Sultan Raziya

“The people that makes a woman its ruler will not find salvation.” (Mohammed)

Contents

Aibek and Altamish

Mongol Invasions of India

Altamish early life

Altamish becomes Sultan

Conquests of Altamish

Altamish, Islam and Hinduism

Style of Rule of Altamish

Coinage Reform

Altamish’s children

Their Education

Succession Crisis on the death of Nasir-ud-din, 1229

Raziya chosen successor

Unfavourable reaction

The Regime of Ruknuddin 1236

Succession crisis on the death of Altamish

Ruknuddin and Shah Turkan

Raziya counter coup I

Raziya succeeds, 1236

Noble opposition crushed

Military action

Achievements

Military

Domestic

Educational

Cross dressing

Offends Muslims

Raziya and Yakut

Coup against her, 1239

The Planning

The execution

The Fall of Raziya

Deposed

And Altunia

Altunia double crossed by the conspirators

Raziya marries Altunia

Counter-Coup II

Defeat

Death

After Raziya

Estimate

Appendix I: Paper and the Spinning Wheel.

Appendix 2: Raziya and Hatshepsut

Bibliographical Notes

FRESCI

Aibek and Altamish

Quṭb al-Dīn Aibek (12,15) a Turk and former slave (18) laid the foundation of the Mamluk, or Slave Dynasty, (12,15) or more precisely, regime, because the rulers of the dynasty were not all descendants of their predecessors and were often either elected to the throne or seized power through force of arms. (18) Aibek was one of the generals of Muhammad of Ghur, the sultan of the Ghurid Empire, which had replaced the Ghaznavids as the dominant power in the eastern regions of the Muslim world during the twelfth century. (18) Muhammad of Ghur returned west after conquering Delhi in 1193. (18) He left Aibek behind to consolidate the region for him. (18) After Muhammad of Ghur’s death in 1206, Qutb al-Din was successful in establishing himself as his successor. (18) Raziya’s father Altamish, (1,2) (Shams-ud-din (3,10) [OR] Shamsuddin (6) [OR] llthumish (4) [OR] Iltutmush, (7)) was descended from the Seljuk Turks. (7,12) He had come from the steppes of Central Asia (15,18) and had originally belonged to the Ilbari tribe in the Eurasian steppes of Turkestan. (15) He had been sold into slavery at an early age, (10,15) and had originally arrived in Delhi as a slave under Aibek, (10,12) and had been purchased by Aibek. (18)

Mongol Invasions of India

The first sign of the Mongols’ approach was the flight of Yildiz into India, driven by the broken armies of the shah of Khwarizm, themselves flying panic-stricken before the victorious savages. (11) One after the other they came down from the mountain passes: first the Turkish governors, then the Khwarizmian fugitives, and hard on their heels the dreaded Mongols. (11) Jalal-ad-din, the last shah of Khwarizm and heir of an empire which once had spread from Otrar and Khiva, and from Samarkand and Bokhara to Herat and Isfahan, retreated, fighting his way to the Indus, whither Chingiz pursued him, beat him (1221), and drove him, still dauntless, into Sind. (11) The adventures of this heroic prince, who battled his way back through Persia, only to succumb at last after a decade of daring and energetic fighting, form a stirring page of romantic history. (11) The tumult was tremendous, but the storm passed away as quickly as it came. (11) The Mongols wintered and then retired: fortunately for India their eyes were set westward. (11)

Altamish early life

Despite being of slave origin, Altamish rose to prominence quickly after his arrival to India. (18) He impressed Aibek with his (10,12) hard work (10) honesty (12) and bravery (10,12) Aibek was so impressed with his subordinate’s track record, his excellent service, bravery, skill, and zeal in solidifying Muslim rule in Northern India, (18) and trusted him enough to have offered his daughter, Qutub Begum’s hand, in marriage to Altamish, (12,14) so that he became an actual part of the ruling family. (14) He was an officer in his army, and rose to the position of commander of the army. (18) Aibek made him the governor of a number of cities and districts (18) and eventually  a provincial governor. (10,12) He grew to be a great favorite of his master, (14) and went on to play a significant role in the governance. (10,18) 

