FĀRS iii. History in the Islamic Period




The Islamic province of Fārs corresponds roughly to Parsa, the homeland of the Persians, and the original center of the Achaemenid dynasty. It was known to the Greeks as Persis and they used this name to designate the whole kingdom, a usage which came into English and other European languages through Latin. The province lies between 49° 30ˈ and 56° 10ˈ E and 26° 20ˈ and 31° 45ˈ N and covers nearly 60,000 square miles. Extending along the northern shore of the Persian Gulf, from the Hendīān (or Ṭāb) River almost to the Straits of Hormuz, it is bounded in the west by Ḵūzestān, in the north by Isfahan and on the east by Kermān. The islands off the eastern shore of the Persian Gulf were considered part of Fārs.

Provincial boundaries. Under the early Sasanians Pārs (Fārs) formed part of the quadrant of the south and was divided into five districts (kūra), Ardašīr Ḵorra (q.v.) with its capital at Gōr, Šāpūr Ḵorra, Arrajān, Eṣṭaḵr, and Dārābjerd. The exact limits of the province in the late Sasanian period are uncertain (Gyselen, p. 64). Although the Arabs did not take over the Sasanian system of quadrants, they kept the division of Fārs into five kūras, a division which continued until the 6th/12th century. Shiraz, a continuously inhabited site which may go back to Sasanian or even earlier times, became and has remained the provincial capital. In the Islamic period minor frontier changes were made from time to time. Yazd, with its sub-districts of Maybod and Nāʾīn, and Rūdān, with its chief town of Abarqūh (q.v.), were parts of the Eṣṭaḵr kūra. Alp Arslān transferred Rūdān to Kermān (Ebn al-Balḵī, p. 12) and after the Mongol conquest Yazd was transferred to the Jebāl (Le Strange, Lands, pp. 248-49). Qomeša on the northern frontier of Fārs was often counted as belonging to Isfahan (Le Strange, p. 283). Arrajān (q.v.), situated on the borders of Ḵūzestān and Fārs (northeast of the modern Behbahān) was transferred from Fārs to Ḵūzestān in the early Saljuq period (Gaube, 1973, p. 75). Harāt and Marvast for the most part belonged to Fārs but sometimes were attached to Yazd and once in the reign of the Qara Qoyunlu Jahānšāh they were transferred to Kermān in 843/1439-40 (Afšār, I, pp. 303-4).

In the late 19th century Fārs consisted of sixty districts, grouped into eighteen subprovinces under governors appointed by the governor-general of Fārs. Bušehr, Lenga, and Bandar ʿAbbās formed a separate province, known as the Persian Gulf Ports (Banāder-e ḵalīj-e Fārs; Houtum Schindler). There were many fluctuations in the case of coastal districts in the early 20th century. Lorimer gives a list of the different jurisdictions (Gazetteer I/2, pp. 2129 ff., II B, pp. 1460 ff). The Persian Gulf ports were later re-incorporated into Fārs but in the reign of Moḥammad-Reżā Shah Pahlavī they again formed a separate province. Under Reżā Shah Fārs became the seventh province (ostān).

In 1330/1951 Fārs comprised eight šahrestāns (Ābāda, Bušehr, Jahrom, Shiraz, Fasā, Fīrūzābād, Kāzerūn, and Lār), which were subdivided into thirty-two baḵšes, comprising 2,924 villages with a population of 1,290,200 (Razmārā, Farhang VII).

Communications. The origins of the communication network in Fārs goes back to Achaemenid times. The old Persian royal highway, linking Susa with Pasargardae, ran through the province to Arrajān, the gateway from the Persian highlands to Mesopotamia. In Islamic times roads and mule tracks radiated from Shiraz, the capital, to the principal towns in the province and to the Persian Gulf (Le Strange, Lands, pp. 195-98). The alignment of the routes varied with the movement of trade, the importance of the ports and the political and economic conditions of the hinterland. Jean Aubin has examined the changes which have taken place in the routes between Shiraz and the Persian Gulf (1959, 1969; see also Gaube, 1979).

