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Shansabānī
Ghurid Sultanate
1148–1215
The Ghurid Sultanate (green), c. 1200.
Capital Not specified
Language(s) Middle Iranian, possibly Middle Persian
Religion Islam
Government Sultanate
History
 - Established 1148
 - Disestablished 1215

The Ghurids or Ghorids (Persian: سلسله غوریان; self-designation: Shansabānī) were a Muslim dynasty of Iranian origin[1][2] in Khorasan. The Ghurid empire was based in the region of Ghor (now a province of modern Afghanistan), and stretched over a vast area that included the whole of Afghanistan, parts of modern Iran and South Asia (India and Pakistan).

Contents

History

Ghurids were bounded to Ghaznavids and Seljuks almost 150 years before 1148. Between 1175 and 1192, under the leadership of Muhammad of Ghor the Ghurids put an end to Ghaznavid rule in India. They also captured their base in Lahore and founded the second Islamic state in India called the Ghurid state (543-613 A.H. 1148-1215 A.D.). This was named after Ghur, their native province, located in present day Afghanistan between Herat and Ghazni. Sultans of this state did not remain in India permanently; instead, they settled in their capital Ghazna and ruled India through their Turkic Ghulams, or slave warriors. They forced the Khilijs, who inhabited lands ruled by the Ghurids' Ghaznavid neighbors, to capitulate to their rule; they also occupied Uch, Multan, Peshawar, Lahore, and Delhi.

In 1206, one of the Ghurid generals, Qutb-ud-din Aybak, the conqueror of Delhi, made himself independent and founded the first of a succession of dynasties collectively known as the Delhi Sultanate (1206-1526). After the Delhi Sultanate, the Khilij began to create a "slave-dynasty" of India: Sultan Mohammed El Ghurid bought large numbers of ghulams and looked after their education, preparing them for invasion and holy war. It is reported that whenever he was reminded of the necessity of having a son to preserve his rule, he responded with, "I have thousands of sons (i.e., ghulams)".

Some of these ghulams became rulers and leaders. Yildiz became the ruler of Ghazna, and Nasir al-Din Kubacha became a ruler of the Sindhi peoples. Qutb al-Din Aybak, in Delhi, had the most influence of all of Mohammed's "heirs". Thus, Mohammed al-Ghurid managed, due to his ghulams - especially Aybak - to capture all the Indian lands to the north of the Vindhya Mountains as far as the mouth of the Ganges River. Islam spread there; its Hindu temples were changed into mosques and its Rajas paid tribute.

In 603 A.H. (1206 A.D.) Sultan Mohammed al-Ghurid was assassinated on the banks of the River Sind by a radical member of an Ismaili Muslim sect, most popularly known as the Hashshashin. On his death, the importance of Ghazna and Ghur dissipated and they were replaced by Delhi as the Islamic capital for the Ghurid Sultans in India. [3]

The Ghurids were great patrons of Persian culture - language, identity, arts and literature were all of great importance to them, although many of the written works have been lost. They transferred the Khurasanian architecture of their native lands to India, several great examples of which can be seen in the Minars they built. Ghurids were demolished by Khwarezmids in 1215.

Origin of the Shansabānī family

Asia in 1200 AD, showing the Ghurid Sultanate and its neighbors.

It is claimed that the Shansabānī had ancestral lines to the Sassanian royal family who - led by Prince Pirooz - fled with some hundred thousand of followers from Western Iran to Khorasan, following the Arabic conquest of Persia, and that they were still Zoroastrians, isolated from all Arab-Islamic influence until the 11th century when they were eventually converted to Islam by the Samanid and Ghaznavid ghazis. Their isolation in the rough terrain of Ghor's mountains may be an explanation to why their language remained conservative and free of Arabic influence. While Dupree believes that the Ghurids were remnants of the Tocharian Kushans, Bosworth points out that the actual name of the Ghurid family, Āl-e Šansab (Persianized: Šansabānī), is the Arabic pronunciation of the originally Middle Persian name Wišnasp, further pointing to a (Sassanian) Persian origin.[4]

Language of Ghurids

The language of the Ghurids is subject to some controversy. What is known with certainty is that it was significantly different from the New Persian literary language which dominated the kingly courts of the eastern Islamic lands. According to some old sources, it was related to Middle Persian, the language of the Sassanians. That would - to some extent - support the theory that the Ghurids were related to House of Sāsān and indeed formed a part of the eastward migration of Persian families following the Arab-Islamic conquest of Persia.

Some modern linguists also connect the language to certain Eastern Iranian languages, most of all to Yaghnobi which itself derives from ancient Sogdian.

Nevertheless, like the Samanids and Ghaznavids, the Ghurids were great patrons of the New Persian literature, poetry, and culture and promoted these in their courts as their own.

See also

Faravahar background
History of Greater Iran
| until the rise of modern nation-states |
See also
Kings of Persia
Pre-modern

Notes

  1. ^ Encyclopaedia Iranica, "Ghurids", C.E. Bosworth, (LINK): ". . . The Ghurids came from the Šansabānī family. The name of the eponym Šansab/Šanasb probably derives from the Middle Persian name Wišnasp (Justi, Namenbuch, p. 282). . . . The chiefs of Ḡūr only achieve firm historical mention in the early 5th/11th century with the Ghaznavid raids into their land, when Ḡūr was still a pagan enclave. Nor do we know anything about the ethnic stock of the Ḡūrīs in general and the Šansabānīs in particular; we can only assume that they were eastern Iranian Tajiks. . . . The sultans were generous patrons of the Persian literary traditions of Khorasan, and latterly fulfilled a valuable role as transmitters of this heritage to the newly conquered lands of northern India, laying the foundations for the essentially Persian culture which was to prevail in Muslim India until the 19th century. . . ."
  2. ^ Encyclopaedia of Islam, "Ghurids", C.E. Bosworth, Online Edition, 2006: ". . . The Shansabānīs were, like the rest of the Ghūrīs, of eastern Iranian Tājik stock. . . ."
  3. ^ Ira M. Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press 2002
  4. ^ Encyclopaedia Iranica, "Ghurids", C.E. Bosworth, (LINK); with reference to Justi, "Namenbuch", p. 282

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