The Ghaznavid dynasty (Persian: غزنویانġaznaviyān) was a Persianate[10] Muslim dynasty of Turkic mamluk origin,[11] at their greatest extent ruling large parts of Iran, Afghanistan, much of Transoxiana and the northwest Indian subcontinent (part of Pakistan) from 977 to 1186.[12][13][14] The dynasty was founded by Sabuktigin upon his succession to rule of the region of Ghazna after the death of his father-in-law, Alp Tigin, who was a breakaway ex-general of the Samanid Empire from Balkh, north of the Hindu Kush in Greater Khorasan.[15]

Although the dynasty was of Central Asian Turkic origin, it was thoroughly Persianised in terms of language, culture, literature and habits[16][17][18][19] and hence is regarded by some as a "Persian dynasty".[20]

Sabuktigin's son, Mahmud of Ghazni, declared independence from the Samanid Empire[21] and expanded the Ghaznavid Empire to the Amu Darya, the Indus River and the Indian Ocean in the East and to Rey and Hamadan in the west. Under the reign of Mas'ud I, the Ghaznavid dynasty began losing control over its western territories to the Seljuq dynasty after the Battle of Dandanaqan, resulting in a restriction of its holdings to modern-day Afghanistan, Pakistan (Punjab and Balochistan).[22][23] In 1151, Sultan Bahram Shah lost Ghazni to the Ghurid king Ala al-Din Husayn.


Ghaznavid Empire at its greatest extent in 1030 CE
Ghaznavid Empire at its greatest extent in 1030 CE
Common languagesPersian (official and court language; lingua franca)[2][3]
Arabic (theology)
Turkic (military)[4]
Sunni Islam
• 977–997
Sabuktigin (first)
• 1160–1186
Khusrau Malik (last)
• 998–1013
Abu'l-Hasan Isfaraini (first mentioned)
• 12th century
Abu'l-Ma'ali Nasrallah (last mentioned)
Historical eraMedieval
• Established
• Disestablished
1029 estimate[5][6]3,400,000 km2 (1,300,000 sq mi)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Saffarid dynasty
Ghurid dynasty
Seljuk Empire
History of the Turkic peoples
History of the Turkic peoples
Pre-14th century
Turkic Khaganate 552–744
  Western Turkic
  Eastern Turkic
Khazar Khaganate 618–1048
Xueyantuo 628–646
Great Bulgaria 632–668
  Danube Bulgaria
  Volga Bulgaria
Kangar union 659–750
Turk Shahi 665–850
Türgesh Khaganate 699–766
Uyghur Khaganate 744–840
Karluk Yabgu State 756–940
Kara-Khanid Khanate 840–1212
  Western Kara-Khanid
  Eastern Kara-Khanid
Ganzhou Uyghur Kingdom 848–1036
Qocho 856–1335
Pecheneg Khanates
Kimek confederation
Oghuz Yabgu State
Ghaznavid Empire 963–1186
Seljuk Empire 1037–1194
  Sultanate of Rum
Kerait khanate 11th century–13th century
Khwarazmian Empire 1077–1231
Naiman Khanate –1204
Qarlughid Kingdom 1224–1266
Delhi Sultanate 1206–1526
  Mamluk dynasty
  Khalji dynasty
  Tughlaq dynasty
Golden Horde | [7][8][9] 1240s–1502
Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo) 1250–1517
  Bahri dynasty

Rise to power

Two military families arose from the Turkic slave-guards of the Samanid Empire, the Simjurids and Ghaznavids, who ultimately proved disastrous to the Samanids. The Simjurids received an appanage in the Kohistan region of eastern Khorasan. The Samanid generals Alp Tigin and Abu al-Hasan Simjuri competed for the governorship of Khorasan and control of the Samanid Empire by placing on the throne emirs they could dominate after the death of Abd al-Malik I in 961. His death created a succession crisis between his brothers. A court party instigated by men of the scribal class — civilian ministers rather than Turkic generals — rejected the candidacy of Alp Tigin for the Samanid throne. Mansur I was installed instead, and Alp Tigin prudently retired to south of the Hindu Kush, where he captured Ghazna and became the ruler of the city as a Samanid authority.[24] The Simjurids enjoyed control of Khorasan south of the Amu Darya but were hard-pressed by a third great Iranian dynasty, the Buyid dynasty, and were unable to survive the collapse of the Samanids and the subsequent rise of the Ghaznavids.

The struggles of the Turkic slave generals for mastery of the throne with the help of shifting allegiance from the court's ministerial leaders both demonstrated and accelerated the Samanid decline. Samanid weakness attracted into Transoxiana the Karluks, a Turkic people who had recently converted to Islam. They occupied Bukhara in 992, establishing in Transoxania the Kara-Khanid Khanate.

After Alp Tigin's death in 963, Abu Ishaq Ibrahim, followed by his slave Sabuktigin, took the throne. Sabuktigin's son Mahmud of Ghazni made an agreement with the Kara-Khanid Khanate whereby the Amu Darya was recognised as their mutual boundary.



Sabuktigin, son-in-law of Alp Tigin and founder of the Ghaznavid Empire, began expanding it by capturing Samanid and Kabul Shahi territories, including most of what is now Afghanistan and part of Pakistan. The 16th century Persian historian, Firishta, records Sabuktigin's genealogy as descended from the Sasanian kings: "Subooktu-geen, the son of Jookan, the son of Kuzil-Hukum, the son of Kuzil-Arslan, the son of Ferooz, the son of Yezdijird, king of Persia." However, modern historians believe this was an attempt to connect himself with the history of old Persia.[25]

After the death of Sabuktigin, his son Ismail claimed the throne for a temporary period, but he was defeated and captured by Mahmud in 998 at the Battle of Ghazni.