Religion. The majority of the population in Fārs, as elsewhere in Persia, converted to Sunni Islam. The process was slow. Zoroastrian communities still flourished in the 4th/10th century. Eṣṭaḵrī states that they were more numerous in Fārs than in any other province (pp. 118-19, 139; Moqaddasī/Maqdesī, p. 439). Widespread conversion to Shiʿism came under the Safavids. Lār, however, and some communities on the shores of the Persian Gulf remained Sunni (see Aubin, 1965). Sufism spread throughout the province from an early period. Ebn al–Ḵafīf (d. 371/981) flourished in Shiraz and had numerous followers. Shaikh Abū Esḥāq Ebrāhīm b. Šahrīār Kāzerūnī (q.v.; d. 426/1035), continued his teaching and founded the Esḥāqīya or Kāzerūnīya order. The later Moršedīya were affiliated to the Esḥāqīya. In the early 11th/17th century the Ḏahabī order (q.v.) was established in Fārs, with its center in Shiraz. Ḵānaqāhs were founded in different places from time to time. One such was the ḵānaqāh of Shaikh Rokn-al-Dīn Danyāl, who was affiliated to the Kāzerūnīya, in Ḵonj (Aubin, 1969, p. 25). It was one of the four great ḵānaqāhs of Fārs, the others being the ḵānaqāhs of Shaikh ʿAbd-Allāh Ḵafīf in Shiraz, of Ṭāwūs-al-Ḥaramayn in Abarqūh and of Shaikh Abū Esḥāq in Kāzerūn (ibid., p. 26). Throughout the middle ages Shiraz was a center of learning, where Islamic theology, mysticism and poetry flourished. Smaller centers were found time to time in other cities. Islamic sciences flourished in Īj in the 8th/14th century (ibid., 41) while Jahrom was an intellectual and religious center in the second half of the 15th century (ibid., 32).

In 1260/1844 Sayyed ʿAlī-Moḥammad announced in Shiraz that he was the Bāb (q.v.). The main Bābī center in Fārs was Nayrīz (see BABISM). There were Nestorian communities under bishops at Beh Šāpūr, Dārābjerd, Sīrāf, Eṣṭaḵr and Rēv Ardāšīr in the early 5th century (Fiey, 1971, p. 284). The metropolitan lived at Rēv Ardašīr (idem, 1969, p. 179). About the year 900 suffragan bishops are mentioned in Shiraz, Eṣṭaḵr, Šāpūr, Dārābjerd, and Sīrāf (ibid., p. 191). After the death of ʿAżod-al-Dawla (q.v.) the Christians of Fārs suffered many vicissitudes (ibid., p. 192) and towards the end of the Il-khanids and thereafter virtually disappeared.

There were Jewish communities in Shiraz and Lār; the latter city became a center of Hebraic learning. In the 19th century the Jews of Lār were subject to persecution and many of them migrated to Shiraz as also did Jews from Jahrom and Fasā (Loeb). Armenian merchants had commercial houses and agencies in Shiraz and Bušehr in the 19th century. European commercial houses were established in the Persian Gulf ports from the beginning of the 16th century onwards (Wilson, p. 110 ff.).

Political History. Fārs was not easily accessible to invasion from Mesopotamia or northern Persia. Nevertheless it was no more immune than other provinces from wars, the rise and fall of great empires, famines, natural calamities, and movements of international trade. Only a bare outline can be given here. Further details must be sought in the entries on the dynasties which ruled Fārs or part of it and the principal towns of the province.

The conquest of Fārs by the Arabs was carried out from Baḥrayn and Baṣra. Already before the defeat of Yazdegerd at Nehāvand raids had been made from Baḥrayn. In 19/640 ʿAlāʾ b. Ḥażramī, the ʿāmel of Baḥrayn, penetrated up to Eṣṭaḵr; his successor ʿOṯmān b. Abi’l-ʿĀṣ, attacked and killed the marzbān of Fārs near Bušehr. He was then joined by men from Baṣra. In 28-29/648-49 Eṣṭaḵr fell, the Sasanian forces suffering heavy losses. In the course of the following year Fārs was pacified. Under ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭāleb and the Omayyad caliphs, Arab governors were appointed over the province. On the death of Yazīd b. Moʿāwīa in 64/683 there were Kharijite risings in Fārs and for a while the Azrakites (Azāreqa) held the province, but when Ḥajjāj b. Yūsof was appointed governor of ʿErāq and Fārs in 75/694 they were forced to evacuate the province. Fārs played little part in the ʿAbbasid revolution. Abū Moslem (q.v.) sent Moḥammad b. Ašʿaṯ to govern the province; Omayyad attempts to regain control were abortive. There were outbreaks of unrest in the province in 231/845-46 and Waṣīf, the caliph’s general, marched on the province from the Jebāl. In the following year the Taherid Moḥammad b. Ebrāhīm b. Ḥosayn was appointed governor, but was deposed by his nephew, Moḥammad b. Esḥāq, the governor of Baghdad, and replaced by Ḥosayn b. Esmāʿīl b. Ebrāhīm. To resolve these internecine squabbles Moḥammad b. ʿAbd-Allāh b. Ṭāher came from Khorasan to assume the office of šorta of Baghdad and the government of the Sawād and Fārs, which he exercised until his death in 253/867.

