Amir Khusrow

Indian poet, writer, musician and scholar

Ab'ul Hasan Yamīn ud-Dīn Khusrau (1253 – 1325), better known as Amīr Khusrow Dehlavī, was a Sufi musician, poet and scholar from the Indian subcontinent.

Amir Khusrow surrounded by young men. Miniature from a manuscript of Majlis Al-Usshak by Husayn Bayqarah.


  • The king of the kingdoms of messengerdom,
The tughra of the page of Majesty.
  • Amir Khusrow, And Muhammad is his Messenger - The Veneration of the Prophet in Islamic Piety, Annemarie Schimmel (1985), The University of North Carolina Press, p. 205, ISBN 0-8078-1639-6
  • “Happy Hindustan, the splendour of Religion. where the Law finds perfect honour and security. In learning Dehli can now compete with Bokhara, for IslAm has been made manifest by its kings. The whole country, by means of the sword of our holy warriors, has become like a forest denuded of its thorns by fire. The land has been saturated with the water of the sword, and the vapours of infidelity have been dispersed. The strong men of Hind have been trodden under foot, and all are ready to pay tribute. Islam is triumphant, idolatry is subdued. Had not the law [of Imam Hanifa] granted exemption from death by the payment of poll-tax, the very name of hind, root and branch, would have been extinguished. From Ghazni to the shore of the ocean you see all under the domination of Islam. Cawing crows see no arrows pointed at them; nor is the TarsA (Christian) there, who does not fear (taras) to render the servant equal with Allah; nor the Jew who dares to exalt the Pentateuch to a level with the Kuran; nor the Magh who is delighted with the worship of fire, but of whom the fire complains with its hundred tongues. The four sects of Musulmans are at amity and the very fish are Sunnis.”
  • Likewise, gleefully describing the Hindu predicament under the Sultanate, Amir Khusrau puts this statement into the mouth of a subdued Raja; ‘Thanks to the perennial, well established convention of the world, the Hindu has all along been a game of the Turks. The relationship between the Turk and the Hindu cannot be described better than that the Turk is like a tiger and the Hindu, a deer. It has been a long established rule of the whirling sky that the Hindus exist for the sake of the Turk. Being triumphant over them, whenever the Turk chooses to make an inroad upon them, he catches them, buys them, and sells them at will. Since the Hindu happens to be a (wretched) slave in all respects, none need exercise force on his slave. It does not become one to scowl at a goat which is being reared for one’s meals. Why should one wield a sharp sword for one who will die by (just) a fierce look?’
    • Amir Khusrow, quoted from Harsh Narain, Myths of Composite Culture and Equality of Religions (1990) p. 17 [1]


  • “The Sultan reached Jhain in the afternoon of the third day and stayed in the palace of the Raya… He greatly enjoyed his stay for some time. Coming out, he took a round of the gardens and temples. The idols he saw amazed him… Next day he got those idols of gold smashed with stones. The pillars of wood were burnt down by his order… A cry rose from the temples as if a second Mahmud had taken birth. Two idols were made of brass, one of which weighed nearly a thousand mans. He got both of them broken, and the pieces were distributed among his people so that they may throw them at the door of the Masjid on their return [to Delhi]…”
    • About Sultan Jalalu’d -Din Khalji (AD 1290-1296) in Jhain (Rajasthan) Translated from the Hindi version by S.A.A. Rizvi included in Khalji Kalina Bharata, Aligarh, 1955, pp. 153-54.
  • “Three days after this, the king entered Jhain at midday and occupied the private apartment of the rai… He then visited the temples, which were ornamented with elaborate work in gold and silver. Next day he went again to the temples, and ordered their destruction, as well as of the fort, and set fire to the palace, and ‘thus made hell of paradise’… While the soldiers sought every opportunity of plundering, the Shah was engaged in burning the temples, and destroying the idols. There were two bronze idols of Brahma each of which weighed more than a thousand mans. These were broken into pieces and the fragments distributed amongst the officers, with orders to throw them down at the gates of the Masjid on their return.”65
    • About Sultan Jalalu’d -Din Khalji (AD 1290-1296) in Jhain (Rajasthan) Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own historians, Vol. III, p. 542.
  • “When he advanced from the capital of Karra, the Hindus, in alarm, descended into the earth like ants. He departed towards the garden of Behar to dye that soil with blood as red as tulip. He cleared the road to Ujjain of vile wretches, and created consternation in Bhilsan. When he effected his conquests in that country, he drew out of the river the idols which had been concealed in it.”66
    • About Sultan ‘Alau’d-Din Khalji (AD 1296-1316) in Vidisha (Madhya Pradesh) Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own historians, Vol. III, p. 542.ff
  • “But see the mercy with which he regarded the brokenhearted, for, after seizing the rai, he set him free again. He destroyed the temples of the idolaters, and erected pulpits and arches for mosques.”67
    • About Sultan Jalalu’d -Din Khalji (AD 1290-1296) in Devagiri (Maharashtra) Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own historians, Vol. III, p. 542.ff
  • Amir Khusrau writes that under Jalauddin Khalji (1290-96), after a battle, “whatever live Hindu fell into the hands of the victorious king was pounded to bits under the feet of the elephants. The Musalman captives had their lives spared”.
    • Miftah-ul-Futuh (Aligarh text, 1954), p. 22. quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 4