Mahmud son of Sabuktigin

In 997, Mahmud, another son of Sebuktigin, succeeded the throne,[26] and Ghazni and the Ghaznavid dynasty have become perpetually associated with him. He completed the conquest of the Samanid and Shahi territories, including the Ismaili Kingdom of Multan, Sindh, as well as some Buwayhid territory. By all accounts, the rule of Mahmud was the golden age and height of the Ghaznavid Empire. Mahmud carried out seventeen expeditions through northern India to establish his control and set up tributary states, and his raids also resulted in the looting of a great deal of plunder. He established his authority from the borders of Ray to Samarkand, from the Caspian Sea to the Yamuna.

During Mahmud's reign (997–1030), the Ghaznavids settled 4,000 Turkmen families near Farana in Khorasan. By 1027, due to the Turkmen raiding neighbouring settlements, the governor of Tus, Abu l'Alarith Arslan Jadhib, led military strikes against them. The Turkmen were defeated and scattered to neighbouring lands.[27] Although, as late as 1033, Ghaznavid governor Tash Farrash executed fifty Turkmen chiefs for raids into Khorasan.[28]

The wealth brought back from the Mahmud's Indian expeditions to Ghazni was enormous, and contemporary historians (e.g. Abolfazl Beyhaghi, Ferdowsi) give glowing descriptions of the magnificence of the capital and of the conqueror's munificent support of literature. Mahmud died in 1030.


Twin sons of Mahmud

Mahmud left the empire to his son Mohammed, who was mild, affectionate and soft. His brother, Mas'ud, asked for three provinces that he had won by his sword, but his brother did not consent. Mas'ud had to fight his brother, and he became king, blinding and imprisoning Mohammed as punishment. Mas'ud was unable to preserve the empire and following a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Dandanaqan in 1040, he lost all the Ghaznavid lands in Iran and Central Asia to the Seljuks, plunging the realm into a "time of troubles".[15][29] His last act was to collect all his treasures from his forts in hope of assembling an army and ruling from India, but his own forces plundered the wealth and he proclaimed his blind brother as king again. The two brothers now exchanged positions: Mohammed was elevated from prison to the throne, while Mas'ud was consigned to a dungeon after a reign of ten years and was assassinated in 1040. Mas'ud's son, Madood, was governor of Balkh, and in 1040, after hearing of his father's death, he came to Ghazni to claim his kingdom. He fought with the sons of the blind Mohammed and was victorious. However, the empire soon disintegrated and most kings did not submit to Madood. In a span of nine years, four more kings claimed the throne of Ghazni.


In 1058, Mas'ud's son Ibrahim, a great calligrapher who wrote the Koran with his own pen, became king. Ibrahim re-established a truncated empire on a firmer basis by arriving at a peace agreement with the Seljuks and a restoration of cultural and political linkages.[29] Under Ibrahim and his successors the empire enjoyed a period of sustained tranquility. Shorn of its western land, it was increasingly sustained by riches accrued from raids across Northern India, where it faced stiff resistance from Indian rulers such as the Paramara of Malwa and the Gahadvala of Kannauj.[29] He ruled until 1098.


Masud III became king for sixteen years, with no major event in his lifetime. Signs of weakness in the state became apparent when he died in 1115, with internal strife between his sons ending with the ascension of Sultan Bahram Shah as a Seljuk vassal.[29] Bahram shah defeated his brother Arslan for the throne at the Battle of Ghazni in 1117.

Sultan Bahram Shah

Coinage of Mas'ud I of Ghazni, derived from Shahi designs, with the name of Mas'ud in Arabic.

Sultan Bahram Shah was the last Ghaznavid King, ruling Ghazni, the first and main Ghaznavid capital, for thirty five years. In 1148 he was defeated in Ghazni by Sayf al-Din Suri, but he recaptured the capital the next year. Ala al-Din Husayn, a Ghorid King, conquered the city in 1151, for the revenge of his brother Kutubbuddin's death, who was son-in-law of the king but was publicly punished and killed for a minor offence. Ala al-Din Husayn then razed the city and burned it for 7 days, after which he became known as "Jahānsuz" (World Burner). Ghazni was restored to the Ghaznavids by the intervention of the Seljuks, who came to the aid of Bahram.[29] Ghaznavid struggles with the Ghurids continued in subsequent years as they nibbled away at Ghaznavid territory, and Ghazni and Zabulistan was lost to a group of Oghuz Turks before captured by the Ghurids.[29] Ghaznavid power in northwestern India continued until the Ghurid conquest of Lahore from Khusrau Malik in 1186.[29]

Military and tactics

The core of the Ghaznavid army was primarily made up of Turks,[30] as well as thousands of native Afghans who were trained and assembled from the area south of the Hindu Kush in what is now Afghanistan.[31][32] During the rule of Sultan Mahmud, a new, larger military training center was established in Bost (now Lashkar Gah). This area was known for blacksmiths where war weapons were made. After capturing and conquering the Punjab region, the Ghaznavids began to employ Hindus in their army.[33][34]

Like the other dynasties that rose out of the remains of the Abbasid Caliphate, the Ghaznavid administrative traditions and military practice came from the Abbasids. The Arabian horses, at least in the earliest campaign were still substansial in Ghaznavid military incursions especially in dashing raids deep into hostile territory. As evidenced there is a record about '6000 Arab horse' were sent against king Anandapala in 1008 AD and the existence of this Arabian cavalry persist until 1118 under Ghaznavid governor in Lahore.[35]

