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BUYIDS was the dynasty of Daylamite origin ruling over over the south and western part of Iran and over Iraq from the middle of the 4th/10th to the middle of the 5th/11th centuries.

The Political Background[edit | edit source]

Since the early days of the Arab conquest of Persia the mountainous regions south of the Caspian Sea proved an awkward obstacle to the expansion of the empire of the caliphs. It was only towards the end of the 3rd/9th century that the ʿAbbasids succeeded in subduing those almost inaccessible districts, and even then the caliphal rule remained rather formal. For this reason Shiʿism, skillfully propagated by some members of the Hasanid clan of the ʿAlids, was able to win the sympathy of part of the population and seems to have been considered as a means of protest against the central government. During the second half of the 3rd/9th century the power of the caliphate began to crumble, and centrifugal tendencies asserted themselves all over the empire, particularly in Iran whose population still remembered its glorious past.

Mardavij b. Ziar, a military leader serving Asfar b. Shiruya when in 316/928 the latter conquered Qazvin, turned against Asfar, killed him, and eventually established his own rule in Ṭabarestan and made Ray his capital.[1] In 319/931 he defeated the ʿAbbasid governor of Jebal (ancient Media) near Hamadan and expanded his territories to Ḥolwan, present-day Sar-e Pol-e Zohab. The caliph had to recognize him officially as his governor and was even unable to prevent him from annexing Isfahan.[2]

It is in sources from those days that we hear of the Buyid brothers for the first time. Their father, a certain Buya b. Fanna (Panah) Khosrow was a humble fisherman from Daylam in Gilan. The authenticity of the Sasanian lineage of the Buyids found in some sources was questioned as early as 5th/11th century by Biruni[3] and is almost certainly a forgery. The Buyid brothers first entered the services of the Samanids under the Daylamite general Makan-e Kaki (q.v.) but later on defected to Mardavij, who put the eldest brother, Abu’l-Hasan ʿAli b. Buya (the future ʿEmad-al-Dawla), in charge of the district of Kara to the southeast of Hamadan. ʿAli’s gentle behavior and generosity attracted a large number of fellow Daylamites. This made Mardavij suspicious of ʿAli’s real intentions, and he prepared to move against him. In defiance ʿAli marched south and occupied Isfahan, but Mardavij, helped by his allies, forced him to withdraw. ʿAli then marched to Arrajan in Fars, occupied the city, and shortly afterward defeated Yaqut, caliphal governor of Fars, and entered Shiraz. However, he had to make peace with Mardavij and sent him his brother Abu ʿAli Hasan b. Buya (the future Rokn-al-Dawla) as hostage.[4]

In 323/935 Mardavij was murdered by his Turkish slaves. Immediately after this event the Ziyarid empire fell apart, and only in the Caspian provinces did the dynasty survive until the mid-5th/11th century. The lion’s share of the Ziyarid territories south of the Caspian mountains fell to the Buyid brothers. Hasan occupied almost the whole of Media, while ʿAli found himself master of Fars. Their youngest brother, Aḥmad (the future Moʿezz-al-Dawla), managed to gain a foothold in Kerman and later on in Khuzestan. Thus, the most important parts of western and southern Iran were governed by the Buyids, who had already established good relations with the ʿAbbasids, in contrast to their former master Mardavij. ʿAli, though professing Shiʿism, had approached the caliph in Shawwal 322/September-October 934, about four months before Mardavij’s assassination, in order to become officially recognized as governor of Fars[5]

The eastern part of the ʿAbbasid empire had at that time split into three virtually independent amirates: the Ziyarids, who held the mountains south of the Caspian Sea; the Buyids, who extended their power from Media to Fars; and the Samanids, who ruled over eastern Iran and had not yet been involved in the changing affairs of western Iran but were later on challenged by the Buyids’ expansionist activities.

Buyids and Shi’ism[edit | edit source]

It has often been maintained that the religious politics of the Buyids favored the Shiʿites. Some evidence does, in fact, support this view [6]. Nevertheless, it cannot be established that there was a determined attack on Sunnism, at least in Iraq. It appears, rather, that the rise of the Daylamites, who were supporters of Shiʿism, though it exacerbated already existing tensions between the Shiʿites and Sunnites, was in no way the cause of them. Furthermore, as there were still contingents of Sunnite Turkish troops in Iraq a determined policy of enforcing acceptance of Shiʿism would have led to disaster (cf. the events reported in Ebn Meskawayh, II, pp. 324-41). Also, the advent of the Fatimid caliphate brought about a crisis among the Shiʿa, culminating in a confrontation between the relatively passive “Twelvers” and the politically and militarily active “Seveners.” Had the Buyids supported the latter group, which would first of all have required unconditional submission to the Ismaʿili imams, they would have forfeited their position as an independent power. It seemed to them much better to ally themselves with the ʿAbbasids.

Muharram Observances[edit | edit source]

The Shiʿite Buyids who established themselves as Sultans in Baghdad under the caliph’s suzerainty in the mid-tenth century, introduced the Muharram procession in the capital of the caliphate itself within two decades, apparently restricting participation at first to wailing women with uncovered, disheveled hair. [7].Although the Buyids were overthrown by the Seljuqs who are credited with the so-called Sunni restoration, Shiʿite notables in the cities of central Iran, many of whom served in the Seljuq government bureaucracy in the twelfth century [8] generously supported public recitals in the marketplace extolling the virtues (manaqib) of ʿAli and other Imams, especially Hussain which highlighted his martyrdom.[9]

Source[edit | edit source]

Reference[edit | edit source]

  1. Masʿūdī, Morūj, ed. Pellat, V, pp. 265-66; Ebn al-Aṯīr, VIII, pp. 193-98
  2. Masʿūdī, Morūj V, pp. 268-69; Ebn al-Aṯīr, VIII, pp. 227-29
  3. Āṯār, tr. Sachau, pp. 44-47
  4. Ebn Meskawayh, I, pp. 278ff., 295-99; Ebn al-Aṯīr, VIII, pp. 268-72, 275-78, 285-87
  5. Ebn Meskawayh, I, p. 300; Ebn al-Aṯīr, VIII, p. 277
  6. Busse (1969) pp. 415ff
  7. Rahimi (2012) pp. 207–08
  8. Arjomand (1984) pp.56–57
  9. Mahdjoub (1988)