Muhammad of Ghor

Muhammad of Ghor
Muizz-ud-din Muhammad bin Sām
Sultan of the Ghorid Empire

Sultan Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Ghori
سلطان شہاب الدین محمد غوری
Reign 1202-1206
Born 1150
Birthplace Ghor in present-day Afghanistan
Died March 15, 1206
Place of death Damiak, Jhelum District, Pakistan
Buried Damik, Jhelum District, Pakistan
Predecessor Ghiyāṣ-ud-din Muhammad bin Sām
Successor Qutbuddin Aibak
Royal House Ghurid dynasty
Father Malik Baha-ud-din Sām bin Hussain
Religious beliefs Sunni Islam

Sultan Shahāb-ud-Din Muhammad Ghori (also Ghauri, Ghouri) (Persian: سلطان شہاب الدین محمد غوری), originally called Mu'izzuddīn Muḥammad Bin Sām (and also referred to by Orientalists as Muhammad of Ghor) (1150 – 15 March 1206), was a ruler of the Ghurid dynasty who reigned over a territory spanning present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India.

Shahabuddin Ghori reconquered the city of Ghazna (in modern-day Afghanistan) in 1173, and assisted his brother Ghiyasuddin in his contest with Khwarezmid Empire for the lordship of Khorāsān. He captured Multan and Uch in 1175 and annexed the Ghaznavid principality of Lahore in 1186. After the death of his brother Ghiyas-ud-Din in 1202, he became the successor of the empire and ruled until his assassination in 1206 near Jhelum (in modern-day Pakistan).

A confused struggle then ensued among the remaining Ghūrid leaders, and the Khwarezmids were able to take over the Ghūrids' empire in about 1215. Though the Ghūrids' empire was short-lived, Shahabuddin Ghori's conquests strengthened the foundations of Muslim rule in India.


Early life

Shahab-ud-din Ghori was born Muizz-ud-dīn Muhammad Bin Sām in 1150 CE in Ghor in what is present-day Afghanistan. The exact date of his birth is unknown. His father, Baha-ud-din Sām bin Hussain, was the local ruler of the Ghor region at the time.

The Ghurid Empire

Ghor (now a province in central Afghanistan) lay on the western boundary of the Ghaznavid Empire, which, in the early 12th century, covered an area stretching from what is now central Afghanistan to the Punjab in what is now Pakistan, with capitals at Ghaznā.

Beginning in the mid-12th century, Ghor expressed its independence from the Ghaznavid Empire. In 1149 the Ghaznavid ruler Bahram Shāh poisoned a local Ghūrid leader, Quṭb ud-Dīn, who had taken refuge in the city of Ghazna after a family quarrel. In revenge, the Ghūrid chief ʿAlāʾ-ud-Dīn Ḥusayn sacked and burned the city of Ghazna and put the city into fire for seven days and seven nights. It earned him the title of Jahānsuz, meaning "the world burner".[1] The Ghaznavids retook the city with Seljuk help, but lost it to Oghuz Turk freebooters.[1] The Ghurids reconquered Ghaznā from the Oghuz Turks and in 1173, Shahabuddin Ghori became governor of the Ghazna province while his brother, Ghiyasuddin Ghori, became the Sultan of the Ghurid Empire.

Invasions of Ghaznavid territories of Pakistan

Shahabuddin Ghori first invaded what is now Pakistan in 1175, capturing Multan and the fortress of Uch. He attacked Gujrat in 1179.

Capture of Lahore, 1181

In 1181, Shahabuddin Ghori invaded the Ghaznavid Empire in India, reaching and capturing Lahore, thus ending the Ghaznavid Empire and bringing the remaining Ghaznavid territory under Ghurid control. This victory marked the beginning of the Ghurid Empire. [2]

Invasions of India

Defeat in the Battle of or Kayadara (Gujarat), 1178

The battle of Gujarat or Kayadara (1178) was a defeat suffered by Muhammad of Ghur during his first campaign against a Rajput ruler in India. Muhammad's first campaign had been against the Muslim rulers of Multan in 1175 and had ended in victory. In 1178 he turned south, and led his army from Multan to Uch and then across the desert towards the Gujarat capital of Anhilwara (modern Patan).

