• The rulers who ruled over the destinies of Delhi Sultanate from 1206 CE to 1290 CE are popularly known as rulers of one dynasty called the Mamluk Dynasty or Slave Dynasty. It produced nine rulers. But neither had they belonged to one dynasty nor was any one of them a slave when he or she occupied the throne of Delhi.
  • In fact, three dynasties ruled over Delhi during this period. Qutubuddin founded the Qutbi dynasty, Iltutmish founded the First Ilbari or Shamsi Dynasty and Balban founded the Second Ilbari Dynasty.
  • Each of them had ceased to be a slave before they became Sultans and, except Qutubuddin all others had obtained their formal manumission (freedom from slavery) long before their accession. Therefore, it is more appropriate to call them early Turk sultans or the Mamluk sultans of Delhi.
Mamluk dynasty (1206–1290)
Mamluk dynasty (1206–1290)

Foundation of Delhi Sultanate

  • By the time of Muizzuddin Muhammad’s death in 1206, the Turks had been able to extend their sway upto: Lakhnauti in Bengal, Ajmer and Ranthambor in Rajasthan, upto the boundaries of Ujjain in the south, and Multan and Uchch in Sindh.
  • Empire remained more or less stationary for almost a hundred years. The period from 1206 to 1290 constitutes the formative and the most challenging period in the history of the Delhi Sultanate. The internal and external difficulties faced by the Turks were numerous.
    • Rajput rulers: the efforts of some of the ousted rulers, particularly the Rajput rulers of Rajasthan and Bundelkhand, and neighbouring areas, such as Bayana and Gwaliyar to regain their former possessions. But, Rajputs never came together to try and collectively oust the Turks from India.
    • Internal conflict within nobles:
      • Tussle for supremacy among his three important generals. Yalduz (held Ghazni), Qubacha (held Uchh) and Qutbuddin Aibak (viceroy and over all commander of the army in India).
      • Some of the Turkish rulers tried to carve out their own independent spheres of authority. Thus, Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji and his successors tried to keep Lakhnauti and Bihar free from the control of Delhi.
    • Mongols were another threat started during Iltutmish.

Qutbuddin Aibak (AD 1206–1210)

