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Turning points of Iran in Samanian Era.


Samanids era is one of the most prominent historical periods in Iran. This period is important from different views. From one hand scientific and cultural achievements, governance, social and administrative principles, on the other hand, based on the historian's quotations, this period is one of the exclusive courses in Islamic Iran. In this period, cities of Khorasan such as Nishapur, Balkh and Herat were the important sites for scientific and theologigical activities. Bukhara, capital city of Samania, was Political and cultural center of Islamic east and also in Samarkand city, there raised the great scholars and scientists and from other Islamic lands were brought into this city[1].

With the support of wise princes and ministers of Samani, many works appeared on Islamic science and the rational science traced the path of progress and its precious wroks still remain. In Samanid era, with the support of the Iranian dynasty, the Persian language and Persian literature flourished and Persian works apperead. Based on the collaboration of Samanidsrulers, some national ancient customs and rituals stabilized. Epic stories and national celebrations belong to the ancient heritage[8].

In large Samnian cities, such as Bukhara and Neyshabur, independent educational institutions which called "school" appeared. As the result of adopting a policy of tolerance by Samanid rulers, followers of different religious beliefs and non- believers worked easily, so the various intellectual movements were formed. In this era, because of scientific debates, many theological and philosophical works were created. The expert ministers and scientists of Samani made a cohert administrative system which became a model for the other states and the dynasties. The Samanids who want to gain national pride of Iranians, they tried hard to achive this goal, though they tolerated the Abbasid dynasty. In this way, by attracting the Iranian thoughts towards themselves, they strenghened the bases of their rule and also valued their governemnt[2,8].

Samanid era is one of the first dynasties of Iran. It was after Islam in Iran that they ruled on a large part, especially Khorasan. They are sometimes known as descendes of the Sassanids. That is why they are known as Iranian. Also, unlike some of the other dynasties that came to rule through desert, they were tribes whose fathers had lived in cities and they were representatives of the aristocracy and descendant of Saman as the local ruler

Researchers believe that Samanidswere the tribal clan nm which the oldest male member was chosen as the head of tribe. Saman was their anscestor who was a peasant and ruled in a small city with the same name.

Samanids ruled for about 110 years in the large areas of Iran and their main authority was during Amir Ismail III, the first Amir of Samani and the third one Nasr Ibn Rooh, who had ruled for about 30 years. Although they were hard advocate of Abbasid caliphs, they are completely independent and their seigniory was in the form of domination. Domination Seigniory was one that Khalifa had to transfere its governenace.

The eternity secret of Samanid Era and world praise of thjis dynasty can be traced in the huge and fascinating achievements in different areas of science and devotion of thought and idea. Samanids became creators of an era in the history that their intellectuals should be considered as descendants of the golden era of ancient Greece, because the second teacher[5], second Ptolemy (Abu Nasr Iraq), the second Thani (Avicenna), the second Hippocrates [8].mportant art of Samanidswas preparing a favorable atmosphere, with regard to Islam, in the farthest distance from the Arab caliphs in which far away from the biased belives, they could develop their thinking and exchange with different opinions with tolerance and patience. As Khorasan and central governments of Samanidswere located in the farthest point to the Arab Caliphe, their cultural and intellectual structure also had the maximum distance from Arab culture. Therefore, if Alebouyeh tried in dissemination and strengthening of culture and Arabic literature and language, the biggest honor of Samnian dynasty is avoidinmg it and reviving the Persian literature and culture. Shahnameh shows the revival of Persian wise against Turkish and Arab invaders. So if Ferdowsi has become a poet and thinker of the world, it refers to the depth of his thought, word, and open mind of him in that time [9].

Another significant works of Samanids within its territory refers to creating a homogeneous spirit in the body of disparate cultures and tribes. Great Khorasan, the land that covers Rey to Kashgar, is a symbol of cultural and political homogenous realm. Today, after over thousands of years, yet a Tajik knows himself in a strong intellectual and cultural link with Iran and insists on it[1].