During the second half of the 3rd/9th century authority in Fārs was disputed between caliphal governors and the Saffarids, Yaʿqūb b. Layṯ and his brother ʿAmr b. Layṯ (qq.v.). During the caliphate of al-Moqtader (295-320/908-32) there was further unrest in Fārs. After an abortive expedition under Moʾnes, Ebn al-Forāt appears to have been successful in pacifying the province. During the disturbances many of the peasants had abandoned the land and the revenue had fallen. An additional cess (takmela) had therefore been levied on those who remained. ʿAlī b. ʿĪsā abolished this cess in 303/916 and replaced it with a tax on fruit trees (Bowen, pp. 123-24; Shimizu, p. 4).

In 321/933 ʿEmād-al-Dawla ʿAlī b. Būya (q.v.) seized Fārs (see BUYIDS). He was succeeded by his nephew ʿAżod-al-Dawla (q.v.), who ruled in Fārs from 338/949 to 366/977 and in Fārs and ʿErāq from 366/977 to 372/983. Under his rule the province prospered and Shiraz became an important economic and cultural center. After the death of ʿAżod al-Dawla the Buyid kingdom fragmented and constant unrest prevailed in Fārs and ʿErāq among the Daylamite military leaders, many of whom misappropriated the revenue. When Bahāʾ-al-Dawla (d. 403/1012) arrived in Fārs in or about 389/999, the grants to the military were reviewed; a new rate of conversion of 300 dirhams to the dinar was set and anything above this was resumed and the grants made at the end of Ṣamṣām-al-Dawla’s reign annulled (Margoliouth and Amedroz, Eclipse III, p. 327; Zarkūb, p. 26).

The accounts of events in Fārs during the early years of Saljuq rule are somewhat confused. Abū Kālījār b. Solṭān-al-Dawla had retreated to Shiraz and in 439/1047-48 made peace with Ṭōḡrel Beg (Ebn al-Aṯīr [Beirut], IX, p. 536). The Šabānkāra had meanwhile increased in numbers and power especially in the neighborhood of Dārābjerd. Fażlūya (q.v.), the Šabānkāra leader, overthrew and killed Fūlād Sotūn b. Abī Kālījār, who had succeeded Abū Kālījār as governor of Fārs on behalf of Ṭōḡrel, in 454/1062 but was defeated in the following year by an army from Kermān under Qāvūrd. Saljuq control was not, however, fully imposed until about 459/1067 when Alp Arslān marched on the province. Several fortresses were taken and in a second campaign in 461/1069 Fażlūya was captured and killed. After the death of Malekšāh (485/1092) Saljuq control over Fārs again weakened. An abortive expedition was sent by Terkan Ḵātūn under the amir Öner in 487/1094 (Ebn al-Aṯīr [Beirut], X, p. 239). On a second occasion when Öner was sent to Fārs by Berk-yaruq (Barkīāroq), he was defeated by the Šabānkāra in 492/1098-99 (Ebn al-Aṯīr [Beirut], X, p. 281).