  • Early Life and Career
    • Born of Turkish parents, sold as slave while still a boy, Qutubuddin had a chequered career. Muhammad Ghori was his second master. Aibek was first sold to the Qazi of Nishapur, and then he was purchased by Mohammad Ghori who was impressed by him. Aibek’s rise was unusually rapid. His first important promotion was the amir-i-akhur.
      • After the second battle of Tarain in 1192 CE, Qutubuddin Aibek was entrusted with the charge of his master’s Indian dominion. Much of the credit of the Ghorid conquests in India should go to Aibek. He saved Ajmer from two uprisings.
        • He played an important role in the defeat of Jayachandra of Kannauj. Besides, Qutubuddin Aibek captured Koil (Aligarh), Ranthambhor (1195 CE), Badaun (1197-98 CE) and Kanauj (1198-99 CE), and Kalinjar, Mahoba and Khajuraho (1202-03 CE). He also occupied Delhi and made it the capital of the newly established Turkish Empire.
    • Another lieutenant of Mohammad Ghori was Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khalji who brought Bihar and Bengal within the Turkish dominion in a short span of time. But as the services rendered by Aibek were rated higher, it was he who was formally invested with viceregal powers and promoted to the rank of a malik in 1206 CE.
    • The death of Muhammad Ghuri in AD 1206 marked only a change of status for Aibek who lost no time in exploiting the situation in his favor. He marched to Lahore and formally assumed power as a sovereign of the Ghorid Empire on June 25, 1206.
  • Aibak was the first independent Muslim ruler of Northern India, the founder of Delhi Sultanate.
  • Aibak had to face many challenges:
    • From Rajputs and other Indian chiefs:
      • The successor of Jaichand, Harishchandra had driven out the Turks from Badayun and Farukhabad. Aibak re-conquered both Badayun and Farukhabad.
    • From other Turks:
      • Tajuddin Yaldauz, the ruler of Ghazni, claimed his rule over Delhi.
      • Nasiruddin Qabacha, the governor of Multan and Uchch aspired for independence.
      • Aibak moved his capital to Lahore. He defeated Yaldauz and occupied Ghazni. But, he failed to suppress Qubacha. Illtutmish completed this task later.
  • Qutubuddin Aibek as Sultan
    • The death of Muhammad Ghori removed the support of a powerful protector and involved Qutubuddin Aibek in the intricate web of Central Asian politics. The Ghorid Empire broke up into warring fragments.
    • Ghiyasuddin Mahmud succeeded in establishing his rule in Ghur. Tajuddin Yalduz, another slave of Muhammad Ghori, laid claims to his master’s Indian possessions.
    • The internal situation in Northern India was also disturbing. Pre-occupied with these affairs, Aibek could not deal effectively with the Rajputs who lately were quite active in recovering their lost political authority.
      • Kalinjar had been recovered by the Chandelas, the Gahadwalas under Harishchandra reoccupied Farrukhabad and Badaun, while Gwalior seems to have been lost to the Pratiharas.
  • Aibak hardly had time to add to the Turkish conquests in India, and died in 1210, on account of a fall from his horse while playing chaugan (medieval polo).
  • But his brief reign is considered significant because it marked the rise of the first independent Turkish ruler in India. Contemporaries praise him for his liberality, beneficence and gallantry.
  • Qutbuddin Aibak was brave, faithful and generous. Due to his generosity he was known as “Lakh Baksh”.
  • As his reign was too short and the difficulties he faced were too many, he does not seem to have made a significant contribution in evolving a solid administrative structure of the Delhi Sultanate. But there is no doubt that he managed the show.
  • Abul Fazl is all praise for Aibek and sums up his contribution in the following words “He achieved things, good and great”.

Shamsuddin Iltutmish (1211-1236 CE)

  • On the death of Aibek, the Turkish faction at Lahore supported Aibek’s son Aram Shah (there is a good deal of controversy whether he was actually the son of Qutubuddin Aibek or not) while the nobles at Delhi, led by Ismail, who occupied the post of amir-i-dad (an important functionary of judicial department), invited Iltutmish to ascend the throne. At that time Iltutmish was the governor of Badaun.
    • He marched towards Delhi. But before entering the capital he met the army of Aram Shah. He easily defeated Aram Shah, whose rule lasted only for about eight months (1210-1211 CE) and was of no significance.
  • Early Life and Career of Iltutmish
    • Shamsuddin Iltutmish was born of Turkish parents of the Ilbari tribe of Central Asia. He was handsome and intelligent and his father loved him very much. He excited the jealousy of his halfbrothers brothers who deceitfully sold him to a slave-trader while he was yet a child.
      • After passing through many hands, Iltutmish was finally purchased by Qutbuddin Aibak. Iltutmish proved his worth and rose to higher positions by his own merit. He got promotions one after another till he became amir-i-shikar (the master of the hunt). Then he was sent as in-charge of the fort of Gwalior. After that he got the governorship of the iqtas (provinces) of Gwalior and Baran (Bulandshahr).
      • He was marrried to the daughter of Qutbuddin and, finally, appointed as governor of the iqta of Badaun. While fighting against the Khokhars in 1205-06 CE, Muhammad Ghori was deeply impressed with his valor that he advised Aibak to free him from slavery which was subsequently done.
    • After the death of Aibak, the citizens of Delhi felt that the infant Turkish Empire in India required the services of a capable ruler than that of incompetent and unpopular Aram Shah.
    • Therefore, Sipahsalar Amir Ali took the consent of the citizens and Turkish nobles of Delhi and invited Iltutmish to come to Delhi. Iltutmish assumed the reign of government, defeated Aram Shah and, thus, became the ruler of Delhi in 1211 CE.
  • He was responsible not only for keeping the Delhi Sultanat together, but made it a well-knit and compact State. He may thus be called the real establisher of what came to be called the Delhi Sultanat.

