Tabakat-i Nasiri

Tabakat-i Nasiri of Abu ‘Umar Minhaju-d din, ‘Usman ibn Siraju-d din al Juzjani.
In The History of India as Told by its own HistoriansThe Posthumous Papers of the Late Sir H. M. Elliot. John Dowson, ed. 1st ed. 1867. 2nd ed., Calcutta: Susil Gupta, 1956, vol. 13.

The Tabakat-i Nasiri is a history of the world from the earliest time to 658 H. (1260 CE).  Its author, Abu ‘Umar Minhaju-d din, ‘Usman ibn Siraju-d din al Juzjani, was descended from a noble family of Ghaznî which had been discplaced following the fall of the Ghaznivids.  His father, Maulana Siraju-d din, was the qazi of Muhammad Ghori’s army in India.  Minhaju-d Siraju-d came to India in 624 H. (1227 CE), and was appointed the director of Firozi College in Uch.  In 625 H. (August 1228 CE) entered the service of the Sultan of Delhi, Shamsu-d din Altamish.  He resigned during the brief rule Sultan Raziya, but was appointed Qazi of Delhi by her successor, Sultan Bahram Shah, in 639 H. (1241 CE)  When the Sultan was slain and deposed later that year, he resigned and retired to Lakhnauti in Bengal.  In 642 H. he returned to Delhi, and entered the service of Sultan Nasiru-d din Mahmud in 644 H (1246 CE).  It is believed that he outlived by several years the Sultan, who died in 664 H. (1266 CE).  The Tabakat-i Nasiri is dedicated to the Sultan, and extends to the fifteenth year of his rule (658 H., 1260 CE).

The first excerpt included herein is a brief description of Sultan Mahmud of Ghaznî’s raid on Somnat, no doubt relying on the many earlier accounts of this infamous event.  Sultan Mahmud began the raid December 1023 CE, and did not reach the fort until March 1024 CE.  This resulted in the destruction of the celebrated temple complex, and the accruement of a vast amount of wealth  by Sultan Mahmud.  Mahmud succeeded his father to throne of Ghaznî, in what is now Afghanistan, in 997 CE, and ruled until his death in 1030 CE.  His numerous incursions into India were largely raids designed to capture spoil in material wealth, slaves and livestock.  He is portrayed as a zealous Muslim eager to destroy “idol temples”, but this was probably justification for pillage, since these activities contravened the earlier Arab policy of granting Hindus and Buddhists protected dhimmi status.  These raids generally were not conquests resulting in annexation of territory, with the exception of the Punjab, most of which he did annex.  Ghaznivid control even of the Punjab passed away with Mahmud.  His incessant raiding over the course of almost thirty years, however, clearly destabilized Northern India and paved the way for the Muhammad Ghûrî’s invasion of northern India in 1175 CE, which led to the establishment of the Delhi sultanate.

  1. Excerpt

[p. 13]

Reign of the Great King Yaminu-d Daula Mahmud, Nizamu-d din Abu-l Kasim Mahmud, Son of Subuktigin

Sultan Mahmud was a great monarch.  He was the first Muhammadan king who received the title of Sultan from the Khalif.  He was born on the night of Thursday, the tenth of Muharram, A.H. 3611 (2nd October 971), in the seventh year after the time of Bilkatigin. A moment (sa’ at) before his birth, Amir Subuktigin saw in a dream that a tree sprang up from the fire-place in the midst of his house and grew so high that it covered the whole world, with its shadow.  Waking in alarm from his dream, he began to reflect upon the import of it.  At that very moment a messenger came bringing the tidings that the Almighty had given him a son.  Subuktigin greatly rejoiced, and said, I name the child- Mahmud.  On the same night that he was born, an idol temple in India in the vicinity of Parshawar, on the banks of the Sind, fell down.

Mahmud was a man of great abilities, and is renowed as one of the greatest champions of Islam.  He ascended the throne in Balkh in the year 387 H. (997 A.D.) and received investiture by the Khalifa Al Kadir bi-llah.  His influence upon Islam soon became widely known, for he converted as many as a thousand idol temples into mosques, subdued the cities of Hindustan, [p. 14] and vanquished the Rais of that cpuntry.  He captured Jaipal, who was the greatest of them, kept him at Yazd (?) in Khurasan, and gave orders so that he was bought for eighty dirhams.  He led his armies to Nahrwala and Gujarat, carried off the idol (manat) from Somnat, and broke it into four parts.  One part he deposited in the Jami Masjid of Ghazni, one he placed at the entrance of the royal palace, the third he sent to Mecca and the fourth to Medina.  ‘Unsuri composed a long Kasida on this victory.  He died in the year- 421 H. (1030 A.D.) in the thirty-sixth year of his reign, and at sixty-one years of age.


  1. Firishta gives the date as 9th Muharram, 357 H. and he has been followed by Elphinstone. –BriggsFerishta,I. 33; Elphinstone, 323.