Ghurid Sultanate
Sūrī, Shansabānī



Map of the Ghurid dynasty at it's greatest extent.
Capital Firuzkuh[1]
Ghazni (1170s-1215)[3]
Lahore (winter)
Languages Persian (official & court)[4]
Religion Sunni Islam
Government Sultanate
 -  1148–1157 Ala-ud-din Jahan-Suz
 -  1157–1202 Ghiyasuddin Ghori
 -  1202–1206 Muhammad of Ghor
 -  1206–1210 Qutbuddin Aibak
 -  Established 1011
 -  Disestablished 1215

The Ghurids or Ghorids (Persian: سلسله غوریان‎; self-designation: Shansabānī and Sūrī) were a native Sunni Muslim dynasty of Eastern Iranian, possibly Tajik origin, which established rule over parts of modern day Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan from 1148 to 1215.[5] The dynasty succeeded the Ghaznavid Empire.[6] Their empire was centered in Ghor Province or Mandesh, in the center of what is now Afghanistan. It encompassed Khorasan in the West and reached in the East to northern India, as far as Bengal.[7] Their first capital was Fīrūzkūh in Ghor, which was later replaced by Herat[2] while Ghazni[3] and Lahore were used as additional capitals, especially during the winter seasons. They are known as patrons of Persian culture and heritage.[8]

The Ghurids were succeeded in Persia by the Khwārazm-Shāh dynasty and in northern India by the Mamluk dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate.


In the 19th century, some European scholars, such as Mountstuart Elphinstone, favoured the idea that the Ghurid dynasty relate to today's Pashtun people,[9][10][11] but this is generally rejected by modern scholarship, and, as explained by Morgenstierne in the Encyclopaedia of Islam, is for "various reasons very improbable".[12] Instead, the consensus in modern scholarship (incl. Morgenstierne, Bosworth, Dupree, Gibb, Ghirshman, Longworth Dames and others) holds that the dynasty was most likely of Tajik origin.[13][14][15] Bosworth further 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, perhaps hinting at a (Sassanian) Persian origin.[16]

The Ghuristan region remained primarily populated by Hindus and Buddhists till the 12th century. It was then Islamised and gave rise to the Ghurids.

The rise to power of the Ghurids at Ghur, a small isolated area located in the mountain vastness between the Ghaznavid empire and the Seljukids, was an unusual and unexpected development. The area was so remote that till the 11th century, it had remained a Hindu enclave surrounded by Muslim principalities. It was converted to Islam in the early part of the 12th century after Mahmud raided it, and left teachers to instruct the Ghurids in the precepts of Islam. Even then it is believed that paganism, i.e. a variety of Mahayana Buddhism persisted in the area till the end of the century.[17]


The language of the Ghurids is subject to some controversy. What is known with certainty is that it was considerably different from the Persian used as literary language at the Ghaznavid court. Nevertheless, like the Samanids and Ghaznavids, the Ghurids were great patrons of Persian literature, poetry, and culture, and promoted these in their courts as their own. There is nothing to confirm the recent surmise (as claimed in the Paṭa Khazāna) that the Ghurids were Pashto-speaking,[18] and there is no evidence that the inhabitants of Ghor were originally Pashto-speaking.[13] Contemporary book writers refer to them as the "Persianized Ghurids".[19]


Before the mid-12th century, the Ghurids had been bound to the Ghaznavids and Seljuks for about 150 years. Beginning in the mid-12th century, Ghor expressed its independence from the Ghaznavid Empire. In 1149 the Ghaznavid ruler Bahram Shāh poisoned a local Ghūrid leader, Quṭb ud-Dīn, who had taken refuge in the city of Ghazna after a family quarrel. In revenge, the Ghūrid chief ʿAlāʾ-ud-Dīn Ḥusayn sacked and burned the city of Ghazna and put the city into fire for seven days and seven nights. It earned him the title of Jahānsūz, meaning "the world burner".[20] The Ghaznavids retook the city with Seljuk help, but lost it to Oghuz Turk freebooters.[20] In 1152, Ala ad-Din Jahan-Suz Husain refused to pay tribute to the Seljuks and instead marched an army from Firuzkuh but was defeated at Nab by Sultan Ahmed Sanjar.[21]