Difficulties and Achievements of Iltutmish

  • Rival Turkish Nobles
    • The throne of Delhi was not a ‘bed of roses’ for Iltutmish. The death of Aibek had plunged the Delhi Sultanate into confusion. The weak, and also brief rule of Aram Shah had stimulated the disruptive and rebellious tendencies among the Turkish nobles; it endangered the disintegration of the newly-founded Turkish state in India.
    • Some of the Turkish nobles were not prepared to accept Iltutmish’s authority. They went outside Delhi and prepared for rebellion. Iltutmish marched from Delhi, defeated the rebels.
      • According to the contemporary author, Minhaj Siraj, “On several other occasions in different parts of Hindustan, hostilities arose between him and the armies and the Turks.” Iltutmish triumphed over all of them—on account of “Divine help”.
    • In spite of his victory over Aram Shah and the popular support of the Turkish nobles of Delhi, Iltutmish’s accession to the throne did not go unopposed.
      • The governor of Uchh (Sind) and Multan, Nasiruddin Qubacha, captured Lahore, Bhatinda and even Sursuti as well and declared his independence.
      • Ali Mardan Khalji, who had succeeded to the governorship of Bihar and Bengal on the death of Bhakhtiyar Khalji in 1206 CE, also stopped sending the tribute to Delhi.
      • Tajuddin Yaldoz (the father-in-law of Qutubuddin Aibek), now the sultan of Ghazni, attempted to assert his political dominance over Iltutmish by sending him the chhtatr (royal canopy) and a durbash (baton) at the time of his accession to the throne.
        • As a shrewd diplomat, Iltutmish accepted them and, thus, pretended to recognize his suzerainty but he never permitted Yaldoz to encroach upon his Indian possessions.
  • Defeat of Tajuddin Yaldoz (1215-16 CE)
    • Yaldoz claimed overlordship over Iltutmish and asked him to send military help. Iltutmish marched against him to settle his score finally with him. Between 1215 and 1216 CE, Iltutmish gave a crushing defeat to Yaldoz in an open battle at Tarain and imprisoned him. He was first sent to Badaun and killed later on.
    • Iltutmish’s gain was two-fold. One was that he had killed the most dangerous rival to his power and, the other, was that it led to the final break with Ghazni. Hence onwards, Delhi Sultanate became an independent state in fact if not legally so far.
  • Defeat of Nasiruddin Qubacha (1217 CE)
    • After the defeat of Yaldoz at the hands of Iltutmish, Nasiruddin Qubacha once again occupied Lahore. When he was challenged by Iltutmish at the head of a large army, he, however, retreated towards Multan.
    • Iltutmish chased him and defeated him at Mansura, on the banks of the river Chenab. However, Iltutmish refrained from marching upon Sind due to his anxiety to defend the North-West frontier in the face of the rapidly deteriorating political situation in Central Asia.
    • Therefore, Qubacha continued to rule over Sind almost as an independent ruler till his death in 1227 CE.
  • Mongols on the North-West Frontier (1220-24 CE)
    • The Mongol threat was also averted by Iltutmish’s tact and diplomacy. The Mongols came in hot pursuit of Jalaluddin Mankbarani, the Crown Prince of Khwarazm, who sought refuge in India. This placed Iltutmish on the horns of a dilemma.
      • To help Jalaluddin Mankbarani meant to incur the wrath of Chengiz Khan. And this would have been suicidal for the infant Turkish Empire. To refuse aid bluntly to a fugitive, who had become a hero in the Islamic world, would have alienated the Muslim sentiments.
    • But Iltutmish keeping in view alone the interest of the Turkish Empire followed dilatory tactics which discouraged Jalaluddin Mankbarani who left India in 1224 CE. Close on his heels departed the Mongols who had no immediate design for the conquest of India. It is also to be noted that Chengiz Khan died in 1227. Thus, Iltutmish saved his kingdom from the Mongol invasion and also from the ill effects of the politics of Central Asia.
