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Khorasan ("Middle Persian xwarāsān, "Persian: خراسان Ḫurāsān "" listen ("help·""info)), sometimes called Greater Khorasan, is a historical region lying in northeast of "Greater Persia, including part of "Central Asia and "Afghanistan. The name simply means "East, Orient" (literally "sunrise") and it loosely includes the territory of the "Sasanian Empire east of "Persia proper. "Early Islamic usage often regarded everywhere east of so-called "Jibal or what was subsequently termed "'Iraq Adjami' (Persian Iraq), as being included in a vast and loosely-defined region of Khorasan, which might even extend to the "Indus Valley and "Sindh. During the Islamic period, Khorasan along with Persian Iraq were two important territories. The boundary between these two was the region surrounding the cities of "Gurgan and "Qumis (modern "Damghan). In particular, the "Ghaznavids, "Seljuqs and "Timurids divided their empires into Iraqi and Khorasani regions.
The main cities of Khorasan were "Balkh and "Herat (now in Afghanistan), "Mashhad and "Nishapur (now in northeastern "Iran), "Merv and "Nisa (now in southern "Turkmenistan), and "Bukhara and "Samarkand (now in "Uzbekistan). The loosely defined region also included "Transoxiana, "Soghdiana, and "Sistan and extended to the boundaries of the "Indian subcontinent. Sources from the 14th to the 16th century report that areas in the south of the Hindu Kush mountain range ("Zamindawar, "Balochistan, and "Kabulistan) formed a "frontier between Khorasan and "Hindustan.
Greater Khorasan is today sometimes used to distinguish the larger historical reason from the modern "Khorasan Province of "Iran (1906–2004), which roughly encompassed the western half of the historical Greater Khorasan.
First established as a political entity by the "Sassanids, the borders of the region have varied considerably during its 1,600-year history. Initially the Khorasan province of Sassanid empire included the cities of Nishapur, Herat, Merv, Faryab, Taloqan, Balkh, "Bukhara, "Badghis, "Abiward, "Gharjistan, Tus or "Susia, "Sarakhs and "Gurgan. In addition to these cities, "Ibn Khordadbeh mentions the cities of Nasā, Marvrud, "Zabulistan, "Kabul, "Termez, "Bamyan, "Sogdia, "Farghana, Rivsharan, "Jowzjan, "Khwarazm, Khotl, "Osrushana, Sajistan, "Pushang, Kesh, Botam, Vardana, Gorgan and Transoxiana as part of Khurasan. So according to him, eastern parts of today Iran, the entire Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, southern parts of Kazakhstan, northwestern regions of China ("Xinjiang), and the Indus Valley were part of Khurasan.
It acquired its greatest extent under the "Caliphs, for whom "Khorasan" was the name of one of the three political zones under their dominion (the other two being Eraq-e Arab "Arabic Iraq" and Eraq-e Ajam "Non-Arabic Iraq or Persian Iraq"). Under the "Umayyad and "Abbasid caliphates, Khorasan was divided into four major sections or quarters (rub′), each section based on a single major city: Nishapur, Merv, Herat and Balkh.
In the Middle Ages, the term was loosely applied in Persia to all its territories that lay east and north east of "Dasht-e Kavir and therefore were subjected to change as the size of empire changed. According to "Ghulam Mohammad Ghobar, Afghanistan's current Persian-speaking territories formed the major portion of Khorasan, as two of the four main capitals of Khorasan (Herat and Balkh) are now located in Afghanistan. Ghobar uses the terms "Proper Khorasan" and "Improper Khorasan" in his book to distinguish between the usage of Khorasan in its strict sense and its usage in a loose sense. According to him, Proper Khorasan contained regions lying between Balkh in the east, Merv in the north, "Sistan in the south, Nishapur in the west and Herat, known as the Pearl of Khorasan, in the center. Improper Khorasan's boundaries extended to as far as "Hazarajat and "Kabul in the east, Sistan and "Baluchistan in the south, Transoxiana and Khwarezm in the north, and "Damghan and "Gorgan in the west. It is mentioned in the "Memoirs of Babur that:
"The people of Hindustān call every country beyond their own Khorasān, in the same manner as the Arabs term all except Arabia, "Ajem. On the road between Hindustān and Khorasān, there are two great marts: the one Kābul, the other "Kandahār. Caravans, from Ferghāna, Tūrkestān, Samarkand, Balkh, Bokhāra, Hissār, and "Badakhshān, all resort to Kābul; while those from Khorasān repair to "Kandahār. This "country lies between Hindustān and Khorasān."
The land that became known as Khorasan in geography of "Eratosthenes was recognized as "Ariana by Greeks at that time, which made up "Greater Iran or the land where "Zoroastrianism was the dominant religion. The southeastern region of Khorasan fell to the "Kushan Empire in the 1st century AD. The Kushan rulers built a capital in modern-day "Afghanistan at "Bagram and are believed to have built the famous "Buddhas of Bamiyan. Numerous "Buddhist temples and buried cities have been found in Afghanistan. However, the region of Khorasan remained predominantly Zoroastrian but there were also "Manichaeists, "sun worshippers, "Christians, "Pagans, "Shamanists, "Buddhists, "Jews and others. One of the three great fire-temples of the Sassanids "Azar-burzin Mehr" is situated near "Sabzevar in Iran. The boundary of the region began changing until the Kushans and "Sassanids merged to form the Kushano-Sassanian civilization.["citation needed]
During the Sasanian era, likely in the reign of "Khusrow I, Persia was divided into four regions (known as kust Middle Persian), "Khwārvarān in the west, apāxtar in the north, nīmrūz in the south and Khurasan in the east. Since the Sasanian territories were more or less remained stable up to Islamic conquests, it can be concluded that Sasanian Khorasan was bordered to the south by Sistan and Kerman, to the west by the central deserts of modern Iran, and to the east by China and India.