During the Samanidsera, as the result of adopting a tolerance and moderation policy, followers of different belives and sects worked free of any limitations. Thus the various intellectual trends appeared. In this period, the presence of different ideas and academic debates had undeniable effect on dynamism of the intellectual movements and emergence of a large number of theological and philosophical works. Also during this period, the wise and competent Samani ministers makde a coherent administrative system which became as a model for later dynasties and governments. In Samanidsera, as the result of manufacturing activities and business, material life evolved, so that everywhere and among all social classes, vigorously could be seen[5,8].

General Features of the Abbasid Caliphate ahead Samanians:

Power struggle between two crown princes of Haroun Al Rashid, Amin and al-Ma'mun, was in fact a struggle between Persian and Arabic elements in the Islamic realm and Ma'mun's victory, was considered as the victory of Irananin wing, especially when the capital of the caliphate was moved to Khorasan.

Tahir Zovalyminyn and his successors, although they were politically adependent on Khalifa, it was a golden opportunity for Iranians to accelerate their independence and mobility. It, as the first government, along with all its weaknesses, left an original value. Taherian history was the beginning of the independence and resurrection of Iran. Despite the emergence of independent states, caliphate system, in particular caliph, maintained its spiritual influence for many years, as all independent powers needed this symbol to maintain themselves from the aggression of others.

They did not want to be dominated by the new born powers, so they prefered to have that powerful government. That is the reason of stainablity caliph power stainablity. Caliph sometimes made a conflict and battle between the Itanian elements, because he wanted to get the maximum exploitation from the power[10].

This situation except in some cases such as Jacob Leith Saffari and Mardavjch Ziari, none of independent states actively seek to leave caliphate from the claws of the Abbasid and the caliphate continued untill the Mongol invasion to Baghdad in 656 AH. However, the riots and rebellion were also inevitable. Weakness of caliphate system had another lawful inevitable phenomenan and it was intense popular uprisings and rebellions in the territories ruled by the Caliphate. The main motivations for the riots were public discontent with the style of bloodthirsty and greedy governance. Seeing that the independence and dignity of them were as a puppet in the hands of Abbasi corrupt politicians, people were furious, but catastrophic economic pressure and imposing more taxes on them would lead to the scene of anti-Arab battles [15].

Religious situation in Iran in the emergence of the Samanids:

More or less the old and worn Zoroastrian religion in Iran, in embracing with a world religion called "Islam" faded, although after a while, traces of it still remained in Iranian society, this time after accepting Islam, Iranians in meaning and in practice, manifested Islam in all aspects of their lives. During the early centuries AD, there had been careful researches on issues of Islamic philosophical thought by the Iranians. Therefore, in second century, they become founder of political and intellectual revolutions which was equal with Arabs' ones.

Later in the religion and politics were thoroughly mixed together in Iran. During the Bani Umaye government in Iran (the Arabs) they were strongly against Muslims, while the Abbasids in politics, along with the religion, often deal have tolerance. The Abbasid caliphs in Iran were not without any concern for the government. Sometimes, movements like "Mazdakian", "Qermatyan", "Sinbad", "Astadsys", "Maqhna", "Babak Khorramdin," and "The Ismailis were movement that made some innovations in Islam. Among the mentioned sects, Khavarej has much more importance in the history of Iran and mainly in Systan and Khorasan, thorugh their self made groups made it very difficult for the Caliphs to domiate these areas so that the caliphes used their armied to remove them. One of them was foreign Hamzeh bin Abdullah. Ismaili Shiite in Samanids lands, even influenced the Emirate systems. In the way that a group of royal dignitaries caused Amir Nasr Samani change his religion. This sect was sometimes called "Zalleh Sect" [4,15].

Bureaucracy in Samanid Era:

Two systems were responsible for the administrative apparatus in Samanid era, a Darbar headed by the great Hajib and the court involved multiple agencies and offices and each one was in charge of a special computational. According to the Russian Orientalist, till the Samanidsera, there was not any information about the presence of royal guards like what we had in Abbasids Darbar. There was not also any information about slaves invloving mainly the Turk, in Eastern Islamic countries[8].

