History Files


Middle East Kingdoms

Persia and the East




Emirate of Khorasan / Khurasan

The emirs were governors who were appointed by the Islamic caliph from Syria following the conquest of areas of Khorasan and Transoxiana in the seventh century. These appointed governors were superseded in 821 by the Tahrid governors.


From this date, the Abbasids begin to seek followers to their cause of removing their sworn enemies, the Umayyad caliphs, from power. They also target the supporters of the failed rebellion by al-Mukhtar in 686.

747 - 749

The Abbasids under Abu Muslim begin an open revolt in Khorasan against Umayyad rule. Khorasan quickly falls and an army is sent westwards. Kufa falls in 749 and in November the same year Abu al-Abbas is recognised as caliph.

Tahirid Emirs
AD 821 - 873

The eastern province that included Persia and Khorasan lost Transoxiana to the Samanids. Abbasid Caliph al-Mamun appointed Tahir ibn al-Hussein, the successful commander of a campaign that had defeated the caliph's main rival, as the new governor, beginning the Tahrid period of rule in the east. Tahir had previously been governor, or wali, of Syria (815-821), but he effectively declared independence in his new domains by failing to mention the caliph during a sermon at Friday prayers in 822. Unfortunately, the new emir died the following day.

821 - 822

Tahir I ibn al-Hussein

General to the Abbasid Caliph al-Mamun. Declared independence.


Despite Tahir's apparent declaration of independence, upon his sudden death, Abbasid Caliph al-Mamun appoints his son, Talha, to the post of faithful governor of the eastern Persian lands.

822 - 828


Son. Died.

828 - 830

Ali ibn Tahir ibn al-Hussein

Brother. Deputy governor.

828 - 830

Ali acts as deputy governor for his brother for the two years it takes the latter to take up his office. After having succeeded his father as governor of Syria he defeats the rebel, Nasr ibn Shabath between 824-826. Then he is sent to Egypt, where he successfully ends an uprising led by Obeid Allah ibn al-Serri. In 829 he stops the Khurramite Babak, and is then ordered to Khurasan by the Abbasid caliph to put down the Kharijites, finally arriving in 830.

828 - 845

Abdullah ibn Tahir ibn al-Hussein

Brother. Former wali of Syria (821-822) & Egypt (826-827).

828 - 830

While in office, Abdullah takes steps to improve the strength of the Samanids, his vassals in Transoxiana. In his role as governor of the east, Abdullah also claims Tabaristan as a dependency and insists that the tribute owed by Ispahbad Mazyar ibn Qarin, a recent convert to Islam, to the caliph should pass through him. Mazyar disagrees, planning to expand his domains, but in 839 he is captured and executed, securing Tahirid control over Tabaristan.

845 - 862

Tahir II


862 - 873



For many years, Muhammad continues to serve as nominal governor of Khorasan while living in Persia. His brother, al Husayn briefly returns in 876, but the Tahrids are ousted by the Saffarids.

Saffarid Emirs
AD 873 - 1495

Saffarid Khorasan included parts of Transoxiana as far as the River Oxus in the north, western and northern Afghanistan as far as the River Indus and bordering the kingdom of Zabulistan, and south to Kerman and Pars.

867 - 879

Yaqub bin Laith as-Saffar

879 - 900

Amr bin Laith / Amir Ibn Layth



Following the death of Amr bin Laith, the Saffarids are defeated by the Transoxianan Samanids and reduced in territory to Seistan in Persia. The Saffarid princes remain the vassals of the powerful Samanids who control southern Afghanistan and south-eastern Iran for a considerable period. The Samanids install their own governors in Khorasan.

Map of India c.AD 900
On Persia's eastern border, India of AD 900 was remarkably unchanged in terms of its general distribution of the larger states - only the names had changed, although now there was a good deal more fracturing and regional rule by minor states or tribes (click on map to view full sized)

901 - 908

Tahir I

908 - 910


910 - 912

Mohammed I

912 - 913

Amr II

922 - 963

Ahmad I bin Mohammed

963 - 1003

Wali-ud-Dawlah Khalaf I

1029 - 1073

Nasr I

1073 - 1090

Baha-ud-Dawlah Tahir II

1090 - 1103

Baha-ud-Dawlah Khalaf II

1103 - 1164

Tajuddin Nasr II

1164 - 1167

Shamsuddin Ahmad II

1167 - 1215

Tajuddin Harb


Seistan is occupied by the Khwarazm shahs.

1215 - 1221

Shamsuddin Bahram Shah


Tajuddin Nasr III

1221 - 1222

Ruknuddin Abu-Mansur

1222 - 1225

Shihabuddin Mahmud I

1225 - 1229

Ali I

1229 - 1254

Shamsuddin Ali II

1253 - 1258

Hulegu and his Il-Khan Mongols begin the campaign which sees him enter the Islamic lands of Mesopotamia on behalf of Mongke. Ismailis (assassins) have been threatening the Mongol governors of the western provinces, so Mongke has determined that both they and the Abbasid caliphs must be brought to heel. Hulegu takes Khorasan, and quickly establishes dominion over Mosul. Hulegu's next conquest is Baghdad, in 1258. The caliph and his family are massacred when no army is produced to defend him.

1254 - 1328


1328 - 1331


1331 - 1346

Qutbuddin Mohammed II

1346 - 1350

Tafuddin I

1350 - 1362

Mahmud II

1362 - 1382


1382 - 1386

Qutbuddin I

1386 - 1403

Tajuddin II

1403 - 1419

Qutbuddin II

1419 - 1438


1438 - 1480

Nizamuddin Yahya

1480 - 1495

Shamsuddin Mohammed III


Over subsequent centuries, the former emirate of Khorasan forms an eastern province of Persia. It frequently also provides a bolt-hole for the defeated participants in various Persian civil wars. It allows them to control the eastern border and still claim to form part of a valid dynasty that can vie for control of the whole of Persia.

In the second half of the eighteenth century the defeated Afsharid shahs of Persia end their days carving out a small Khorasanian state in the east (although its few rulers are shown in the main Persian list). They are allowed to get on with it by their replacements in Persia, the Zands, but are soon annexed to the new Afghan empire. In 1795, while Afghanistan is in turmoil, Khorasan is annexed back to Persia by Qajar Shah Agha Mohammad.