It was not until the governorship of Čawlī (Jāwlī) Saqāw that a measure of order was established in Fārs. He came originally from the district between Rām Hormoz and the Arrajān and made himself master of the area bordering on Fārs and Ḵūzestān (Ebn al-Aṯīr [Beirut], X, pp. 319-20). He appears subsequently to have joined Berk-yaruq, but eventually, after a turbulent and checkered career, he submitted to Moḥammad b. Malekšāh, who assigned Fārs to him in 502/1089. He set off for Fārs with Čāḡrī b. Moḥammad, defeated the Šabānkāra and took possession of the province (ibid., pp. 516-21). He destroyed a number of fortresses in the province, including those of Ḵafr and Eṣṭahbānāt (Ebn al-Balḵī, pp. 134, 141-42, 157-58, 167). He restored prosperity to Nawbandagān, which had been laid waste by the Šabānkāra leader Abū Saʿd (ibid., p. 146-47). A new assignment (taqrīr) was made at the beginning of his government by Ebn al-Balḵī’s forebear (jadd; ibid., p. 118) but the details of this do not appear to have survived. At the time of his death in 510/1116-17) good order seems to have prevailed in Fārs, but it did not last. Seizure of the ʿāmel of Fārs by Maḥmūd b. Malekšāh’s officials provoked rebellion (Bondārī, p. 111). Various amirs strove for mastery over the province until Sonqor b. Mawdūd, the descendant of a Turkman leader Salḡūr, who had joined Tōḡrel Beg, established his rule in 543/1148. His power was originally based on tribal groups, probably mainly Torkmans and Šūls centered around Gandomān (on the rise of Sonqor, see Tārīḵ-e Waṣṣāf, p. 149). The dynasty he founded ruled Fārs until the Mongol invasions (see ATĀBAKĀN-E FĀRS). The Salghurids (as they are also known) were free Turkomans, not mamlūks. They are often referred to in the sources as atābegs (q.v.), but strictly speaking they were not atābegs since Sonqor b. Mawdūd (d. 557/1162 or 558/1163) does not appear to have been entrusted with a Saljuq prince. The last of the dynasty was Ābeš Ḵātūn (q.v.), who died in 685/1287 (Lambton, Continuity, pp. 272-76).

Although Fārs was spared the initial devastations of the Mongol invasions because Abū Bakr b. Saʿd b. Zangī (q.v.) offered his submission to Ögedei, after Abū Bakr’s death in 650/1261, there was increasingly intervention by the Mongols in the affairs of Fārs. Šehāb-al-Dīn ʿAbd-Allāh Waṣṣāf gives a dismal account of the province under Mongol rule. He states that it was torn asunder by the struggles of conflicting parties, dīvānī estates were wasted, wealth destroyed, and the people intimidated (Tārīḵ-e Waṣṣāf, p. 190; Lambton, 1987a, pp. 102-22). The Mongol invasions were accompanied by a massive influx of Turkish tribes into Persia. Some at least penetrated into Fārs, but the sources contain little detailed information about this. Waṣṣāf mentions that the Mongols of the Jorma had married and mixed with the local villagers in Korbāl (p. 202). Raids by the Negūdarīs from Kermān in or about 677/1278-79 and thereafter are also mentioned (see further Aubin, 1969b, pp. 65-94). The disasters which accompanied Mongol rule were further aggravated in Fārs by a severe drought and famine from 683-85/1284-87, during which, Waṣṣāf alleges, over 100,000 people died (Tārīḵ-e Waṣṣāf, p. 209; Zarkūb, p. 95).

In 719/1319 Mobārez-al-Dīn Moḥammad b. Amīr Moẓaffar was given Yazd by the Il-khan Abū Saʿīd. He added Kermān to his domains in 741/1340 and, after a prolonged struggle with Abū Esḥāq Īnjū (q.v.), captured Shiraz and the whole of Fārs in 754/1353. His successors retained possession of Fārs until Tīmūr marched on Shiraz in 789/1387. The poet Ḥāfeẓ lived under Shah Šojāʿ b. Mobārez-al-Dīn Moḥammad (759-86/1357-84). After Tīmūr withdrew the Mozaffarids regained possession of Fārs but were finally defeated in 795/1393 on Tīmūr’s second invasion.

In the late 9th/mid-15th century Fārs was disputed by the Timurids and the Turkoman dynasties of the Qarā Qoyunlu and Āq Qoyunlu (q.v.; see Minorsky, 1939, pp. 142-46). On a long term basis these dynasties probably did not materially change conditions in Fārs, but further research may lead to a modification of this statement. However, Uzun Ḥasan’s qānūn-nāmas were apparently put into operation in Fārs and taxes continued to be remitted by the peasants in accordance with Uzan Ḥasan’s fiscal regulations throughout the 10th/16th century (Woods, pp. 156-57). The lists of taxes and dues mentioned in a number of documents belonging to the period granting exemptions and immunities suggests that the taxes and dues levied were very much in accordance with practice in the Il-khanate (see a document issued by Solṭān Yaʿqūb b. Uzun Ḥasan in 893/1486 granting exemption from various taxes and dues to the Manṣūrīya madrasa and shrine in Shiraz, Modarressī Ṭabāṭabāʾī, pp. 94-106; Minorsky, 1938, pp. 952-56). There was presumably an increase in the Turkish tribal element in the province, but there is little evidence of permanent settlement. Under Yaʿqūb b. Uzun Ḥasan (884-96/1479-90) Fārs was brought under the control of the supreme dīvān (Ḵonjī, p. 179). In 894/1488-89 there was an attempt to make a new land settlement in Fārs, which appears to have caused some dislocation, but it proved abortive because of the death of Yaʿqūb in 896/1490 (Ḵonjī, pp. 350 ff., tr. pp. 93 ff.; see also Minorsky, 1955, pp. 451-58).