Gujarat was ruled by the young Raja Bhimdev Solanki II (ruled 1178-1241), a member of the AgnivanshaRajput Solanki or Chalukya clan, although the age of the Raja meant that the army was commanded by his mother Naikidevi. Muhammad's army had suffered greatly during the march across the desert, and Naikidevi inflicted a major defeat on him at the village of Kayadra (near to Mount Abu, about forty miles to the north-east of Anhilwara). The invading army suffered heavy casualties during the battle, and also in the retreat back across the desert to Multan.

Muhammad of Ghur never returned to Gujarat. An army led by Qutb al-din Aibek, his deputy in India, invaded in c.1195-97 and plundered the capital, But Bhimdev defeated Aibak again and adorned himself as "Abhinav Siddharaj" thereafter aibak returned delhi.Gujarat wasn't annexed by the Sultanate of Delhi until 1297.

He captured Lahore in 1181 and constructed the fortress of Sialkot. In 1191, he pushed further eastwards against the Rajput kingdoms, and his forces were defeated by the armies of Prithviraj Chauhan, the Rajput ruler of Delhi and Ajmer and his allies. A year later, in 1192, Ghori again fought the Rajputs, which resulted in victory.

Defeat in the First Battle of Tarain, 1191

A sign post in Sohawa pointing towards the direction of Shihab-ud-din Ghori's Tomb

In 1191, Ghauri proceeded towards India through the Khyber Pass in modern day Pakistan and was successful in reaching Punjab. Ghauri captured a fortress, either at Sirhind or Bathinda in present-day Punjab state on the northwestern frontier of Prithvīrāj Chauhān's kingdom. Prithviraj's army led by his vassal prince Govinda-Raja of Delhi, rushed to the defense of the frontier, and the two armies met at the town of Tarain, near Thanesar in present-day Haryana, approximately 150 kilometres north of Delhi. In this battle, Mohammd's army was vanquished and the remnants fled back towards Afghanistan. Details of this battle are discussed in the article on the Battles of Tarain. Ghauri's defeated army retreated to Lahore and, thereafter, returned to Ghazni.

Victory in the Second Battle of Tarain, 1192

In 1192, Ghauri re-assembled his army of 120,000 men and returned to challenge Prithviraj at the Second Battle of Tarain. When he reached Lahore, he sent his envoy to Prithviraj Chauhan to demand his surrender but Prithviraj Chauhan refused to comply. Prithviraj Chauhan then issued a fervent appeal to his fellow Rajput rulers and aristocracy to come to his aid against Ghauri.

The army proceeded to meet Ghauri in Tarain where Prithviraj a year before he had inflicted defeat on his adversary, confident of defeating him again. Muhammad Ghauri delivered an ultimatum to Pritviraj that he convert to Islam or be defeated. Prithviraj countered with an offer that Muhammad consider a truce and Ghauri will be allowed to retreat with his army, in an effort to buy time. His terms not met, Ghauri decided to attack. Prithviraj Chauhan was defeated. Details of this battle are discussed in the article on the Battles of Tarain.

Consolidation of the Ghurid Empire

After defeating Prithvīrāj Chauhān.Prithvi raj was captured and taken to Ghauri's kingdom. Shahabuddin Ghori marched onwards unchallenged towards Ajmer and soon established Ghurid control in northern and central India.[3][4][5] Rajput kingdoms like Saraswati, Samana, Kohram and Hansi were captured without any difficulty. Finally his forces advanced on Delhi, capturing it soon after. Within a year, Ghaurī controlled northern Rajasthan and the northern part of the Ganges-Yamuna Doab.[6] The Kingdom of Ajmer was then given over to Golā, on condition that he send regular tributes to the Ghurids.

Shahabuddin Ghori, having settled the affairs of the province of Lahore, conferred the government of Lahore on Ali Karmakh[7] who was then the Governor of Multan. In 1206, Shahabuddin Ghori appointed Qub-ud-din Aibak as his Naib us Sultanat in India[7] at a grand darbar (reception) at Lahore, which was attended by a large majority of the nobles and dignitaries of his kingdom. It was at this occasion that Shahabuddin Ghori bestowed upon Qutb-ud-din the title of Aibak, meaning "Axis of the Faith".[8]

Muḥammad Ghorī returned west to Ghaznā to deal with the threat to his western frontiers from the unrest in Iran, but he appointed Aibak as his regional governor for northern India. His armies, mostly under Turkic generals, continued to advance through northern India, raiding as far east as Bengal. Aibak ransacked Ayodhya temples in 1193, followed by his conquest of Delhi. In 1204, after becoming sultan, Shahabuddin Ghori defeated the advance of Muḥammad II of Khwārezm. Aibak's protégé Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji had been appointed as a general by Muhammad of Ghor in 1203, and in 1204 he helped defeat the army of Lakshman Sen of the Sena Dynasty,[citation needed] and conquered Bengal.