Altamish becomes Sultan

Aibek died in 1210 AD (12,15) when Raziya was a child, (14,15) only five years old. (15)  Aibek’s (10,12) unfortunate (12) death (10,12) was the result of an accident while playing chaugan (a game like polo). (12,18) Aibek’s heir-apparent son, Aram Baksh (10,12) [OR]  Shah. (15) took over the throne. (10,12) Aram Baksh proved to be an incompetent ruler. (10,12) Altamish was invited by (15) a group of 40 (12,15) Turkic nobles (10,12) called the “Chihalgani” (12,15) [OR] Amirs (10) to take the throne of Delhi Sultanate as they were against Shah. (15) There was a battle between Aram Shah and Altamish on the plain of Bagh-i-Jud near Delhi, in which Altamish defeated Aram (12,15) With the help of the 40, (10,12) and the ulama (the Islamic religious scholars and jurists) (18) Altamish took over the throne (10,12) in 1211 (12) as the third ruler of the Delhi Sultanate. (15) He had been the ablest slave and son in law of Aibek, but had only succeeded to those of Aibek’s lands which were in the Ganges Valley. (3) He was the first Sultan to make Delhi his capital. (4) and it was under his rule that Delhi was able to assert its independence from the other parts of the Ghurid empire. (18) Altamish spent the first few years of his reign consolidating his hold over his domains and fighting off challengers to his rule. (18) The first sign of the Mongols’ approach had been the flight of Yildiz into India, driven by the broken armies of the shah of Khwarizm, themselves flying panic-stricken before the victorious savages. (11)As governor of Ghazna, Taj al-Din Yildiz was a rival to Altamish. (18) Yildiz had seized Lahore after being driven out of his city by the Jalal al-Din and his Khwarazmians, who were fleeing the Mongols. (18) Altamish defeated and captured Yildiz in a pitched battle in 1215. (18) and he died in prison. (11) Kubacha, after many a struggle with the forces, Mongol and Khwarizmian, that in turn ravaged his border-provinces, at last saw his chief cities falling before the siege of Altamish, and in his despair drowned himself in the Indus in 1230. (11)

Conquests of Altamish

Out of the turmoil caused by the Mongol invasion Altamish emerged stronger than before. (11) Altamish was the third and greatest Delhi sultan. (16) consolidated his position as the ruler of the new Mamluk Sultanate of Delhi, (18) benefiting from the withdrawal of the Mongols. (11) Haviing defeated Yildiz in 1215 (18) he recovered the upper Punjab in 1217, (3) and Bengal in 1225. (3,11) He also reduced the rulers of Sind and Daybul to vassalage in 1227. (18) In Bengal he received the homage of the governor, who had not only attained independent power but proclaimed it by his coinage. (11) He took Ranthambor and Mandawar. (18) The seal was set on a career of unvaried success when, in 1229, the (11,18) Abbasid (3,18) caliph of Baghdad (3,11) sent an embassy of state to invest Altamish (11,18) and his sons  (18) with the robe of office as (11,18) recognized Sultan of India. (3,11) This was the first time that a Muslim ruler was acknowledged by the caliph. (18) By diplomatic skill he diverted Jalal al-Din and his followers from his domains to those of (18) another of his rivals, Kabacha, (11,17) whose territory they plundered, (18) and Kubacha drowned himself in the Indus in 1230. (11) After that he took Gwalior (3) after a long siege (3,6) in December 1232. (3) Altamish spent the remainder of his reign expanding his territories and putting down revolts. (18) He took the lower Punjab with Sind in 1238. (3) [OR]  1227. (18) The whole of the dominions of Aibek were now in the hands of his slave. (11)

