AFŠĪN B. DĪVDĀD, ABU’L-MOSĀFER or ABŪ ʿOBAYDALLĀH MOḤAMMAD, founder of the semi-independent Sajid dynasty in Azerbaijan (r. 276/889-90-317/929). He and his brother Yūsof, who seized power after him, are prominent in Armenian history. In Arabic sources he is named Moḥammad b. Abī Sāǰ, in Armenian sources Afšīn, which was the title of the princes of Ošrūsana in Transoxania; he evidently assumed the name Afšīn at some stage, as it appears on a coin minted for him at Bardaʿa in 285/898. His father Abu’l-Sāǰ Dīvdād was a kinsman of the celebrated Afšīn Ḵeyḏār or Ḥaydar; like him he entered the caliphal service as a condottiere and rose to high military rank before his downfall in 266/879-80. Moḥammad continued to enjoy ʿAbbasid favor, and was appointed guardian of the roads to Mecca in 266/879-80 and governor of Raḥba and Anbār in 269/883. The death of Aḥmad b. Ṭūlūn, the ruler of Egypt and Syria, in the following year prompted him to conceive a plan to conquer Syria with the help of Esḥāq b. Kendāǰeq and support from caliphal troops. After inflicting defeats on the Egyptians, he quarreled with Esḥāq, and after overcoming him, took control of Mosul; but in Moḥarram, 275/May-June, 888 he was beaten by the Egyptians in a battle near Damascus.

In 276/889-90, or perhaps not until 279/892, he was appointed governor of Azerbaijan by the regent Mowaffaq, brother of the ʿAbbasid caliph Moʿtamed. In 280/894 he took Marāḡa from a rebel, ʿAbdallāh b. Ḥasan al-Hamdānī (Hamadānī ?), and went on a mission with gifts from the caliph to Sonbāṭ, the Bagratid king of Armenia. Later he clashed with Sonbāṭ and captured Naḵčavān and Dabīl (Dvin), but eventually made peace. For a time he defied the caliph and perhaps then assumed the title Afšīn. After renewing his allegiance to the caliph and obtaining a confirmation of his governorship, he launched a campaign in which he captured Qars, took as hostage Sonbāṭ’s wife (whom he later exchanged for Sonbāṭ’s son), subdued the Ardzrunid Armenian prince of Vāspūrakān, and occupied Tiflis. He was preparing another expedition against Sonbāṭ when he died in a plague at Bardaʿa in 288/901.


Camb. Hist. Iran IV, pp. 228-29.

EI1 IV, p. 53. EI2 I, p. 637; II, p. 679.

C. Defrémery, “Mémoire sur la famille des Sadjides,” JA, 4th series, 1847, vol. 9, pp. 409-16; vol. 10, pp. 396-436.

V. Minorsky, Studies in Caucasian History, London, 1953, index.

S. A. Kasravī, Šahrīārān-e gomnām, Tehran, 1308 Š./1929; 2nd ed.

Tehran 1335 Š./1956.

M. J. Maškūr, Naẓar-ī be tārīḵ-eĀḏarbāyǰān, Tehran, 1349 Š./1970.

Zambaur, p. 179.

Idem, Die Münzprägungen des Islams, ed. P. Jockel, Wiesbaden, 1968, p. 70.

Ṭabarī, reprinted, Leiden 1964, vol. 3, pp. 2123, 2185, 2195, 2202, and index.

Ebn al-Aṯīr (repr.) VI, pp. 61, 63, 66, 92.

Armenian and other sources are cited by Canard, Minorsky, and Kasravī.

(ʿA. Kārang and F. R. C. Bagley)

Originally Published: December 15, 1984

Last Updated: July 28, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 6, p. 591

Cite this entry:

ʿA. Kārang and F. R. C. Bagley, “AFŠĪN B. DĪVDĀD,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/6, p. 591; an updated version is available online at (accessed on 14 March 2014).