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the last sultan of the Ghaznavid dynasty, in northwestern India, essentially in the Panjab, with his capital at Lahore. Various honorifics are attributed to him in the historical sources, in the verses of poets eulogizing him, and in the legends of his coins in the collections of the British Museum and Lahore

ḴOSROW MALEK b. Ḵosrowšāh, ABU’L-MOŻAFFAR (r. ca. 555-82/1160-86), the last sultan of the Ghaznavid dynasty, in northwestern India, essentially in the Panjab, with his capital at Lahore. Various honorifics (Tāj-al-Din wa’l-Dawla, Serāj-al-Dawla, Ẓahir-al-Din wa’l-Dawla) are attributed to him in the historical sources, in the verses of poets eulogizing him, and in the legends of his coins in the collections of the British Museum and Lahore (Thomas, p. 373; Lane Poole, nos. 581-88; Bosworth, 1977, pp. 123-24, and Album, p. 84). According to Juzjāni (I, p. 243, tr. I, p. 114), he was a wise, forbearing (ḥalim) king keenly interested in the pleasure of feasting (ʿešrat; see also Bosworth, 1996, pp. 296-97).

The dynasty's ancestral capital Ḡazna was lost to a group of Oghuz adventurers from Khorasan either at the end of his father’s brief reign or in the opening years of his own (see ḴOSROWŠĀH). This Oghuz occupation was to last fifteen years (Ebn al-Aṯir, XI, p. 167) or twelve years (Juzjāni, I, p. 243; tr., I, p. 112), until they were ejected by the Ghurid sultan Ḡiāṯ-al-Din Moḥammad b. Sām in 569/1173-64 (Maricq and Wiet, p. 39; Bosworth, 1997, pp. 124-25). Ḵosrow Malek’s reign of approximately a quarter-century must have been spent wholly or almost wholly in northwestern India. So far as we can tell from the rather sparse sources, he ruled successfully over a stable and flourishing dominion, despite the increasing pressure from the Ghurids in Afghanistan (who were subsequently to expand into India and bring about the demise of the Ghaznavid dynasty) and the presence of forceful Indian potentates on his northern and eastern borders.

It seems that Ḵosrow Malek carried on strenuously the traditions of his forefathers by launching incursions (ḡazw) against the Hindu princes of northern India. During the course of his rule, he extended his power into the hill regions of the southern fringes of Kashmir, allying with the local Hindu tribe of the Khokars there against their suzerain, the Rajah of Jammu, Čakradeva.

An inscription of a local ruler found near Benares refers to an attack by the Muslims down the Jumna-Ganges Doāb at some point before 1170, which may have been led by either Ḵosrow Malek himself or by one of his commanders. The poets of the Lahore court eulogized him for his raids into India and conquests there (e.g., Awfi, I, pp. 97-98, 102-3; II, pp. 324-25, 405-6; Bosworth, 1977, pp. 126-27). Faḵr-e Modabber praises Ḵosrow Malek for his martial skills as an archer and as wielder of the battleaxe (nāčaḵ) and mentions how he captured in battle a Hindu ruler called Sukarwāl [?] (Sukarpāla; pp. 271-72, tr. in Shafi, p. 218); Juzjāni’s comment (I, p. 243; tr., I, p. 114) that Ḵosrow Malek was a feeble, ineffective and pleasure-loving ruler can probably be discounted as the tendentious verdict of a servant and partisan of the Ghurids.

Ghaznavid Panjab could not, however, remain isolated from momentous events on its western flank. Once the Oghuz had been expelled from Ḡazna, the dynamic of the Ghurids was inevitably to find the survival of the Ghaznavids an obstacle to their expansion into the plains of India and down the Indus valley. In 574/1178 Moʿezz al-Din Moḥammad b. Sām led an army through the Gomal Pass, south of the Panjab, to Moltān (Multan) and Uččh and penetrated as far as Gujarat. He seems to have launched at least two attacks on Ḡazna before conclusively ending Ghaznavid rule there. In 575/1179-80 he captured Peshawar, and two years later threatened Lahore but was bought off by Ḵosrow Malek. The end came in 581/1185-86, when Moʿezz-al-Din was able to ally with the Rajah of Jammu Čakradeva and then with his son and successor Vijayadeva against Ḵosrow Malek and his Khokar allies. Lahore finally fell to the Ghurids. Ḵosrow Malek and his son Bahrāmšaah were carried off to Ghur and imprisoned, where they died (Juzjāni, I, pp. 396-98; tr., I, pp. 543-45; Ebn al-Aṯir, XI, pp. 168-70; Bosworth, 1977, pp. 129-31). In this way, the Ghaznavid line came to an end after two centuries, supplanted by the Ghurids, who were in turn to be supplanted less than thirty years later by the Ḵᵛārazmšāhs.

