III. The Postclassical Period, 500–1500 > B. The Middle East and North Africa, 500–1500 > 2. The Muslim Middle East and North Africa, c. 945–1500 > b. Iran, Iraq, and Anatolia
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
b. Iran, Iraq, and Anatolia
SELJUK SULTANS (1055-1194)
THE BUYIDS (BUWAYHIDS). The fall of Baghdad, as well as parts of Iraq and Iran, to the three conquering Buyid brothers established a new regime in the region. While maintaining the Abbasid caliphs as titular heads of state, the Buyids created a confederation of several principalities ruled by members of their family (based primarily in Baghdad, Shiraz, and Rayy). They revived some of the Persian monarchical traditions, including the Sassanian title of shahanshah (king of kings), held by the leading family member. Their ability to rule effectively in Baghdad was undermined in part by the poor state of the Iraqi economy, which could not adequately support their army (made up of Daylamites and Turkish slaves). After the death of their greatest ruler, Adud al-Dawla, in 983, the Buyids suffered from succession struggles, factionalism, and the loss of outlying territories. Rayy fell to the Ghaznavids in 1029, and the Seljuks brought an end to Buyid rule in Baghdad in 1055 and in Shiraz in 1062.  1
The Buyids had Shi’ite leanings, and it was during their period of rule that the Sunni-Shi’ite divide in Islam became fully established and Shi’ism developed its distinct sectarian character. Buyid officials intermittently patronized the Shi’ites in Baghdad and encouraged their developing into an armed political group that fought it out with Sunni groups. At the same time, Shi’ite scholars put Shi’ite hadith, law, and theology into written form, and new, typically Shi’ite communal rituals became established, notably the annual public mourning for the death of Husayn at Karbala (the ashura), the public cursing of the first two caliphs, and pilgrimages to the tombs of Ali's family. Largely in response to this Shi’ite sectarianism and its challenges, the Sunnis developed a conception of themselves as a distinct Muslim community. The Abbasid caliph al-Qadir (991–1031) took the lead in asserting an explicitly Sunni position, one that upheld the legitimacy of all four of the first caliphs.  2
Death of Abu Nasr Muhammad al-Farabi (b. c. 870), one of the greatest Middle Eastern scholars and philosophers. He wrote extensively on logic, ethics, politics, grammar, mathematics, and music. Drawing on Aristotelian and Platonic thought, he gave primacy to philosophy as the path to divine truth, presenting religion as an approximation of the truth more suitable to the masses. His Kitab al-musiqi al-kabir (Grand Book of Music) remains one of the most comprehensive and systematic treatises on the theory of Middle Eastern music. It discusses the science of sound, intervals, tetrachords, instruments, and compositions, and outlines a lute fretting that incorporated two newly introduced neutral or microtonal intervals in addition to the basic diatonic arrangement of Pythagorean intervals.  3
Ascendancy of Kurdish dynasties. Several Kurdish dynasties established states in the second half of the 10th century: the Shaddadids (c. 950) and the Rawwadids (later 10th century) in Azerbaijan, the Hasanuyids (c. 960) and Annazids (c. 990) in the central Zagros region, and the Marwanids (982) in southeastern Anatolia. Their regimes were set up in mountainous regions, relied on the military power of Kurdish tribesmen rather than slave soldiers, and worked with rudimentary administrative systems. Their rise reflected the general flourishing of local autonomy brought about by the breakup of the Abbasid Caliphate.  4
Emergence of the Muslim religious college (madrasa). The madrasa had its origins probably in 10th-century Khurasan, from which it spread steadily throughout the region to become the standard Muslim institution of advanced religious and legal training. Subjects commonly taught in the madrasas included Islamic law, hadith, Qur'anic commentary, Arabic grammar, and theology. Students worked individually with teachers to acquire mastery of particular texts along with written certification of their authority to teach those texts to others. The colleges were set up as private acts of charity and were supported by endowed property (waqf), which paid the salaries of the staff and stipends for students.  5
DEVELOPMENT OF ISLAMIC LAW. The four major schools (madhhabs) of Islamic law—the Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki, and Hanbali—were established during the period as the only recognized interpretations; over time, a variety of other schools that had emerged disappeared from the scene. The differences among the four schools revolved around matters of detail rather than grand issues of principle.  6
Legal scholarship mushroomed as jurists codified rules and case materials, issued standardized legal manuals and collections of legal opinions (fatawa), and even created legal devices (hiyal) for getting around certain restrictive principles without violating the letter of the law. Islamic law, the shari'a, was regarded as immutable and, according to most jurists, no longer open to independent interpretation by scholars. In practice, however, judges and jurisconsults accommodated legal principles to custom and circumstance, and a great degree of flexibility in the interpretation and application of the law prevailed.  7