  • “He started his building programme with the Jami‘ Hazrat mosque… Thereafter he decided to build a second minar opposite to the lofty minar of the Jami‘ Masjid, which minar is unparalleled in the world…68 He ordered the circumference of the new minar to be double that of the old one. People were sent out in all directions in search of stones. Some of them broke the hills into pieces. Some others proved sharper than steel in breaking the temples of the infidels. Wherever these temples were bent in prayers, they were made to do prostration.”69
    • About Sultan ‘Alau’d-Din Khalji (AD 1296-1316) in Delhi. S.A.A. Rizvi, Khalji Kalina Bharata, Aligarh, 1955, pp. 156-57.
  • “On Wednesday, the 20th of Jamadi-ul Awwal in AH 698 (23 February, 1299), the Sultan sent an order to the manager of the armed forces for despatching the army of Islam to Gujarat so that the temple of Somnat on its shore could be destroyed. Ulugh Khan was put in charge of the expedition. When the royal army reached that province, it won a victory after great slaughter. Thereafter the Khan-i-‘Ãzam went with his army to the sea-shore and besieged Somnat which was a place of worship for the Hindus. The army of Islam broke the idols and the biggest idol was sent to the court of the Sultan.”70
    • About Sultan ‘Alau’d-Din Khalji (AD 1296-1316) and his generals conquests in Somnath (Gujarat) S.A.A. Rizvi, Khalji Kalina Bharata, Aligarh, 1955, pp. 159
  • “So the temple of Somnath was made to bow towards the Holy Mecca; and as the temple lowered its head and jumped into the sea, you may say that the building first said its prayers and then had a bath… It seemed as if the tongue of the Imperial sword explained the meaning of the text: ‘So he (Abraham) broke them (the idols) into pieces except the chief of them, that haply they may return to it.’ Such a pagan country, the Mecca of the infidels, now became the Medina of Islam. The followers of Abraham now acted as guides in place of the Brahman leaders. The robust-hearted true believers rigorously broke all idols and temples wherever they found them. Owing to the war, ‘takbir,’ and ‘shahadat’ was heard on every side; even the idols by their breaking affirmed the existence of God. In this ancient land of infidelity the call to prayers rose so high that it was heard in Baghdad and Madain (Ctesiphon) while the ‘Ala’ proclamation (Khutba) resounded in the dome of Abraham and over the water of Zamzam… The sword of Islam purified the land as the Sun purifies the earth.”
    • About Sultan ‘Alau’d-Din Khalji (AD 1296-1316) and his generals conquests in Somnath (Gujarat) Mohammed Habib's translation quoted by Jagdish Narayan Sarkar, The Art of War in Medieval India, New Delhi, 1964, pp. 286-87.
  • “On Tuesday, the 3rd of Ziqad in AH 700 (10 July, 1301), the strong fort [of Ranthambhor] was conquered. Jhain which was the abode of the infidels, became a new city for Musalmans. The temple of Bahirdev was the first to be destroyed. Subsequently, all other abodes of idolatry were destroyed. Many strong temples which would have remained unshaken even by the trumpet blown on the Day of Judgment, were levelled with the ground when swept by the wind of Islam.”
    • About Sultan ‘Alau’d-Din Khalji (AD 1296-1316) and his generals conquests in Jhain (Rajasthan)S.A.A. Rizvi, Khalji Kalina Bharata, Aligarh, 1955, pp. 160
  • “When the blessed canopy had been fixed about a mile from the gate of Arangal, the tents around the fort were pitched together so closely that the head of a needle could not go between them… Orders were issued that every man should erect behind his own tent a kathgar, that is wooden defence. The trees were cut with axes and felled, notwithstanding their groans; and the Hindus, who worship trees, could not at that time come to the rescue of their idols, so that every cursed tree which was in that capital of idolatry was cut down to the roots…
