with your wiles think you can escape from everything. Whence fell treasure to you and your brother, for your father was a coppersmith and taught you the trade? Through some celestial chance you seized dominion, and by reckless ventures your affairs prospered. This treasure with its dirhams and dinars is all that which you have taken from the people by extortion; it comes from the price of thread spun by decrepit old men and widowed women, from the provisions of strangers and travellers, and from the property of weaklings and orphans. Tomorrow you will have to answer for all this before God (to Him be power and glory); so now you promptly want to cast these wrongs about our neck, so that on the morrow at the resurrection when creditors seize you and ask you to give back all the property which you wrongfully took, you will say, "All that we took from you, we gave to Isma'il; seek it from him." You will transfer it all to me and I shall be powerless to answer the creditors and to withstand the wrath and interrogation of God.') This story convinces even the most skeptical of readers of Isma'il Samani's honesty and benevolence. It should be mentioned, that Nizam alMulk is not the only author to use these stories. Succeeding generations have documented the same stories, at times with varying emphases. AIGhazali, for instance, reports the same story in his Nasihat al-Muluk. 2 Both Nizam al-Mulk and al-Ghazali create forums of their own in which to judge Isma'il Samani and his contemporary kings. By praising Isma'il's devotion to God and justice, they emphasize the weak points of Isma'il's contemporary kings, without resorting to overt criticism. Nizam al-Mulk continues: Such was his piety and fear of God that he did not accept the treasure-list but sent it back to 'Amr. So he was not deluded by worldly goods. 3 AI-Ghazali sums up his statement by quoting the Prophet as the latter compares the justice of kings with tpe worship of kings. It turns out that, one day's rule with justice outweighs sixty years of worship. Furthermore, al-Ghazali speaks against infringement upon the right of others by stating, "Whoever conquers with the sword will eventually be conquered by the sword. "4
1 Ibid., pp. 22-23; Darke, op cit, pp. 21-22. 2 al-Ghazali, 1993, pp. 57-58. 3 Nizam al-Mulk, 1989, p. 23-24; Darke, Darke. op cit, p. 22. 4 al-Ghazali, 1993, p. 58.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization



Nizam al-Mulk's assessment of Isma'il Samani as a just and Godfearing ruler remains in the histories of the region and is echoed by others, including Abubakr Muhammad ibn Ja'far Narshakhi. In his Tarikh-i Bukhara. Narshakhi writes. "In addition to being a worthy ruler, Isma'il Samani is wise, just, insightful, decisive, and experienced. Furthermore, he knows his limits and obeys the caliphs when he must."1 In the following, Nizam al-Mulk praises Isma'il Samani's accessibility, especially to the less fortunate of his subjects: Now this was the custom of this Isma'il ibn Ahmad that on days that the cold was severe and snow was falling heavily, he would mount his horse and go alone to the square [of Bu1chara], remaining there on horseback until the midday prayers. He used to say, 'It may be that a complainant will come to the court with a petition, and he may not have any money for expenses or anywhere to stay. If we excused ourselves from appearing because of snow and cold, it would be difficult for such a person to stay and gain access to us. If he knows that we are standing here, he will come and discharge his business and go away in peace.'2 Nizam al-Mulk's oft-repeated phrase, "and such stories abound,"3 indicates that both during his rule, and thereafter, much had been said and written about the character of the flrst amir of the Samanids. Human society is ruled by two laws: tradition and dominion. The former has been a companion of human beings from birth; the latter is devised by different administrators at different times, depending on the needs of the time. The former, i.e., tradition is not easily changed. If there should be any changes, they would be gradual. The arnir's decree, for instance, cannot change tradition. The latter, dominion, comes into, and goes out of existence with succeeding power groupS. Another difference is that people are more likely to comply with the rules of tradition, while governmental rules need to be enforced. Would it not be reasonable. therefore, to devise rules for government that follow the dictates of tradition? Looking around, we fmd that the laws of Eastern nations are based on tradition, while those of the West follow man-made dicta. In Sweden, France, Germany, Italy, and the United States, for instance, the rule of law is preferred. In Iran, India, the Arab lands in general, and Central Asia, the law of tradition is followed. A comparison of the two indicates that people are likely to ''bend'' govemrnent-driven laws in order to comply


\ I


with laws prescribed by tradition. This, of course, is a discussion that must be pursued elsewhere. Returning to the rule of law, it seems that due to the fact that eastern legislators have paid special attention to tradition, i.e.• by devising civil laws that mimic tradition, they have been able to introduce hannony to the kingdom, and stability to their government. We believe that the laws of the Samanid State, too, were based on tradition. Al-Ghazali, for instance, cites examples of rules enforced by Isma'il Samani that were tough, but which were upheld by the populace. These were rules that could not easily be bent. I Apparently, Nizam al-Mulk was also interested in the politics of the Samanids. Often, we find him criticizing the policies of one or another of the amirs of the dynasty. In fact, as was the case with Isma'il Samani, he produces instances for instruction.' as well as for comparison. The following is an example: This is the system which was still in force in the time of the Samanids. Pages were given gradual advancement in rank according to their length of service, their skill and their general merit. Thus after a page was bought, for one year he was commanded to serve on foot at [a rider's] stirrup, wearing a Zandanijis cloak and boots; and this page was not allowed during his first year to ride a horse in private or in public, and if it was found out [that he had ridden] he was punished. When he had done one year's service, the tent-leader spoke to the chamberlain and infonned him; then they gave him a small Turkish horse, with a saddle covered in untanned leather, and plain bridle and stirrup-leathers. After serving for a year with a horse and whip, in his third year he was given a belt to gird on his waist. In the fourth year they gave him a quiver and bowcase which he fastened on when he mounted. In his fifth year he got a better saddle and a bridle with stars on, it, together with a handsome cloak and a club which he hung on the club-ring. In the sixth year he was made a cup-bearer and had a goblet to hang from his waist. In the seventh year he was a robe bearer. In the eighth year they gave him a single-apex, Sixteen-peg tent and put three newly bought pages in his troop; they gave him the title of tentleader and dressed him in a black felt hat decorated with silver wire and a cloak made at Ganja. Every year they increased his rank and responsibility until he became a troop-leader, and so on until he became a chamberlain. When his suitability, skill and bravery became generally recognized and when he had performed some outstanding actions and been found to be considerate to his fellows and loyal to his master, then and only





1 Narshakhi, 1979, p. 67. 2 Nizam al-Mulk, 1989, p. 24; Darke, Darke, op cit, p. 22. 3 Nizam al-Mulk, 1989, p. 24.

1 al-Ghazali, 1993, p. 57.

Samanid Civilization


Samanid Civilization


then. when he was thirty-five years of age. did they make him an amir and appoint him to a province. Alptigin who was the slave and nursling of the Samanids reached the rank of army-commander of Khurasan at the age of thirty-five. He was outstandingly trustworthy. faithful and courageous. He was a Turk. prudent. skilful. popular. devoted to his troops, liberal, hospitable and God-fearing. He had all the good.qualities of the Samanids and he governed Khurasan and 'Iraq for many years. He had 1,700 Turkish pages and slaves. l We are not at all interested in whether this story is true or not. Our interest is centered on Nizam al-MuIk's assessment of the situation and the lesson that can be learned from the incident. According to him, Alptigin had been one of the loyal commanders of the Samanids; but. due to court intrigue. had been denounced and humiliated. We have talked about this subject earlier in this paper. We would like to illustrate this point by reproducing some more excerpts from this very story: They continued to talk in this vein with the result that every day the prince became more displeased with Alptigin, while Alptigin sent a multitude of apologies and presents. but these in no way removed the cloud of vexation from the prince's heart; interested parties carried on their mischief and the prince's resentment and bitterness grew. Now Alptigin had originally been bought [as a slave] by Ahmad ibn Isma'il towards the end of his life; then he served Nasr ibn Ahmad for a number of years; when Nasr passed away, be served Nub ibn Nasr. and it was during Nub's reign that he became army-commander of Khurasan. When Nub died. this young prince Mansur. his son. succeeded his father. Six years after the accession of Mansur to the kingship. when Alptigin had spent a large amount of money and tried every possible device, he was still unable to win his heart because of the malicious utterances of the time-servers. Meanwhile Alptigin's agents wrote and told him of aU that went on in the capital. Then the mischief-makers said to Mansur ibn Nub, 'Until you kill Alptigin you will not become the real ruler of this kingdom... 2 Nizam al-Mulk further explains how certain people, who were biased towards Alptigin. incited him to antagonize Amir Mansur: .... We all recognize you. not him nor his father. because we, and everyone who has acquired some standing in the Samanid empire, have all obtained our livelihood, rank, dignity and suzerainty from
1 Nizam al-Mulk, 1989, p. 84; Darke, Darke, op cit, p. 106-107. 2 Nizam al-Mulk, op cit, pp. 86-88; Darke, op cit, p. 110.

