Tahiri Dynasty, AH 205-259 (820-872)
Tahir, the famous general of Mamun, governed Khorasan. Under his sons Nishapur succeeded Merv as the capital of what was a semi-independent dynasty holding sway in Khorasan for over half a century. The princes of this family were unambitious and made no attempt to fish in troubled waters, and the dynasty collapsed with little resistance when attacked by the Saffarids in AH 259 (872).
The system of government which kept the fairest regions in the East a prey to ever-recurring military revolution, was unfavorable to the rise of families to political power, except under circumstances which enabled a powerful chief to break away from the central government, and form a dynasty of his own. In Arabia,, where tribal governments and aristocratic sentiments prevailed from the earliest times, an approach has been made to that which has long been established in Europe, but with very marked differences. Family names, personal and hereditary, scarcely existed. Dynasties were sometimes called after the name of the founder, as the house of Othman, or the house of Seljuk, or from the seat of government, as the houses of Ghuzni and Ghor in India. The two leading dynasties of Khalifs were called after their ancestors, the sons of Omeyah, and the sons of Abbas; in the former case after a distant relation, from whom the founder of the dynasty, Muawiah, the son of Sofyan, the rival and successor of Aly, was descended; the other from Abbas, one of the uncles of Mahomet.
On the decline of the Khalifate, the lieutenants of the Empire shook off the authority of the rulers of Bagdad, and many families rose to power, whose history illustrates the lawless character of the times.
Tahir, a general of Mamiin, the son of Arrashid, established himself so firmly in Khorassan, that his family held their ground for two generations. They are described in the Tabakat-i-Nasiri as the Tahiri Maliks. The Tahirt Maliks [kings] descent, in some histories, is traced to Manuchihr Al-Malik, sovereign of 'Ajam ; and, according to which, the first of them who rose to power, was Tahir', son of Al-Husain, son of Mus-'ab, son of Zarnik, son of As'ad, son of Badan, son of Mae Khusrau, son of Bahram. Mae Khusrau was the first who embraced the faith of Islam, having been converted by 'All-May God reward him!-and received the name of As'ad. This Bahram was son of Razan Murit, son of Rustam, son of As-Saddid, son of Dostan, son of Barsan, son of Jurak, son of Gusht-asp, son of Ash rat, son of Isham, son of Turak, son of Anshar, son of Shaid-asp. son of Azar-sab, son of Tuh, son of Ru-shed. son of Manuchihr Al-Malik.
The Tahir Maliks were remarkable for their virtues and equity; and they first rose to power in Khurasan in the time of the Amir-ul-Muminin [Commander of the Faithful], Mamun, and in the following manner. Between the Khalifah. Muhammad Amin, who was at Baghdad, and his brother Mamun, who was in Khurasan, ill-feeling arose. Upon this, Amtn despatched 'Alt 'Isai-Mahan2 from Baghdad into Khurasan to reduce Mamun to obedience ; and, in one of the months of the year 195 of the Hijrah, he reached Hamadan with a warlike army. Mamun appointed Harsamah", son of A'yan, to the command of a force to oppose 'Alt 'Isa ; and Tahir, son of Husain, was nominated to command the van of Harsamah's army.
By the advice of Fazl', son of Sahl, who was Mamun's Waztr, Mamun bestowed a standard upon Tahir, saying unto him at the same time, that he had bent for him a standard which for thirty years should lead to victory; and so it turned out, for the sway of the Tahirts lasted for upwards of thirty odd years. Within two leagues of Rai, with 14 or 15,000 horse, he encountered 'Alt, son of 'Isa, son of Mahan, who had brought 50,000 horse with him, defeated, and slew him7, and sent his head to Mamun. He then subdued the whole of the mountain tracts of'Irak, and took Wasit and Ahwaz, and appeared before the gates of Baghdad.
After carrying on hostilities for the space of a year, Tahir captured Muhammad Amtn, put him to death, and despatched his head to Mamun, his brother, together with his mantle, his rod of office, and his seal, by the hand of his uncle's son, Muhammad, son of Al-Hasan, son of Mus'ab. This event happened, and this victory was gained, on the 25th of the month Muharram, in the year 198 H.
On the decease of Talhah, the Commander of the Faithful, Mamun, summoned to his presence Abdullah, the son of Tahir, who had become Amir [governor] of Misr6. Abd-ullah had been brought up at the Court of the Khilafat. and under the patronage, and under the eye, of the Khalifah himself, and had become greatly accomplished. In his seventeenth year, Mamun had entrusted him with the command of his forces; and he had so conducted himself, that, in his twentyseventh year7, Abd-ullah had become renowned among men for his manliness, his vigour, his intrepidity, and his virtues and talents. At this period the Khalifah appointed him to the government of Khurasan, and directed that 'Ali8, son of Tahir, brother of Abd-ullah, should act as his brother's Khalifah, or Lieutenant, in the command of the troops of the Dar-ul-Khilafat [the capital], in repressing the seditious and rebellious, and in the extermination of heretic Kharijis. and, likewise, in carrying out the affairs of state, and all such other duties as appertained unto Abdullah to perform and attend to.
The power of the family was swept away by a successful adventurer of the name of Yakub ben Leis or Leith, a brazier by trade, who received from his calling the soubriquet of Es Safar. All the people of Nishapur entered into communication with Ya'kub ; and they delivered Muhammad-i-Tahir into his hands, and the dynasty of the Tahiris came to an end.
As late as 1909 a small section of the Tahiri tribe remained in the district of Turshiz to the south of Nishapur. Irrigation pipes are occasionally found stamped with the name of this dynasty.
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