The victory of Shah Esmāʿīl I Ṣafawī over the Āq Qoyunlu in 907/1501 opened a new era in the history of Persia. Shiraz fell to the Qezelbāš in 909/1503 (Rohrborn, p. 10). Fārs then became one of the provinces of an empire which comprised the whole of Persia with more or less defined frontiers and a national identity, cemented by conversion to Shiʿism. There had always been a strongly developed religious life in Shiraz. How soon there was a general acceptance of Shiʿism in Fārs, both in the main urban centers and in the countryside, is not clear. As elsewhere in Persia, there were instances of persecution of the Sunnis in the early years of Safavid rule, notably a massacre of them in Kāzerūn (Aubin, 1959b, p. 58). Lārestān, as stated above, remained Sunni.

From 909/1503 to 1003/1594 Fārs was in the hands of the Ḏu’l-Qadr tribe (Aubin, 1959b, p. 30). In that year Shah ʿAbbās appointed Allāhverdī Khan (q.v.) over Fārs. He was succeeded by his son, Emāmqolī Khan. When the latter was executed in 1042/1632 the province came directly under the supreme dīvān until 1130-31/1718-19 (Aubin, 1959b, pp. 55, 121).

After the death of Shah ʿAbbās I the control of the central government weakened and was only temporarily arrested during the reign of Shah ʿAbbās II (1052-77/1642-66, q.v.). Fārs suffered severely in the fighting between Nāderqolī Beg, the future Nāder Shah, and Ašraf Ḡilzay (q.v.), which occurred after the fall of the Safavids (Lockhart, 1958, pp. 336-39). During the reign of Nāder Shah heavy taxation and extraordinary dues were extorted from the province. In the winter of 1156-57/1744 an abortive rebellion by Taqī Khan Šīrāzī was punished by the sack of Shiraz (Lockhart, 1938, pp. 241-42). About the year 149/1736 Nāder ordered a new assessment of landed estates in Fārs to be made and in 1151/1738-39 he ordered all toyūls and mawqūfāt in the province to be resumed (Fasāʾī, I, p. 181). It is not clear whether his instructions were carried out throughout the province. His assassination in 1160/1747 was followed by a period of disorder as ʿAlī Mardān Khan, Karīm Khan Zand, and Āzād Khan Āfḡān (qq.v.) struggled for supremacy. About 1164/1751 Karīm Khan, supported mainly by Laks and Lors, emerged victorious. He extended his rule over the greater part of Persia except Khorasan and made Shiraz his capital. He encouraged agriculture, commerce, and foreign trade. Under his rule Fārs on the whole enjoyed a period of peace and prosperity (see further Perry, p. 225). A number of tribes were settled in the neighborhoods of Shiraz and an Il-khan and an Ilbegi were appointed over the Qašqāʾī tribe (Tabrizi, p. 225), starting a pattern of administration and relationship between the government and the larger tribal groups which was to persist thereafter (Lambton, Landlord and Peasant, 1991, pp. 158 ff.).

The death of Karīm Khan in 1193/1779 was followed by anarchy in Fārs and internecine strife among the Zands. Finally, Āḡā Moḥammad Khan Qājār (q.v.), who had escaped from Shiraz where he had been held captive by Karīm Khan, made himself master of Persia. Fārs and its capital Shiraz ceased once more to be the center of the empire (for details of the history of Fārs during the years 1142-99/1729-85, see Moḥammad Kalāntar).


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(A. K. S. Lambton)

Originally Published: December 15, 1999

Last Updated: January 24, 2012

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Vol. IX, Fasc. 4, pp. 337-341