you; to you we owe our positions, and with you we remain; Khurasan, Khwarazm and Nimruz are yours beyond dispute. Say farewell to Mansur ibn Nub and occupy the throne yourself. If you wish. let him keep Bukhara and Samarqand if not, take them as welL'l According to Nizam al-Mulk, Alptigin studied the situation carefully and decided against insurrection: I think people would say that for sixty years Alptigin protected the house of the Samanids who were his original masters, and in the end when he was eighty years old he revolted against them and snatched the kingship from their hands by the sword, putting himself in place of his masters and scoming the duty of Gratitude. I have -good works all my life and earned a good name; now that I am on the brink of the grave it is not fitting that I should do something that would bring disgrace upon me... 2 Those seeking division, however, did not relent. Alptigin decided to stay at Balkh for a while, and. thereafter. travel to India. But war began in the region and. before long. the Samanids were driven from office. Of course, Nizam al-Mulk treated this not so much as a historical event but as a story. He was, perhaps, instructing the rulers to learn from history and use the knowledge whenever similar situations arose. Our intention. too. corresponds with that of Nizam al-Mulk. We did not intend to analyze the situations in these stories either; rather, we intended to provide ou{ contemporary rulers with lessons from the past. In the words of Nizam alMuIk, himself: My humble purpose in relating this story is that The Master of the World (may Allah perpetuate his reign) may know how to recognize a good slave and not try to wound the feelings of one who has done creditable service. who has never committed any act of treason or perfidy, but has strengthened the throne and blessed the empire; nor should he listen to the words of those who seek to incriminate him; rather he should trust him more and more every day, for dynasties, kingdoms and cities may at any time be dependent upon one man, and when that man is removed from his place. the dynasty crumbles. or the city is destroyed, or the country is thrown into confusion. For instance Alptigin was a good slave and he was a pillar of the Samanid kingdom; but they did not realize his worth and sought to destroy him. When he left Khurasan, fortune deserted the Samanid dynasty. A slave whom one has brought up and promoted and esteemed. must be looked after.
1 i\:izaID al-Mulk, op cit, pp. 89; Darke, op cit, p. 112. 2 NiLam al-Mulk, op cit, pp. 89-90; Darke, op cit, p. 112-113.


Samanid Civilization


for it needs a whole lifetime and good luck to find a worthy and experienced slave. Wise men have said that a worthy servant or slave is better than a son. On this subject the poet says: One obedient slave excels three hundred sons; Sons desire father's death, slaves wish masters a long life. l

Ravshan Rahmani

Part Three

From the Manghits to a Democratic State

by lraj Bashiri The University of Minnesota

1 Nizam al-Mulk, op cit, pp. 96-97; Darke, op cit, p. 120-121.



:,', ..,,:'

., J
; . .•

schools became judges, teachers, administrators, and anny commanders. For some, life in the village became a dream to which they did not wish to retwn. The second watershed came about as a result of Arnir Muzaffar's overestimation of the strength of the anny that his father had left him. According to Aini, he felt that the anny of Russia was slightly more powerful than the anny of Quqand that he had already defeated. But, his anny not only could not prevent the Russian anny's advance; it was routed and, subsequently, cooperated with the Russian forces in the region. It was the combined forces of Russia and the Arnirs, for instance, that conquered the Kuhistan. The loss of control over its foreign affairs, economics, and military was not the only setback for Bukhara. Russia's detennination to Russify Central Asia was even more disturbing to the Amirs. In its effort to bring Central Asia, Bukhara in particular, out of the Middle Ages, Russia prepared the ground for modernization of education, introduced printing presses and, gradually, made newspapers, magazines, and journals available to an increasingly educated populace. Along the same line labor, both in industry and agriculture, was systematized. . Educated, enterprising, and daring, this new generation of Bukharans accepted the fact that, in spite of its dynamism, Bukhara was backward and needed to be pulled out of its medieval mold. It also accepted the responsibility of seeing to it that BlJ,khara was refonned with the Arnir's help, or despite it. This delicate balance is discussed further below in the context of the lives of Arnirs Abdulahad and Alirn Khan. By 1917, the Bukharans, especially the intellectuals (mostly jadids, merchants, and progressive classes were ready to join the Russian Empire. Caught in the whirlwind of Sovietization, however, they were absorbed by Soviet society and the Red Anny.

Date ofAccession 1753 1758 1785 1800 1826 1827 1860 1885 1910 Name of the Ruler Rahirnbii Atalik Abulqazikhan Mir Ma'surn Shah Murad Arnir Haidar Arnir Hussein & Arnir Urnar Arnir Nasrullah Arnir Muzaffar Arnir Abdulahad Arnir Alirn Khan


The history of the Manghits begins with the rule of Abulfaizkhan, the last Ashtarkhanid ruler of Bukhara (1711-1747). Several events contributed to the fall of Abulfaizkhan and the rise of the tribal chief Hakimbii Atalik ibn Khudayar. First, in 1740, Nadir Shah of Iran occupied Bukhara, but allowed Abulfaizkhan to continue as the nominal ruler-the real ruler of the Emirate was Hakimbii Atalik, a pro-Iranian Manghit chieftain; second, following the loss of central power, Sarnarqand became more or less independent; and third, in the Ferghana Valley, Quqand broke away and became an independent Khanate. On the positive side, Abulfaizkhan was the first Central Asian ruler to attract the attentiofl of the Tsar of Russia and receive a Russian envoy.l This envoy was Florio Beneveni whose dates of birth and death are unknown, but who was Peter I's personal envoy to Bukhara. 2 Unfortunately, Abulfaizkhan's rule did not last long enough to either cultivate relations or to take advantage of the opportunity. Known as Rahimkhan, Muhammad Rahimbii, the eponymous ancestor of the Manghits of Bukhara, was the son of Hakim Atalik ibn Khudayar, the influential figure at the cow:t of Abulfaizkhan, the last Ashtarkhanid Mongol king of Bukhara. Invited by Abulfaizkhan, Nadir Shah Afshar, after his Indian campaigns, paid a visit to Bukhara. Upon
1 Mukhtarov, 1978, p. 27. 2 Beneveni arrived in Bukhara via the Caucasus and Iran in 1721 and left for Khiva. He did not arrive in St. Petersburg until after the death of Peter I in 1725. However, Beneveni was very familiar with life in Central Asia, especially with the relationship between the rulers and their subjects. His reports which were published later on are redolent with examples of bad rulership provided by the rulers of Bukhara and Khiva. For details, see Soviet Tajik Encyclopedia, voL 1.



