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Glorifying An Iconoclast…

About four hundred years ago, Persian Historian Muhammad Qasim Firishta (1560-1620) described Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni (November 2, 971 AD – April 30, 1030 AD) as a foolish and greedy robber. In his publication ‘History of Hindustan‘ (published in 16th-17th Century), Firishta narrated how the first independent ruler of the Turkic Dynasty of Ghaznavids, ruling from 998 AD to 1030 AD, had attacked the Somnath Temple in India in 1025 AD, destroyed all the idols during a period of 20 days, smelted gold and silver for booty, and burnt down the city of Veraval in the western Indian Province of Gujarat. However, these activities by Sultan Mahmud make the Taliban rulers in Afghanistan proud, in the 21st Century, as they have decided to renovate the Mausoleum of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni. The tomb was built soon after the death of the Sultan, most probably by his son, Mas’ud I, in the village of Rauza. It was built about 1,100 years ago in a spot known as Victory Garden, where the Sultan liked to spend his days far away from the city.

Taliban leader and member of Pakistan-based Haqqani Network Anas Haqqani visited the Mausoleum on October 5 (2021). Later, he wrote on Twitter: “Today, we visited the shrine of Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi, a renowned Muslim warrior and Mujahid of the 10th Century. Ghaznavi (May the mercy of Allah be upon him) established a strong Muslim rule in the region from Ghazni and smashed the idol of Somnath.” The direct taunt at India by Haqqani, who hailed Mahmud Ghaznavi for smashing the idol of Somnath, seems the most shocking!

The Mausoleum

Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni reportedly invaded India 17 times, and he looted and destroyed the temple of Somnath in Gujarat in several raids. After the achievement of Independence (in 1947), the first Home Minister of India, Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel (October 31, 1875 – December 15, 1950), was instrumental in rebuilding the temple.

Anas Haqqani visits the shrine of Mahmud Ghazni

Sultan Mahmud passed away in Ghazni in 1030. Later, a Mausoleum was built on his cemetery. However, it was not refurbished for a long time. Incidentally, Abu’l-Faḍl Muḥammad ibn Ḥusayn Bayhaqī (995 AD – September 21, 1077), a Persian Secretary, Historian and Author who had been in charge of Sultan Mahmud’s court for some time, criticised the invasion of India by the Sultan in his writings. As expected, the Taliban, who once destroyed the Buddha statue in Bamiyan, have refused to accept Bayhaqī’s criticism.

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