Muhammad of Ghor

Mu'izz ad-Din Mohammad Ghori (Persian: معز الدین محمد غوری‎), born Shihab ad-Din (1149 – March 15, 1206), also known as Mohammad of Ghor, was the Sultan of the Ghori empire along with his brother Ghiyath ad-Din Muhammad from 1173 to 1202 and as the sole ruler from 1202 to 1206. He is credited with laying the foundation of Muslim rule in the Indian subcontinent, which lasted for several centuries. He reigned over a territory spanning over parts of modern-day Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Northern India, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

Mu'izz ad-Din Mohammad
Sultan of the Ghurid Sultanate
Shrine of Mu'izz al-Din Muhammad.JPG
Tomb of Mohammad of Ghori in Sohawa Tehsil, Pakistan
Reign1173–1202 (with his brother Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad);
(1202–1206 as sole ruler)
PredecessorGhiyath ad-Din Muhammad
SuccessorGhor: Ghiyath al-Din Mahmud (as Emir of Ghor)
Ghazni: Taj ad-Din Yildiz (as Emir of Ghazni)
Delhi: Qutbu l-Din Aibak (as Sultan of Delhi)
Bengal: Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji (as Sultan of Bengal)
Multan: Nasir-ud-Din Qabacha (as Sultan of Multan)
Ghor in present-day Afghanistan
Died15 March 1206(1206-03-15) (aged 56–57)
Dhamiak, Jhelum District, Delhi Sultanate, present-day Pakistan
Dhamiak, Jhelum District, present-day Pakistan
HouseGhurid dynasty
FatherBaha al-Din Sam I

Mu'izz ad-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, and also took Uch in 1175. He also annexed the Ghaznavid principality of Lahore in 1186, the last haven of his Persianised rivals.[1] After consolidating his rule in the North-West domain Mu'izz al-Din wish to invade the heart of Northern India which was then under the control of Rajputs.[2]

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

Early lifeEdit

Mu'izz ad-Din Muhammad was born in 1149 in the Ghor region of Khorasan. 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 an elder 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 campaignsEdit

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, Gharjistan, and Urozgan. 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 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]

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. [1]

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 IndiaEdit

After having helped his brother in expanding the western frontiers of the Ghurid Empire, he began to focus on India. Mu'izz's campaign against the Qarmatians rulers of Multan in 1175 had ended in victory.[5] He turned south, and led his army from Multan to Uch and then across the desert towards the Chaulukya capital of Anhilwara (modern-day Patan in Gujarat) in 1178. On the way, Muizz suffered a defeat at the Battle of Kayadara, during his first campaign against an Indian ruler.[5] Gujarat was ruled by the young Chaulukya ruler Mularaja II; the Chaulukya forces included the armies of their feudatories such as the Naddula Chahamana ruler Kelhanadeva, the Jalor Chahamana ruler Kirtipala, and the Arbuda Paramara ruler Dharavarsha.[6] Mu'izz's army had suffered greatly during the march across the desert, and the Chalukyas inflicted a major defeat on him at the village of Kayadara (near to Mount Abu, about forty miles to the north-east of Anhilwara).[5] The invading army suffered heavy casualties during the battle, and also in the retreat back across the desert to Multan.[5] 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.[7]

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 TarainEdit

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

In 1191, Mu'izz proceeded towards the Indian subcontinent 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,[8] 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 to which Prithviraj responded by counter-attacking from three sides and thus dominating the battle. Mu'izz mortally wounded Govind Tai in personal combat and in the process was himself wounded, whereupon his army retreated[9] and Prithvīrāj's army was deemed victorious. [10]

According to Rima Hooja and Kaushik Roy, Govind Tal was wounded by Ghori and later fought at the second battle of Tarain, where he was killed.[11][12]

Second Battle of TarainEdit

On his return to Ghor, 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 the battle in 1192.[13]

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. Although they were able to quickly form formations, they suffered losses due to surprise attacks before sunrise. The Rajput army was eventually defeated and Prithviraj was taken prisoner and subsequently executed.[10]

After Prithviraj's defeat, Mu'izz raided Varanasi. Ibn Asir's Kamil-ut-Tawarikh states that:

"The slaughter of Hindus (at Varanasi) was immense; none were spared except women and children, and the carnage of men went on until the earth was weary...The women and children were spared so that they could be enslaved and sold in Islamic countries. At the same time, the Buddhist complex at Sarnath was also sacked, and the Bhikshus were slaughtered".[14]

