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Mu'izz al-Din Muhammad
Mu'izz al-Din
Sultan of the Ghurid Sultanate
Preceded by Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad
Succeeded by Ghor: Ghiyath al-Din Mahmud
India: Qutbuddin Aibak
Personal details
Born 1149
Ghor, present-day Afghanistan
Died March 15, 1206
Damiak, Jhelum District, present-day Pakistan
Religion Sunni Islam[1]

Mu'izz al-Din Muhammad (Persian: معزالدوله الدین محمد‎), born Shihab al-Din (1149 – March 15, 1206), also known as Muhammad of Ghor, was Sultan of the Ghurid Empire along with his brother Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad from 1173 to 1202, and as the supreme ruler of the Ghurid Empire from 1202 to 1206.

Mu'izz al-Din was one of the greatest rulers of the Ghurid dynasty, and is credited with laying the foundation of Islamic occupation in India that lasted for several centuries. He reigned over a territory spanning over parts of modern-day Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.

Mu'izz al-Din took the city of Ghazni in 1173 to avenge the death of his ancestor Muhammad ibn Suri at the hands of Mahmud of Ghazni and used it as a launching-pad for expansion into northern India.[1] In the meantime, he assisted his brother Ghiyath in his contest with the Khwarazmian Empire for the lordship of Khorasan in Western Asia. In 1175 Mu'izz captured Multan from the Hamid Ludi dynasty which was a Pashtun but were alleged to be un-Islamic on the account of their association with Ismailite Shi'iate sect and also took Uch in 1175. He also annexed the Ghaznavid principality of Lahore in 1186, the last haven of his Persianized rivals.[1] After the death of Ghiyath in 1202, he became the successor of the Ghurid Empire and ruled until his assassination in 1206 near Jhelum in modern-day Pakistan.[2]

A confused struggle then ensued among the remaining Ghuri leaders, and the Khwarizmi were able to take over the Ghurid Sultanate in about 1215. Though the Ghurids' empire was short-lived and petty Ghurid states remained in power until the arrival of Timurids, Mu'izz's conquests laid the foundations of Muslim rule in India. Qutb-ud-din Aibak, a former slave (Mamluk) of Mu'izz, was the first Sultan of Delhi.

Early life

Mu'izz was born in 1149 in the Ghor region of Afghanistan. The exact date of his birth is unknown. His father, Baha al-Din Sam I, was the local ruler of the Ghor region at the time.[1] Mu'izz also had a younger brother named Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad. During their early life, Mu'izz and Ghiyath were imprisoned by their uncle Ala al-Din Husayn, but were later released by the latter's son Sayf al-Din Muhammad.[3] When Sayf died in 1163, the Ghurid nobles supported Ghiyath, and helped him ascend the throne. Ghiyath shortly gave Mu'izz control over Istiyan and Kajuran. However, the throne was challenged by several Ghurid chiefs; Mu'izz aided Ghiyath in defeating and killing a rival Ghurid chief named Abu'l Abbas.

Early campaigns

Ghiyath was then challenged by his uncle Fakhr al-Din Masud, who claimed the throne for himself, and had allied with Tadj al-Din Yildiz, the Seljuq governor of Herat, and Balkh.[4] However, the coalition was defeated by Ghiyath and Mu'izz at Ragh-i Zar. The brothers managed to kill the Seljuq governor during the battle, and then conquered Zamindawar, Badghis, Gharchistan, and Guzgan. Ghiyath, however, spared Fakhr al-Din and restored him as the ruler of Bamiyan. Mu'izz, after returning from an expedition from Sistan, was shortly awarded with Kandahar by his brother. In 1173, the two brothers invaded Ghazni, and defeated the Oghuz Turks who had captured the city from the Ghaznavids. Mu'izz was then appointed as the ruler of Ghazni.[4][5]

In 1175, the two brothers conquered Herat from its Seljuq governor, Baha al-Din Toghril, and also managed to conquer Pushang. The ruler of Sistan, Taj al-Din Harb ibn Muhammad, shortly acknowledged the sovereignty of the Ghurids, and so did the Oghuz Turks dominating Kirman.[6]

During the same period, the Khwarazmian Sultan Shah, who was expelled from Khwarezm by his brother Tekish, took refuge in Ghor and requested military aid from Ghiyath. Ghiyath, however, did not help the latter. Sultan Shah managed to get help from the Kara-Khitan Khanate, and began plundering the northern Ghurid domains.

