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The Future of Iran's PastNizam al-Mulk Remembered$
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Neguin Yavari

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190855109

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190855109.001.0001

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Nizam al-Mulk Remembered

Nizam al-Mulk Remembered

(p.127) 5 Nizam al-Mulk Remembered
The Future of Iran's Past

Neguin Yavari

Oxford University Press

The focus in the fifth and final chapter is on the afterlife of Nizam al-Mulk, of his legacy as well as of his representations. By the late fifteenth century, in Timurid Iran, Nizam al-Mulk is already the stuff of legend. In one historian’s estimation, the vizier is a veritable eleventh-century avatar of the martyr par excellence of Shi’i lore Husayn b. ‘Ali (d. 680), and the progenitor of modern Iran. But the story of Nizam al-Mulk does not end with his metamorphosis into a crypto-Shi‘i and a proto-Iranian patriot. In the 2010s, it is Nizam al-Mulk who is the most regularly invoked exemplar of legitimate Islamic governance, exhorting prudence and expedience to guide the Iranian polity through the treacherous waters of nuclear negotiations with the West, and to domesticate outlier and extremist fervor. The Iranian invocation of Nizam al-Mulk differs radically from his depiction in modern Sunni—Arab or Turkish—historiography. That living legacy is the true history of the laureled vizier.

Keywords:   Nizam al-Mulk, Fifteenth century, Timurid Iran, Husayn b. ‘Ali, Modern Iran, Islamic governance, Vizier, Sunni historiography

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