EBN DĀROST, TĀJ-AL-MOLK ABU’L-ḠANĀʾEM MARZBĀN b. Ḵosrow-Fīrūz Šīrāzī (438-86/1046-93), last vizier of the Great Saljuq Sultan Malekšāh (r. 465-85/1072-92). Born of a secretarial family in Fārs, he served the Saljuq slave amir Qoṭb-al-Dīn Sāvtegīn in southern Persia and Iraq during the early part of Malekšāh’s reign. Sāvtegīn commended him to the sultan, who first made him intendant of the harems and private property of various of his sons, then treasurer and overseer of the palace buildings, and finally, when his capabilities had been amply demonstrated, head of the chancery (Dīvān al-enšāʾ wa’l-ṭoḡrā) in succession to Kamāl-al-Molk Abu’l-Moḵtār Zawzanī. In the struggle for power in the administration (dīvāns) and at court (dargāh) that characterized much of Malekšāh’s reign, Ebn Dārost was ranged against the great vizier Neẓām-al-Molk and his family and was allied with such figures as Majd-al-Dawla Qomī, mostawfī or head of the accounts department, Sadīd-al-Molk Abu’l-Maʿālī Mofażżal, ʿārezµ or head of the war department, and Sayyed-al-Roʾasāʾ Abu’l-Maḥāsen Moḥammad. Since Neẓām-al-Molk’s assassination in Ramażān 485/October 1092, ostensibly at the hands of an Ismaʿili fedāʾī, favored the interests of the anti-Neẓām-al-Molk party, and also possibly the interests of the sultan himself, contemporaries (whose views are reflected in the historical sources) widely believed that Ebn Dārost and Malekšāh had plotted the vizier’s death ( Rippe, pp. 423-35).
Immediately after Neẓām-al-Molk’s murder, Ebn Dārost succeeded him as vizier at Baghdad, where the court was then established; but his triumph was immediately placed in jeopardy by Malekšāh’s own death (mid-Šawwāl 485/mid-November 1092). Toward the end of the Sultan’s reign, Ebn Dārost had become allied with Malekšāh’s wife, the Qarakhanid princess Jalālīya or Terken (Torkān) Ḵātūn, whom the Saljuq monarch had married in 456/1064; the two had built up a strong party among Neẓām-al-Molk’s enemies in the administration and at court. At Malekšāh’s death, they immediately proclaimed the succession in Baghdad of Terken Ḵātūn’s four-year-old son Maḥmūd, to whom the ʿAbbasid caliph granted the honorific title of Nāṣer-al-Donyā wa’l-Dīn. However, the rival party of Neẓām-al-Molk’s sons and partisans, the Neẓāmīya, proclaimed at Ray the succession of Barkīāroq (Berk-yaruq), Malekšāh’s eldest son and the one approaching nearest to manhood. Ebn Dārost and Terken Ḵātūn marched out with their forces from Isfahan but were defeated at the battle of Borūjerd at the end of Ḏu’l-ḥejja 485/late January 1093; Ebn Dārost was captured by Barkīāroq. The latter, mindful of the vizier’s administrative skill, was disposed to make him his own vizier, but the Neẓāmīya were thirsting for vengeance. They procured his execution on 12 Moḥarram/12 February; and by the next year, both Terken Ḵātūn and Maḥmūd were dead also.
Ebn Dārost was naturally the object of praise of several contemporary poets (Moʿezzī, d. ca. 520/1126, addressed four qaṣīdas to him; Dīvān, ed. N. Nayyerī, Tehran, 1362 Š./1983, pp. 371-73, 376-77, 425-27, 577-78); but his ambitions and controversial policies also made him a target for satires (cf. Bondārī, p. 61). Like Neẓām-al-Molk and other great men in the Saljuq state, he participated in the wave of madrasa building and other charitable works that characterized this period of Sunni revival. In 480/1087 construction began in Baghdad of his Tājīya madrasa, a Shafiʿite college intended to rival the Neẓāmīya; the famous scholars Abū Bakr Šāšī and Abu’l-Fotūḥ al-Ḡazālī, brother of Abū Ḥāmed, taught there.
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Ebn Dārost’s life and career must be pieced together from scattered references: Sayf-al-Dīn ʿAqīlī, Āṯār al-wozarāʾ, ed. J. Moḥaddeṯ Ormavī, Tehran, 1337 Š./1958, p. 216.
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(C. Edmund Bosworth)
Originally Published: December 15, 1997
Last Updated: December 6, 2011
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Vol. VIII, Fasc. 1, pp. 12-13