Muizz-ud-din Muhammad bin Sam, commonly known as Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Ghuri is one of the key persons who played a significant role in the establishment of Muslim rule in North India. An ambitious person, Muhammad Ghuri wanted to extend his rule towards South Asia. He took the small state of Ghazni from his brother Ghiyas-ud-din Muhammad bin Sam and turned it into an empire by conquering vast territories. First he captured the area ruled by the Ghaznavids and later on extended his rule to North India and Bengal. He was an able general and a brave soldier. He never let a temporary defeat stand in his way.
After his defeat in the first battle of Tarain in 1191 at the hands of Prithvi Raj Chauhan, ruler of Delhi and Ajmer, he spent a complete year preparing for war. He came back in 1192 and defeated Raj Chauhan in the second battle of Tarain. He was the first Muslim ruler to conquer Delhi and establish a Muslim rule in India.
Muhammad Ghuri was a loyal brother. He refrained from declaring his independence in South Asia, knowing that it would result in civil war between the two brothers. Till the death of Ghiyas-ud-din Muhammad bin Sam in 1202, Ghuri never considered himself anything but a general in his brother’s army. After every victory he would send the best of the looted items to his elder brother in Firuz Koh. Ghiyas-ud-din reciprocated by never interfering in the affairs of his younger brother. Thus they were each able to concentrate on their own responsibilities. As a result, Muhammad Ghuri managed to push permanent Muslim rule much further east than Mahmud Ghaznavi did.
Muhammad Ghuri had no heirs and thus he treated his slaves as his sons. It is said that he trained thousands of Turkish slaves in the art of warfare and administration. Most of his slaves were given excellent education. During his reign many hardworking and intelligent slaves rose to positions of excellence. Once a courtier regretted that Sultan has no male heirs. Ghuri immediately replied, “Other monarchs may have one son, or two sons; I have thousands of sons. Namely my Turkish slaves who will be the heirs of my dominions, and who, after me, will take care to preserve my name in the Khutbah throughout these territories”. Ghuri’s prediction proved true when he was succeeded by a dynasty of Turkish Slaves.
Though Ghuri’s main aim was the expansion of his empire, he also took an interest in the patronization of education and learning. Illustrious Muslim philosopher Fakh-ud-din Razi and the well know poet Nizami Aruzi were few of the big names of his era.
In 1206, Ghuri had to travel to Lahore to crush a revolt. On his way back to Ghazni, his caravan halted at Damik near Jehlum. He was killed while offering his evening prayers. Many think that the murderer was an Ismaili. However, some historians believe that the murderer belonged to the warrior Ghakkar tribe that resided in the area. He was buried where he fell and his tomb has recently been renovated. Muhammad Ghuri is remembered as an empire builder and is justly called the founder of the Muslim Empire in Indo-Pakistan.
This article was last updated on Sunday, June 01, 2003