There were, however, unique changes adopted that met the demands of the geographic situation of the Ghaznavid dynasty. Due to their access to the Indus-Ganges plains, the Ghaznavids, during the 11th and 12th centuries, developed the first Muslim army to use war elephants in battle. The elephants were protected by armour plating on their fronts. The use of these elephants was a foreign weapon in other regions that the Ghaznavids fought in, particularly in Central Asia.[36]

State and culture

Carafe Iran
Ghaznavid era art: Free-blown, wheel-cut carafes. First half of 11th century. Excavated at Teppe Madraseh, Nishapur, Iran. New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

According to Clifford Edmund Bosworth:

The Ghaznavid sultans were ethnically Turkish, but the sources, all in Arabic or Persian, do not allow us to estimate the persistence of Turkish practices and ways of thought amongst them. Yet given the fact that the essential basis of the Ghaznavids’ military support always remained their Turkish soldiery, there must always have been a need to stay attuned to their troops’ needs and aspirations; also, there are indications of the persistence of some Turkish literary culture under the early Ghaznavids (Köprülüzade, pp. 56–57). The sources do make it clear, however, that the sultans’ exercise of political power and the administrative apparatus which gave it shape came very speedily to be within the Perso-Islamic tradition of statecraft and monarchical rule, with the ruler as a distant figure, buttressed by divine favor, ruling over a mass of traders, artisans, peasants, etc., whose prime duty was obedience in all respects but above all in the payment of taxes. The fact that the personnel of the bureaucracy which directed the day-to-day running of the state, and which raised the revenue to support the sultans’ life-style and to finance the professional army, were Persians who carried on the administrative traditions of the Samanids, only strengthened this conception of secular power.

Persianisation of the state apparatus was accompanied by the Persianisation of high culture at the Ghaznavid court... The level of literary creativity was just as high under Ebrāhīm and his successors up to Bahrāmšāh, with such poets as Abu’l-Faraj Rūnī, Sanāʾī, ʿOṯmān Moḵtārī, Masʿūd-e Saʿd-e Salmān, and Sayyed Ḥasan Ḡaznavī (Rypka, Hist. Iran. Lit., pp. 196–97; Bosworth, Later Ghaznavids, pp. 75–77, 107–10). We know from the biographical dictionaries of poets (taḏkera-ye šoʿarā) that the court in Lahore of Ḵosrow Malek had an array of fine poets, none of whose dīvāns has unfortunately survived, and the translator into elegant Persian prose of Ebn Moqaffaʿ’s Kalīla wa Demna, namely Abu’l-Maʿālī Naṣr-Allāh b. Moḥammad, served the sultan for a while as his chief secretary (Bosworth, Later Ghaznavids, pp. 127–28). The Ghaznavids thus present the phenomenon of a dynasty of Turkish slave origin which became culturally Persianised to a perceptibly higher degree than other contemporary dynasties of Turkish origin such as Saljuqs and Qarakhanids.[37]

Persian literary culture enjoyed a renaissance under the Ghaznavids during the 11th century.[38][39][40] The Ghaznavid court was so renowned for its support of Persian literature that the poet Farrukhi traveled from his home province to work for them.[41] The poet Unsuri's short collection of poetry was dedicated to Sultan Mahmud and his brothers Nasr and Yaqub.[42] Another poet of the Ghaznavid court, Manuchehri, wrote numerous poems to the merits and advantages of drinking wine.[43]

Sultan Mahmud, modelling the Samanid Bukhara as a cultural center, made Ghazni into a center of learning, inviting Ferdowsi and al-Biruni. He even attempted to persuade Avicenna, but was refused.[44] Mahmud preferred that his fame and glory be publicized in Persian and hundreds of poets assembled at his court.[45] He brought whole libraries from Rayy and Isfahan to Ghazni and even demanded that the Khwarizmshah court send its men of learning to Ghazni.[46] Due to his invasion of Rayy and Isfahan, Persian literary production was inaugurated in Azerbaijan and Iraq.[47]

The Ghaznavids continued to develop historical writing in Persian that had been initiated by their predecessors, the Samanid Empire.[48] The historian Abu'l-Fadl Bayhaqi's Tarikh-e Beyhaqi, written in the latter half of the 11th century, is an example.[49]

Although the Ghaznavids were of Turkic origin and their military leaders were generally of the same stock, as a result of the original involvement of Sebuktigin and Mahmud of Ghazni in Samanid affairs and in the Samanid cultural environment, the dynasty became thoroughly Persianized, so that in practice one cannot consider their rule over Iran one of foreign domination. They also copied their administrative system from the Samanids.[50] In terms of cultural championship and the support of Persian poets, they were more Persian than their ethnically-Iranian rivals, the Buyid dynasty, whose support of Arabic letters in preference to Persian is well known.[51]

Historian Bosworth explains: "In fact with the adoption of Persian administrative and cultural ways the Ghaznavids threw off their original Turkish steppe background and became largely integrated with the Perso-Islamic tradition."[52] As a result, Ghazni developed into a great centre of Arabic learning.[53]

With Sultan Mahmud's invasions of North India, Persian culture was established at Lahore, which later produced the famous poet, Masud Sa'd Salman.[54] Lahore, under the Ghaznavid rule in the 11th century, attracted Persian scholars from Khorasan, India and Central Asia and became a major Persian cultural centre.[55][56] It was also during Mahmud's reign that Ghaznavid coinage began to have bilingual legends consisting of Arabic and Devanagari script.[57]

