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Ismaili History 707 - ISLAM SHAH (771-827/1370-1423)

Sayed Ahmad Islam Shah was also known as Islam Shah and is called as Salam Shah and Shri Islam Shah in the ginans of the Indian Pirs. Islam Shah assumed the Imamate in 771/1370 in Azerbaijan, ruled by Sultan Uways (757-776/1356-1374), the Jalayirid ruler. It seems that during the early 25 years of his Imamate in Azerbaijan, he visited Daylam several times in disguise, where he had erected a temporary mission centre for different regions. Summing up the sparsely recorded fragments of the ginans, it appears that Islam Shah was a man of middle height, radiant face having piercing eyes. He was a gifted man of sweet disposition and engaging manner. His mole on right cheek was an eye- catching mark. He was a generous, fond of hunting and passed sometimes a few months in woods on hunting excursion.The Mongol power ended with the death of Abu Sa'id, the last Ilkhanid ruler on November 30, 1335, and some months later, Taymur was born in Samarkand on April 8, 1336. It is said that Taymur had received an arrow wound while fighting in Sistan in 1363, making him permanently lame and accounted for his nickname lung (lame), or Taymur-lung (Taymurlame). He solidified his powers as an amir in Samarkand at the age of 30 years and conquered few regions of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Afghanistan and India. He had a vein of cruelty in his character, and so were his soldiers. Taymur's example so filled his soldiers with courage that, with one wild cheer, they made a desperate charge, rushed on the besieged and broke their lines. Wherever they went a crimson streak marked their trail and cultural centres were practically wiped out of existence, reducing them into shapeless ruins. As a matter of fact, greed together with avarice seems to have been the ruling passion of Taymur's life.

From 735/1335 when Abu Sa'id died to the year 782/1380, Iran was left to its own device in 45 years, and was divided into four to five petty rules. Taymur spurred his horses to Iran in 783/1381 and launched several terrible expeditions as if an engine of destruction like Halagu. He invaded Azerbaijan in 787/1385 when Imam Islam Shah was probably in Daylam. Taymur crushed the Muzaffarid of Ispahan and cost the lives of about 70,000 of its inhabitants, whose heads were piled in pyramids.

The Ismailis had hardly set up their livings that the Taymurid danger began to loom large on the Iranian horizon. He attacked Mazandaran, Sistan and Fars in 794/1392 and conducted bloody massacres of the local Ismailis. John Malcolm writes in 'History of Persia' (London, 1815, 1st vol., p. 18) that, 'Taymur had the merit of extirpating a band of Ismailis with which the north-western provinces of Persia were infested.' In 795/1393, Taymur swept the thick population of the Ismailis in Amul, the principal town of Tabaristan, lying along the south coast of the Caspian Sea; and also Astrabad, the city of Jurjan province to the north frontier of Mazandaran.

During his campaign in Iran in Rajab, 795/May, 1393 while going to Hamdan from Ispahan, Taymur spent few days in Anjudan inhabited by the poor Ismailis. His soldiers wildly butchered many Ismailis and pillaged their properties. According to Sharafuddin Ali Yazdi (d. 858/1454) in 'Zafar-nama' (1st vol., p. 577), 'The Ismailis of Anjudan attempted to seek protection in their underground tunnels but they mostly lost their lives when they were flooded out by the Taymur's soldiers.' Finally, Taymur returned to Samarkand in 798/1396 and died in 807/1405. His Taymurid empire divided into petty rules, but Turkey, Iraq and India restored their rules he devastated. Iran and Afghanistan however were dominated by the Taymurids, but their internecine strife had badly hit the Iranian economy.

In India, the Tughlaqs gained their power after Taymur's death, which ultimately had fallen to the hand of the Sayeds (816-855/1414-1451) and the Lodhis (855-933/1451- 1526). The Ottoman empire became powerful once again after Taymur's death and spread their influence in Islamic countries. The Mamluks of Egypt and Syria were dragged into their internal disputes. When Taymur invaded Turkey and Syria, the rule of Mamluks was confined only to Cairo. After Taymur, the Turkish ruler occupied Egypt.

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