Invasion of India

After having helped his brother in expanding the western frontiers of the Ghurid Empire, he began to focus on India. He shortly invaded India, first capturing Multan from a fellow the Qarmatians in 1175–76. He then shortly captured Uch. Three years later he invaded Gujarat and was roundly defeated by the Hindu King. However, Mu'izz was able to take Peshawar and Sialkot. In 1186, Mu'izz, along with Ghiyath, ended the Ghaznavid dynasty after having captured Lahore and executed the Ghaznavid ruler Khusrau-Malik.[4][5][7]

Invasion of Gujarat and the neighboring regions

Mu'izz's campaign against the Muslim rulers of Multan in 1175 had ended in victory.[8] He turned south, and led his army from Multan to Uch and then across the desert towards the Gujarat capital of Anhilwara (modern Patan). In 1178, Muizz suffered a defeat at the battle of Kayadara (Gujarat), during his first campaign against an Indian ruler in India.[9]

Gujarat was ruled by the young Indian ruler Bhimdev Solanki II (ruled 1178–1241), although the age of the Raja meant that the army was commanded by his mother Naikidevi. Mu'izz's army had suffered greatly during the march across the desert, and Naikidevi inflicted a major defeat on him at the village of Kayadara (near to Mount Abu, about forty miles to the north-east of Anhilwara).[10] The invading army suffered heavy casualties during the battle, and also in the retreat back across the desert to Multan.[10]

Mu'izz shortly returned to Ghor, and along with the rulers of Bamiyan and Sistan, aided his brother Ghiyath in defeating the forces of Sultan Shah at Merv in 1190. He also annexed most of the latter's territories in Khorasan.

First Battle of Tarain

A sign post in Sohawa pointing towards the direction of Mu'izz's Tomb

In 1191, Mu'izz proceeded towards Hindustan through the Khyber Pass in modern day Pakistan and was successful in reaching Punjab. Mu'izz captured a fortress, Bathinda in present-day Punjab state on the northwestern frontier of Prithvīrāj Chauhān's kingdom. After appointing a Qazi Zia-ud-Din as governor of the fortress,[11] he received the news that Prithviraj's army, led by his vassal prince Govind Tai were on their way to besiege the fortress. The two armies eventually met near the town of Tarain, 14 miles from Thanesar in present-day Haryana. The battle was marked by the initial attack of mounted Mamluk archers in which Prithviraj responds by counter-attacking from three sides and dominates the battle. Mu'izz mortally wounds Govind Tai in personal combat and is wounded himself, whereupon his army retreats.[12]

Second Battle of Tarain

On his return to Ghazni, Mu'izz made preparations to avenge the defeat. According to Firishta, the Rajput army consisted of 3,000 elephants, 300,000 cavalry and infantry, most likely a gross exaggeration.[13] Minhaj-i-Siraj, stated Mu'izz brought 120,000 fully armored men to battle.[14]

Prithviraj had called his banners but hoped to buy time as his banners (other Rajputs under him or his allies) had not arrived. Before the next day, Mu'izz attacked the Rajput army before dawn. Rajputs had a tradition of fighting from sunrise to sunset. Although they were able to quickly form formations, they suffered losses due to surprise attack before sunrise. Rajput army was eventually defeated and Prithviraj was taken prisoner and subsequently executed.[15]

Further campaigns

When the state of Ajmer failed to fulfill the tribute demands as per the custom after a defeat, Qutub ud Din Aibak, in 1193 took over Ajmer[16] and soon established Ghurid control in northern and central India.[17] Rajput kingdoms like Saraswati, Samana, Kohram and Hansi were captured without any difficulty. Finally his forces advanced on Delhi, capturing it soon after the Battle of Chandwar, a surprise attack on Raja Jaichand of Kannauj (who was originally an ally who had assisted Mu'izz in defeating Prithviraj Chauhan).[citation needed] Within a year, Mu'izz controlled northern Rajasthan and the northern part of the Ganges-Yamuna Doab.[18] The Kingdom of Ajmer was then given over to Golā, on condition that he send regular tributes to the Ghurids.

