Who was Mahmud of Ghazni?
Mahmud of Ghazni and his boy-slave Malik Ayaz
Malik Ayaz, son of Aymāq Abu’n-Najm, was a slave from Georgia who rose to the rank of officer and general in the army of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni (also known as Mahmud Ghaznavi). Malik Ayaz’s same-sex relationship with Mahmud inspired poems and stories. (5)
Ghazni’s love for his slave boy is Islamic legend. It is said that the two were each other’s slave- one a slave in deed, and another a slave in love. The sultan even raised Ayaz to kingship and made him the king of Lahore. (1)
Mahmud of Ghazni Same-Sex Love Stories
Mahmud asked Ayaz “Who is the most powerful ruler in the world?”
Ayaz replied “I am the most powerful”
Mahmud said “Please explain wht you mean”
Ayaz replied “You, Mahmud, are the most powerful of all kings, But since I rule your heart, I am more powerful still.”
As per another incident mentioned in Bustan by great Persian poet Sa’di:
Someone said: “Ayaz, his favorite slave possesses no beauty. It is strange that a nightingale should love a rose that has neither color nor perfume.”
Mahmud Ghazni replied: “My love, O sir, is for virtue, not for form or stature“. (1)
Mahmud of Ghazni Gay Love Poem
“Ayaz hath no great beauty, by my faith!
A Rose that ’s neither rosy-red nor fragrant,
The Bulbul’s love for such astonisheth!”
This went to Mahmud’s ears; ill-pleas’d he sate, 5
Bow’d on himself, reflecting; then to that
Replied: “My love is for his kindly nature,
Not for his stature, nor his face, nor state!”
And I did hear how, in a rocky dell,
Bursting a chest of gems a camel fell; 10
King Mahmud wav’d his sleeve, permitting plunder,
But spurr’d his own steed onward, as they tell.
His horsemen parted from their Lord amain,
Eager for pearls, and corals, and such gain:
Of all those neck-exalting courtiers 15
None except Ayaz near him did remain.
The King look’d back—“How many hast thou won,
Curl’d comfort of my heart?” He answer’d “None!
I gallop’d up the pass in rear of thee;
I quit thee for no pearls beneath the sun!” 20
Oh, if to God thou hast propinquity,
For no wealth heedless of His service be!
If Lovers true of God shall ask from God
Aught except God, that ’s infidelity.
If thine eyes fix on any gift of Friend, 25
Thy gain, not his, is thy desire’s end:
If thy mouth gape in avarice, Heaven’s message
Unto Heart’s ear by that road shall not wend.
It well-known that many Turkics from Mahmud of Ghazni to Babur and from Ottomans to Safavids practiced homosexuality. Here is a beautiful Indo-Islamic painting that depicts Mahmud of Ghazni with his male lover, Ayaz.
As per LGBT Muslims (7),
Homoeroticity, Homosexuality and Pedophilia in Urdu and Persian Literature and Culture
As per Alice Albinia (9), Pashtuns – Afghan and Pakistani – are notorious for preferring male to female lovers.
Miranda Kennedy says that “Among the Pashtun majority, having a young, attractive boyfriend is a symbol of prestige and wealth for affluent middle-aged men. Indeed, Pashtun men often keep a young boy in their hujra, the male room of the house that the wife rarely enters.” She also says that sex is commonplace in Pakistan’s gender-segregated madrassas, or religious schools. However, one of the problems of Western journalists’ reports of boy-marriage in this part of the world is that they often conflate this ancient custom with pedophilia and reduce what was often a love-match to a temporary commercial arrangement.
In a shocking article on pedophilia in Pakistan, Director Mohammed Naqvi and British producer Jamie Doran’s film Pakistan’s Hidden Shame was shown in UK on Channel 4, revealing the punishing reality of paedophilia occurring in the northern areas of Pakistan. The documentary, mainly set in the city of Peshawar, interviews homeless boys of different ages recalling their experiences of sexual abuse and male prostitution. The documentary claims that nine out of 10 children in Peshawar have been victims of paedophilia. It also includes interviews with the truck drivers who have committed such crimes. Unashamed, callous and remorseless, one of the drivers admits to having raped more than 10 boys. When confronted, PTI Chairman Imran Khan admitted, “It is one of the most sad and shameful aspects of our society. I am totally embarrassed by this and that we have not really been able to protect them.” (12)
(2) Mahmud of Ghazni and Malik Ayaz
(3) THE SACK OF SOMNATH TEMPLE BY MAHMUD OF GHAZNI IN 1026 AD
(4) Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895. From “With Sa’di in the Garden.” I. Mahmud and Ayaz: A Paraphrase on Sa’Di Sir Edwin Arnold (1832–1904)
(6) The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Human Societies by James Neill
(7) 5 Ways Pakistan Is Gay Friendly
(9) Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River By Alice Albinia
(10) Deconstructing the Stereotype: Reconsidering Indian Culture, Literature and .., Kaustav Chakraborty
(12) Young boys for rent
(14) Featured Image: http://www.dailyextra.com/toronto/news-and-ideas/opinion/persian-poetry-lovers-66605