ASADĀBĀD (Asadābāḏ and Asadāvād in medieval Islamic sources).
1. A town in the medieval Islamic province of Jebāl, now in the ostān of Kermānšāhān (Bāḵtarān) of modern Iran. It is situated at an altitude of 5,575 ft/1,699 m, some 33.5 miles/54 km west-southwest of Hamadān on the historic Baghdad-Hamadān-Ray or Tehran highway, separated from Hamadān itself by a pass over the intervening Kūh-e Alvand, the innermost chain of the Zagros mountain system.
The strategic position of Asadābād in the ancient kingdom of Media must have given it a significance coeval with that of the more important Ecbatana-Hamadān, though we know little of its pre-Islamic history. Tomaschek identified it with the Adrapana of Isidore of Charax (see Pauly-Wissowa, III/1, col. 264, s.v. “Beltra”). The area around Asadābād was certainly very important in Sasanian times, and the Arab geographers mention the town as being three farsakhs from the so-called “Kitchen(s) of Chosroes” (maṭbāk/maṭābeḵ Kesrā) or “Portico of the cymbal” (Ayvān al-Ṣanǰ). According to the 4th/10th-century traveler Abū Dolaf Ḵazraǰī, the son of Ḵosrow II Parvēz and Šīrīn, Šāh Mardān, used to stay at Asadābād (Abū-Dulaf Misʿar ibn Muhalhil’s travels in Iran (circa A.D. 950), ed. and tr. V. Minorsky, Cairo, 1955, sec. 40, tr. p. 47), and another authority, Ebn al-Faqīh, says that the Sasanian emperors resided at the place Āzarmīḏdoḵt near Asadābād (p. 229, tr. H. Massé, Abrégé du livre des pays, Damascus, 1973, p. 277).
The Islamic Asadābād (for whose name Yāqūt, I, p. 245, gives a fanciful etymology, from the Himyarite king Asad b. Ḏi’l-Sarw, who allegedly campaigned in the district with the Tobbaʿ rulers of Yemen) was clearly very close to a settlement named by certain Islamic geographers as Ḵondāḏ (Ḵonvāḏ), identified by Herzfeld with the Onoadas of the Tabula Peutingeriana; cf. Ebn Rosta, p. 167, tr. G. Wiet, pp. 193-94, and Abū Dolaf, op. cit., commentary, p. 96).
It was a small, but flourishing town in the early Islamic centuries, apparently till Il-khanid times and perhaps beyond. Its market was busy, according to Maqdesī/Moqaddasī (p. 393), and it had a fertile agricultural hinterland which produced cereals, cotton, fruit, and especially honey, these lands being irrigated by waters from the Kuh-e Alvand brought by qanāts. In Ḥamdallāh Mostawfī’s time (8th/14th century) there were 35 villages dependent on Asadābād, yielding 15,000 dinars’ revenue (Nozhat al-qolūb, pp. 72-73, tr. p. 75). It was a center of some culture and learning, and Samʿānī names several traditionists and scholars who stemmed from it (Hyderabad, I, pp. 210-13). In later times it sank to the status of a largish village, and in 1877 H. W. Bellew counted 200 houses there, with a Jewish element among the inhabitants (From the Indus to the Tigris, London, 1874, p. 431). In 1951 it had 7,000 inhabitants, primarily Persian-speaking but with Kurdish and Turkish also known, and in recent years it has been administratively the center of a baḵš of the same name in the šahrestān of Hamadān (see Razmārā, Farhang V, p. 11; L. W. Adamec, Historical Gazetteer of Iran. I. Tehran and Northwestern Iran, Graz, 1976, p. 50).
Asadābād’s role in history has been a modest one. In 195/810-11, during the civil war between the two sons of the caliph Hārūn al-Rašīd, it was the scene of an important battle between al-Amīn’s general ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān b. Jabala Abnāwī and al-Maʾmūm’s one Ṭāher Ḏu’l-yamīnayn, the founder of the Taherid dynasty in Khorasan, in which the former was defeated and killed, so that all the province of Jebāl fell into al-Maʾmūn’s hands (Ṭabarī, III, pp. 831-32). In the opening years of the 5th/11th century, possession of it was contested by rival factions of the Kurdish Ḥasanūya dynasty (Ebn al-Aṯīr, Beirut, 1385-87/1965-67, IX, pp. 214, 249), but in 414/1023-24 it came into the possession of the Daylami Kakuyid ruler ʿAlāʾ-al-dawla Moḥammad b. Došmanzīār, who minted coins there in 415/1024-25 and 416/1025-26 (see G. C. Miles, “The Coinage of the Kākwayhid Dynasty,” Iraq 5, 1938, pp. 90, 97, 102; idem, “A Hoard of Kākwayhid Dirhems,” American Numismatic Society Museum Notes 12, 1966, pp. 166-67, 185). Soon afterwards, however, in 420/1029, the region of Asadābād was plundered by Oghuz and Daylami marauders after Hamadān had fallen to the incoming Turkmen hordes (Ebn al-Aṯīr, IX, p. 384). Another important battle took place there in 514/1120, when Masʿūd b. Moḥammad, governor of Mosul, Jazīra, and Azerbaijan, and his Atabeg Joyūš Beg rebelled against the Saljuq Sultan Maḥmūd b. Moḥammad, but were defeated by the latter’s general Aqsonqor Borsoqī (see C. E. Bosworth, in Camb. Hist. Iran V, p. 121). In recent decades Asadābād has gained new significance as the birthplace of the Muslim reformist Sayyed Jamāl-al-dīn Asadābādī “Afḡānī” (q.v.).
On Asadābād see also Abu’l-Fedā, Taqwīm, pp. 416, 417. Ebn Ḥawqal, pp. 358, 359; tr. Kramers, pp. 350, 351. Ebn Ḵordāḏbeh, pp. 21, 41. Qodāma b. Jaʿfar, BGA 6, p. 226. E. Ehlers, Iran: Grundzüge einer geographischen Landeskunde, Darmstadt, 1980, pp. 92, 382. Kayhān, Joḡrafīā II, p. 383. Le Strange, Lands, pp. 195-96. J. de Morgan, Mission scientifique en Perse. Ētude géographique, Paris, 1894, II, pp. 124, 127-28, 138. Schwarz, Iran, pp. 492-93.
2. A village or settlement in medieval Khorasan on the high road linking Ray and Nīšāpūr, and accounted the first place on the administrative region of Nīšāpūr after leaving Qūmes; according to Ebn Rosta (p. 170, tr. p. 198) it was constituted as a waqf by ʿAbdallāh b. Ṭāher, governor of Khorasan in the middle years of the 3rd/9th century, for the maintenance of the rebāṭ of Farāva (q.v., modern Qizil Arvat in Soviet Turkmenistan). See also Yāqūt, (I, p. 245) and Schwarz (Iran, pp. 809, 825).
3. According to Nozhat al-qolūb (p. 179, tr. 172), there was further an Asadābād on the route connecting Marv and Marv-al-rūḏ in eastern Khorasan, at a point roughly half way along.
Bibliography: Given in the text.
(C. E. Bosworth)
Originally Published: December 15, 1987
Last Updated: August 16, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. II, Fasc. 7, pp. 697-698
C. E. Bosworth, “ASADĀBĀD (1),” Encyclopædia Iranica, II/7, pp. 697-698, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/asadabad-asadabad-and-asadavad-in-medieval-islamic-sources (accessed on 30 December 2012).