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(or Bāhalīm), military commanders and governors in northern India under the later Ghaznavid sultans in the late 5th/11th and early 6th/12th centuries.

A version of this article is available in print

Volume IV, Fascicle 5, pp. 489

BŪ ḤALĪM (or Bāhalīm) ŠAYBĀNĪ, a family of military commanders and governors in northern India under the later Ghaznavid sultans in the late 5th/11th and early 6th/12th centuries. The nesba Šaybān need only indicate an attempt to acquire an affiliation to the great Arab tribe of Šaybān of Bakr b. Wāʾel. In fact, the family seems to have been of humble Khorasanian origin, and according to a poem by Masʿūd-e Saʿd-e Salmān, emigrated from Jājarm (q.v.) in northern Khorasan and entered the service of the Ghaznavid Sultan Ebrāhīm b. Masʿūd (r. 451-92/1059-99); this event marks the emergence into history of Bū Ḥalīm himself.

Bū Ḥalīm’s son Najm-al-Dīn Zarīr was a commander under the next Sultan Masʿūd III b. Ebrāhīm (r. 492-508/1099-1115) and led an army against Mālwa in central India and thence to Kālenjār and the middle Ganges valley. During the reign or Malek Arslān and the beginning of that of Bahrāmšāh, we hear of two members of the Bū Ḥalīm family, ʿEmād-al-Dawla Moḥammad b. ʿAlī, the espahbaḏ or commander-in-chief of the Ghaznavid army, and his brother Rabīʿ. They supported Malek Arslān, who was dispossessed by Bahrāmšāh and the Saljuqid Sultan Sanjar, and ʿEmād-al-Dawla Moḥammad remained defiant in India after Bahrāmšāh’s first spell of power in 511/1117 but was eventually defeated and captured at Lahore in 512/1119 by the new sultan, by now firmly established on the throne. Because of his experience in India, the sultan reinstated him as commander-in-chief in India, but he and his son Moʿtaṣem immediately rebelled. ʿEmād-al-Dawla Moḥammad, apparently with several of his sons, was killed in battle in the Indus valley by Bahrāmšāh’s forces. The power of the family seems to have been broken, for nothing further is recorded of them.


Scattered references in Jūzjānī (Ṭabaqāt, pp. 241-42) and some historical references in the poetic eulogies addressed to the Bū Ḥalīm family by contemporary poets such as Masʿūd-e Saʿd-e Salmān and Abu’l-Faraj Rūnī. These are utilized by C. E. Bosworth, The Later Ghaznavids, pp. 85-86, 92, 97-98, 102-3.

See also Gulam Mustafa Khan, “A History of Bahrām Shāh of Ghaznīn,” Islamic Culture 13, 1949, pp. 83-84.

R. Yāsamī, introd. to his edition of Masʿūd-e Saʿd-e Salmān, Dīvān, Tehran, 1319 Š./1940, pp. nh-nz.

Cite this page
C. Edmund Bosworth, “BŪ ḤALĪM ŠAYBĀNĪ FAMILY”, in: Encyclopaedia Iranica Online, © Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York. Consulted online on 25 July 2024 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2330-4804_EIRO_COM_7172>
First published online: 2020
First print edition: 19891215

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