    • Iltutmish followed policy of Aloofness towards Mongols. Factors compelled Illtutmish to follow this policy:
      • Iltutmish smelt danger from Mangbarni who might “gain an ascendancy over him and involve him in ruin.”
      • Iltutmish was also aware of the weaknesses of the Sultanate.
    • Minhaj Siraj mentions that Iltutmish led an expedition against Mangbarni but the latter avoided any confrontation and finally left the Indian soil in A.D. 1224.
      • Chengiz Khan is reported to have sent his envoy to Iltutmish’s court. It is difficult to say anything about the Sultan’s response, but so long as Chengiz Khan was alive (d. A.D. 1227), Iltutmish did not adopt an expansionist policy in the north-west region. An understanding of non-aggression against each other might have possibly been arrived at.
  • Re-conquest of Multan and Sind (1227-28 CE)
    • After the aversion of the threat of Mongols, Iltutmish launched an offensive against Nasiruddin Qubacha from two sides-Lahore and Delhi. Multan and Uchh were captured and Qubacha was besieged in the fort of Bhakkar on the bank of the Indus. Surrounded from all sides by the enemy and totally exhausted, Qubacha made his last bid to escape by plunging into the Indus river, and was drowned.
    • The sumra ruler of Debal principality hastened to acknowledge the suzerainty of Iltutmish soon after. Both Multan and Uchh were occupied by Iltutmish.
  • Conquest of Bihar and Bengal
    • After the death of Qutubuddin Aibek, Ali Mardan had declared himself independent and, therefore, the province of Bengal was lost by the Delhi Sultanate. Therefore, Iltutmish turned his attention towards Bengal, which had been a constant source of trouble to Delhi.
    • Ali Mardan having been murdered in 1211 CE was succeeded by Husamuddin Iwaz Khalji, who assumed full sovereign powers. He assumed the title of Ghiyasuddin and proved to be a very successful ruler.
    • It took three campaigns before Bengal could be subjugated and the authority of the central government re-established in this rebellious province.
    • In 1225 CE, the Sultan, led a successful expedition and Bihar was subsequently annexed. Iltutmish forced Iwaz to pay an indemnity and accept the over lordship of Delhi.
      • When Iwaz tried to assert his independence once again Nasiruddin Mahmud, the eldest son of Iltutmish, was assigned the task to suppress the rebellious chief. Nasiruddin Mahmud defeated and killed Iwaz. He conquered Lakhnauti in 1226 CE. The last campaign was necessitated by a fresh outbreak following the sudden death of Nasiruddin Mahmud. Itutmish led an army in person. He decisively defeated the rebels.
    • Thus, Iltutmish once again brought the eastern region consisting of the provinces of Bihar and Bengal under the control of Delhi. With the purpose of bringing the region under his effective control, Iltutmish appointed two separate governors, one for Bengal and the other for Bihar.
  • War against the Rajputs
    • The Rajputs presented another problem with which Iltutmish had to grapple. They were making a fresh bid to throw off the yoke of Turkish rule. The security of the Turkish political ascendancy in India demanded the subjugation of the insurgent Rajputs and the recovery of the territories lost to them.
    • Iltutmish achieved this methodically. Ranthambhor was captured from Chauhans in 1226 CE. The victory over Ranthambhor was followed by Nagor next year i.e., 1227 CE. Gwalior was also brought under the possession of the Delhi Sultanate in 1231 CE. The campaigns in Rajputana were rounded off by the sack of Bhilsa and Ujjain (1234-35 CE). The Gangetic valley was also pacified, and the Turkish rule was re-established by force in Awadh and the Doab. Iltutmish attempted to bring the khokars under his subjugation in 1235 CE.
    • Exhausted by continuous warfare, Iltutmish fell sick, returned to Delhi and breathed his last in April 1236 CE. He was buried in Delhi.