Mu'izz returned west to Ghazni 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. An army led by Qutb al-din Aibak, Mu'izz's deputy in India, invaded in ca. 1195–97 and plundered Anahilapataka.[19]

War with the Khwarezmians and supreme leader of the Ghurids

In 1200, Tekish died, and was succeeded by Muhammad Khan (who took the honorific name 'Ala' al-Din). Among the first to hear of this were Ghiyath and Mu'izz al-Din. Within weeks the two brother had moved their armies westwards into Khorasan. Once they had captured Nishapur, Mu'izz al-Din was sent on an expedition towards Ray, but he let his troops get out of control and got little further than Gurgan, earning criticism from Ghiyath which led to the only reported quarrel between the brothers.[20][21]

Ghiyath died at Herat in 1202 after months of illness. Mu'izz, who had quickly returned to Ghor from India, obtained the support of Ghurid nobles, and crowned him as Sultan of the Ghurid Empire at Firuzkuh. Just after his ascension, Muhammad II invaded his domains, and besieged Herat. Mu'izz managed to repel him from Herat and then pursued him to Khwarezm, besieging Gurganj, their capital. Muhammad desperately requested aid from the Kara-Khitan Khanate, who sent an army to aid Muhammad. Mu'izz, because of the pressure from the Kara-Khitans, was forced to relieve the siege and retreat. However, on his way to his domains in Ghur, he was defeated at Andkhud in 1204.[22][23] Mu'izz, however managed to reach Ghur, and prepared a counter-attack against the Khwarmezians and Kara-Khitans. A revolt shortly broke out in Punjab and the surrounding regions, which forced Mu'izz to make order in the region before mounting a counter-attack against his enemies.

Final days and death

In 1206, Mu'izz, having settled the affairs in India,[24] left all the affairs in India in hands of his slave Qutb-ud-din Aibak.

On his way back to Ghazni, his caravan rested at Damik near Sohawa (which is near the city of Jhelum in the Punjab province of modern-day Pakistan). He was assassinated on March 15, 1206, while offering his evening prayers. The identity of Mu'izz's assassins is disputed, with some claiming that he was assassinated by local Gakhars and others claiming he was assassinated by Khokhars or even Ismailis.

Hasan Nizami and Ferishta record the killing of Mu'izz at the hands of the Gakhars. However, Ferishta may have confused the Ghakars with the Khokhars. Other historians have also blamed Mu'izz's assassination to a band of Hindu Jat Khokhars.

All the historians before the time of Ferishta agree that the Khokhars, not the Gakhars, killed Mu'izz.[citation needed][25]

Some also claim that Mu'izz was assassinated by a radical Ismaili Muslim sect.[26]

In Hindu Folklore, the death of Mu'izz was caused by Prithviraj [27] but which is not borne out by historical documents.[28][29][30] This is described in the article Prithviraj Raso. Even today Afghans vent their anger by stabbing on the grave of Prithviraj Chauhan, as according to them, Prithviraj had killed Mu'izz.[31][32] Sher Singh Rana, a member of Rajput community, visited Afghanistan to trace the grave of Prithviraj Chauhan. He dug Chauhan's "grave" and collected sand from it. This incident created sensation in Indian news and public media – as he said he did it to get back India's pride & respect.[33][34]

As per his wishes, Mu'izz was buried where he fell, in Damik.


Mu'izz 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 Mu'izz's army and government.

When a courtier lamented that the Sultan had no male heirs, Mu'izz 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.""Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". April 2009. 

