The Ghiljai (plural Ghilji) as he calls himself - Ghilzai, as strangers call him - is a numerous and widespread people, extending from Jalalabad in the east to Kalati Ghilji in the west, and occupying the adjoining slopes and spurs of Sufed Koh, Suleman Koh, and Gul Koh (west of Ghazni). The Afghan traditions place their original settlements in the Kohi Kais or Koh Kasi, but there seems to be some doubt as to the whereabouts of this locality, some considering it to be on the Suleman range, and others on the Siyah-band range of the Ghor mountains. The latter, it would seem, is the more probable, as it was the scene of the romantic episode by which the Afghan genealogists account for the name.
The story runs to the effect that the second son of Kais (the great ancestral progenitor of the Afghan nationality), who was named Batan, was settled with his people on the Siyahband range of the Ghor mountains - the Paropamisus of the ancients, the Hazarah of the moderns. It appears that they occupied the western hills of the range, and led a migratory life between the highlands in summer and lowlands in winter. Batan, the patriarch of the tribe, was noted for his piety and devotion, and for his earnest attachment to the new faith established in those parts. In consequence of his leading position and religious reputation, he was reverenced as a saint and honored with the title of Shekh.
During the reign of the Khalif Walid - towards the close of the first century of the Muhammadan era, and during the early part of the eighth of our own - an Arab army was sent from Baghdad for the conquest of Khurasan and Ghor (a name the signification of which is "mountainous") On its approach to the northern mountains of Ghor, which were at that time inhabited by Bani Israil and Bani Afghan, and other castaway tribes, one of the princes of the country, who, it appears, was himself of a refugee family, since many generations exiled from Persia, fled his retreat, and sought asylum with Shekh Batan, whose tuman or "tribal camp" was in some neighbouring mountain recesses. Batan, perceiving that the stranger was of noble birth, welcomed him to the hospitality and protection of his people, and took him into his own house as a member of the family. The stranger guest soon ingratiated himself with his hosts, and won the confidence of the chief, who always consulted him in the affairs of the tribe as if he were a member of it. In fact he was made quite at home, and treated with the fullest liberty and trust.
The Shekh had a daughter, whose name was Matto, a handsome maiden in the bloom of youth In the simple manners and freedom of action that characterize life in camp, the inmates of the tent or booth were thrown much together in the routine of daily domestic life. Well, to cut a long story short - the guest and his host's daughter fell in love with each other, and carried on a clandestine amour with the natural consequences. The first signs were early discovered by the quick eye of the mother, who at once communicated her suspicions to the girl's father. The old Shekh - Afghan-like - was for summary punishment and the swift execution of both the guilty parties. But the mother, with keener perception and more far-seeing calculation, suggested the propriety of first ascertaining whether their guest - Shah, Husen by name-really was of the royal descent he had represented himself to be, and whether the future of his prospects were as bright as he had colored them.
For this purpose a trusted domestic was despatched to the home in Northern Ghor, indicated by Shah Husen, to find out all about his family and antecedents He duly returned with a favourable report; and even more than confirming all that Shah Husen had said of himself. On this, the parents, accepting the situation, hastily roamed the couple to avoid the imminent scandal Shortly after these occurrences, Bibi Matto presented Shah Husen with a son, whom the irate old Shekh, in allusion to the circumstances connected with his birth, named Ghalzoe - "son of a thief" - the father having stolen his daughter's honor The name in time came to be used to distinguish the whole tribe, and by vulgar usage became changed to Ghilzai.
Such, in brief, is the Afghan account. It seems to point to an early mixture of the original Ghilji with some tube of Ghor, perhaps of Persian descent, though the name Batan sounds of Indian origin (the Sanskrit name of the Brahman priests being Bata), and the title of Shekh being the one usually applied in India to converts from Brahmanism to Islam.
Bibi Matto had a second son, who was named Ibrahim, continue the Afghan accounts, and he was surnamed Loe, or "Great," by his grandfathei, on account of some act of infantile precocity This name became corrupted into Lodi, and was adopted as the title of his descendants, who afterwards formed a considerable tribe, which, in the fifteenth century, furnished the Lodi dynasty of kings on the throne of Delhi. Such are the idle tales by which the Afghan historians attempt to account for the presence in their midst of a foreign race of whose antecedents they know nothing That the Lodi and Stir kings of the house of Ghor, who reigned at Delhi as sovereigns of Hindustan, were of the Ghilji race, there seems no reason to doubt, but that they were in any way connected by tribal affinity with the Afghan is by no means clear.