The Persian culture, established by the Ghaznavids in Ghazna and Eastern Afghanistan, survived the Ghurid invasion in the 12th century and endured until the invasion of the Mongols.[58]


At its height, the Ghaznavid empire grew to cover large parts of present-day Iran, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, all of Afghanistan, Pakistan and large parts of northwest India. The Ghaznavid rulers are generally credited with spreading Islam into the Indian subcontinent. In addition to the wealth accumulated through raiding Indian cities, and exacting tribute from Indian rajas, the Ghaznavids also benefited from their position as an intermediary along the trade routes between China and the Mediterranean. They were, however, unable to hold power for long and by 1040 the Seljuks had taken over their Persian domains and a century later the Ghurids took over their remaining sub-continental lands. The Nasher Khans, are said to be the descendants of the Ghaznavid dynasty.

List of rulers

# Laqab Personal Name Reign Succession right Notes
1 Nasir-ud-din
Sabuktigin 977–997
2 No title Ismail 997–998 son of Sabuktigin
3 Yamin ad-Dawlah
یمین الدولہ ابو لقاسم
Right-hand man of the state
Mahmud 998–1030 first son of Sabuktigin
4 Jalal ad-Dawlah
جلال الدولہ
Dignity of the state
Muhammad 1030
1st reign
second son of Mahmud
5 Shihab ad-Dawlah
شھاب الدولہ
Star of the State
Masud I 1030–1041 first son of Mahmud Was overthrown, imprisoned and executed, following the battle of Dandanaqan
Jalal ad-Dawlah
جلال الدولہ
Dignity of the state
Muhammad 1041
2nd reign
second son of Mahmud Raised to the throne following the removal of Masud I.
6 Shihab ad-Dawlah
شھاب الدولہ
Star of the State
Mawdud 1041–1048 son of Masud I Defeated Muhammad at the battle of Nangrahar and gained the throne.[59]
7 ?
Masud II 1048 son of Mawdud
8 Baha ad-Dawlah
بھاء الدولہ
Ali 1048–1049 son of Masud I
9 Izz ad-Dawlah
عز الدولہ
Abd al-Rashid 1049–1052 fifth son of Mahmud
10 Qiwam ad-Dawlah
Toghrul 1052–1053 Turkish mamluk general Usurped the Ghaznavid throne after massacring Abd al-Rashid and eleven other Ghaznavid princes.[60]
11 Jamal ad-Dawlah
جمال الدولہ
Beauty of the state
Farrukh-Zad 1053–1059 son of Masud I
12 Zahir ad-Dawlah
ظھیر الدولہ
Ibrahim 1059–1099 son of Masud I
13 Ala ad-Dawlah
علاء الدولہ
Masud III 1099–1115 son of Ibrahim
14 Kamal ad-Dawlah
کمال الدولہ
Shirzad 1115–1116 son of Masud III Murdered by his younger brother Arslan ibn Mas'ud.[61]
15 Sultan ad-Dawlah
سلطان الدولہ
Sultan of the state
Arslan-Shah 1116–1117 son of Masud III Took the throne from his older brother Shirzad, but faced a rebellion from his other brother Bahram Shah, who was supported by the sultan of the Great Seljuq Empire, Ahmad Sanjar.[62]
16 Yamin ad-Dawlah
یمین الدولہ
Right-hand man of the state
Bahram Shah 1117–1157 son of Masud III Under Bahram-Shah, the Ghaznavid empire became a tributary of the Great Seljuq empire. Bahram was assisted by Ahmad Sanjar, sultan of the Great Seljuq empire, in securing his throne.[63]
17 Muizz ad-Dawlah
Khusrau-Shah 1157–1160 son of Bahram-Shah
18 Taj ad-Dawlah
تاج الدولہ
Crown of the state
Khusrau Malik 1160–1186 son of Khusrau-Shah