There was clearly a vibrant court culture in Lahore under Ḵosrow Malek, on the evidence of ʿAwfi, who was himself in Lahore only a generation or so later and gathered a considerable amount of information on the poets, littérateurs, and scholars of the last Ghaznavid sultan. He explicitly states that he heard verses of the poets of Ḵosrow Malek’s literary circle through the intermediacy of Zaki-al-Din b. Aḥmad Lāhuri, the šayḵ-al-Eslām of Lahore (ʿAwfi, I, pp. 96, 102, 248). Several of these poets are actually known only through quotations of their verse by ʿAwfi and in other works of the taḏkerat al-šoʿarāʾ (anthology with the biographies of poets) literature. They include such poets as the secretary Jamāl-al-Din Abu’l-Maḥāsen, said to be the author of two divāns in Arabic and Persian respectively, Jamāl-al-Din Moḥammad Serāji, called Faḵr- al-šoʿarāʾ (Pride of the poets), whose honorific echoes the Sultan’s own laqab of Serāj-al-Dawla, Šehāb-al-Din Moḥammad b. Rašid, and ʿAbd-al-Rāfeʿ Heravi, who dedicated to him his treatise, the Resāla-ye jalāliya on Nowruz, while the celebrated Abu’l-Maʿāli Naṣr-Allāh, author of the Persian version of Kalila wa Demna, written for Ḵosrow Malek’s grandfather Bahrāmšāh, was briefly head of Ḵosrow Malek’s chancery (divān-e resālat) before falling victim to the intrigue of enemies and suffering execution (ʿAwfi, I, pp. 92-94, 96-101, 102-3; II, pp. 324-34; Bosworth, 1977, pp. 127-28).


Sadid-al-Din Moḥammad Awfi, Lobāb al-albāb, ed. Edward G. Browne, 2 vols, London and Leiden, 1903.

Stephen Album, A Checklist of Islamic Coins, 2nd ed., Santa Rosa, Calif., 2008.

Clifford Edmund Bosworth, The Later Ghaznavids, Splendour and Decay: The Dynasty in Afghanistan and Northern India 1040-1186, Edinburgh, 1977, pp. 123-31.

Idem, The New Islamic Dynasties: A Chronological and Genealogical Manual, Edinburgh, 1996, pp. 296-97, no. 158.

Ebn al-Aṯir, al-Kāmel fi’al-taʾriḵ, ed. C. J. Tornberg, 13 vols., Beirut, 1965-68, XI, pp. 167-70, 262, 305-6.

Faḵr-e Modabber Mobārakšāh, Ādāb al-ḥarb wa’l-šajāʿa, ed. Aḥmad Sohayli Ḵᵛānsāri, Tehran, 1967.

Menhāj-e Serāj Juzjāni, Ṭabaqāt-e nāṣeri, ed. ʿAbd-al-Ḥayy Ḥabibi, 2 vols., Kabul 1963-64, I, pp. 243-4; tr. Henry George Raverty, 2 vols., London, 1881-99, I, pp. 114-15.

Stanley Lane-Poole, Catalogue of Oriental Coins in the British Museum II: The Coins of the Mohammedan Dynasties, London, 1876.

André Maricq and Gaston Wiet, Le minaret de Djam: la découverte de la capitale des sultans ghorides (XIIe-XIIIe siècles), Paris, 1959, p. 39.

Iqbal M. Shafi, “Fresh Light on the Ghaznavîds,” Islamic Culture 12, 1938, pp. 189-234, esp. p. 218.

Edward Thomas, “On the Coins of the Kings of Ghazni,” JRAS 9, 1848, pp. 267-386.

Cite this page
C. Edmund Bosworth, “ḴOSROW MALEK”, in: Encyclopaedia Iranica Online, © Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York. Consulted online on 17 July 2024 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2330-4804_EIRO_COM_11207>
First published online: 2020
First print edition: 00000000

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