ḴOJANDIS OF ISFAHAN, a prominent family of Šāfeʿi ulema, who were settled in Isfahan by the Saljuq grand vizier Neẓām-al-Molk.  They turned into the most important family and political actor in that city during the Saljuq period and continued to play a significant role up to the Mongol invasion.  From the end of the 11th century, they controlled the local Neẓāmiya madrasa and the position of the raʾis (an official title granted by the king to leaders of urban communities) with the honorific title of Ṣadr-al-Din.  They were based in the Dardašt quarter (northwestern part of the city), where the Neẓāmiya was located. In the 12th century, they become essential partners of the sultans, who could not control Isfahan without their cooperation (see Isfahan vi. Medieval Period).  On the other hand, they also developed direct relations with the ʿAbbasid caliphs, and tactical alliances with various Turkish lords to ensure the durability of their local influence.  Their political role eventually overshadowed their reputation as faqih (see FEQH).  They were also the main benefactors of the city under the rule of the Saljuqs of Iraq (see also ʿErāq-e ʿAjam), and their court attracted poets (e.g., Ẓahir Fāryābi, Ḵāqāni, Aṯir Aḵsikati) and men of letters (e.g., Najm-al-Din Qomi).  Many member of the family were themselves reputed as poets, and samples of their poetry are included in the anthologies of Sadid-al-Din Moḥammad ʿAwfi and Jamāl Širvāni.

The Ḵojandis were staunch Shafiʿites (the dominant maḏhab in Isfahan until at least the end of the 12th century), but they also held good relation with the Shiʿites. On the other hand their local influence was limited by the strengthening of the Hanafite community, who enjoyed the steady support of Turkish rulers.  At the end of the Saljuq rule, the Ḵojandis lost their supremacy in Isfahan to a Hanafi family, the Ṣāʿed, and their attempts to regain it by force were short- lived.  Apparently they did not survive the capture of the city by the Mongols in 633/1235-36.

The bulk of our information on the Ḵojandis is provided by ʿEmād-al-Din Kāteb Eṣfahāni and Abu Saʿid Samʿāni, who both had direct contact with them.  Documents, mainly letters, written by or for the Ḵojandis are also preserved in the Moḵtārāt men al-rasāʾel, an enšāʾ collection compiled in the Il-khanid period. Eighteen members of the family, spread over eight generations, are known (see genealogical tree in Durand-Guédy, 2010, p. 314; idem, 2011).

(1) Jamāl-al-Eslām Abu Bakr Moḥammad I b. Ṯābet, (d. Isfahan, Ḏu’l-qaʿda 483/December 1090-January 1091; 482/1090 according to Ṣafadi, II, p. 281).  He studied jurisprudence (feqh) in Khorasan with his father and a local traditionist (Sobki, IV, p. 124; Asnawi, I, p. 229).  The vizier Ḵvāja Neẓām-al-Molk met him in Marv, at the time the capital of Saljuq leader Čaḡri Beg Dāwud.  Around 457/1064-5, Neẓām-al-Molk invited him to the new Saljuq capital, Isfahan, and entrusted him with the direction of the Šāfeʿi madrasa he had founded (ʿEmād-al-Din, I, p. 241; Ebn al-Aṯir, X, pp. 366-67; Sobki, IV, p. 124; Durand-Guédy, 2010, pp. 125-26).  Many of his students later became judges (see Durand-Guédy, 2011, table 1).  He is the author of two books of feqh (Sobki, IV, pp. 124-25; Ḥājji Ḵalifa, I, p. 932).  Authors favorable to the Ḵojandis (ʿEmād-al-Din, I, p. 241; Qomi, p. 249) linked him with the Arab general Mohallab b. Abi Ṣofra (d. 83/702), but this genealogical attribution, repeated by later authors (e.g., Ebn al-ʿEmād, VI, p. 270), is hypothetical. We know four of his children (see below nos. 2, 3, 4, and 5).

(2) Abu Saʿd Aḥmad b. Abu Bakr Moḥammad I (d. Isfahan, 1 Rabiʿ II 531/26 December 1136).  He was born in 443/1051-2 (Ebn al-Jawzi, X, p. 70) in Khorasan.  As an expert in feqh, he should have succeeded his father as the head of the madrasa but was forced ultimately to give way to “somebody else” (Asnawi, I, p. 478), probably his brother, Abu’l-Qāsem (Durand-Guédy, 2011, p. 190).  He directed on several occasions the Neẓāmiya madrasa in Baghdad, the last time in 531/1136 (Ebn al-Jawzi, X, pp. 68, 70; Ebn Kaṯir, XII, p. 263).  The famous traditionist and author Abu Saʿid Samʿāni attended his lessons (Sobki, VI, p. 51).

