MOʾAYYED AY-ABA

MOʾAYYED AY-ABA, or Malek Ay-Aba (r. 1168-74), a slave (ḡolām) of the Saljuqid king, Sultan Sanjar (r. 1197-1218), who ruled in Nišāpur (r. 1168-74) in his name.

The record about Moʾayyed’s career is mainly associated with the Ḡozz attack on Khorasan, which was a pivotal event in the history of the Saljuqs (1037-1194). Moʾayyed was promoted from slave rank to the commander of the army (amir) under his master Sultan Sanjar (r. 1118-57) in defending Marv against the invading Ḡozz in 1153. Sultan Sanjar decided to withdraw from the battlefield when Ḡozz women and children pleaded for peace, but several commanders, including Moʾayyed, urged him not to. The majority of the troops who were not under the command of Moʾayyed, however, withdrew, which led to the startling defeat of the Saljuqs (Ḥosayni, p. 123; Bayżāwi, pp. 78-79; Nišāpuri, pp. 49, 62-63; Rāvandi, p. 179; Mostawfi, pp. 450-51). The Ḡozz wreaked unprecedented devastation, looting the major cities of Khorasan, in particular Marv, the capital of Sanjar, and Nišāpur (Nišāpuri, pp. 49-50; Rāvandi, pp. 180-81; Yāqut, V, p. 330). Sanjar himself was kept in captivity for two years (Rašid-al-Din Fażl-Allāh, ed. Rowšan, p. 69; Rāvandi, p. 183; Ebn al-Aṯir, XI, pp. 176-78) or two and a half (Nišāpuri, p. 51).

In the absence of Sultan Sanjar, Moʾayyed Ay-Aba ruled in Nišāpur in the name of Sanjar. He reconstructed Šādyāḵ, one of the neighborhoods of Nišāpur, and transferred the center of the Saljuqs’ power from Marv to Nišāpur (Nišāpuri, p. 51; Yāqut, V, pp. 330-31). Moʾayyed ultimately helped Sanjar escape from Ḡozz captivity in Balkh in 1156. Arriving at the place where the Sultan was imprisoned, Moʾayyed deceived the guards with the promise of a stipend (nānpāra) and took the Sultan to Marv across the Oxus (Nišāpuri, p. 51; Rāvandi, p. 183; Rašid-al-Din Fazl-Allāh, ed. Rowšan, pp. 69-70; Marʿaši, p. 19; Mostawfi, p. 452).

After Sanjar’s death in late 1156, the military commanders raised Maḥmud b. Moḥammad, the nephew of Sanjar, to the throne in Nišāpur, but Moʾayyed defeated Maḥmud and, after blinding him, rose to power himself in August 1168 (Nišāpuri, p. 52; Jovayni, II, pp. 15-16; Mostawfi, p. 453).

The death of Sanjar marked the true end of the Saljuq empire in Khorasan (Tor). Khorasan was subsequently fragmented among the regional powers. Marv, Balkh, and Sarakhs were in the hands of the Ḡozz, who mentioned the dead Sanjar in their formal public address (ḵotba; Rašid-al-Din Fażl-Allāh, ed. Rowšan, p. 71; Moḥammad-Ebrāhim, p. 43; Barthold, p. 335; Rowšanżamir, pp. 78-79; Bosworth, pp. 185-94). Herat and Ghazna were under the control of the Ghurids (1149-1216; Juzjāni, 1, p. 274; Marʿaši, p. 25; Barthold, p. 338). However, Moʾayyed titled himself “Moʾayyed-al-Din Sanjari” and legitimized his own power as the slave, commander, the savior of the late Sultan, and now his true successor (Juzjāni, 1, p. 273; Mostawfi, p. 487).  

Moʾayyed ruled in Nišāpur over an area that included Jām, Bāḵerz, Sangān, Jājorm, Sirān, Šārestān, and Juzjān (Ebn Fondoq, p. 325; Juzjāni, I, p. 273; Ḥāfeẓ Abru, III, p. 31). In fact, there was a village in the Nišāpur area which was called Moʾayyediya or Moʾayyedi after him, even after the Mongols ruled in the region (Ḥākem Nišāpuri, p. 277; Rašid-al-Din Fażl-Allāh, ed. Jahn, p. 23).  