Altamish, Islam and Hinduism

Altamish was the greatest of the “slave kings” who solidified Muslim rule in India. (18) His rise and that of his predecessor from slaves to sultans was an excellent form of propaganda for Islam in India, which was dominated by the rigid caste system, especially to those who were in the lower castes. (18) To these less fortunate members of Hindu society, Islam presented itself as an egalitarian religion that broke down the class structure imposed upon them by Hinduism. (18) It also gave the impression that an individual or group could rise to the top of society, overthrow rulers, and ascend to their position if they had the courage, intelligence, skill, and strength to do so. (18)

Style of Rule of Altamish

He was a pious Muslim who respected the ulama and religious scholars of his domains. (18) His court was filled with scholars, poets, historians, doctors, scientists, mathematicians, and philosophers whom he and the other nobles patronized. (18) He also made the administrative apparatus of his empire more efficient and personally attended to matters of justice. (18) In fact, he had a large bell installed at his palace’s gate. (18) Anyone seeking justice from the sultan could ring that bell and summon him to hear their case. (18)

Coinage Reform

Up to this point the invaders had issued small billon coins of the native form, inscribed with their names in Sanskrit and sometimes in Arabic characters, and bearing symbols familiar to the Hindus, such as the bull of Siva and the Chohan horsemen. (11) Altamish was the first to (11) introduce a purely Arabic coinage, (4,11) coinage of Silver. (4,11) The broad (11) pieces on which these titles appeared were new to the currency of India. (11) The ‘Silver Thanka’ and ‘Copper Jital’ were the two basic coins of the Sultanate period. (4) lltumish completed the construction of Qutub Minar. (4) The revenue system of the Sultanate ‘lqta system’, was introduced by llthumish. (4) He inscribed upon his coins not only the proud legend, “The Mighty Sultan, Sun of the Empire and the Faith, Conquest-laden, Il-tutmish,” but also “Aid of the Commander of the Faithful,” Nasir-Amir-al-Muminin. (11) such as had long been in use in countries farther west, and to adopt as his standard coin the silver tanka, the ancestor of the rupee, weighing 175 grains, and thus exactly corresponding to the English florin. (11)

Altamish’s children

Altamish married Qutb-ud-din’s daughter (10,12) Qutb Jaan (15) [OR] Qutub Begum. (12) [OR] Shah Turkan (6,13); [OR] his favorite (16) [OR] chief (17) wife was Raziya’s mother (1,2) Terken (16) [OR] Turkan (17) Khatun. (16,17) They had three sons (10) [OR]  one son, Nasiruddin Mahmud (12,14) and a daughter, (10) Raziya (1,2) [OR] Raziyâwas (8) [OR] Raziyya or Raḍiyya (17) [OR] Radiya in Arabic (18) [OR] Raizya (5) [OR] Raziyyat-Ud-Dunya Wa Ud-Din (6) [OR] Raziyya (8,17) bint Altamish [OR] Raziya al-Din (8,10) or Jalâlat ud-Dîn (8,14) Sultan (2,6) [OR] Sultana (5) [OR] Sultana (1,8) [OR] Sultan, (4) popularly (6) known as Raziya Sultana (6,7) [OR] Raziya Begum bint, (15) [OR] Jalalat al-Duniya wal-Din (on her coins) or al-Sultan al-Muazzam Raziyat al-Din bint al-Sultan. (17) The Sanskrit-language inscriptions of the Sultanate call her Jallaladina, while near-contemporary historian Minhaj calls her Sultan Raziyat al-Duniya wa’l Din bint al-Sultan. (17) This woman was born in 1205 (2,7) in Budaun, (10,15) Uttar Pradesh (15) India. (10,15) She was the (1,2) only (10) daughter of the (1,2) Mamluk (6,15) Delhi Sultan (1,2) Altamish (10,12) She was probably his first-born child, (17)  and Altamish celebrated her birth with great pomp and ceremony, going so far as to hold grand festivals. (16) He had a son with Qutb-Al-Din Aibek (10,15) Altamish also fathered two other boys,  (10,12) Ruknuddin (4,6) and Bahram, (6,7) through former slave-girls. (15)

