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Muizzb-din Muhammad bin Sām
Shahabuddin Suri.jpg
Sultan Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Ghori
سلطان شہاب الدین محمد غوری
Sultan of the Ghorid Empire
Preceded by Ghiyāṣ-ud-din Muhammad bin Sām
Succeeded by Qutbuddin Aibak
Personal details
Born 1150
Ghor, present-day Afghanistan
Died March 15, 1206
Damiak, Jhelum District, present-day Pakistan
Religion Islam[1]

Sultan Shahāb-ud-Din Muhammad Ghori (also spelled 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 and famously known as just Ghori) (1150 – March 15, 1206), was one of the rulers of the Ghurid dynasty from the famous house of Sur who were rulers of Ghor for five hundred years. He is credited with laying the foundation of Islamic occupation in India that lasted for several centuries. He reigned over a territory spanning present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India.

Muiz-ud-din, son of Sam Suri, nicknamed Shahab-ud-din which means "The (Flashing) Fire of Religion (Islam)" took the city of Ghazni in 1173 to avenge the death of his ancestor Muhammad 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 Ghiyasuddin in his contest with the Khwarezmid Empire for the lordship of Khorāsān in Western Asia. In 1175 Ghori captured Multan from the Hamid Ludi dynasty which was also 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 Afghan but Non-Pashtun Persianized rivals.[1] After the death of Ghiyasuddin 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 Ghūrid leaders, and the Khwarezmids were able to take over the Ghūrids' empire in about 1215. Though the Ghūrids' empire was short-lived and petty Ghurid Suri states remained in power until the arrival of Timurids, Shahabuddin Ghori's conquests laid the foundations of Muslim rule in India. Qutb-ud-din Aibak, a former slave (Mamluk) of Muhammad Ghori, was the first sultan of Delhi.


The Ghuristan region remained primarily Hindu and Buddhist till 12th century. It was then Islamised by the Ghaznavids and later gave rise to the Ghurids.

The rise to power of the Ghurids at Ghur, a small isolated area located in the mountain vastness between the Ghaznavid empire and the Seljukids, was an unusual and unexpected development. The area was so remote that till the 11th century, it had remained a Hindu enclave surrounded by Muslim principalities. It was converted to Islam in the early part of the 12th century after Mahmud raided it, and left teachers to instruct the Ghurids in the precepts of Islam. Even then it is believed that paganism, i.e. a variety of Mahayana Buddhism persisted in the area till the end of the century.[3]

Early lifeEdit

Shahab-ud-din Ghori was born Muizz-ud-dīn Muhammad Bin Sām in 1150 CE in the Ghor region of 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.[1]

The Ghori EmpireEdit

The Ghor region laid 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 summer capital at Ghazni and winter capital at Lahore.

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 Ala-ud-Din Husain Shah 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".[4] The Ghaznavids retook the city with Seljuk help, but lost it to Oghuz Turk freebooters.[4] 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.

Ghurid-Ghaznavid strugglesEdit

Mahmud Ghazni had attacked Ghor and the King Amir Suri, an ancestor of Shahabuddin Ghori, who committed suicide with 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 Ghor.[5]

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.[6]
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.[5]

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 Jahansoze in 1173. The latter gave it to his brother later to be known as Muhammad of Ghori.[7]

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.[7]

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.[7]

Invasions of IndiaEdit

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

The battle of Kayadara, Gujarat (1178) was a defeat suffered by Muhammad of Ghor during his first campaign against an Indian 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 Indian ruler Bhimdev Solanki II (ruled 1178–1241), 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 Kayadara (near to Mount Abu, about forty miles to the north-east of Anhilwara).[8] The invading army suffered heavy casualties during the battle, and also in the retreat back across the desert to Multan.

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

He captured Lahore in 1186 and constructed the fortress of Sialkot.