Final days

For the literary story of Prithviraj's revenge, see Prithviraj Raso. the Punjab province of modern-day Pakistan). He was assassinated on March 15, 1206, while offering his evening prayers.

The identity of Shahabuddin Ghori's assassins is disputed, with some claiming that he was assassinated by local Hindu Gakhars and others claiming he was assassinated by Hindu Khokhars, both being different tribes.

The Khokhars were killed in large numbers, and the province was pacified. After settling the affairs in the Punjab. Shahabuddin marched back to Ghazni. While camping at Dhamayak in 1206 AD in the Jehlum district, the sultan was murdered by the Khokhars[9]

Hasan Nizami and Ferishta record the killing of Shahabuddin Ghori at the hands of the Gakhars. However, Ferishta may have confused the Ghakars with the Khokhars. Other historians have also blamed Shahabuddin Ghori's assassination to a band of Hindu Khokhars.[10]

All the historians before the time of Ferishta agree that the Khokhars , not the Gakhars killed Shahab ud din Ghori.[11]

Some also claim that Shahabuddin Ghori was assassinated by a radical Ismaili Muslim sect.[12]

There is a literary story[13] about the death of Muhammad of Ghor, which has considerable appeal,[14] but which is not borne out by historical documents.[13][15][16] This is described in the article Prithviraj Raso.

As per his wishes, Shahabuddin Ghori was buried where he fell, in Damik.

Ghurid-Ghaznavid struggles

Shahabuddin Ghori is credited with the decimation of the Ghaznavids, his ancestral enemies.

In alliance with the Hindu Raja of Jammu Vijaya Dev, he attacked Lahore in 1187, which was held by his ancestral enemy, the descendent of Mahmud of Ghazni, and made him prisoner. Mahmud of Ghazni's line of Sultans and Governors became extinguished.[17]

Mahmud Ghazni had attacked Ghor and the King Amir Suri, an ancestor of Shahabuddin Ghori, died taking poison after being taken prisoner. Various sources including Ferishta and Siraj attest to these events.

In the following year AH 401 (AD 1010), Mahmood led his army towards Ghoor[18]

According to Minhaj us Siraj, Amir Suri was captured by Mahmud of Ghazni, taken prisoner along with his son, and taken to Ghazni, where Amir Suri died.[19]

Soor, being made prisoner was brought to the king, but having taken poison, which he always kept under his ring, he died in a few hours; his country was annexed to the dominions of Ghizny.[18]

A little over a hundred years after Mahmud, one of his successors to the throne of Ghazni fell into a blood feud with the ruler of Ghor, southeast of Herat. In reprisal Ghazni was sacked by the prince of Ghor a fellow Muslim in 1150, and burned for seven days and nights. All the magnificent Mahmudi palaces and halls were destroyed and plunder, devastation and, and slaughter were continuous. It might be a historian reporting one of Mahmud's own murderous Indian raids. The Ghori victor earned the title of Jahansoze, the world burner. The bells ring again: the perpetrations of the northern foreigners were not essentially anti-Hindu. They could be quite merciless with Muslim rivals as well, for that was a part of their way of life. Ghazni now fell to a Turkman tribe which was in its turn ousted by the nephew of Jahansozein 1173. The later gave it to his brother later to be known as Muhammad of Ghori.[17]

Muhammad of Ghori launched expeditions into India, first capturing Multan from a fellow Muslim chief in 1175-76. Three years later he invaded Gujarat and was roundly defeated by the Hindu King. Another three years later, and Shahabuddin Ghori was back to take Peshawar and Sialkot in 1181. Now in alliance with the Hindu Raja of Jammu Vijaya Dev, he attacked Lahore in 1187, which was held by his ancestral enemy, the descendant of Mahmud of Ghazni, and made him prisoner. Mahmud of Ghazni's line of Sultans and Governors became extinguished.[17]

Personal life

Muhammad Ghorī was a loyal brother; he refrained from declaring his independence in the Indian Subcontinent, knowing that it would result in civil war between the two brothers. Until the death of Ghiyās ud-Dīn in 1202, after every victory the General would send the best of the looted items to his elder brother in Khorasan. Ghiyās ud-Dīn reciprocated by never interfering in the affairs of his younger brother. Thus they were each able to concentrate on their own responsibilities.



