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Abū Ibrāhīm Ismā'īl ibn Aḥmad (Persian: ابو ابراهیم اسماعیل بن احمد سامانی‎; May 849 – November 907),[1] better simply known as Isma'il ibn Ahmad
Isma'il ibn Ahmad
(اسماعیل بن احمد), and also known as Ismail Samani (اسماعیل سامانی), was the Samanid emir of Transoxiana
Transoxiana
(892–907) and Khorasan (900–907). His reign saw the emergence of the Samanids
Samanids
as a powerful force.[2] He was the son of Ahmad ibn Asad and a descendant of Saman Khuda, the founder of the Samanid dynasty who renounced Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
and embraced Islam.[3]

Contents

1 Early life 2 Reign

2.1 Consolidation of power in Transoxiana
Transoxiana
and Khorasan 2.2 Conquest of northern Iran 2.3 Death

3 Legacy 4 See also 5 References 6 Sources

Early life[edit] Isma'il was born in Farghana
Farghana
in 849—he was the son of Ahmad ibn Asad, and had a brother named Nasr I, who ascended the Samanid throne in 864/5. During Nasr's reign, Isma'il was sent to take control of Bukhara, which had been devastated by looting on the part of forces from Khwarezm. The citizens of the city welcomed Isma'il, seeing him as someone who could bring stability. Soon afterwards, a disagreement over where tax money should be distributed caused a falling out between Nasr and Isma'il. A struggle ensued, in which Isma'il proved victorious. Although he took effective control of the state, he did not formally overthrow his brother, instead remaining in Bukhara. He did so because Nasr had been the one whom the Caliph
Caliph
had given the formal investiture of Transoxiana
Transoxiana
to; in the caliph's eyes, Nasr was the only legitimate ruler of the region. Furthermore, the Saffarids
Saffarids
of Sistan
Sistan
had claims on Transoxiana; the overthrow of Nasr would have given the Saffarids
Saffarids
a pretext for invading. Isma'il therefore continued to formally recognize Nasr as ruler until the latter's death in August 892, at which point he officially took power. Reign[edit] Consolidation of power in Transoxiana
Transoxiana
and Khorasan[edit]

Map of Khorasan and its surrounding regions

Isma'il was active to the north and east, steadily spreading Samanid influence as well as solidifying his control over other areas including Kirman, Sistan
Sistan
and Kabul.[4] Ismail was successful in establishing economic and commercial development and organized a powerful army.[5] It was said that he made his capital Bukhara
Bukhara
into one of Islam's most glorious cities,[6] as Ismail attracted scholars, artists, and doctors of law into the region.[7] The first translation of the Qur'an
Qur'an
into Persian was completed during Samanid rule. Sunni theology greatly cultivated during Ismail's reign, as numerous mosques and madrassas were built.[8] In 893, Ismail took the city of Talas, the capital of the Karluk Turks, taking large numbers of slaves and livestock. In addition, a Nestorian church was converted into a mosque.[9] He also brought an end to the Principality of Ushrusana, extending Samanid control over the Syr Darya
Syr Darya
river.[10] Ismail and other Samanid rulers propagated Islam
Islam
amongst the inhabitants and as many as 30,000 tents of Turks came to profess Islam. During his reign he subjugated numerous regional states to the east, directly incorporating some within his boundaries and retaining the local rulers of others as vassals. Khwarezm
Khwarezm
to the north was partitioned; the southern part remained autonomous under its Afrighid rulers, while the northern part was governed by a Samanid official. Another campaign in 903 further secured the Samanid boundaries. These campaigns kept the heart of his state safe from Turkish raids, and allowed Muslim
Muslim
missionaries to expand their activities in the region. Even after his brother Nasr's death, Ismail's rule in Bukhara
Bukhara
was not formally recognized by the caliph at that point. As a result, the Saffarid ruler 'Amr-i Laith himself asked the caliph for the investiture of Transoxiana. The caliph, Al-Mu'tadid
Al-Mu'tadid
however sent Ismail a letter urging him to fight Amr-i Laith and the Saffarids
Saffarids
whom the caliph considered usurpers. According to the letter, the caliph stated that he prayed for Ismail who the caliph considered as the rightful ruler of Khorasan.[11] The letter had a profound effect on Ismail, as he was determined to oppose the Saffarids. The two sides fought in Balkh, northern Afghanistan
Afghanistan
during the spring of 900. During battle, Ismail was significantly outnumbered as he came out with 20,000 horsemen against Amr's 70,000 strong cavalry.[12] Ismail's horsemen were ill-equipped with most having wooden stirrups while some had no shields or lances. Amr-i Laith's cavalry on the other hand, were fully equipped with weapons and armor. Despite fierce fighting, Amr was captured as some of his troops switched sides and joined Ismail.[13] Isma'il wished to ransom him to the Saffarids, but they refused, so he sent 'Amr to the caliph, who blamed 'Amr's conduct[14] in the matter and then invested Isma'il with Khorasan, Tabaristan, Ray, and Isfahan. Conquest of northern Iran[edit]

