Malik Ayaz, son of Aymáq Abu'n-Najm, was a Turkish slave of Georgian origin who rose to the rank of officer and general in the army of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni (also known as Mahmud Ghaznavi). His rise to power was a reward for the devotion he bore his master.
The love between the first Islamic ruler in the Indian subcontinent Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni and slave Malik Ayaz was such that it became an Islamic legend. Poets praising the power of love looked to Sultan Mahmud as a prime example of the man who, because of the power of his love, became a slave to his slave
In 1021, the Sultan raised Ayaz to kingship, awarding him the throne of Lahore, which the Sultan had taken after a long siege and a fierce battle in which the city was torched and depopulated. As the first Muslim governor of Lahore, he rebuilt and repopulated the city. He also added many important features, such as a masonry fort which he built in the period of 1037-1040 on the ruins of the previous one, demolished in the fighting, and city gates (as recorded by Munshi Sujan Rae Bhandari, author of the Khulasatut Tawarikh (1596 C.E.). The present Lahore Fort is built in the same location. Under his rulership the city became a cultural and academic center, renowned for poetry. It is said that in old age "Sultán Mahmúd . . . spent his whole time in the society of Malik Ayáz, neglecting the business of the state." The tomb of Malik Ayaz can still be seen in the Rang Mahal commercial area of town.
Road named after Ayaz in Pakistan
There is a road bearing the name of Ayaz in the city of Gujar Khan, Pakistan. The road name is Hayatsar Road. Hayatsar was initially known as Ayazsar before being renamed as Hayatsar. It is believed that Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi ordered Ayaz to choose an area for the accommodation of soldiers before war with Rajput. Ayaz chosen land, which is now called Gujar Khan.
A rich body of tales and folklore has grown around his relationship with Sultan Mahmud. Some are mentioned below.
- THE MOST POWERFUL
- One day sultan Mahmud asks Ayaz whether he knows a king greater and more powerful than he. Ayaz answers, "Yes, I am a greater king than you." When the king asks for proof, he says, "Because even though you are king, your heart rules you, and this slave is the king of your heart."
- AYAZ'S PLAINNESS
- A certain one took up reproach against Mahmúd of Ghaznín,
- Saying:—“Áyáz has no (great) beauty. Oh wonder!
- “The rose, which has neither colour nor perfume,—
- “The nightingale's passion for it is wonderful.”
- One uttered this matter to Mahmúd;
- He writhed much on himself, in reflection,
- Saying:—“Oh sir! my love is for his disposition,
- “Not, for his stature, and good height.”
- AYAZ AND THE SPILLED PEARLS
- I heard that, in a defile, a camel
- Fell; and, a chest of pearls broke.
- The king expanded his sleeve for plunder;
- And, thence urged his horse with speed.
- The horsemen (of the retinue) went after the pearls and coral;
- They became, in search of plunder, separated from the king.
- Of the attendants, neck-exalting, there remained
- None, behind the king, save Áyáz.
- He glanced, saying:—“Oh one heart-enchanting, fold in fold!
- “What hast thou brought from the plunder?” He replied:—“Nothing.”
- “I galloped in rear of thee;
- “I quitted not service for wealth.”
- AYAZ AND THE SHADOW OF THE HUMÁY
- The Humáy is a fabulous bird, whose shadow is supposed to bring good luck. An anecdote concerning the cause of the high estimation of Ayáz in the eyes of the Sultan Mahmúd of Ghazna: when the other Turkish guards were running after the shadow of this bird, Ayáz was seeking the shadow of the King.
- AYAZ AND THE CUCUMBER
- One day the Sultan and Ayaz were sitting together eating lunch. The sultan cut a slice of cucumber and gave it to Ayaz, who ate it with relish. A little later he gave another slice of cucumber to Ayaz and took one himself. But when Mahmud bit into the cucumber, he immediately spat it out as it tasted terrible — chalky and bitter. He glared at Ayaz and accused him of tricking him into eating the foul vegetable by pretending it was delicious.
- Ayaz answered, 'No, my sultan. It was delicious to me. I have received so many wonderful things from your hand, that whatever comes from you is sweet to me.'
- AYAZ SHEARED
- The love borne by Mahmúd Yamínu'd-Dawla to Ayáz the Turk is well known and famous. It is related that Ayáz was not remarkably handsome, but had several good points. Of sweet expression and olive complexion, symmetrically formed, graceful in his movements, sensible and deliberate in action, he was mightily endowed with all the arts of courtiership, in which respect, indeed, he had few rivals in his time. Now these are all qualities which excite love and give permanence to friendship.