See also


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  2. ^ Homa Katouzian, "Iranian history and politics", Published by Routledge, 2003. pg 128: "Indeed, since the formation of the Ghaznavids state in the tenth century until the fall of Qajars at the beginning of the twentieth century, most parts of the Iranian cultural regions were ruled by Turkic-speaking dynasties most of the time. At the same time, the official language was Persian, the court literature was in Persian, and most of the chancellors, ministers, and mandarins were Persian speakers of the highest learning and ability"
  3. ^ "Persian Prose Literature." World Eras. 2002. HighBeam Research. (3 September 2012);"Princes, although they were often tutored in Arabic and religious subjects, frequently did not feel as comfortable with the Arabic language and preferred literature in Persian, which was either their mother tongue—as in the case of dynasties such as the Saffarids (861–1003), Samanids (873–1005), and Buyids (945–1055)—or was a preferred lingua franca for them—as with the later Turkish dynasties such as the Ghaznawids (977–1187) and Saljuks (1037–1194)". [1]
  4. ^ C.E. Bosworth, The Ghaznavids:994–1040, (Edinburgh University Press, 1963), 134.
  5. ^ Turchin, Peter; Adams, Jonathan M.; Hall, Thomas D (December 2006). "East-West Orientation of Historical Empires". Journal of World-systems Research. 12 (2): 223. ISSN 1076-156X. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
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  10. ^ Böwering, Gerhard; Crone, Patricia; Mirza, Mahan (1 January 2012). The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought. Princeton University Press. pp. 410–411.
  11. ^ Islamic Central Asia: an anthology of historical sources, Ed. Scott Cameron Levi and Ron Sela, (Indiana University Press, 2010), 83;The Ghaznavids were a dynasty of Turkic slave-soldiers..., "Ghaznavid Dynasty" Encyclopædia BritannicaJonathan M. Bloom, Sheila Blair, The Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture, Oxford University Press, 2009, Vol.2, p.163, Online Edition, "Turkish dominated mamluk regiments...dynasty of mamluk origin (the GHAZNAVID line) carved out an empire..."
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  18. ^ Sydney Nettleton Fisher and William Ochsenwald, The Middle East: a history: Volume 1, (McGraw-Hill, 1997); "Forced to flee from the Samanid domain, he captured Ghaznah and in 961 established the famed Persianate Sunnite Ghaznavid empire of Afghanistan and the Punjab in India".
  19. ^ Meisami, Julie Scott, Persian historiography to the end of the twelfth century, (Edinburgh University Press, 1999), 143. Nizam al-Mulk also attempted to organise the Saljuq administration according to the Persianate Ghaznavid model..
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  34. ^ Military Manpower, Armies and Warfare in South Asia
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  47. ^ The Institution of Persian Literature and the Genealogy of Bahar's "Stylistics", Wali Ahmadi, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 31, No. 2 (Nov. 2004), 146.
  48. ^ The Past in Service of the Present: Two Views of History in Medieval Persia, J. S. Meisami, Poetics Today, Vol. 14, No. 2, Cultural Processes in Muslim and Arab Societies: Medieval and Early Modern Periods (Summer, 1993), 247.
  49. ^ The Development of a Literary Canon in Medieval Persian Chronicles: The Triumph of Etiquette, E. A. Poliakova, Iranian Studies, Vol. 17, No. 2/3 (Spring – Summer, 1984), 241.
  50. ^ The Development of Persian Culture under the Early Ghaznavids, C.E. Bosworth, Iran, Vol. 6, (1968), 36.
  51. ^ Encyclopedia Iranica, Iran, EHSAN YARSHATER, Online Edition 2008, ([2])
  52. ^ Clifford Edmund Bosworth, The new Islamic dynasties: a chronological and genealogical manual, Edition: 2, Published by Edinburgh University Press, 2004, ISBN 0-7486-2137-7, p. 297
  53. ^ C.E. Bosworth, The Ghaznavids 994–1040, (Edinburgh University Press, 1963), 134.
  54. ^ Ghaznavids, Homyra Ziad, Medieval Islamic Civilization, Ed. Josef W. Meri, (Routledge, 2006), 294.
  55. ^ Muzaffar Alam, Françoise Delvoye Nalini and Marc Gaborieau, The making of Indo-Persian Culture: Indian and French Studies, (Manohar Publishers & Distributors, 2000), 24.
  56. ^ Brian Spooner and William L. Hanaway, Literacy in the Persianate World: Writing and the Social Order, 284.
  57. ^ C.E. Bosworth, The Ghaznavids 994-1040, (Edinburgh University Press, 1963), 44.
  58. ^ The Development of Persian Culture under the Early Ghaznavids, C.E. Bosworth, Iran, Vol. 6, (1968), p. 39. doi:10.2307/4299599
  59. ^ C.E. Bosworth, The Later Ghaznavids, 22–24.
  60. ^ C.E. Bosworth, The Later Ghaznavids, (Columbia University Press, 1977), 45.
  61. ^ C.E. Bosworth, The Later Ghaznavids, 90.
  62. ^ C.E. Bosworth, The Later Ghaznavids, 93–95.
  63. ^ C.E. Bosworth, The New Islamic Dynasties, (Columbia University Press, 1996), 297.

Further reading

  • Bosworth, Clifford Edmund (1963) The Ghaznavids: Their Empire in Afghanistan and Eastern Iran 994–1040 Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, OCLC 3601436
  • Bosworth, Clifford Edmund (1977) The Later Ghaznavids: Splendour and Decay, The Dynasty in Afghanistan and Northern India 1040–1186 Columbia University Press, New York, ISBN 0-231-04428-3
  • Bosworth, Clifford Edmund (1998), "THE GHAZNAVIDS", in Asimov, M.S.; Bosworth, C.E. (eds.), History of Civilisations of Central Asia (PDF), UNESCO Publishing, ISBN 978-92-3-103467-1
  • M. Ismail Marcinkowski (2003) Persian Historiography and Geography: Bertold Spuler on Major Works Produced in Iran, the Caucasus, Central Asia, India and Early Ottoman Turkey Pustaka Nasional, Singapore, ISBN 9971-77-488-7

External links

Abu'l-Hasan Isfaraini

Abu'l-Hasan Ali ibn Fadl ibn Ahmad Isfaraini (Persian: ابوالحسن علی بن فضل بن احمد اسفراینی‎, died 1013/4), better simply known as Abu'l-Hasan Isfaraini (ابوالحسن اسفراینی), was a Persian vizier of the Ghaznavid Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni (r. 998 – 1030) from 998 to 1010.

Arslan-Shah of Ghazna

Arslan-Shah of Ghazna (full name: Sultan ad-Dawlah Abul-Moluk Arslan-Shah ibn Mas'ud) (b. ? - d. 1118) was the Sultan of the Ghaznavid Empire from 1116 to 1117 C.E.