In Ismail Court and among his succeessors, we can find a group of Turk safeguarded. It seems that the system and initial organization of Samanidsbureaucracy more indebted to Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Jeyhani, the Great Jeyhaniwho was knowledgeable and resourceful minister of Nasre Ibn Ahmed. Bukhara administrative structure system was a combination of the Sasanian model, local features khavaran and Islamic caliphs in Baghdad and, as some sources such as the policy of Nizam al-Mulk showes, it become a model for subsequent governments: Ghaznavids and Seljuks. At least until time of Ahmad bin Ismail, Persian was the language of bureaucracy. Researchers believe that the written language of Samanid bureaucracy as well as spoken language of people was Persian. They used Arabic language just in official correspondence or religious issues as well as issues related to the philosophy. In fact,

Samanid Bureaucracy was bilingual. This point shows that in 78 AH, Saleh Ibn Abdul Rahman, the Iranian scriber translated the Divane Kharaj from Persian (Pahlavi) to Arabic. It is done by the order of Hojjaj Ibn Yusuf Saghafi, the ruler of Iraq and Eastern territories of the Caliphate. Despite this, the Persian language and Iranian bureaucracy were not utterly removed from the system and maintained its influence on the remote places.

A) Ministry Divan:

The main Divan was ministry Divan which heads the department of other state agencies and authorities of other Divans worked under the management of this Minister. Thus, this Divan is called Main Divan and its operator caleled "Vazir Alvzra" or "Sadr alvozra' or in short, "Sadr". Respectful title of Sheikh Minister was "Sheikh Al Amyd" or "Sheikh Al Jalil". We do not have much knowledge about the ways of communication with other administrative systems and their authorities. However, we have some reports on his involvement in determination of the authorities, control on treasury and identification of Financial Regulations, addressing the troops and paying their dues. The minister was mainly chosen among the experienced Divan memebers.

Although choosing the Minister was appareantly the Amir's duty, since Noah Ben Nasr, the minister lost his authority and its importance. Based on Darbar jurists, great courtiers and Turk soldiers, the minister were appointed and dismissed. Samanid ministers and local governments in their territories were mainly scientists and scholars[7].

B) Tax Divan or Styfa:

Financial control in Samanid was in the hands of Tax Divan. Mostoufi or Saheb AL divan was the chief of Divan. His responsibilty included collecting the taxes and sending it to the treasury, accounting, financial accounting and regulatig the related offices. Tax Divan was the most important one after the Ministry Divan. In urban areas and its suburbs, there were a group called "Bondars" who had to collect levy and taxes under the control of Great Bondar who was located in province center (Kooreh). It was in both cash and non cash forms (sheep, cattle and goats) and the war spoils which kept in the state treasury.

C) Nobility Divan:

Noble, in Divan terms, means inspection, particularly in terms of financial affairs; the operator of this Divan is called Moshref. He has represenatives in each province and they can do the works related to Nobel Divan[12].

D) Epistles Divan:

Epistles Divan, which later was called to compose Divan, was one of the most important whose duty was to write and recorde the government orders, correspondence, administrative and official letters (Samanids), that Amir wrote to Khalifa and local governments. Therefore, Epistles Divan was called "Divane Asrar" and the writer was called "Kateb Alser". This Divan was like today's the Labor Department.

E) Divan Shorteh:

Shorteh was a group of soldiers who were identified with symptoms like black flags. Their leader was called "Sahebe Shorteh". Shorteh was like today's police forces and their duty was to maintain order and security in cities and enforcement of crime provisions in the early stages and then the implementation of legal penalties (Hadd). When a war startedt, Divan Shorte had to provide the means to mobilize troops and supply the food for the soldiers[11].