Administration of Iltutmish

  • Though the Turkish rule was established in North India after the second battle of Tarain (1192 CE), no concrete steps were taken to gear up the existing administrative machinery. Muhammad Ghori had no time to spare for this task, and whatever he initiated was not sufficient enough to provide stability to his newly founded empire. Personally he was available in India only for launching military campaigns. The burden of running the administration was left to the slave-officers.
  • After his death when Qutubuddin Aibek came at the helm of the affairs but there was no appreciable change in the situation. It was the arrival of Iltutmish that for the first time the Turkish state thought of understanding the administrative problems with some seriousness.
    • Though, in the beginning, Iltutmish took some time to settle himself, but once he strengthened his position he was not prepared to lower the authority of his office. He believed in upholding the status and dignity of the Sultan. He was not prepared to compromise sovereignty. Therefore, first of all he cleared from his path all those opponents who renounced his sovereignty and tried to get rid of him. Once he got of his arch rivals he turned to more concrete measures.
    • As a Sultan he knew that single-handedly he could not perform his task. Therefore, he built around him a group of loyal and trustworthy slaves called Turkan-i-Chihalgani (Forty Turkish Slave Officers).
      • They were not only used in conquering the new territories but were assigned the administrative tasks also. It was some sort of a mini but powerful machinery at the personal command of the Sultan.
      • These were Turkish amirs (nobles) who advised and helped the Sultan in administering the Sultanate.
      • This elite corp was very proud of itself. It did not consider even the free amirs, both Turk and Tajik, as being equal to them. Other groups of nobles envied the status and privileges of the members of the “Forty”, but this does not mean that the latter were free from their internal bickering. At the most they united in one principle – to plug entry of non-Turkish persons in the charmed circle as far as possible.
      • The “Forty” tried to retain its political influence over the Sultan who would not like to alienate this group, but at the same time would not surrender his royal privilege of appointing persons of the other groups as officers. Thus, a delicate balance was achieved by Iltutmish which broke down after his death. After the death of Iltutmish, this group assumed great power in its hands. For a few years they decided on the selection of Sultans one after the other.
        • For example, some nobles did not approve the succession of Raziya, because she tried to organize non-Turkish groups as counterweight to the “Forty”.
        • That was one main reason why a number of nobles of this group supported her brother, Rukun-ud-din whom they thought to be incompetent and weak, thereby giving them an opportunity to maintain their position.
        • This spectacle continued during the reign of Nasiruddin Mahmud also, as exemplified by the rise and fall of Immaduddin Raihan, an Indian convert. This episode coincided with the banishment of Balban who was the naib (deputy) of Sultan Mahmud and his subsequent recall.
      • The group was finally eliminated by Balban.
  • Iltutmish also obtained a ‘Letter of Investiture’ in AD 1229 from the Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad to gain legitimacy. Thus, Iltutmish’s legal status as an independent sovereign was reaffirmed in the eyes of the Muslims.
    • Under Iltutmish, Delhi Sultanat can be called a truely independent state, not tied up to a foreign sovereign living at Ghazni or Ghur.
  • Iltutmish made a significant contribution in giving shape to administrative institution such as iqtasarmy and currency system.
    • He gave the Sultanate two of its basic coins– the silver ‘Tanka’ and the copper ‘Jittal’.
    • To affect greater control over the conquered areas Iltutmish granted iqtas (land assignments in lieu of cash salaries) to his Turkish officers on a large scale. The recipients of “iqtas”called the “iqtadars”collected the land revenue from the territories under them. Out of this they maintained an armed contingent for the service of the state, enforced law and order and met their own expenses.
