in its various forms one of the most persistent and important tenurial, economic and social institutions of medieval Persia.



The eqṭāʿin its various forms is one of the most persistent and important tenurial, economic and social institutions of medieval Persia. It was also found in the Mamluk sultanate, the Ottoman empire, under the Omayyads of Spain, in the Delhi sultanate, and the Mughal empire. It survived in a modified form as an institution until the 20th century in Persia but under a different nomenclature. From the 14th century the term soyūrḡāl was used to designate certain types of eqṭāʿ; in the 15th century the term toyūl (or teyūl) came to be used interchangeably with soyūrḡāl, but by the 16th century the two terms designated different aspects of the institution. In the 19th century the term soyūrḡāl became obsolete. The toyūl was an institution finally abolished by the National Consultative Assembly (Majles-e šūrā-ye mellī), which was convened in 1907. The evolution of the eqṭāʿ, soyūrḡāl, and toyūl in Persia will be discussed below.

Essentially the eqṭāʿ was a concession of revenue or land, but there were many different aspects to the institution and these varied in time and space. It also came to be associated with the performance of military duties and, from the 11th century onwards, often with the provision of troops also and the grant of governmental functions and immunities. In its financial or fiscal aspect it was a draft on the revenue, but so far as it had an admininstrative aspect it was a delegation of authority. It was always a matter of grace, always an arbitrary grant revocable at the will or whim of the issuing authority. As an institution it was regularized and widely extended in the Great Saljuq period. Its roots, however, go back beyond that period.

Origins. The early Islamic jurists regard the eqṭāʿ as a development of the grants known as qaṭāyeʿ (sing. qaṭīʿa). These were hereditary grants of crown lands (ṣawāfī) with full rights of disposal by sale, gift or inheritance made by the caliphs to their supporters. They were subject to tithe (ʿošr). The size of the grants varied. They were distinguished from private property (melk) which could be held by non-Muslims and was subject to taxation (ḵarāj). Tax grants made to members of the Arab jonds or citizen armies tended to be assimilated to the qaṭāyeʿ. These grants were usually small. Their purpose was to assure the livelihood of deserving members of the community, especially the seasoned fighters of Islam, to pay for their services, and to encourage them to further deeds of valor by the prospect of reward. The cultivation of the land was the concern of the conquered peasants, who were liable to tribute (Tischendorf, pp. 20-21). As Muslims increasingly acquired ḵarāj land and non-Muslims were converted to Islam, attempts were made because of fiscal pressures, to maintain, or restore, the status of ḵarāj land through the legal fiction that the land belonged to the community; and a new type of concession, known as eqṭāʿ (derived from the same root as qaṭīʿa) came to be found alongside the qaṭīʿa. Under this fiscal rights of the state over ḵarāj land were ceded to the grantee, the moqṭaʿ, while the land remained juridically in the hands of its former owners. The grantee collected the ḵarāj and paid tithe to the state, keeping for himself the difference between the two. The eqṭāʿ, therefore, is not in origin to be identified with the qaṭīʿa, although qaṭīʿa grants in the course of time also came to be known as eqṭāʿs.

The spread of tax-farming: the żamān and qabāla. During the 9th century with the progressive deterioration in the financial stability of the ʿAbbasid caliphate various devices were adopted to obtain the money needed to finance the operations of the state and its civil and military officers. These included tax-farming, the sale of crown lands, and the confiscation of private fortunes. In particular it was the tax-farm (żamān and qabāla) that this need seized upon and transformed. The żamān often involved the putting up to auction the right to collect the taxes of a given district, usually annually. By the beginning of the 10th century tax-farming was widespread and sometimes whole provinces were involved and the tax-farmers were often exceedingly powerful. The qabāla differed from the żamān in that it was an undertaking by a local notable to pay the tax quota of the local community, which would be assessed by the moqāṭaʿa method, i.e. in a lump sum payable according to the lunar year as opposed to assessment by a share of the crop (moqāsama) or measurement (mesāḥa) payable according to the solar year.

Soon, however, the money received from tax-farming ceased to be sufficient to pay the army leaders and their troops and by the end of the 10th century, if not earlier, the central government had found itself unable to discharge fully its public duties, and so it surrendered certain public rights in connection with taxation and the land to powerful individuals. At first the right to collect revenue, mainly in the form of tasbībāt and eqṭāʿāt, was surrendered, and then increasingly the land itself was alienated from the control of the central government. The term tasbībāt designated both provincial revenues which, for whatever reason, were not sent to the capital and “extraordinary” assignments of revenue to individuals made on provincial tax offices and also on tax offices in the capital. Such “extraordinary” assignments became widespread under the Buyids (320-447 /932-1055; see Mottahedeh, pp. 347-51). The term eqṭāʿāt was applied to other grants and assignments including grants of land earlier known as qaṭāyeʿ.

There is, however, a certain confusion over the terms by which these various grants were designated. Qodāma (apud Ben Shemesh, pp. 123-24), writing in the 10th century uses the term eqṭāʿ to mean a hereditary grant subject to tithe, while he calls a non-hereditary grant ṭoʿma. Ḵᵛārazmī, on the other hand, defines ṭoʿma as an estate given as a life grant on which the holder paid tithe and which was transmitted on his death to his heirs (p. 60). Qodāma also mentions two other types of grant made on ḵarāj land, namely īḡār, i.e., land which paid a fixed sum to the treasury and was immune from the entry of the tax collector, and taswīj, an annual but renewal tax-free grant (Ben Shemesh, pp. 123-24).

Although the law distinguished between ʿošrī and ḵarājī land and between different types of grant, the use of the term eqṭāʿ was extended in practice in the course of the 10th century to cover any form of concession whether of land or revenue, irrespective of whether this was ʿošrī or ḵarājī land, and to be associated with the performance of military duties and immunities.

The eqṭāʿ under the Buyids. The Buyids (320-447/932-1055) made a practice of assigning eqṭaʿs to their amirs and soldiers. These were assignments of the usufruct of the land and their purpose remuneration for service. They were not hereditary or granted on a life rent, and were subject to periodic redistribution. Control of the eqṭāʿs was transferred to the dīwān-al-jayš, the office in charge of military pay, over which the ʿārezµ (q.v.) presided. The main task of the office was to determine the fiscal value (ʿebra) of the eqṭāʿs and to reallocate them when they fell vacant. The grant of this type of eqṭāʿ did not carry with it any rights of jurisdiction over the inhabitants of the district granted as an eqṭāʿ; it was simply an assignment of salary, which the beneficiary could exchange for another assignment at his or the government’s wish, if the revenue was no longer equal to the balance due to him, or for any other expedient cause. He had no permanent tie with the district and therefore no interest in its long-term development. In theory those who held eqṭāʿs were subject to detailed regulations and inspection. In practice this proved difficult to enforce and the grant of eqṭāʿs by the Buyids was accompanied by widespread acts of usurpation (see Cahen, 1953, pp. 25-52; idem, “Buwayhids,” EI2 I, pp. 1350-57). Further, the tendency for the functions of the provincial military commander, the tax collector, the tax farmer, and the moqṭaʿ to be united in one person, led to the emergence of large properties virtually independent of the central government, and eventually to the transformation of the provincial governorate, which had already undergone various vicissitudes. Originally the keystone of the system was the separation of military and civil affairs, and in many respects the provincial governorate was a replica of the central government. Its somewhat cumbrous nature was aggravated first by the fact that officials were not, even in theory, the servants of the public - they were the servants of the caliph (and later of the sultan), partaking according to their degree, of his absolute authority - and secondly by the existence of factions. Each important official had his own supporters who rose and fell with him. Already under the Buyids there were cases of a moqṭaʿ exercising the administrative duties and obligations of a provincial governor (wālī) in addition to his obligations as moqṭaʿ (Cahen, 1953, pp. 246-47).

According to Meskawayh Moʿezz-al-Dawla (r. 320-56/932-67) made a practice of giving land to the soldiery. He writes, “in 334[945-46] the Daylamites mutinied against Moʿezz-al-Dawla Aḥmad violently and indulged in fierce abuse and vituperation of him. He promised to remit their pay to them by a fixed term and was compelled to oppress the citizens and to exhort money from improper sources. He assigned to his officers, his household, and his Turks the estates of the caliph, the estates of persons who had gone into hiding, i.e., those of Šīrzād, and the rights of the treasury on the estates of the people. Thus most of the Sawād became alienated from the treasury and inaccessible to the revenue officers . . . most of the dīvāns became superfluous . . . and all offices were united in one” (Margoliouth and Amedroz, Eclipse, II, p. 96; Ebn-al-Aṯīr, VIII, p. 342). There were repeated disputes in the reign of Bahāʾ-al-Dawla Fīrūz (379-403 /989-1012) concerning the allocation of eqṭāʿs as between Turks and Daylamites (Margoliouth and Amedroz, Eclipse III, 323) and also between the revenue officers and the soldiery over their eqṭāʿs. The Daylamites with Faḵr-al-Dawla are recorded as holding eqṭāʿs ranging in value from 20-30,000 dirhams in Ray and the Jebāl, whereas the eqṭāʿs of the military in Ḵūzestān ranged from 200-300,000 dirhams, a situation which led to much jealousy and heartburning (ibid., III, pp. 165-66). After Bahāʿ-al-Dawla established his rule in Fārs and Kermān in 389/998-99 the Daylamites of Fārs assembled in Shiraz to discuss the question of assignments, what should be resumed and what should be retained by the existing holders. It was agreed that the original grants should be converted at the rate of 300 dirhams to the dinar (qq.v.). The original grant of each man was then checked and he was given out of what was in his possession what would produce the new amount. The remainder was to be resumed and the grants made at the end of Ṣamṣām-al-Dawla Marzbān’s reign (380-88 /990-98) were declared null and void (ibid., III, p. 327).