  • “During the attack, the catapults were busily plied on both sides… ‘Praise be to God for his exaltation of the religion of Muhammad. It is not to be doubted that stones are worshipped by Gabrs,74 but as the stones did no service to them, they only bore to heaven the futility of that worship, and at the same time prostrated their devotees upon earth’…”
  • “The tongue of the sword of the Khalifa of the time, which is the tongue of the flame of Islam, has imparted light to the entire darkness of Hindustan by the illumination of its guidance… and on the right hand and on the left hand the army has conquered from sea to sea, and several capitals of the gods of the Hindus in which Satanism had prevailed since the time of the Jinns, have been demolished. All these impurities of infidelity have been cleansed by the Sultan’s destruction of idol temples, beginning with his first expedition against Deogir, so that the flames of the light of the law illumine all these unholy countries, and places for the criers to prayers are exalted on high, and prayers are read in mosques. Allah be praised!”
  • “After returning to Birdhul, he again pursued the Raja to Kandur… The Rai again escaped him, and he ordered a general massacre at Kandur. It was then ascertained that he had fled to Jalkota… There the Malik closely pursued him, but he had again escaped to the jungles, which the Malik found himself unable to penetrate, and he therefore returned to Kandur… Here he heard that in Brahmastpuri there was a golden idol, round which many elephants wore stabled. The Malik started on a night expedition against this place, and in the morning seized no less then two hundred and fifty elephants. He then determined on razing the beautiful temple to the ground – ‘you might say that it was the Paradise of Shaddad which, after being lost, those hellites had found, and that it was the golden Lanka of Ram,’ – ‘the roof was covered with rubies and emeralds’, - ‘in short, it was the holy place of the Hindus, which the Malik dug up from its foundations with the greatest care… and heads of the Brahmans and idolaters danced from their necks and fell to the ground at their feet,’ and blood flowed in torrents. ‘The stone idol called Ling Mahadeo which had been a long time established at that place and on which the women of the infidels rubbed their vaginas for [sexual] satisfaction, these, up to this time, the kick of the horse of Islam had not attempted to break.’ The Musalmans destroyed all the lings, ‘and Deo Narain fell down, and the other gods who had fixed their seats there raised their feet, and jumped so high, that at one leap they reached the fort of Lanka, and in that affright the lings themselves would have fled had they had any legs to stand on.’ Much gold and valuable jewels fell into the hands of the Musalmans, who returned to the royal canopy, after executing their holy project, on the 13th of Zi-l Ka’da, AH 710 (April 1311 AD). They destroyed all the temples at Birdhul, and placed the plunder in the public treasury.”
    • About Sultan ‘Alau’d-Din Khalji (AD 1296-1316) and his generals conquests in Chidambaram (Tamil Nadu) Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, Vol. III, p. 90-91 (S.A.A. Rizvi's translation says that temples at Birdhul touched the sky with their tapes, and reached the nether world in their foundations, but they were dug up (Khalji Kalina Bharata, p. 169)
      • Historians have associated Brahmastpuri with Chidambaram, or with the golden temple of Sriranganatha (and the Shiva temple as Jambukesvaram, near Srirangam), see discussion in Jain, M. (2019). Flight of deities and rebirth of temples: Episodes from Indian history 258ff.
  • “After five days, the royal canopy moved from Birdhul on Thursday, the 17th of Zi-l Ka’da, and arrived at Kham, and five days afterwards they arrived at the city of Mathra (Madura), the dwelling place of the brother of the Rai Sundar Pandya. They found the city empty, for the Rai had fled with the Ranis, but had left two or three elephants in the temple of Jagnar (Jagganath). The elephants were captured and the temple burnt.”
