|Khwaja Nizam al-Mulk Tusi|
|Vizier of the Sejluq Empire|
29 November 1064 – October 14, 1092
|Monarch||Alp Arslan, Malik Shah I|
|Succeeded by||Ibn Darust|
|Born||April 10, 1018
|Died||October 14, 1092 (aged 74)
|Spouse(s)||Unknown Georgian princess|
|Children||Ahmad ibn Nizam al-Mulk
Abu Ali al-Hasan al-Tusi Nizam al-Mulk (April 10, 1018 – October 14, 1092), better known as Khwaja Nizam al-Mulk Tusi (Persian: خواجه نظامالملک طوسی - Khwāğa Nizāmu l'Mulk al-Ṭusī) was a Persian scholar and vizier of the Seljuq Empire. He held near absolute power for 20 years after the assassination of Alp Arslan in 1072.
Nizam al-Mulk was born on April 10, 1018 in a small village named Radkan, near Tus, in Iran, to a dehqan family. His father Ali ibn Ishak served as a financial officer to the Ghaznavids. However, when the Seljuq Turks conquered Khorasan in 1040, Nizam's father fled to Ghazni, where Nizam al-Mulk was probably working within the government.
Reign of Tughril and Alp Arslan
Around the year of 1043, Nizam stopped serving the Ghaznavids and entered the service of the Seljuq Turks. He later became chief administrator of the entire Khorasan province by 1059. When Tughril died childless in the city of Ray in Iran, he was succeeded by his nephew Suleiman which was contested by Alp Arslan, both of them sons of his brother Chaghri. His cousin Kutalmish who had both been a vital part of his campaigns and later a supporter of Yinal's rebellion also put forth a claim. Alp Arslan, with the aid of Nizam, defeated Kutalmish and succeeded him on April 27, 1064.
After Alp Arslan had consolidated his power in the Sejluq realm, he appointed Nizam as his vizier who would remain in that position throughout the reigns of Alp Arslan (1063–1072) and Malik Shah I (1072–1092), he was also given the title of "Nizam al-Mulk" ("good order of the kingdom").
Alp Arslan's strength lay in the military realm. Domestic affairs were handled by Nizam al-Mulk, who also founded of the administrative organization that characterized and strengthened the sultanate during the reigns of Alp Arslan and his son, Malik Shah I. Military fiefs, governed by Seljuq princes, were established to provide support for the soldiery and to accommodate the nomadic Turks to the established Anatolian agricultural scene. This type of military fiefdom enabled the nomadic Turks to draw on the resources of the sedentary Iranians, Turks, and other established cultures within the Seljuq realm, and allowed Alp Arslan to field a huge standing army without depending on tribute from conquest to pay his soldiers. He not only had enough food from his subjects to maintain his military, but the taxes collected from traders and merchants added to his coffers sufficiently to fund his continuous wars.
Nizam accompanied Alp Arslan in all his campaigns and journeys, except a few. On February/March 1064 Alp Arslan campaigned in Byzantine Armenia, while his son Malik Shah I and Nizam al-Mulk campaigned separately. Nizam also made some expeditions on his own and conquered the citadel of Estakhr in 1067. On August 26 of 1071, the decisive battle of Manzikert was fought, which Nizam al-Mulk was not present because he had been sent to Persia with a convoy of materials.
Reign of Malik Shah I
Following Alp Arslan's assassination in 1072, Malik Shah I was challenged in battle by his uncle, Qawurd-Beg. In January 1074, their armies met near Hamadan, Qawurd-Beg's troops consisted of the traditional Turkmen elements from Alp Arslan's army, while Malik's consisted of ghulams and contingents of Kurdish and Arab troops. Due to Turkmen defections to Malik's army, Qawurd was defeated and, despite Malik's consideration for mercy, later poisoned, presumably on the orders of Nizam al-Mulk.
Under Nizam's excellent guidance the Seljuq armies contained the Ghaznavids in Khorasan, rolled back the Fatimids in Syria, defeated other Seljuq pretenders to the throne, invaded Georgia and reduced it to a tributary state, compelled the submission of regional governors, and kept the Abassid Caliphs in a position of impotence.
Nizam al-Mulk left a great impact on organization of the Seljuq governmental bodies and hence the title Nizam al-Mulk which translates as "good order of the kingdom". He was pivotal figure who bridged the political gap between both the Abbasids and the Seljuqs against their various rivals such as the Fatimids.
Nizam al-Mulk had many political objectives, which was:
- The creation of an employment opportunity for the Turkmens, who had immigrated to the Iranian plateau during the Seljuq successes in Persia, the nomadic way of life of the Turkmens represented a significant threat to the political and economic stability of the country.
