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Ghaznavid official and vizier, d. ca. 434/1043.

A version of this article is available in print

Volume I, Fascicle 6, pp. 660-661

AḤMAD B. MOḤAMMAD B. ʿABD-AL-ṢAMAD ŠĪRĀZĪ, ḴᵛĀJA ABŪ NAṢR (usually “Aḥmad-e ʿAbd-al-Ṣamad” in Bayhaqī, Ghaznavid official and vizier, d. ca. 434/1043. The nesba “Šīrāzī” indicates a family origin in southwest Persia; and panegyrics to Aḥmad’s son mention descent from the ʿAbbasids. But the family was in the service of the Samanids by the late 4th/10th century; and Aḥmad’s father, Abū Ṭāher, is only heard of as confidential secretary to the Samanid slave-general in Khorasan, Ḥosām-al-dawla Tāš (ʿOtbī, al-Taʾrīḵ al-yamīnī, Cairo, 1286/1869). Aḥmad began his career, so far as is known, as katḵodā (adjutant, in effect vizier) to the Turkish commander Abū Saʿīd Āltūntāš. The latter was Maḥmūd of Ḡazna’s governor in Ḵᵛārazm after the conquest in 408/1017. Aḥmad was his right-hand man at the battle of Dabūsīya (423/1032) with the Qarakhanid Boḡra Khan ʿAlī b. Ḥasan/Hārūn, called ʿAlītigin. Although the Ḵᵛārazmšāh Āltūntāš was mortally wounded, Aḥmad’s diplomatic skill averted any harmful consequences and secured ʿAlītigin, withdrawal to Samarqand (see Barthold, Turkestan3, pp. 295-96). When Sultan Masʿūd’s first vizier, Aḥmad b. Ḥasan Maymandī, died in 424/1032, Aḥmad Šīrāzī succeeded him and served for the rest of Masʿūd’s sultanate. Bayhaqī much admired Aḥmad; his history amply illustrates how the vizier attempted to moderate his master’s capricious and arbitrary ways and opposed the excesses and tyrannical actions of provincial governors (e.g., the ʿamīd of Khorasan, Abu’l-Fażl Sūrī. His relations with Masʿūd were correct rather than cordial. In accepting the vizierate, he carefully set forth his rights and obligations in a formal contract of services (mowāżaʿa) with the sultan. In it he was especially careful to maintain his rights vis-à-vis the dīvān-e vazīr’s rival department, the dīvān-e ʿarż (war department). Aḥmad gave sound advice on the need for Masʿūd to concentrate on the defense of Khorasan against the Saljuqs, and was present with his master at the Dandānqān disaster of 431/1040, when Khorasan was lost to the Turkmans. He was unable to dissuade the sultan from the unwise decision to abandon Ḡazna for India after this; he remained in northern Afghanistan as adjutant to the heir to the throne, Mawdūd b. Masʿūd, who was commanding an army sent to defend Balḵ and Ṭoḵārestān against the Saljuqs. When Masʿūd’s army mutinied and he was killed in India in 432/1041, Aḥmad played a leading role in organizing Mawdūd’s strategy and the occupation of Ḡazna before going on to attack the rebels in the Kabul river valley. He accordingly remained as vizier to the new sultan Mawdūd, serving him for two years until he fell into disfavor through the jealousy of the Turkish commanders. According to Bayhaqī, he died shortly after his dismissal; but according to the later biographical sources, he was poisoned by his enemies. His son ʿAbd-al-Ḥāmed inherited his father’s secretarial expertise and served Sultan Ebrāhīm b. Masʿūd as vizier for twenty-two years, then the latter’s son Masʿūd III for the seventeen years or so of his sultanate.


There are numerous mentions of Aḥmad in the contemporary sources for early Ghaznavid history, above all in Gardīzī and Bayhaqī; these may be supplemented by the entries in the biographical works on the lives of viziers: Nāṣer-al-dīn Kermānī, Nasāʾem al-asḥār men laṭāʾem al-aḵbār, ed. J. Moḥaddeṯ Ormavī, Tehran, 1338 Š./1959, p. 45.

Sayf-al-dīn ʿOqaylī, Āṯār al-wozarāʾ, ed. Moḥaddeṯ Ormavī, Tehran, 1338 Š./1959, p. 193.

Ḵᵛāndamīr, Dastūr al-wozarāʾ, ed. S. Nafīsī, Tehran, 1317 Š./1938, p. 144.

All these sources are utilized in Bosworth, Ghaznavids, and idem, Later Ghaznavids (see indices).

Cite this page
C. Edmund Bosworth, “AḤMAD ŠĪRĀZĪ”, in: Encyclopaedia Iranica Online, © Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York. Consulted online on 20 July 2024 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2330-4804_EIRO_COM_4945>
First published online: 2020
First print edition: 19841215

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