MAWDUD B. MASʿUD B. MAḤMUD, ABU’L-FATḤ, sultan of the Ghaznavid dynasty (r. 432-41/1041-49), recorded on his coins with the honorifics Šehāb-al-Din wa’l-Dawla and Qoṭb-al-Mella.

Mawdud inherited a Ghaznavid state that had just lost its western lands, namely Ray and the fringes of Jebāl, and Khorasan, to the Saljuqs, but was still a powerful force in the Islamic East, controlling eastern Afghanistan, Baluchistan, and in India the middle Indus valley centered on Lahore.  Mawdud was not disposed to accept the situation that he had inherited and to write off the western territories as permanently lost, and he spent much of his seven or eight years’ reign in endeavoring to retrieve the situation there.

He was the eldest son of Masʿud, declared heir apparent (wali-ʿahd) in 430/1038, and in the last years of his father’s reign had accompanied him on campaigns in northern Afghanistan aimed at stemming the Saljuqs’ advance.  When Masʿud was deposed, after his troops had mutinied at the Indus crossing in 432/1040, and subsequently killed (see MASʿUD B. MAḤMUD), Mawdud avenged him by marching from Balkh via Ghazna and defeating in battle near Jalālābād his uncle, Moḥammad b. Maḥmud, whom the rebels had raised briefly to power in the sultanate, and executing him (Rajab 432/March 1041; Gardizi, ed. Ḥabibi, pp. 203-6; Ebn al-Aṯir, IX, pp. 484-89; Bosworth, 1977, pp. 9-25).  Once securely on the throne, Mawdud aimed at re-establishing the former Ghaznavid frontier in the west against the Saljuqs.  His troops briefly recovered Herat and, probably, Balkh from Čaḡri Beg Dāwud.  He attempted to secure help from the Saljuqs’ rivals, the Ilak-khanids of Transoxania, probably from Böritegin, the later Tamḡāč Khan Ebrāhim b. Naṣr of Samarqand and Bukhara, and in 435/1043-44 he invaded Ṭoḵārestān but was repulsed by Čaḡri Beg’s son Alp Arslān.  In southwestern Afghanistan, he sent troops to keep the allegiance to the Ghaznavids of the Saffarid amir of Sistān, Abu’l-Fażl Naṣr, although Sistān was eventually drawn into the Saljuq orbit, and Bost remained the bastion of Ghaznavid power in southern Afghanistan (Ebn al-Aṯir, IX, p. 518; Tāriḵ-e Sistān, pp. 366-68; Bosworth, 1968, pp. 51-53; idem, 1977, pp. 20-30).

In between such attempts to restore the position in the west, Mawdud seems to have endeavored to continue the traditional policy of his predecessors of warfare against the Indian princes.  He took control of Lahore from his brother Majdud after a rebellion by the latter failed, and held it after a prolonged siege by a coalition of three Hindu princes in 435/1043-44.  It does, however, seem that these princes had recaptured from the Muslims Hansi, Thanesar, Nagarkot, and  other places in the vicinity of Delhi, although specific details are lacking in the sources.  Mawdud also continued his grandfather Maḥmud’s policy of uprooting heresy in the shape of the Ismaʿilis of Multan, seizing the city and forcing these local Shiʿites to flee southwards into Sind (Ebn al-Aṯir, IX, pp. 488-89, 518-19; Bosworth, 1977, pp. 30-33).

Towards the end of his reign, Mawdud tried once more to organize a grand anti-Saljuq coalition in the west, with approaches to the Kakuyids of Isfahan and Hamadan and to the Ilak-khanids, but all these were cut short by his death at the age of 39, either in 440/1048 or the following year (the sources have divergent dates), to be eventually succeeded, possibly after two ephemeral intervening reigns, by his uncle ʿAbd-al-Rašid b. Maḥmud (Juzjāni, ed. Ḥabibi, I, pp. 234-36; Ebn al-Aṯir, IX, pp. 558-59; Bosworth, 1977, pp. 36-37).  Mawdud was clearly an energetic and able military commander, whose prestige was such that it is recorded that “the King of the Turks in Transoxania” (probably Böritegin) gave allegiance to him, and he eventually married one of the Saljuq Čaḡri Beg’s daughters (Bosworth, 1968, p. 52).   He is said to have been an especially skilful archer and the inventor of a special, gold-tipped arrowhead, the paykān-e mawdudi (Faḵr-e Modabber, pp. 253, 268; Shafi, p. 216).  He managed successfully to stem the tide of the Saljuqs’ eastwards movement, deflecting the main impetus of their advance westwards through Persia to Iraq and enabling the Ghaznavid empire to survive for another century and a half.



There are no contemporary sources. Gardizi’s history breaks off at the deposition of Sultan Masʿud I, and the events of Mawdud’s reign have to be reconstructed from exiguous, sparse, later sources, principally:

Ebn al-Aṯir, al-Kāmel fi’l-taʾriḵ, ed. C. J. Tornberg, 13 vols., Beirut, 1965, XIII, p. 364.

Menhāj-e Serāj Juzjāni, Ṭabaqāt-e nāṣeri, ed. ʿAbd-al-Ḥayy Ḥabibi, 2 vols., Kabul, 1963-64, I, pp. 234-35; tr. H. G. Raverty, as Ṭabaḳāt-i-Nāṣeri, 2 vols., London, 1881-99, I, pp. 95-7.

Tāriḵ-e Sistān, ed. Moḥammad-Taqi Malek-al-Šoʿarāʾ Bahār, Tehran, 1935; tr. Milton Gold, as Tarikh-e Sistan, Rome, 1976. 

These are supplemented by some anecdotal material in Faḵr-e Modabber Mobārakšāh’s Ādāb al-ḥarb wa’l-šajāʿa (ed. Aḥmad Sohayli Ḵᵛānsāri, Tehran, 1967), tr. in Iqbal M. Shafi, as “Fresh Light on the Ghaznavîds,” IC 12, 1938, pp. 213-16.  

See also Clifford Edmund Bosworth, “Mawdūd,” in EI2  VI, 1991, pp. 871-72.  

Idem, “The Political and Dynastic History of the Iranian World (A.D. 1000-1217),” in John A. Boyle, ed., The Cambridge History of Iran V: The Saljuq and Mongol Periods, Cambridge, 1968, pp. 51-53. 

Idem, The Later Ghaznavids: Splendour and Decay, Edinburgh and New York, 1977, pp. 20-37.

(C. Edmund Bosworth)

Last Updated: December 20, 2012