Defeat in the First Battle of Tarain, 1191Edit

Tomb of Shihab

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

In 1191, Ghori proceeded towards Hindustan through the Khyber Pass in modern day Pakistan and was successful in reaching Punjab. Ghori 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,[9] 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. Ghori mortally wounds Govind Tai in personal combat and is wounded himself, whereupon his army retreats.[10]

Victory in the Second Battle of Tarain, 1192Edit

On his return to Ghazni, Ghori made hectic 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.[11] Minhaj-i-Siraj, stated Muhammad Ghori brought 120,000 fully armoured men to battle.[12]

Prithviraj had called his banners but hoped to buy time as his banners (other Rajputs under him or his allies) had not arrived. Ghori got news of this and deceitfully sent a letter to Prithviraj for truce. Before the next day, Ghori 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.[13]

Consolidation of the Ghurid EmpireEdit

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[14] and soon established Ghurid control in northern and central India.[15] 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 Ghori in defeating Prithviraj Chauhan). Within a year, Ghori controlled northern Rajasthan and the northern part of the Ganges-Yamuna Doab.[16] 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[17] who was then the Governor of Multan. In 1206, Shahabuddin Ghori appointed Qutb-ud-din Aibak as his Naib us Sultanat in India[17] at a grand darbar (court 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".[18]

Muḥammad Ghori 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. 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 Empire.

Final days and deathEdit

In 1206, Shahabuddin Ghori had to travel to Lahore to crush a revolt. 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 Shahabuddin Ghori's assassins is disputed, with some claiming that he was assassinated by local Gakhars and others claiming he was assassinated by Khokhars Hindu.

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 Jat Khokhars.

All the historians before the time of Ferishta agree that the Khokhars, not the Gakhars, killed Shahab ud din Ghori.[19]

Some also claim that Shahabuddin Ghori was assassinated by a radical Ismaili Muslim sect.[20]

There is another claim about the death of Muhammad of Ghor, which has considerable appeal,[21] but which is not borne out by historical documents.[22][23][24] 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 Ghori.[25][26] 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.[27][28]

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



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.""Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". April 2009. 

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 Muslim hero who defeated the Hindu King Prithviraj Chauhan in the 2nd battle of Terain. Some Pakistani Muslims claim descent from Ghori and his Mamluke army. Pakistani military named three of its medium-range ballistic missile Ghauri-I, Ghauri-II and Ghauri-III, in the memory of Muhammad of Ghor.[30]

Historical contemporariesEdit

See alsoEdit


  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. Satish Chandra, Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals-Delhi Sultanat (1206-1526), Part 1, (Har-Anand Publications, 1997), 22.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Encyclopedia Iranica, Ghaznavids, Edmund Bosworth, Online Edition 2007, (LINK)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Ferishta -Translation John Briggs page 28 vol 1
  6. The History of Inda as told by its own Historians by Eliot and Dowson, Volume 2 page 286
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Rediscovery Of India, The: A New Subcontinent By Ansar Hussain Khan, Ansar Hussain Published by Orient Longman Limited Page 54
  8. John Keay
  9. Cambridge History (Page 40)
  10. A Global Chronology of Conflict: From the Ancient World to the Modern Middle East, Vol. I, ed. Spencer C. Tucker, (ABC-CLIO, 2010), 263.
  11. Satish Chandra, Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals (1206-1526), 25.[1]
  12. Satish Chandra, Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals (1206-1526), 25.
  13. A Global Chronology of Conflict: From the Ancient World to the Modern Middle East, Vol. I, 263.
  14. Sharma, Gopi Nath (1970). Rajasthan Studies. Agra, India: Lakshmi Narain Agarwal. p. 201. OCLC 137196. 
  15. 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. 
  16. The crescent in India: a study in medieval history - Shripad Rama Sharma - Google Books. Retrieved 2012-07-11. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 Siraj, Minhaj, Tahqaat-e-Nasri; Qasim, Tarkh-e-Farishta; Ahmed Yaha Sirshnidi, Tarkh-e-Mubrak Shahi, Lahore 398
  19. A Glossary Of The Tribes And Castes Of The Punjab And North-West Frontier By H.A. Rose Page 275
  20. "Mu'izz-al-Din Muhammad ibn Sam (Ghurid ruler of India) – Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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,
  24. 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
  25. ""
  26. ""
  27. Leander Paes Ashmit Patel & Ritupurna Sengupta Part Of Film 'The End Of Bandit Queen'
  28. The Hindu : National : Phoolan murder accused held again
  29. [2][dead link]
  30. Sep 3, 2005 (2005-09-03). "Asia Times Online :: South Asia news, business and economy from India and Pakistan". Retrieved 2012-07-11. 

Further readingEdit

  • 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.)

Delhi SultanateEdit

Before leaving India, Muhammud had left all his affairs in hands of Qutb-ud-din Aibak. He was a slave of Ghori. After Ghori's death he had cut off links with Ghor. From then Aibak took over Delhi and started to rule India.

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