It cannot be denied that Muhammad Ghori was not so great a General as Mahmud of Ghazni. Unlike Mahmud, he suffered a number of defeats at the hands of Indian rulers. He did not possess the grandeur of Mahmud. However, he was superior to him as a constructive statesman. Mahmud kept himself busy in conquering and collecting riches but Muhammad Ghori was able to build up an empire which lasted for centuries.
According to Dr. Ishwari Prasad, “Wealth, not territory, the extirpation of idolatry and not conquest, were the objects of his (Mahmud’s) raids; and when these were accomplished, he cards nothing for the myriad people of India.” However, Muhammad Ghori made up his mind from the very beginning to build up an empire in India and succeeded in planting the banner of the Crescent permanently on the Indian soil. Muhammad Ghori was not as fanatical as Mahmud but he was certainly more political than his great predecessor. He decided to take advantage of the rotten political condition of India and build up a Muslim empire in India.
Mohammad Ghori was a shrewd diplomat who could deal with every type of friend or foe. He saw the weakness of his enemies and did all that he could to exploit them to his own benefit. It is true that he was cruel at times but it cannot be denied that he was also kind and generous. He was not an idealist and no wonders his approach to political matters was practical, well calculated and realistic.
According to Sir W. W. Hunter, “He (Muhammad Ghori) was no religious knight errant of Islam like Mahmud of Ghazni but a practical conqueror. The objects of his distant expeditions were not temples but provinces.”
Dr. Habibullah says: “There could be no two opinions as to the place Muizzuddin should occupy in history. Unlike Mahmud of Ghazni, he was a practical statesman; of the rotten political structure of India he took the fullest advantage. As in the founder of the Mughal Empire, his sovereign quality lay in the steadfast determination with which he pursued his objective and in his refusal to accept a defeat as final.
Against his far more gifted rival, the Khwarism Shah, his Central Asian Empire, it is true, could have had only ephemeral existence. But as in the case of Babar, his Indian conquests survived. If he failed to found a dynasty, he yet trained up a band of men who were to prove more loyal to his ideals and better fitted to maintain his empire. In choice of men he displayed a singular talent, for to slaves like Aibak, Yalduz and Tughril he owed most of his success.
His almost annual campaigns from the Jaxartes to the Jumna display a military talent of no mean order. His military pre-occupations probably left him little leisure for aesthetic recreations, but he was not indifferent to learning and scholarship. The celebrated philosopher and savant, Fakhruddin Razi, and the famous classical poet Nizami Uruzi adorned the Ghoride court and have paid deserving tributes to the mental qualities of their friend and patron.”
About Mohammad Ghori, Prof. K. A. Nizami says that his contribution to the establishment of Turkish rule in India cannot be over-emphasised. Only a military leader of great vision and tact could organise military campaigns over an area stretching from the Oxus to the Jamuna and only a careful, cautious and bold planning could hold this structure intact. The conquest of northen India was not an easy walk-over. It was stoutly resisted by the Rajput governing classes. Mohammed Ghori met all the challenges of the situation with perseverance and courage.
Prof. Nizami particularly puts emphasis on two features of Mohammad Ghori’s character: his dogged tenacity of purpose and his grim political realism. He was defeated at Anhilwara and at Tarrain, but no defeat could dampen his spirits. A general of smaller stature and inferior mettle would have succumbed to these defeats, but Mohammad Ghori refused to take any reversal as final. He reorganised his forces and came again determined to achieve the objective he had set before himself. He analysed the causes of his defeats dispassionately and changed his policies as times and circumstances demanded.
When thrust into the country from Rajputana proved abortive, he did not hesitate to change his plan. He did not plunge into political uncertainties, but preceded cautiously and carefully consolidating his power and taking all factors into consideration. At a time when he had to deal with many hostile powers nearer home, he never ignored the problems of his Indian possessions. His contribution to the cultural development of Ghur was not negligible.
In fact it was he and his brother Ghiyas-ud-Din who brought about a transformation in the cultural pattern of Ghur. He provided facilities to scholars like Maulana Fakhuruddin Razi, to spread religious education in those backward areas and helped in the emergence of Ghur as a centre of culture learning. He also made his contribution in the sphere of architectural traditions.
According to Stanely Lane-Poole, “Compared with Mahmud, the name of Muhammad Ghori has remained almost obscure. He was no patron of letters and no poets or historians vied with one another to praise his munificence and power. Yet his conquests in Hindustan were wider and far more permanent than Mahmud’s.
A large part of those conquests were of course partial and there were still revolts to be crushed and chiefs to be subdued: India was not to be subjugated in a generation. But the conquest was real and permanent and though Muhammad was no Indian sovereign, but still king of Ghazni with eyes turned towards Persia and the Oxus, he left a viceroy in Hindustan who began the famous Slave dynasty, the first of the many Muslim kings that have ruled India.
“Of the two tides of Mohammadan invasion that surged into India, Mahmud’s had left little traced. It had been but a series of triumphant raids and when its violence was spent scarcely enough strength remained to hold a single province. That province however had been held, not without a struggle, and in the Punjab Muhammad Ghori found the base, the necessary leverage, whence to bear upon a wider territory than his precursor.
He rose from even smaller beginnings than Mahmud, but his followers possessed the same hardihood and power of endurance as the earlier invaders from the same mountain valleys and they carried their arms further and left surer footprints. The dynasty of Ghor relapsed into the insignificance of a highland chiefdom after its great Sultan’s death; but the dominion it had conquered in India was not lost to Islam. It was consolidated under other rulers and from the days of Muhammad Ghori to the catastrophe of the Indian mutiny there was always a Mohammadan king upon the throne of Delhi.”