(3) Malek-al-ʿOlamāʾ Abu’l-Qāsem Masʿud b. Abu Bakr Moḥammad I, raʾis of Isfahan (d. between 500 and 511/1107 and 1118).  Ebn Fowaṭi’s information (V, p. 493) is incorrect regarding his patronymic (konya) and death date. Malek-al-ʿOlamāʾ played a key role in the struggle against the Ismaʿili leader Aḥmad b. ʿAṭṭāš.  It was probably he who, in 492/1099, rallied the pro-Saljuq networks of Isfahan behind the Saljuq Moḥammad b. Malekšāh in his bid for the sultanate when he rebelled against his brother Berk Yaruq (Ebn al-Aṯir, X, p. 288; Durand-Guédy, 2010, p. 164).  In 494/1100-1, he organized a witch hunt against the Ismaʿilis in Isfahan (Ebn al-Aṯir, X, pp. 314-15).  In 500/1106-7, along with the Qāżi ʿObaydallāh Ḵaṭibi, he orchestrated the downfall of the vizier Saʿd-al-Molk, so that no negotiated settlement with Ebn ʿAṭṭāš could take place (Ẓahir-al-Din Nišāpuri, p. 49; Rāvandi, pp. 158-61; Durand-Guédy, 2010, pp. 178-81). He was probably made raʾis of Isfahan after the death of the raʾis Qāsem b. Fażl Ṯaqafi in 489/1096 (Durand-Guédy, 2010, p. 197).

(4) Ṣadr-al-Din ʿAbd-al-Laṭif I b. Abu Bakr Moḥammad I (d. Isfahan, 523/1128-9), the raʾis of Isfahan.  He was killed by the Ismaʿilis in 523/1128-9, despite the fact that he kept permanent armed guards (Ebn al-Aṯir, X, pp. 659-60; Sobki, VI, p. 133).  Ebn Ṣābuni (p. 184) considers him the last member of the family to have been a significant traditionist.  He had two sons (below nos. 6 and 7).

(5) Abu’l-Moẓaffar b. Abu Bakr Moḥammad I (d. Ray, 496/1102-3).  He taught in the Neẓāmiya of Isfahan (Ebn al-Jawzi, IX, p. 137).  He was assassinated by an ʿAlid at the end of a sermon while he was trying to calm a conflict between the Shiʿites and Sunnites in Ray (Sebṭ b. Jawzi, IX, p. 137; Ebn al-Aṯir, X, p. 366).  Ḥamdallāh Mostawfi (p. 690) speaks of him (mistakenly) as the “first of the Ḵojandis in Isfahan,” and Ebn al-Fowaṭi (V, p. 493) apparently mistakes him with Masʿud Ḵojandi (no. 7).

(6) Malek-al-ʿOlamāʾ Ṣadr-al-Din Abu Bakr Moḥammad b. ʿAbd-al-Laṭif I (b. after 502/1108-9, d. near Hamadān, 22 Šawwal 552/27 November 1157).  He studied Hadith in Isfahan and Baghdad (Sobki, VI, p. 133) and succeeded his father as raʾis of Isfahan.  He took advantage of the crisis of the Saljuq state to reinforce the grip of the Ḵojandis on Isfahan, sometimes in direct opposition to the sultans.  In 527/1133, to avenge the execution of ʿAziz-al-Din Mostawfi by the vizier Abu’l-Qāsem Dargazini, he opposed sultan Ṭoḡrel b. Moḥammad (Durand-Guédy, 2010, pp. 257-58).  In 542/1147, he sided with the emir of Fars, Buzāba, and his protégé Moḥammad b. Maḥmud in their unsuccessful bid against Sultan Masʿud; he apparently become vizier of Moḥammad; he was exiled in Iraq as a punishment but was recalled to Isfahan after one year (Durand-Guédy 2015, p. 174, 182).  In 549/1154-5, Sultan Moḥammad b. Maḥmud threw him in prison (Bondāri, pp. 220-21, 243).  In 551/1156-7, he refused to help the same sultan during the siege of Baghdad (Bondāri, p. 252).  He died the following year while returning to Isfahan (Sobki, VI, p. 134).  He was buried in the district of Sonbalān (Asnawi, I, p. 235, no. 444), and his death was followed by a violent crisis in Isfahan (Ebn al-Aṯir, XI, p. 228).  ʿEmād-al-Din (I, p. 242) praises his qualities, and Ebn al-Jawzi (X, p. 179), his talent as an orator.  According to Samʿāni, “he looked more like a vizier than like an ulema” (Sobki, VI, p. 133).  His verses are quoted by ʿEmād-al-Din (I, pp. 153, 242-45) Bondāri (p. 221), Sobki (VI, p. 134), and Āvi’s translation of Māfarruḵi (p. 104). We know of two of his sons (below ns. 8 and 9).

