ḴOJESTĀNI, Aḥmad b. ʿAbd-Allāh


ḴOJESTĀNI, Aḥmad b. ʿAbd-Allāh, Abu Šojāʿ (d. 882) commander of the Taherids in Khorasan, and after the Ṣaffarid occupation of Nishapur in 873, a contender for power.

His nesba Ḵojestāni establishes a connection with Ḵojestān, a district of Bāḏāgis, lying to the northeast of Herat. In the 9th century, the region was considered a major hotbed of Kharijite dissidence, and centuries later Neẓāmi ʿArużi Samarqandi (Persian text p. 42) included an anecdote about Ḵojestāni in Čahār maqāla (written ca. 1156). He mentions that Ḵojestāni was stimulated to embark on a military career by the stirring verses of Ḥanẓala Bādḡisi, a local poet in New Persian. Be this as it may, in historical sources (Neẓāmi, Persian commentary, p. 69) Ḵojestāni is mentioned as commander in the army of Moḥammad b. Ṭāher (r. 873-81 and 882), the last Taherid governor in Nishapur, or as commander of local ʿayyārs. In any case, after the downfall of the Taherids at the hands of Yaʿqub b. Layṯ b. Moʿaddal (r. 861-79;) in 873, Ḵojestāni effectively made a bid for independent power, taking advantage of the extremely confused political and military situation in Khorasan. Ḵojestāni had at first submitted to Yaʿqub after the Saffarid capture of Nishapur (Tāriḵ-e Sistān, p. 225, tr. p. 178; Ebn al-Atir, VII, p. 296). But once Yaʿqub had to leave the province for business elsewhere, Ḵojestāni became a major factor in the local power struggle. Until his death in 882, he apparently continued to attract local Kharijite elements as well as unemployed Turkish ḡolams and other mercenaries.

Ebn al-Aṯir (1160-1233) included a detailed account of Ḵojestāni’s rebellion in Kamel fi ’l-taʾriḵ, drawing on a lost chronicle about the governors of Khorasan by Sallāmi (fl. mid-10th century). Ḵojestāni first disposed of rivals like Yaʿqub’s commander Ebrāhim b. Šarkab, and then seized control of Nishapur from the Saffarid representative, temporarily restoring the Taherid Ḥosayn b. Ṭāher b. ʿAbdallāh to power in 876. From a base at Herat, Ḵojestāni was involved in struggles with rival generals, including Abu Ṭalḥa Manṣur b. Šarkab and Rāfeʿ b. Harṯama. He returned to Nishapur between 878 and 879 (Ebn al-Aṯir, VII, pp. 297), and pursued the ʿAlid Ḥasan b. Zayd to Gorgān.

Yaʿqub died in 879, and during the next years his successor Amr b. Layṯ (r. 879-900) was preoccupied with consolidating his power in southern Persia and planning attacks on Iraq. At the outset, however, ʿAmr tried to recover the lost Saffarid position in Khorasan. In 880, he marched to take Nishapur, but was defeated by Ḵojestāni’s forces (Ṭabari, III, p. 1941; Ebn al-Aṯir, VII, p. 335). Ḵojestāni followed this success with an attack on Sistan, and between 880 and 881 he met with strenuous resistance at the capital Zarang (Gardizi, p. 142; Tārik-e Sistān, pp. 237-38, tr. 187-88). At the places that he controlled, the ḵoṭba no longer mentioned Taherids, who had been replaced by the Abbasid caliph Moʿtamed (r. 870-92) and himself. At Nishapur and Herat, he issued his own coins (Ṭabari, III, p. 2009; Bosworth, 1994, p. 198), taking for himself the honorific al-wāfi (the trustworthy servant). He was now at the peak of his power. He fought off Abu Ṭalḥa Manṣur, ʿAmr’s ally and his governor for Khorasan, defeating him twice in battle. ʿAmr’s position in Khorasan was only slightly improved, when one of his Turkish ḡolāms murdered Ḵojestāni at the beginning of July 882 at Šādyāḵ (Ṭabari, III, p. 2025; Tārik-e Sistān, p. 239, tr. p. 189; Ebn al-Aṯir, VII, pp. 303-304). His troops transferred their allegiance to Rāfeʿ b. Harṯama (d. 896), who was recognized by the Abbasid caliph as the representative of his Taherid governor in Khorasan. It was not until 896, when Rāfeʿ was finally defeated and killed, that ʿAmr’s control of Khorasan was fully restored.




Abu Saʿid ʿAbd-al-Ḥayy Gardizi, Zayn al-aḵbār, ed. by A.-Ḥ. Ḥabibi, Tehran, 1968, p. 142.

Ebn al-Aṯir, Al-Kamel fi ’l-taʾriḵ, ed. by C. J. Tornberg, repr., 13 vols., Beirut, 1965-67, VII, pp. 296-373, passim.

Neẓāmi ʿArużi Samarqandi, Čahār maqāla, ed. by M. Qazvini, rev. by M. Moʿin, Tehran, 1955-57, p. 42 in text, p. 69 in commentary; rev. tr. as Four Discourses, by E. G. Browne, London, 1921, pp. 27-29.

Ṭabari, Ketāb taʾriḵ al-rosul wa’l-moluk, ed. by M. J. de Goeje et al., 15 vols., repr., Leiden, 1964, III, pp. 1931, 1941, 2009, 2025; tr. as The ʿAbbāsid Recovery, by P. M. Fields, History of al-Ṭabarī 37, Albany, N.Y., 1987, index.

Tāriḵ-e Sistān, ed. by M.-T. Bahār, Tehran, 1935, pp. 225-27, 236-39; tr. as The Tārikh-e Sistān, by M. Gold, Rome, 1976, pp. 178-80, 187-89.


C. E. Bosworth,“Khudjistān,” EI² V, p. 47.

Idem, “Ṭāhirids. 1,” EI² X, pp. 104-105 Idem, The History of the Saffarids of Sistan and the Maliks of Nimruz (247/861 to 949/1542-3), Costa Mesa, Calif., 1994, pp. 127-34, 193-202.

C. Defrémery, “Mémoire sur un personnage appelé Ahmed, fils d’Abd-Allah,” JA 4th ser., 6, 1845, pp. 345-62.

B. Sładanek, “Khujistānī’s Uprising in Khurāsān (860-869): The Anatomy of an Unsuccessful Rebellion,” Rocznik Orientalistycny 46, 1989, pp. 63-77.

R. Vasmer, “Über die Münzen der Ṣaffāriden und ihrer Gegner in Fārs und Óurāsān,” Numismatische Zeitschrift NS 63, 1930, pp. 131-62.


July 20, 2009

(C. Edmund Bosworth)

Originally Published: July 20, 2009

Last Updated: July 20, 2009