NUḤ (II) B. MANṢUR (I), ABU’L-QĀSEM, Samanid Amir (r. 365-87/976-97), initially in both Transoxania and Khorasan, latterly in Transoxania only, called after his death Amir-e Rāżi, “The Well-Pleasing Amir,” or according to Naršaḵi, Amir-e Rašid, “The Rightly-Guided Amir.”
Nuḥ was the last Samanid to enjoy a reign of significant length, but within it he had little freedom to act independently. Since he succeeded his father when he was just 13 years only (Ebn al-Aṯir, VIII, p. 673), at the outset the real power in the state lay with his mother and the Vizier Abu’l-Ḥosayn ʿAbd-Allāh b. Aḥmad ʿOtbi (appointed at the end of 366/977), who was ambitious to restore the power of the civilian officials vis-à-vis the great military commanders. Hence in 371/982, he managed to depose the all-powerful Abu’l-Ḥasan Moḥammad b. Ebrāhim Simjuri from his governorship of Khorasan; he replaced him with his own candidate, Tāš, a former ḡolām (q.v.) of his father who had been given the honorific title of Ḥosām-al-Dawla. In this way Abu’l-Ḥasan was forced to retire to his family estates in Qohestān (Gardizi, ed. Nazim, pp. 49-50; ed. Ḥabibi, pp. 165-66). War was now renewed against the Buyids under their greatest ruler, ʿAżod-al-Dawla Fannā-Ḵosrow b. Rokn-al-Dawla (q.v.). The war went badly for Fāʾeq Ḵāṣṣa (q.v.), who was the ḥājeb (q.v.), and the army of Khorasan, but the death of ʿAżod-al-Dawla in 372/983 prevented a Buyid invasion. The geographer Maqdesi (p. 338) considered ʿAżod-al-Dawla’s death and the subsequent decline of the Buyid dynasty as divine retribution for his presumptuousness in attacking the Samanids. The Vizier ʿOtbi himself assembled an army at Merv and was about to lead it against the Buyids when assassins in the pay of Fāʾeq Ḵāṣṣa and Abu’l-Ḥasan Simjuri killed him; his kinsman, the historian ʿOtbi (I, pp. 121-22), rightly considered him as the last vizier of the Samanids worthy of the name (Gardizi, ed. Nazim, pp. 50-51; ed. Ḥabibi, p. 166; Ebn al-Aṯir (Beirut), IX, pp. 10-13, 18; Barthold, Turkestan³, pp. 252-53; Frye, “The Sāmānids,” p. 156).
The remaining years of his rule were filled with power struggles amongst the army commanders. Tāš lost his position as governor of Khorasan when a new vizier, one hostile to the ʿOtbi family, ʿAbd-Allāh b. Moḥammad b. ʿOzayr, was appointed, and Abu’l-Ḥasan Simjuri assumed command there. Tāš tried to combat Fāʾeq Ḵāṣṣa and Simjuri with assistance from the Buyid Amir of Ray, Abu’l-Ḥasan Faḵr-al-Dawla and the Amir in Fārs and Ḵuzestān, Šaraf-al-Dawla Širzil, but he was defeated in 377/987 and driven out to Gorgān, where he died of plague a year later (ʿOtbi, I, pp. 145, 149; Gardizi, ed. Nazim, p. 52; ed. Ḥabibi, p. 167). When Abu’l-Ḥasan Simjuri died in 378/989, his equally ambitious son Abu ʿAli Moḥammad inherited his position as well as his estates. Abu ʿAli defeated in battle Fāʾeq Ḵāṣṣa and declared his submission to Nuḥ, although in practice he treated him with every form of contempt; the luckless Amir had to bow to force majeure and appoint Abu ʿAli governor of Khorasan. The latter’s prestige was now such that he assumed, on his own initiative, the lofty honorific of Amir-al-omarāʾ al-moʾayyad men al-samāʾ, “The Supreme Commander, the Heavenly-Aided One” (ʿOtbi, I, p. 155; Gardizi, ed. Nazim, p. 53; ed. Ḥabibi, p. 168), and appropriated for himself all the revenues of Khorasan, including even those from the royal domains (Gardizi, loc. cit.; Barthold, op. cit., pp. 253-54; Frye, op. cit., pp. 156-57). Repulsed from Bukhara in 380/990, Fāʾeq Ḵāṣṣa moved into northern Afghanistan and, from his base in Balkh, fought off an attack by the Fariḡunid Amir of Guzgān Abu’l-Ḥāreṯ Aḥmad b. Moḥammad (see ĀL-E FARĪḠŪN), whom his suzerain Nuḥ had incited against the rebel.