(7) Jamāl-al-Din Maḥmud b. ʿAbd-al-Laṭif I (d. after 549/1154-55), brother of the preceding (no. 6).  He went into exile with his brother in 542/1147-8.  In 549/1154-5, he was sent to Kerman by sultan Moḥammad b. Maḥmud to arrange an alliance with the Saljuqs of Kerman (Bondāri, p. 244).  We know of two of his sons (below no. 10 and 11).

(8) Rokn-al-Eslām Ṣadr-al-Din Abu’l-Qāsem ʿAbd-al-Laṭif II, son of Abu Bakr Moḥammad II (b. Rajab 535/February 1141, d. Rabiʿ I or II 580/1184).  He was raʾis of Isfahan.  Dawlatšāh (p. 112) mistakenly calls him chief judge (qāżi’l-qożāt).  He was taught by his father Abu Bakr Moḥammad II and several other traditionists (Sobki, VII, p. 186).  In 552/1157, aged fifteen, he succeeded his father as raʾis.  In 553/1158-59, he resisted a raid launched by the prince Malekšāh b. Moḥammad on Isfahan (Ebn al-Aṯir, id., XI, p. 237).  In Ṣafar 560/December 1164-January 1165, a violent disturbance broke out between his followers and the Hanafites (Ebn al-Aṯir, XI, p. 319).  In 580/1184, he went on pilgrimage to Mecca and delivered a sermon in Medina (Ebn Jobayr, p. 201).  He died on the way back (Ebn al-Aṯir, XI, pp. 509-10; Asnawi, I, p. 235).  He was a celebrated patron (ʿAwfi, I, p. 265), a poet, and an esteemed man of letters (see samples of his Arabic verses in ʿEmād-al-Din, pp. 245-49 and Ebn al-Aṯir, XI, pp. 509-10, and his Persian verses in ʿAwfi, I, pp. 265-66, and Širvāni, passim).

(9) Kamāl-al-Eslām ʿObaydallāh b. Abu Bakr Moḥammad II (d. after 581/1184-5), brother of Rokn-al-Eslām Abu’l-Qāsem, mentioned above (ʿEmād-al-Din, I, p. 247).  Some of his Arabic verses are quoted by ʿEmād-al-Din (I, pp. 247, 249-50).  He is probably the ʿAbdallāh b. Abu Bakr Moḥammad II, Abu Moḥammad Adib Ḵojandi, mentioned by Ebn Fowaṭi (IV, p. 165), and also the Kamāl-al-Eslām ʿAbdallāh mentioned in some documents of the Moḵtārāt.

(10) Kamāl-al-Eslām Abu’l-Fatḥ Moḥammad III b. Maḥmud, father of Kamāl-al-Din Aḥmad, no. 13 (Ebn Fowaṭi, IV, p. 117).

(11) Kamāl-al-Eslām Masʿud b. Maḥmud, who was famous for his sermons and his taste for the belles letters (Ebn Fowaṭi, IV, p. 260).  He was held against his will at the court of the Atabak of Azerbaijan, Pahlavān Moḥammad b. Ildegoz (Moḵtārāt, pp. 118-20, 177-78).  He may be the Jamāl-al-Din Masʿud [Ḵojandi] mentioned by several authors of the 12th century but whose identity is not clear (according to Rafiʿi, IV, p. 88, he was alive in 581/1185-6 and was or had been qāżi of Hamadan; cf. Rāvandi, pp. 339-40, speaking of an alliance between Jamāl-al-Din Masʿud and the Saljuq Ṭoḡrel b. Arslān against the atabaks (atabegs) of Azerbaijan around 582/1186-7; see Durand-Guédy, 2010, pp. 275-76). Some of his Arabic verses are noted by Ebn Fowaṭi (IV, p. 260).