    • Iltutmish realized the economic potentiality of the Doab and the iqtas were distributed mainly in this region. This secured for Iltutmish the financial and administrative control over one of the most prestigious regions of North India.
  • By his military prowess, pleasing manners and liberality, Iltutmish earned the deep respect and attachment of the people of Delhi to his family, in consequence of which the right of his children to succeed him was accepted. Thus, he set up the first hereditary sovereignty at Delhi.
  • He laid the foundations of an absolutist monarchy that was to serve later as the instrument of a military imperialism under the Khaljis. Aibak outlined the Delhi Sultanate and its sovereign status; litutmish was unquestionably its first king.
Estimate of Iltutmish
  • Iltutmish was not a very good administrator; he created no civil institutions. His was a military dictatorship like that of Aibek but with the difference that all the power was concentrated in his own hands. Iltutmish laid the foundation of an absolute monarchy of the Turks in Northern India.
    • He himself appointed central ministers and regional military governors; the wazir (prime minister), sadr-i-jahan (head of the ecclesiastical affairs) and the chief qazi held office during his pleasure, and were responsible to him directly.
    • He did not allow the Turkish nobility to interfere in the state affairs beyond certain limits. The dissatisfied and disobedient Muizzi (nobles of Muhammad Ghori) or Qutbi (nobles of Qutubuddin Aibek) officers were gradually downgraded or eliminated.
  • Iltutmish created an entirely new class of the ruling elite which comprised his own Turkish slave officers, headed by their forty powerful military leaders-nick-named the Chalisa (chihalgani or chehalgan). They held charge of the iqtas, and wielded great influence at the court.
  • Iltutmish secured a deed of investiture from the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mustansir Billah of Baghdad in February 1229 CE, who bestowed the titles of the ‘Sultan of Hindustan’ and the ‘deputy of the leader of the faithful’ (nasir amir ul momnin).
    • This gave Iltutmish legal claim over Delhi Sultanate as a distinct entity, independent of Ghazni. It also strengthened his position and ensured the succession of his descendants to the throne.
    • All those who had previously labelled him as the usurper to the throne and cast accusations on his rule were silenced. Iltutmish was thus the first legal sovereign of the Indian Turks and real founder of the sultanate of Delhi. The investiture ceremony was celebrated in Delhi with great rejoicings.
  • Iltutmish reinforced the forces of law and order in the state, allowed the local administrative bodies to function as before and administered even-handed justice according to the Islamic standards of those days. He introduced a purely Arabic currency of gold and silver.
  • Though orthodox Sunni Muslim and religious minded person, Iltutmish was not a fanatic. He persecuted the Ismaili Shias of Delhi and his treatment towards the Hindus was harsh but not cruel. He had destroyed the Hindu temples at Bhilsa and Ujjain but he did not resort to idolbreaking. He adopted a policy of moderation towards the Hindus as a measure of political expediency and tried to win their cooperation in running the administration.
  • Iltutmish was a patron of art and learning. All scholars, members of the ruling families and capable persons who fled from Central Asia and other Islamic states because of Mongol invasions were provided shelter at the court of Iltutmish. Amir Khusrau’s father was one of them. The contemporary scholars such as Minhaj-us-Siraj and Taj-ud-din adorned his court. Iltutmish extended liberal patronage to them and enriched the cultural life of the ruling elite. He completed the construction of Qutub Minar and enjoyed his association with the Sufi saints of the day.
  • Iltutmish was a courageous soldier and an experienced military commander. He was foresighted man. He unified the Turkish leadership under one central authority and saved the infant Turkish kingdom from disintegration. He protected it from the fury of the Mongols and gave a legal and independent status to it in the comity of the Islamic states. He was an empire-builder who endeavoured to accomplish the unfinished task of Qutubuddin Aibek in laying the foundations of the Delhi Sultanate.

