The Sarbadars (meaning “head on gallows” in Persian) were a mixture of religious dervishes and secular rulers that came to rule over part of western Khurasan in the midst of the disintegration of the Mongol Ilkhanate in the mid-14th century (established in 1337). Centred in their capital of Sabzavar, they continued their reign until Khwaja ‘Ali-yi Mu’ayyad submitted to Timur in 1381, and were one of the few groups that managed to mostly avoid Timur’s famous brutality.
The Sarbadar state was marked by divisions in religious belief during its existence. Its rulers were Shi’i, though often Sunnis claimed leadership among the people with the support of Ilkhanid rulers. The leadership of the Shi’is stemmed chiefly from the charisma of Sheikh Khalifa; a scholar from Mazandaran, the shaikh had arrived in Khurasan some years before the founding of the Sarbadar state and was subsequently murdered by Sunnis. His successor, Hasan Juri, established the former’s practices in the Sarbadar state. The followers of these practices were known as “Sabzavaris” after the city. The Sabzavaris, however, were divided; among their number were moderate Shi’is who were often at odds with the dervishes, adherents of a mystic ideology. The capital city of Sabzavar likely had a large Shi’ite community, but as the Sarbadars conquered the neighbouring territory, they acquired cities with Sunni populations.
- Abd al-Razzaq ibn Fazlullah (1332–1338)
- Wajih ad-Din Masud ibn Fazlullah (1338–1343)
- Muhammad Ay Temur (1343–1346)
- Kaba Isfendiyar (1346–1347)
- Lutf Allah (1347-1348 d.1361)
- Khwaja Tadj ad-Din Ali (1348–1353)
- Yahya ibn Karawi (1353–1356)
- Zahir ad-Din (1358–1359)
- Haidar al-Qassab (1359–1360)
- Lutf Allah (restored) (1360–1361)
- Hasan al-Damghani (1361–1364)
- Khwaja ‘Ali-yi Mu’ayyad ibn Masud (1364-1376 d.1386)
- Rukn ad-Din (1376–1379)
- Khwaja ‘Ali-yi Mu’ayyad ibn Masud (restored) (1379–1386)