Ghazi Saiyyad Salar Masud
Ghazi Saiyyad Salar Masud or Ghazi Miyan (1014 – 1034 CE) was a semi-legendary Ghaznavid army general, said to have been the nephew of Sultan Mahmud. He supposedly accompanied his uncle in the conquest of India during early 11th century, although the Ghaznavid chronicles do not mention him.
- “It happened that Mahmud had long been planning an expedition into Bhardana, and Gujarat, to destroy the idol temple of Somnat, a place of great sanctity to all Hindus. So as soon as he had returned to Ghazni from his Khurasan business, he issued a farman to the General of the army, ordering him to leave a confidential officer in charge of the fort of Kabuliz, and himself to join the court with his son Salar Mas‘ud…
“It is related in the Tarikh-i Mahmudi that the Sultan shortly after reached Ghazni, and laid down the image of Somnat at the threshold of the Mosque of Ghazni, so that the Musulmans might tread upon the breast of the idol on their way to and from their devotions. As soon as the unbelievers heard of this, they sent an embassy to Khwaja Hasan Maimandi, stating that the idol was of stone and useless to the Musulmans, and offered to give twice its weight in gold as a ransom, if it might be returned to them. Khwaja Hasan Maimandi represented to the Sultan that the unbelievers had offered twice the weight of the idol in gold, and had agreed to be subject to him. He added, that the best policy would be to take the gold and restore the image, thereby attaching die people to his Government. The Sultan yielded to the advice of the Khwaja, and the unbelievers paid the gold into the treasury.
“One day, when the Sultan was seated on his throne, the ambassadors of the unbelievers came, and humbly petitioned thus: ‘Oh, Lord of the world! we have paid the gold to your Government in ransom, but have not yet received our purchase, the idol Somnat.’ The Sultan was wroth at their words, and, falling into reflection, broke up the assembly and retired, with his dear Salar Mas‘ud, into his private apartments. He then asked his opinion as to whether the image ought to be restored, or not? Salar Mas‘ud, who was perfect in goodness, said quickly, ‘In the day of the resurrection, when the Almighty shall call for Ãzar, the idol-destroyer, and Mahmud, the idol-seller, Sire! what will you say?’ This speech deeply affected the Sultan, he was full of grief, and answered, ‘I have given my word; it will be a breach of promise.’ Salar Mas‘ud begged him to make over the idol to him, and tell the unbelievers to get it from him. The Sultan agreed; and Salar Mas‘ud took it to his house, and, breaking off its nose and ears, ground them to powder.
“When Khwaja Hasan introduced the unbelievers, and asked the Sultan to give orders to restore the image to them, his majesty replied that Salar Mas‘ud had carried it off to his house, and that he might send them to get it from him. Khwaja Hasan, bowing his head, repeated these words in Arabic, ‘No easy matter is it to recover anything which has fallen into the hands of a lion.’ He then told the unbelievers that the idol was with Salar Mas‘ud, and that they were at liberty to go and fetch it. So they went to Mas‘ud’s door and demanded their god.
“That prince commanded Malik Nekbakht to treat them courteously, and make them be seated; then to mix the dust of the nose and ears of the idol with sandal and the lime eaten with betel-nut, and present it to them. The unbelievers were delighted, and smeared themselves with sandal, and ate the betel-leaf. After a while they asked for the idol, when Salar Mas‘ud said he had given it to them. They inquired, with astonishment, what he meant by saying that they had received the idol? And Malik Nekbakht explained that it was mixed with the sandal and betel-lime. Some began to vomit, while others went weeping and lamenting to Khwaja Hasan Maimandi and told him what had occurred…”
“Afterwards the image of Somnat was divided into four parts, as is described in the Tawarikh-i-Mahmudi. Mahmud’s first exploit is said to have been conquering the Hindu rebels, destroying the forts and the idol temples of the Rai Ajipal (Jaipal), and subduing the country of India. His second, the expedition into Harradawa and Guzerat, the carrying off the idol of Somnat, and dividing it into four pieces, one of which he is reported to have placed on the threshold of the Imperial Palace, while he sent two others to Mecca and Medina respectively. Both these exploits were performed at the suggestion, and by the advice, of the General and Salar Mas‘ud; but India was conquered by the efforts of Salar Mas‘ud alone, and the idol of Somnat was broken in pieces by his sold advice, as has been related. Salar Sahu was Sultan of the army and General of the forces in Iran…
- Somnath (Gujarat), Mir‘at-i-Mas‘udi Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own historians, Vol. II. p. 524-547
- “…Mas‘ud hunted through the country around Bahraich, and whenever he passed by the idol temple of Suraj-kund, he was wont to say that he wanted that piece of ground for a dwelling-place. This Suraj-kund was a sacred shrine of all the unbelievers of India. They had carved an image of the sun in stone on the banks of the tank there. This image they called Balarukh, and through its fame Bahraich had attained its flourishing condition. When there was an eclipse of the sun, the unbelievers would come from east and west to worship it, and every Sunday the heathen of Bahraich and its environs, male and female, used to assemble in thousands to rub their heads under that stone, and do it reverence as an object of peculiar sanctity. Mas‘ud was distressed at this idolatry, and often said that, with God’s will and assistance, he would destroy that mine of unbelief, and set up a chamber for the worship of the Nourisher of the Universe in its place, rooting out unbelief from those parts…
“Meanwhile, the Rai Sahar Deo and Har Deo, with several other chiefs, who had kept their troops in reserve, seeing that the army of Islam was reduced to nothing, unitedly attacked the body-guard of the Prince. The few forces that remained to that loved one of the Lord of the Universe were ranged round him in the garden. The unbelievers, surrounding them in dense numbers, showered arrows upon them. It was then, on Sunday, the 14th of the month Rajab, in the aforesaid year 424 (14th June, 1033) as the time of evening prayer came on, that a chance arrow pierced the main artery in the arm of the Prince of the Faithful…
- Awadh (Uttar Pradesh), Mir‘at-i-Mas‘udi in Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own historians, Vol. II. p. 524-547
- To the Hindus who considered him (Salar Masud Ghazi, who offered only the sword or the Quran to lakhs of Hindus), a saint of miraculous powers, the number of their brethren he killed or Islamised was then, as it is now, meaningless.
- Athar Abbas Ali Rizvi, History of Sufism in India, Time for stock tacking