The theory of Māwardī. By the end of the Buyid period discrepancies between theory and practice were considerable. Māwardī (d. 450/1058), attempting to rationalize historic precedent, recognized two types of eqṭāʿ, which he called the eqṭāʿ-al-tamlīk, an assignment of land, and the eqṭāʿ-al-estēḡlāl, an assignment of usufruct. He held that it was legal to assign dead lands dating from pre-Islamic or Islamic times and cultivated lands either in Islamic or infidel territory as eqṭāʿ-al-tamlīk. Lands in infidel territory could be assigned before conquest to Muslims, the taking possession of them by the assignee being contingent upon their conquest. Māwardī also considered the assignment of both ḵarāj land and ʿošr land as eqṭāʿ-al-esteḡlāl to be legal and members of the army to be among those to whom it was most fitting to make assignments of ḵarāj land. He stipulates that such grants should not be hereditary (Māwardī, pp. 190-98). He was right to distinguish between these two types of eqṭāʿ and his exposition brought them within the purview of the law, but discrepancies between theory and practice continued.

The Saljuq period. Under the Saljuqs the general tendency was for the “military” eqṭāʿ which had characterized the Buyid period to be assimilated to the provincial government, leading to the emergence of what I have called the “administrative” eqṭāʿ. The exact estimate of the fiscal value of the eqṭāʿ was replaced by an approximate estimate and the eqṭāʿ came to be defined by service not by fiscal value and often to be associated with immunities. There was also a tendency for the eqṭāʿ to become, by usurpation, a hereditary domain over which the moqṭaʿ had governmental prerogatives (e.g., Lambton, 1965, pp. 369-71).

In a sense, the purpose of the original eqṭāʿ al-tamlīk, the extension of cultivation, and the purpose of the eqṭāʿ al-esteḡlāl, remuneration for services, were combined in the “administrative” eqṭāʿ. It can, therefore, perhaps be seen ideally as offering a practical basis in the new circumstances for the well-being of the kingdom in accordance with one of the favorite axioms of Islamic writers: “Religion depends on kingship, kingship depends on the army, the army depends on agricultural development, and agricultural development depends on justice” (Ebn al-Balḵī, p. 5; cf. Ḡazālī, p. 48).

The sources for the Saljuq period use the term eqṭāʿ to cover a variety of grants. The distinction between them was not, however, absolute and all eqṭāʿs in the broad category did not necessarily conform exactly to the same pattern; and there is a further complication in interpreting the texts owing to the fact that the same person might hold more than one type of eqṭāʿ. Almost all grants had a fiscal or financial aspect in that they concerned either the right to collect some form of tax or due. Most grants involved a delegation of authority either in the matter of the collection of taxes or of the adminstration generally. The grants were essentially ad hoc and subject to renewal at irregular intervals. Because the grant was tied to a district either as a draft on the revenue or as a grant of immunity in a particular district, the practice grew of referring to such and such a district as the eqṭāʿ of the assignee, thus equating the word eqṭāʿ with the district itself. Grants might vary from a small district to a whole region which might include villages and towns.

ʿEmād-al-Dīn Moḥammad Eṣfahānī (in Bondārī’s recension) uses the term eqṭāʿ primarily in the sense of a “military" eqṭāʿ. He attributes its introduction to the vizier Neẓām-al-Molk, but in this he is manifestly wrong, though it may be that Neẓām-al-Molk attempted to regularize the eqṭāʿ in practice in the circumstances prevailing in the reign of Malekšāh (465-85/1027-92) just as Māwardī rather earlier had attempted to do in theory. ʿEmād-al-Dīn states that the troops (ajnād) did not have eqṭāʿs before this. He continues, “N eẓām-al-Molk saw that the revenues were not coming in from the regions (belād) because they were in a state of disorder and their produce was uncertain because they were in bad condition. Therefore he divided them into eqṭāʿs for the troops and assigned to them their revenue and produce, so that they had the greatest interest in the prosperity of their eqṭāʿs and in the shortest time the regions were again in very good condition” (Bondārī, p. 55).

Neẓām-al-Molk seems to have regarded the eqṭāʿ as an assignment of revenue and to have held that the moqṭāʿ had no rights over the people who lived on the land on which an eqṭāʿ had been granted. He writes, “Let those who hold eqṭāʿs know that they have no authority (farmān) over the subjects (raʿāyā) beyond this that they should take the due amount which has been assigned to them from the subjects with civility. When they have taken this, the subjects shall be secure in their persons, money, wives, children, goods, and estates, and the moqṭāʿ shall have no claim over them. Any moqṭāʿ who acts in a contrary fashion shall be restrained and his eqṭāʿ taken away from him and he shall be reprimanded so that others may take warning. Let the moqṭāʿs know that the kingdom (molk) and the subjects (raʿīyat) in truth belong to the sultan. The moqṭāʿs who are set over them and the governors (wālīān) also are like šeḥnas. Let them treat the subjects [in their eqṭāʿs] as the king treats other subjects [on land which has not been assigned]” (ed. H. Darke, p. 43, ed. Schefer, p. 28, with slight difference in the final passage). Neẓām-al-Molk further states, “Every two or three years the king must change the tax collectors (ʿommāl) and moqṭās so that they do not strike [local] roots (pāy saḵt nakonand) or make strongholds (ḥeṣn-ī nasāzand) or [by their actions] give rise to anxiety. They shall treat the people well so that the province remains prosperous” (ed. Darke, p. 55; ed. Schefer, p. 37). In a passage discussing the need to hold liquid the pay of the army (which suggests that Neẓām-al-Molk had in mind primarily the “military” eqṭāʿ or a modification thereof), he states, “Money (māl) for the army must be held liquid. That which belongs to those holding eqṭāʿs (ahl-e eqṭāʿ) shall be absolutely at their disposal (moṭlaq wa moqarrar bāyad dāšt) and what belongs to the military slaves (@golāmān) who have no eqṭāʿs must be made available . . . and those who hold eqṭāʿs (eqṭāʿdārān) must be told that they are to report immediately whoever is absent from their troop (ḵayl) by reason of death or for some other cause and must not hide the fact; and the leader of the troop must be told that when they (the @golāmān) have received their pay (māl) they are all to be ready for whatever matter may arise” (ed.Darke, pp. 134-35; ed. Schefer, pp. 91-92). However, in practice, as we know from documents and the evidence of historians, the moqṭāʿ was often granted full jurisdiction in the district which he held as an eqṭāʿ.

In the early period of Saljuq expansion the sultan sometimes granted a district or region to a member of his family, much as the ruling khan of a nomadic tribe might allocate to his family and followers pastures and camping grounds. These grants differed from the earlier qaṭāyeʿ given to the Arab tribes who needed pastures for their flocks in that they were not specifically on ʿošr land and were not hereditary, although a tendency developed for different branches of the family to regard certain districts as their own eqṭāʿ in which they exercised full control. In due course this type of eqṭāʿ became indistinguishable from the “administrative” eqṭāʿ, which was the dominant type of eqṭāʿ under the Saljuqs.

The “administrative” eqṭāʿ. The characteristic feature of the “administrative” eqṭāʿ was the delegation to the moqṭaʿ of some aspect of the authority of the sultan. In many cases he was given complete control of the administration of his eqṭāʿ and had freedom of choice in the appointment of administrative officials. He was also able to assign districts within his eqṭāʿ to his own followers. These powers he exercised by a simple delegation of authority and not because the eqṭāʿ was his private domain. Such functions as he carried out were the normal functions of a Muslim ruler, which had been delegated to him by the sultan in the area under his control. The source of all grants was the absolute sovereignty of the sultan. All grants were an act of grace by him and revocable at his will. The moqṭaʿ had no rights. He merely held the area granted to him as an eqṭāʿ at the will of the sultan and there was no obligation of protection upon the latter. The moqṭaʿ was not normally required to remit surplus revenue to the central government, as it had been the duty of provincial governors in earlier times. He was expected to join the sultan on military campaigns when called upon to do so, and sometimes to support him with material resources. He was probably expected to make a payment to the sultan in the event of his making fresh conquests, but in practice this was difficult to enforce. He could not, except by abuse, transmit his eqṭāʿ by inheritance, sale or gift.

The population living in a district granted as an eqṭāʿ were normally enjoined in the moqṭaʿ’s grant of appointment to obey him. Sometimes they were specifically ordered to pay their taxes promptly and in full. Their obligation to obey the moqṭaʿ derived from the fact that the sultan had delegated his authority, or some aspect of it, to the moqṭaʿ in that particular district. Their allegiance in the first instance was due to him simply in his capacity as the sultan’s delegate, though in some cases “protection” may have given an added dimension to their allegiance.

