Afghanistan Table of Contents
Out of the Samanid Dynasty came the first great Islamic empire in Afghanistan, the Ghaznavid, whose warriors, raiding deep into the Indian subcontinent, assured the domination of Sunni Islam in what is now Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of India. The most renowned of the dynasty's rulers was Mahmud, who consolidated control over the areas south of the Amu Darya then carried out devastating raids into India--looting Hindu temples and seeking converts to Islam. With his booty from India, he built a great capital at Ghazni, founded universities, and patronized scholars. Mahmud was recognized by the caliph in Baghdad as the temporal heir of the Samanids. By the time of his death, Mahmud ruled the entire Hindu Kush region as far east as the Punjab as well as territories far north of the Amu Darya. However, as occurred so often in this region, the demise in 1130 of this military genius who had expanded the empire to its farthest reaches was the death knell of the dynasty itself. The rulers of the Kingdom of Ghor, southeast of Herat, captured and burned Ghazni, just as the Ghaznavids had once conquered Ghor. Not until 1186, however, was the last representative of the Ghaznavids uprooted by the Ghorids from his holdout in the Punjab.
The Ghorids controlled most of what is now Afghanistan, eastern Iran, and Pakistan, while parts of central and western Iran were ruled by the Seljuk Turks. Around 1200, most Ghorid lands came into the hands of the Khwarazm Turks who had invaded from Central Asia across the Amu Darya.
Source: U.S. Library of Congress