Sarnanid CiviliZation


his departure for Iran, as was customary, he took some 12,000 tribesmen from around Bukhara with him and relocated them in the region of Meshed. Intending to rid himself of Rahimbii, Hakim Atalik's son, Abulfaizkhan, prompted Nadir Shah to take Rahimbii to Iran as well. Nadir Shah accepted and made Rahirnbii a commander in the Iranian army. Rahimbii proved to be a useful tool for Nadir Shah, especially when Ibadullabii led a Chinese army to Bukhara and devastated the region. Rahimbii, accompanied with a host of Qizilbash, was dispatched to Bukhara immediately. He fought Ibadullabii successfully. Ibadullabii fled to Tashkent and a victorious Rahimbii entered Bukhara. . In subsequent years, Rahimbii murdered Abulfaizkhan (1746) and became the vice-regent of Bukhara, propping up Abulfaizkhan's six-yearold son. Within the next seven years, Rahimbii killed both this boy and the boy's brother who succeeded him and, in 1753, had the khutba read in his own name, struck coins, and pronounced himself Rahirnkhan, the first king of the Manghit dynasty. As king, Rahimbii invaded Hissar-i Shadman, captured it, and appointed Danial Atalik its governor. This act de facto brought the Western Kuhistan region within the purview of Bukharan rule as well. Rahimbii then invaded Samarqand, captured it, an<i' appointed his own brother, Baratsultan, its governor. From there he attacked Shahr-i Sabz, captured it, and put it under the rulership of Imarnqulibii Kaikchi. He also captured Qarshi, Urgut, Jizz akh, Urateppe, Khujand, Tashkent, and Qabadian before he returned to Bukhara. In sum, he established the foundation of the Emirate of Bukhara. Deemed to have been a brave, courageous, and generous man, Rahirnkhan was also an experienced veteran, an astute student of human nature, and one prompt in taking drastic measures. He ruled for 12 years, seven years of which he ruled on behalf of Ahdulmu 'min (1747-1751) and Ubaidullah II (1751-1753), the young sons of Abulfaizkhan. After Rahirnkhan's death, in 1758, his only heir, the six-year-old son of his daughter,l ascended the throne. Upon Rahirnkhan's death, Danial Atalik, the governor of Hissar and Western Kuhistan, moved to Bukhara as the guardian of Faziltura, Rahirnkhan's grandson from his only daughter. Before settling down in Bukhara, however, Danial Atalik quelled several insurrections in Urateppe, Hissar-i Shadrnan, Karrninah, and Nur Ata. When the victorious Danial Atalik arrived in Bukhara, however, Faziltura and his father denied him entrance to the city. Danial Atalik, therefore, entered the city by force and, as a first order of business, sent Faziltura and the entire royal family to exile in Qarshi. In Faziltura's stead, Danial Atalik installed Ahulqazikhan (1758-1785), a simple peasant descendant of Abulfazlkhan. As for
1 Aini, 1966, pp. 7- 11; see also Soviet Tajik Encyclopedia, vol. 4 and Fitrat, 1991, p. 11.

Danial Atalik, although known as the Great Arnir, he continued his role as the vice-regent to the end of his life. During the last years of his life, Danial Atalik groomed his own son, Ma'surnbii, in the affairs of the state. Ma'surnbii, a brilliant young man, cultivated the friendship of the clergy and gained the good will of the people of Bukhara. In time, Abulqazikhan, having lost the respect of the nobles of Bukbara, lost his claim to the throne as well. Ma'surnbii became the next Amir of Bukbara. l Amir Danial ruled for 27 years, all of it on behalf of Faziltura and Abulqazikhan. 2 He died in 1785. Ma'surnbii, one of the eleven sons of Arnir Danial, took over the regency during the last years of his father's life. During this time, he marginalized the role of Abulqazikhan in government until the latter lost all control over the state. Upon Amir Danial's death, Ma'surnbii's supporters chose him as their amir and called him Shah Murad. He ruled from 1785 to 1800.3 Upon his assumption of the rulership of Bukhara, Shah Murad introduced a series of refonns. He discontinued the hereditary aspect of the awqaf (endowments), took the awqaf away from the exploitative Bukharan Khwajas (influential figures) and placed it with the ulema (teachers) and the talaba (students) of the madrasahs. In order to indicate to his opponents that he was serious about his reforms, he killed Sayyid Mir Nizamuddinkhaja, the chief judge of Bukhara, with his own hands in the public square. In addition, rather than confiscating the land and property of the chiefs of the tribes, he set a precedent by allowing them to keep the land as long as they saw to the well-being of their peasants. He also introduced affordable taxation geared to the ability of the fanners and workers to pay; separated the treasury-in which the zakat, taxes, and other revenues were gathered-from his personal property. And, [mally, he assigned honest overseers to make sure that public funds were spent for the welfare of the community only.4 Shah Murad's measures eliminated the influence of those clergy who had manipulated the awqaf during Arnir Danial's time and who had cheated the people out of their property. As a result, the few mullahs and mudarrises (seminary teachers) who remained in Bukhara put the public's well-being above their own personal interests. s Shah Murad's Bukhara grateful public affectionately prospered to such a degree that 'the called him Beggijan, after the sacred renovator, the mythical hero
1 Aini, op cit, pp. 11-14. 2 see Firtrat, 1991, p. 11. 3 Aini, op cit, p. 14. 4 Ibid., pp. 15-16. 5 Allworth. 1990, p. 10.



Samanid Civilization


Beggijan. l His ascetic piety, ruthless fight against the enemies of Bukhara, and his rejection of wealth gained him his deserved title and popularity.2 He is, indeed, referred to as "the sinless Amir."3 Reports of his modest tombstone (in Bukhara), destroyed by the Soviets after 1929, 4 testify to his detachment from the world. 5 As the fIrst true Manghit ruler, Shah Murad had two major problems to resolve. The fIrst was a regional problem: What to do with the Uzbek rivals of the Manghits? Should they be shorn of their wealth and power or should they be treated with magnanimity and tact? Shah Murad used the latter method. As mentioned, he awarded the Uzbek chieftains land and property and made them responsible for the well-being of the peasantry. He then moved the unruly Uzbeks of the Merv region closer to the center of Bukhara so that he could monitor their activities personally. These acts introduced a measure of tranquillity into Bukhara,6 at least for the time being. As we have seen, the precedent that Shah Murad set with respect to the Uzbek chieftains who did not belong to the Manghit tribe, played a significant role in shaping the Manghit state. It affected the dynamics of power in the Emirate, allowing non-Manghit power to grow at the expense of the supremacy of the Manghits. The second problem was related to the legitimate right of the Manghit tribe to the rulership of Bukhara, the sacred seat of Islam in the East. What could Shah Murad do so that the Bukharans would recognize him, and his descendants, as their legitimate ruler? He resolved this problem by marrying Shahshamsbanu, Abulfaizkhan's daughter. In addition to being a Sayyid. Abulfaizkhan had inherited the rulership and was of noble Mongol stock. Their mother's nobility, according to Shah Murad, entitled his descendants to two titles: "sayyid" and "amir". From then on, until the time of Alim Khan, when the title of caliph was also added, the Manghit rulers employed both titles quite consistently. 7 It should be added in passing that not everyone agrees with the assessment of Shah Murad outlined above. Fitrat, for instance, considers him to have been a deceitful, cunning, and bloodthirsty opportunist. He believes that in the early stages, especially when he was still under his father's care, Murad pretended to be a God-fearing murid. Walking barefoot in the streets and abstaining from worldly concerns. After he
1 Ibidd., p. 114. 2 Ibid., p. 151. 3 Ibid., p. 113. 4 Ibid., p. 215. 5 Ibid., p. 71. 6 Aini, op cit, pp. 16-17. 7 Ibid., pp. 18-19.

became Amir, he not only devastated the land but sold many of his own subjects into slavery.l Upon Shah Murad's death, crown prince Haidar Tura, the governor of Qarshi, came to Bukhara and assumed rulership. Amir Naidar (Tura) was the first Manghit ruler to use the titles of amir and sayyid. A graduate of the Qarshi and Bukhara schools, Arnie Haidar was fully aware of the power of the divisive forces that tore Bukhara apart. Thus, unlike his father who had controlled these forces by advancing the welfare of the people against the greed of the ulema, he embroiled the kingdom into war so that, early in his rule, his own sons along with the governors of Samarqand, Ferghana, Karminah, and Shahr-i Sabz revolted. Unable to deal with the situation, most of the regions that had been added by Danial Atalik were lost to Quqand, Khiva, and other Central Asian powers. Haidar's main opposition, however, was the Uzbek confederation in the south and southwest (Shahr-i Sabz and Kitab, all the way to Murghab). The Kinegas chieftains who rivaled the Manghits for legitimacy and who wished to rule the settled regions east of the Amu River, made Haidar's life difficult. The instability, however, did not last long. Within two years of his accession, Arnir Haidar pacified the Uzbeks. He also invaded Urateppe, Zarafshan, and Hissar and returned those regions to Bukhara. Even Khiva was subjugated. 2 Amir Haidar's rule is pivotal for understanding the causes of the backwardness of the Emirate of Bukhara. The intellectual depth, or lack thereof, and the exemplary brutality of the Amir were only two of the causes. The other causes included economic poverty, limitless desire, and endless greed in this and subsequent Amirs. Unlike his father who trusted the well-being of Bukhara to a select group of pious and honest mullahs, Arnie Haidar returned to the status quo anti and reestablished the oppression that the public had suffered at the hand of the clergy under Danial Atalik. In fact, he made an alliance with the clergy according to which waqflands, which included schools and the . lodgings therein, could be bought and sold. The mullahs were the fIrSt beneficiary of their own anti-Shari'a /atWas. But the real winner, or loser, . depending on one's point of view, was the Amir himself. Amir Haidar, using education as a source of fame and fortune for . himself, put forth a proposition to the ulema to the effect that anyone should be able to purchase waqflands. He intended to empower himself to purchase lodgings in the schools and rent them out. His plan also included the building of new schools and hiring of teachers who would boost the enrollments. Not to mention his own teaching in classes of up to 500 students and a schedule which included nine hours of instruction per day.
1 Fitrat, 1991, p. 12. 2 Aini, op cit, pp. 24-25. See also Sabirov, 1988, p. 352.



