Ṭūs (Persian: طوس), also spelled as Tous and Toos, is an ancient city in Khorasan, which is located near Mashhad, the current capital city of Razavi Khorasan province, northeast of Iran. Tus was founded in Sassanid era before the emergence of Islam in this country. It was a thriving city before the conquest of Khorasan by Muslims. It consisted of four major cities, Taberan, Noqan, Torqbaz and Radkan.

Harun, the Abbasid caliph, died in Tus and he was buried in Sanabad, a village near this city. On his way back from Marv, Imam al-Rida (a) was martyred and he was buried in Sanabad. Imam (a) also added two verses to a poem composed by Di'bil b. 'Ali al-Khuza'i in which he mentioned he will be buried in Tus.

Tus is regarded as a city home to many scientific figures including Jabir b. Hayyan, Muhammad b. Aslam al-Tusi, Abu l-Qasim Ferdowsi, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi and Muhammad al-Ghazali.

This city was hugely damaged in the attacks of Mongols and Timurids in which a large number of people were perished. Then most of people moved to live in Sanabad where Imam al-Rida (a) was buried. These events led to marginalization of Tus. However Mashhad became increasingly famous and it became an important Shi'ite city.


The ancient city of Tus is currently located 25 km on the northern part of Mashhad.[1]

Historical Background

Some historians believe the origin of Tus goes back to Achaemenid era and it was called Susia at that time. However, Tus is not mentioned in any historical resources until Sassanid era. It was among the most flourishing cities of Iran in Sassanid era. According to a number of reports, Jamshid Pishdadi founded this city and Tus b. Nowdar rebuilt it later.[2]

After the Emergence of Islam

After the emergence of Islam in Khorasan, Tus was conquered by 'Abd Allah b. Kurayz in 29/649-50.[3] In the early centuries after the emergence of Islam, Tus consisted of four parts (cities) Taberan, Noqan, Torqbaz and Radkan. Noqan was the most important and the largest city in Tus region in the 3rd/9th century.[4]

Humayd b. Qahtaba al-Ta'i was the governor of Tus in the time of Abbasid caliphs, Harun and Ma'mun; he was living in a magnificent palace in Sanabad. When Harun traveled to Tus in order to suppress rioters in Khorasan, he became sick and died in Tus in 193/808. His body was buried in the garden of Humayd b. Qahtaba which later became famous as Haruniyya cemetery.[5]

According to the reports of Muslim scholars in geography and history from the 3rd/9th century to the 9th/15th century after Hijra, including al-Ya'qubi, Istakhri, Ibn Hawqal, Ibn Khallakan, al-Maqdasi, Hirawi and al-Mustawfi, Tus was a prosperous and flourishing city which included more than a thousand villages.[6] However after the attacks of Ghaznavids, Mongols and Timurids through three centuries (6th/12th - 9th/15th), Tus was demolished and abandoned. Later Shahrukh the son of Timur ordered to rebuild Tus after the damages caused by Timurids; it never became an elegant city as before though.[7]

Most of the people who abandoned Tus, settled in Sanabad and started to build houses near the burial place of Imam al-Rida (a). Gradually Mashhad expanded and developed, meanwhile economic, political and social position of Tus moved to Mashhad. Timurids paid huge attention to the Holy Shrine of Imam al-Rida (a) and they built Goharshad mosque near it. Later Shi'ism was declared as the official religion in Iran by Safavid rulers which helped Mashhad to become one of the main Shi'ite cities in Iran. As a result, gradually from the 9th/15th century Tus was eliminated from historical geography and it was replaced with Mashhad.[8]

Holy Shrine of Imam al-Rida (a)

After the martyrdom of Imam al-Rida (a) in Marv, on his way back to Iraq in 203/818, his body was buried in the garden of Humayd b. Qahtaba near Sanabad village by the order of Ma'mun.[9] In the beginning there was only a burial place built on the grave of Harun, but later in the last decades of the 3rd/9th century people started to build houses there, which connected Sanabad village to Noqan, it was later called Mashhad al-Rida.[10]

Notable Figures of Tus

Tus was regarded among the scientific cities in Khorasan where notable poets and scientists lived and flourished the city for years.

Jabir b. Hayyan

Jabir b. Hayyan was a Shi'ite scientist in the 2nd/8th century who has written impressive works in chemistry, philosophy, medicine, mathematics, astronomy and music; he is mostly known for his works in chemistry. Works attributed to Jabir have a Shi'ite framework. Although his name is not mentioned in the earlier rijal resources, he was mentioned by a number of historians and biographers including Ibn Khallakan, Ibn Nadim, Ibn Tawus, Safadi, Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin and Siddiq Hasan Khan al-Jabir. They stated that Jabir was a student of Imam al-Sadiq (a).[11]

