Niẓām al-Mulk d. 485/1092

Niẓām al-Mulk, the great vazīr of the Seljuk sultans, was born ca. 410/1019-1020 and spent his early career in the service of the floundering Ğaznavīd government shortly before Seljuks fully completed there rise to power. Some time around 445/1053-4, he entered the service of Seljuk Alp Arslān (who was then serving as a lieutenant in Eastern Ḫurāsān) and several years later attainted the position of Alp Arslān’s vazīr. When Alp Arslān (r. 455/1063 to 465/1073) ascended to the position of Seljuk sultan in 455/1063, Niẓām al-Mulk in turn became vazīr of the empire. It was during that time, together with the reign of Alp Arslan’s son and successor Malikšāh (r. 465/1073 to 485/1092), when the Seljuk empire was not only at its strongest but also effectively ruled by Niẓām al-Mulk from the position of vazīr.

Niẓām al-Mulk’s overall role seemed to be that of conditioning the “barbaric” Turk tribesmen to their new role as rulers of an empire and to the practices of a sedentary government which maintained a central administration with financial, religious, and political responsibilities. Thus, in a general sense, perhaps Nizam al-Mulk was less innovative than his widespread fame suggests. He replicated the role of the vazīr who adapted the practices of Persian administration and statecraft to a recently anointed Islamic dynasty with little previous knowledge of empire management, a practice that began well before his time.

Nonetheless, Niẓām al-Mulk did introduce practices such as the iqtāʿ system (“whereby military commanders supported themselves and their troops on the yield of lands allotted to them”) and helped orchestrate a general Sunni political and religious revival by such acts as endowing theological schools, the most famous being the Niẓāmiyya of Baghdad. He was assassinated in 485/1092 according by most accounts at the dagger of an Ismaili assassin.


Siyāsat-nāmah     The Book of Politics

Completed 485/1092-3.

Siyāsat-nāmah is work of fifty chapters dealing with nearly every “royal duty and prerogative and every department of administration” supported by historical anecdotes. Some of the later chapters deal with specific “dangers that threatened the empire at the time of writing, in particular from the Isma’ilis”.

Majmaʿ-i Vaṣāyā     The Assembly of Precepts

According to Browne, Majmaʿ-i Vaṣāyā is “notoriously spurious” , however, Elliot and Dowson contend that the work is that of Niẓām al-Mulk. None of the sources contain a description of the work.