Saturday 7 October 2017

Tahirid Dynasty of Iran

The Tahirid dynasty was a dynasty, of Persian origin, that governed the Abbasid province of Khorasan from 821 to 873 and the city of Baghdad from 820 until 891. The dynasty was founded by Tahir ibn Husayn, a leading general in the service of the Abbasid caliph al-Ma'mun. Their capital in Khorasan was initially located at Merv but was later moved to Nishapur.

Archaeology Site in Merv

In 810, Abbasid the caliph al-Amin, and his brother, Al-Ma'mun, came in conflict which each others, which later led to a civil war; in January 811, al-Amin formally began the Great Abbasid Civil War. al-Ma'mun had a small army under Tahir ibn Husayn of 4,000 - 5,000 men. Tahir was sent to confront Ali's advance. The two armies met at Rayy, on the western borders of Khurasan, and the ensuing battle (3 July 811) resulted in a crushing victory for the Khurasanis, in which Ali was killed and his army disintegrated on its flight west.

Rayy Citadel

Tahir ibn Husayn was afterwards transferred out of the public eye to an unimportant post in Raqqa. However, he was later recalled from the post, and was rewarded with the governorship of Khorasan. Tahir then began consolidating his authority over the region, appointing several officials to certain offices, including Muhammad ibn Husayn Qusi, who was appointed as the governor of Sistan.

Modern city of Raqqa 

After Tahir left for Khorasan, the governorship of Baghdad was given to a member of a collateral branch of the family, Ishaq ibn Ibrahim, who controlled the city for over twenty-five years. During Ishaq's term as governor, he was responsible for implementing the Mihna (inquisition) in Baghdad. His administration also witnessed the departure of the caliphs from Baghdad, as they made the recently constructed city of Samarra their new capital.


Tahir later declared independence from the Abbasid empire in 822 by omitting any mention of al-Ma'mun during a Friday sermon. However, he died the same night. Abbasid Caliph al-Ma'mun appointed Tahir's son Talha ibn Tahir to continue at his father's post. Talha's rule is mostly known for his campaigns in Sistan, another province under his rule, against the local Kharijites, who were led by a Hamza ibn Adharak. Fighting between the two continued until 828, when both Hamza and Talha died.

A fort in Sistan Province

Tahir's other son, Abdullah, was instated as the wali of Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula, and when Talha died in 828 he was given the governorship of Khorasan. Abdullah is considered one of the greatest of the Tahirid rulers, as his reign witnessed a flourishing of agriculture in his native land of Khorasan, popularity among the populations of the eastern lands of the Abbasid caliphate and extending influence due to his experience with the western parts of the caliphate.


Abdullah died in 845 and was succeeded by his son Tahir II. Tahir died in 862; his will stated that his young son Muhammad should succeed him as governor, and this was honored by the caliph. Not much is known of Tahir's rule, but the administrative dependency of Sistan was lost to rebels during his governorship. Tahirid rule began to seriously deteriorate after Tahir's son Muhammad ibn Tahir became governor, due to his carelessness with the affairs of the state and lack of experience with politic. He was governor from 862 to 873.

Ruined gates of Haozdar, Sistan

When Ishaq died in 849 he was succeeded first by two of his sons, and then in 851 by Tahir's grandson Muhammad ibn Abdallah. Abdallah played a major role in the events of the "Anarchy at Samarra" in the 860s, giving refuge to the caliph al-Musta'in and commanding the defense of Baghdad when it was besieged by the forces of the rival caliph al-Mu'tazz in 865. The following year, he forced al-Musta'in to abdicate and recognized al-Mu'tazz as caliph, and in exchange was allowed to retain his control over Baghdad.

Mosque in Baghdad

Oppressive policies in Tabaristan, another dependency of Khorasan, resulted in the people of that province revolting and declaring their allegiance to the independent Zaydi ruler Hasan ibn Zayd in 864. In Khorasan itself, Muhammad's rule continued to grow increasingly weak, and in 873 he was finally overthrown by the Saffarid dynasty, who annexed Khorasan to their own empire in eastern Persia.

Violent riots plagued Baghdad during the last years of Abdallah's life, and conditions in the city remained tumultuous after he died and was succeeded by his brothers, first Ubaydallah and then Sulayman. Eventually order was restored in Baghdad, and the Tahirids continued to serve as governors of the city for another two decades. In 891, however, Badr al-Mu'tadidi was put in charge of the security of Baghdad in place of the Tahirids, and the family soon lost their prominence within the caliphate after that.

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