E) Borid Divan:

Borid was the government's communication and information organization whose duty was to collect and report information and protect the state security. In each province, there was Borid officers two miles distance from each other. Abol Hasan Symjor, using Intelligence officers, could long survive in the Khorasan generalissimo post. He determined money - paid spies in the markets, neighborhoods, houses of the friends, their allies and in other cities of Khorasan.

G) Judicial Divan (Mazalem Divan):

In the center of each provincce, there was a jurist and in cities and also the suburbs, there were under judges under the supervision of them. Determining the Judge and dealing with legal proceedings was the duty of trial court in the capital. It was managed by" Ghazi Al Gozat". In Bukhara and Neishaboor, Ghazi Al Gozat was chosen by Amir or the minister. The judge was responsible for defending the rights of people. He attended to all legal cases. In addition to the brutalities, the judge's works were also related to the power and executive influence. So Amir or the judge whoseauthorities were extended accepted it [7].

In Bukhara and Neishaboor, except biweekly proceeding meeting, there were also held Mazalem meetings. This ritual, which was called sacred one in Islam, continued at the time of Ghaznavids and Saljoghis. In Samanyan country, the Hanafi religion was in majority. Some certain provinces also followed the Shafei religion. Therefore, the judges were exclusively chosen among these groups.

I) Divan Hasabe:

Hasabe, from the legal perspective, was a religious duty and a person who was responsible for that was called "Mohtaseb". He regulated the work of traders and merchants. In fact, Mohtaseb was undertaken a religious, social and economic mission and therefore must be familier with the law and justice, and also known for his Justice [9].

J) Endowments Divan (Mogoufat):

In Samanids time, the religious tradition of endowment (Vagf) was common. Amir and people who loved him, devoted their properties and money to public interests, such as mosques, schools, hospitals, libraries, rivers, bridges, or specific groups of individuals and families. Amir Ismail bin Ahmad bought some properties and dedicated them to the poor, and his heirs and Mosque. Endowments established in many parts of the country, ruled by endowments Divan in Bukhara[12,4,8,9].

K) Army (Araz) Divan:

Within the Army Divan, the all affairs reference wad an office was named "Jaride Savda" in which the commanders' numbers, qualifications and their income were recorded. One of the most important subsets of Army Divan was Araz Davan whose attendant called "Aarez". He recorded the guards name among the people who recieved salaries. He also registered the wages, idues, grants and the nformation paid to them. Khorasan generalissimo, who lived in Neyshabour, was the army commander of Samanids and the highest military rank of Bukhara. Ghazian important urban center in Samarkand booming commercial Samani command of troops were stationed generalissimo.

L) Especial Properties Divan:

Especial Properties of SamanidsAmirs was administrated by Zyaa Divan. So that Amir Ismail and Amirs built palaces and gardens in Mooiejolin. Except that villages and regions were considered as part of the royal estate was exempt from taxation.

M) Water Divan:

Big River Murghab (Marvyn) pulled in northwest of Afghanistan and south east of Turkmenistan, was the the main source of agriculture in this area. In the Lower pathes of the river, Merv city was the water supply of Divan. The amount of water used by each owner, and their taxes which was based on the amount of water consumed was recoreded. Merv Dam was located six miles to the town and ten thousand guardians protected it by the order of Mirab or Mire Rood (water Amir). He reported the consumed water rate immediately to court and from there; the all messengers sent report to all heads of river branches to classify the water base on the allocated rate.

Samanids Economy:

As the result of civil comfort, the security and blessing of the Silk Road that linked China to the Mediterranean coast, in Samanidstime trade flourished and agricultural and industrial products was exported to the remote locations. Source of Samandis income was only through some ways as follows:

A) Slave trade: Samanids Incentives to advance in the North and East was both economic and political and even religious, because there was a constant need for the slaves and the best slaves were Turks. Slave and the slave trade was the major source of revenue for the government Samani, because the samanids received custom income through trade based on bringing the slaves to Baghdad which had a hot market.

B) Agriculture and Livestock: the main occupation of the Samanids was agriculture and Livestock. The Samanids country was a vast territory with a diverse climate, small and big Rivers, wells and fertile lands which made this land as agriculture, horticulture livestock pole[10].

