ABŪ NAṢR MOSTAWFĪ EṢFAHĀNĪ ʿAZĪZ-AL-DĪN (or AL-ʿAZĪZ) AḤMAD B. AḤMAD B. MOḤAMMAD B. ʿABDALLĀH, 472-527/1079-80 to 1133, well-known official of the Saljuqs of Iraq. He began service in the central dīvāns late in the reign of Sultan Moḥammad (498-511/1105-18) as assistant to Kamāl-al-molk Somayramī who was mošref-e mamālek (chief financial inspector), then mostawfī-e mamālek (minister of finance), then vizier of Moḥammad’s son Maḥmūd (511-25/1118-31). Abū Naṣr, who had been young colleague of Somayramī in the dīvān of the Saljuq lady Gowhar Ḵātūn, reached real prominence as the new vizier’s deputy. He was not averse to arranging his own further advancement and entered into an alliance with Qewām-al-dīn Abu’l-Qāsem Dargazīnī, the ṭogrāʾī (chancellor), whom he helped save when Somayramī planned to execute him.
When Somayramī was assassinated in 515/1121-22, Abū Naṣr became mostawfī under the new vizier, Šams-al-molk ʿOṯmān b. Neẓām-al-molk. Although he exhibited great competence as mostawfī, he was involved in intrigues against Anūšervān b. Ḵāled, who was removed from the post of ʿāreż (paymaster), and the vizier Šams-al-molk, whom he and Dargazīnī managed to have killed. His nephew ʿEmād-al-dīn Eṣfahānī (Bondārī, Zobda, p. 141) lays the blame on Dargazīnī for the vizier’s death, but Ebn al-Aṯīr (X, p. 614) says that Abū Naṣr made the suggestion to Maḥmūd (see Houtsma’s preface to Bondārī, p. xxi, and ʿA. Eqbāl, Wezārat dar ʿahd-e salāṭīn-e bozorg-e salǰūqī, Tehran, 1338 Š./1959, pp. 265-70). Abū Naṣr refused the offer of the vizierate itself; C. L. Klausner suggests this action marked the beginning of decline in the value of the office, but S. Fairbanks disagrees (Klausner, p. 88; Fairbanks, p. 142; see bibliog.). Instead, Abū Naṣr suggested his ally, Dargazīnī, and this proved his eventual undoing. Alarmed at the peculation and violence perpetrated by the new vizier, he went on the ḥaǰǰ in 517/1123-24 or 518/1124-25, then returned to resign his post as mostawfī and take charge of Maḥmūd’s treasury and children at the latter’s insistence. From that position over a period of three years he arranged Dargazīnī’s dismissal and the subsequent installation of Anūšervān b. Ḵāled as vizier. Mild Anūšervān did not put Dargazīnī out of the way, however, and the latter was back in the vizierate in a year’s time, probably with the support of his old benefactor, Sultan Sanǰar. Abū Naṣr held his own for a while, but Dargazīnī finally bribed Maḥmūd to arrest and imprison him at Takrīt (early 525/1131). After Maḥmūd’s death and the installation of Ṭoḡrel by Sanǰar, Dargazīnī used one of the signed blank orders which he had obtained from Sanǰar (he had become vizier of both sultans) to order the death of Abū Naṣr in 527/1132-33, according to ʿEmād-al-dīn (Bondārī, Zobda, p. 168).
The fact that our major source, ʿEmād-al-dīn, devotes so much space to the intrigues which brought his uncle down tends to obscure his positive achievements. He was greatly admired in his time for both his competence and his generosity (Ebn Ḵallekān [Beirut] I, pp. 188-90). He was regarded as vizier in fact if not in name, and his technical competence at the mostawfī’s craft is what set the envious Dargazīnī against him, according to Naǰm-al-dīn Qomī (anecdote in Taʾrīḵ al-wozarāʾ, fols. 19a-20a; see Fairbanks, p. 112). He was responsible for training a generation of mostawfīs, as Fairbanks points out (pp. 113-18), and they dominated the position long after he was gone. ʿEmād-al-dīn mentions his learning and his good works, such as a school for orphans and a field hospital.
Bondārī, Zobdat al-noṣra wa noḵbat al-ʿoṣra, in Recueil de textes relatifs à l’histoire des Saldjoucides II, ed. T. Houtsma, Leiden, 1889, principally pp. 111-66; Houtsma’s preface, pp. xix-xxvii.
Naǰm-al-dīn Qomī, Taʾrīḵ al-wozarāʾ, MS Dār-al-Kotob, Cairo, Taʾrīḵ Fārsī Ṭaḷʿat 7.
S. C. Fairbanks, The Tārīkh al-Vuzarāʾ, unpubl. University of Michigan dissertation, Ann Arbor, 1977, pp. 112-18.
C. L. Klausner, The Seljuk Vizierate, Cambridge, Mass., 1973.
(K. A. Luther)
Originally Published: December 15, 1983
Last Updated: July 21, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 4, pp. 353-354