MOḤAMMAD B. BOZORG-OMID, the third lord of Alamut (r. 532-57/1138-62). He succeeded to the leadership of the Nezāri Ismaʿili state (see ISMAʿILISM iii. ISMAʿILI HISTORY), daʿwa (see DAʿI), and community on the death of his father, Kiā Bozorg-Omid (r. 518-32/1124-38), on 26 Jomādā I 532/9 February 1138. He had been designated as heir by his father only three days earlier. Moḥammad duly received the allegiance of all the Nezāri territories in Persia and Syria.

The Persian Nezāri Ismaʿilis of the Alamut period compiled chronicles according to the reigns of the successive lords of Alamut. The Nezāri chronicles of Moḥammad’s reign, compiled by Dehḵodā ʿAbd-al-Malek b. ʿAli Fašandi and Raʾis Ḥasan Ṣalāḥ Monši, like other Nezāri histories of the period, have not survived. However, they were used by Rašid-al-Din Fażl-Allāh (see JĀMEʿ AL-TAWĀRIḴ) and Abu’l-Qāsem Kāšāni in their own histories of the Persian Nezāri state (Rašid-al-Din, ed. Dānešpažuh, pp. 144, 153; ed. Rowšan, pp. 141, 151; Kāšāni, pp. 182, 190; Daftary, 1992, p. 96; idem, 2007, pp. 355-58), and, as such, they provide our primary sources on Moḥammad b. Bozorg-Omid.

The Nezāri-Saljuq stalemate that had already appeared in the final years of Ḥasan Ṣabbāḥ (d. 518/1124) as the first lord of Alamut continued during Moḥammad b. Bozorg-Omid’s long reign (532–57/1138-62). However, in the early years of Moḥammad’s rule, the area in Persia under the control of Alamut actually increased in Rudbār and Gilān, where several new fortresses, such as Saʿādatkuh, were also acquired. The Persian Nezāris now extended their influence to new regions, such as Georgia (Gorjestān), where they also conducted some daʿwa activities (Rašid-al-Din, ed. Dānešpažuh, p. 147; ed. Rowšan, pp. 145; Kāšāni, pp. 184-85). In this connection, in 550/1155, for a brief period they also attempted unsuccessfully for a brief period to spread their activities to Ḡur, to the east of Qohestān, in present-day Afghanistan (Jowzjāni, I, pp. 349, 350-51; tr. Raverty, I, pp. 363, 365; Bosworth, pp. 132-33).

As a territorial power, the Nezāri Ismaʿilis of Moḥammad b. Bozorg-Omid’s period were mainly involved in minor quarrels and border skirmishes with their immediate neighbors. The Nezāri chronicles of this period pay extraordinary attention to these local conflicts, especially the intermittent raids and counter-raids between Alamut and Qazvin (Rašid-al-Din, ed. Dānešpažuh, pp. 148-49, 153, 154-55, 158-59; ed. Rowšan, pp. 146-47, 150-51, 152, 154-55; Kāšāni, pp. 185-86, 190-91, 193, 194, 195-97). At the same time, the Nezāris of the Rudbār region in Moḥammad’s reign were confronted by two persistent enemies in the persons of Šāh Ḡāzi Rostam b. ʿAlāʾ-al-Dawla ʿAli, the Bāvandid ruler of Ṭabarestān and Gilān; and a certain ʿAbbās, the Saljuq governor of Ray (Rašid-al-Din, ed. Dānešpažuh, p. 155; ed. Rowšan, p. 152; Kāšāni, p. 192; Daftary, 2007, p. 357), while the Nezāris now apparently enjoyed another stint of quasi-truce with Sultan Sanjar

Under the new political realities, the Nezāris targeted fewer prominent enemies, compared to the earlier decades of the Alamut period (for the list, see Rašid-al-Din, ed. Dānešpažuh, pp. 160-61; ed. Rowšan, pp. 156-58; Kāšāni, pp. 198-99). The first victim, and the most prominent one in Moḥammad’s reign, was the ʿAbbasid caliph al-Mostaršed’s son and successor, al-Rāšed (r. 529-30/1135-36), who had become involved in Saljuq disputes and was deposed after a short caliphate in favor of his uncle, al-Moqtafi. Exiled from Iraq to Persia, al-Rāšed was killed by four Ismaʿili fedāʾis in Isfahan in Ramażān 532/June 1138; Alamut rejoiced over his death with a week of celebrations. In retaliation, a large number of people suspected of being Ismaʿilis were gathered up and massacred by the townspeople of Isfahan (Rašid-al-Din, ed. Dānešpažuh, pp. 146-47; ed. Rowšan, pp. 144-45; Kāšāni, p. 184; Ḥamd-Allāh Mostawfi, pp. 360-61, 455; Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, p. 237; Ẓahir-al-Din, ed. Afšār, p. 56; ed. Morton, pp. 75-76; Bondāri, p. 180; Rāvandi, pp. 228-29).