Moʾayyed developed peaceful relations with the neighboring local dynasties of the Ghurids, the Saljuqs of Jebāl stationed in Ray (1040-194), and the Ḡozz in Kerman (Afżal-al-Din Kermāni, pp. 38, 48; Moḥammad-Ebrāhim, p. 168; Juzjāni, I, pp. 273-74; Ḥāfeẓ Abru, III, p. 32). In 1163, he incorporated Basṭām and Dāmḡān into his territories (Marʿaši, pp.108-9; Moḥammad-Ebrāhim, p. 43; Rowšanżamir, p. 73).

The main power challenging Moʾayyed’s rule was the Chorasmian kings (Ḵvārazmšāhs), who steadily attacked northern Khorasan. In 1165, war broke out between Moʾayyed and Sultan Il-Arslānvārazmšāh (r. 1156-72). Il-Arslān successfully repelled Moʾayyed’s attack, but his march on Nišāpur ended in failure (Ebn Fondoq, p. 325; Jovayni, II, p. 16; Mostawfi, p. 485; Barthold, p. 335; Rowšanżamir, p. 80). To end his conflicts with the superior power of Ḵvārazmšāh, Moʾayyed made peace with him and introduced the ḵoṭba (a formal public address preceding the Friday prayer) in the name of Il-Arslān in his province (Jovayni, II, pp. 15-16; Barthold, p. 335).  

Moʾayyed, however, became the victim of succession conflicts between Tekeš and his brother, Solṭānšāh. After the death of Il-Arslān, his youngest son, Solṭānšāh, ascended the throne with the help of his mother Torkān. The eldest son, Tekeš, who was the ruler of Jand at that time, refused to confirm his brother’s authority and appealed for help to the Turko-Mongol dynasty of the Qara Ḵetāy Khanate (r. 1124-218) stationed in Balāsāqun and marched to Chorasmia in 1173 (Jovayni, II, p. 17; Rašid-al-Din Fażl-Allāh, ed. Rowšan, p. 73; Ḵalʿatbari and Šarafi, p. 25). Solṭānšāh and his mother left Chorasmia without any struggle (Jovayni, II, pp. 17-19; Barthold, p. 337) and fled to Nišāpur to provoke Moʾayyed against Tekeš. Moʾayyed accepted their request and launched an expedition against Tekeš in 1174. The battle broke out near the small town of Suberli, about 125 km from Chorasmia. Since the entire army could not cross the steppe in one body, Moʾayyed’s army covered this march in small detachments. But the very first section, which included Moʾayyed himself, was attacked and destroyed by the Chorasmians. In this battle, which ended with the victory of Tekeš, Soltānšāh and Torkān Ḵātun fled to Dehestān and Moʾayyed was taken prisoner and put to death in Ḏu’l-ḥejja 569/July 1174 (Jovayni, II, pp. 18-19; Šabānkāraʾi, p. 137; Mostawfi, p. 487; Barthold, pp. 337-38; Ebn al-Aṯir, XI, p. 385).

After Moʾayyed, his descendants Ṭoḡānšāh (r. 1174-85) and Sanjar b. Ṭoḡānšāh (r. 1185-87) came to power in Nišāpur and were known as Moʾayyediya (Jovayni, II, p.19; Juzjāni, 1, p. 274; Moḥammad-Ebrāhim, p. 43; Barthold, p. 346). The rule of Moʾayyediya finally ended with the conquest of Nišāpur by Tekeš Ḵvārazmšāh in 1193 (Ebn al-Aṯir, XI, pp. 381-82; Jovayni, II, pp. 22-36; Šabānkāraʾi, II, p. 137; Barthold, p. 345).

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(Maryam Kamali)

Cite this article:

Maryam Kamali, “MOʾAYYED AY-ABA,” Encyclopædia Iranicaonline edition, 2016, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/moayyad-ayaba (accessed on 08 March 2016).