A new factor now appeared in the politics and maneuverings in Transoxania, that of the Turkish Qarakhanids. Abu ʿAli Simjuri secretly connived with Boḡra Khan Hārun, then at Esfijāb (see ASFĪJĀB) in the middle Syr Darya valley, to partition the Samanid dominions, with Abu ʿAli to have all the lands south of the Oxus. Boḡra Khan seems also to have received an invitation from some of the local dehqāns, and to have enjoyed at least the passive acquiescence of the ulemawhen he invaded Transoxania. The Amir could only engage Fāʾeq Ḵāṣṣa to defend his capital, but Fāʾeq could not withstand the Turkish hordes, and Boḡra Khan entered Bukhara in 382/992; despite the financial crisis of the later Samanid period, he is said to have found the state coffers full. Meanwhile, Nuḥ collected an army at Āmol and secured the reluctant co-operation of Abu ʿAli Simjuri at the price of a grant to him of the title Wali Amir-al-Moʾmenin, “Companion of the Commander of the Faithful,” hitherto exclusively a royal title. In the event, illness forced the Khan to retreat from Bokhara and he died shortly afterwards (ʿOtbi, I, pp. 163-76; Gardizi, ed. Nazim, pp. 53-54; ed. Ḥabibi, p. 168; Barthold, Turkestan3, pp. 257-60). Nuḥ recovered some of his ancestral lands, but probably only those in the Zarafšān basin. He now found himself faced with an alliance of Fāʾeq Ḵāṣṣa and Abu ʿAli, and hence was obliged to seek the support of Sebüktegin from Ghazna, thus introducing a new player into the game. He met Sebüktegin at Kiš, and the latter swore allegiance to Nuḥ. Their forces, joined by those of the local rulers of Guzgān and Garčestān, and, on the battle field, by those of the Ziyarid Dārā b. Qābus, secured a decisive victory over the rebels in 383/993. For this victory, Sebüktegin and his son Maḥmud received resplendent honorific titles, and, in 386/996, the latter was made governor of Khorasan. Fāʾeq Ḵāṣṣa and Abu ʿAli returned to the fight but were again defeated; Abu ʿAli was imprisoned in Bukhara and later died in Ghaznavid captivity (ʿOtbi, I, pp. 189, 219-31; Gardizi, ed. Nazim, pp. 55-56; ed. Ḥabibi, p. 169; Barthold, pp. 260-63; Frye, “The Sāmānids,” pp. 157-58).
In this same year, a fresh Qarakhanid invasion of Transoxania took place. With few forces at his disposal, Nuḥ could only call on Sebüktegin again, but the latter, from his position of strength, imposed stringent conditions, and in the end made an agreement with the Ilig Naṣr b. ʿAli whereby the Qarakhanid could take over the entire Syr Darya basin. Sebüktegin and Maḥmud remained complete masters of Khorasan. Nuḥ died soon afterwards, on 14 Rajab 387/23 July 997 (ʿOtbi, I, p. 255; Barthold, op. cit., pp. 263-64; Frye, p. 158), to be succeeded by his son Manṣur (II) (q.v.); but the end of the dynasty was now only two years away.
Sources. Ebn al-Aṯir (Beirut), VIII-IX. Gardizi, ed. Nazim, pp. 48-58; ed. Ḥabibi, pp. 164-71.
Maqdesi (Moqaddasi), p. 338. Naršaḵi, p. 117; tr. Frye, pp. 99-100.
Abu’l-Ḥosayn ʿOtbi, al-Taʾriḵ-al-Yamini, with commentary of Manini, Cairo, 1286/1869, I.
Studies. Barthold, Turkestan³, pp. 252-64.
C. Edmund Bosworth, “Nūḥ (II) b. Manṣūr b. Nūḥ,” EI VIII, p. 110.
Idem,The New Islamic Dynasties, Edinburgh, 1996, pp. 170-71 no. 83.
Richard N. Frye, “The Sāmānids,” Camb. Hist. Iran IV, pp. 154-58.
Erdoğan Merçil, “Sîmcûrîler. IV,” Belleten 49, no. 195, 1985, pp. 547-67.
Muhammad Nazim, The Life and Times of Sulṭān Maḥmūd of Ghazna, Cambridge, 1931, pp. 30-32.
(C. Edmund Bosworth)
Originally Published: July 20, 2002
Last Updated: July 20, 2002