EBN ḴARMĪL, military commander of the Ghurids, and connected, according to Jūzjānī, with the district of Gorzevān on the headwaters of the Morḡāb in the province of Gūzgān in northern Afghanistan.

He is first heard of as a prominent commander of the Ghurid raids into India. He was made governor of Sialkot in the northern Panjab after the conquest of the town by Moʿezz-al-Dīn Moḥammad in 581/1185-86; in 590/1194 he and Qoṭb-al-Dīn Aybak were joint leaders of a raid through the Ganges plain in which the Raja of Benares was defeated. When Moʿezz-al-Dīn invaded Ḵᵛārazm in 601/1204, he was commander of the van at the disaster of Andḵūy, but subsequently withdrew with his 5,000 personal troops. The latter part of his career found him as governor in Herat and Ṭālaqān, where he endeavored in the period of Ghurid decline, following Moʿezz-al-Dīn’s death in 602/1206, to preserve what was virtually an autonomous principality in northwest Afghanistan against his Ghurid suzerains, on the one side, and the mounting pressure of the Kᵛārazmšāhs, on the other. When the Kᵛārazmšāh ʿAlāʾ-al-Dīn Moḥammad appeared before Herat in 605/1208, Ebn Ḵarmīl submitted; but when the sultan became embroiled with the Qara Ḵetay in Trans-oxania, he re-opened negotiations with the Ghurid Ḡīāṯ-al-Dīn Maḥmūd b. Ḡīāṯ-al-Dīn Moḥammad. The sultan nevertheless sent an army against his unreliable vassal, but it was defeated. However, the Ḵᵛārazmšāh in his turn had come to mistrust Ebn Ḵarmīl; he was accordingly removed from Herat, jailed in Qohestān, and soon afterwards killed.


Bibliography: (For cited works not given in detail, see “Short References.”)

Jūzjānī, Ṭabaqāt, tr. Raverty, pp. 258-59, 264, 433.

Scattered references are to be found in the sections on Ghurid history in Ebn-al-Aṯīr; for the general background see C. E. Bosworth in Camb. Hist. Iran V, pp. 162 ff. ; idem,” Ghūrids” in EI ² II, pp. 1099-104.

(C. Edmund Bosworth)

Originally Published: December 15, 1997

Last Updated: December 6, 2011

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