Bahram-Shah of Ghazna

Bahram-Shah (full name:Yamin ad-Dawlah wa Amin al-Milla Abul-Muzaffar Bahram-Shah) (1084 - 1157) was Sultan of the Ghaznavid empire from 25 February 1117 to 1157. Son of Mas'ud III and Gawhar Khatun, sister of Sanjar, sultan of the Great Seljuq empire. During his entire reign, his empire was a tributary of the Great Seljuq empire.

Buddhism in Afghanistan

Buddhism in Afghanistan was one of the major religious forces in the region during pre-Islamic era. The religion was widespread south of the Hindu Kush mountains. Buddhism first arrived in Afghanistan in 305 BC when the Greek Seleucid Empire made an alliance with the Indian Maurya Empire. The resulting Greco-Buddhism flourished under the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom (250 BC-125 BC) and the later Indo-Greek Kingdom (180 BC - 10 AD) in modern northern Pakistan and Afghanistan. Greco-Buddhism reached its height under the Kushan Empire, which used the Greek alphabet to write its Bactrian language.

Lokaksema (c. 178 AD), who travelled to the Chinese capital of Luoyang and was the first translator of Mahayana Buddhist scriptures into Chinese, and Mahadharmaraksita who, according to the Mahavamsa (Chap. XXIX), led 30,000 Buddhist monks from "the Greek city of Alasandra" (Alexandria of the Caucasus, around 150 km north of today's Kabul in Afghanistan), to Sri Lanka for the dedication of the Great Stupa in Anuradhapura. The Greco-Bactrian King Menander I, (Pali) "Milinda," ruled 165 BC - 135 BC, was a renowned patron of Buddhism immortalized in the Buddhist text the Milinda Panha.

The famous Persian Buddhist monastery in Balkh in northern Afghanistan, known as Nava Vihara ("New Monastery"), functioned as the center of Central Asia Buddhist learning for centuries.

The Buddhist religion in Afghanistan started fading with the arrival of Islam in the 7th century but finally ended during the Ghaznavids in the 11th century.

Farrukhi Sistani

Abul Hasan Ali ibn Julugh Farrukhi Sistani (Persian: ابوالحسن علی بن جولوغ فرخی سیستانی‎) (c. 980 – 1037 or 1038) was a 10th- and 11th-century Persian royal poet of Ghaznavids.As an ethnic Persian, he was one of the brightest masters of the panegyric school of poetry in the court of Mahmud of Ghazni. He started his career by writing a qasideh called 'With a Caravan of Fine Robes' (in Persian: با کاروان حله) and presented it to Asa'ad Chaghani, the vizier of Saffarid king of Sistan. This poem was so beautiful and masterful that Farrokhi was admitted to the court. Here is the opening line:

The next day when the king went to his ranch where he used to party and brand his new young horses. The vizier described to Farrukhi the setting of branding of horses. Farrokhi went home and based on the descriptions and without seeing the actual scene, wrote a new poem called 'Branding Place' (in Persian: داغگاه). The next morning he went back to the vizier and recited the poem. Vizier was so impressed that immediately took Farrokhi to the king. When this poem was recited to the king, he was so impressed that he gave 40 young horses to Farrokhi as gift.

The opening line is:

Farrokhi was also a master in music and could play barbat and had a nice voice and could sing too. He later moved to the court of Ghaznavids, first Mahmud and then his son, Masud.

Farrokhi's divan of 9000 verses survived. He died in 1037 or 1038 CE.

Ghurid dynasty

The Ghurids or Ghorids (Persian: سلسله غوریان‎; self-designation: شنسبانی, Shansabānī) were a dynasty of Iranian descent from the Ghor region of present-day central Afghanistan, but the exact ethnic origin is uncertain. The dynasty converted to Sunni Islam from Buddhism, after the conquest of Ghor by the Ghaznavid sultan Mahmud of Ghazni in 1011. Abu Ali ibn Muhammad (reigned 1011–1035) was the first Muslim king of the Ghurid dynasty to construct mosques and Islamic schools in Ghor.

The dynasty overthrew the Ghaznavid Empire in 1186, when Sultan Mu'izz ad-Din Muhammad of Ghor conquered the last Ghaznavid capital of Lahore. At their zenith, the Ghurid empire encompassed Khorasan in the west and reached northern India as far as Bengal in the east. Their first capital was Firozkoh in Mandesh, Ghor, which was later replaced by Herat, and finally Ghazni. Lahore was used as an additional capital in the late Ghurid period, especially during winters. The Ghurids were patrons of Persian culture and heritage.The Ghurids were succeeded in Khorasan and Persia by the Khwarazmian dynasty, and in northern India by the Mamluk dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate.

Greater Khorasan

Khorasan (Middle Persian: Xwarāsān; Persian: خراسان‎ Xorāsān, Persian pronunciation: [xoɾɒːˈsɒːn] listen ), sometimes called Greater Khorasan, is a historical region lying in northeast of Greater Persia, including part of Central Asia and Afghanistan. The name simply means "East, Orient" (literally "sunrise") and loosely includes the territory of the Sasanian Empire north-east of Persia proper. Early Islamic usage often regarded everywhere east of so-called Jibal or what was subsequently termed 'Iraq Ajami' (Persian Iraq), as being included in a vast and loosely-defined region of Khorasan, which might even extend to the Indus Valley and Sindh. During the Islamic period, Khorasan along with Persian Iraq were two important territories. The boundary between these two was the region surrounding the cities of Gurgan and Qumis (modern Damghan). In particular, the Ghaznavids, Seljuqs and Timurids divided their empires into Iraqi and Khorasani regions.