Private property (melk) continued to exist in administrative eqṭāʿs. But there was a tendency, especially when the control of the central government weakened, for the moqṭaʿ to usurp possession of private estates (cf. two undated documents ordering the return to their rightful owners of estates in a village in the Mosul district which had been usurped by the moqṭaʿ in Moḵtārāt, pp. 262-63). The relationship of the moqṭaʿ to the landowners in his eqṭāʿ was presumably much like that of the sultan to landowners in districts that had not been assigned. In other words the moqṭaʿ was interposed between the sultan and the population living on or off those districts which had been assigned to him.

The administrative eqṭāʿ had a number of advantages for the central government, but for these to be realized secure conditions were necessary. It enabled the government to dispense with a provincial bureaucracy, for the payment of which they often did not have adequate funds, and to avoid the transfer of funds to and from provincial districts to the capital, which in view of indifferent communications and frequent insecurity on the roads was often hazardous. Its major disadvantage was that it led to the growth of private armies. It was not without some benefit for the provinces in that. Political control was to some extent localized and local resources, even if they were not under local control since the moqṭaʿ was not usually a local man (though he might strike roots in his eqṭāʿ), were for the most part spent locally. Responsibility for security was placed on the moqṭaʿ and, on the whole, satisfactorily maintained. His diploma of appointment normally enjoined him to maintain good husbandry and good government, though no means were devised of ensuring that he did so; the only sanction was the assignment of his eqṭāʿ to another amir. Nevertheless, except when the moqṭaʿ assumed that his tenure was short and therefore extorted as much as he could from his eqṭāʿ, self-interest demanded that he should exercise a modicum of good government and good husbandry, and this was so even when the control of the central government declined. Moreover, a strong moqṭaʿ, although he might himself commit extortion, would prevent outsiders from acting with violence against those living in his eqṭāʿ. The major disadvantage at the local level, which perhaps outweighed any advantages the system may have had, was that it fostered the growth of a subject peasantry. Theoretically the possibility of a demand for redress from the sultan against the malpractices of a moqṭaʿ remained open, but was largely illusory partly because of the great distances often involved.

The administrative eqṭāʿ was a means by which the sultan retained the support of powerful amirs. But the balance was a delicate one. Later sultans fell under the influence of amirs and the control of their atabegs. The grant of an eqṭāʿ tended increasingly to become merely official recognition of the possession of a given district by an amir. Sometimes the sultan would attempt to play one amir off against another, assigning them each other’s domains, and it was not unknown for the same district to be assigned simultaneously to two persons. Often the moqṭaʿ had to take possession of his eqṭāʿ by force and to turn out the previous holder. With the weakening of the central government a hereditary tendency appeared in the administrative eqṭāʿ. Cases are recorded of moqṭaʿs transmitting their eqṭāʿ by inheritance or disposing of them by testament, but this was by usurption and not by right. (see, e.g., Ebn al-Aṯīr, X, pp. 236, 520)

Rāvandī draws attention to some of the abuses which occurred after the break-up of the Great Saljuq empire. He states that Moḥammad b. Eldigüz, who, though nominally the atabeg of Ṭoḡrel b. Arslān, was the real ruler of north-western Persia from 570/1175 to 581/1186, appointed sixty or seventy of his own slaves over the country, nominating each one to a town or district “in the hope that since they were slaves they would secure his children from enemies.” But, Rāvandī continues, “these same slaves created a state of disturbance in the kingdom to the detriment of his sons and their authority vanished from the provinces and cities by reason of the country being held as eqṭāʿs” (Rāvandī, p. 335).

The “military” eqṭāʿ. To what extent the military eqṭāʿ continued to exist as a separate category in the western provinces of Persia is open to question (though it is well attested in Mosul). In the eastern provinces under Sanjar (d. 552/1557), the last of the Great Saljuqs, certain features of the military eqṭāʿ were apparently more clearly retained than in the western provinces. In theory, if not in practice, the system was highly centralized under Sanjar. From the documents recorded by Montajab-al-Dīn Jovaynī, it would appear that records of eqṭāʿs were kept in the dīvān-e arż and that they were granted both to the great amirs and army commanders and to the lesser amirs. Grants might be related to past as well as to future services. An eqṭāʿ for 3,000 nīšāpūrī dīnārs on Māzandarān for the Esfahsālār Serāj-al-Dīn Najm-al-Eslām, the Esfahbad of Māzandarān, was primarily a reward for services he had performed both at court and on military expeditions (Montajab-al-Dīn Jovaynī, p. 84; Horst, p. 138). The pay of the soldiers, as distinct from the amirs, was also laid down by the dīvān-e arż (see further Lambton,1953, pp. 374-75). As in the case of the administrative eqṭāʿ, a hereditary tendency appeared in the military eqṭāʿ, and may even have been normal practice in some of the succession states, notably under the Zangids of Mosul and the Ḵᵛārazmšāhs (Houtsma, Receuil II, pt. 2, ed. and tr. Mac Guckin de Slane, Paris 1872, p. 308; cf. Maqrīzī, II, p. 216. On the Khᵛarazmian soldiery see below).

Under the Saljuqs of Kermān it appears that the grant of eqṭāʿs to the army was associated with frontier defense. Afżal-al-Dīn Kermānī (p. 7) states that the eqṭāʿs of the army were in Sīrjān. This was district situated on the frontier of the kingdom of Kermān and subject to frequent attack from the direction of Fārs.

In the reign of Malekšāh it seems that a number of eqṭāʿs, or parcels of land, were set aside in different parts of the empire and their produce reserved for the use of the army when on campaigns (Rāvandī, p. 13; Mostawfī, p. 449; Ebn-al-Neẓām, p. 60). Ẓahīr-al-Dīn Nīšāpūrī (p. 32) states that the eqṭāʿāt of the army were scattered throughout the empire so that wherever it went fodder and provisions were available. The logistic problem of moving an army in many parts of Persia was formidable, and this was an administrative device to ensure that provisions and fodder and what the army needed for its immediate expenses should be available as it marched through the country.Eqṭāʿs granted to officials. Eqtāʿs were also granted to officials of the court and bureaucracy. These differed from the administrative eqṭāʿs in that the moqṭaʿ, although he may have been an amir, did not normally reside in his eqṭāʿ. In the reign of Malekšāh Ḵᵛārazm belonged to the tašt-ḵāna (the royal pantry) and when Anūštegīn became taštdār (keeper of the washing vessels) the governorship of Ḵᵛārazm devolved upon him (Mostawfī, p. 449). He did not apparently actually rule the province, though his son Qoṭb-al-Dīn Moḥammad was later entrusted with the administration of the province by Barkīāroq’s (q.v.) governor, Dād Ḥabašī b. Altūntāq (Barthold, Turkistan3, pp. 323-24). This type of eqṭāʿ differed also from the military eqṭāʿ in that its purpose was to provide for the upkeep of the official to whom it was granted and not specifically for the provision of troops. Similar eqṭāʿs were also found under the atabegs of Azerbaijan. Kiš Ḵātūn, one of the Eldigüzid princesses, mentions in a letter that a certain amīr ḥājeb, who had served the former atabeg (Eldigüz), had been for some time without an eqṭāʿ and was without equipment (bī barg). If no suitable eqṭāʿ fell due, her instructions were that he should be given a money draft (barāt; Moḵtārāt, pp. 143-44).

The usual eqṭāʿ granted to viziers under the Saljuqs was, according to Ebn Ḵallekān (tr. de Slane, III, p. 297), one tenth of the produce of the soil. This is clearly something different from both the administrative and the military eqṭāʿ, though whether such eqṭāʿs were regularly granted is doubtful and, if they were, they were presumably granted only from land under the direct control of the central administration. The foundation of Ebn Ḵallekān’s statement may have been Neẓām-al-Molk’s admission when he was accused before Malekšāh by Sayyed-al-Roʾasāʾ Abu’l-Maḥāsen b. Kamāl-al-Molk of misappro-priating the revenue, that he had taken one-tenth of Malekšāh’s wealth, which he claimed to have spent upon the standing army, alms, gifts and awqāf (Ebn al-Aṯīr, X, pp. 84-85; Bondārī, p. 57). However, Ebn Ḵallekān also records (III, p. 297) that Jamāl-al-Dīn Jawād Eṣfahānī, vizier first to Zangī, the ruler of Mosul, and then to his son Sayf-al-Dīn Ḡāzī, had one tenth of the produce of the soil as an eqṭāʿ. The vizier often held assignments of land also. Among the eqṭāʿs held by Neẓām-al-Molk was land in Ṭūs, which had been assigned to him in 456/1064 by Malekšāh (Ebn al-Aṯīr, X, p. 54). Similarly Abu’l-Maḥāsen Saʿd-al-Molk was enriched by eqṭāʿs when Moḥammad b. Malekšāh made him vizier in 498/1104-5 (Ebn al-Aṯīr, X, p. 304).