Raziya Sultan (AD 1236–40)

  • Iltutmish nominated Raziya as his successor as he did not consider any of his sons worthy of the throne. But after his death his son Ruknuddin Firoz ascended the throne with the help of army leaders. He was an incompetent ruler. However with the support of the people of Delhi and some military leaders, Raziya soon ascended the throne. She had challenges both internally and externally.
  • After the death of Iltutmish, conflict arose between the Sultan and his slave nobles (the Forty) for power, which culminated in the murder of four sultans and the fifth, reduced to the position of a puppet of Balban. The nobles were divided into two groups – the Turkish nobles and the Taziqs.
    • The former called themselves as Sultani and formed a group of Forty called Turkan-iChihalgani. They first eliminated the rivals, the Taziqs and tried to capture power from the weak successors of Iltutmish. The latter’s son Rukn-ud-din Firuz was imprisoned and killed and in his place Raziya, his sister was enthroned.
  • But she soon came into conflict with her Turkish nobles because she wanted to assert her power. The governors of Badaun, Multan, Lahore marched towards Delhi and besieged it. But she acted diplomatically.
    • She sowed the seeds of dissension among the rivals and broke the confederacy. She concentrated power in her own hands, made fresh appointments, raised her loyal nobles to higher posts and even donned the male attire. She left the purdah and went for hunting.
  • But the Chalisa could not put up with her overbearing attitude and independence and so conspired against her. Kabir Khan, the Governor of Lahore, revolted in 1241 CE. Soon Malik Altunia, the governor of Bhatinda, revolted. When Raziya was in the thick of her fight with Bhatinda, the nobles conspired against her and imprisoned her and raised her brother, Bahram, to the throne.
    • Now Malik Altunia of Bhatinda came to her rescue, got her released and married her. They together marched to Delhi but were defeated and forced to flee. Later, they were killed in 1240 CE.
  • Some scholars think that Raziya’s greatest enemy was her sex. Iltutmish, who nominated her as his successor overlooking the claims of his grown-up sons, soon changed his idea of making her the Sultan.
    • It is quite probable that he came to understand that the people were not in favour of saddling a woman with administrative responsibilities. This is further strengthened by the fact that there was no rebellion in her favour when her brother, Rukn-ud-din, succeeded Iltutmish as Sultan.
    • Raziya herself understood the limitations imposed on her by her sex while discharging her governmental duties. After becoming the Sultan, Raziya found that the purdah system prevented her from transacting governmental functions freely. The curtain hung between her and the members of the court, stood in the way of her direct participation in administrative work. So she started dressing herself as a man and publicly appeared in the court.
    • Seated on elephant back, she rode along the streets of Delhi. She was lifted to the back of the horse by an Abyssinian slave named Jamaluddin Yaqut who was appointed by Razia as amir-i-akhur.
    • All these had irritated the feelings of the people. So they rose in revolt against her and overthrew her.
  • However, this theory is not acceptable. There was no rule in those times that a woman should not rule the country. Women exercised governmental function in some of the Islamic countries of those times. The Islamic law did not oppose the rule of a woman.
    • The real reason for her fall was the disappointment caused to the nobles by Raziya’s intention to be the ruler not only in name but also in fact. The nobles placed her on throne thinking that she, being a woman, would assign all powers to them. But when she tried to assert her power, they revolted against her.
    • The struggle between Raziya and the Turkish slave nobles was not so much a struggle between man and woman but a struggle for power.
  • After removing Raziya, the nobles placed Muizuddin Bahram Shah on the throne and later Alauddin Masud. Both were worthless and incompetent. During the six years of their rule, the country passed through a series of disorders and confusion.
    • The Mongol invasions added to the miseries of Hindustan. The Mongols now entered into the heart of the Punjab and captured Lahore They even marched upto Uchh.
  • In 1246 CE, the crown passed into the hands of Nasiruddin Mahmud. Pious as he was, he spent his leisure hours in copying the Quran. A great patron of learning, he gave a high post to Minhaj-us-Siraj, the author of the historical work, Tabaqat-i-Nasiri which was dedicated to Nasiruddin Mahmud.
    • But lacking in interest for administration he entrusted all powers to Ghiyasuddin Balban, his minister and father-in-law.
    • When Nasiruddin died in 1266 CE without leaving a male heir, Balban ascended the throne with the help of the nobles. Thus came to an end the dynasty of Iltutmish.