The main cities of Khorasan in the Islamic period were Balkh and Herat (now in Afghanistan), Mashhad and Nishapur (now in northeastern Iran), Merv and Nisa (now in southern Turkmenistan), and Bukhara and Samarkand (now in southern Uzbekistan). The cities of Merv and Nisa have since been abandoned but the other cities remain integral parts of their respective states. The term Khorasan tended to further extend from these urban centers into the rural regions of their respective west, east, north and south. Sources from the 10th-century onwards refer to areas in the south of the Hindu Kush as the Khorasan Marches, forming a frontier region between Khorasan and Hindustan.Greater Khorasan is today sometimes used to distinguish the larger historical region from the modern Khorasan Province of Iran (1906–2004), which roughly encompassed the western half of the historical Greater Khorasan.


Karramiyya (Arabic: كرّاميّه‎, translit. Karrāmiyyah) is a sect in Islam which flourished in the central and eastern parts of the Islamic worlds, and especially in the Iranian regions, from the 9th century until the Mongol invasions in the 13th century.

The sect was founded by a Sistani named Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad b. Karrām (d. 896) who was a popular preacher in Khurasan in the 9th century in the vicinity of Nishapur. He later emigrated with many of his followers to Jerusalem. According to him, the Karrāmites were also called the "followers of Abū'Abdallāh" (aṣḥāb Abī'Abdallāh) . . Its main distribution areas were in Greater Khorasan, Transoxiana and eastern peripheral areas of Iran. Early Ghaznavids and the early Ghurid dynasty granted the Karrāmīyan rulership. The most important center of the community remained until the end of the 11th century Nishapur. After its decline, the Karrāmīya survived only in Ghazni and Ghor in the area of today's Afghanistan.

Kisai Marvazi

Abul Hasan Abu Ishaq Kisa'i Marvazi (953-1002) was a 10th Persian poet.

Born in 953 CE and originating from Merv, he paid flattery first and foremost to the courts of the Samanids, but also to the Abbasids and Ghaznavids, particularly Mahmud of Ghazni.

He is said to have later converted to Shia Islam.

Mas'ud I of Ghazni

Mas'ud I of Ghazni (Persian: مسعود غزنوی‎), known as Amīr-i Shahīd (امیر شهید; "the martyr king") (998 – 17 January 1040), was sultan of the Ghaznavid Empire from 1030 to 1040. He rose to power by seizing the Ghaznavid throne from his younger twin Mohammad, who had been nominated as the heir upon the death of their father Mahmud of Ghazni. His twin was shortly blinded and imprisoned. However, when much of Mas'ud's western domains had been wrested from his control, his troops rebelled against him and reinstated Mohammad to the throne.

Mawdud of Ghazni

Shahāb-ud-Dawla Mawdūd (Persian: شهاب‌الدوله مودود‎; died 1050), known as Mawdud of Ghazni (مودود غزنوی), was a sultan of the Ghaznavids from 1041-50. He seized the throne of the sultanate from his uncle, Muhammad of Ghazni, in revenge for the murder of his father, Mas'ud I of Ghazni. His brother Majdud in Lahore did not recognize him as sultan, but his sudden death paved the way for Mawdud to exercise control over the eastern portion of the Ghaznavid Empire.

Mawdud inherited an empire whose entire western half was overrun by the Seljuk Empire and was battling to continue existing. During his reign the further reaches of the Indian conquests and vassal states also broke away. Mawdud was able to hold on to his Afghan realms and Indus valley territories while stabilizing while pushing north into Central Asia and stabilizing his western front with the Seljuqs.

Keikavus, author of the Qabus nama, was a guest at Mawdud's court for seven to eight years.

Nizam al-Mulk

Abu Ali Hasan ibn Ali Tusi (April 10, 1018 – October 14, 1092), better known by his honorific title of Nizam al-Mulk (Persian: نظام‌الملک‎, "Order of the Realm" ) was a Persian scholar and vizier of the Seljuq Empire. Rising from a lowly position, he was the de facto ruler of the empire for 20 years after the assassination of Alp Arslan in 1072, with a apotheosis as the Islamic history's archetypal good vizier.One of his most important legacies was founding schools in cities throughout the Seljuk Empire. These were called "nezamiyehs" after him. He wrote Siyasatnama ("Book of Government"), a political treatise that uses historical examples to discuss justice, effective rule, and the role of government in Islamic society.

Nizamuddin Ahmad

Khwaja Nizam-ud-Din Ahmad (also spelled as Nizam ad-Din Ahmad and Nizam al-Din Ahmad) (born 1551, died 1621/1030 AH) was a Muslim historian of late medieval India. He was son of Muhammad Muqim-i-Harawi. He was Akbar's Mir Bakhshi. His work, the Tabaqat-i-Akbari, is a comprehensive work on general history covering the time from the Ghaznavids (986-7) up to the 38th year of Akbar's reign (1593-4/1002 AH). The author quoted twenty-nine authorities in his work, some of which are entirely lost to us now.

Razi style

The "Razi style" (شیوه معماری رازی) is a style (sabk) of architecture when categorizing Iranian architecture development in history.The Dictionary of Traditional Iranian Architecture defines the Razi Style as:

A style of architecture dating from the 11th century to the Mongol invasion period, which includes the methods and devices of The Samanids, Ghaznavids, and Seljukids.