"Personal” eqṭāʿs. There was lastly a kind of “personal” eqṭāʿ, which was in the nature of a pension in the form of either a private estate on a life or hereditary tenure or a money grant. The eqṭāʿs granted to Saljuq women and to the caliphs for their maintainance belonged to this category of eqṭāʿ. They were not normally hereditary.

There is no clear evidence to show that the grant of eqṭāʿs was confined to particular categories of land. Administrative eqṭāʿs were granted on most types of land, regardless of whether it was state land, private property, or waqf land. The amount of land alienated from the control of the central government as eqṭāʿs varied. It seems to have increased after the death of Malekšāh. Certain districts, notably Isfahan, which for much of the period was the capital, do not appear to have granted as eqṭāʿs. From the documents in the Moḵtārāt al-rasāʾel (e.g., pp. 261, 265) it would appear that in the late Saljuq period some of the land round Isfahan belonged to the dīvān and that some was in private hands. Marv, at least during the reign of Sanjar, was not granted as an eqṭāʿ. After the death of Moḥammad b. Malekšāh the amount of land alienated from the control of the central government, at least in central, western, and south-western Persia, appears to have reached the point at which the revenue at the disposal of the central government ceased to be sufficient to maintain a standing army more powerful that the forces of the individual amirs.

Under the Ḵᵛārazmšāhs. The Ḵᵛārazmšāhs continued the practice of allocating eqṭāʿs to amirs and officials and there are examples of both adminstrative and military eqṭāʿs (see the documents in Bahāʾ-al-Dīn Ḵᵛārazmī, pp. 30-38, 90-95, 95-100, 118-19; see also Lambton, 1988, pp. 112-13). It would appear that there was a strong hereditary tendency in the eqṭāʿs granted to the military. ʿOmarī (text, p. 83) states that when Ḵᵛārazm fell to the Mongols the Ḵᵛārazmī troops (ʿasāker) retained their eqṭāʿs and each one held what had been held by his father.

From Rāvandī’s account it would seem that the term eqṭāʿ covered a variety of irregular practices in the Ḵᵛārazmšāhī period. He alleges that “In Iraq because of irreligious imams and tyrannical Turks, apart from the fact that [the regulations for] the offices of the dīvān were not observed, šarʿī offices, such as those of qāżī, modarres, motawallī, and nāẓer of awqāf were made into eqṭāʿs” (p. 386), but what precisely is implied by this statement is not clear.

The Mongol invasions. Major changes in land tenure and land administration resulted from the Mongol invasions. Administrative eqṭāʿs could neither provide for the military forces or the administration of the country, occupied as it was by a horde organized for war. Temporarily the administrative eqṭāʿ disappeared, though there is some evidence that it continued in some of the outlying provinces. Awlīāʾ-Allāh Āmolī (p. 170) records that villages and eqṭāʿāt were made into waqf by Šams-al-Molūk Moḥammad, who succeeded the Ostāndār Shah Kay Ḵosrow in Rūyān in 712/1312-13. This would seem to be a reversal of the more usual practice, namely for waqf to be usurped and made into eqṭāʿ. The following case recorded by Aḥmad b. Ḥosayn Kāteb (p. 82) is also somewhat unusual. He states that the Sultan Abū Saʿīd (probably shortly after his accession in 716/1316; q.v.) allocated to Moḥammad b. Moẓaffar wages (marsūm) and made the town of Meybod into his eqṭāʿ and appointed 200 men to be in attendance upon him. The grantee was thus not only given an eqṭāʿ but also men, instead of being required to produce men.

There are also instances of the term eqṭāʿ being applied to the grant of a pension. The Qarā Khitay ruler of Kermān Rokn-al-Dīn Abū Moẓaffar Qotloḡ Sultan Ḵᵛāja Jūq, who ascended the throne in 633/1236, gave to the princes and princesses (molūk va malekāt) among his relatives the revenue of places as eqṭāʿs (Nāṣer-al-Dīn Monšī, p. 29). A grant from Öljeitü (Ūljāytū) to Shah Jahān b. Soyorḡatmeš, the last of the Qara Khitay rulers, is also clearly in the nature of a pension. Shah Jahān had withheld revenue from Öljeitü and when he came to Solṭānīya in or about 703/1013, Öljeitü forbore from fining him because of his youth, but deposed him and gave him an eqṭāʿ from the īnjū (state lands) of Fārs. Shah Jahān set out with his family for those regions and lived there, respected and in comfort, to the end of his life (Wazīrī, p. 174).

Waṣṣāf refers to an eqṭāʿ granted by Öljeitü to Amīr Sultan b. Ḥosām-al-Dīn Mohannāʾ in 712/1312-13. This was for over 40 tūmāns on Ḥella, Kūfa, and Šafāta with its tax districts (aʿmāl; Tārīḵ-e Waṣṣāf, p. 553). Moʿīn-al-Dīn Naṭanzī (pp. 115 ff.) mentions a similar grant by Abaqa to the Atabeg Yūsofšāh of Lorestān, but he calls it a soyūṟḡāl (see below).

The grant of eqṭāʿs by Ḡāzān. Once the Mongols in Persia were faced by the problems of administering a settled empire, they found growing difficulty in obtaining the necessary financial resources. To an increasing extent drafts were made on the provincial revenues to meet the needs of the state; farming of the provencial revenues was also widespread. By the reign of Bāydū (k. 694/1295, q.v.) the usual practice was for the military to go to the provinces to collect by force the drafts drawn in their favor; they also laid many additional contributions on the population. Concerned for the efficiency of his army and in the hope of halting the decline in his revenues and in agriculture, which had resulted from the Mongol invasions and the subsequent maladministration, Ḡāzān, Bāydū’s successor, undertook various measures of reform, including an attempt to curtail revenue farming. Finally in 703/1303-4 he determined to revive the old system of eqṭāʿs for the military in a somewhat modified form, so that they would consider the land their own and collect the taxes from it themselves and thus be provided with money and provisions (Rašīd-al-Dīn, Tārīḵ-e gāzānī, p. 301). Rašīd-al-Dīn alleges that a further reason inducing Ḡāzān to take this step was that the soldiers themselves wanted at this time to own estates and engage in agriculture (p. 302, cf. p. 241). He decided to give to the army as eqṭāʿs those provinces through which the army’s lines of communication lay or in which its yaylāq (summer quarters) or qešlāq (winter quarters) were situated. Non-Mongol (tāzīk) soldiers were also given eqṭāʿs (ibid., p. 310). The new eqṭāʿs were allocated to the commanders of thousands (hazāra) from state and crown lands (īnjū and dālāy) and dead lands, in all of which there had been an enormous increase under the Il-khans, and from other cultivated lands. The commanders of thousands were to divide the land among the commanders of hundreds, who were charged with the distribution of the individual eqṭāʿs. This distribution was then to be communicated to the central government. The land was to be distributed by lot and a share of good land and wasteland was to be entered in the register against the name of each holder. Dead lands in the district assigned in this way were to be cultivated by the new holders by the labor of captives and slaves. A bītekčī (revenue official) was to be sent annually to investigate the state of cultivation in the eqṭāʿs. Those who had improved cultivation were to be singled out by a special mark of favor while those who had failed to do so were to be punished. No drafts were to be written on the lands granted as eqṭāʿs. The whole of the produce was to go to the holders. In return the soldiers were to pay 50 tabrīzī mans of grain (ca. 3,251, lbs.) annually to the royal storehouses. The grant were not alienble by sale or gift. If the holder died, a near relative was to be appointed in his stead, or failing a relative one of his slaves, and if he had no slaves one of his hundred. The yarlīḡ setting out the conditions for the grant of eqṭāʿs is not entirely clear in all its details. The intention was not to transform the soldiers into agriculturists. They were still to remain a military class—the difference was that they were actually to live on the land from which they drew their pay. The holder of one of the new eqṭāʿs was forbidden to accept peasants from other provinces or to transfer peasants from one village to another even if he held both villages. Any peasants who had left within fifty years were to be returned. The peasants were therefore tied to the soil to a greater extent than formerly. The force of governmental decree was now given to what had previously been permitted only by custom (Rašīd-al-Dīn, Tārīḵ-e ḡāzānī, pp. 303-10; for the terms of the yarlīḡ, see Lambton, 1988, pp. 125-28).

Ḥamd-Allāh Mostawfī mentions various places in Azerbaijan, Arrān, Šīrvān, and Khorasan as being eqṭāʿs for the army (Nozhat-al-qolūb, ed. Le Strange, pp. 83, 92-93, 147). These were all in north-western and north-eastern Persia, districts through which the Mongol forces frequently passed on their military campaigns. However, since the decision to grant eqṭāʿs to the army was not taken until the year of Ḡāzān’s death, it is debatable how far the terms of the yarlīḡ were carried out. On the other hand, it would seem from the Dastūr-al-kāteb (I, pt. 2, p. 187) of Moḥammad b. Hendūšāh Naḵjavānī, written just after the end of the Il-khanid, that the amirs of ten thousands, thousands, and hundreds held eqṭāʿs in the provinces.