  • Praise be to God!, that he (the sultan) so ordered the massacre of all the chiefs of Hindustan out of the pale of Islam, by his infidel-smiting sword, that if in this time it should by chance happen that a schismatic should claim his right, the pure Sunnis would swear in the name of this Khalifa of God, that heterodoxy has no right.
    • Amir Khusrau, Khazain-ul-Futuh, trs., in E.D. vol. III, p. 77. quoted from Lal, K. S. (1999). Theory and practice of Muslim state in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 3
  • Because of the shortage of stone, people scurried hither and thither throughout the kingdom in search of it. Some struck the base of mountains, so much were they enamoured of their search for stone that they tore at the mountain like lovers. Some were keener than steel in up- rooting the foundations of unbelief. Having sharpened their steels they applied them in holy war to the idol temples of the rais and with blows of iron they devoted their strength with as much vigour as possible to the breaking of the stones. Wherever an idol temple had engaged in an act of devotion the strong tongue of the spade in well founded argument removed the foundations of infidelity from the heart so that, at once, that idol temple in gratitude performed the Muslim rite of bowing in prayer.
    • Amir Khusrow, Khazainu’l-Futuh. His account of the religious buildings erected, repaired or extended. Quoted from Peter Hardy - Historians of medieval India_ studies in Indo-Muslim historical writing. (1960) p 78.
  • [Then in a single campaign Ranthambhor was conquered and] ‘ by the decree of God the land of infidelity became the land of Islam’. [In Amir Khusrau’s words,] ‘ When the sky-rubbing canopy of the Shadow of God cast its shade over the hill of Ranthambhor, the conqueror of the world, like the sun, stood over the unfortunate in his heat, and cast the days of their lives into decline.’
    • Amir Khusrow, Khazainu’l-Futuh. Quoted from Peter Hardy - Historians of medieval India_ studies in Indo-Muslim historical writing. (1960) p 79ff
  • [After that, ‘Ala’ al-din’s army turned its attention to the citadel of Mandi and to the conquest of Malwa.] When the spearmen of the victorious army had with their spears put antimony into the eyes of the rais many great zamindars who were more sharp sighted threw aside their boldness and impudence from fear of the stone-splitting arrows of the Turks and came with open eyes to the sublime threshold and turned that threshold into antimony by rubbing their black pupils upon it. They thus saved their bones from becoming antimony boxes for the dust.”?
    • Amir Khusrow, Khazainu’l-Futuh. Account of conquest of Malwa. Quoted from Peter Hardy - Historians of medieval India_ studies in Indo-Muslim historical writing. (1960) p 80ff
  • «« Allusions to water animals.” ‘The crocodiles of the water in their armies were waiting in ambush for the armour-backed fish. When they came upon them, with blows of their sharp arrows they caught them in fish trap. With the blows from the enemies’ maces and clubs on their tortoise-like armoured horses, they drew in their heads; the heads of the Hindus rolled like crocodiles’ eggs on the fish-backed earth. In an instant all those mermen had been drowned in blood and had fallen in the manner of fish already ritually pure. Those half killed by the spears or the arrows cried out like frogs when bitten by snakes.”
    • Amir Khusrow, Khazainu’l-Futuh. Quoted from Peter Hardy - Historians of medieval India_ studies in Indo-Muslim historical writing. (1960) p 80ff
  • Everyone threw himself, with his wife and children, upon the flames and departed to hell.
    • quoted in (Oxford in India readings, Themes in Indian history.) Richard Maxwell Eaton - India's Islamic traditions, 711-1750-Oxford University Press (2003) 38.