Muhammad Ibn Aslam al-Tusi

Muhammad b. Aslam al-Tusi (d. 242/856-7) was a scholar of hadith who was admired by rijal scholars. Al-Shaykh al-Tusi regarded him among the narrators and companions of Imam al-Rida (a). He has narrated "Silsilat al-Dhahab" (The Golden Chain Hadith) from Imam al-Rida (a) which was mentioned by 'Ali b. 'Isa al-Irbili in Kashf al-ghumma fi ma'rifat al-a'imma in the history of Neyshabur.[12] Muhammad b. Aslam passed away in Neyshabur and was buried in Shadiyakh cemetery next to Ishaq b. Rahawayh. Al-Musnad, al-Rad 'ala al-Jahmiya, al-iman wa al-a'mal, Dar rad Kiramiyya and al-Arba'un haditha are the notable works authored by Muhammad b. Aslam al-Tusi.[13]

Al-Shaykh al-Tusi

Muhammad b. Hasan b. 'Ali b. Hasan (b. 385/995 – d. 460/1067) known as al-Shaykh al-Tusi and al-Shaykh al-Ta'ifa (the chief of the Shi'a) is regarded as one of the greatest hadith scholars and jurists in Shi'ism. He was born in Tus and migrated to Iraq at the age of 23. Al-Shaykh al-Mufid and al-Sharif al-Murtada were the prominent teachers of al-Tusi. He was appointed by Abbasid caliph to teach theology in Baghdad. Once the library of Jundishapur was set on fire, al-Tusi was forced to move to Najaf, where he founded Seminary of Najaf. After the demise of al-Sharif al-Murtada, al-Tusi became marja' and leader of Shi'ite Muslims.

Al-Nihaya, al-Khilaf and al-Mabsut are the significant works of al-Shaykh al-Tusi in Shi'ite jurisprudence. Tahdhib al-Ahkam and al-Istibsar are among the main Four Books of Shi'ites written by al-Tusi. Generally all of his works were always regarded as reference books among Shi'ites.

Al-Shaykh al-Tusi passed away in Najaf and was buried in his house according to his will. Later a mosque was built on his grave which is located near the Holy Shrine of Imam 'Ali (a).

Nasir al-Din al-Tusi

Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (d. 672/1274) was one of the most influential scholars in theology and philosophy in the 7th/13th century. There are large number of evidences that prove Nasir al-Din al-Tusi was an Imami Shi'a.[14] He has written numerous books in Ethics, Logics, philosophy, theology, mathematics and astronomy including Akhlaq al-Nasiri, Asas al-iqtibas, Tajrid al-i'tiqad and Tadhkira fi l-'ilm al-hay'a. He was the founder of Maraghah Observatory and a library with over 400,000 books.[15] Al-Tusi passed away in Baghdad and according to his will, he was buried in the Holy Shrine of Kazimayn (a).[16]

In Imam al-Rida's (a) Words

Imam al-Rida (a) added two verses to a poem composed by Di'bil b. 'Ali al-Khuza'i:

"And a grave is in Tus; What a sorrowful tragedy it is!
[This tragedy] with sighs would keep blazing [a profound grief] in the heart
Until the Resurrection, when Allah sends the Riser
who will relieve us from the distresses and grief."

Afterwards Di'bil b. 'Ali al-Khuza'i told Imam (a) that he does not know such grave in Tus. Imam (a) replied: That is my grave, and Shi'a Muslims will visit it numerously after some time.[17]

See Also


  1. Zangana, Shahristān-ī Ṭūs wa wilāyāt-i Mashhad, p. 153.
  2. Khulūṣīrād, Mukhtaṣarī az sabiqa-yi tārīkhī-yi nāḥīya-yi Ṭūs, p. 137-138.
  3. Khulūṣīrād, Mukhtaṣarī az sabiqa-yi tārīkhī-yi nāḥīya-yi Ṭūs, p. 137-138.
  4. Zangana, Shahristān-ī Ṭūs wa wilāyāt-i Mashhad, p. 147.
  5. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 430.
  6. Yaʿqūbī, Kitāb al-buldān, p. 53; Iṣṭakhrī, al-Masālik wa al-mamālik, p. 205; Muqaddasī, Aḥsān al-taqāsīm, vol. 1, p. 72.
  7. Zangana, Shahristān-ī Ṭūs wa wilāyāt-i Mashhad, p. 151.
  8. Khulūṣīrād, Mukhtaṣarī az sabiqa-yi tārīkhī-yi nāḥīya-yi Ṭūs, p. 138.
  9. Muṣtawfī, Nuzhat al-qulūb, p. 215.
  10. Zangana, Shahristān-ī Ṭūs wa wilāyāt-i Mashhad, p. 154.
  11. Dāʾirat al-maʿārif buzurg-i al-Islāmī, vol. 17, p. 143-149; Dānishnāma-yi Jahān Islām, vol. 9, p. 167-170.
  12. Irbilī, Kashf al-ghumma fī maʿrifat al-aʾimma, vol. 2, p. 827.
  13. Muhammad b. Aslam Ṭūsī, Maktabat al-shāmila.
  14. Niʿma, Falāsifa al-shīʿa ḥayātuhum wa ārāʾuhum, p. 474-501.
  15. Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 17, p. 387; Katbī, Fawāt al-wafīyāt, vol. 3, p. 246-252.
  16. Amīn, Aʿyān al-Shīʿa, vol. 9, p. 418.
  17. Ṣadūq, ʿUyūn akhbār al-Riḍā, vol. 2, p. 651.


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