Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad

Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad
Sultan of the Ghurid Empire

Artwork of Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad

1163– 11 February 1203

(40 years)
Coronation 1163
Predecessor Sayf al-Din Muhammad
Successor Mu'izz al-Din
Born 1139
Ghor, Ghurid dynasty, now Ghor Province, Afghanistan
Died 11 February 1203 (aged 63) [1]
Herat, Ghurid dynasty, now Afghanistan
Burial Herat, Ghurid dynasty, now Afghanistan
Issue Ghiyath al-Din Mahmud
Father Baha al-Din Sam I
Religion Sunni Islam

Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad (Persian: غیاث‌ الدین محمد بن سام), was sultan of the Ghurid dynasty from 1163 to 1202. During his reign, the Ghurid dynasty became a world power, which stretched from Gorgan to Bengal.

During his early reign, he defeated the Ghurid claimants to the throne and fought with the Khwarazmian Empire over the lordship of Khorasan. He occupied Herat in 1176 and went on to establish control over most of what is now Afghanistan and the surrounding areas by 1200, and as far west as Bastam and Gurgan. His brother, Mu'izz al-Din, helped manage and expand the eastern part of the empire (as far as Bengal) and served Ghiyath with utmost loyalty and deference. Ghiyath died in 1202 and was succeeded by his brother Mu'izz al-Din.

Early life

Ghiyath was born in 1139; he was the son of Baha al-Din Sam I, who briefly reigned as king of the Ghurid dynasty in 1149. Ghiyath also had a younger brother named Mu'izz al-Din. During his early life, Ghiyath along with Mu'izz al-Din were imprisoned by their uncle Ala al-Din Husayn but were later released by the latter's son Sayf al-Din Muhammad.[2] When Sayf died in 1163, the Ghurid nobles supported Ghiyath, and helped him ascend the throne.


When Ghiyath ascended to the throne, he was aided by his brother in the killing of a rival Ghurid chief named Abu'l Abbas. However, this was not the end of Ghurid family disputes; Ghiyath was soon challenged by his uncle Fakhr al-Din Masud, who claimed the throne for himself and had allied with Taj al-Din Yildiz, the Seljuq governor of Herat, and Balkh.[3] However, the coalition was defeated by Ghiyath and Mu'izz al-Din at Ragh-i Zar. Ghiyath managed to kill the Seljuq governor during the battle, and then conquered Zamindawar, Badghis, Gharchistan, and Guzgan. He spared Fakhr al-Din and restored him as the ruler of Bamiyan. Fakhr al-Din later died and was succeeded by his son Shams al-Din Muhammad ibn Masud, who shortly conquered Balkh, Chaghaniyan, Vakhsh, Jarum, Badakhshan, and Shighnan from the Kara-Khitan Khanate, and was given the title of Sultan by Ghiyath.[4]

In 1173, Ghiyath invaded Ghazni and defeated the Oghuz Turks who had captured the city from the Ghaznavids. He then installed his brother Mu'izz al-Din as the ruler of Ghazni.[3]

In 1175, Ghiyath conquered Herat from its Seljuq governor, Baha al-Din Toghril, and also managed to conquer Pushang. Shortly thereafter, the ruler of Sistan, Taj al-Din Harb ibn Muhammad, acknowledged the sovereignty of Ghiyath, and so did the Oghuz Turks dominating Kirman.[5]

During the same period, the Khwarazmian prince Sultan Shah, who was expelled from Khwarezm by his brother Tekish, took refuge in Ghor and requested military aid from Ghiyath. Ghiyath, however, did not help the latter. Sultan Shah managed to get help from the Kara-Khitan Khanate, and began plundering the northern Ghurid domains. In 1186, Ghiyath, along with Mu'izz al-Din, ended the Ghaznavid dynasty after having captured Lahore and executed the Ghaznavid ruler Khusrau-Malik.[3][6] With the aid of the rulers of Bamiyan, Sistan, and his brother Mu'izz al-Din, Ghiyath then defeated the forces of Sultan Shah at Marw al-Rudh in 1190. He also annexed most of the latter's territories in Khorasan. Shortly after war broke out between the Khwarazmian Shahs and the Ghurids; Tekish attacked Herat while the Kara-Khitans invaded Guzgan. Both, were, however, defeated by Ghiyath.

In 1200, Tekish died and was succeeded by Muhammad Khan (who took the honorific name 'Ala' al-Din). Among the first to hear of this were Ghiyath and Mu'izz al-Din. Within weeks the two brother had moved their armies westwards into Khorasan. Once they had captured Nishapur, Mu'izz al-Din was sent on an expedition towards Ray, but he let his troops get out of control and got little further than Gurgan, earning criticism from Ghiyath which led to the only reported quarrel between the brothers.[7][8] Ghiyath appointed the son of Fakhr al-Din Masud, Taj al-Din Zangi, as the governor of Sarakhs, while another Ghurid named Nasir al-Din Muhammad Kharnak was appointed as governor of Merv.


Ghiyath died at Herat in 1202 after months of illness. He was succeeded by his brother Mu'izz al-Din, who had quickly returned to Ghor from India and obtained the support of Ghurid nobles. They crowned him as Sultan of the Ghurid Empire at Firuzkuh.


  1. Tabqat-en-Nasiri: Minhaj-ud-Din Jozjani, 2004, Lahore. p. 155
  2. History of Civilizations of Central Asia, C.E. Bosworth, M.S. Asimov, p. 186.
  3. 1 2 3 The Iranian World, C.E. Bosworth, The Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. 5, ed. J. A. Boyle, John Andrew Boyle, (Cambridge University Press, 1968), 161-170.
  4. History of Civilizations of Central Asia, C.E. Bosworth, M.S. Asimov, p. 189.
  5. Encyclopedia Iranica, Ghaznavids, Edmund Bosworth, Online Edition 2007, (LINK)
  6. Ghaznavids, C.E. Bosworth, Encyclopedia Iranica
  7. Ahmad Hasan Dani et al. History of civilizations of Central Asia, vol. IV, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass Pub. (1999) ISBN 81-208-1409-6, p182
  8. Enc. Islam, article: Muhammad, Mu'izz al-Din


Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad
Preceded by
Sayf al-Din Muhammad
Sultan of the Ghurid Sultanate
Succeeded by
Mu'izz al-Din
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