(Sultaan Mahmood Ghaznawi – Part Three)

There was once a person who frequently tried to gain access to the court of Sultaan Mahmood, hoping to receive justice.

One day, he succeeded and managed to gain an audience with Sultaan Mahmood. When Sultaan Mahmood asked him to present his case, he replied, “My complaint is such that I cannot present it to you before the entire court.” Sultaan Mahmood understood that the person needed privacy and thus took him to a secluded place where he asked the man to explain his problem.

The man replied, “For quite some time, your nephew has been coming to my home fully armed. He lashes me with a whip, forces me out of my own home and thereafter spends the night with my wife. I have approached and complained to numerous governors and officials but found them all unsympathetic. Let alone helping me, they did not even have the courage to refer my complaint to you. When I eventually lost all hope in gaining their assistance, I began to frequent your court, hoping that I would receive an opportunity to lay my complaint before you. It so happened that you noticed me today and I have thus been able to explain my predicament to you. Allah Ta‘ala has made you the ruler of this kingdom. Looking after your subjects and citizens is therefore an obligation which is fardh upon you. If you are sympathetic and grant me justice, then well and good. If not, I will take my complaint to the court of Allah Ta‘ala and await His justice.”

Sultaan Mahmood was extremely affected by the man’s words and began to weep. He turned to the man and asked, “O oppressed one! Why did you not come to me earlier? Why did you tolerate this oppression for so long?”

The person replied, “O King! I have been trying to gain an audience with you for a long time but remained unsuccessful on account of your doorkeepers and guards who always denied me access. Allah Ta‘ala alone knows how I managed to evade their detection to enter your court and attract your attention today. Poor people like us are not so fortunate that we can enter the court without protocol and formalities to address the King directly and place our grievances before him.”

Sultaan Mahmood responded, “You may sit here at ease. However, do not tell anybody of our conversation and remember, the next time that oppressor enters your home and tramples your honour, immediately come and inform me. I will immediately hand you the justice you desire and punish him as he deserves.” The man replied, “O King! It is not possible for a person like me to simply enter your palace and speak to you.” Sultaan Mahmood thus immediately summoned his doorkeepers and guards and introduced the man to them. He then instructed them, “Regardless of the time, if this man wishes to see me, permit him and do not bother to announce his presence first. Do not hinder him in any way.”

After dismissing them, Sultaan Mahmood turned to the man and said softly, “Although they will not be so brave as to prevent you from entering due to my instructions, I will tell you one more thing as a precaution. If they do somehow stop you from entering with the excuse that I am resting, then walk unseen to such-and-such a place and call out to me softly. I will hear your voice and will immediately come to your assistance.” Sultaan Mahmood then saw the man off and began to await the day he would be called on to deliver the justice he deserved.

The man returned home where the next two days passed in peace without any incident. On the third night, however, the nephew of Sultaan Mahmood arrived and beat the man before throwing him out of his home. The nephew then turned his attention to the man’s wife and began taking advantage of her.

In the meantime, the man raced to the palace of Sultaan Mahmood where he begged the doorkeepers to inform the King that he had arrived. However, they refused, saying that he was in his private chamber and could not be disturbed.

Realizing that the guards would not help him, he went to the place which Sultaan Mahmood had described and quietly called out to the king, “O King! What work are you engaged in?” Sultaan Mahmood replied, “Wait! I am on my way!” In a few moments, Sultaan Mahmood emerged in person and they both set off to the man’s home.

When they entered, Sultaan Mahmood caught his nephew. He swiftly extinguished the candle, drew his blade and beheaded him. He then turned to the man and said, “O servant of Allah! Please bring some water immediately so that I may quench my thirst!” The man immediately filled a utensil with water and presented it to the king. After drinking the water, Sultaan Mahmood got up and prepared to leave, saying to the man, “You may now live in peace.”

As he was departing, the man grabbed his clothing and pleaded asking, “O King! I ask you by the oath of Allah Ta‘ala who has elevated you to this position of power, tell me the reasons for your extinguishing the candle and drinking the water!”

Sultaan Mahmood replied, “I extinguished the lamp so that I would not be overcome by love for my nephew and desist from dispensing justice in the event of my gaze falling on his face. As for drinking the water, the reason is that I had taken an oath when you initially complained to me, that I would neither eat nor drink until you had been dealt with justly. I was thus extremely thirsty.”

(Taareekh-e-Farishtah vol. 1, pg. 88)


1. Islam is a Deen which advocates true, complete justice. When a person has true justice in him, he will not be biased or influenced by the fact that the person who is in the wrong is a family member or friend. Rather, he will act according to the demands of justice – even if it means opposing those who are near and dear.

2. A Muslim is not one who can remain comfortable while those around him are in difficulty, especially when he has the means to assist them. Sultaan Mahmood was so troubled and affected by the plight of the oppressed man that he did not even wish to eat or drink until justice had been dispensed.

3. A person of authority and position should be easily accessible to the people under his care. Of what good is he if they are never able to address their complaints to him? Similarly, children should always find their parents approachable and accessible so that they can confide in them and ask them for guidance.