Their Education

Altamish saw to it that all of his children, including Raziya, (10,12) had received training in fighting, leading armies and administering kingdoms. (7,10) [OR] Books 7 & 12 suggest that ‘this was not a particular virtue of Altamish, but the norm: “Like the Muslim princesses of the time”’ (7,12) She received training on how to administer an empire in absence of a male ruler (15) like some of the princesses of those times, (12,15) not in the expectation that they would rule themselves, but in order that it would help them serve as good wives and queens to kings. (12,16) This was Altamish’s  intention, but it meant that Raziya spent most of her time in the company of her father, who supervised her training along with Malik Yaqut, an Abyssinian slave. (16)  She also saw the court where she had access as a favourite of both her father Altamish and maternal grandfather Aibek. (15) Altamish would allow Raziya to be around him while he handled affairs of the state, and she thrived in impressing her father with her skills and perseverance in carrying out her tasks and duties. (15) She therefore very little contact with the women of the harem (12,16) (domestic spaces reserved for women of a Muslim household, inaccessible to adult males except for close relations). (12) Never having been forced to follow these rules (12) she had had little opportunity to learn the customary timid and reserved behaviour befitting a woman at that time and place. (12,16) [OR] She had had the privilege to behold the power of the harem which was dominated by her mother. (15) Raziya grew up from a brave young girl (15|) to a well-educated woman, both in formal education and in the Qu’ran. (14) She became skilled in martial arts and professional warfare (14,15) and rode both horses and elephants with skill.(14)

Succession Crisis on the death of Nasir-ud-din, 1229

Raziya performed her duties so well that after returning to Delhi, Altamish decided to name her as his successor. (17) Altamish had three sons. (10,12) The eldest, Raziya’s full brother, (14,15) Nasiruddin [OR] Nasir-ud-din (12,14) Mahmud (15,16) was the heir apparent of Altamish and was therefore groomed to succeed his father. (15) Nasiruddin Mahmud became the governor of Bengal (12,14) and was bestowed with the title of Malik-us-Sharq (Lord of the East) by his father. (15) In 1229 (12,16) Mahmud died (12,14) in mysterious circumstances (14) while governing Bengal, (12,14) [OR]  while fighting against the Mongols. (16) During the final years of his life, Sultan Altamish had to make an important decision. (12,14) To whom would he hand-over the administration of the sultanate? (14) Based on qabliyat (i.e. capability), (14) Altamish would have chosen his son Nasiruddin Mahmud, but he was now dead (12,14) and Altamish was at a loss. (14) In both the Muslim world and Christian Europe women seldom rose to rule principalities, kingdoms, and sultanates; and when they did it was often because there were no legitimate male heirs. (18) He had male heirs, but did not deem either of his surviving sons (10,12) born from his other wives, (14,15) (Ruknuddin (4,6) or Bahram (6,7)) to be capable rulers. (10,12) because they were most interested in enjoying the pleasures of life (10) [OR] all of his sons were incompetent (10) [OR] were too young to be crowned his successor. (14) He wavered between nominating either the ineffectual (9,11) Ruknuddin (4,6) or Bahram (6,7) or the bold, highly skilled and competent young (10) Raziya. (7,10)