The post-Mongol period. Referring to the 14th century the sources use the term eqṭāʿ mainly in the sense of a military eqṭāʿ. Moḥammad b. Hendūšāh (I, pt. 1, p. 306; cf. I, pt. 2, pp. 187, 200) states that the armies of kings were composed of amirs and soldiers, who took from the king wages and allowances (marsūm wa jāmagī) or in place of these eqṭāʿs. The accountancy manual of ʿAbd-Allāh Māzandarānī, the Resāla-ye falakīya (comp. ca. 865/1460-61), refers to the eqṭāʿs of the soldiers (eqṭāʿāt-e ʿasāker) and to eqṭāʿs for provisions (ʿolūfa) for the amirs and pillars of the state (pp. 112, 165).

A document issued by Rostam b. Maqṣūd, the Āq Qoyunlū ruler, dated 902/1496-97, records the grant of property in the Qohāb district of Isfahan as an eqṭāʿ-e tamlīk to Sayyed Shah Taqī Moḥammad and states that the property had become the grantee’s legal and absolute property (melk-e ṭelq-e šarʿī ʿalā janāb-e moqṭaʿ lah; Barrasīhā, pp. 213-17, see also Modarresī Ṭabāṭabāʾī, pp. 132 ff.).

In the late Safavid administrative manuals, the Dastūr-al-molūk and the Taḏkerat al-molūk, the terms eqṭāʿ and eqṭāʿ al-tamlīk are occasionally used but it is not possible to decide from the context their exact meaning. It may be that the former was a grant of usufruct (known from the 9th/15th century onwards usually as toyūl) and the latter a grant of ownership. Very occasionally the term eqṭāʿ is used in the 10th/16th century in the sense of an administrative eqṭāʿ instead of the, by then, more usual term toyūl. Shah Ṭahmāsb is recorded by ʿAbd-al-Fattāḥ Fūmanī (p. 42) as writing to Khan Aḥmad, the governor (wālī) of Lāhījān, who appears to have held Beyapas as an administrative eqṭāʿ, in the following terms: “Until now (974/1566-67) we established as your eqṭāʿ Gīlān Beyapas, Gaskar, and Kahdom, but now the royal zeal requires that we should entrust the province of Beyapas to Shah Jamšīd Khan, the grandson of Moẓaffar Sultan, Gaskar to Amīra Sāsān, and Kahdom to Kāmrān Ḵalīfa. You must relinquish possession of the aforementioned olkā and leave it to their deputies and avoid giving them any cause of complaint.” Predictably Khan Aḥmad did not comply with this demand and the matter ended in war and his capture (pp. 45-49). ʿAbd-al-Fattāḥ also uses the term eqṭāʿ in the sense of an assignment of revenue. The same Jamšīd Khan later allocated the taxes (māl wa jehāt wa wojūhāt) of the olkā of Tūlam as an eqṭāʿ and annual grant (hama-sāla) to his wakīl Kāmrān Mīrzā Kahdomī (probably the same person as Kāmrān Ḵalīfa mentioned above; ʿAbd-al-Fattāḥ, p. 70).

Eskandar Beg records (II, p. 821) that the qezelbāš had estates (amlāk) and eqṭāʿāt in Marāḡa. He (or Moḥammad Yūsof) also mentions that Shah ʿAbbās gave the ʿolkā of Marāḡa to the Moqaddam tribe as an eqṭāʿ (Ḏayl, p. 286). Occasionally it is clear from the text that the term eqṭāʿ is used in the sense of a grant of a district and not merely a grant of revenue. Thus, Eskandar Beg states, “the amirs went to their eqṭāʿs” (I, p. 279), “they went to their tribal district (ʿolkā) and eqṭāʿ” (I, p. 322), and “they hastened to their eqṭāʿs” (I, p. 352).

The evolution of the soyūrḡāl. By the 14th century the term soyūrgāl came to designate something very like the administrative eqṭāʿ. In the following century it tended to be replaced in this sense by the term toyūl, though the two terms continued to be used synonymously into the 17th century (see below). The word soyūrḡāl originally meant “favor” or “reward.” Moʿīn-al-Dīn Naṭanzī (pp. 115 ff.) states that Abaqa (663-80/1265-81) gave Fārs, Ḵūzestān, Kūh Gīlūya, Fīrūzān, and Golpāyagān to Yūsof Shah, the Atabeg of Lorestān, as a soyūrgāl in return for the bravery he had shown while on a military expedition with Abaqa in Gīlān. Yūsof Shah then, according to Naṭanzī, “sought to take possession of the welāyāt-e soyūrḡālī.”

Tīmūr (d. 807/1405) granted soyūrḡāls to his relatives and military leaders. ʿAbd-al-Razzāq Samarqandī (d. 887/1482) appears to use the term soyūrḡāl in the sense of a provincial grant (though it could still mean “favor”). He states that when Tīmūr set out for Khorasan in 812/1409-10 he gave Ḥeṣār-e Šādmān to Mīrzā Jahāngīr b. Moḥammad Sultan as a soyūrḡāl and put his deputies in charge of the province (Maṭlaʿ-e saʿdayn, ed. Šafīʿ, II, pt. 1, p. 148). Malekšah Ḥosayn (p. 107), who lived in the reign of Shah ʿAbbās (996-1038 /1587-1629), states that Tīmūr summoned Malek Qoṭb-al-Dīn on the death of his grandfather Šahšahān in 805/1402-3 and gave him Sīstān and all his late grandfather’s soyūrḡāls. Under Šāhroḵ (807-50/1404-47) the soyūrgāl was a de facto grant of territory, sometimes embracing whole provinces, virtually indistinguishable from the Saljuq administrative eqṭāʿ (see Roemer, in Cambr. Hist. Iran VI, pp. 94-95, 131). In the Ketāb dīārbakrīya of Abū Bakr Ṭehrānī, written in the latter part of the 15th century, there is a statement (p. 90) to the effect that Qarā Ḥeṣār was made part of Yaʿqūb Beg’s soyūrḡāl and the Tarjanāt was given to his brother as a soyūrḡāl. From the text it is not clear whether these were grants of the district or only of its revenues.

In post-Timurid times the term soyūrḡāl was occasionally used in the sense of a provincial grant. A soyūrḡāl issued by Jahānšāh Qarā Qoyunlū, dated 857/1453 in favor of Shaikh Dārāʾī, instructs the kalāntars, kadḵodās, and people (raʿāyā) of Jūlāh to consider him their governor (ḥākem wa dārūḡa) and to pay their taxes (māl wa motawajjahāt) to him and he was, on the royal command, to present himself with equipment and men (yarāq wa nawkar) at the royal camp (Busse, pp. 149-50). A soyūrḡāl issued by Uzun Ḥasan, dated 875/1471, in favor of Sayyed ʿAbd-al-Ḡaffār grants him the village of Anbad, near Tabrīz, with its taxes (māl wa motawajjahāt-e dīvānī) together with immunity from all other divan dues. The kadḵodā and people (raʿāyā) of the village were to pay their taxes to his representatives (wokalāʾ). The grant was permanent and a new decree was not to be demanded every year (Busse, pp. 151-53).

The soyūrḡāl granted to Esfandīār Beg by Qāsem b. Jahāngīr, the Āq Qoyunlū ruler, dated 903/1498, a similar example. It conferred upon him the district (ʿolkā) of Egīl, which was his home (ojāq), Bāḡīn and Henī as a perpetual soyūrḡāl coupled with immunity from payment of the taxes (māl wa jehāt) and all dīvān dues of the aforementioned places. The grant was to be registered and no drafts whatsoever (a long list of which is mentioned) were to be made on it (Minorsky, pp. 927 ff.). The grant is described as darbasta. This probably means that the districts granted to the beneficiary were immune from all interference by government officials.

Many soyūrḡāls were granted to members of the religious classes, and took the form of pensions or immunities from taxation. Sultan Moḥammad Mīrzā Bāysonḡor (q.v.), when he took possession of Isfahan in 850/1446-47, gave soyūrḡāls to the sayyeds of Isfahan, the qāżīs, and other notables (Abū Bakr Ṭehrānī, p. 287). Jahānšāh the Qarā Qoyunlū ruler granted a soyūrḡāl for an annual sum of 10,000 kopekī dīnārs, which was to be spent on food for the poor, to the motawallī of the ḵānqāh of Meybod in or about 861/1456 (Moḥammad-Mofīd Bāfqī, p. 166). A document dated 966/1559, reaffirming a soyūrḡāl held by the Ẓāhedī sayyeds would appear to have been a grant of immunity with regard to the taxes (māl wa jehāt) of certain districts in Moḡānāt (apud Minorsky, pp. 956-58).

In the Safavid period the term soyūrḡāl designated mainly grants to the religious classes (cf. Eskandar Beg, I, pp. 145, 153, II, p. 882) and to officials of the bureaucracy (cf. Ḥasan Rūmlū, ed. Seddon, I, p. 376; Ḥabīb al-sīar [Tehran], IV, p. 565). In the reign of Shah ʿAbbās these grants came under the supervision of the ṣadr, who was an official of the religious hierarchy (Qāżī Aḥmad, text, p. 16). Whereas the grants to the religious classes were probably usually hereditary, those to officials were not (cf. the ad hoc grant to Qāżī Jahān in Ḥasan Rūmlū, i, p. 375). Sometimes the grant was made on a specific fund (cf. the grant on the poll-tax of the protected communities of Azerbaijan to Mīr Neʿmat-Allāh ʿAbd-al–Wahhābī in 1047/1638 and the redistribution of the grant among his heirs in 1067/1656; see Lambton, BSO(A)S 14/4 , pp. 44 ff.).