Samanid Civilization


Furthermore, to pay for the construction of competitive new schools and the host of new teachers who could oUl-do the old mullahs, Arnir Haidar needed new sources of revenue. He, therefore, introduced a series of new taxes which included: qushpuli, samanpuli. chubpuli, mirabana, and kavsanpuli; all these and other demands added to the burden of an already suffering peasantry. 1 Amir Haidar's early years as a ruler spent on recapturing his lost kingdom and, after the erosion was arrested, on the consoiidaeon of his rule. The latter part was spent on "promotion" of education, building of madrasahs, and devising new metilods for raising more and more funds. Under Arnir Haidar, the madrasahs faired badly, as did the Tajiks. especially the Tajik intellectuals, whom the Amir despised and openly discriminated against. For instance, the Tajiks were rarely appointed as qazikalan or mufti, no matter how well-educated or qUalified they were. 2 But what suffered most under Amir Haidar's twenty-six years of rule was the government itself. The kingdom's security was compromised as the Amir could not fmd time from teaching to attend to the economic, political, • and military needs of the Emirate. 3 One of the curious actions during the early years of Amir Haidar's rule is his attempt to establish relations with Russia. He sent Mir Alauddin as his ambassador in 1804. What the outcome of this effort was and why the embassy was not repeated during the next twenty-two years of the Amir's rule is not clear. 4 No matter how history jUdges Amir Haidar's devotion to education, his people seem to have appreciated it. Otherwise, why would they shower him with such titles as "learned, generous, and just"?5 Arnir . Haidar died in 1826. Amir Haidai was succeeded by Amir Hussein, his eldest son, who was, at the time of his father's death, in the capital city of Bukhara. This choice of ruler foiled the schemes of both Nasrullah, Haidar's youngest son who had actually invited his father to his only son's tuy, or celebration, in Qarshi, and poisoned him, and the plans of the Qushbegi Hakimbii who, later, hid the Amir's death from all concerned so that Nasrullah could arrive from Qarshi and take over. Amir Hussein's rule was short. After a mere 76 days of rule he, too, was poisoned and died. Like his father, Amir Hussein was a poet. He was also knowledgeable about medicine, alchemy, and astrology.6
1 Sabirov, 1988, p. 352. 2 Allworth, op cit, pp. 108-9. 3 Ibid., p. 110. 4 Cf., Aini, op cit, p. 26. 5 Allworth, op cit, p. 113; see also Fittat, op cit, p. 12 for a somewhat different view. 6 Danish, 1960, pp. 28-29.


Rather than to Nasrullah, Mir Hussein passed the scepter to his other brother, Mir Umar, the governor of Karminah. Fond of parties and . orgies, Mir Umar was constantly either drunk or unconscious. He had been in office for only four months before Nasrullah's troops arrived from Qarshi and surrounded the Arg. Mir Umar was whisked away, clothed in a paranjah. Thus exiled, Mir Umar died as an unknown near Bukhara. 1 The rules of Mir Hussein and Mir Umar occurred in the same year that their father, Amir Haidar, died (1826). Assisted by Qushbegi Hakimbii, his staunch supporter, Amir Nasrullah ascended the throne in 1826. To secure his rule, he killed his own other three brothers-Zubairkhan, Hamzakhan, and Safarkhanalong with their wives and children. 2 During the years that followed, he either eliminated or displaced all the influential figures who had enjoyed high places at the court of Amir Haidar. Furthermore. he confiscated the property of these victims and added it all to the treasury of the Amir. The Bek of Maschah was one such victim, and the governor of Urateppe was another. The former was eliminated in 1842, the latter in 1958. In order to expand his domain, Arnir Nasrullah fought many battles • against the Bek of Shahr-i Sabz-32 attacks in 20 years-and the Khan of Khiva. And in all those cases, he as ruthless towards the independence-seeking Arnirs as he was towards his own family and subjects. For instance, when the khan of Quqand. Muhammadalikhan. was defeated, he, his brother, Sultan Mahmud, and his mother, the poetess Nadira, were summarily executed. The Manghit rulers were not born into Islam As explained, they "inherited" it from their grandmother. Being distant from the true faith, they lacked a thorough understanding of the Shari'a and the role that it played in the everyday life of the faithful. This lack is most prominently visible in the way Arnir Nasrullah and his court and clergy exploited the poor of Bukhara. The Amir could secure afatwa for almost anything he desired. The outcome of the fatwa of the ulema regarding the purchase and sale of the madrasahs affected the recruitment of worthy students the most The quality of education provided by the new, competitive institutions. owned by the clergy and the Amir, was poor. Besides, talented but poor students were deprived of receiving any education. In addition, the Amir continued to extractfatwas from the clergy to wage an unending war against the poor and confiscate their property, wives, and children. Arnir Nasrullah's 32 attacks on Shahr-i Sabz and the atrocities he committed in Quqand are examples of the hann that the unholy alliance between the clergy and the Amir inflicted on Bukharan society. Another sorry casualty of the alliance between the government and the religious hierarchy was the library system of Bukhara, which was heir to
1 Aini. op cit, p. 28. 2 Mukhtarov, 1992, p. 35.



Samanid Civilization


centwies of manuscript collection. Each of the twenty libraries attached to the madrasahs specialized in a different branch of science. The "Dar alShifa" Library, for instance, held almost all the manuscripts on medicine. The city of Bukhara spent large sums from the waqf funds for copying manuscripts and repairing tom books. The "Gavkushan" Library alone spent over 15,000 sums! annually for these pwposes. Amir Nasrullah's policies undermined the authority of the custodians of the libraries and his withdrawal of funds stopped all repairs and canceled all new purchase orders. In addition, Rahmanberdi, the Ra'is of Bukhara at the time, divided the manuscripts among the influential ulema and transferred some into a vault for the personal use of the Amir. The books in the vault, due to a lack of use and fresh air, became moldy and had to be discarded. The books given to the ulema, after many years of confmement in private libraries, were sold to European book collectors and dealers. The library buildings were remodeled for other uses by the sons of the khans and bais. As mentioned, the Uzbek tribes to the south of Bukhara were of great concern to the Manghit rulers. Amir Nasrullah, however, is the fIrst to institute a regular, disciplined armed force for controlling the Kinegas Uzbeks of Shahr-i Sabz and Kitab. For commanders and troops, he drew on the Turkmens and Iranians, especially on the expertise of Abdussamad, a native Azerbaijani, who created a 200-man army for him. With these troops and a number of cannons that were cast in Bukhara, Nasrullah eventually defeated the Uzbeks and pushed them away from the city of Bukhara. Nasrullah's actions created a great deal of distrust and ill-will . among the leaders of the lis and Uluses. 2 When Amir Nasrullah ascended the throne in 1826, the Emirate was a divided kingdom. Using the revenues from the gifts of land granted by the amirs and the manpower generated by families that were tied to the land, Uzbek chieftains had built what amounted to small fiefdoms for themselves. Although they contributed to the well-being of the State, such as participating in wars against the Afghans or against tribes that were detrimental to their own well-being, in general, they acted as independent chieftains, often with designs to overthrow the Amir. Advised by his Tajik and Arab advisors, Amir Nasrullah undennined the economic and military abilities of the Uzbek chiefs. Rather than awarding gifts of land with families attached, he awarded gifts of land only. As for the youth, who used to fonn the army of the chieftains, he included them in his own newly' established army. Using.his army, he then eliminated the renmants of the power of the chiefs. The Bukhara of the 1850's, therefore, was a different country than that of the early 1820's, when Nasrullah ascended the throne. It was a less
1 Sum, pronounced 800m. as in room, is a uoit of Tajik currency. 2 Allworth, op cit, p. 13.