In 1173, Shahabuddin Muhammad Ghori reconquered the city of Ghazna and assisted his brother Ghiyasuddin—to whom he was a loyal subordinate—in his contest with Khwarezmid Empire for the lordship of Khorāsān. Shahabuddin Ghori captured Multan and Uch in 1175 and annexed the Ghaznavid principality of Lahore in 1186. He was alleged by contemporary historians to extract revenge for his great grandfather Ibn-E-Suri. After the death of his brother Ghiyas-ud-Din in 1202, he became the successor of his empire and ruled until his assassination in 1206 near Jhelum by Khokhar tribesmen (in modern-day Pakistan).[22] A confused struggle then ensued among the remaining Ghūrid leaders, and the Khwarezmids were able to take over the Ghūrids' empire in about 1215. Though the Ghūrids' empire was short-lived, Shahabuddin Ghori's conquests strengthened the foundations of Muslim rule in India. On his death, the importance of Ghazna and Ghur dissipated and they were replaced by Delhi as the centre of Islamic influence during the rule of his successor Sultans in India.[23]

Ghurid Dynasty

Titular Name(s) Personal Name Reign
Muhammad bin Shansabani
? – 1011
Abu Ali bin Muhammad
Abbas bin Shith
1030s? – 1059?
Muhammad bin Abbas
1059 – ?
Qutb-ud-din Hasan bin Muhammad
Izz-ud-din Hussain bin Hasan
Saif-ud-din Sām bin Hussain
Baha-ud-din Sām bin Hussain
جہان سوذ
Ala-ud-din Hussain bin Hussain
Saif-ud-din Muhammad bin Hussain
Sultan Abul-Fateh
سلطان ابوالفتح
Ghiyāṣ-ud-din Muhammad bin Sām
Sultan Shahāb-ud-din Muhammad Ghori
سلطان شہاب الدین محمد غوری
Muizz-ud-din Muhammad bin Sām
Break up of the Ghurid Empire under Turkic slaves: Qutb-ud-din Aibak becomes ruler of Delhi in 1206, establishing the Sultanate of Delhi; Nasir-ud-Din Qabacha became ruler of Multan in 1210; Tajuddin Yildoz became ruler of Ghazni; Ikhtiyar Uddin Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji became ruler of Bengal; the actual Ghurid dynasty divided into two groups, one under Mahmud bin Ghiyāṣ-ud-din Muhammad bin Sām who succeeded his uncle Muhammad of Ghor in possession of Ghor, Herat, Sistan and eastern Khorasan with his capital at Firuzkuh the other family group under Jalal-ud-din Ali bin Sām at Bamiyan with possession of Tukharistan, Badakhshan, Shughnan, Vakhsh and Chaghaniyan.
  • Blue shaded rows signifies Ghurid vassalage under the Ghaznavids.
  • Yellow shaded rows signifies Ghurid vassalage under the Seljuks.

Ghor Branch

Titular Name(s) Personal Name Reign
Mahmud bin Ghiyāṣ-ud-din Muhammad bin Sām
Baha-ud-din Sām bin Mahmud
علاء الدولہ
Ala-ud-din Atsiz bin Hussain
Khwārazm-Shāh dynasty replaces the Ghurids.

Bamiyan Branch

Titular Name(s) Personal Name Reign
Fakhr-ud-Din Masud bin Hussain
Shams-ud-Din Muhammad bin Mas'ud
Baha-ud-din Sām bin Muhammad
Jalal-ud-din Ali bin Sām
Khwārazm-Shāh dynasty replaces the Ghurids.

Cultural influences

The Ghurids were great patrons of Persian culture and literature and lay the basis for a Persianized state in India.[25][26] They also transferred the Khorasanian architecture of their native lands to India, of which several great examples have been preserved to this date (see gallery). However, most of the literature produced during the Ghurid era has been lost.

Out of the Ghurid state grew the Delhi Sultanate which established the Persian language as the lingua franca of the region – a status it retained until the fall of the Mughal Empire in the 19th century.

History of Greater Iran
Until the rise of modern nation-states

See also


External links

  • Encyclopaedia Britannica (Online Edition) – Ghurid Sultanate
  • Encyclopaedia Britannica (Online Edition) – Muizz-ud-Din-Muhammad a.k.a. Mohammad of Ghor
  • Columbia Encyclopedia (Sixth Edition) – Muhammad of Ghor
  • The Ghurid Rulers
  • The Ghurids
  • The Ghurids´ Firuzkuh, the summer capital of the Sultans

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.