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Post-Islam Iran

(From Arabs' invasion to Qajars)

 

Invasion of Iran by Arabs' Army

The aggressive conquest of Persia took several years (637-651) and led to the end of the Sassanid Empire and the eventual decline of the Zoroastrian religion in Persia.  

The Umayyad dynasty had started ruling from Damascus (661-750). Iranians conquered Damascus and brought their dynasty to an end. The next Dynasty of Arabs, the Abbasids, were quite happy about this, but killed the Iranian army commander who led such a victorious military assault. 

The Umayyad caliphs were overthrown from all regions but Spain. The Abbasids dynasty (750-1258), the next Arab rulers moved the capital from Damascus to Baghdad.  

Iranians resisted against Arab invaders for around two centuries. Several patriotic movements were launched by Iranian nationalists who faced defeat. The Abbasids were forced to yield power to local dynastic semi-independent Iranian governors. Those dynasties were the Tahirids (821–873), the Saffarids (861–1003) and the Alavids (864–928). 

Although Saffarids had tried to overthrow the Abbasid Caliphs of Baghdad, they did not manage to gain any victory. Finally, Iranians quest for gaining back the territorial integrity reached its goal by founding an entirely independent dynasty called the Samanids. 

 

Samanid dynasty (875–999)

The Samanids (875-999) were among the first native Iranian dynasties in Iran and Central Asia after the Arabs' invasion. The Samanids claimed to be the descendants of the Sassanids.  

They revived Persian culture and language after the Arabs' conquest of Iran. Their capitals were Bukhara, Samarqand and Herat.  

 

Ziyarid dynasty (928–1043)

The Ziyarids were an Iranian dynasty that started from the Caspian Sea provinces of Gorgan and Mazandaran and was later expanded to the other cities like Hamadan and Isfahan. 

 

Buwayhid dynasty (934–1055)

The Buwayhids were a Shi'ite confederation from Daylaman, a region on the southern shorelines of the Caspian Sea. In pre-Islam period, as independent troops, they had served as mercenaries for the Sasanian kings of Iran. They were considered a strong military force, especially because of their ability as infantries. 

They had established their power within the diminishing Abbasid Empire in the form of an independent confederation. They had also helped the revival of the Persina culture. They pretended to accept the authority of the caliph in Baghdad, while having the actual control as the "Grand Viziers". This became a tradition that continued under the following invaders in Iran history. 

During the mid-1000s, the Buwayhid dynasties fell into the hands of a new group of invaders and their allies called Seljuks.

 

Ghaznavid Empire (963–1187)

The Ghaznavid Empire was a Sunni Muslim state in Khorasan in today's Afghanistan. They replaced the ruling government of Samanids. This dynasty was founded by former Turkic slaves.  

 

Ghori dynasty (1149–1212)

The Ghurids were a Persian Sunni Muslim dynasty from Ghor in Central Afghanistan at present. The Ghurid's Empire soon extended its borders over a vast area encompassing Khorasan (northeast of modern-day Iran), Pakistan, India, Turkistan, Iraq and parts of other Arab countries. They later went even further to Uch, Multan, Peshawar, Lahore, and Delhi.  

 

Seljukid Empire (1037–1194)

The Seljuks were a Muslim dynasty originally ruling over some parts of Central Asia and the Middle East. Their Empire was known as "Great Seljuk Empire" the borders of which were stretched from Anatolia to Pakistan. They were the target of the First Crusade.  

They are also considered the cultural ancestors of the Western Turks, the inhabitants of Today's Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Turkmenistan.  

They are remembered as great patrons of Persian culture, art, literature, and language. Of course, when they first launched their invasive attacks against Iranians, they left nothing but destruction behind them. 

 

Khwarezmid dynasty (1077–1231)

The Khwarezmid Empire was a Muslim Iranian state that lasted until the Mongols' invasion. The ethnic background of the Khwarezmid dynasty is not clearly known. Some historians consider them members of Turkic tribes of Central Asia, while others believe that they were of Persian heritage. 

 

Ilkhanids (1256–1353)

The Ilkhanid dynasty was one of the four divisions within the Mongol Empire. It was centered in the land of Persia (Iran) and also included present-day Iraq, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and western Pakistan.  

The Ilkhanid dynasty had the intention to subdue the Muslim kingdoms to the west as far as the borders of Egypt, as and aid to the Crusaders. This mission never came true as they were strongly defeated near Palestine. 

The Ilkhanids began as shamanists, then Buddhists and ultimately converted to Islam under Ghazan. Muslims were first oppressed under the Buddhist emperors, but with the conversion of the Ilkhanids to Islam, such prosecuting measures were put to an end. 

Eventually, the khanate began to disintegrate rapidly, and split up into several rival successor states. 

 

Muzaffarid dynasty (1314–1393)

The Muzaffarids were a Sunni family that ascended to power in Iran following the collapse of the Ilkhanids in the 14th century. 

 

Chupanid dyansty (1337–1357)

The Chupanids came to power in 14th century Persia as the descendants of a Mongol family. After the fall of the Ilkhanids, they first served under the Ilkhans, and then created an effectively independent area of territory. 

 

Jalayerid dynasty (1339–1432)

The Jalayirids were a Mongol descendant dynasty which ruled over Iraq and western Persia after the disintegration of the Mongol Khanate of Persia, Ilkhanids. 

