Samanid Empire

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Samanid Empire

The Samani Dynasty (Persian: سامانیان, Tajik: Сомониён - Sāmāniyān), also known as the Samanid Empire or simply Samanid (819-999), was a Sunni Persian empire in Central Asia, named after its founder Saman Khuda From the Zoroastrian theocratic nobility. It was a native Persian dynasty in Greater Iran and Central Asia after the collapse of the Sassanian Persian Empire caused by the Arab conquest.

The Samanids, a dynasty of the Persian Dehqan origin, ruled for 180 years, covering an area that encompassed Khorasan (including Kabul), Ray, Transoxiania, Tabaristan, Kerman, Gorgan and west of these provinces as far as Isfahan. At the height of their power, the area controlled by Samanides stretched as far south as the Sulaiman mountains in Quetta, Ghazni and Kandahar, and to Qazvin in the west. The Samanids were descendants of Bahram Chobin, and so rose from the house of Mihrān, one of the seven Great Houses of Iran. In the administration of their territory the Samanids modeled their state organization after the Abbasids and reflected the court and the organization of the caliph. They were rewarded for the support of the Abbasids in Transoxania and Khorasan, and with their established capital cities located in Bukhara, Balkh, Samarkand and Herat, they created their kingdom after defeating the Saffarids.
With their roots from the city of Balkh (then part of Greater Khorasan), the Samanids promoted the arts, which led to the advancement of science and literature and thus attracted scholars like Rudaki, Ferdowsi and Avicenna. While under Samanid control Bukhara was a rival to Baghdad in his glory. Scholars note that the Samanids have revived Persian more than the buyids and saffarides, while they continue to patronize Arabic to a significant degree. Nevertheless, the Samanid authorities declared in a famous edict that "here in this region the language is Persian, and the kings of that empire are Persian kings.


The Mausoleum of Ismail the Samanid in  Bukhara.

The Mausoleum of Ismail the Samanid in


The Samanid Empire was the first Persian dynasty to emerge after the Muslim Arab conquest. The four grandchildren of the founder of the dynasty, Saman Khuda, had been rewarded with provinces to serve faithfully to the Abbasid caliph al-Mamun: Nuh obtained Samarkand; Ahmad, Fergana; Yahya, shadow; And Elyas, Herat. Ahmad's son, Nasr, was Governor of Transoxania in 875, but his brother and successor Ismail Samani, who overthrew the Saffarids and the Tabayan Zaydites, established a semi-autonomous rule over Transoxania and Khorasan with Bukhara as its capital. In the year 893 Ismail entered and defeated the Karluk-Turk, took Talas and transformed the Nestorian church into a mosque. Ismail's son Ahmad sent two military excursions (911 & 912-913) to Sistan to restore control over the Caspian provinces.
The Samanids defeated the Saffarids and the Zaydids Samanid rule in Bukhara was not formally recognized by the Caliph until the beginning of the 900s, when the Saffarid ruler Amr-i Laith had asked the Caliph for the investment of Transoxiana. The Caliph, Al-Mu'tadid, however, sent the Samanid Amir, Ismail Samani, a letter urging him to fight Amr-i Laith and the Saffarids, whom the Caliph regarded as usurpers. After the letter, the Caliph found that he was praying for Ismail, whom the Caliph regarded as the lawful ruler of Khorasan. The letter had a profound effect on Ismail, as he was determined to contradict the Saffariden.
Both sides fought in Balkh (today in Afghanistan) in the spring of 900. During the battle Ismail was significantly defeated when he came out with 20,000 riders against the 70,000 strong cavalry of Amr. Ismail's riders were badly equipped with most of them with wooden braces, while some had no shields or lances. Amr-i Laith's cavalry, on the other hand, was full of weapons and armor. Despite fierce fighting, Amr was captured as some of his troops switched sides and joined Ismail. D. G. Tor suggests that the Samanide defeats caused him the reputation of being a successful holy warrior because of Ismail's raids in Central Asia.Isma'il thereafter sent an army to Tabaristan in accordance with the caliph's directive. The area at that time was then controlled by the Zaydids. The Samanid army defeated the Zaydid ruler Muhammad ibn Zayd and the Samanids gained control of the region

Cultural and religious efforts
The Samanids revived the Persian culture by patrolling Rudaki, Bal'ami and Daqiqi. They have also decisively propagated Sunni Islam. However, the Samanids suppressed Ismaili-Shiism, but were more tolerant of the Twelfth Shi'ism. Islamic architecture and Islamic-Persian culture spread deep into the heart of Central Asia through the Samanids. After the first complete translation of the Koran into Persian, during the 9th century the populations under the Samanid Empire began to accept Islam in significant numbers.
Through zealous missionary work came as many as 30,000 tents of the Turks to acknowledge Islam and later among the Ghasnavids more than 55,000 under the Hanafi school of thought. The mass transformation of the Turks to Islam finally led to a growing influence of the Ghaznavids, who later ruled the region.
Agriculture and trade were the economic basis of the state Samanid. The Samanids were heavily engaged in trade, also with Europe, for thousands of samanid coins found in the Baltic and Scandinavian countries testify.

Monument of Amir Ismail Samani in Tajikistan

The Samanid epigraphic ware is also a lasting contribution of the Samanids to the history of Islamic art: plates, bowls and jugs, fired in a white piece of paper, decorated with calligraphy, often elegantly and rhythmically. The Arabic phrases used in this calligraphy are usually more or less generic benevolence, or Islamic exhortations to good table manners.

Decline and fall
The power of the Samanids began to crumble in the second half of the tenth century. In 962, one of the Ghulams, Alp Tigin, Commander of the Army in Khurasan, captured Ghasna and established itself there. His successors, also Sebük Tigin, continued to govern as Samanid "governors". With the weakened Samanids, which oppose the growing challenges of the Karakhans, Seuttek later took over all the provinces south of the Oxus and founded the Ghasnavid Empire.
In 992 a Karakhanid, Harun Bughra Khan, grandson of the chief chief of the Sultan Satuq Bughra Khan, Bukhara, captured the Samanid capital. Harun died shortly thereafter, and the Samanids returned to Bukhara. In 999, Nasr b. Ali, a nephew of Harun, returned and took possession of Bukhara, meeting little resistance. The Samanids dominated the Ghasnavids, which gained Khorasan and Afghanistan, and the Karakhanids who received Transoxania; The Oxus River thus became the border between the two competitors. The Samanid Isma'il II Al-Muntasir escaped from the Karakhanid captivity and tried to restore the Samanid dynasty, but he was killed by an Arab Bedouin chief in 1005.

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