Shahabuddin Ghori had no offspring, but he treated his Turkic slaves as his sons, who were trained both as soldiers and administrators and provided with the best possible education. Many of his competent and loyal slaves rose to positions of importance in Shahabuddin Ghori's army and government.

When a courtier lamented that the Sultan had no male heirs, Shahabuddin Ghori retorted:

"Other monarchs may have one son, or two sons; I have thousands of sons, my Turkish slaves who will be the heirs of my dominions, and who, after me, will take care to preserve my name in the Khuṭbah (Friday sermon) throughout these territories."[cite this quote]

Shahabuddin Ghori's prediction proved true. After his assassination, his Empire was divided amongst his slaves. Most notably:


Muhammad of Ghor is revered by many Pakistanis as a true Muslim warrior who came and valiantly fought and defeated the Hindu Raja Prithvi Raj Chauhan. With that background, the Pakistani military named three of its medium-range ballistic missile Ghauri-I, Ghauri-II and Ghauri-III, in the memory of Muhammad of Ghor.[21]

Historical contemporaries

See also


  1. ^ a b Encyclopedia Iranica, Ghaznavids, Edmund Bosworth, Online Edition 2007, (LINK)
  2. ^ Bosworth, Clifford Edmund (1977) The Later Ghaznavids: Splendour and Decay: The Dynasty in Afghanistan and Northern India, 1040-1186 Columbia University Press, New York, pp. 120-31, ISBN 0-231-04428-3; see also the original source, Ibn Bābā's chapter on the Graznavids, pp. 132-144.
  3. ^
  4. ^,M1
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b Siraj, Minhaj, Tahqaat-e-Nasri; Qasim, Tarkh-e-Farishta; Ahmed Yaha Sirshnidi, Tarkh-e-Mubrak Shahi, Lahore 398
  8. ^
  9. ^ International Encyclopaedia of Islamic Dynasties By Nagendra Kr Singh, Nagendra Kumar Singh Published by Anmol Publications PVT. LTD. 2000 Page 28 ISBN 8126104031, 9788126104031
  10. ^ A History of India By August Friedrich Rudolf Hoernle, Herbert Alick Stark Edition: 3 Published by Orissa mission press, 1906 Original from the University of California Page 83 Digitized Nov 27, 2007
  11. ^ A Glossary Of The Tribes And Castes Of The Punjab And North-West Frontier By H.A. Rose Page 275
  12. ^ "Mu'izz-al-Din Muhammad ibn Sam (Ghurid ruler of India) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  13. ^ a b Whatever may be their arguments, one can not deny that the Prithviraj Raso remains a great piece of Hindi literature. Luṇiyā, Bhanwarlal Nathuram (1978) Life and Culture in Medieval India Kamal Prakashan, Indore, India, page 293, OCLC 641457716
  14. ^ Prithvira, a valorous hero par excellence, has been depicted in the lofty style which has been a source of inspiration to and influence on the North-Indian people. Krishnadatt Paliwal (1988) "Epic (Hindi)" In Datta, Amaresh (1988) The Encyclopaedia Of Indian Literature: Volume Two: Devraj to Jyoti Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, India, page 1178, ISBN 81-260-1194-7
  15. ^ Kaviraj Syamaldas (1886) "The Antiquity, Authenticity and Genuineness of the epic called the Prithviraj Rasa and commonly ascribed to Chand Bardai" Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol. 55, pt.1,
  16. ^ Hoernle, A.F.R. (April 1906) "Review of Das, Syamsundar Annual Report on the search for Hindi Manuscripts (four volumes for the years 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903)" The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland 1906(4): pp. 497–503, page 500
  17. ^ a b c Rediscovery Of India, The: A New Subcontinent By Ansar Hussain Khan, Ansar Hussain Published by Orient Longman Limited Page 54
  18. ^ a b Ferishta -Translation John Briggs page 28 vol 1
  19. ^ The History of Inda as told by its own Historians by Eliot and Dowson, Volume 2 page 286
  20. ^
  21. ^

Further reading

  • Briggs, John (Translator): The History of the Rise of Mohammedan Power in India. (Translation of the Mughal-Era Tārikh-i Farishtah. Available online at the Packard Humanities Institute.)

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