agricultural, more urban and, overall, a less unifIed land. Its agricultural output was less because many of the workers had moved to the towns or joined the military. The urban centers were poor, unsanitary, and crowded and the steppe people were divided and dissatisfIed-problem that will plague Muzaffar, Nasrullah's son, in the 1860's. In general, Amir Nasrullah was not much liked by his countrymen. They characterized him as a "cruel and bloodthirsty Amir who took nothing and no one into account."! Neither was he a perceptive ruler who was aware of the political dynamics of his region or, for that matter, of the world of his time. For instance, during Amir Nasrullah's rule, a growing rivalry emerged between the two superpowers of the time, Britain and Russia, in Central Asia. After crossing the Orenburg border, the Russians sent ambassadors to Nasrullah's court to foster political relations. Similarly the British, having entered Afghanistan with the intention of blocking Russia's movement in the direction of India, sent ambassadors to Nasrullah's court to foster political relations. Rather thaq. using this golden opportunity to promote the region as a whole, Nasrullah engaged his neighbors in petty squabbles. As for the ambassadors, he either killed them or held them hostage. 2 Only towards the end of his rule, Le., 1857, did he send an embassy to Russia to assess the military might of the country, as well as to examine the possibility of establishing commercial relations. But even that embassy failed to either establish relations with Russia or, at least, provide a realistic measure of the military might of the Russian Empire. Amir Nasrullah died in 1860. He was succeeded by his son, Muzaffar. Amir Muzajjar was born in 1824 or 1825. At the time of' Amir Nasrullah's death, he was the governor of Karminah. The major event during the time of Amir Muzaffar was Russia's advance into Central Asia. Unencumbered by the restrictions of the Crimean War, in 1864, the Russian troops began their march into Central Asia. The march had a dual purpose: to negotiate the fate of Quqand with the Amir and to stem the tide of British involvement in the political affairs of Central Asia. The result, of course, was the Great Game, the details of which need not be explained here. 3 Uninfonned about the might Qf Russia, Amir Muzaffar refused to enter negotiations with the Russians on the question of the partition of Quqand. The partition, the Amir felt, was a Bukharan concern rather than a Russian concern. Besides, he felt that, with his army, he could vanquish Quqand and bring it within the fold without assistance. In fact, with that army, although only slightly larger than his father's four-thousand-man army,
1 Allworth, op cit, pp. 113-114. For Nasrulla's specific treatment of his subjects, see Fitrat, op cit, p. 13. 2 Aioi, op cit, pp. 31-34. 3 On the subject of the Great Game. see Bradsher. 1983, pp. 9ff.

Samanid Civilization




Samanid Civilization


Arnir Muzaffar thought he could route the Russian anny itself.! Disregarding the Amir's refusal, the Russians continued their march at their own pace and captured the areas south and west of Tashkent. Then, they entered Tashkent and remained there. Fearful of losing Samarqand, Muzaffar attempted to check the movement of the Russian troops. He could not. In fact, his miscalculations brought him two humiliating defeats. The frrst defeat, which occurred in 1866 at Irjar, forced him to yield the cities of Khujand and Urateppe, in present-day northern Ta.jikistan, to the Russians. The second defeat occurred at Zirabulaq where Muzaffar tried to check the Russian advance that had already occupied Samarqand. As a result of this latter defeat, the Emirate of Bukhara became a Russian protectorate (June 2, 1868). Additionally, the foreign affairs of the Emirate became a concern of Russia, and the Amir's own activities were drastically curtailed. 2 In fact, the Amir was reduced to a tool for expanding Russian interests in the southern provinces of Bukhara, i.e., the Kuhistan regions of Baljuan, Darvaz, and the Badakhshan Highlands, areas in which the Amir himself had no prior jurisdiction. 3 The tenns of the treaty reveal the Russians' long-term plan not only for Bukhara, but for the region as a whole. For instance, Russia demanded the right to navigate freely down the Amu. In other words, Russians could move their forces, for whatever purpose, anywhere in the region without having to ask permission. Furthermore, they were adamant on retaining all the land that their anny had acquired prior to the treaty. This included the cities of Tashkent, Samarqand, Khujand, and Urateppe. They acquired the right for citizens of Russia to buy land in Bukhara and to pay taxes equivalent to those assigned by the Shari/a. They also received the right to establish an embassy and to promote trade. The most weighty item, indemnity. Bukhara was to pay 125,000 tilla 4 as however, was the war indemnity to Russia. s .Russia monitored the instability that resulted from the humiliation of the Amir.carefully. In the south, the Amir's son, Abdulmalik Tura, rose and captured Qarshi.6 In this, he was aided by the khans of the Manghit tribe, the very tribe on which Amir Muzaffar hoped to draw to defeat his son. In the north, two Kazakh princes, who had been allowed to enter Bukhara and who had been given administrative positions, rose against the Amir. Calling themselves the true descendants of Chingiz Khan and the rightful claimants to the throne of Bukhara, they captw'ed Kanninah.

1 Aim, op cit, pp. 131-133. 2 See also, d'Encausse, op cit, pp. 37-38. 3 For details, see Becker, 1968, pp. 89-92. 4 Tilla is a Bukharan gold coin equivalent to eighteen tangas. 5 Cf., Becker, op cit, pp. 40-41. 6 For further detail, see Becker, op cit, pp. 46-47.

Even though during the signing of the 1868 treaty, Amir Muzaffar had insisted that Russian troops should not be allowed south of the occupied territories, he now asked for Russian military assistance. "Friendship with Russia," Amir Muzaffar's letter read in part, "has created the present disturbances. The Russian army can easily put an end to them." The Russians responded quickly by sending 10,000 soldiers and ten cannons. Strengthened by the Russian aid and helped by General Abramov, Muzaffar attacked Qarshi, overwhelmed Tura's forces, and returned the region to Bukhara. In Russia, Amir Muzaffar found the force with which he could tame the rebellious tribes of the south, especially the Kinegas, the Qunqurat, and the Sarai. By the same token, in Muzaffar the Russians saw the means of furthering their expansionist plans and of harnessing the natural and human resources of Eastern Bukhara. This modus vivendi enabled Muzaffar to bring Hissar and Shirabad, at large since his 1868 defeat, into the fold. His brutal treatment of the Hissaris shocked all of Central Asia. In one day, in front of his own tent, he had 1,000 Hissaris beheaded. Reportedly, he watched every individual executed; he even threatened the executioner with death, if the job was not finished by sunset that day.! By 1870, the principalities of Kulab and Baljuan were also included in the Emirate of Bukhara, and governors (beks) were dispatched there to see to the collection of taxes. The inclusion of Baljuan, and later Darvaz, is significant in that these regions, inhabited by Tajiks, had never before been associated either with Turkish rule or with Russian administrative practices. In that sense, their inclusion into the Emirate opened a new phase in the history of the Emirate itself. Recall that Amir Nasrullah demoted the Uzbek chieftains, replacing them with Iranian officials. This demotion created an enmity between the Uzbeks (read Turks) and the Tajiks (read Iranians) and, in general, weakened the power of the Turks, making them vulnerable. To a degree, it was on this division and vulnerability that Russia drew to control the Manghits. 2 This hierarchy is important as the Uzbeks would weaken the Manghits who, to stay on the good side of Russia, would do their best in collecting taxes from the Tajiks. Needless to say that, in time, the Turks, too, would struggle to eliminate their Russian overlords and absorb their Tajik enemy into their own social, cultural, and political melting pol. Recall that Amir Nasrullah's efforts at creating an anny and arresting the tide of disintegration resulted in the creation of a less rural, more urban and, altogether a more enlightened society. The arrival of Russian officers, administrators, and consultants accelerated the move so that by the end of Amir Muzaffar's rule, the society was unevenly divided. On the one hand, there were intellectuals who sought new-method schools, western-style