Moḥammad b. Bozorg-Omid was strict in observing the šariʿa, like his two predecessors at Alamut, and led the Nezāri Ismaʿili daʿwa and community as the ḥojja, or chief representative, of the Nezāri imams (see ISMAʿILISM xvii. THE IMAMATE IN ISMAʿILISM), who had remained in hiding since 488/1095. Moḥammad died on 4 Rabiʿ I 557/21 February 1162, and was buried near Alamut, next to Ḥasan Ṣabbāḥ and Kiā Bozorg-Omid; their mausoleum remained a pilgrimage site for the Nezāris until it, too, was destroyed by the Mongols in 654/1256.


Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, Majmaʿ al-tawāriḵ al-solṭāniya: Qesmat-e ḵolafāʾ-e ʿAlawiya-ye Maḡreb wa Meṣr wa Nezāriān wa rafiqān, ed. Moḥammad Modarresi Zanjāni, Tehran, 1985, pp. 237-50. 

Fatḥ b. ʿAli Bondāri, Zobdat al-noṣra, ed. and tr. Martijn Theodoor Houtsma, Leiden, 1889. 

C. Edmund Bosworth, “The Early Islamic History of Ghūr,” Central Asiatic Journal 6, 1961, pp. 116-33. 

Farhad Daftary, “Persian Historiography of the Early Nizārī Ismāʿīlīs,” Iran 30, 1992, pp. 91-97. 

Idem, The Ismāʿīlīs: Their History and Doctrines, 2nd ed., Cambridge, 2007, pp. 355-58. 

Ḥamd-Allāh Mostawfi, Tāriḵ-e gozida, ed. ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Navāʾi, Tehran, 1960.

Marshall G. S. Hodgson, The Order of Assassins: The Struggle of the Early Nizārī Ismāʿīlīs against the Islamic World, The Hague, 1955, pp. 143-46. 

ʿAṭā-Malek Jovayni, Tārik-e jahāngošā, ed. Moḥammad Qazvini, 3 vols., Leiden and London, 1912–37, III, pp. 221-22; tr. John A. Boyle, as The History of the World-Conqueror, 2 vols., Manchester, 1958, II, pp. 685-86. 

Menhāj-al-Din b. Serāj-al-Din Jowzjāni, Ṭabaqāt-e nāṣeri, ed. ʿAbd-al-Ḥayy Ḥabibi, 2nd ed., 2 vols., Kabul, 1963-64; tr. Henry G. Raverty, as The Ṭabaḳāt-i-Nāṣirī: A General History of the Muhammadan Dynasties of Asia, 2 vols., London, 1881-99. 

Abu’l-Qāsem ʿAbd-Allāh Kāšāni, Zobdat al-tawāriḵ: baḵš-e Fāṭemiān wa Nezāriān, ed. Moḥammad-Taqi Dānešpažuh, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1987, pp. 183-98.

Rašid-al-Din Fażl-Allāh, Jāmeʿ al-tawāriḵ: Qesmat-e Esmāʿiliān, ed. Moḥammad-Taqi Dānešpažuh and Moḥammad Modarresi Zanjāni, Tehran, 1959, pp. 146-59; ed. Moḥammad Rowšan, Tehran, 2008, pp. 144-58.  

Moḥammad b. ʿAli Rāvandi, Rāḥat al-ṣodur wa āyat al-sorur, ed. Moḥammad Eqbāl, London, 1921; repr. with notes by Mojtabā Minovi, Tehran, 1985. Ẓahir-al-Din Nišāpuri, Saljuq-nāma, ed. Esmāʿil Afšār, Tehran, 1953; ed. A. H. Morton, Warminster, UK, 2004.

(Farhad Daftary)

Cite this article:

Farhad Daftary, "MOḤAMMAD B. BOZORG-OMID,"Encyclopædia Iranicaonline edition, 2015, available at (accessed on 09 September 2015).