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Ismaili History 518 - Mission in Khorasan

The Ismaili mission was carried on in Khorasan around the last decade of the 3rd century/903-913 by Abu Abdullah al-Khadim, who stayed in Nishapur as the first chief dai of Khorasan. He was executed during the governorship of Abu Bakr bin Muhtaj (321-327/933-939), and was succeeded around 307/919 by Abu Sa'id al-Sha'rani, who was sent by al-Mahdi from Maghrib. He was followed by Hussain bin Ali al-Marwazi, who transferred his seat from Nishapur to Marw al-Rudh.

The Ismaili dawa was so pervasive in Khorasan that Nizam al-Mulk, an anti-observer, in fact, noticed that there existed an identifiable Ahl Khorasan among the Ismailis. Al-Marwazi is reputed in the annals of the Samanid dynasty, and during the rule of Ahmad bin Ismail (295-301/907-914), he commanded the Samanid forces in Sijistan in 298/910. In 300/913, al-Marwazi led the Samanid forces in Sijistan for the second time, and returned to Bukhara in the same year. Abu Zaid Balkhi (235-322/850-934) compiled his 'Suwar al-Aqalim' in 308/920, and makes mention of Hussain bin Ali al-Marwazi and his brother Muhammed Suluk, when the author visited his birthplace, Balkh in 301/914. Abu Zaid Balkhi also writes his close relation with al-Marwazi and the regular material assistance he acquired from him.

It is said that al-Marwazi hoped to be appointed governor of Sijistan due to his valuable services, but was disappointed. After the death of Ahmad bin Ismail and the accession of Nasr bin Ahmad in 301/914, al-Marwazi paid his allegiance to Mansur bin Ishaq, the cousin of Ahmad bin Ismail in Herat. Al-Marwazi extended his influence in Nishapur, but soon he had to return to Herat, and subsequently he again went to Nishapur and captured it. The Samanid commander, Ahmad bin Sahl (306-307/918-919) was sent against him, who took Herat and gave battle to al-Marwazi before Marw al-Rudh in 306/918. This time al-Marwazi was defeated due to shortage of supplies, and was taken prisoner to Bukhara, where he was imprisoned. He was released with the intervention of vizir al-Jayhani. After being pardoned and spending some time at Samanid court, he returned to Khorasan to organize the mission works, where he spent rest of his life.


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