Map of northern Iran

Isma'il decided to take advantage of the caliph's grant by sending an army to Tabaristan, which was then controlled by the Zaydids under Muhammad ibn Zayd. Muhammad and his army met the Samanid army under Muhammad ibn Harun al-Sarakhsi at Gurgan, and in the ensuing battle, the Samanids
Samanids
prevailed, and the severely wounded Muhammad was captured. He died on the next day, 3 October 900 (or in August, according to Abu'l-Faraj).[15][16][17] His corpse was decapitated, and his head was sent to Isma'il at the Samanid court at Bukhara. As Muhammad's son and designated heir Zayd was also captured and sent to Bukhara, the Zaydid
Zaydid
leaders agreed to name Zayd's infant son al-Mahdi as their ruler, but dissension broke out among their ranks: one of them proclaimed himself for the Abbasids instead, and his troops attacked and massacred the Zaydid
Zaydid
supporters. Instead, the Samanids
Samanids
took over the province.[16] The Samanid conquest brought along a restoration of Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam
in the province. However, Isma'il's general Muhammad ibn Harun shortly revolted, forcing Isma'il to send an army under his son Ahmad Samani
Ahmad Samani
and cousin Abu'l-Abbas Abdullah into northern Persia in 901, including Tabaristan, forcing Muhammad to flee to Daylam. The Samanid army also managed to conquer several other cities including Ray and Qazvin, though subsequent rulers lost the territory to the Daylamites
Daylamites
and Kurds.[10] Isma'il then appointed his cousin Abu'l-Abbas Abdullah as the governor of Tabaristan. Although Isma'il continued to send gifts to the caliph, as was customary, he neither paid tribute or taxes. For all intents and purposes he was an independent ruler, although he never took any title higher than that of amir. Death[edit] After a long sickness Isma'il died in 907 and was succeeded by his son Ahmad Samani. Ismail gave enormous amounts of booty and riches to others, and kept nothing.[18] Legacy[edit]

Picture of the Samanid Mausoleum, the burial site of Isma'il.

Isma'il is known in history as a competent general and a strong ruler; many stories about him are written in Arabic and Persian sources. Furthermore, because of his campaigns in north, his empire was so safe from enemy incursions that the defences of Bukhara
Bukhara
and Samarkand were unused. However, this later had consequences; at the end of the dynasty, the earlier strong, but now falling apart walls, were greatly missed by the Samanids, who were constantly under attack by the Karakhanids
Karakhanids
and other enemies.[19] According to a Bukharian historian writing in 943 stated that Ismail:

"Was indeed worthy and right for padishahship. He was intelligent, just, compassionate person, one possessing reason and prescience...he conducted affairs with justice and good ethics. Whoever tyrannize people he would punish...In affairs of state he was always impartial."[18]

The celebrated scholar Nizam al-Mulk, in his famous work, Siyasatnama, stated that Ismail:

"Was extremely just, and his good qualities were many. He had 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.[20]

With the end of Soviet Union
Soviet Union
dominion in Central Asia, Ismail's legacy was rediscovered and rehabilitated. The Somoni
Somoni
currency of Tajikistan is named after Ismail. Also, the highest mountain in Tajikistan
Tajikistan
(and in the former Soviet Union) is named after Ismail. The mountain was formerly known as "Stalin Peak" and "Communism Peak" but was subsequently changed to the Ismoil Somoni
Somoni
Peak. Also the largest banknote of Tajikistan
Tajikistan
is in his name. See also[edit]

