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One of the most controversial personalities in the history of South
Asia, Mahmud Ghaznavi is known as one of the greatest conquerors the
world has ever seen. He was one of the very few leaders who were never
defeated in
Mahmud of Ghaznia battlefield. Born in 979, Mahmud became the Sultan of
Ghazni in 998. He inherited the small state of Ghazni from his father
Subuktigin, and turned it into an empire that lasted for about a
century. He was a brave man and use to take part in all the battles his
forces fought. Though he was interested in extending his empire toward
Central Asia, the maneuverings of the Hindu rulers of Punjab forced him
to invade South Asia. He came to South Asia seventeen times and went
back to Ghazni every time with a great victory. He fought against the
strong forces of Jaipal, Annadpal, Tarnochalpal, Kramta and the joint
forces of Hindu Rajas and Maharajas but all of them were forced to flee
away from the battlefield due to Mahmud's war strategy as a general.
After the conquest of Multan and Lahore, Mahmud made Punjab a part of
his empire in 1021.

Unlike other great conquerors like Alexander and Chengez Khan, Mahmud did not leave the areas conquered to the mercy of his soldiers. After
becoming the first Muslim ruler to conquer Northern Punjab, he
consolidated his rule in the area and established his provincial
headquarters at Lahore. He established law and order in the areas that
he ruled, giving special attention to the people he ruled. The
department of police and post were efficient. His judicial system was
very good as everybody was equal before the law and justice was the
order of the day.

Mahmud was also a great patron of learning. His court was full of scholars including giants like Firdosi the poet, Behqi the historian and
Al-Biruni the versatile scholar. It is said that he used to spend four
hundred thousand golden Dinars on scholars. He invited the scholars from
all over the world and was thus known as an abductor of scholars. Under
Mahmud, Ghazni became one of the most important and beautiful cities of
the Islamic world. It was the city of mosques, madrasas and libraries.
He also established a Museum in Ghazni. During his rule, Lahore also
became a great center of learning and culture. Lahore was called 'Small
Ghazni'. Saad Salman, a poet of those times, has written about the
academic and cultural life of Lahore.

Mahmud was also a deeply religious man. He himself wrote a book on Fiqh. He had respect for other religions. A large number of Hindus lived in
Ghazni, and they enjoyed religious freedom. One of his commanders named
Tilak was a Hindu. A number of soldiers in his army were also Hindus.
Mahmud attacked the Hindu Temples in India because of political and not
religious reasons.

Mahmud Ghaznavi died on April 30 1030.

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