The main challenge to Indian civilization, however, came in the form of the newly Islamized Turkic tribes – The Ghaznavids who were a Persianate dynasty of Mamluk origin. The Ghaznavid empire was set up by Sabuktigin and was expanded by his son – the notorious Mahmud of Ghazni. Mahmud captured large parts of modern-day Afghanistan, Punjab, and Balochistan, resulting in the rapid Islamization of these places.
The Ghaznavids followed the Shafi school of Islam, a radical school of Islamic thought which does not afford the ‘dhimmi‘ status to anyone other than the ‘People of the Book’ (Christians and Jews). Hence, the places that were conquered by the Ghaznavids became Islamized very soon.
As Dr. Bill Warner, a leading authority on Islam rightly pointed out, in most cases the concept of ‘Dhimmitude‘ is designed to produce Muslims over a long period of time. It alone results in the complete Islamization of any land albeit over a longer period of time. The dhimmi is essentially to be treated as a third class citizen with limited rights. Therefore conversions of dhimmis to Islam took place to avoid this discriminatory treatment. However, the Ghaznavids clearly did not believe in extending this privilege due to their Shafi loyalties and hence managed to Islamize large areas of land over a short period of time by slaughtering Hindus who refused to embrace Islam and by forcibly converting Hindus at the point of a sword.
He led an army to Nahrwãlah of Gujarãt, and brought away Manãt, the idol, from Somnãth, and had it broken into four parts
Although Mahmud of Ghazni was a conqueror of most of the modern day Pakistan and modern-day Afghanistan, he was primarily a plunderer in North India and was not in much of a position to make any permanent conquests. Mahmud of Ghazni was met with stiff resistance even in Afghanistan by the Kabul Shahi rulers. These rulers had managed to fight valiantly against and hold out to the Islamic invaders for several years but were eventually defeated by Mahmud and expelled to Kashmir, losing even their territories in Gandhara and Punjab to the Ghaznavids.
The text Tabqãt-i-Nãsirî had this to say on Mahmud’s invasion of Somnath – “When Sultãn Mahmûd ascended the throne of sovereignty, his illustrious deeds became manifest unto all mankind within the pale of Islãm when he converted so many thousands of idol temples into masjids”. He led an army to Nahrwãlah of Gujarãt, and brought away Manãt, the idol, from Somnãth, and had it broken into four parts, one of which was cast before the entrance of the great Masjid at Ghaznîn, the second before the gateway of the Sultãn’s palace, and the third and fourth were sent to Makkah and Madînah respectively.”
As many as fifty thousand Hindus gave up their lives defending the temple of Somnath from Mahmud of Ghazni during his invasion of the temple.
The Tãrîkh-i-Firishta also details Mahmud’s expeditions against the ‘idolatrous Hindus’ and his desecration and destruction of the temples of Thanesar, Mathura, and Somnath.
The fall of North India to the Ghaznavids seemed imminent. However several Indian kings rose up and took up the challenge of repelling these invaders.
After the Battle of Bahraich, the Ghaznavids were completely devastated and did not send any large expeditions to India ever again.
The Udaipur Prashasti stated that the great king Bhoja’s armies defeated the Turushkas (Ghaznavids). The Muslim historian Firishta claimed that in 1043 CE, a Hindu confederacy expelled the Ghaznavids from Hansi, Thanesar, and Nagarkot. Raja Bhoja was part of this mighty alliance.
Many Hindu rulers achieved several victories over the Ghaznavids in the years following the death of Mahmud of Ghazni. Here are some of them:
- The defeat of Prince Mahmud by Lakshmadeva, ruler of Ujjain.
- The defeat of Masud III by the Govindacharya, ruler of Kannauj.
- The defeat of the Ghaznavids by Arnoraja Chauhan, ruler of Ajmer. The land of Ajmer was ‘soaked with Turkish blood’ according to primary accounts.
The nephew of Mahmud of Ghazni – Salar Masud invaded North India to spread Islam. He fought, defeated and killed several kings during his invasion of India until he met Suhaldeva, the king of Shravasti, who defeated and killed him at the Battle of Bahraich (1034 CE). (Mirat-i-Masudi)
The Indians completely decimated the Ghaznavids at this battle and not a single Turk is said to have survived. After the Battle of Bahraich, the Ghaznavids were completely devastated and did not send any large expeditions to India ever again. Incredibly, not too many people know about the native victories against the Ghaznavids.
to be continued. . .