C) Mines and Resources:

Abundance of sufficient resources in Khorasan and Mavr'alnhr and their extraction prepared the necessary materials for mining and industrial workshop activities and also the emergence of experienced and expert industrial craftsmen. In Neishaboor and Tus mountains, there were turquoise and iron. Chaharpaieh (Kooh Sim) and Panjshir cities, which today are located in Afghanistan, are famous for rich silver mines. We can also find Garnet, lapis, and musk. In deep mountains, we can find gold and silver.

D) Market:

Along Mosque which was the center of religious activities, social, political and cultural Muslim activities, the market was also the center of economical and livelihood local efforts and was considered as the main part of Islamic city. Markets such as Faraghana and Termez were located inside the city, sometimes in suburbs and sometimes it's half in city and the other half in the suburbs [12].

Social Classes:

Traditional families: After the conquest of Iran by the Sassanid by the Muslims, remains of Sasanids dynsty and the other aristocratic classes in Iranian society maintained their base in the new society and the official administration. In Islamic sources "Ahle Biotat" is a term used for the Nobles. This title, at the beginning of the Islamic era, was dedicated to the prominent families, nobles and princes of the Sassanian (Vaspouvrgan). In Samanids government, which was originally from Bahram Choobin ancetry, Ahle Biotat lived with dignity and many prominent royal families and elders of Samanids System were dedicated to Royal, the elderly families. Peasants and Chiefs (Kadkhodaian) were the other strata of the Samanids population. After the Islamic conquests, many of whom became Muslim and maintain its position until the late Samanids era.

Customs and rituals:

In addition to the Islamic rituals all over the Islamic world which ws welcomed with great passion and attachment, in Iran and espceiialy in Samaniads territory, Iranian longstanding traditions and customs were held both in the court and among the common people as the ancient traditions like today: the oldest of these procedures is National Iranian New Year (Nowrouz), according to the mythological narratives, it has been the biggest celebration since the Jamshid reign. Mehrghan is also the great feast of ancient Iranian, based on the Iranian stories, which reminds us the imprisonment of Zahhak by the hands of tyrant Feridoun. It was held in the 1st or 16th of winter[17].

Role of sholar and scientist ministers in Sasanids government and its impact on the development of science:

Iranian people have always belived that lasting a government and kingdom is mainly based on the efficient and worthwhile ministers, so that they could be able to manage all aspects of government from the Epistles to finance or participate in military affairs and organize them in the best way. Therefore, the king must be careful in choosing ministers and select a person who is appropriate for that post and had enough ability to run the administrative affairs, because as much as a competent minister would run the country and released it from difficulties, the incompetent ministers would probably push the country into destruction, too. Therefore, evaluating the ministers and ministry institutions in Samanids Era can clarify the minister's situation in that period. It also can also clarify the social, economical and espceially the cultural situation. It should be mentioned that in Samandis government, as long as the power was in the hands of king and his men, glory and prosperity of reign and ministry was sustainbale. Ministry instituion was like kingdom that had sustainable stability in society. However, since that generalissimo and military rulers got the power in their hands and dominated the affiares, kinship was dominated by him and the glory vanished. Ministry of ministers were under the authority of commanders and military commanders in the way that the ministers' positions were affected by uncertainty and instability of life and their property was also in subject to corruption. Some issues such as dismissal, imprisonment and confiscation of ministers and even killing ministers were among the ordinary events of political history in Iran[16].

Samanids, strictly obeyed the systematic order of Baghdad, seriously revived the ministry. The main character of a minister was ability in writing and management and that is why Samani ministers were mainly included outstanding teachers and scribes. In this period, a number of ministers were responsible for the ministry that due to their competent, they could strengthene and stabilize this position. Three prominent familis, "Ceyhan", "Balamy" and "Atby offered ministers to this state that they are among the most famous East Islamic ministers in Iran history [15].