Further campaignsEdit

When the state of Ajmer failed to fulfil the tribute demands as per the custom after a defeat, Qutbu l-Din Aibak, in 1193 took over Ajmer[15] and soon established Ghurid control in northern and central India.[16] Hindu 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, defeating Raja Jaichand of Kannauj.[17] 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 the condition that he send regular tributes to the Ghurids.[citation needed]

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 and Khalaj generals such as Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji, continued to advance through northern India, raiding as far east as Bengal. Followed by his conquest of Delhi, an army led by Aibak invaded and plundered Anahilapataka in ca. 1195–97.[19]

War with the Khwarezmians and supreme leader of the GhuridsEdit

In 1200, Tekish died and was succeeded by Muhammad II of Khwarezm (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 brothers 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]

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 was crowned 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.[21][22] 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 deathEdit

Muhammad Ghori's grave within his tomb near Jhelum

In 1206, Mu'izz, having settled the affairs in India,[23] left all the affairs in India in hands of his slave Qutb al-Din Aibak.

On his way back to Ghazni, his caravan rested at Dhamiak 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.[citation needed] The identity of his killers is unconfirmed. It may have been the Khokhar Jats or Ismāʿīlīs.[24][25] One source states that he was assassinated by the Nizari Ismaili Assassins.

In Indian folklore, the death of Mu'izz was caused by Prithviraj Chauhan,[26] but this is not borne out by historical documents and Prithviraj died much earlier before the death of Mu'izz.[27][28]


A coin of Muhammad Ghori

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."[This quote needs a citation]

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

  • Qutbu l-Din Aibak became ruler of Delhi in 1206, establishing the Sultanate of Delhi, which marked the start of the Slave dynasty.* K. A. Nizami (1992). "The Early Turkish Sultans of Delhi". In Mohammad Habib; Khaliq Ahmad Nizami (eds.). A Comprehensive History of India: The Delhi Sultanat (A.D. 1206-1526). 5 (Second ed.). The Indian History Congress / People's Publishing House. p. 201. OCLC 31870180.
  • Nasir-ud-Din Qabacha became ruler of Multan in 1210.
  • Tajuddin Yildoz became ruler of Ghazni.
  • Ikhtiyar Uddin Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji became ruler in parts of Bengal.




  1. ^ a b c d Bosworth 2001.
  2. ^ Jadunath Sarkar 1960, p. 32.
  3. ^ Nizami 1998, p. 186.
  4. ^ a b Bosworth 1968, p. 112.
  5. ^ a b c d Wink 2002, p. 143.
  6. ^ Sharma 1959, p. 259.
  7. ^ Bosworth 1968, p. 161-170.
  8. ^ Bosworth 1968, p. 40.
  9. ^ Roy 2016, p. 41.
  10. ^ a b Tucker 2010, p. 263.
  11. ^ Hooja 2006, p. 267-268.
  12. ^ Roy 2016, p. 41-42.
  13. ^ a b Chandra 2006, p. 25.
  14. ^ Perspectives in Indian History: From the Origins to AD 1857. Notion Press. 2020.
  15. ^ Sharma 1970, p. 201.
  16. ^ Abbasi 1990, p. 8-9.
  17. ^ Roy 2016, p. 42.
  18. ^ Sharma 1966, p. 73.
  19. ^ Sen 1999, p. 327.
  20. ^ Nizami 1998, p. 182.
  21. ^ Tucker 2010, p. 269.
  22. ^ Ahmed 2011, p. 53-54.
  23. ^ Biran 2005, p. 70.
  24. ^ Sita Ram Goel: Story of Islamic Imperialism in India. Voice of India. 1982. p. 68.
  25. ^ Haig 1993, p. 410.
  26. ^ Datta 1988, p. 1178.
  27. ^ Luṇiyā 1978, p. 293.
  28. ^ Hoernle 1906, p. 500.
  29. ^ Yasin, Aamir (8 October 2017). "The tomb of the man who conquered Delhi". Dawn (newspaper). Retrieved 28 July 2021.
  30. ^ Sudha Ramachandran (3 September 2005). "Asia's missiles strike at the heart". Asia Times Online. Archived from the original on 30 October 2006. Retrieved 28 July 2021.
  31. ^ "Manav Vij to play Mohammed Ghori in YRF's Prithviraj Chauhan". DB Post. 10 September 2019. Retrieved 18 January 2020.


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Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

Muhammad of Ghor
Preceded by
Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad
Sultan of the Ghurid Sultanate
Succeeded by
Ghiyath al-Din Mahmud