One of the striking developments of the period was the fierce factional rivalry among the schools of law. In the 11th and 12th centuries the schools evolved from scholarly groups committed to a shared legal doctrine into sectarian movements that cultivated mass followings and stirred popular passions. In Baghdad and eastern Iran there were struggles, including bloody street battles, between adherents of different schools competing for influence and patronage. This factionalism subsided after the 12th century, and affiliation with the legal schools ceased to be a source of intense contention.  8
THE DEVELOPMENT OF SUFI ORDERS AND THOUGHT. From numerous loose associations of mystics led by independent masters, the Sufi movement matured during the period into a number of formally organized religious orders or brotherhoods (tariqat). Each order defined its own particular doctrines, modes of worship, and initiation rites, which it attributed to an originating master, after whom the order was usually named. The major orders, such as the Qadiriyya, Rifa’iyya, and Suhrawardiyya, grew beyond their local origins and became regional, establishing chapters whose members were all considered disciples of a common spiritual ancestor.  9
The Sufi orders varied widely in their practices and general outlook: some tended toward a sober pietistic and ascetic view consistent with the scripturalist conception of Islam; others promoted ecstatic practices, magical beliefs, and the veneration of saints. But everywhere, Sufi lodges (khanaqas) became centers of prayer, instruction, and pilgrimage, and worship at the tombs of saints developed into a central feature of popular Islam.  10
Alongside the institutional development of Sufism came also the steady integration of its initially separate ways of thought and practice with mainstream Islamic belief and worship. Treating Sufism as a science, writers worked out a systematic body of thought that integrated Sufism with law and theology and helped to legitimize it as an acceptable path to Muslim spiritual fulfillment. Most noteworthy was the work of the great theologian al-Ghazali (d. 1111), who developed a definitive conception of Islam that brought together law and Sufism as compatible and complementary aspects of the faith.  11
The death in Baghdad of Abu al-Faraj Ali al-Isfahani (b. 897), the poet and socialite famous for his monumental Kitab al-aghani (Book of Songs). The work compiled an immense corpus of songs, anecdotal material, and popular lore; it forms an unequalled treasure of information on the culture, musical life, and social history of early Islamic society.  12
SEBUKTIGIN, FOUNDER OF THE GHAZNAVID DYNASTY. A Turkish slave general in the service of the Samanids, Sebuktigin established a state with its capital at Ghazna, south of Kabul in Afghanistan (then on the remote fringes of the Islamic world). He actually built on the base prepared by his commander, Alptigin, who had set up an autonomous city-state in Ghazna in 961. The Ghaznavid regime was rather decentralized, relying on the services of slave soldiers paid by way of grants of tax revenue from land (known as iqta’). The regime proclaimed its allegiance to the Abbasid Caliphate and cultivated Islamic learning and Persian literature. The dynasty lasted until 1186, and at its height (under Sebuktigin's son Mahmud, 998–1030) it ruled Afghanistan, Khurasan, Khwarazm, and northern India.990–1096. Uqaylid rule in Mosul. The Buyids took the region of Mosul from the Hamdanids in 979, but in 990 the Uqayli Arab tribe established itself there, after a short-lived attempt by the Hamdanids to restore their rule. The Uqaylid dynasty, which held Mosul until 1096, is usually said to have been Shi’ite, although the evidence of its religious leanings appears inconclusive.  13
Death of Ibn al-Nadim, a librarian whose Fihrist (Catalogue) was an annotated bibliography of all the works of Arabic literature available at the time, including many now lost.  14
Death of Abu Ali al-Tanukhi, a judge in Buyid service and author of a book of anecdotes (Nishwar al-muhadara) that throws light on the social life of his time.  15
c. 998
Ali ibn Mazyad, leader of the Arab tribe of Banu Asad, established a virtually independent Mazyadid state in the Kufa area south of Baghdad. Backed by a powerful tribal army, the Mazyadids enjoyed great influence in the area for a century and a half. They acquired titles and subsidies from the Buyids in return for military services. Their most lasting achievement was the founding of the city of Hilla, which became their capital.  16
MAHMUD OF GHAZNA. The Ghaznavid state based in Afghanistan reached the height of its power under Mahmud, who ranked among the great Middle Eastern leaders of his time. He distinguished himself with his extensive military conquests, his patronage of literary talents (including Firdawsi), and his fervent championship of Sunnism in an age of Shi’ite victories. He annexed Khurasan from the Samanids in 999, took the region of Rayy in western Iran from the Buyids in 1029, and occupied parts of northern India. But within ten years of his death the Ghaznavids lost his Iranian acquisitions to the Seljuks.  17
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.