Nizam Al-Mulk (C.1018–1092)

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NIZAM AL-MULK (C.1018–1092)

Nizam al-Mulk ("good order of the kingdom") is the title by which the Seljuk wazir Hasan b. ˓Ali b. Ishaq al-Tusi is most commonly known. Nizam al-Mulk rose to prominence serving Sultan Alp Arslan (1063–1072), and for much of the reign of Sultan Malik Shah (1072–1092) he was ruler in all but name. Nizam al-Mulk was an individual of many talents: administrator, patron, military man, and author, as well as a skilled and occasionally ruthless competitor in court intrigues. An ardent supporter of the Sunni ulema, he constructed and endowed a number of madrasas (centers for the study of Islamic law) in Iran and Iraq, which were called Nizamiyyas after him, the most famous being the Nizamiyya in Baghdad, which opened in 1067. His reasons for doing this are not explicitly known, but these institutions certainly contributed to the subsequent intellectual and political revival seen in Sunnism. In the last years of his life, Nizam al-Mulk wrote a model for princes known alternatively as the Siyasat-nama or Siyar al-moluk. This Persian-language work is noteworthy for its frank discussion of the steps necessary for an absolute ruler to administer his realm, and is sprinkled with references to philosophers and pre-Islamic kings as well as to Islamic concepts. The reforms it urged were never implemented, no doubt due to the deaths of the author and shortly thereafter its immediate intended reader, Malik Shah. Nizam al-Mulk's assassination in 1092 was linked by contemporaries (and near-contemporaries) to either the Assassins, the sultan Malik Shah, or both.

See alsoAssassins ; Education ; Madrasa .


Nizam al-Mulk. The Book of Government or Rules for Kings: TheSiyasat-nama or Siyar al-Muluk of Nizam al-Mulk. Translated by Hubert Darke. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1960.

Warren C. Schultz