1 Fitrat, op cit, p. 14 2 See also, d'Encausse, op cit, p. 89.



institutions, and access to news about the activities of government officials. On the other hand, there were individuals who, following the decrees of the ulema, opposed anything that smacked of modernism or westernization. Amir Muzaffar's legacy for his son, therefore, was a divided society in which the social division outlined above was emerging as a perennial ideological conflict. As we shall see, this conflict served the increasingly dominating Russian Empire very well. It enabled the Russians to implement reforms that would reshape Central Asian society to meet the needs of their future exploitative designs. Like his father, Muzaffar did not avail himself of the assistance extended to Bukhara by Russia. He, thus, stood to pay for it dearly. Neither did he respond to the advice of his own ambassadors to Russia. Instead, ignoring knowledge and the use of technology, he continued the practice of fomenting discord, even among his own people. l Amir Muzaffar was considered to be a despicable, unethical ruler, devoid of historical understanding and of human consideration. He was uncultured, ruthless, and ideologicaV He died in Bukhara in 1885 and was buried there. 3

Introductory Remarks l
Before Amir Muzaffar's ignominious defeats, the Turks had pushed the Tajiks as far south, and as far into the mountains, as possible. The territory the Tajiks held was not useful to the by-then semi-sedentary Turks. In Eastern Bukhara, therefore, the Tajiks resolved their problems their own way. The region, divided into villayats, was ruled by independent Tajik governors cognizant of the needs of their people. This, however, did not mean that life was easy or that corruption and oppression did not exist. They did; but life, structured by their forefathers, had a special rhythm, a Tajik rhythm. that soothed them and made living in the most inhospitable place on the face of the earth possible. The 1868 defeat of Amir Muzaffar in Zirabulaq, at the hands of the Russians, changed all that. The loss of the Zarafshan basin, which included Khujand, Urateppe, Jizzakh, Samarqand, and Qattaqurqan-all of which became an integral part of the Turkistan Guberniia L-was the prelude to great difficulty descending upon the people of the Kuhistan. 3 As mentioned, at the time, Eastern Bukhara did not have any legal structures in the modern sense. Disputes were resolved by the elders in the community with the help of the Shari'a. Community problems were resolved by communal contribution of labor. Under the Shari'a. the line between the khwajas. merchants, bankers, and fanners was blurred. They respected each other, and performed mutual tasks for each other, according to their abilities. Russia's interest in the region, however, dictated a different approach. It was not so much the land--the Russians were as disinterested in the Kuhistan, as far as land was concerned, as the Turlcsbut economic and strategic interests. Economically, the Kuhistan was a reservoir of hardy wolkers who, as taxpayers, could contribute a great deal to the treasury in St. Petersburg.
1 As mentioned in the introductory remarks, the Vosse uprising is a major Tajik reaction to the oppression of the Uzbeks at the behest of the Russians. Since the uprising cannot be easily understood without an understanding of the burden of numerous heavey taxes placed on the poor Tajik peasants, there is a bit of digression from history, in what follows. Those not interested in the Uprising may want to skip this section and proceed to the next, The History of the Manghit Amirs of Bukhara II. 2 Gubemiia is the Russian word for province. 3 Cf., Pirumshaev, 1992, p. 11.


1 Allworth. op cit, p. 114. 2 Ibid., p. 114. 3 Encyclopedia of Soviet TajikisfDII.



Sarnanid Civilization


Strategically, the stretch from Hissar to Darvaz and the Pamirs provided a buffer against British advances north from India. This region, of course, was not Russian territory yet, but the fall of the major cities of the Tajiks in the north had made it virtually a part of the larger Russian domain. In fact, Amir Muzaffar had invited the Russians to assist him in putting down the Tura uprising. They had also assisted in his conquest of the rest of the Kuhistan. As long as the Emirate was all but Russian territory, expansion and exploitation of its resources were among the goals of St. Petersburg. The Amir was the best instrument for the task; he could do it without any overt Russian presence. How else could the Amir pay his war indenmity to Russia?! To govern the region, a new admjnistrative line, under the supervision of beks, was introduced into Eastern Bukhara. The bek was accompanied by a large number of administrators, all of whom had to be paid, housed, and fed by the peasantry. In addition, a tax system was introduced according to which each farmer had to pay a certain percentage of his income to the government of the Amir who would, in turn, pay the war indemnity imposed on Bukhara by Russia. along with appropriate gifts. In the middle of the nineteenth century, before the coming of the Turks, the people of the Kuhistan were predominantly Tajik farmers. In this, they differed from the populations of Samarqand, Bukhara, and Khujand, who were mostly urbanized Tajiks, Uzbeks, or a mixture of the two (sarts). There were some Uzbek tribes, primarily the Laqai, in the Kuhistan region, but they had very little social contact with the Tajiks. Consequently, .the governors and the local administrators of the region, too, were Tajiks. Thus, oppressive as life often was for the peasant, the oppression was from people they cared for as ethnic kinfolk; in fact, they took pride in serving their local leaders. At the time, Eastern consisted of many small villages centered on the river valleys of the Qarategin and the Hazrat-i Shah ranges. This latter included the Babataq and the Aqtai mountains. The villages were run by the aksakal system-a system whereby the elders' words and the dictates of the Shari'a law set the tone for resolving disputes. Rarely did quarrels reach a level where interference from the outside was necessary. Indeed, they avoided creating the need because they knew very well that their independence rested entirely on self-sufficiency. Furthermore, aware of the dynamics of the area, they knew that, without an ability to present a collective defense, they would be easily absorbed in the growing Central Asian Tijrkic melting pot. Thus, to maintain the strength of the community and to improve the lives of the less fortunate, they paid their zakat readily.

The Socio-Economic Underpinnings
The new administrators, who appeared in the Kuhistan in the wake of Amir Muzaffar's victory over the local Tajik rulers were Turks. Guided and helped by St. Petersburg; the government of Bukhara established a strong presence in the Kuhistan and took the affairs of Eastern Bukhara into its own hands. That meant the introduction of a new cadre of Turkish administrators and the gradual replacement of the local Tajik governur/;. The main purpose for the creation of a of adrniriistr:::Hc:u '1/1'; for the collection of taxes. For this purpose the region was divided the following Bekdoms: Baisun, Dinau, Hissar, Kulab, Baljuan, Qarategin, and Darvaz. The beks, appointed by the Amir, had full authority. Only in the matter of taxes did authority rest with the Amir. Even then, ultimate authority rested with St. Petersburg. The tribute was collected by an army of collectors who turned it over to the next level, a smaller army of managers. Each collector had a quota to fill. He also had to present the official for whom he with a reasonable gift. Since he was not a paid government official, he added his own surcharge to the amount of the tax quota. The next levels, too, had to fill quotas. They, too, squeezed as much as they could out of the collectors at the levels beneath them. At the end, all the tributes and gifts, for each region, were gathered at the office of the bek. He then deposited his allotted amount to the treasury at Bukhara. He also sent a number of predetermined gifts to the Amir.l In other words, the population of Eastern 13ukhara, which had been familiar with a simple system of government, suddenly found itself facing an array of new offices, a large number of , Turldsh officials, and a slate of taxes covering land and water use, as well as almost every possible type of transaction, travel, and ownership. After surveying the region for tax assessment and administration of labor for more efficiency, it was decided to retain the aJcsaJcal system as a link between the people at large and the mullahs. The latter communicated the new laws to the people and made them understand their religious and social significance. The authority of the aksakals, however, was to be diminished. Rather than making decisions on the spot, as they had done in the past, they were directed to consult with an amin (if finances were involved), or with an arbab. As lhe direct executors of the orders of the arnaldar, these officials were better equipped for understanding the needs of the time, and the new solutions. Each aksakal administered ten to fIfteen villages, the affairs of which rarely needed the interference of the arbabs. But, if a dispute was of high order, it could involve not only the amaldar, the owner of a number of villages, but the mir, or bek, as well. As we shall see below, in relation to the Vosse uprising, a coalition of beks was sufficient to defeat any insur1 Ibid., p. 13.

1 cr., Pirumshaev, op cit, pp. 11-12.