If a soyūrḡāl was granted on the revenue of property held by the grantee, it amounted in effect to an immunity. Thus, Mīr ʿAbd-al–Wahhāb was granted (by Shah Ṭahmāsb or Shah ʿAbbās) the taxes (māl wa jehāt) of the properties he had revivified and inherited and of new properties in ʿAqīlī and elsewhere and they were to be immune from all interference by the governors (Šūštarī, p. 37).

Soyūrḡāls were also granted for the expenses of an institution such as a shrine (cf. Eskandar Beg, p. 149) or madrasa. For example, Shah Sultan Ḥosayn constituted six villages in Barāʾān into waqf for the Solṭānī Madrasa (Madrasa-ye mādar-e šāh) in Isfahan and made their taxes (māl wa jehāt wa ḵārej al-māl wa sāyer-e jehāt) into a permanent soyūrḡāl for the administration of the madrasa (Sepantā, p. 223).

However, soyūrḡāls were also sometimes granted to members of the military classes and to provincial governors as had been the case in the Timurid period. Shah Sultan Ḥosayn, in a document dated 1113/1702, granted a sum of 6 tūmāns, 3,096 1/2 dīnārs from the taxes (māl wa jehāt wa wojūhāt) of the Dezmār district to Amīr Bāyandor Sultan, governor of Qarāja Dāḡ. The headman and peasants of Dezmār were instructed to remit the taxes and government dues annually to the new beneficiary of the soyūrḡāl and in return he was to provide seven armed men (Minorsky, pp. 958-59). Such a provision is unusual in a soyūrḡāl of this period, though common in a toyūl.

Under the Qajars, the term soyūrḡāl became obsolete, although it is occasionally found until about the middle of the 19th century. Āqā Moḥammad Khan (q.v.), after defeating Mortażāqolī Khan in 1781, gave Besṭām as a toyūl to Jaʿfarqolī Khan and Semnān as a soyūrḡāl to ʿAlīqolī Khan (Brydges, p. 15). It is not clear what the distinction between these two grants was. Possibly the terms were loosely used synonymously. Reżāqolī Khan states (Rawżat al-ṣafā, IX, p. 704) that Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah, when he visited Solṭānābād in 1244/1828-29, conferred upon Yūsof Khan Gorjī, the governor and commander of Persian ʿErāq, his estates (raqabāt) as a “permanent toyūl and everlasting soyūrḡāl.” In the early Qajar period the term soyūrḡāl was sometimes applied to grants to Qājār women, which were, to some extent, reminiscent of the eqṭāʿs granted to Saljuq women. When Āḡā Bājī, the daughter of Ebrāhīm Khan Šīšaʾī, came to join Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah’s harem, she brought with her 200 personal servants (ʿamalajāt-e šaḵṣī) from Qarābāḡ and they were given a sum from the revenue of Qom as a soyūrḡāl (ʿAżod-al-Dawla, p. 14). Similar grants were later called toyūls. For example, the divan dues of Nīāsar and its hamlets in the province of Kāšān were the toyūl of Moḥammad Shah’s sister and were alienated from the control of the governor of the province (Kalāntar Żarrābī, p. 100).

The toyūl. A toyūl was initially a temporary grant in return for service, but, like the Saljuq eqṭāʿ, it carried the right to collect (as well as to receive) the taxes of a district; and the grantee (toyūldār) was expected, like the moqṭaʿ of the administrative eqṭaʿ, to concern himself with the development of the district in which, or on which, he held a toyūl. In return for the grant he was usually required to provide a military contingent. A Timurid document, dated 804/1401, for the grant of the revenues of various districts in Naḵjavān and Azerbaijan as a toyūl to Shaikh Dorsūn illustrates the nature of the toyūl. It states that, according to the register (daftar) of Sayyed Zayn-al-ʿĀbedīn, the taxes of these districts amounted to 1333 silver currency dīnārs and 235 ḵarvārs of grain, which, on the basis of what was allotted to each soldier (ʿolūfaḵᵛār) by the dīvān, was sufficient to provide 25 men. Financial officials (bītekčīān wa ʿamaldārān) had inspected the register and reduced the tax demand, but Shaikh Dorsūn undertook in return for the dīvān taxes of these districts to provide, and to bring to the army, 50 armed and fully equipped men, each 10 men having 15 horses and 2 camels, and to each of whom he would give allowances in cash and kind as laid down by the dīvān. Accordingly the divan taxes (māl wa motawajjahāt-e dīvānī) of the districts in question, whether from ḵāleṣa or ʿošrī land, tamḡā, mawāšī, marāʿī, qobčūr or other sums, were granted to him as a toyūl. No drafts were to be made on the taxes of the district or demands upon the inhabitants for military service (čerīk-e tāzīk) or any kind of due; and the tax officials (ḥazzārān wa ʿāšerān wa bītekčīān) were forbidden to enter the districts. The inhabitants of the districts were to pay their dīvān taxes to him and he was enjoined to treat them well and to act in such a way that the districts would flourish and the people would be at ease, happy and grateful. A new decree was not to be demanded every year (Fekete, p. 72).

The Safavid toyūl contained similar features and both it and the Timurid toyūl resembled the Saljuq administrative eqṭāʿ. A document, dated 942/1535, issued by Shah Ṭahmāsb for the grant of the district (ʿolkā) of Kerend as a toyūl to Morād Beg Koroḡlī enjoins the grantee to attend to the development (maʿmūrī) of the region and its defence. The local tribal leaders and headmen (kalāntarān wa kadḵodāyān) and peasants (raʿāyā) were to pay their dīvān taxes and dues to him and to refer any disputes which might occur among them to him for decision. The peasants of the district of Kerend who had scattered, wherever they might be or with whomsoever they might be, were to return to their homes (yort wa maqām-e ḵod) and to occupy themselves in making the place flourishing and in cultivating the land (Fekete, p. 380, cf. p. 350).

In theory toyūls had to be regranted on the accession of a new ruler, but often in practice and sometimes in name, they were hereditary. Shah ʿAbbās granted to Borhān-al-Dīn, who was appointed ḵalīfa (i.e. the leader of a section of the Safavid order) of the district of Dezmār in 1019/1611 in succession to his father, thirty-four tūmāns 7,938 tabrīzī dinars on the taxes (māl wa jehāt wa wojūhāt) of Dezmār, as had been granted to his father, as his toyūl and soyūrḡāl from the date of the death of his father. The kadḵodās and peasants of Dezmār were to recognize him as the holder of the soyūrḡāl and their toyūldār and to pay to him their taxes year by year and to refer to him their affairs, apart from cases of murder (sevā-ye qażīya-ye ḵūn). The Sufis (i.e., the qezelbāš) of Dezmār and Ozomdel were to serve him when summoned (be jār wa yāsāk) as they had served his father. The governors (ḥokkām), dārūḡas, toyūldārs and tax-collectors (ʿommāl) of Azerbaijan in general and Dezmār in particular were not to interfere in any way in his soyūrḡāl or toyūl or to make any drafts or allocations on it on account of expenses (eḵrājāt) or dues (ʿavāreżāt), especially the dues (rosūm) of the dārūḡa, the vizier, or the kalāntar, etc., which, according to the decree of the late sultan (Ṭahmāsb), were not levied on the soyūrḡāls of the Sufis (Bāybūrdī, pp. 160-61).

There was a close connection between the grant of a toyūl and the provision of troops as the following accounts show. The first is by Qāżī Aḥmad, who states that the amirs, leaders (sardārān), and other military men (laškarīān) came to Shah ʿAbbās’ camp at the New Year (Nowrūz) in 996/1588. After they had paid obeisance there was a great celebration and for fifteen days Shah ʿAbbās delayed so that the army might assemble. He then went to Qarābāḡ and halted at Bīdestān. The amirs of the region were dismissed so that they could go to those places where they had toyūls (maḥall-e toyūl-e ḵod) and prepare for the coming expedition to Khorasan and from each amir a document was taken stating how many calvary and riflemen (tofangčī) and men with spades (bīldār wa qūmeš) he could make ready for the expedition (pp. 31-32). The second is by Moḥammad-Mofīd (III, p. 276), who states that Shah ʿAbbās ordered Faḵr-al-Dīn Bāfqī to provide 300 men from Bāfq and Yazd to take part with the royal army in battle. Accordingly, Faḵr-al-Dīn, who had been at court, went back to Bāfq and Yazd, collected 300 riflemen and returned with them to the capital. Shah ʿAbbās then ordered that the provinces (welāyāt) of Bāfq, Sar Yazd, and Fahraj and some of the districts in the environs (ḥawma) of the town of Kermān, and the districts bordering on the central desert, Jandaq and Nūqāt, etc. should be his toyūl. Shah ʿAbbas also allotted soyūrḡāls to Faḵr-al-Dīn’s children. In this case Moḥammad-Mofīd is clearly using the terms toyūl and soyūrḡāl in different senses.