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


Mu'izz is revered by many Pakistanis as a Muslim hero who defeated the Hindu King Prithviraj Chauhan in the 2nd battle of Terain. Some Pakistani Muslims claim descent from Mu'izz and his Mamluk army. Pakistani military named three of its medium-range ballistic missile Ghauri-I, Ghauri-II and Ghauri-III, in the memory of Mu'izz.[36]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Encyclopedia Iranica, Ghurids, C. Edmund Bosworth, Online Edition 2012, (LINK)
  2. MUHAMMAD B. SAM Mu'izz AL-DIN, T.W. Haig, Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. VII, ed. C.E.Bosworth, E.van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs and C. Pellat, (Brill, 1993), 410.
  3. History of Civilizations of Central Asia, C.E. Bosworth, M.S. Asimov, p. 186.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 The Iranian World, C.E. Bosworth, The Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. 5, ed. J. A. Boyle, John Andrew Boyle, (Cambridge University Press, 1968), 161-170.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Rediscovery Of India, The: A New Subcontinent By Ansar Hussain Khan, Ansar Hussain Published by Orient Longman Limited Page 54
  6. Encyclopedia Iranica, Ghaznavids, Edmund Bosworth, Online Edition 2007, (LINK)
  7. Ghaznavids, C.E. Bosworth, Encyclopedia Iranica
  8. Andre Wink, Al-Hind: The Making of the Indo-Islamic World, Vol. 2, 244.  – via Questia (subscription required)
  9. Andre Wink, Al-Hind: The Making of the Indo-Islamic World, Vol. 2, (Brill, 2002), 143.  – via Questia (subscription required)
  10. 10.0 10.1 Andre Wink, Al-Hind: The Making of the Indo-Islamic World, Vol. 2, 143.  – via Questia (subscription required)
  11. Cambridge History (Page 40)
  12. A Global Chronology of Conflict: From the Ancient World to the Modern Middle East, Vol. I, ed. Spencer C. Tucker, (ABC-CLIO, 2010), 263.
  13. Satish Chandra, Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals (1206-1526), 25.[1]
  14. Satish Chandra, Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals (1206-1526), 25.
  15. A Global Chronology of Conflict: From the Ancient World to the Modern Middle East, Vol. I, 263.
  16. Sharma, Gopi Nath (1970). Rajasthan Studies. Agra, India: Lakshmi Narain Agarwal. p. 201. OCLC 137196. 
  17. Abbasi, M. Yusuf (1990). "The evolution of Muslim nationalism and the Pakistan Resolution". In Yusuf, Kaniz F.; Akhtar, Muhammad Saleem and Wasti, Syed Razi. Pakistan Resolution Revisited. Islamabad, Pakistan: National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research. pp. 8–9. ISBN 978-969-415-024-6. 
  18. The crescent in India: a study in medieval history - Shripad Rama Sharma - Google Books. Retrieved 2012-07-11. 
  19. Sailendra Nath Sen, Ancient Indian History and Civilization, (New Age International, 1999), 327.
  20. Ahmad Hasan Dani et al. History of civilizations of Central Asia, vol. IV, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass Pub. (1999) ISBN 81-208-1409-6, p182
  21. Enc. Islam, article: Muhammad, Mu'izz al-Din
  22. A Global Chronology of Conflict: From the Ancient World to the Modern Middle, Vol. I, ed. Spencer C. Tucker, (ABC-CLIO, 2010), 269.
  23. Farooqui Salma Ahmed, A Comprehensive History of Medieval India: From Twelfth to the Mid-Eighteenth Century, (Dorling Kindersley Pvt., 2011), 53-54.
  24. Michel Biran, The Empire of the Qara Khitai in Eurasian History, (Cambridge University Press, 2005), 70.
  25. A Glossary Of The Tribes And Castes Of The Punjab And North-West Frontier By H.A. Rose Page 275
  26. "Mu'izz-al-Din Muhammad ibn Sam (Ghurid ruler of India) – Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  27. Prithviraj, 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
  28. Whatever may be their arguments, one cannot 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
  29. 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,
  30. 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
  31. ""
  32. ""
  33. Leander Paes Ashmit Patel & Ritupurna Sengupta Part Of Film 'The End Of Bandit Queen'
  34. The Hindu : National : Phoolan murder accused held again
  35. [2][dead link]
  36. Sep 3, 2005 (2005-09-03). "Asia Times Online :: South Asia news, business and economy from India and Pakistan". Retrieved 2012-07-11. 


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.)
Mu'izz al-Din Muhammad
Ghurid dynasty
Preceded by
Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad
Sultan of the Ghurid Sultanate
Succeeded by
Ghiyath al-Din Mahmud

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