Khorasan in the east saw some conflict with the "Hephthalites who became the new rulers in the area but the borders remained stable. Being the eastern parts of the Sassanids and further away from "Arabia, Khorasan region was conquered after the remaining Persia. The last Sassanid king of Persia, "Yazdgerd III, moved the throne to Khorasan following the Arab invasion in the western parts of the empire. After the assassination of the king, Khorasan was conquered by Arab Muslims in 647 AD. Like other provinces of Persia it became a province of the "Umayyad Caliphate.
The first movement against the Arab conquest was led by "Abu Muslim Khorasani between 747 and 750. He helped the "Abbasids come to power but was later killed by Al-Mansur, an Abbasid Caliph. The first independent kingdom from Arab rule was established in Khorasan by "Tahir Phoshanji in 821, but it seems that it was more a matter of political and territorial gain. Tahir had helped the Caliph subdue other nationalistic movements in other parts of Persia such as "Maziar's movement in "Tabaristan.["citation needed]
Other major independent dynasties who ruled over Khorasan were the "Saffarids from "Zaranj (861–1003), "Samanids from "Bukhara (875–999), "Ghaznavids from "Ghazni (963–1167), "Seljuqs (1037–1194), "Khwarezmids (1077–1231), "Ghurids (1149–1212), and "Timurids (1370–1506). Some of these dynasties were not Persian by ethnicity. The periods of "Turkic Ghaznavids and "Turco-Mongol Timurids are considered as some of the most brilliant eras of Khorasan's history. During these periods, there was a great cultural awakening. Many famous poets, scientists and scholars lived in this area. Numerous valuable works in "Persian literature were written.
Between the early 16th and early 18th centuries, parts of Khorasan were contested between the "Safavids and the "Uzbeks. A part of the Khorasan region was conquered in 1722 by the "Ghilji Pashtuns from "Kandahar and became part of the "Hotaki dynasty from 1722 to 1729. "Nader Shah recaptured Khorasan in 1729 and chose "Mashhad as the capital of Persia. Following his assassination in 1747, the eastern parts of Khorasan, including "Herat was annexed with the "Durrani Empire. Mashhad area was under control of Nader Shah's grandson "Shahrukh Afshar until it was captured by the "Qajar dynasty in 1796. In 1856, the Iranians, under the Qajar dynasty, briefly recaptured Herat; by the "Treaty of Paris of 1857, signed between Iran and the British Empire to end the "Anglo-Persian War, the Iranian troops withdrew from "Herat. Later, in 1881, Iran relinquished its claims to a part of the northern areas of Khorasan to the "Russian Empire, principally comprising "Merv, by the "Treaty of Akhal (also known as the Treaty of Akhal-Khorasan).
Khorasan has had a great cultural importance among other regions in "Greater Iran. The literary "New Persian language developed in Khorasan and Transoxiana and gradually supplanted the "Parthian language. The New "Persian literature arose and flourished in Khorasan and Transoxiana where the early Iranian dynasties such as Tahirids, Samanids and Ghaznavids were based.The early Persian poets such as "Rudaki, "Shahid Balkhi, Abu al-Abbas Marwazi, Abu Hafas Sughdi, and others were from Khorasan. Moreover, "Ferdowsi and "Rumi were also from Khorasan.["citation needed]
Until the devastating "Mongol invasion of the thirteenth century, Khorasan remained the cultural capital of Persia. It has produced scientists such as "Avicenna, "Al-Farabi, "Al-Biruni, "Omar Khayyám, "Al-Khwarizmi, "Abu Ma'shar al-Balkhi (known as Albumasar or Albuxar in the west), "Alfraganus, "Abu Wafa, "Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, "Sharaf al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī, and many others who are widely well known for their significant contributions in various domains such as "mathematics, "astronomy, "medicine, "physics, "geography, and "geology. Khorasan artisans contributed to the spread of technology and goods along the ancient trade routes and decorative objects have been traced to this ancient culture, including art objects, textiles and metalworks. Decorative antecedents of the famous "singing bowls" of Asia may have been invented in ancient Khorasan.["citation needed]
In Islamic "theology, "jurisprudence and "philosophy, and in "Hadith collection, many of the greatest Islamic scholars came from Khorasan, namely "Ahmad ibn Hanbal, "Abu Hanifa, "Imam Bukhari, "Imam Muslim, "Abu Dawood, "Al-Tirmidhi, "Al-Nasa'i, "Al-Ghazali, "Al-Juwayni, "Abu Mansur Maturidi, "Fakhruddin al-Razi, and others. "Shaykh Tusi, a Shi'a scholar and "Al-Zamakhshari, the famous "Mutazilite scholar, also lived in Khorasan.["citation needed]
historical region and realm comprising a vast territory now lying in northeastern "Iran, southern "Turkmenistan, and northern "Afghanistan. The historical region extended, along the north, from the "Amu Darya (Oxus River) westward to the "Caspian Sea and, along the south, from the fringes of the central Iranian deserts eastward to the "mountains of central Afghanistan. Arab geographers even spoke of its extending to the boundaries of "India.