Samanid Civilization


rection, no matter how strong and united a front it could project. The Amir usually appeared at the very end to observe the punishment of the rebel . leader. Consider, for instance, the case of the Baljuan province. It was included in the Emirate of Bukhara in 1870, after its fonner ruler, Mir-i Zard (The Yellow Amir), fled to Mghanistan. Baljuan consisted of fifteen districts, about 20,000 villages, and a population of 60,000 Tajik farmers. It was entrusted to a Manghit bek appointed by the Amir. The authority of the Bek of Baljuan was supported by the Beks of Hissar, Kulab, and Qarategin as well as by the Russian military contingents stationed nearby. The Baljuan Bekdom included two sets of officials. Those who were at the center of the Bekdom and saw to its day-to-day affairs, and those who were outside dealing with regional matters. The harsh treatment that the population received at the hands of these officials created major uprisings in Baljuan in 1870, 1874, 1885-86, and 1905-07. 1 Baljuan had two urban centers, Zardaludasht and Dektur, the following twelve village clusters, and many more smaller villages; they were all entrusted to amaldars: 1) Pushing 2) Kangurt 3) Khavaling 4) Baljuan 5)Sar-iPul 6) Sar-i Khasar 7) Tutqavul 8) Shaidan 9) Dashtak 10) Qadav II)Surkhab 12) Tanabchi

appointments were neither ability and merit nor education and experience. Even a fourteen-year-old (the Amir's son, for instance) could be appointed if he could present the right amount of bribe and the correct gifts. The state officers who assisted the mir included the following:

• tuqsaba (commander in chieO • darugha (land-tax collector) • mufti (judge in charge of lower courts) • ra'is (executor of the Shari'a laws) verified the veracity of the • mirza (foreman) • mirshab (police chien • jalladan-i mirshab (the mirshab's Execution Squad) • aminachi (village elder and trustee) • ghulaman
• aksakal (elder of the community)

mand) • dadkhah (judge/advocate)

• qadi or bii (same as qazi, the chief district judge) • yasavolbashi (court official or chamberlain assisting the bek) • parvanochi (scribe) • divanbegi (treasurer; he was the bek's assistant and second in com-

weights and measures used in the marlcets

• amaldar (manager)

and servants)

According to the system. therefore, Baljuan was the Bekdom and Pushing was an area within it. The villages within Pushing were given to an arnaldar who, in tum, administered them through his appointed arbabs and aksakals. Set up primarily for collecting taxes, the process made the jobs of the amaldars and the amins both profitable and important and, in the case of the amin, maybe a little dangerous. The central organization of the Bekdom followed the administrative practices of Bukhara and, consequently, had the same personnel, albeit at a lower level and a smaller number. At the top of the structure was the mir, aided by the yasavolbashi and a number of other state officers of the upper echelon, all selected from among notable Manghits in the Emirate. In addition to nobility, those aspiring to be appointed to these positions paid bribes in the fonn of gifts to the mir and, indirectly, to the Amir. 2 The Amir appointed the bek and the qadi. The beks appointed the lower ranks down to the rank of qaravolbashi. The Bek's appointees were from among the local inhabitants. 3 It should be added that the criteria for the
1 See, Soviet Tajik Encyclopedia for details. 2 See Pirumsbaev, op cit, p. 14. 3 Ibid., p, 15.

Although superficially the bek was the single most important man in the Bekdom, the qazi was just as important. Appointed by the Amir, the qazi applied the rule of the Shari'a in resolving disputes. In this regard, he worked with the Qazikalan whose word was law; only the Amir could overturn it. I He was also the "eyes and ears" of the Amir and reported the activities of the bek and his assistants to the Amir.2 The arnaldars fonned the lowest stratum of the administration. Aided by the aksakals, amins, arbabs, darughas, and some 100 to 200 servants, they collected the revenue and deposited it with the mir. Like the beks, the amaldars were independent in their jurisdiction, as long as they deposited the pre-detennined amount of tax. 3 The word tribute is used advisedly because each one of these officials could collect as much as they coul4 from individual peasants, but they had only a set amount to pay the treasury at the end of the year. Except for the gift that each was required to give to the person above in rank, the rest of the money collected stayed with the amin, the amaldar, or the mir, as the case maybe.

1 Ibid., p. 16. 2 Ibid., p. 14. 3 Ibid., p. 14.



:Samanid Civilization


This arrangement was profitable for the Amir as well. because he did not have to pay his officials any salary. neither did he have any real expenses, such as for building roads and schools. The tax money, therefore, was used variously as investment, for trips abroad, or for lavish parties that lasted up to forty days and nights. Theoretically. taxes were assessed uniformly and according to the Shari'a. but, in practice. they were not assessed according to any known system. The amount depended on the individual collector's discretion, a treatment that contributed greatly to protests, refusal to comply, and, to rebeUion. Left on their 0""1'1, the mirs created all kinds of taxes. For instance, between 49 and 55 different types of taxes have been reported for Kulab. Each individual was eligible for a good number of them, depending on circwnstances.. Here is a sampling of some of the taxes: 1) khums-paid on personal income (l/5 of income) 2) zakat-paid on property and animals sold; the tax is for the benefit of ttie poor 3) llharaj--tax on land and produce 4) chakana-an exclusive tax for the bek applies to those with less than 40 sheep 5) qushpuli-tax on beasts of burden 6) tanabpuli--tax on houses and orchards 7) alafpuli-tax on hayfields 8) baj--toll for animals on transit for the use of roads and bridges of the Bekdom 9) asiapuli-tax on the use of mills 10) mirabpuli-for water distribution rights 11) aminana-sales tax on leftover produce 12) ushr-land tax (1110) 13)jiziyah-paid by non-Muslim inhabitants (Indians and Jews but not Russians) The Arnir visited each Bekdom at least once a year. His arrival and entertainment required the awarding of a known set of gifts. A sample of tributes collected on such occasions follows:

The following is a sample of the tribute (in sums) collected in 1894 in Eastern Bukhara:




Qabadian Qurqanteppe Hissar Kulab Baljuan

18.750 45.000 6,000 6,000 400,000

1,000 30,000 1


With the introduction of money into Eastern Bukhara. more taxes were introduced by the capitalists: Tarazupuli. rahpuli, jUftana. kahpuli. khaspuli. mushtak. Although not all taxes were as heavy as zakat and tanabpuli. they were destructive because the tax collectors did not follow the Shari'a. were not easily satisfied, and were not concerned with the well-bring of the community. Here is an example of taxes paid by a fanner at harvest time. On this occasion, the mir's seal is removed and the fanner's annual yield of 8 puds is allocated as follows:

darugha mullah amin baker hooka carrier tailor kharaj


puds taken 2 1 1 1 20 qadaks 20 qadaks 30 qadaks 10 qadaks

services services prayers for good harvest services offered the amaldar bread offered the amaldar a hooka offered the amaldar a bolt of cloth land tax


Permission to kiss the Arnie's stirrup Arnie's departure for Russia Arnie's return from Russia tax on small shops

225.000 sums 75.000 sums 3.000 sums 4,000 sums 3,000 sums 15,000 sums]

Mter all the accounts were settled, of the 8 puds, the fanner received only one pud. 2 It is not our purpose here to study the tax system of southern Tajikistan. Our aim, however, is to illustrate the elaborate system that was put in operation within a short time, w.ithout taking into consideration the human essentials such as a fanner's needs, his ability to pay. and his vulnerability against predators. Fundamental issues such as human rights. provision of education, healthcare, and existence of just laws were not even within the ideal perspective for that community. The Vosse uprising, discussed further below, is a good example of the type of frustration that repeatedly ended in Tajik uprisings in the Kuhistan.
1 Ibid., p. 27. 2 Ibid., pp. 18-19.