The Jalayirid dynasty was ultimately disrupted by Tamerlane's incursion and the revolts of the Kara Koyunlu tribes.  

 

Timurid Empire (1370–1506)

The Timurids were a mixed Turkic, Mongol and Persian dynasty. The Timurid Empire was established by Timur (Tamerlane) in Central Asia and Iran. Timur conquered large parts of Transoxiana, Mongolistan and Khwarazm. He later invaded and seized all throughout his life other areas like the Golden Horde, the Caucasus, today's Pakistan, northern India, Aleppo, Damascus and eastern Anatolia, Baghdad, Ankara. 

Timur was a Sunni Muslim who called his life-time wars Jihad (holy wars) to purify all those lands. His successors were patrons of arts and helped the flourishing of the arts beyond Timur's capital, Samarqand. His slaughters of innocent people in different cities of Iran are among the darkest pages of Iran history. 

 

Kara Koyunlu Turcomans (1407–1468)

The Kara Koyunlu was a Turcoman tribal federation that ruled in what are today Eastern Anatolia, Armenia, Iranian Azerbaijan provinces, and northern Iraq. 

These Turkomans took Baghdad which hastened the downfall of the Jalayirids whom they had once served. They stayed in the area and maintained a strong control over the areas under their dominion. 

The Kara Koyunlu rulers attempted to take Diyar Bakr from the rival Turkomans, called The Aq Qoyunlu. This was a catastrophic failure resulting in their collapse and losing control in the Middle East. 

 

Aq Koyunlu Turcomans (1378–1508)

The Aq Qoyunlu was a Turcoman tribal federation that ruled present-day Eastern Anatolia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, northern Iraq and western Iran. 

After the Aq Qoyunlu rulers gained control over Baghdad and the territories around the Persian Gulf, they expanded their borders as far as the very eastern Iran, Khorasan. However, around this time, the Ottomans stopped supporting the Aq Qoyunlu rulers which ended up in their weakened power. 

The Aq Qoyunlu invaders began to collapse from within, and thanks to years of power struggle among themselves, they ceased to be a threat to their neighbors. 

 

Safavid Empire (1501–1722/1736)

The Safavids were a native Iranian dynasty from northwest of today's Iran. They established Shi'a Islam as Iran's official religion and united its provinces under a single Iranian sovereignty. Safavid period is also considered as the starting point of Iran's modern era. 

They reintroduced and revived the Persian identity to be distinguished from Sunni neighbors creating inconvenience for Iranians for a long time. The Safavid period was the beginning of a serious relationship of Iran with the European governments and merchants. Several people traveled to Iran and Persia became known to the people there once again.  

 

Hotaki Ghilzai dynasty (1722–1729)

The Hotaki dynasty rose against the Persian rule in 1709 in the city of Kandahar, Afghanistan. They defeated Persian army and took control of Isfahan, capital of the Safavids.  Nader Qoli, The Persian army commander, defeated and pushed them back off the Iranian territories.

 

 

Afsharid dynasty (1736–1802)

The Afsharids were an Iranian dynasty from Khorasan that ruled the Persian Empire. During this period, the empire reached its greatest extent since Sassanid Empire. 

As Indians had helped Afghans against the Iranian rulers, the Safavids, Nader Shah launched a military invasion to India and brought back a great amount of wealth to Iran. After him, there was actually a three-sided struggle between his descendants, the Zand dynasty and the Qajars.  

 

Zand dynasty (1750–1794)

The Zand dynasty ruled southern and central Iran. Karim Khan, the founder of the dynasty, was a compassionate and very able ruler who soon managed to bring peace and prosperity into his area of control and made his capital city, Shiraz, a centre of commerce and culture.  

In foreign policy, Karim Khan attempted to revive the Safavid era trade. He allowed the British to establish a trading post in the Bushehr port. This opened the hands of the British "East India company" in Iran and increased their influence in the country.  

The decline of the Zand dynasty began after the death of Karim Khan. Finally, the khan of Qajars called Agha Mohammad Khan seized the last Zand ruler, Lotf Ali Khan, a grand-nephew of Karim Khan and brutally killed him. 

The Zand era was an era of relative peace and economic growth for the country. Many territories that were captured by the Ottomans in the late Safavid time were taken back and Iran was a coherent and prosperous country once again. 

Politically, it is also important to note that the Zands, especially Karim Khan, chose to be called "Vakilol Ro'aya" (''Advocate of the People'') instead of kings. 

After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the Zand was the only dynasty whose names on public places and monuments were not removed or changed. 

 

Qajar dynasty (1781–1925)

The Qajar dynasty was founded by Agha Muhammad Khan, of Iranian Turkmen descent. He defeated the last ruler of the Zand dynasty in 1796, but was himself assassinated only a year later. 

As a result of wealth accumulation and spending lots of time in their harems, Qajar kings, appeared in the political scene of Persia as very impotent and lost some territories of Iran at the northwest like Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Caucasus.  

The Constitutional Revolution in 1905 was an attempt by Iranian revolutionaries to deprive the king of his absolute power over everything. Consequently, after almost a year of demonstrations and strikes, Mozaffar-ed-Din Shah was forced to agree with the wishes of the revolutionaries. Iranian people managed to make king accountable to a written code of law.

 

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Post-Islam Iran History