Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi

Amena Shahrukh Lali recounts the dynamic life of a great Muslim conqueror who opened many lands and brought Islam to their people

Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi was born in 361 AH in Ghaznah southwest of Kabul. His forefathers were Turkish, and his father was a very powerful leader of Ghaznah. Since his childhood, Sultan was a very strong person and as he grew old Allah blessed him with handsome looks too. He was a gifted speaker. Though he didn’t understand the Arabic language, he was well versed in the laws of Islam. He loved poetry, astronomy and math, and would encourage others to learn.

As a leader, Mahmood showed such great capabilities that the whole province of Khurasan rallied under his leadership and his rule extended to Azerbaijan. At the age of 27 he announced his claim to the throne of Afghanistan, when his brother Ismael also announced his claim to be king from the city of Balkh. Mahmood defeated his brother in Ghazni.

The most commendable act of Sultan was his love for Jihad. Every year he would set out to conquer new lands, heading always towards India. Sultan defeated Jeebel the King of Kabulistan, captured Punjab, Tanseer, Kashmir and Qanoch. By 1017 Aliak Khan, an ally of Sultan Mahmood invaded Hirat and Balkh. This was out of the ordinary because Sultan Mahmood was married to his daughter. So, Sultan gathered a powerful force of fifty thousand warriors and attacked the Khan’s army and defeated them. By 1024, Allah granted Sultan such power that he crossed the Amu River.

One day, news reached him that the Indian people believed that the great idol Suminat brings destructions and peace to their land, and gives life and causes death to them. They also use to make pilgrimage to him. They had accumulated wealth to the point that 10,000 villages were counted as a part of its endowment and thousands of Brahama men were at its service.

Nevertheless Sultan set out to destroy the idol after making Istikhara (asking Allah for guidance in his decision). He left at the head of thirty thousand cavalries and a great number of infantry and volunteers. When the Indians saw the determination of Sultan they offered him a great amount of money. Sultan said: “I have thought about the matter, and I see that when the Day of Judgement comes, I would rather be called ‘Where is Mahmood who destroyed the idol?’ than ‘Where is Mahmood who spared the idol for the wealth of this world?'”

He took his sword and went in. The idol was adorned with gold and rare jewellery that were beyond description. With a mighty blow it fell, broken to pieces. Sultan took the gold and jewellery, and distributed it among his commanders and soldiers. He returned to Ghaznah in Safar 417 AH.

Sultan Mahmood was also among the earlier pious kings. His interest in knowledge had drawn him close to the scholars, as he was known to love hearing the Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa) being recited to him.

Sultan Mahmood only praised Islam due to its pureness. During Sultan’s reign universities of math, religious studies, humanities and medicine were formed and they used to function only under the law of Shariah. For the first time ever, this region was under one rule, one religion and one language.

In 1030 (421 AH), Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi fell gravely ill and died at the age of fifty-nine. His grave is in Ghaznah.

Malik Ibn Anas

Image imam MalikAbu Abdullah Malik Ibn Anas, the Shaikh of Islam, proof of the community, Imam of the abode emigration, knowledgeable scholar of Madinah (as predicted by the Prophet Muhammad [sa]) was born in Madinah in the year 714 CE, while his ancestral home was in Yemen.

Born in a well to do family Malik did not need to work. However, he was highly fascinated with the study of Islam, and ended up devoting his entire life to the study of Fiqh. He received his education in the most important seat of Islamic learning, Madinah. He also became one of the four major Mujtahid imams whose school filled North Africa, Al-Andalus, much of Egypt and some of Ash-Sham, Yemen, Sudan, Iraq, and Khurasan. Hence, Malik Ibn Anas was a Muslim legist who played an important role in formulating early Islamic legal doctrines.

One of the great achievements of Malik is a book Al-Muwatta (The Approved). This book was formed of sound narrations of the Prophet (sa) from the people of Hijaz together with the sayings of the companions, the followers, and those after them. He composed it in a course of forty years, having started with ten thousand narrations until he reduced them to their present number of fewer than two thousand. It was hailed by Ash-Shafi as the soundest book on earth after the Quran, nearest book on the earth after the Quran and the most beneficial book on earth after the Quran, according to four separate narrations. Malik said: “I showed my book to seventy jurists of Madinah, and every single one of them approved me for it, so I named it ‘The Approved’.”

Imam Malik is the connection of the entire Islamic community to the knowledge of the Sunnah as the scholars of the Prophet’s (sa) city, Madinah, preserved it. Like all scholars of Islam, Malik was famous for his piety and integrity. When the Governor of Madinah demanded and forced people to take the oath of allegiance to Khalifah Al-Mansoor, Imam Malik stood up courageously and was prepared to suffer for his convictions. He issued a Fatwa that such an oath was not binding because it was given under coercion and based his opinion on the Hadeeth narrated by Aisha (rta) “The divorce of the coerced does not take effect”. (Abu Dawood) This resulted in many people finding courage to express their opposition.

Malik had such veneration for the Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa) that he never narrated anything or gave a Fatwa unless in a state of ritual purity. Abi Uways said: “I asked my uncle about something. He made me sit, made ablution, sat on the couch, and said: La Hawla Wa La Quwwata Illa Billah. He did not give a Fatwa until he said it first. I heard Malik being asked forty-eight questions, to thirty-two of which he replied: ‘I do not know.’”

He was not only a great Muhaddith (Traditionist scholar of Hadeeth), but also a jurist who founded a Madhhab, or school of jurisprudence, which is named after him: the Maliki School of Islamic Jurisprudence. He gave lectures in law and religion in the Masjid of the Prophet (sa). People came from all over the Islamic world to learn from him and he attracted a considerable number of students. His followers came to be known as Malikis. He himself never left Madinah, and spent his whole life there in the cause of Islamic knowledge.

Imam Malik died in the year (179 AH) 796 CE at Madinah and is buried in the famous Al-Baqee cemetery in Madinah.