Raziya chosen successor

Altamish was not only a very efficient ruler, but also a very liberal minded person. (10,18)  Because she was a Muslim and the daughter of a sultan, Raziya was born free (despite the fact that her father was originally a slave). (18) Her father had raised her in a very open manner (one could even mention it was quite “modern”) considering the time period; this is true not only for the Muslim world, but also for Christian Europe, Hindu India, and almost anywhere else during the Middle Ages. (18) Starting his career as a slave and having risen up the ranks through his merit and personal ability may have made Altamish more open to recognizing a woman’s worth over other men. (18) Furthermore, the fact that he was a Turk who was a member of one of the tribes inhabiting the steppes of Inner Eurasia before his enslavement also played a role in the way he saw the world. (18) In the ancient and medieval periods, women in nomadic pastoral tribal societies often had significantly more rights and played a bigger role in their societies than their sedentary counterparts. (18) Nomadic tribes lived in harsh environments with limited resources; they therefore had considerably smaller populations than the sedentary peoples, and had to utilize all the members of their societies to produce food, resources, and even to wage war and could not afford to confine or seclude their women or to relegate them to sidelines as was the case in other societies. (18) Raziya had attained some experience in politics, having been appointed to govern Delhi while her father was leading military campaigns. (18) Raziya wouldn’t bat an eyelash before giving her opinion or assisting her father actively in the affairs of State. (12) He decided to test his children. (16) Before leaving on his Gwalior campaign, he left Raziya (16,17) [OR] Raziya and Ruknuddin (16) in charge of the administration of Delhi. (16,17) After a one-year siege Altamish captured Gwalior and returned to Delhi in 1231. (15) Upon his return he was impressed with how his daughter had managed the affairs of state in his absence. (16) She had acted as an able regent (6,15) 1231–1232, while the siege of Gwalior was in progress. (6,15) with the assistance of the Sultan’s trusted minister. (14,15) She had exercised authority with great dignity, (14) and shown all the qualities of an efficient ruler. (7) [OR] it was not just during the siege of Gwalior, but whenever Altamish left the capital, he gave Raziya the power to discharge the responsibilities as a ruler (7,14)

His son, on the other hand, had spent most of his time seeking pleasure. (16) Impressed by her performance: (6,7) Altamish had perceived Raziya’s great qualities, (11) and trusted her with power. (6,11) According to a possibly apocryphal legend, (6) recorded by her chronicler Minhaji Siraj Juzjani – the only eyewitness account available to us, (8) She was ‘the only child after her father’s heart’, (11) because she showed “the signs of power and bravery”: (14) [OR]  ‘superior merit and intelligence’. (18) She appeared (7,14) more competent than her (1,7) many (8) [OR] three (10) [OR] two surviving (14) brothers, (1,7) Ruknuddin (4,6) and Bahram (6,7)) And so, on his deathbed, (12,15) [OR] after returning to Delhi, (6) without consulting the ulama (i.e. scholars within the Muslim law), (14) Altamish (1,6) broke tradition (10,16) and did what Hatshepsut’s could not; (16) he rewrote history by (12) ordering his officer mushrif-i mamlakat Tajul Mulk Mahmud Dabir to prepare a decree (17) nominating Raziya as his heir (1,6) apparent, (6,12) much to the dismay of the nobility. (16) In doing this he became the first sultan to appoint a woman as his successor, (10,14) She also received favour because her mother was of high lineage (8) [OR] her ancestors were originally (10,11) Turkish (11) slaves, not nobility. (10,11)

Unfavourable reaction

Women of the era were taught to be submissive to men. (16) A contemporary 13th century Persian historian, Minhaj-i-Siraj, a noted authority on the history of the Delhi Sultanate or Slave dynasty, sums up the atmosphere when he said: “A queen’s rule went against the ideal social order created by God, in which women were supposed to be subordinate to men”. (16)  He lived in a patriarchal society where men were taught that they were superior to women. (16) When the astonished ministers remonstrated against the unprecedented idea of setting a woman on a Moslem throne, (11,17) on the basis that he had surviving sons, (17) he replied that as his sons were given over to youthful folly, neither of them was fit to rule, and his daughter would prove to be the best fitted for the role. (11,14) Altamish’s choice of his inspirational but gender-handicapped daughter Raziyya (8,9) enraged her brothers and many subjects, stirring riots that were put down by troops led by Raziyya herself. (8) Altamish advanced (3,11) into Malwa (11) to sack Ujjain in 1234. (3,11)  This completed the submission of all India north of the Vindhyas. (11)