- Now Mahmúd was a pious and God-fearing man, and he wrestled with his love for Ayáz so that he did not diverge by so much as a single step from the Path of the Law and the Way of Chivalry. One night, however, at a carousal, when the wine had begun to affect him and love to stir within him, he looked at the curls of Ayáz, and saw, as it were, ambergris rolling over the face of the moon, hyacinths twisted about the visage of the sun, ringlet upon ringlet like a coat of mail; link upon link like a chain; in every ringlet a thousand hearts and under every lock a hundred thousand souls. Thereupon love plucked the reins of self-restraint from the hands of his endurance, and lover-like he drew him to himself. But the watchman of “Hath not God forbidden you to transgress against Him?” thrust forth his head from the collar of the Law, stood before Mahmúd, and said: “O Mahmúd, mingle not sin with love, nor mix the false with the true, for such a slip will raise the Realm of Love in revolt against thee, and thou wilt fall like thy first father from Love's Paradise, and remain afflicted in the world of Sin.” The ear of his fortunate nature being quick to hear, he hearkened to this announcement, and the tongue of his faith cried from his innermost soul, “We believe and we affirm.” Then, again, he feared lest the army of his self-control might be unable to withstand the evolutions of the locks of Ayáz, so, drawing a knife, he placed it in the hands of Ayáz, bidding him take it and cut off his curls. Ayáz took the knife from his hands with an obeisance, and, having enquired where he should cut them, was bidden to cut them in the middle. He therefore doubled back his locks to get the measurement, executed the King's command, and laid the two tresses before Mahmúd. It is said that this ready obedience became a fresh cause of love; and Mahmúd called for gold and jewels and gave to Ayáz beyond his usual custom and ordinary practice, after which he fell into a drunken sleep.
- When the morning breeze blew upon him, and he arose from sleep to ascend the Royal Throne, he remembered what he had done. He summoned Ayáz and saw the clipped tresses. The army of remorse invaded his heart, and the peevish headache born of wine settled on his brain. He kept rising up and sitting down aimlessly, and none of the courtiers or men of rank dared to address to him any enquiry, until at length Hájib 'Alí Qaríb, who was the Chief Chamberlain, turned to 'Unsurí and said, “Go, show thyself to him.” So 'Unsurí came in and did obeisance. Mahmúd raised his head and said: “I was just thinking of you. You see what has happened: say something on this subject.” 'Unsurí said:—
- Though shame it be a fair one's curls to shear,
- Why rise in wrath or sit in sorrow here?
- Rather rejoice, make merry, call for wine;
- When clipped the cypress doth most trim appear.
- Mahmúd was highly pleased with this quatrain, and bade them bring gold and silver, which he mixed together, and therewith thrice filled the poet's lap. Then he summoned the minstrels before him, and drank wine to [the accompaniment of] those two verses whereby his melancholy had been dissipated, and recovered the equability of his temper.
- AYAZ IN FRONT OF THE MIRROR
- Many stories are told of Ayaz's humility. Among them is one in which it is said that when he had risen in royal favour he would oft go to a secret chamber, there put on the rags he wore as a slave and standing before the mirror say to himself, "Ayaz, qadr-i-khud beshanas". Which is to say, don't forget thyself.
- AYAZ AND THE CROWN
- One day Sultan Mahmud offered his crown to his favourite slave, Ayaz. All the courtiers were consumed with jealousy. Poor Ayaz began to weep. When he was asked the reason for such grief in the midst of such good fortune, he said, “I have nothing to do with anything but the King. I want him alone, whereas by giving me the crown, he wants to keep me engaged in the affairs of the State and withdraws himself from me. This makes my heart bleed with the thought of separation.”
- AYAZ AND THE DIAMOND
- Mahmud used to over-hear his deputies objecting in secret about his inclination towards Ayaz. He decided to answer them back in practical. All the deputies were gathered. Mahmud brought the biggest of the diamonds in his treasures. He gave it to the first of the deputies sitting in a ring and asked him what it is. The first deputy answered that this is such and such unique diamond only available in the treasures of Mahmud and no where else in the world. Then Mahmud asked him to strike the same with a stone and perish it. The deputy sought excuse citing the same reason of the uniqueness of the diamond. Mahmud awarded him a Khalat (courtyard dress of honor). The diamond was passed on to the next deputy and the process was repeated by the king. Having seen that the previous deputy was awarded for the action, all the subsequent deputies excused themselves from perishing the diamond. Finally, it was the turn of Ayaz. When asked, he quickly destroyed the diamond. All the deputies started talking to each other about the 'sinful' act that Ayaz had just then committed - of destroying the one and only diamond in the treasures of Mahmud. Mahmud turned to Ayaz and said, 'You must reply against what is being said about you here'. On this, Ayaz said the following to the deputies:
- Guft Ayaz ay Mehtran-e-Namwar
- Hukm-e-Shah Behter Ba Qeemat Ya Guhar
- Ayaz said to the deputies: "O Renowned Officers
- Is the order of the King more worthy or the diamond?"
- Allsen, Thomas. The Royal Hunt in Eurasian History. p. 264.
- Pearson, Michael Naylor. Merchants and Rulers in Gujarat: The Response to the Portuguese in the Sixteenth Century. p. 67.
- The origins and role of same-sex relations in human societies By James Neill page 308 ISBN 978-0-7864-3513-5
- Čištī, `Abd al-Rahmān, The History of India, Volume 2, chpt. 134
- Attar Neyshapuri, Elāhī-Nāma
- Sa'di, Bustan; Ch. III "On Love" 197
- Sa'di, Bustan; Ch. III "On Love" 201
- The Jawamiul-Hikayat wa Lawamiur-Riwayat, ch.140
- Chahár Maqála (Four Discourses) of Nidhámí-i-‘Arúdí-i-Samarqandí; ch.27, annecdote xiv
- Area Studies. Virginia University. 2001. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
- The Conference of the Birds (abridged from the Mantiq-ut-Tayr), ch.44