Dawal Rani-Khizr KhaniEdit

  • “There was another rai in those parts, whose rule extended over sea and land, a Brahmin named Pandya Guru. He had many cities in his possession, and his capital was Fatan, where there was a temple with an idol in it laden with jewels… The rai, when the army of the Sultan arrived at Fatan, fled away, and what can an army do without its leader? The Musalmans in his service sought protection from the king’s army, and they were made happy with the kind of reception they met. 500 elephants were taken. They then struck the idol with an iron hatchet, and opened its head. Although it was the very Kibla of the accursed gabrs, it kissed the earth and filled the holy treasury.”

Nuh SiphirEdit

  • “They pursued the enemy to the gates and set everything on fire. They burnt down all those gardens and groves. That paradise of idol-worshippers became like hell. The fire-worshippers of Bud were in alarm and flocked round their idols…”
  • The Turks, whenever they please, can seize, buy or sell any Hindu.
    • Trs, in Elliot and Dowson, III. quoted from Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 5
  • The Hindu happens to be a (wretched) slave in all respects.
    • quoted in Lal, K. S. (1999). Theory and practice of Muslim state in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 4
  • Amir Khusrau mentions some of the powers “of sorcery and enchantment possessed by the inhabitants of India. First of all they can bring a dead man to life. If a man has been bitten by a snake and is rendered speechless, they can resuscitate him even after six months.”
    • Amir Khusrau, Nuh Sipehr, Elliot and Dowson, III, p.563. quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 1
  • “They have four books in that language (Sanskrit), which they are constantly in the habit of repeating. Their name is Bed (Vedas). They contain stories of their gods, but little advantage can be derived from their perusal.”
    • Extract trs. in Elliot and Dowson, III, p. 563. quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 5

About Amir KhusrowEdit

  • His genius, if not character, helped him spend “the whole of his life in spinning yarn” (or writing many untruths).
    • Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 5 (citing Wahid Mirza)
  • Khusrau “was one of the first to offer his congratulations to the murderer whose hands were still red with the blood of his king, his uncle and his benefactor… The poet changed with changing time and turned with shifting wind.”
    • Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 5, quoting Wahid Mirza
  • But sometimes neither the passage of time nor indeed death could remove the [racial] barriers. The remains of the Iranian Mir Murtaza Shirazi, who was earlier buried near the Indian Amir Khusrau, were ordered by Emperor Akbar “to be removed and buried elsewhere”, on the representation of Shaikh-ul-Islam, who pleaded that the two deceased would find each other’s company a torture.
    • (Ambashtya, B.P., Biographical Sketch of Badaoni in his Reprint of Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh trs. by S.A. Ranking, Academia Asiatica, Patna, 1973, p.99). Quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • We find the Muslim historians going into raptures as they describe scenes of desecration and destruction. For Amîr Khusrû it was always an occasion to show off the power of his poetic imagination. When Jalãlu’d-Dîn Khaljî wrought havoc at Jhain, “A cry rose from the temples as if a second Mahmûd had taken birth”. The temples in the environs of Delhi were “bent in prayers” and “made to do prostration”, by Alãu’d-Dîn Khaljî. When the temple of Somnath was destroyed and its debris thrown into the sea towards the west, the poet rose to his full height. “So the temple of Somnãth,” he wrote, “was made to bow towards the Holy Mecca, and the temple lowered its head and jumped into the sea, so you may say that the building first said its prayers and then had a bath.” ... One wonders whether the poet of Islam is being honoured or slandered when he is presented in our own times as the pioneer of Secularism.
    • S.R. Goel in Shourie, A., & Goel, S. R. (1993). Hindu temples: What happened to them. Vol. II

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