It seems that toyūls were normally granted on the mamālek (i.e., those provinces which were not directly administered from the center) and not on ḵāṣṣa districts (i.e., districts directly administered by the central government). Thus in 1006/1597-98 a decree was issued for the dismissal of the toyūldārs of Gīlānāt and the conversion of Gīlānāt into ḵāṣṣa (ʿAbd-al-Fattāḥ, pp. 171-72). Some years later Gaskar and Āstārā were taken away from the toyūl of Ḏu’l-Faqār Khan and made into ḵāṣṣa (p. 181). In the same year Shah ʿAbbās issued an order (raqam) that Mīrzā Moḥammad-Šafīʿ (Mīrzā ʿĀlamīānī), the vizier of Gīlān, should give the revenue (madāḵel) of the district (olkā) of Tūlam as a permanent toyūl to Kāmrān Beg Tūlamī. Mīrzā Šáafīʿ, however, told the shah that Beyapas was ḵāṣṣa and belonged to the royal treasury and that the holding of a toyūl in a district which was ḵāṣṣa was out of place (toyūl-dārī maʿnī nadārad) and that he would instead give Kāmrān Beg an annual grant of 400 tūmāns in cash and that Kāmrān should not interfere in the township of Tūlam. Shah ʿAbbās agreed and summoned Kāmrān Beg should not interfere in the township of Tūlam. Shah ʿAbbās agreed and summoned Kāmrān Beg and said to him, “I have, on your behalf, accepted 400 tūmāns. What do you say to this?” Kāmrān Beg expressed his gratitude in return for this favor and Shāh ʿAbbās issued a raqam to the effect that the tax collectors (ʿommāl) of Gīlān Beyapas should pay annually the sum of 400 tūmāns from the taxes of that district (olkā) as the annual wages (mawājeb) of Kāmrān Beg, the mostawfīs to charge the aforesaid sum against the tax collectors of Beyapas. A new decree was not to be demanded every year (ʿAbd-al-Fattāḥ, pp. 231-32). This account suggests that the toyūldār was normally concerned with the administration of the district on which he held a toyūl while those receiving annual (hama sāla, har sāla) grants merely received the money without visiting the district or districts on which they were drawn. It also shows the close control by the center over the allocation of toyūls.

Although the toyūldār was often given immunity from the entry of government officials into the district which he held as a toyūl, he had no authority to change the rates of taxation any more than had the moqṭaʿ in an “administrative” eqṭāʿ. Under Shah ʿAbbās there would appear to have been some attempt to control financial abuse by toyūldārs. In 1014/1605 Shah ʿAbbās sent Mīrzā ʿĀlamīān as chief provincial vizier (wazīr-e koll) to Khorasan because of reports of peculation and extortion. Full powers were given to the vizier and orders issued that the levy of taxes even in toyūls should be under his supervision and that “the great amirs and big and small toyūldārs and dārūḡas of every district (maḥall) and the landowners (arbābs) and people and great men and kadḵodās of the province (mamlakat) of Khorasan shall not undertake any transaction, large or small, or allocate one dīnār or one man of produce in any circumstances without informing him or his appointees” (Ivagli Ḥaydar, “Ūlū’l-bāb, B.M., Add. 7688, fol. 200b, quoted by Rohrborn, pp. 106-7).

The documents for toyūls and soyūrḡāls were registered and then passed through the dīvān and sealed by the keeper of the royal seal (Mīrzā Rafīʿā, 16/3, pp. 310-11). The procedure for keeping tax assessments up to date, however, was less satisfactory. There were no regular cadastral surveys and by the end of the Safavid period, if not earlier, the assessments were often out of date. Chardin alleges that the revenue from the districts which were assigned was generally three to four times the estimated amount (Chardin, V, p. 417).

The toyūl under the Qajars. In the Qajar period the term toyūl covered the grant of a sum of money drawn on some fund, the realization of which was usually, though not necessarily, entrusted to a beneficiary, a grant of money with or without immunities and territorial jurisdiction in lieu of salary or as a pension, or simply the grant of an immunity, and, by extension, the land on which such a grant was made. Sir Justin Sheil, writing in 1854, describes the system as follows: “Every village in the kingdom pays a fixed tax on the land appertaining to it. It is customary to make a grant of this revenue in payment of salaries and pension, sinecures, etc. This is called Tiool, and the holder of it becomes lord of the village, especially if he is a person of rank and position.” Sheil seems, thus, to have believed that a toyūl was, in theory at least, simply a grant of the revenue of a district. He goes on to describe it “as a most pernicious system: whether in recompense for services or in remuneration for salary. The toyūldār being only a holder of land for a period usually short and always uncertain, has no object but to levy all the contributions he possibly can during his tenure. By some means not very intelligible he makes himself the temporary owner of the land to the complete exclusion of the real proprietor.” Almost everyone holding a position at court, from the prime minister downwards, was, he states, a toyūldār. In theory the toyūldār had no authority to alter the tax assessment but in practice, as Sheil states, he often levied contributions in excess of the basic assessment (United Kingdom, Public Record Office, F.O. 60. 194, Sheil to the Shah, n.d.).

Toyūls, like eqṭāʿs, were resumable at will. In theory they fell with the death of the ruler who had granted them unless confirmed by his successor. There was considerable variety in the matter of the payment of relief by the toyūldār on his institution and on the regrant of his toyūl. Probably no uniform practice prevailed. Such payments were not normal practice in the case of the grant of eqṭāʿs by the Saljuqs as far as is known but there is evidence of such payments under the Safavids. On the death of a toyūldār his heirs were frequently able to secure a regrant of the toyūl and there was a marked tendency for toyūls to become hereditary and to be assimilated to private property.

The obligations of the toyūldār varied. If the toyūl was in lieu of a pension, they were minimal. In the case of a toyūl granting fiscal and judicial immunity, the holder’s obligation was, in effect, to carry out the functions of government locally and, in some cases, especially in frontier districts, to provide troops. James Fraser (p. 211), writing in 1821-22, states that land held in toyūl for the payment of the military and other services paid nothing to the government. The holder took the proprietor’s share of the crop, all government dues and anything else he could get when the land belonged to the government; if, however, the assignment was on the estate of a third person, the grant only extended to the government’s dues. The Maḥāll-e Ḵamsa, for example, with its hundred villages and capital Zanjān, was, according to James Morier (pp. 261-62), by the gift of Fatḥ-ʿAlī Shah, the property of the governor Faraj-Allāh Khan, the nasaqčī-bāšī (the chief executioner). It paid no revenue but furnished the king with 5,000 horsemen, who were paid, fed, and clothed by its produce. Those toyūldārs who held extensive regions were probably expected to give the shah presents (pīškaš) at Nowrūz and, in the event of a royal “progress” through, or in the neighborhood of, their toyūls, to offer extraordinary preserts and entertainment, but these were ad hoc levies to which any person of substance might be subjected.

Traces are to be found in the Qajar period of a grant comparable to the eqṭāʿ given to soldiers in earlier times, but it is not clear what these grants were called (Morier, p. 110; S. Waring, p. 87). Various tribal groups also received grants in return for frontier defense (see Gazetteer of Persia, Calcutta, 1892, IV, p. 27; Collection of Journals, pp. 286-87, 303-4, quoted in Lambton, 1991, pp. 163-64; Gazetteer of Persia, Simla, 1902, pp. 92, 373).

Much crown land was alienated from the control of the central government as toyūl. For example, the greater part of the Šāhsevan country in Azerbaijan was granted towards the middle of the 19th century in toyūl to the family of Abu’l-Fatḥ Khan, a Qarābāḡ chief of consequence (Rawlinson, pp. 5, 7). It was, however, not only crown land or state land that was so granted. Grants were made on private property and waqf land also. If a toyūl drawn on a tax or taxes of a district was granted to the owner of the district, this amounted, as it had earlier, virtually to the grant of fiscal and judicial immunity. In fact, it was often stated in the document granting the toyūl that government officials should not enter the district (cf. the grant of a tax immunity for Amīr Dīzaj in Dehḵᵛāraqān in 1827-28, and also the grant issued by Moḥammad Shah, dated 1252/1836, to Ḥasan Khan Baybūrdī Qarajadāḡī; see Nāder Mīrzā, p. 255; Bāybūrdī, p. 264). Rawlinson (p. 5 note), who traveled widely in Persia in the first half of the 19th century, when writing in 1838, thought that about one-fifth of the land revenue was alienated from the government in toyūl. One of the factors which contributed, albeit to a minor extent, to the extension of toyūls was “protection.” This was similar to the practice of taljeʾa, found in early Islamic times, by which a man placed himself under the protection of another by ceding his land to him. Small landowners or peasant proprietors would sometimes request a neighboring landowner or powerful individual to ask for their land as a toyūl so that they might obtain his protection against the government (cf. Aubin, p. 466).

