The Heritage of Ghazni and Bukhara
*Invasions from Ghazni* == *India at the Time of the Invasions: Al-Biruni's Account* == *Mahmud's Successors* == *Results of the Ghaznavid Invasions* == *The Cultural Legacy* == *The Central Asian Heritage*
[] THE ARAB conquest of Sind and southwestern Punjab was completed by 714, and during the following three centuries there was no further extension of Muslim dominion. The second phase of Muslim expansion, beginning with the establishment of a Turkish Muslim dynasty in Ghazni, followed the traditional northwestern routes for the invasion of India.
In 642 the Arabs had defeated the Sassanid ruler Yezdegerd and become masters of Iran. After this, operating from Fars by way of Kirman, they set about conquering the eastern provinces of the Iranian empire. Under Qutaiba ibn Muslim they conquered Transoxiana as far as Khwarizm and Samarqand (711-712), and within a century of the death of the founder of Islam the Arabs were masters of Khurasan, Balkh, and Mawara-un Nahr (Transoxiana). It was the Arab occupation of Transoxiana that paved the way for the Muslim conquest of India, for it established a link between the Turkish homeland and Islam. From this time the Turks were to play an important role in the Muslim world, and were the main force behmd the conquest of the subcontinent.
Invasions from Ghazni
The first inroad into the heart of the area which is now Afghanistan was made by Yaqub ibn Lais, the Saffarid, who captured Kabul in 870 and founded Ghazni at about the same time. Kabul was, however, lost by his successor to Hindu rulers known as the Hindu Shahis, whose capital was at Waihind (Ohind), near modern Peshawar, and whose rule extended to Kabul in the west and the Bias River in the east.
In the meanlime the Samanids (874-999) had established themselves [] at Bukhara and gradually brought the greater part of the territory to the east of Baghdad under their sway. Persian in origin, they favored the Persian language. Rudaki, the Chaucer of Persian poetry, flourished at the Samanid court, and Persian replaced Arabic as the official language.
Under the Samanids Turkish slaves gained political and military importance. One of these, Alptigin, rebelled against his Samanid masters and established himself at Ghazni in 962. In 977, Subuktigin, a Turkish slave upon whom Alptigin had bestowed the hand of his daughter, ascended the throne of Ghazni and proceeded to expand his kingdom by annexing adjacent areas in Khurasan, Seistan, and Lamghan. Alarmed at the rising power of the new Turkish principality, Jaipal, Shahi raja of Waihind, took the offensive and advanced toward Subuktigin's capital. The two armies met between Lamghan (modem Jalalabad) and Ghazni. Jaipal was defeated, and was forced to agree to pay a large indemnity to the Turkish ruler. He defaulted and tried to avenge his loss, but he was again decisively defeated, and Subuktigin followed up his success by forcing Jaipal to cede the territory between Lamghan and Peshawar .
Later Muslim historians often represent Subuktigin as a champion of the faith, whose "chief occupation was the propagation of Islam with fire and sword among the idolators of India," but, in fact, he never crossed the Indus, and the only two expeditions in which he took the initiative "were undertaken rather as measures of reprisal and for the purpose of securing his dominion than with any intention of propagating his faith."/1/ Subuktigin, however, paved the way for the more active efforts of his son Mahmud by occupying the key city of Peshawar and building roads leading to the Indian frontiers along which his son marched during his numerous expeditions.
Even more important was the development of Ghazni as a base of operations against India. It reached its zenith in the succeeding reign when it became a center of political power, organized administration, and literary culture, second in importance only to Baghdad in Muslim Asia. Even under Subuktigin it surpassed Bukhara in importance, [] and began to attract a large number of Turks who were to form the spearhead of the attack against the Indian subcontinent.
Subuktigin died in 997, and after a brief struggle his son, known to history as Mahmud of Ghazni, succeeded him. Brilliant and ambitious, Mahmud at once turned his attention to India. He had taken part in all of his father's campaigns against Jaipal, and knew the weakness of the Indian armies as well as the riches of the kings and temples. The series of invasions he launched against the sub-continent were to carry his armies farther than any previous Muslim ruler had penetrated. His first important battle was fought near Peshawar on November 28, 1001, and ended with the defeat and capture of his father's old opponent, Raja Jaipal. Jaipal obtained his release by paying ransom, but his repeated defeats had lost him the confidence of his people, and he named his son Anandpal as his successor. Following the Rajput custom, he immolated himself on the flames of a funeral pyre.
Three years later Mahmud made another expedition to India to punish the raja of Bhatiya (the modern Bhera), a principality that had been friendly to Subuktigin but had failed to provide help against Jaipal. The raja was defeated, but on his return Mahmud found himself in a difficult position. He lost most of his baggage in crossing the rivers of western Punjab, and was attacked by Abul Fath Daud, the Ismaili ruler of Multan. In 1005 Mahmud returned to punish Daud, but his passage was obstructed by Anandpal. Daud shut himself up in the fort at Multan and obtained pardon on payment of ransom and the promise to abjure Ismaili doctrines. Anandpal was defeated, and Mahmud appointed Sukhpal (a grandson of Jaipal who had accepted Islam and was now known as Nawasa Shah) as governor of Waihind, and returned to Ghazni.
This first attempt to establish a center of Muslim authority east of the Indus through a scion of the old ruling family did not succeed. Nawasa Shah apostasized, started expelling Muslim officers, and proposed to rule either as an independent king or as the vassal of his uncle Anandpal. Mahmud returned to deal with the situation in 1008 and found Anandpal fully prepared. He had obtained help [] from the Hindu rajas of Ujjain, Gwalior, Kalinjar, Kanauj, Delhi, and Ajmer. It appears that by now Hindu India was alive to its peril. Not only did the rulers from northern and central India send their contingents, but, according to Firishta, even the masses were highly enthusiastic, and the Hindu women sold their ornaments and sent their savings to help the army. The battle was fought at a place between Peshawar and Waihind. Mahmud took special precautions, for his army was breaking down under the charge of the warlike Khokhars when a fortunate accident decided the day in his favor. Anandpal's elephant took fright and fled with his royal rider. The Rajput army, believing the raja's flight to be intentional, broke up and dispersed, hotly pursued by the Muslims, thus converting what looked like a Hindu victory into a defeat.
The defeat of the great Hindu confederacy was a turning point in Mahmud's career. So far his campaigns had been confined to the neighborhood of the Indus. The breakup of the Hindu army emboldened him, and now he marched against the more distant Nagarkot (Kangra), where there was no resistance. Nagarkot contained an ancient temple which, like other Hindu temples of the period, was a great repository of wealth donated by rich votaries. Mahmud returned laden with booty, and for the rest of his life the ancient Hindu religious centers with their treasure hoards accumulated over centuries were to exercise a powerful fascination over him. His future expeditions went even farther afield. Tarain (1010), Thanesar (1014), the distant Kanauj (1018), and Kalinjar (1022) were scenes of Mahmud's exploits, in which he was uniformly successful. He did not try to establish his rule at any of these places, but he left a governor at Lahore in 1020, which now became incorporated into the Ghaznavid empire.
The most dramatic of Mahmud's campaigns was against Somnath, the wealthy religious center on the shores of the Indian Ocean. The dash to this distant goal, through an unknown and unfriendly area, across the deserts of Rajputana and marshes of Cutch, was a remarkable feat of courage, planning, resourcefulness, and tenacity of purpose. In spite of the hardships which Mahmud and his army had [] to suffer on the return journey, the expedition was completely successful in its object. Mahmud returned laden with riches of an extent until then unheard of in Ghazni.
Mahmud set out on the expedition to Somnath in October, 1024, and did not return to his capital until the spring of 1026. Except for a brief punitive expedition in the autumn of the same year against the Jats of Sind who had harassed him during his return from Somnath, Mahmud did not return to India. Henceforth affairs in Central Asia occupied him until his death in 1030.
A brave and resourceful general during thirty years of ceaseless warfare, Mahmud never suffered defeat. He was a cultured monarch, and by his munificence attracted great poets and scholars to his court, making Ghazni the rival of Baghdad in the splendor of edifices and the number of men of culture and learning. He lacked the constructive genius of Muhammad Ghuri, and in spite of having overrun a great part of northern India, established Muslim dominion only up to Lahore, but he made the work of the later conquerors easier.
India at the Time of the Invasions: Al-Biruni's Account.
For our knowledge of India in this period we are indebted to one of the most remarkable of Islamic writers, Abu Raihan al-Biruni. His stay in what is now West Pakistan could not have been long, but his accounts of Indian customs and manners, as well as his observations on the Islamic conquest, are among the most penetrating that we have. He was born in about 973 in Khwarizm (modern Khiva) and soon distinguished himself in astronomy, mathematics, logic, and history. Some time before 1017 Mahmud was able to persuade him to come to Ghazni, but evidence of close contact between the sultan and al-Biruni is lacking. He was evidently in greater favor with the next ruler, Masud, to whom he dedicated his work, Qanun-i-Masudi. His other works include the Chronology of Ancient Nations, an introduction to astrology, a treatise on materia medica, astronomical tables, a summary of Ptolemy's Almagest, and several translations from Greek and Sanskrit. He must have written some books in [] Sanskrit, as at one place he writes of "being occupied in composing for the Hindus a translation of the books of Euclid and of the Almagest, and dictating to them a treatise on the construction of the astrolabe, being simply guided herein by the desire of spreading science."/2/ However the work which is of special interest is his famous Kitab-ul-Hind, a masterly survey of the religion, sciences, and social customs of the Hindus, which was completed shortly after Mahmud's death. As a study of an alien civilization his book represents the peak of Muslim scholarship, and remains unsurpassed as a masterpiece of erudite learning, penetrating observation, and unbiased appraisal of Hindu culture. In the preface to his book al-Biruni discussed the principles which should guide a scholar in treating of societies and religious systems other than his own. He criticized the tendency to misrepresent other societies or to depend on "second-hand information which one has copied from the others, a farrago of materials never sifted by the sieve of critical examination." The principle which he adopted was to adhere to the accounts of the Hindus as given in their own authentic works. Of his own work he said: "This book is not a polemical one. I shall not produce the arguments of our antagonists in order to refute such of them as I believe to be in the wrong. My book is nothing but a simple historic record of facts. I shall place before the reader the theories of the Hindus exactly as they are, and I shall mention in connection with them similar theories of the Greeks in order to show the relationship existing between them."/3/
Al-Biruni considered the Hindus to be excellent philosophers, good mathematicians, and sound astrologers. He fully appreciated their mental achievements, and when he came across anything noble in their sciences or practical life he did not fail to praise it. Writing about the great tanks, or reservoirs, at holy places he remarked, "In this they have attained a very high degree of art, so that our people when they see them wonder at them and are unable to describe them, much less to construct anything like them."/4/
[] But while al-Biruni had a sympathetic understanding of the profound achievements of Hindu society, there were Indian attitudes and customs that seemed to him to indicate fundamental weaknesses. The chief of this is summed up in his often-quoted analysis of the tone and temper of contemporary Hindu society: "We can only say that folly is an illness for which there is no medicine, and the Hindus believe that there is no country but theirs, no nation like theirs, no kings like theirs, no religion like theirs, no science like theirs. They are haughty, foolishly vain, self-conceited, and stolid. They are by nature niggardly in communicating that which they know, and they take the greatest possible care to withhold it from men of another caste among their own people, still much more, of course, from any foreigner."/5/
There can be little doubt that these attitudes help to explain the successes of Mahmud and later invaders. An open, dynamic society, which had adopted ideas and techniques from many quarters, had an enormous advantage when it faced a culture that had ceased to be receptive to alien influences.
After Mahmud's death in 1030, his son Masud succeeded in establishing his claim to the throne. Masud soon turned his attention to India and replaced the governor of Lahore with Ahmad Niyaltigin, his father's treasurer. The instructions issued to the officers at Lahore at the time of Ahmad's administrative reorganization are interesting. "They were not to undertake, without special permission, expeditions beyond the limits of the Punjab, but were to accompany Ahmad on any expedition which he might undertake; they were not to drink, play polo, or mix in social intercourse with the Hindu officers at Lahore; and they were to refrain from wounding the susceptibilities of these officers and their troops by inopportune displays of religious bigotry."/6/
[] Ahmad Niyaltigin soon got into difficulties, however, with Abul Hasan, who had been sent by Masud to collect the revenue and inquire into the affairs of the earlier administration. It seems that when Ahmad returned in 1034 from a very successful raid against Benares he had failed to remit the spoils of victory to Ghazni. This gave Hasan the opportunity to send reports to Masud that Ahmad, utilizing the plunder of Benares to raise a powerful army, was on the point of revolt. Masud decided upon punitive action against the governor, and the command of this responsible and hazardous expedition was entrusted to Tilak, one of his Hindu generals. "When Tilak arrived at Lahore, he took several Musulmans prisoners, who were the friends of Ahmad, and ordered their right hands to be cut off; ...the men who were with Ahmad were so terrified at this punishment and display of power, that they sued for mercy and deserted him."/7/ Tilak pursued Ahmad with a large body of men, chiefly Hindu, and after the erstwhile governor was killed in an encounter, his head was taken to Ghazni.
Masud came to India in 1037 and, in fulfillment of a vow taken during an illness, attacked and captured the fortress of Hansi, hitherto considered impregnable by the Hindus. During his absence the Saljuq Turks invaded the western and northern territories of the Ghaznavid empire and occupied Nishapur. Masud returned to deal with them, but his Hindu contingent failed conspicuously against the Saljuqs, and Masud fled toward Lahore. When the royal party reached Marigal pass between Rawalpindi and Attock, Turkish and Hindu guards mutinied, and the sultan's brother was placed on the throne. However Masud's son, Maudud, defeated his uncle and in 1042 became sultan.
During Maudud's reign, Mahipal, the raja of Delhi, made a determined attempt to oust the Ghaznavids from the Punjab. He recaptured Hansi, Thanesar, and Kangra and besieged Lahore, but was unable to take the town. In 1048 Maudud appointed two of his sons to the government of Lahore and Peshawar, and sent Bu Ali Hasan, the kotwal of Ghazni, to deal with the Hindu resurgence. These [] measures were successful, but Maudud died shortly thereafter in December, 1049.
The next important ruler was Sultan Ibrahim, whose long and peaceful reign of forty years (1059-1099) constitutes the golden period of Ghaznavid Punjab. Ibrahim had ensured the stability of his northern and western frontiers by entering into a treaty with the Saljuqs, and his son Masud II married the daughter of Sultan Malik Shah. Secure at home, Ibrahim could pay full attention to India, and in 1079 he crossed the southern border of the Punjab, capturing Ajodhan, now known as Pakpatan. His military commander at Lahore, the brilliant Abul Najm Zarir Shaybani, was constantly on the offensive, and carried out successful raids against Benares, Thanesar, and Kanauj. The main achievement of Ibrahim's reign, however, was Lahore's rise as a great cultural center under the viceroyalty of Shirzad, his grandson. Ibrahim was succeeded by his son Masud III, who ruled peacefully for sixteen years (1099-1115). Shirzad succeeded him, but he was deposed in the following year, and then after a brief rule by Arsalan, Bahram came to the throne, which he held for thirty-four troubled years (1118-1152).
The trouble came mainly from the chiefs of Ghur, a hilly area between Herat and Kabul that had been conquered by the Ghaznavids in the time of Mahmud, but that had remained virtually independent. Out of the quarrels was to come the destruction of the Ghazni dynasty and its replacement by one based on Ghur. During Bahram's reign Qutb-ud-din Muhammad, a Ghuri chief, took the title of malik-ul-jabal (the king of the mountains). Bahram gave him his daughter in marriage, but later, suspecting treachery, had his son-in-law poisoned. To avenge his death, his brother Saif-ud-din collected a large body of men at Firuz Kuh, the capital of Ghur, and set out for Ghazni. He defeated Bahram and forced him to flee to India, but in 1149 Bahram returned suddenly to Ghazni, surprised Saif-ud-din, and reoccupied his capital. Saif-ud-din, who had surrendered on the promise that his life would be spared, was put to death under abhorrent circumstances. This aroused the ire of another brother, Ala-ud-din Husain, known to history as Jahan Soz (the world-burner), who took a terrible vengeance. Capturing Ghazni in 1151, he reduced its splendid [] buildings to ashes and desecrated the graves of its kings. The same process of destruction was repeated in the provinces.
Bahram reoccupied what remained of Ghazni when Ala-ud-din Husain was defeated and temporarily imprisoned by the Saljuq Turks. This relief was only temporary, however, for after Bahram's death in 1152 his successor was driven out of Ghazni by the Ghuzz tribe of Turkmans. All that was left to the Ghaznavids was their Indian province of Lahore, where they maintained their rule after the loss of Ghazni.
Meanwhile the power of the Ghuri chieftains revived, and in 1173 two nephews of Ala-ud-din Husain succeeded in taking the city from the Turkmans. The older of the two, Ghiyas-ud-din, became sultan of the Ghuri kingdom, which he governed from Firuz Kuh, in the area now known as Hazarajat. The younger brother, Muiz-ud-din Muhammad, was stationed at Ghazni as the deputy of the sultan, and from here he undertook the conquest of the subcontinent. His first move was against Lahore, where the last of the Ghaznavids, Khusrau Malik, was finally defeated in 1186, and the area was added to the Ghuri kingdom. The subsequent career of Muiz-ud-din, or, as he is known in Indian history, Muhammad Ghuri, will be traced in the following chapter, but since his triumphs mark the end of one period of Muslim-Hindu contact and begin another, it will be convenient at this point to summarize the general results of the impact of Islam after the time Mahmud of Ghazni made his first raids at the beginning of the eleventh century.
Results of the Ghaznavid Invasions
The example set by Mahmud of Ghazni of raiding India and sacking its wealth, particularly that stored in the great temples, was repeated by his successors whenever the opportunity arose. The effect of this on the country can easily be imagined, and al-Biruni's description of the result of Mahmud's raids can scarcely be doubted. "Mahmud," he wrote, "utterly ruined the prosperity of the country, and performed wonderful exploits by which the Hindus became like atoms of dust scattered in all directions, and like a tale of old in the [] mouth of the people. Their scattered remains cherish, of course, the most inveterate aversion towards all Muslims. This is the reason, too, why Hindu sciences have retired far away from those parts of the country conquered by us, and have fled to places which our hand cannot yet reach, to Kashmir, Benares, and other places."/8/
Over against this dark picture, however, must be set evidence that suggests that even during the Ghaznavid period there were peaceful contacts between Hindus and Muslims. The caravan routes between Kurasan and India were reopened, for example, as soon as mIlitary operations were over. Furthermore, according to Ibn-ul-Athir, there had been Muslims in the Benares area "since the days of Mahmud bin Subuktigin who continued faithful to the law of Islam, and constant in prayer and good works."/9/ There is a persistent local tradition in certain old centers in the heart of Uttar Pradesh that Muslim families had settled there long before the conquest of the area by Muhammad Ghuri. In the city of Benares there are Muslim mohallas, which, it is said, are anterior in date to the conquest of Benares by the Muslims, and similar traditions are current about Maner in Bihar./10/
The only area of which anything like a recorded history for the Hindu period is available is Kashmir, and from there we get information regarding the peaceful presence of the Muslims among the Hindus. "Muslim traders and soldiers of fortune began to enter Kashmir from an early date. Kalhana records that Lalitaditya's son and successor Vajraditya sold many men to the mlecchas, and introduced practices which befitted the mlecchas." Later Harsa (d.1101 ) employed Turkish soldiers and, under Muslim influence, adopted elaborate fashions in dress and ornaments. During the brief reign (1120-1121) of Bhikshachara, Muslim soldiers were again employed. From the accounts of Marco Polo, it appears that by the end of the thirteenth century there was a colony of Muslims in Kashmir, for he says that the people of the valley do not kill animals, but that if they want to eat meat, "they get the Saracens who dwell among them, to play the butcher." These "Saracens" must have been [] either emigrants from Turkistan or Hindus converted to Islam by the pietist missionaries from India and Central Asia./11/
The position of Hindu generals, soldiers, and scholars at the Ghaznavid court is also significant. Even Mahmud, the iconoclast, had a contingent of Hindu officers and soldiers. He richly rewarded at least one Sanskrit poet, and had Hindu pandits at his court. He also issued coins with Sanskrit inscriptions. The Hindu position seems to have improved greatly in the days of his successor, Masud. Only fifty days after the death of Mahmud, his son despatched Sewand Rai, a Hindu chief, with a large body of Hindu cavalry in pursuit of the nobles who had espoused the cause of his brother. Sewand Rai died in the ensuing battle, but his selection for this important assignment indicates his position of trust and eminence. Five years later, Tilak, another Hindu general, acquired a dominant position. The son of a barber, he became a confidant of Khwaja Ahmed Hasan Maimandi, the influential wazir of Sultan Mahmud. The khwaja made Tilak his secretary and interpreter, and in 1033, when news was received from Lahore of the rebellion of Ahmad Niyaltigin, it was Tilak who was sent to deal with the situation. The extreme measures taken by the Hindu general against the Muslim partisans of Ahmad show his confidence and sense of security.
The importance of the Hindus in Masud's army may be judged by the fact that at the battle of Kirman they formed half of the cavalry, there being two thousand Hindus, one thousand Turks, and one thousand Kurds and Arabs. They fared very badly in this battle, and later six of their officers committed suicide in accordance with Rajput practice. The Hindu contingent was later equally ineffective at Merv. These repeated disasters must have led to the reduction of the Hindu element in the Ghazni army, but contemporary evidence suggests that the Hindu position under the Ghaznavids was very much better than it was to be in the early days of the Delhi Sultanate.
The Cultural Legacy
Of more lasting importance than the vicissitudes of the house of Mahmud is the cultural heritage of Ghazni, particularly in relation [] to that part of the Ghaznavid empire which now constitutes West Pakistan. The court chroniclers of Ghazni have not paid the subject much attention, but there are ample indications in contemporary literature that the Muslim government at Lahore was well organized and vigorous and that the city had become a great cultural center. Usually a distinguished royal prince was appointed the naib (viceroy or deputy) of the Punjab, and maintained an elaborate court. The long and peaceful reigns of lbrahim and his successor Masud III, provided the opportunity for the cultural growth of Lahore. The city owed much to Abu Nasr Farsi, the distinguished secretary of Shirzad who was viceroy for many years. He established a khanqah (hospice) at Lahore which attracted scholars from far and near. "In large numbers seekers after knowledge from all parts of India, and the territories of Kashgar, Transoxiana, Iraq, Bukhara, Samarqand, Khurasan, Ghazni, Herat, etc., benefited by the same. Consequently a new settlement grew up in the neighborhood of Lahore."/12/
The first Persian poet of the area mentioned in literary histories was Masud Razi (d.1077). Razi recited a poem in Masud's court in which he appealed to the sultan to deal with the growing menace of the Saljuqs. "The ants have become snakes," he said, and "may become dragons, if neglected." The sultan, resenting this overt reference to his weakness, exiled the poet to the Punjab./13/ Next year he relented and put Razi in charge of affairs at Jhelum, but did not permit his return to Ghazni. With the exception of a few verses his work has perished, but the diwan of his distinguished son, Abul Farj Runi, who spent most of his time at Lahore, has survived and has been published in Iran.
The most notable poet of the period, however, was Masud Sa'ad Salman, whose father held a high office under the viceroy. Masud was born in Lahore about 1048. A great favorite of Prince Saif-ud-daula Mahmud, the viceroy of Hindustan, he composed many qasidas eulogizing the victories of his patron. When the prince fell out of favor with the sultan the poet lost his jagir, and was later imprisoned [] for ten years because of his suspected share in Saif-ud-daula's treasonable proceedings. Released shortly before Sultan Ibrahim's death in 1099, he was given responsible posts, including the governorship of Jullundur. When his patron Abu Nasr Farsi incurred royal displeasure, Masud was again imprisoned. He was released in about 1107, became the royal librarian, and after arranging his voluminous diwan, died in 1121 or 1122. Masud wrote in Persian, Arabic, and old Hindi, but no specimen of his verses in the last two languages is extant. His Persian works have led an Iranian critic to include him among the ten greatest poets of the Persian language./14/ His most moving poems were composed in captivity and express a nostalgic longing for Lahore. In one he wrote:
Thou knowest that I lie in grievous bonds, O Lord!
Thou knowest that I am weak and feeble, O Lord!
My spirit goes out in longing for Lahore, O Lord!
O Lord, how I crave for it, O Lord!
And in another he remembers how,
The Id festal time is come, and I am far from the face of that charming sweetheart;
How can I live without the sight of that houri of Paradise?
Who shall say to me, "O friend, a happy Id to thee!"
When my sweetheart is at Lahore and I in Nishapur?
Why do I long for the city of Lahore and my beloved?
Well, was there a man who did not miss his sweetheart and his native land?
Among the prose writers of this period the most famous was the saint Ali Hujwiri, popularly known as Data Ganj Bakhsh of Lahore, who died in 1071. He wrote both in prose and verse, but his diwan was lost during his lifetime, and the few verses that are quoted in his prose works are not of a high order. His fame as an author rests on Kashf-al-Mahjub (The Unveiling of the Hidden), the oldest extant work on Sufism in Persian./15/ The value of Kashf-al-Mahjub lies not only in the authentic information which it gives about the earlier and contemporary mystic orders, but also in the fact that it is a systematic [] exposition of mysticism. It has long been regarded as a standard textbook by Sufis.
The Central Asian Heritage
Arab rule in the Sind had brought Islam to India, and had set a pattern for dealing with the conquered peoples as well as facilitating fruitful contact between Hindu and Islamic civilizations; the Ghaznavid occupation of Lahore had even more far-reaching cultural results. Persian, which was adopted as the court language and was the vehicle of literary and cultural expression during the Ghaznavid period, continued to hold this position throughout Muslim rule. The branch of Persian which remained current in Muslim India was the eastern branch in vogue in Afghanistan and Central Asia, and not the pure Persian of Isfahan and Shiraz.
Partly because the linguistic affinity, and partly because the waves of the immigrants who established Muslim culture in India, came through Ghazni and Bukhara, the entire cultural pattern of Muslim India was dominated by the Central Asian tradition. This continued until the days of the Mughals who, although themselves Turks from Central Asia, established closer contacts with Iran and Arabia. Even then, out of several strands which provided the warp and woof of Muslim civilization in India, the most dominant was the influence of Central Asia. After the establishment of Muslim Delhi, the ad- ministrative system was modeled on that of Ghazni. Muslim political institutions, military and administrative organization, ethics, and jurisprudence, in fact the entire pattern of Muslim life, bears the imprint of Ghazni and Bukhara. It was the Hidaya of a Central Asian lawyer which became the standard legal textbook in Muslim India. The same tradition gained preeminence in other spheres. This tradition became firmly entrenched when a large number of Muslim scholars, writers, and darvishes from Central Asia took refuge in Muslim India to escape Mongol atrocities.
N O T E S
/1/ Sir Wolseley Haig in The Cambridge History of India (Cambridge, 1928). III, 12.
/2/ E. C. Sachau, Alberuni's India (London, 1914), I, 137.
/3/ Sachau, I, 6-7
/4/ Sachau, II, 144.
/5/ Sachau, I, 22-23.
/6/ Cambridge History of India, III, 29.
/7/ H. M. Elliot and John Dowson, The History of India as Told by Its Own Historians (London, 1867-1877), II, 132.
/8/ Sachau, I, 22.
/9/ H. M. Elliot and John Dowson, The History of India as Told by Its Own Historians (London, 1867-1877), II, 251.
/10/ H. R. Nevill, ed., Benares: A Gazetteer. VoI. XXIV of District Gazetteer of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh (Lucknow, 1922).
/11/ Mohibul Hasan, Kashmir under the Sultans (Calcutta, 1959), pp. 234-35.
/12/ Quoted in M. A. Ghani, Pre-Mughal Persian in Hindustan (Allahabad. 1941), p. 194
/13/ M. H. K. Sherani, Panjab men Urdu (Lahore. 195?), pp. 32-33.
/14/ Ghani, pp. 200-2.
/15/ Kashf a/-Mahjub, trans. by R. A. Nicholson (London, 1911).