Education in Sasanids Government:

The most important educational goals of Sasanians:

1: national and ethnic training in order to strengthen the nationality

2: family training for strengthening the family unit and providing educational facilities for these system

3: Religious and Moral Education

4: professional training for stabilizing the social situation

5: Physical training to have a healthy people

6: Literacy to answer the commercial and administrative needs

7: saving people from sin in leisure time and providing the activities and hobbies

In Samanidsera, the educational organizations were family, schools related to colleges and aristocratic schools near the king palace. In this era, the children training till 7 years old, was in charge of mothers and then they were went to schools squares outside the city. Religious and moral education of children was largely done by the teachers and educational trainers. They had to be the preacher so that reigious education was under the priest's teaches. As mentioned before, in this era, training was in class and main attention was given to intelligence. There were also physical punishment and reward. In training the princes, they tried to train them disciplined and strong agianst hardships, hunger and thirst, heat and cold in order to increae their stability.

In this era, education had great changes in the upper level. Social and economic conditions, industry developments, including the paper industry and emergance of books and libraries, and numerous scientists have raised the level of elementry education. Based on the society need to development, there had been designed new developed and comprehensive programs. In the way that much more pepole, belonging to different classes and groups could benefit from it. In Samanidsera in which the knowledge and science revived, schools developed both in quantity and quality. The prominent examples, in Samanians time, were two famous schools: one in Raha city and the other in Nasibin city. These two cities became famous because of the presence of training centers. In addition to the above mentioned schools, there were other schools such as professional schools, technical schools, philosophical (Manichean, Mazdaki, Zoroastrian and Jewish) schools, literary schools and scientific, medicine, mathematics, astronomy schools etc.,There were grounds for the appearance of the famous University " Jundi Shapour".

The decline and Collapse of the Samanids:

There were many factors related to collapse of Samanids which can be categirozed in three groups:

Political and Militery Factors:

By increasing the power of Turks in opolitics and the army of the Samanids, their migration to Transoxiana, their domination on the Sasanian, power of the Samanids decreased as the result of regular battles with Alebouyeh. Samanids Amir were also incompetent than Abdul Malik bin Nuh, which caused Turks with superior military force prepare the ground for the fall of the Samanids.

Socio-cultural factors:

When the Turks became Muslims, people lost their motivation for supporting the Samanids fighting against the unbelievers. The Samanids scholars did no longer supported the Turkish Muslim and unworthy Samanids[14].

Economic Factors:

Peasants who was the economic growth reason of the region and supporter of Samandis, when the Turks emerged, they collpased, and as mentioned, people were dissatisfied with the heavy tax pressures.


Article history:

Received 11 June 2014

Received in revised form 21 September 2014

Accepted 25 November 2014

Available online 29 December 2014


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(4) Yousef Maleki, (2) Roghayeh Habibi Arbatani, (2) Saeed Abdolzadeh, (3) Farnou Faegh, (4) Rahim Taghizadeh, (5) Siamak Valizadeh, (6) Mohammad Hasan Somi, (7) Taleb Parhizgar

(1) Department of History, Shabestar Branch, Islamic Azad University, Shabestar, Iran

(2) Department of Educational Management, College of Humanity and Educational Sciences, Tabriz Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tabriz, Iran

(3) Department of English language, College of Persian Literature and foreign languages, Tabriz Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tabriz, Iran

(4) Department of Persian language, College of Persian Literature and foreign languages, Tabriz Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tabriz, Iran

(5) Department of Psychology, University of Tabriz, Iran

(6) Department of Theology, College of Theology, Tabriz Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tabriz, Iran

(7) Department of Persian Literature, University of Tabriz, Iran

Corresponding Author: Yousef Maleki, Department of History, Shabestar Branch, Islamic Azad University, Shabestar, Iran.
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Author:Maleki, Yousef; Arbatani, Roghayeh Habibi; Abdolzadeh, Saeed; Faegh, Farnou; Taghizadeh, Rahim; Vali
Publication:Advances in Environmental Biology
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Oct 1, 2014
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