While the evidence so far available for the history of the eqṭāʿ, the soyūrḡāl, and the toyūl is fragmentary, it shows that there was a marked similarity between them. It is probably largely because the eqṭāʿ and the toyūl were often associated with the existence of a subject peasantry and with the fragmentation of authority, whether or not leading to disorder, coupled with the fact that the assessment of taxes and the levy of troops were closely connected that the eqṭāʿ system has often been described as feudalism and the moqṭaʿ as a feudal lord. This is to misunderstand the two systems. A subject peasantry and the fragmentation of authority are not essential to either Anglo-Norman feudalism or to the eqṭāʿ system, though they may be associated with both. The crucial difference between them is that the eqṭāʿ was not held by a tenure similiar to tenure by knight service by which the Anglo-Norman fief was held. There was no vassalic commendation and no mutual bond between the grantor and the moqṭaʿ or toyūldār. The relations between them were personal and not reciprocal. It is therefore inaccurate and misleading to describe the eqṭāʿ, the soyūrḡāl, or the toyūl as a feudal grant or fief and the moqṭaʿ and toyūldār as a feudal lord. The eqṭāʿ, the soyūrḡāl (in its Timurid form) and the toyūl were essentially bureaucratic institutions devised to provide for the payment of the army and the government of the provinces, and, to a lesser extent, to reward supporters and favorites of the government.

The Saljuq eqṭāʿ and the Timurid soyūrḡāl worked reasonably well as long as the central government was strong. Under the Safavids there was a reassertion of the provincial government. As a result the toyūl began to lose its importance as a device for administering the country, though the central government continued to make assignments of land and revenue in the form of toyūls and soyūrḡāls. The Qajar government, partly because it was unable to make its writ run effectively throughout the country or to provide the financial means to meet its bureaucratic or military needs, continued to grant toyūls; but it failed to exercise control over the system. In the changing circumstances of the 19th century the system ceased to provide a satisfactory solution to the financial, administrative, and military problems of the state and finally disappeared.



It is not possible to give an exhaustive list of all the sources relevant to the history of the eqṭāʿ, soyūrḡāl, and toyūl. This would include almost the whole range of historical and geographical literature for the period under consideration together with the numerous documents, inscriptions, and the collections of farmāns which have been published, especially in recent years, in Persia and elsewhere. Reference may be made to Bert G. Fragner, Repertorium persischer Herrscherurkunden, Freiburg im Breisgau, 1980.

ʿAbd-Allāh b. Moḥammad b. Kīā Māzandarānī, Resāla-ye falakīya, ed. W. Hinz, Wiesbaden, 1952.

Mollā ʿAbd-al-Fattāḥ Fūmanī Gīlānī, Tārīḵ-e Gīlān, ed. M. Sotūda, Tehran, 1349 Š./1970.

ʿAbd-al-Razzāq Samarqandī, Maṭlaʿ-e saʿdayn, ed. M Šafīʿ, Lahore, 1360-68/1941-49.

Abū Bakr Ṭehrānī, Ketāb dīārbakrīya, ed. N. Lugal and F. Sümer, Ankara, 1962.

Afżal-al-Dīn Aḥmad b. Ḥāmed Kermānī, ʿEqd al-ʿolā, ed. ʿA.-M.ʿĀmerī Nāʾīnī, Tehran, 1311 Š./1932.

Aḥmad b. Ḥosayn b. ʿAlī Kāteb, Tārīḵ-e jadīd-e Yazd, ed., Ī. Afšār, Tehran, 1345 Š./1966.

E. Aubin, La Perse d’aujourd’hui, Paris, 1908.

Awlīāʾ-Allāh Āmolī, Tārīḵ-e Rūyān, ed. M. Sotūda, Tehran, 1348 Š./1969.

ʿAżod-al-Dawla Solṭān Aḥmad Mīrzā, Tārīḵ-e ʿażodī, ed. ʿA. Navāʾī, Tehran 1955 Š./1976.

Bahāʾ-al-Dīn Moḥammad Baḡdādī Ḵᵛārazmī, al-Tawassol ela’l-tarassol, ed. A. Bahmanyār, Tehran, 1315 Š./1936.

Barrasīhā-ye tārīḵī 8/4, 1352 Š./1979, pp. 213-17.

ʿA. Bāybūrdī, Tārīḵ-e Arasbārān, Tehran, 1341 Š./1962.

C. H. Becker, “Steuerpacht und Lehnswesen,” Der Islam 5, 1914, pp. 81-92.

A. Ben Shemesh, Taxation in Islam II: Qudāma b. Jaʿfar’s Kitāb al-Kharāj, pt. 7, Leiden and London, 1965.

M. van Berchem, La propriété territoriale et l’impôt foncier sur les premiers califes, Geneva, 1886.

C. E. Bosworth, “Military Organisation under the Buyids,” Oriens 18-19, 1967, pp. 143-67.

H. J. Brydges, tr., The Dynasty of the Kajars, London, 1833.

H. Busse, Untersuchungen zum islamischen Kanzleiwesen, Cairo, 1959.

Fatḥ b. ʿAlī Bondārī Eṣfahānī, Dawlat al-Saljuq, Cairo 1318/1900-1901.

Cl. Cahen, “L’évolution de l’iqṭāʿ du IXe au XIIIe siežcle,” Annales, économies-sociétés-civilisation 8, 1953. pp. 25-52.

Idem, “Buwayhids,” EI2 I, pp. 1350-57.

Idem, “iḳṭāʿ,” in EI2 III, pp. 1088-91.

Collection of Journals and Reports Received from Capt. the Hon. G.C. Napier on Special Duty in Persia, 1874, London, 1876.

A. A. Duri, “The Origins of the Iqṭāʿ in Islam,” al-Abḥāṯ 22, 1969, pp. 3-22.

Ebn-al-Neẓām Ḥosaynī, al-ʿOrāża fi’l-ḥekāyat al-saljūqīya, ed. K. Süssheim, Leiden, 1909.

Eskandar Beg Monšī and Moḥammad-Yūsof, Ḏayl-e tārīḵ-e ʿālamārā-ye ʿabbāsī, ed. A. Sohaylī Ḵᵛānsārī, Tehran, 1317 Š./1938.

L. Fekete, Einführung in die persische Palaographie, ed. G. Hazai, Budapest, 1977.

J. Fraser, Narrative of a Journey into Khorasan in the Years 1821 and 1822, London, 1825.

Gazetteer of Persia, Calcutta, 1892.

Abū Ḥāmed Moḥammad Ḡazālī, Naṣīhat al-molūk, ed. J. Homāʾī, Tehran, 1315 Š./1937.

Gazetteer of Persia, Simla, 1902.

H. Horst, Die Staatsverwaltung der Grosselğūqen und Ḫōrazmšāhs, (1038-1231), Wiesbaden, 1964.

Montajab-al-Dīn Badīʿ-al-Kāteb Jovaynī, ʿAtabat al-kataba, ed. ʿA. Eqbāl, Tehran, 1329 Š./1950.

ʿAbd-al-Raḥīm Kalāntar Żarrābī, Tārīḵ-e Kāšān, ed. Ī. Afšār, Tehran, 1334 Š./1956.

Abū ʿAbd-Allāh Moḥammad Ḵᵛārazmī, Mafātīḥ al-ʿolūm, ed. G. van Vloten, Leiden 1895.

M. S. Khan, “The Effects of the iqṭāʿ (land-grant) System under the Buwayhids,” Islamic Culture 58, 1984, pp. 298-305.

A. K. S. Lambton, Landlord and Peasant in Persia, London, 1953, repr., London, 1991.

Idem, “Reflexions on the eqṭāʿ,” in G. Makdisi, ed., Arabic and Islamic Studies in Honor of Hamilton A.R. Gibb, Leiden, 1965, pp. 358-76; repr. in idem, Theory and Practice in Medieval Persian Government, Variorum reprints, London, 1980.

Idem, “The iqṭāʿ, Grund-Eigentum in Mesopotamien,” Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte, Berlin, 1987.

Idem, “Two Ṣafavid soyūrghāls,” BSO(A)S 14/4, 1952, pp. 44-54.

Idem, “The Administration of Sanjar’s Empire as Illustrated in the ʿAtaba al-Kataba,” BSO(A)S 20, 1957, pp. 367-88.

Idem, Continuity and Change in Medieval Persia: Aspects of Administrative, Economic and Social History, 11th-14th century, London, 1988.

Fr. Løkkegaard, Islamic Taxation in the Classical Period, Copenhagen, 1950.

Malekšāh Ḥosayn b. Malek Gīāṯ-al-Dīn, Eḥyāʾ al-molūk, ed. M. Sotūda, Tehran, 1344 Š./1965.

Taqī-al-Dīn Aḥmad Maqrīzī, al-Mawāʿeẓ wa’-eʿtebār fī ḏekr al-ḵeṭaṭ wa’l-āṯār, Būlāq, 1324-26/1906-8.

Abu’l-Ḥasan ʿAlī Māwardī, al-Aḥkām al-solṭānīya, Cairo, 1386/1966.

V. Minorsky, “A soyūrghāl of Qāsem b. Jahāngīr Āq-qoyunlu (903/1498),” BSO(A)S 9/4, 1937-39, pp. 927-60.

Mīrzā Rafīʿā, Dastūr al-molūk, ed. M.-T. Dānešpāzūh, MDAT 16/3, 1347 Š./1968.

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(A. K. S. Lambton)

Originally Published: December 15, 1998

Last Updated: December 15, 2011

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Vol. VIII, Fasc. 5, pp. 520-533