'Iraq 'Ajami

Map of Persian Iraq and its surroundings

Persian Iraq, also uncommonly spelled Persian Irak[1] (Persian: عراقِ عجم Erāq-e Ajam(i); Arabic: عراق العجم 'Irāq al-'Ajam or عراق عجمي 'Irāq 'Ajami), is a historical region of the western parts of Iran.

The region, originally known as Media in pre-Islamic times, became known as Jibal ("mountain, hill") by the early Islamic geographers, due its mountainous layout. The name was progressively abandoned during the Seljuk era in the 11th-12th centuries, and was called ʿIrāq(-i) ʿAjamī ("Persian Iraq") to distinguish it from ʿIrāq(-i) Arab ("Arab Iraq") in Mesopotamia.[2]

According to the medieval historian and geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi, this course started taking place when the Seljuk sultans ruled both Iraq proper and Jibal, thus being addressed "sultan al-Iraq". However, the city of Hamadan in Jibal eventually became their capital, thus resulting in the region becoming known as Iraq, with the word Ajami ("Persian") being added.[3] Following the Mongol invasion of Iran in the 13th-century, the name Jibal had become completely outdated. In the following century, the geographer Hamdallah Mustawfi was unaware of the name Jibal, and only knew it as 'Iraq-i Ajami'. It was regarded by him as sardsīr ("cold zone").[3]

Later, until the beginning of the 20th century, the term Iraq in Iran was used to refer to a much smaller region south of Saveh and west of Qom. This region was centered on Soltanabad, which was renamed later as Arak.[4]


  1. ^ Chisholm 1911, p. 740.
  2. ^ Lockhart 1965, p. 534.
  3. ^ a b Bosworth 1998, p. 538.
  4. ^ de Planhol 1986, pp. 247–248.