Saffarid dynasty

The Saffarid dynasty (Persian: سلسله صفاریان‎) was a Muslim Persian dynasty from Sistan that ruled over parts of eastern Iran, with its capital at Zaranj (a city now in southwestern Afghanistan). Khorasan, Afghanistan and Sistan from 861 to 1003. One of the first indigenous Persian dynasties to emerge after the Arab Islamic invasions, its founder was Ya'qub bin Laith as-Saffar, who was born in 840 in a small town called Karnin (Qarnin), which was located east of Zaranj and west of Bost, in what is now Afghanistan - a native of Sistan and a local ayyār, who worked as a coppersmith (ṣaffār) before becoming a warlord. He seized control of the Sistan region and began conquering most of Iran and Afghanistan, as well as parts of Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The Saffarids used their capital Zaranj as a base for an aggressive expansion eastward and westward. They first invaded the areas south of the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan and then overthrew the Persian Tahirid dynasty, annexing Khorasan in 873. By the time of Ya'qub's death, he had conquered the Kabul Valley, Sindh, Tocharistan, Makran (Balochistan), Kerman, Fars, Khorasan, and nearly reached Baghdad but then suffered a defeat by the Abbasids.The Saffarid empire did not last long after Ya'qub's death. His brother and successor, Amr bin Laith, was defeated at the Battle of Balkh against Ismail Samani in 900. Amr bin Laith was forced to surrender most of his territories to the new rulers. The Saffarids were subsequently confined to their heartland of Sistan, with their role reduced to that of vassals of the Samanids and their successors.

Soomra dynasty

The Soomra dynasty were rulers from the Indian subcontinent, based at Thatta. Although communal stories state them to be of Arab origin, academics say that they were Rajputs. Beginning with the reign of Soomar, the dynasty ruled in the Sindh region of the Indian subcontinent (present-day Pakistan) from 1026 to 1356.The Habbari dynasty became semi independent and was eliminated and Mansura was invaded by Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi. Sindh then became an easternmost State of the Abbasid Caliphate ruled by the Soomro Dynasty until the Siege of Baghdad (1258). Mansura was the first capital of the Soomra dynasty and the last of the Habbari dynasty.

The Soomro tribe revolted against Masud, ruler of the Ghaznavids because they were betrayed by their own wazir. They were superseded by the Samma dynasty. Sindhi language prospered during this period. The Soomra dynasty ended when the last Soomra king was defeated by Alauddin Khalji, the second king of the Khalji dynasty ruling from Delhi.

Vigraharaja III

Vigraharāja III (r. c. 1079-1090 CE ) was an Indian king belonging to the Shakambhari Chahamana dynasty. He ruled the Sapadalaksha country, which included parts of present-day Rajasthan in north-western India.


Zabulistan (Persian: زابلستان Zābulistān/Zābolistān/Zāwulistān or simply زابل Zābul, Pashto: زابل Zābəl), also known as Jāwulistān (Persian: جابلستان, Sanskrit: जाबुलिस्तान) and Jāguḍ (Sanskrit: जागुड), was an historic region in Greater India and Greater Khorasan, roughly corresponding to the modern Afghan provinces of Zabul and Ghazni.

Following Ghaznavid dominion, Zabul became largely synonymous with the name of its capital Ghazna. By the tenth century, Islamic sources mention Zabulistan as part of the Khorasan marches, a frontier region between Khorasan and India. In the Tarikh-i Sistan, finished around 1062 AD, the author regards Zabul as part of the land of Sistan, stretching from the Hamun Oasis all the way to the Indus.Today, the modern Afghan province of Zabul and the Iranian city Zabol take their names from the historical region. Zabulistan has become popularized as the birthplace of the character Rostam of Ferdowsi’s Shahnama in which the word Zabulistan is used interchangeably with Sistan, a historically separate region located to its west.


Zozan (Persian: زوزن‎; also Romanized as Zūzan and Rūzān) is a village in Jolgeh Zozan District, Khaf County, Razavi Khorasan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 2,183, in 479 families.Zozan was the site of an ancient city. The historical city of Zozan (Zawzan) is located at a distance of 41 kilometers to the historical city of Khargard and is like a rectangular onion. Its ancient castle stands in the southern side and the chief mosque- belonging to Khwarazmi period with two-balconied plan- stands in the western side of the city.

This site is on the Iranian tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage nomination.Abu Sahl Zawzani, Persian statesman who served as the chief secretary of the Ghaznavids briefly in 1040, and later from 1041 to an unknown date was from Zozan.

Ghaznavid sultans family tree
Qara Bajkam
(r. 977-997)
Emir of Ghazna
(died 998)
Governor of Herat
(r. 998-1030)
Sultan of Ghazna
(997- ?)
Governor of Bust
(r. 997-998)
Emir of Ghazna
Hurra-yi Kalji
married Mamunid ruler Ma'mun II.
(r. 1030, 1041)
Sultan of Ghazna
Mas'ud I
(r. 1030-1041)
Sultan of Ghazna
Abd al-Rashid
(r. 1049-1052)
Sultan of Ghazna
'Abd al-Rahman
(r. 1041-1048)
Sultan of Ghazna
(r. 1048-1049)
Sultan of Ghazna
(r. 1053-1059)
Sultan of Ghazna
(r. 1059-1099)
Sultan of Ghazna
Mas'ud II
(r. 1048)
Sultan of Ghazna
Mas'ud III
(r. 1099-1115)
Sultan of Ghazna
(r. 1115-1116)
Sultan of Ghazna
(r. 1116-1117)
Sultan of Ghazna
(r. 1117-1157)
Sultan of Ghazna
(r. 1157-1160)
Sultan of Ghazna
Khusrau Malik
(r. 1160-1186)
Sultan of Ghazna
Iran Iran topics

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