(12) Ṣadr-al-Din Abu Bakr Moḥammad IV b. ʿAbd-al-Laṭif II, raʾis of Isfahan (d. Isfahan, Jomādā I 592/May 1196).  He succeeded his father in 580/1184, probably at a young age (Sobki, VI, p. 134).  In 582/1186-7, he, as the head of the Shafiʿites, became involved in a deadly conflict with the Hanafite qāżi of Isfahan, who was supported by the atabaks of Azerbaijan (Ebn al-Aṯir, XI, pp. 525-26).  In 583/1187, the people of Isfahan rose against the emirs of the Atabak Qezel Arslān and expelled them from the city (Rāvandi, pp. 344-45).  The Ḵojandis, led by Ṣadr-al-Din Moḥammad IV, were without doubt behind this initiative (Durand-Guédy, 2010, pp. 2276-77), and it was probably he that Sultan Ṭoḡrel b. Arslān rewarded with functions of preacher (ḵatib) and judge (qāżi; Rāvandi, p. 421).  For the first time, the same person (or at least the same family) controlled the two key municipal functions. He then fell out with the sultan and was forced into exile in Baghdad in 588/1192-3.  There he accompanied the ʿAbbasid vizier Ebn al-Qaṣṣāb in his campaign in Khuzestan (Sobki, VI, p. 134).  He returned to Isfahan, which was then under the control of the Hanafi family of the Ṣāʿed, who were allied with the Ḵvārazmians (see Chorasmia ii. In Islamic times).  He regained his position in Isfahan with the help of the ʿAbbasid army, but was eventually beheaded by the local governor and military leader (šeḥna) sent from Baghdad (Rāvandi, p.  381; Ebn al-Aṯir, XII, pp. 117, 124, with a wrong nesba; Sobki, VI, p. 135; Asnawi, I, p. 236; Abu Šāma, p. 12; Ebn Kaṯir, XII, p. 16; Durand-Guédy, 2010, pp. 283-84).  Ṣadr-al-Din patronized the historian Najm-al-Din Qomi (Qomi, p. 212), as well as the poet Ẓahir-al-Din Fāryābi (Ẓahir-al-Din Fāryābi, pp. 280 313; see also Yazdegerdi’s critics of the anecdotes reported by Dawlatšāh, pp. 112-13).

(13) Kamāl al-Din Abu Manṣur Aḥmad Mostawfi, son of Abu’l-Fatḥ Moḥammad III (no. 10).  He worked in Saljuq government offices (divān; Ebn Fowaṭi, IV, p. 117).

(14) ʿAbd-al-Ṣamad b. Moḥammad IV, probably raʾis of Isfahan.  He is the only known member of the sixth generation of Ḵojandis in Isfahan.

(15) Ṣadr-al-Din ʿOmar, raʾis of Isfahan (d. before 633/1235-6). He is probably the Ṣadr-al-Din Ḵojandi who, in the years 618-19/1221-23, allied himself with a Ḵvārazmian emir to plunder the Hanafi quarter of Jubāra in Isfahan and then resisted the attack of another Ḵvārazmian emir (Nasavi, pp. 70-71, 75; Pers. tr., pp. 94, 100; Durand-Guédy, 2010, pp. 287-88).  After the establishment of a strong Ḵvārazmian authority in western Iran in 621/1224, he had to accept an imposed truce with his Hanafi rivals (Kamāl-al-Din Eṣfahāni, p. 274; see also Glünz, pp. 191-92).  His funeral oration was written by the poet Kamāl-al-Din Eṣfahāni (pp. 422-26).

(16) ʿEmād-al-Eslām ʿAżod-al-Din Ḥasan b. ʿAbd-al-Ṣamad, brother of the above (no. 15; Kamāl-al-Din Eṣfahāni, pp. 307-9).  He is probably the Abu Moḥammad ʿAżod-al-Din Ṯābet b. ʿAbd-al-Ṣamad mentioned by Ebn Fowaṭi (I, pp. 406-7).

(17) Šehāb-al-Din b. ʿOmar, raʾis of Isfahan.  He succeeded his father at an early age (Kamāl al-Din Eṣfahāni, p. 425, vv. 7336-37).  He might have initiated the embassy of Shafiʿite leaders of Isfahan to the Mongol camp in 633/1235-36 to get rid of the Hanafites of Isfahan (Ebn Abi’l-Ḥadid, III, p. 81; Durand-Guédy, 2010, pp. 296-97).  He and the rest of the family were probably exterminated by the Mongols after their conquest of the city.  In later periods, sources mention individuals bearing the nesba Ḵojandi in Isfahan, but they have no connection with this family.

The history of the Ḵojandi family of Isfahan has been investigated (although often in a very incomplete and not always reliable way) by Moḥammad Qazvini (appendix to ʿAwfi, I, pp. 354-56); Moḥammad Ṣadr-Hāšemi; Jalāl-al-Din Homāʾi (pp. 133-40); Moṣleḥ-al-Din Mahdawi (1969, pp. 22-24; 2005, pp. 63-65; 2006, pp. 64-71); Ḥosayn Baḥr-al-ʿOlumi (Introd. to Kamāl-al-Din Eṣfahāni, pp. xlii-xlvi); Heinz Halm (p. 147); Akram Bahrāmi; ʿAli Āl-e Dāwud; R. Ḵāṭun; François De Blois (pp. 401-5); the most detailed study is in Durand-Guédy (2010; 2011).


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(David Durand-Guédy)

Originally Published: September 16, 2015

Last Updated: September 16, 2015

Cite this entry:

David Durand-Guédy, “ḴOJANDIS OF ISFAHAN,” Encyclopædia Iranicaonline edition, 2015, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/khojandis-of-isfahan (accessed on 16 September 2015).