Ismoil Somoni
Somoni
Peak Somoni

References[edit]

^ The book of government, or, Rules for kings: the Siyar al-Muluk, or, Siyasat-nama of Nizam al-Mulk, Niẓām al-Mulk, Hubert Darke, pg. 156 ^ Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. p. 62. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4.  ^ Encyclopaedic Survey of Islamic Culture, pg. 84 Mohammad Taher ^ Tabaḳāt-i-nāsiri: a general history of the Muhammadan dynastics of Asia, pg. 1, By Minhāj Sirāj Jūzjānī ^ The historical, social and economic setting, By M.S. Asimov, pg. 78 ^ Atlas of the year 1000, By John Man, pg. 78 ^ A history of Persia, Volume 2, By Sir Percy Molesworth Sykes, pg. 90 ^ Muslim
Muslim
reformist political thought: revivalists, modernists and free will By Sarfraz Khan, p. 11 ^ The Samanids, R.N. Frye, The Cambridge History of Iran, Vol.4, ed. R. N. Frye, (Cambridge University Press, 1999), 138. ^ a b ESMĀʿĪL, b. Aḥmad b. Asad SĀMĀNĪ, ABŪ EBRĀHĪM , C. Edmund Bosworth, Encyclopaedia Iranica ^ The book of government, or, Rules for kings: the Siyar al-Muluk, or, Siyasat-nama of Nizam al-Mulk, Niẓām al-Mulk, Hubert Darke, pp. 18–19 ^ History of Islam
Islam
(Vol 3) By Akbar Shah Najeebabadi, pg. 330 ^ Ibn Khallikan's biographical dictionary By Ibn Khallikān, pg.329 ^ Ibn Khallikan's biographical dictionary By Ibn Khallikān, pg.328 ^ The Encyclopedia of Islam, New Edition, Volume VII, pp. 417–418 ^ a b Madelung (1993), pp. 595–597 ^ Madelung (1975), p. 207 ^ a b The modern Uzbeks: from the fourteenth century to the present : a cultural history, by Edward Allworth, pg. 19 ^ Frye 1975, p. 140. ^ The book of government, or, Rules for kings: the Siyar al-Muluk, or, Siyasat-nama of Nizam al-Mulk, Niẓām al-Mulk, Hubert Darke, pg. 14

Sources[edit]

Frye, R.N. (1975). "The Sāmānids". In Frye, R.N. The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 4: From the Arab Invasion to the Saljuqs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 136–161. ISBN 0-521-20093-8.  Bosworth, C.E. (1975). "The Ṭāhirids and Ṣaffārids". In Frye, R.N. The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 4: From the Arab Invasion to the Saljuqs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 90–135.  Madelung, W. (1975). "The Minor Dynasties of Northern Iran". In Frye, R.N. The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 4: From the Arab Invasion to the Saljuqs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 198–249. ISBN 978-0-521-20093-6.  Barthold, W. (1928). Turkestan Down to the Mongol Invasion (Second Edition). London: Luzac & Co. OCLC 4523164. 

Preceded by Nasr I Amir
Amir
of the Samanids 892–907 Succeeded by Ahmad Samani

v t e

Rulers of the Samanid Empire
Samanid Empire
(819–1004)

Nuh ibn Asad (819–841) Yahya ibn Asad (819–855) Ahmad ibn Asad (819–864) Ilyas ibn Asad (819–856) Ibrahim ibn Ilyas (856-867) Nasr I (864–892) Isma'il ibn Ahmad
Isma'il ibn Ahmad
(892–907) Ahmad Samani
Ahmad Samani
(907–914) Nasr II
Nasr II
(914–943) Nuh I
Nuh I
(943–954) Ibrahim ibn Ahmad (947)[B] Abd al-Malik I (954–961) Mansur I
Mansur I
(961–976) Nuh II
Nuh II
(976–997) Abd al-Aziz ibn Nuh (992)[B] Mansur II
Mansur II
(997–999) Abd al-Malik II (999) Isma'il Muntasir
Isma'il Muntasir
(1000–1004)

[B] indicates usurpers or rival claimants

Authority control

WorldCat Identi

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