- The demonstration of the power of the Sultan (i.e. the strength and mobility of his forces, but also his grace towards docile rebels)
- Maintaining local Sunni and Shiite rulers as vassals of the Sultan and the increased use of relatives of the Sultan as provincial governors.
- The prevention of a dispute over the successorship of Malik Shah I
- Maintaining good relations with the Abbasid Caliphate.
In 1091, a group of Ismailis under the leadership of Hassan-i Sabbah sacked Basra and seized the fortress of Alamut. Moreover, the succession to the sultanate was complicated by the death of two of Malik Shah's eldest sons: Dawud (died 1082) and Ahmad (died 1088), whom both were sons of the Kara-Khanid Princess Turkan Khatun, she also had a named Mahmud (born 1087) which she wanted to succeed his father, while Nizam was in favour of Barkiyaruq, the oldest of all Malik Shah's living sons and born to a Seljuq princess. Turkan Khatun then allied with Tadj al-Mulk to try to remove Nizam from his post. Tadj even accused Nizam before the sultan. Malik Shah I, however, did not dare to dismiss Nizam.
Aside from his extraordinary influence as vizier with full authority, he is also well known for systematically founding a number of schools of higher education in several cities like Baghdad, Isfahan, Nishapur, Mosul, Basra, and Herat, the famous Nizamiyyah schools, which were named after him. In many aspects, these schools turned out to be the predecessors and models of universities that were established in Europe.
Nizam al-Mulk is also widely known for his voluminous treatise on kingship titled Siyasatnama (The Book of Government) which was written after Malik Shah had requested that his ministers produce books on government, administration and the troubles facing the nation. However, the treatise made by Nizam was the only one to receive approval and was consequently accepted as forming "the law of the constitution of the nation".
He also wrote a book titled Dastur al-Wuzarā, written for his son Abolfath Fakhr-ol-Malek, which is not dissimilar to the famous book of Qabus nama.
Nizam al-Mulk was assassinated en route from Isfahan to Baghdad on 10 Ramadan 485 A.H. (14 October 1092) The mainstream literature says he was stabbed by the dagger of a member of the Assassins (Hashshashin) sent by the notorious Hassan-i-Sabbah near Nahavand, Persia, as he was being carried on his litter. The killer approached him disguised as a dervish.
This account is particularly interesting in light of a possibly apocryphal story recounted by Jorge Luis Borges. In this story a pact is formed between a young Nizam al-Mulk (at that time known as Abdul Khassem) and his two friends, Omar Khayyam and Hassan-i-Sabbah. Their agreement stated that if one should rise to prominence, that they would help the other two to do likewise. Nizam al-Mulk was the first to do this when he was appointed vizier to the sultan Alp Arslan. To fulfil the pact he offered both friends positions of rank within the court. Omar refused the offer, asking instead to be given the means to continue his studies indefinitely. This Nizam did, as well as building him an observatory. Although Hassan, unlike Omar, decided to accept the appointment offered to him, he was forced to flee after plotting to dispose Nizam as vizier. Subsequently, Hassan came upon and conquered the fortress of Alamut, from where he established the Assassins.
Another report says he was killed in secret by Malik Shah I in an internal power struggle. Consequently, his murder was avenged by the vizier's loyal academics of the Nizamiyyah, by assassinating the Sultan. The account is disputed and remains a controversy because of the long history of friendship between Malik Shah I and Nizam.
Another report says that he was assassinated with Malik Shah I in the same year, after a debate between Sunni and Shi'a scholars which was prepared by him by the orders of Malik Shah I and which resulted in converting him and the king to the Shi'a ideology. The story is reported by the son-in-law of Nizam al-Mulk, Mughatil ibn Bakri who attended the debate.
Nizam al-Mulk was an excellent and clever vizier, he represented the majesty, splendor and hospitality of the Barmakids, historians and poets describe him as a great organizer and an ideal soldier and scholar. Only thanks to him it was possible for the Seljuq Turks to establish a powerful empire in their new home. Nizam was not only the leader of the Persian-dominated bureaucratic (divan), but was also an Atabeg who served in the royal court (dadgar) and played an important role between the politically and culturally differences of the Iranians and Turks. He was also responsible for establishing distinctly Persian forms of government and administration which would last for centuries.
Even after his death his family continued to play an important in the Seljuq Empire, one these was his son, Ahmad ibn Nizam al-Mulk, who was born to an Georgian princess from the Bagrationi dynasty.
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- NIẒĀM AL-MULK, Encyclopaedia Britannica
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- Mughatil ibn Bakri, In search of Truth in Baghdad (در جستجوی حق در بغداد), also appearing under the title "راهي به سوي حقيقت", ISBN 964-93287-8-5, p.134-136. Link to item in publisher's catalog: 
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|Vizier of the Great Seljuq Empire
29 November 1064 – October 14, 1092