Ghaznavids fostered a host of personalities from diverse domains who won everlasting fame for themselves and the Ghaznavids. Among such icons, people from art and literature, history, and mysticism are remarkable. The sun of Islam rose in the area due to the religious scholars and saints who came to India from Ghazna and other regions of the world.
It would not be wrong to say that the spread of Islam in this region was mainly due to the dedicated efforts of these celebrities who worked for Islam by enlightening the natives. The Muslim kings and crowns could hardly have spared any time to work for the cause of religion as they all the time engaged themselves either in warfare or in luxuries. The marvelous persona in or around Ghaznavid age, consisted of:
Hazrat Ismail Lahori
Hazrat Ismail Lahori is said to be the very first Muslim preacher, Muhaddith (expert in Hadith), and Mufassir (expert in the elucidation of Quran) in Lahore. His piety and magnetic traits made thousands of local people from Hinduism and other religions embrace Islam. He came to Lahore in 1005AD when Lahore had not been included into the Muslim empire of Ghazna. He died in 448 Hijra. The grave of the first Muslim preacher and saint lies adjacent to a church on the Hall Road of Lahore.
Hazrat Fakhr-ud-Din Hussain Zanjani
Hazrat Hussain Zanjani was born in Zanjani in 347 Hijra came to Lahore in 387 Hijra to preach Islam. He was the disciple of Hazrat Sheikh Abul Fazl Khatli. He is said to be the first Muslim preacher in Punjab. When Sayed Ali Hajveri was sent to Lahore by his spiritual guide (who was the same Hazrat Sheikh Abul Fazl Khatli) to say azaan in the land of Hindus, Sayed Ali Hajveri (known as Data Ganj Bakhsh) rose a question that Lahore was already under Hazrat Fakhr-ud-Din Hussain Zanjani. But Sheikh Abul Fazl Khatli said that it was a divine verdict and only Allah knew his secrets better. When Ali Hajveri reached Lahore in 431 Hijra, the funeral of Hazrat Hussain Zanjani was being taken to the Zanjani Bagh, Chah Meeran.
Sayed Ali Hajveri (Data Ganj Bakhsh)
Data Ganj Bakhsh came to Lahore (according to some historians in the age of Sultan Mas’ud, the son of Sultan Mehmud Ghaznavi) as a teacher, preacher and reformer. Thousands of Hindus and Sikhs embraced Islam at his hands. Born at Ghazna around 990 AD (as Hasani Sayed, the pedigree of Hazrat Ali RA), Data Ganj Bakhsh earned an everlasting name in the world of Islam and mysticism. His greatest contribution to Islam and mysticism is “Kashf-ul-Mahjub”, the unfolding of the secrets which was primarily written in Persian but has been translated in many languages now. Hazrat moin-ud-Din Chishti paid his tribute to Data Ganj Bakhsh in these words which have become his title couplet on his shrine:
گنج بخش فیضِ عالم مظہرِ نورِ خدا
ناقصاں را پیرِ کامل، کاملاں را رہنما
Ganj Bakhdh has become the manifestation of the light of Allah for all the people. He is a perfect guide unto the imperfect people and a guide unto the perfect ones.
He died in 1077AD in Lahore where his shrine is visited by thousands of his devotees and followers.
Hazrat Salar Mas’ud Ghazi
Hazrat Salar Mas’ud Ghazi is said to be the Sultan-ul-shuhada (the chief of the martyred). His shrine is in Bhraych in united province of Agra and Oudh. He was martyred in 1033 fighting against Hindus of Bhraych. Sultan Mohammad Tughlaq made his grand mausoleum. “Chadion wala mela” (festival of the sticks) is celebrated on his shrine even today.
Sultan Sakhi Sarwar
His real name was Sayed Ahmad also known as Lakh Data. Born in Kursi Kot (Multan) he preached Islam and converted the Hindus to Islam and those Hindus who did not embrace Islam, was so impressed by his character that they named themselves as Sultani Hindus. Before the partition of Punjab, these Sultani Hindus adopted the traits of the Muslims though they did not recite the Kalima of Islam. Sakhi Sarwar was martyred in 1180 AD. “Qadmon ka mela” (the festival of Steps) is held at Lohari, Shah Alami, and Delhi Darwaza Lahore for three days respectively.
Sah Yousaf Gardezi
His family migrated to Gardez from Baghdad and Gardez is called his birth place. He came to Multan in the age of Behram Shah and preached Islam.He died in 1152 AD and his shrine is visited by his followers in Multan where his offspring is present even today.
Abul Farj Doni
Abul Farj Doni was the teacher of Persian poetry in the age of Ibrahim Ghaznavi and Mas’ud bin Ibrahim. His collection of poetry published in Iran throws light on the culture and life style of Ghaznavids in Lahore. His death is reported to be in 489 Hijra.
Mas’ud Sa’d Salman
One of the most prominent poets of Persian, Mas’ud Sa’d Salman enjoyed an esteemed status in the age of Sultan Ibrahim. Historians say that he was born in any year between 1046 and 1048 AD and was among the elites of Saif-ud-Daula Mehmud, the son of Ibrahim. But he came under the cloud when Saif-ud-Daula had hard times of his life. Salman was imprisoned for ten years but Abu Nasr (the ruler of Lahore appointed by Sultan Mas’ud, the son of Ibrahim) who was a great admirer of Mas’ud Sa’d Salman, released him. When Abu Nasr was dethroned and imprisoned, Mas’us Sa’d also had to pay the price in the form of his freedom. He was jailed where he wrote his immortal poetry published twice in Iran. After three years he was released from the jail. He died in Lahore but his date of death and grave are unknown to date.