ʿALĀʾ-AL-DĪN (or ŻĪĀʾ-AL-DĪN) ʿALĪ B. ŠOJĀʿ-AL-DĪN ʿALĪ, Ghurid malek and later sultan, reigned in Ḡūr from Fīrūzkūh as the last of his family there before the extinction of the dynasty by the Ḵᵛārazmšāhs, 599-602/1203-96 and 611-12/1214-15. As Malek Żīāʾ-al-dīn, and also bearing the title “the Pearl of Ḡūr,” he acted as governor of the Ghurid conquests in Khorasan from 596/1199-1200, during the reign of his cousins Šams-al-dīn or Ḡīāṯ-al-dīn Moḥammad and Šehāb-al-dīn or Moʿezz-al-dīn Moḥammad; he had in fact married the daughter of the first of these two rulers. He was, however, unable to withstand the onslaught in Khorasan of Ḵᵛārazmšāh ʿAlāʾ-al-dīn Moḥammad and had to relinquish Nīšāpūr to him. When Sultan Ḡīāṯ-al-dīn Moḥammad died in 599/1203, his brother and successor in Ḡazna and northwestern India, Moʿezz-al-dīn Moḥammad, appointed Żīāʾ-al-dīn ruler in the Ghurid heartland (Ḡūr proper, Ḡaṛčestān and Zamīn Dāvar). He then assumed the laqab of ʿAlāʾ-al-dīn. He reigned there for the rest of his cousin’s lifetime, leading an expedition into Qūhestān against the local Ismaʿilis. But after the supreme Ghurid sultan’s death in 602/1206, he was deposed from Fīrūzkūh by Ḡīāṯ-al-dīn Maḥmūd, son of Ḡīāṯ-al-dīn Moḥammad, and imprisoned in one of the fortresses of Ḡaṛčestān. After being released and then suffering a second period of incarceration under Sultan ʿAlāʾ-al-dīn Atsïz, he was brought forth from imprisonment by the nobles of Ḡūr when the latter sultan was killed in battle in 611/1214-15.
The Turkish slave commander in Ḡazna, Yalduz, then set up ʿAlāʾ-al-dīn Moḥammad as, in effect, a puppet ruler on the Ghurid throne at Fīrūzkūh; but he was impotent to maintain his position there for more than a year against the expansionism of the Ḵᵛārazmšāh, and had to surrender Fīrūzkūh to ʿAlāʾ-al-din Moḥammad; he was thus the last Ghurid sultan to reign there. He spent the remainder of his life in honorable exile in Ḵᵛārazm, being buried eventually at the shrine of the great mystic Shaikh Abū Yazīd at Besṭām.
ʿAlāʾ-al-dīn ʿAlī seems to have acquired a reputation both as a warrior, fighting at Moʿezz-al-dīn Moḥammad’s side in India against the infidel, and for his piety. With his mother (known later as Maleka-ye Ḥāǰǰī, he made the pilgrimage to the holy places, the first prince of the Ghurid dynasty to do this; and he founded in Mecca a ḵānaqāh or retreat and hospice for religious devotees. He is also mentioned as an enthusiastic supporter in Ḡūr, during Ḡīāṯ-al-dīn Moḥammad’s reign, of the pietistic Karrāmīya sect against the local Hanafites and Shafeʿites; and he was the opponent of the Shafeʿite theologian and faqīh, Faḵr-al-dīn Rāzī, when the latter came to Fīrūzkūh in 595/1199 (Ebn al-Aṯīr, Beirut, XII, pp. 151-52; Bosworth, “The early Islamic history of Ghur,” Central Asiatic Journal 6, 1961, pp. 131-32).
The only detailed sources are Ebn al-Aṯīr’s account of the last years of the Ghurids (under the year 602/1205-6, ed. Beirut, XII, p. 208ff., especially pp. 223-24); and Jūzǰānī, Ṭabaqāt I, pp. 340-41, 360, 369-72, 381, 382-83; tr. Raverty, II, pp. 345-46, 381, 391-96, 415, 417-19.
For general background, see Bosworth in Camb. Hist. Iran V, pp. 164-66.
(C. E. Bosworth)
Originally Published: December 15, 1984
Last Updated: July 29, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 7, p. 777
C. E. Bosworth, “ʿALĀʾ-AL-DĪN ʿALĪ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/7, p. 777; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ala-al-din-ali-ghurid-sultan (accessed on 15 May 2014).