1 Ibid.• p. 22.



Samanid Civilization


After the introduction of the "new Russian order" in EllStern Bukhara, the population was divided. Ethnically, the Turkish overlords were distinguished from their Tajik subjects and, socially, the rich mirs. amaldars, and aksakals were separated from the peasants and artisans. In between the two was a class of tax users, consisting primarily of mullahs and ishans. Not a small number-2,880 in Khavaling; 2,445 in Baimush, and 435 in Sar-i Khisar-they preyed on the destitute and extracted whatever they could manage from them. Their services were required by the state because they were the link. between the tax payer and Allah. They calmed the fury of the peasants, when the burden became unbearable, by justifying the inhumane acts of the tax collectors. The larger class of tax abusers, of course, was the administration. Normally, the administrative staff is salaried. The funds for salaries is generated by collecting annual taxes from various segments of society according to rules and regulations legislated by the body itself. The influential and the rich carry a considerable portion of the burden of taxes. Their participation then softens the impact of the taxes on the lower level members of society such as farmers and laborers. In Eastern Bukhara, the situation was the absolute reverse. The rich and the influential, by dint of their position, were exempt from paying any taxes. As officials of the state, however, they were the chief beneficiaries of the taxes that were collected from the peasant and laborer classes. On the other hand, if a peasant family could not pay its taxes, it had to borrow from the bek to pay. When the debt, and the accumulated interest, could not be paid at the end of a certain amount of time, the bek took drastic measures against the family. Measures so harsh that tore the fabric of the family apart. Take, for instance, the case. of the debtor in Kulab who did not have any money to repay the bek, but had a beautiful flfteen year old daughter. The bek asked for the girl as payment. The debtor, not being able to disobey the order of the bek. sent his daughter to the mountains and declared her dead by d1:owning. The bek accused the entire family of murder, confiscated its and possessions, and sold the father into slavery. . The fate of this unfortunate family illustrates the difficulties that thousands of families had to cope with daily in Eastern Bukhara, especially in the Baljuan and Kulab Bekdoms, at the end of the harsh reign of Amir Muzaffar (1860-1885). Farmers, who had come under Manghit rule for the first time as a result of the expansion of Muzaffar's rule over Eastern Bukharan territory, were unhappy and restless. Several years of drought, and copstant attacks of locusts had devastated the land, adding to the difficulty of a life already reprc,v'd by the mirs and the beks.

The Uprising
As can be seen, the Vosse uprising did not occur in a vacuum. The Amir of Bukhara, who had to pay war indemnities to Russia, appointed his most cruel agents as beks of the various Eastern Bukharan Bekdoms. The new beks imposed heavy taxes on the primarily peasant Tajik society, including a separate tax for defraying war indemnity. But, while they took away the peasants' total output and most of his following year's crop, to "buy" the silence of the landowners and the merchants, they officially exempted the latter from paying any taxes. The full burden of a heavy tax, therefore, fell on the peasants. In July 1870, unable to bear the burden any longer, the peasants took action, albeit mild action. They approached the Bek of Baljuan properly and asked for a reasonable reduction of taxes. The Bek refused their request. In response, some 2,000 peasants, from thirteen villages, invaded the Bek's fort, put it under siege, and eventually took it over. The takeover did not last long. Soon after entering the fort, the majority of the peasants were satisfied with taking what little they could carry. After that, they returned to their homes and resumed their normal life. Only a small, revolutionary core remained to face the Bek. Receiving reinforcement from the Bekdom o( Hissar, the Bek suppressed this, as well as a number of similar revolts. Each defeat, of course, added to the discontent of the increasingly suppressed peasantry of Eastern Bukhara. The ascension of Amir Abdulahad (1885-1910) inspired the farmers with the hope that the new Amir would not require them to pay taxes for the past years of drought. But the Amir and his mirs and amaldars disappointed them. The Amir called the peasants who sought a reduction of their taxes "rebels" and ordered his mirs and arnaldars to continue the practice established under his father, Amir Muzaffar. The ruling specified that farmers who could pay cash or crop must pay for three years in full (the payment had to include all the taxes and fees required by the regional governor and the local Bekdom). Peasants who could not pay the full amount should "sell" their sons and daughters to the government to serve the new Amir or his beks. These demands caused the farmers a great deal of distress, forcing them to seek various avenues by whJch to contend with the Beks' foremen. Using a whole spectrum of methods, they tried to make their wishes known. These included collective protests, refusal to pay taxes, sending delegates to Bukhara to ask for clemency from the Amir, and leaving Baljuan and Kulab to take refuge in neighboring lands such as Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, they hoped.to influence their pre-Manghit-Era overlord, Mir-i Zard, to return and destroy the power of the exploitative Manghits. But all of these, including the 1855 uprising in which the peasants of Mu'min Abad, Mulla Mirza, Mulla Barat, Sa'id, Mulla Davlat, Rahman, Mulla Nazri, Muhammad Alim, and Adina Muhammad partici-




Samanid Civilization


pated against the Beks of Baljuan and Kulab, were to no avail. There was, however, a positive aspect to them. They prepared the way for the rise of the Kuhistan's most memorable hero, Vosse. Vosse (1845-1888) grew up in the Mukhtar Valley of Khavaling, near Baljuan, north of Kulab in the Khuttalan region. While helping his father harvest wheat, he met Anargul, the daughter of a Badakhshani farmer. They fell in love. The girl's father, who wanted to "sell" her to the highest bidder, refused Vosse's request for his daughter's hand. Vosse and Anargul eloped, settled down, and eventually had three children. Vosse worked a summer and a winter job. During the summer, he was a farmer. During the winter, he was ajawazkash, operating his own cotton-seed-oil extraction factory. In 1884, in his absence, Vosse's blood brother, Nazir, was accused of murder and imprisoned in Shahr-i Sabz. Hearing about the circumstances, Vosse set out on a long journey through Khavaling, Baljuan, Narak, Dushanbe, Hissar, Dihnau, and Ghuzar; along the way he worked as a horse attendant for a bek. After much difficulty, he lmally found his blood brother. The latter had fled from prison and was living in Samarqand, in the care of a certain Mullasafar. With the help of Mullasafar and Vosse, Nazir regained his health and accompanied Vosse home. Mullasafar regarded himself as a student of Ahmad Danish.! Having read Danish's Vaqaye' al-Hikayat, he openly spoke about the shortcomings of the government and the mullahs. In the course of their talks, he communicated much of what he had learned about human rights and the power of the peasants to Vosse. Before long, Vosse, too, changed his outlook on both government and religion. He, too, began to believe in • the collective power of the farmers and in their ability to reshape life in their homeland. When he returned to Baljuan from Samarqand, Vosse talked to his neighbors about his trip to Samarqand. But, more importantly, he talked about Mullasafar and his views regarding the Amir and the clergy. Furthermore, from then onwards, every time an injustice was done to the peasants, Vosse was sure to gather the Tajiks and speak to them about the need to stand their ground against Turkish overlords and to seek independence from Bukhara and Russia. In late 1885, accused of an assault on a minor official, Vosse was arrested. While waiting for the bek to punish him, he tamed one of the bek's restive horses. The bek set him free. Rather than thanking the bek for his freedom, Vosse insulted the bek and incited the farmers against him. The bek withdrew from the public banquet that was being given in his honor and retired to the safety of his fort. The dissatisfied farmers .chose Vosse as their leader against the oppressive Manghits.


Assisted by a number of brave young men, including Reza, his own adopted son, Vosse captured a number of villages and mobilized their people against the government in Bukhara. He also captured the two important towns of Khavaling and Baljuan. 11le villagers, however, as before, took what they thought was their due and returned to their homes, forcing Vosse to abandon his plan to attack Hissar. Instead, he retired to the mountains to hide there. The Bek of Kulab became the first to respond to the Bek of Baljuan's cry for help by sending a large military contingent. That was followed by an even more substantial number dispatched by the Bek of Hissar. Additionally, the Laqai tribesmen, landowners, and others who felt threatened by Vosse also marshalled their forces against him. At the camp of Vosse, the rumor that the ranks of the united beks were swelling by the hour, demoralized Vosse's allies, fracturing the uneasy ethnic alliance that had defeated the Bek of Baljuan.!

The End
To eliminate Vosse's growing threat to Hissar and Darvaz, the government used the good offices of Mullasafar. The Mullah was promised that Vosse's surrender would not end in punishment; rather that he, Vosse, would be given land and, possibly, a good job. Mullasafar, a simple mullah, communicated this to Vosse, whose whereabouts he knew, and convinced him to give himself up. Vosse accepted. After Vosse surrendered, Ostankul Qushbegi, the Bek of Hissar, captured some 130 of the rebels. After killing forty of them in Baljuan, he dispatched the rest to Shahr-i Sabz for punishment. As for Vosse, he and two of his close aides were put to death in Shahr-i Sabz in the presence of Amir Abdulahad. 2 The extent of the revolt was kept a secret.

1 For a brief discussion of Danisb's views, see Becker. 1968. pp. 201-202.

1 See Pirumsbaev, op cit, pp. 7 and 8.

2 Ibid., p. 9.

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->