Contribution of Razia Sultan in Delhi Sultanate:

  • She took measures to deal with rebel noble and consolidate her position. It tried to provide stability in sultanate.
  • Justification of claim to the throne: Razia justified her claim to the throne despite being a woman by recalling that in his life time, her father Iltutmish had nominated her as his successor in preference to his sons.
  • Use of Diplomacy:
    • The hostile provincial governors of Badaun, Hansi, Lahore and Multan ably supported by wazir Junaidi, who felt isolated and ignored, mustered their troops near Delhi.
    • Realizing the difficulty of organizing a matching army, Raziya avoided a military encounter with the rebels and instead resorted to diplomacy. She entered into a secret alliance with Salari and Kabir Khan. Thereafter she spread rumours that a number of rebels had joined her.
    • This caused suspicion and distrust among the rebel chiefs who withdrew from the capital quietly.
    • Raziya’s stratagem succeeded and her prestige was enhanced. The provincial governors submitted to her authority.
  • Distribution of important offices to the supporters:
    • The naib wazir, Muhazzab-ud-din was put in charge of the wazarat.
    • Her partisan Kabir Khan was appointed to the governorship of Lahore.
    • Tughril Khan, the governor of Lakhnauti (Bengal) was rewarded with vice-royalty for not joining the rebels.
  • Breaking the monopoly of the Turkish nobles:
    • She adopted the policy of appointing non-Turkish nobles to higher posts.
    • A number of Indian Muslims were appointed as qazis.
    • An Abyssinian, Jamal-ud-din Yaqut was elevated to the position of amir-a-khur (master of the horses). The other accused her of violating feminine modesty and being too friendly to Yaqut.
  • As a result of these measures, according to Minhaj-us-Siraj, “From Debal to Lakhnauti, all the maliks and amirs manifested their obedience and submitted.”
  • Campaign against Rajput: Raziya also organized a campaign against the Rajputs. Ranthambhor was besieged and captured.
  • Tried to establish an independent and absolute monarchy: Like her father Iltutmish, Raziya was determined to assert the authority and establish an independent and absolute monarchy.
  • Efficient governance:
    • Raziya governed the sultanate in a befitting manner. Bold and courageous, she gave up purdha (veil), held open court, listened to the grievances of her subjects and exercised general control over the administrative departments.
    • In battles, Raziya rode at the head of her armies. Thus, she proved her ability, love of justice and capacity for hard work.
    • According to Minhaj-i-Siraj, she was “sagacious, just, beneficent, the patron of the learned, a dispenser of justice, the cherisher of her subjects, and of warlike talent, and endowed with all the admirable attributes and qualifications necessary for a king.
    • Razia established schools, academies, centers for research, and public libraries. Hindu works in the sciences, philosophy, astronomy, and literature were reportedly studied in schools and colleges.
    • Razia is said to have pointed out that the spirit of religion was more important than its parts, and that even the Islamic prophet Muhammad spoke against overburdening the non-Muslims.
  • Avoided conflict with Mongol:
    • Raziya followed policy of appeasement to avoid conflict with Mongol.
    • Her discouraging response to anti-Mongol alliance, proposed by Hasan Qarlugh of Bamyan is indicator of her appeasement policy.
  • But in spite of being a capable sultan she largely failed in dealing with internal problem. She could not win over rebels and finally lost her life.

Reason for her failure:

  • Being a woman was an important cause of her failure: According to Minhaj-us-siraj though she had all the qualities of a king, she was not born of right sex and so in the estimation of men all her virtues were useless.
  • Her becoming sultan was against the tradition of Islam:
    • Turkish Chiefs ware against her as they considered it a great humiliation to work under a woman.
    • Perhaps it was the first case in the Islamic history under a monarchical form of government. This practice was far ahead of the times.
  • In place of winning favour of her opponent, she annoyed them all the more:
    • Razia firmness, and desire to exercise power directly became the major cause of the dissatisfaction of the Turkish nobles with her.
    • the recruitment of Yaqut and few other non-Turks to important posts incensed nobility. The nobility realized that, though a woman, Raziya was not willing to be a puppet in their hands, therefore the nobles started revolting against her
    • She was made captive by Tabarhind governor Altunia. In spite of her marrying with Altunia to win his support, she could not win over rebels and finally lost her life.
  • The tragic end of Razia demonstrated the growing power of the Chihalgani Turkish nobles.
Delhi Sultanate (1206–1526)
Delhi Sultanate (1206–1526)

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments