Buyid dynasty

The Buyid dynasty, or the Buyids (Persian: آل بویه Āl-e Būya; also known as Buwaihids, Bowayhids, Buyahids, or Buyyids), was a Shia Iranian dynasty[6] of Daylamite origin,[a] which mainly ruled over Iraq and central and southern Iran from 934 to 1062. Coupled with the rise of other Iranian dynasties in the region, the approximate century of Buyid rule represents the period in Iranian history sometimes called the 'Iranian Intermezzo' since, after the Muslim conquest of Persia, it was an interlude between the rule of the Abbasid Caliphate and the Seljuk Empire.[7]

Buyid Dynasty

آل بویه
Āl-e Būya
The Buyid dynasty in 970
(Buyids of Fars, 934–1062)
(Buyids of Jibal, 943–1029)
(Buyids of Iraq, 945–1055)
Common languages
Shia Islam[3]
(also Sunni, Mu'tazila Islam, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Judaism)
GovernmentHereditary monarchy
Imad al-Dawla
Abu Mansur Fulad Sutun
Historical eraMiddle Ages
 Imad al-Dawla proclaimed himself "Emir"
 Adud al-Dawla becomes the supreme ruler of the Buyid dynasty
980 est.[4][5]1,600,000 km2 (620,000 sq mi)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Abbasid Caliphate
Banu Ilyas
Abu Abdallah al-Baridi
Great Seljuq Empire
Uqaylid dynasty
Banu Mazyad

The Buyid dynasty was founded by 'Ali ibn Buya, who in 934 conquered Fars and made Shiraz his capital. His younger brother Hasan ibn Buya conquered parts of Jibal in the late 930s, and by 943 managed to capture Ray, which he made his capital. In 945, the youngest brother, Ahmad ibn Buya, conquered Iraq and made Baghdad his capital. He received the laqab or honorific title of Mu'izz al-Dawla ("Fortifier of the State"). The eldest, 'Ali, was given the title of 'Imad al-Dawla ("Support of the State"), and Hasan was given the title of Rukn al-Dawla ("Pillar of the State").

As Daylamite Iranians, the Buyids consciously revived symbols and practices of Iran's Sasanian Empire.[8] Beginning with 'Adud al-Dawla, they used the ancient Sasanian title Shahanshah (شاهنشاه), literally "king of kings".[9][10]

At its greatest extent, the Buyid dynasty encompassed territory of most of today's Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, and Syria, along with parts of Oman, the UAE, Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan. During the 10th and 11th centuries, shortly before the invasion of the Seljuq Turks, and particularly under king 'Adud al-Dawla, the Buyids were the most powerful and influential dynasty in the Middle East.[11][12]


The word Būya (Arabic Buwayh) is a Middle Persian name ending in the diminutive ـویه (Middle Persian -ōē, modern Persian -ūyeh, Arabic -uwayh). The Buyids were descendants of Panah-Khusrow, a Zoroastrian from Daylam. He had a son named Buya, who was a fisherman from Lahijan,[13] and later left Zoroastrianism and converted to Islam.[14] Buya later had three sons, named Ahmad, 'Ali, and Hasan, who would later carve out the Buyid kingdom together. The Buyids claimed royal lineage from Bahram V, 15th king of the Sasanian Empire.[15]


Rise (934-945)

The founder of the dynasty, 'Ali ibn Buya, was originally a soldier in the service of the Daylamite warlord Makan ibn Kaki,[16] but later changed his adherence to the Iranian ruler Mardavij, who had established the Ziyarid dynasty, and was himself related to the ruling dynasty of Gilan,[17] a region bordering Daylam. 'Ali was later joined by his two younger brothers, Hasan ibn Buya and Ahmad ibn Buya. In 932, 'Ali was given Karaj as his fief, and thus was able to enlist other Daylamites into his army. However, 'Ali's initiative proved too much for Mardavij, who planned to have him killed, but 'Ali was informed of Mardavij's plan by the latter's own vizier. The brothers, with 400 of their Daylamite supporters, then fled to Fars,[18] where they managed to take control of Arrajan.[19] However, the Buyids and the Abbasid general Yaqut shortly fought for control of Fars, with the Buyids eventually emerging victorious.[16] This victory opened the way for the conquest of the capital of Fars, Shiraz.[20]

'Ali also allied with the landowners of Fars, which included the Fasanjas family, which would later produce many prominent statesmen for the Buyids. 'Ali also enlisted more soldiers—including Turks, who were made part of the cavalry. 'Ali then sent his brother Ahmad on an expedition to Kerman, but was forced to withdraw after opposition from the Baloch people and the Qafs.[21] However, Mardavij, who sought to depose the Abbasid caliph of Baghdad and recreate a Zoroastrian Iranian Empire, shortly wrested Khuzestan from the Abbasids and forced 'Ali to recognize him as his suzerain.[22]

Luckily for the Buyids, Mardavij was assassinated shortly thereafter in 935, which caused chaos in the Ziyarid territories, a perfect situation for the Buyid brothers; Ali and Ahmad conquered Khuzistan, while Hasan captured the Ziyarid capital of Isfahan, and, in 943, captured Rey, which became his capital, thus conquering all of Jibal. In 945, Ahmad entered Iraq and made the Abbasid Caliph his vassal, at the same time receiving the laqab Mu'izz ad-Dawla ("Fortifier of the State"), while 'Ali was given the laqab Imād al-Dawla ("Support of the State"), and Hasan was given the laqab Rukn al-Dawla ("Pillar of the State").

Height of power and Golden age (945-983)

In addition to the other territories the Buyids had conquered, Kerman was conquered in 967, followed by Oman (967), the Jazira (979), Tabaristan (980), and Gorgan (981). After this, however, the Buyids went into a slow decline, with pieces of the confederation gradually breaking off and local dynasties under their rule becoming de facto independent.

Decline and fall (983–1062)

The death of Adud al-Dawla is considered the start of the decline of the Buyid dynasty;[23] his son Abu Kalijar Marzuban, who was in Baghdad when he died, at first kept his death secret to ensure his succession and avoid civil war. When he eventually made the death of his father public, he was given the title of "Samsam al-Dawla". However, Adud's other son, Shirdil Abu'l-Fawaris, challenged his authority, and the feared civil war occurred anyway.[24] Meanwhile, a Kurdish Marwanid chieftain named Badh ibn Dustak seized Diyabakr and forced Samsam al-Dawla to recognize him as the vassal ruler of the region.[24] Furthermore, Mu'ayyad al-Dawla also died during this period, and he was succeeded by Fakhr al-Dawla, who, with the aid of Mu'ayyad al-Dawla's vizier Sahib ibn 'Abbad, became the ruler of Mu'ayyad al-Dawla's possessions.[25] Another son of Adud al-Dawla, Abu Tahir Firuzshah, established himself as the ruler of Basra and took the title of "Diya' al-Dawla", while another son, Abu'l-Husain Ahmad, established himself as the ruler of Khuzistan, taking the title of "Taj al-Dawla".

Shirdil Abu'l-Fawaris (known by his title of "Sharaf al-Dawla") quickly seized Oman from Samsam al-Dawla, and, in 983, the Turkic troops of Samsam al-Dawla mutinied against him and some left Iraq for Fars, but most of them were persuaded by his relative Ziyar ibn Shahrakawayh to stay in Iraq. However, Iraq was in a grim state, and several rebellions occurred, which he managed to suppress, the most dangerous being that of Asfar ibn Kurdawayh, who tried to make Abu Nasr Firuz Kharshadh (known by his title of "Baha' al-Dawla") the ruler of Iraq. During the same period, Samsam al-Dawla also managed to seize Basra and Khuzistan, forcing his two brothers to flee to Fakhr al-Dawla's territory.

During the mid-11th century, the Buyid amirates gradually fell to the Ghaznavid and Seljuq Turks. In 1029, Majd al-Dawla, who was facing an uprising by his Daylami troops in Ray, requested assistance from Mahmud of Ghazna.[26] When Sultan Mahmud arrived, he deposed Majd al-Dawla, replaced him with a Ghaznavid governor and ended the Buyid dynasty in Ray.[26][27]

In 1055, Tughrul conquered Baghdad, the seat of the caliphate, and ousted the last of the Buyid rulers.[28] Like the Buyids, the Seljuqs kept the Abbasid caliphs as figureheads.[29]


The Buyids established a confederation in Iraq and western Iran. This confederation formed three principalities - one in Fars, with Shiraz as its capital - the second one in Jibal, with Ray as its capital - and the last one in Iraq, with Baghdad as its capital. However, during their late period, more principalities formed in the Buyid confederation. Succession was hereditary, with rulers dividing their land among their sons.

The title used by the Buyid rulers was amir, meaning "governor" or "prince". Generally, one of the amirs would be recognized as having seniority over the others; this individual would use the title of amir al-umara,[10] or senior amir. Although the senior amīr was the formal head of the Būyids, he did not usually have any significant control outside of his amirate; each amir enjoyed a high degree of autonomy within his territories. As mentioned above, some stronger amirs used the Sassanid title of Shahanshah. Furthermore, several other titles such as malik ("king"), and malik al-muluk ("king of kings"), were also used by the Buyids. On a smaller scale, the Buyid territory was also ruled by princes from other families, such as the Hasanwayhids.


Artistic rendering of a Daylamite Buyid infantryman.

During the beginning of the Buyid dynasty, their army consisted mainly of their fellow Daylamites, a warlike and brave people of mostly peasant origin, who served as foot soldiers. The Daylamites had a long history of military activity dating back to the Sasanian period, and had been mercenaries in various places in Iran and Iraq, and even as far as Egypt. The Daylamites, during a battle, normally bore a sword, a shield, and three spears. Furthermore, they were also known for their formidable shield formation, which was hard to break through.[30]

But when the Buyid territories increased, they began recruiting Turks into their cavalry,[20] who had played a prominent role in the Abbasid military.[31] The Buyid army also consisted of Kurds, who, along with the Turks, were Sunnis, while the Daylamites were Shi'i Muslims.[32] However, the army of the Buyids of Jibal was mainly composed of Daylamites.[33]

The Daylamites and Turks often quarrelled with each other for dominance within the army.[34] To compensate their soldiers the Buyid amīrs often distributed iqtāʾs, or the rights to a percentage of tax revenues from a province (tax farming), although the practice of payment in kind was also frequently used.[35] While the Turks were favoured in Buyid Iraq, the Daylamites were favoured in Buyid Iran.[36]


Like most Daylamites at the time, the Buyids were Shia and have been called Twelvers.[37] However, it is likely that they began as Zaydis.[38][39] Moojen Momen explains this transition from Zaydism to Twelverism, by noting that, since the Buyids were not descendants of Ali, the first Shi'i Imam, Zaydism would have required them to install an Imam from Ali's family. So, Buyids tended toward Twelverism, which has an occulted Imam, a more politically attractive option to them.[38]

The Buyids rarely attempted to enforce a particular religious view upon their subjects except in matters where it would be politically expedient. The Sunni Abbasids retained the caliphate but were deprived of all secular power.[40] In addition, to prevent tensions between the Shia and the Sunnis from spreading to government agencies, the Buyid amirs occasionally appointed Christians to high offices instead of Muslims from either sect.[41]

Buyid rulers

Major rulers

Generally, the three most powerful Buyid amirs at any given time were those controlling Fars, Jibal and Iraq. Sometimes a ruler would come to rule more than one region, but no Buyid rulers ever exercised direct control of all three regions.

Buyids in Fars

Buyid era art: Painted, incised, and glazed earthenware. Dated 10th century, Iran. New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Buyids in Ray

Buyids in Iraq

Minor rulers

It was not uncommon for younger sons to found collateral lines, or for individual Buyid members to take control of a province and begin ruling there. The following list is incomplete.

Buyids in Basra

Buyids in Hamadan

Buyids in Kerman

Buyids of Khuzistan

Family tree

Imad al-Dawla
Rukn al-Dawla
Mu'izz al-Dawla
Abu Ishaq IbrahimIzz al-Dawla
Sanad al-DawlaMarzubanZubaydaAbu TahirAli ibn Kama
Marzuban ibn BakhtiyarSalarUnnamed princess
Fakhr al-Dawla
'Adud al-Dawla
Mu'ayyad al-Dawla
Shams al-Dawla
Majd al-Dawla
Sharaf al-Dawla
Samsam al-Dawla
Baha' al-Dawla
Sama' al-Dawla
Qawam al-Dawla
Sultan al-Dawla
Musharrif al-Dawla
Jalal al-Dawla
Fana-KhusrauAbu Dulaf
Abu Kalijar
Al-Malik al-AzizAbu Mansur Ali
Abu Ali Fana-KhusrauAbu Mansur Fulad Sutun
Al-Malik al-Rahim
KamravaAbu'l-Muzaffar BahramAbu Sa'd Khusrau Shah
Abu'l-Ghana'im al-MarzubanSurkhab

See also


  1. ^
    Historiography and scholarship agree that the Buyids were Daylamites.[42]


    1. Bosworth 1996, pp. 154.
    2. Davaran 2010, p. 156.
    3. Abbasids, B.Lewis, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. I, Ed. H.A.R.Gibb, J.H.Kramers, E. Levi-Provencal and J. Schacht, (Brill, 1986), 19.
    4. Turchin, Peter; Adams, Jonathan M.; Hall, Thomas D (December 2006). "East-West Orientation of Historical Empires". Journal of World-Systems Research. 12 (2): 222. ISSN 1076-156X. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
    5. Rein Taagepera (September 1997). "Expansion and Contraction Patterns of Large Polities: Context for Russia". International Studies Quarterly. 41 (3): 475–504. doi:10.1111/0020-8833.00053. JSTOR 2600793.
    6. Grousset, René (2002). The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia. trans. Naomi Walford. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. ISBN 978-0813506272.
    7. Blair 1992, p. 103.
    8. Goldschmidt, Arthur (2002). A Concise History of the Middle East (7 ed.). Boulder, CO: Westview Press. p. 87. ISBN 978-0813338859.
    9. Clawson, Patrick; Rubin, Michael (2005), Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos, Middle East in Focus (1st ed.), New York: Palgrave Macmillan, p. 19, ISBN 978-1-4039-6276-8
    10. Kabir 1964.
    11. Wink, André (2002). Al-Hind: The Making of the Indo-Islamic World, Vol. 2, Slave Kings and the Islamic Conquest 11th–13th Centuries. Boston: Brill Academic Publishers. hdl:2027/heb.03189.0001.001. ISBN 978-0391041745.  via Questia (subscription required)
    12. Bürgel & Mottahedeh 1988, pp. 265–269.
    13. Felix & Madelung 1995, pp. 342–347.
    14. Busse 1975, pp. 274.
    15. Alram, Michael. "The Cultural Impact of Sasanian Persia along the Silk Road – Aspects of Continuity". E-Sasanika. 14: 10. Archived from the original on 2017-02-02. Retrieved 2016-04-29. The article uses Wahram Gūr for the king's name.
    16. Nagel 1990, pp. 578–586.
    17. Kennedy 2004, p. 211.
    18. Kennedy 2004, p. 212.
    19. Busse 1975, p. 255.
    20. Kennedy 2004, p. 213.
    21. Busse 1975, p. 257.
    22. Busse 1975, p. 256.
    23. Kennedy 2004, p. 234.
    24. Busse 1975, p. 289.
    25. Busse 1975, p. 290.
    26. Bosworth 1963, pp. 53, 59, 234.
    27. Bosworth 1968, p. 37.
    28. André Wink, Al-Hind: The Making of the Indo-Islamic World, Vol. 2, (Brill, 2002), 9.   via Questia (subscription required)
    29. Bernard Lewis, The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years, (New York: Scribner, 1995) p. 89.
    30. Busse 1975, p. 251.
    31. Sohar and the Daylamī interlude (356–443/967–1051), Valeria Fiorani Piacentini, Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, Vol. 35, Papers from the thirty-eighth meeting of the Seminar for Arabian Studies held in London, 22–24 July 2004 (2005), 196.
    32. Busse 1975, p. 287.
    33. Kennedy 2004, p. 244.
    34. Busse 1975, pp. 265, 298.
    35. Sourdel-Thomine, J. "Buwayhids." The Encyclopedia of Islam, Volume I. New Ed. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1960. p. 1353.
    36. Busse 1975, p. 252.
    37. Afsaruddin 2018, p. -235-236.
    38. Momen, Moojan (1985), An Introduction to Shi'i Islam, Yale University Press, pp. 75–76, ISBN 978-0-300-03531-5
    39. Berkey, Jonathan (2003). The Formation of Islam: Religion and Society in the Near East, 600-1800. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-58813-3., p. 135
    40. Abbasids, Bernard Lewis, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. I, ed. H. A. R. Gibb, J. H. Kramers, E. Levi-Provencal, J. Schacht, (E.J. Brill, 1986), 19.
    41. Heribert, pp. 287-8
    42. Busse 1975, pp. 251–252; Bürgel & Mottahedeh 1988, pp. 265–269; Nagel 1990, pp. 578–586; Bosworth 1996, pp. 154–155; Kennedy 2004, p. 211; Karsh 2007, pp. 60; Cahen 1960, pp. 1350–1357; Felix & Madelung 1995, pp. 342–347.