Isma'íl bin Násiru-d dín.

When Násiru-d dín Subuktigín tied up his travelling appara­tus for another world, Amír Isma'íl, by virtue of the will of his father, ascended the throne at Balkh, the tabernacle of the faithful; he made great endeavours to attract the affections and conciliate the hearts of the people; he opened the treasury of Amír Subuk-tigín, and distributed much money among the soldiers. The report of this came to the ears of his elder brother Saifu-d daula Mahmúd, at Naishápúr, who sent Amír Isma'íl a letter to this effect: “You are the dearest to me of all men. Whatever you may require of the country or of the revenue is not denied; but a knowledge of the minute points in the affairs of government, a period of life reaching to an advanced age, experience in the times, and perseverance and durability of wealth, possess great advantages. If you were possessed of these qualities, I would certainly subject myself to you. That which my father in my absence has bequeathed to you was bestowed because I was at a great distance, and because he apprehended calamity. Now rectitude consists in this, that, as is fitting, you should consider well, and divide between us the money and movable effects of my father, according to law and justice, and that you should give up the royal residence of Ghaznín to me. Then will I deliver over to you the country of Balkh, and the command of the army of Khurásán.”

Amír Isma'íl would not listen to this proposal, so Saifu-d daula Mahmúd entered into a league with his uncle Baghrájik and Nasr bin Násiru-d dín Subuktigín, who was his brother, and leaving Naishápúr, marched towards Ghaznín. Amír Isma'íl also moved in that direction, and when both parties were near one another, Saifu-d daula used his virtuous endeavours to prevent Isma'íl from engaging in battle, and tried to make a reconcilia­tion, but he could not succeed; and after lighting the flame of battle, and the employment of weapons, and inflicting of blows, Amír Isma'íl was defeated. He took refuge in the fort of Ghaznín, and Sultán Mahmúd having entered into arrangements with him, took from him the keys of the treasury, and appointed administrators* over his affairs. He then marched towards Balkh.*

It is related that when Amír Isma'íl had been some days in the society of his brother, in the assembly of friendship, Sultán Mahmúd took the occasion to ask him: “If the star of your fortune had been such that you had taken me, what would you have done with me?” Isma'íl answered, “My mind would have dictated this, that if I had obtained the victory over you, I would have shut you up in one of my forts, but I would have allowed you things necessary for repose and the enjoyment of life, as much as you could desire.” Sultán Mahmúd, after having obtained in that assembly the secret of the heart of his brother, remained silent; but after some days, on some pretence, he delivered over Isma'íl to the governor of Juzján,* and told him to put him into a strong fort, but to give him whatever he should ask, conducive to the repose and enjoyment of life. Amír Isma'íl, as he himself had designed to act towards his brother, was shut up in that fort, and there passed the rest of his days.*

Sultán Mahmúd.

Those historians who are the best, both externally and in­trinsically, and whose happy pens have written as if they were disciples of Manes, in the books which they have composed, lay it down that Sultán Mahmúd Ghaznaví was a king who attained varieties of worldly prosperity, and the fame of his justice and government, and the sound of his fortitude and country-subduing qualities, reached beyond the hall of the planet Saturn. In pro­sperously carrying on war against infidels, he exalted the standards of the religion of the faithful, and in his laudable endeavours for extirpating heretics, he rooted out oppression and impiety. When he entered into battle, his heroism was like a torrent which rushes over even and uneven places without heed, and during the time that he sat upon the throne, and was successful in his undertakings, the light of his justice, like the rays of the sun, shone upon every one. His wisdom during the nights of mis­fortune, like a star, pointed out the way, and his sword pierced the joints of his enemies like the hand of fate.

“He had both wisdom of heart and strength of hand,
With these two qualities he was fit to sit upon the throne.”

But that mighty king, notwithstanding the possession of these laudable attributes, was excessively greedy in accumulating wealth, and evinced his parsimony and narrowness in no very praiseworthy manner.

“From generosity he derived no honour,
Like as the shell guards the pearl, so he guarded his wealth.
He had treasuries full of jewels,
But not a single poor man derived benefit therefrom.”

The father of Sultán Mahmúd was Amír Násiru-d dín, a slight description of whom my pen has already given. His mother was a daughter of one of the grandees of Zábulistán, and for this reason he was called Zábulí. During his early years, Amír Núh Sámání gave him the title of Saifu-d daula, but when he had mounted the ladders of sovereign authority, Al Kádir bi-llah 'Abbásí called him Yamínu-d daula and Amínu-l millat.

In the beginning of the reign of Yamínu-d daula, Khalaf bin Ahmad had the presumption to offer opposition to him, upon which Sultán Mahmúd led his army to Sístán, and having seized Khalaf, reduced that country under his sway. He several times waged war against the infidels in Hindustán, and he brought under his subjection a large portion of their country, until, having made himself master of Somnát, he destroyed all the idol-temples of that country.

It was about the same time that Sultán Mahmúd contracted not only a friendship with I'lak Khán, but also a matrimonial alliance with his family; but in the end, quarrels and dissensions arose, and the Sultán triumphed over I'lak Khán, when the rays of his justice shone on the confines of Máwaráu-n nahr.

In the same manner he led his army to Khwárizm, and after some fighting, the signs of his universal benevolence were dis­played to the inhabitants of that country. Towards the close of his life, he marched towards 'Irák 'Ajam. Having wrested these countries from the possession of Majdu-d daula Dílamí, he delivered them over to his own son Mas'úd, and then, after the accomplishment of his wishes, he returned to Ghaznín. He died of consumption and liver complaint in the year 421 H. (1030 A.D.) His age was sixty-three years, and he reigned thirty-one. During the early part of his reign, Abú-l 'Abbás Fazl bin Ahmad Asfaráiní held the wazírship; but Fazl having been found fault with and punished, Ahmad bin Hasan Maimandí exalted the standard of ministry. Yamínu-d daula, during the latter days of his life, found fault with Ahmad, and issued against him the royal edict of removal from office, and then, according to his wish, he appointed Amír Hasnak Míkál.

Account of the hostility shown by Khalaf bin Ahmad to
Sultán Mahmúd

When Yamínu-d daula Mahmúd mounted the thrones of Khurásán and Ghaznín, he delivered over the governorship of Hirát and Fúshanj* to his uncle Baghrájik,* and whilst he held this government of the Sultán, Khalaf bin Ahmad sent his son Táhir to Kohistán, who, after he had taken possession of that country, hastened towards Fúshanj, and made himself master of that city. Baghrájik received intelligence of this, and having asked permission of Sultán Mahmúd, he moved towards the place where honour required his presence. When he arrived in the vicinity of Fúshanj, Táhir hastened out of the city, and the brave men of both armies contended with daggers and spears. The army of Táhir was first broken. Baghrájik having drunk several cups of wine, the vapour of pride entered into the hall of his brain, and without any reflection, he pursued the Sístánían, and was engaged in seizing the spoil when Táhir, having turned the reins of his horse, approached Baghrájik, and with one blow of his sword threw him from the saddle on to the ground, and then dismounting, cut off his head, and rode off towards Kohistán.