Maps of the Ghaznavid Empire

11th-century Coins

Gold Dinar, minted under Abu’l-Qasim Mahmud ibn Sebuktekin (999-1030 CE) and Nasir al-din Mas’ud ibn Mahmud (1030-1042 CE)

Left: Center: Victory, no god but God, Right Hand of the State, Guardian of the People, Father of Equity, Mahmud; Inner margin: in the name of God this dinar was struck in Hamadan the year one and twenty and four hundred [=1030CE]; Outer margin: The command is God’s, past and future, and on that day the faithful will rejoice in the victory granted by God [Q 30:4-5].
Right: Center: For God, Muhammad is the messenger of God, al-Qadir billah Mas’ud; Margin Muhammad is the messenger of God who sent him with guidance and the religion of truth that he might make it supreme over all other religions, even though the polytheists may detest it [Q 9:33].

Silver dirham, minted under Abu’l-Qasim Mahmud ibn Sebuktekin (999-1030 CE)

Left: Center: no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God, Nizam al-Din, Abu’l-Qasim; al-Qadir billa. Margin: in the name of God this dirham wsa struck in Mahmudpur [=Lagore] the year eighteen and four hundred [=1027 CE].
Right: Center: The Invisible is One, Muhammad is the manifestation, Muhammad the king; Margin: in the name of the Invisible, this tanka was struck at Mahmudpur [=Lahore] the year 418 [=1027 CE].

A 10th Century Description

The following text is an excerpt from the Kitab al-Yamini, a chronicle of the early Ghaznavid rise to power. The author, al-‘Utbi, was a member of the Ghaznavid administration, thus providing an “inside” perspective of Ghaznavid rule.

Account of the Alliance of the Sultan with IlekKhan, and Their Subsequent Estrangement

When the Sultan had cleansed the Court of Khurasan from his
adversaries, and had reduced the enemies of the family of Saman to non-existence, Ilek-Khan succeeded to Mawarannahr, and obtained the princes of the family of Saman, their children and comrades. And these regions were entirely stripped of all that race and pearl-stock. And he wrote to the Sultan, and congratulated him on his inheritance of the kingdom of Khurasan, and proposed a reparation of good-will and the thread of friendship. An alliance was made between them, and motives of good inclination and attachment were established. And his discriminating nature advanced from a sincere affection to a sincere unity; and, at the time when the Sultan went to repulse the attack at Nishapur, he had sent the Imam Abu’l-Ta’ib, who was Imam of hadith (or of the sacred traditions) upon an embassy to Ilek-Khan, and sent (also) Tuganjuk, Prince of Sarkas, to him and expressed a desire for a noble alliance with his nobles (or noble race) and presented before his greatness, his army and his fortress, curious valuables of pieces of pure gold, with jacinths and rubies, and chains of great and small pearls, and gifts of robes and eggs of amber, and vessels of gold and silver full of perfumes of camphor, and other productions of the provinces of India, made from frankincense-bearing trees, and Damascus scimitars, and war elephants adorned with many colored trappings and jeweled bits, in describing all which gems the mind would be confused, and in specifying all which incomparable things the eyes would become turbid. And celebrated horses, with ornaments and head-trappings of gold, and various other choice and desirable things. And when the Imam Abu’l-Ta’ib arrived at the Turkish territory they exhibited much agitation and eagerness at his approach, and expressed extreme readiness to pay homage and respect to his dignity, partly on account of their honour toward His Majesty the Sultan, and partly on account of the superabundant and excelling virtues of (the envoy) in all kinds of science, he being the singular scholar of his age. He was sound in controversial tact, and in casuistical divinity, and lunar calculations.

He thus attained to the object desired (i.e., to demand a daughter of Ilek-Khan for the Sultan, in marriage), caused seeking to be joined with finding, and returned, having with diligent industry fully accomplished his pilgrimage; and he presented the unequalled pearl, which, as a diver, he had sought and found in Turkestan, before the Sultan’s presence, with valuable specimens of the purchased articles of Turkestan, pure gold and silver, sweet musk, high-bred horses, moon-faced slaves, well-featured girls, white falcons, packets of peacock-feathers, ermines, and tawny skins, with exquisite china vessels, and many other beautiful fabrics, so that, between the two kingdoms, an interwoven alliance and affinity became fastened, as with nails, and between them, as between artificers and officers, a partnership was established in the adjustment of benefits and union. For a long period affairs continued to be fitly ordered and duly arranged between these Courts, until, through the hateful anger of fate, the straight road of affection became damaged by ill-will, and by the interlopings of Satan the stream of the fountains of love became diminished, and the bonds of that sincere regard became untied. Some of the beauteous words of Abu’l-Ta’ib have been cited, and at the end of this chronicle several of the subject-nobles of the Sultan (who in their paths were like bright stars, and in their fixed [orbits] like constellations, each one being a star of the stars of the age, and a moon of the moons of virtue, and a column of the pillars of science) will be commemorated. And these words are from many of the niceties of the judgment and novelties of the language of Abu’l-Ta’ib: “He who offers himself before his time offers himself to the air.” And this apothegm is taken from “The Words” of Abu Mansur, the divine: “Even a dog has high thoughts, and he is of the lowest extremity of baseness in whom there is a seeking for power before the times of power,” etc., etc.


An 11th Century Description

This description of how Hindus in 11th century India measured time was written by a Muslim scholar and mathematician named Al-Biruni, who served in the court of the Ghaznavid sultan Mahmud.

Source, pp. 353-357.