The Regime of Ruknuddin 1236

Succession crisis on the death of Altamish

After a successful rule of 25 years, (12) Altamish died (1,3) of natural causes(9) on 29th (16) [OR] 30th (10) April (10,16) 1236 A.D. (1,3), a feat which even contemporary writers found worthy of special note. (9) The slave system had grown stronger by the successful careers of Aibek and Altamish, (11) but Delhi’s chances of reasserting its authority there or anywhere else declined sharply after Altamish. (9) Many weak rulers ruled, (1,11) and the prestige of the Slave Dynasty went down substantially. (1,9) during years of political turmoil. (12) For ten years after the death of Altamish, in 1236, his kingdom suffered from the weakness and depravity of his sons. (11) Power passed (2,3) to a group of 40 (3,9) Turkish mamluks, (11) nobles of the court  (15) known as ‘The Chalisa’ or (4) “the 40” (4,9) or “the family of 40”; a military oligarchy. (9) This had been organised by Altamish (4,11) to help him in the administration. (4) profiting by the removal of their sovereign’s hand, The Forty shared among themselves the wealth and power of the kingdom. (11) The free-born men who had served Altamish with great ability in various offices were removed, and all control was in the hands of “the Forty”, (11) who held all offices save that of Sultan and controlled the succession. (3) It appears that during his last years, Altamish had agreed to appoint a son as his successor. (17) This is suggested by the fact that after becoming seriously ill, he had recalled Ruknuddin from Lahore to Delhi. (17) [OR] Even though Raziya was his appointed heir apparent (10,12) his courtiers did not share his high opinions of his daughter and his wishes were ignored. (18) She wasn’t supported by the (10,12) court of (12) nobles, (12,18) or the commanders of the army, (18) who refused to be ruled by a woman, (12) and her ascent to the throne did not come easily. (10,16) [OR] Another possibility is that the legend of Altamish nominating Raziya as his successor is a false story circulated by Raziya’s supporters after her accession. (17) Minhaj is the only near-contemporary source that narrates this legend, and he did not witness the events or the alleged decree himself: he was in Gwalior at the time, and did not return to Delhi until 1238. (17) [OR] Raziya now ruled India. (2) [OR] Instead they unanimously (17) promoted Altamish’s son (4,6) Raziya’s (6) oldest surviving brother (12) [OR] half-brother (6,18) Ruknuddin (4,6) [OR] Rukn-ud-din (7,12) [OR] Rukn al-Din (18) Firoz (4,11) [OR] Firuz (6,7) Shah succeeded (4,6) on 30th April, 1236. (13,15) to be the fourth sultan of the Mamluk Sultanate. (15)

Ruknuddin and Shah Turkan

The newly crowned (15) Ruknuddin ruled Delhi (7,10) nominally (10) for (7,10) six (10) [OR] seven (9) [OR] about seven (7,11) [OR] not quite seven months, (11,13) He had another of his half-brothers who had claimed the throne killed, to intimidate Raziya and to force her back into the harem. (18) He was not a capable ruler, (11,13) because although he was handsome, generous, soft-hearted, and convivial, (11) and so popular, (9,11) he was also a young fool,(11) who abandoned his duties, (16) immersing himself in pursuit of pleasures. (9,10) spending his money upon singers (11) music (11,15) and buffoons and, worse, (11) debauchery. (15,16) Swaying drunk upon his elephant, he went through the bazaars showering red gold upon the admiring crowd (11) [OR] causing much indignation among the people of the kingdom (15,16) and the power broking nobles. (12)  “God forgive him,” said a chronicler of his time, “his sensuality, frivolity, and the company of the lewd and base are bringing the empire to ruin” (11) his mother, (13,15) Altamish’s widow (9,10) the vindictive (9) savagely cruel (11) and detested (9) Shah Turkan (6,13) [OR] Turkaan, (10,15) took advantage of his casual attitude as a king (15) and ran the government for all practical purposes, (10,11) being the true power behind the throne. (18) He left her to it, so that (13,17) mother and son duly indulged their respective passions. (9) Shah Turkan used her new power to wreak vengeance on all of her personal enemies and rivals. (18) The duo’s blinding and execution of Altamish’s popular son Qutubuddin, combined with Shah Turkan’s high-handedness, led to rebellions by several nobles, and even the wazir (prime minister) Nizamul Mulk Junaidi joined the rebels. (17) This situation became worse, when the Turkic-origin slave officers close to Ruknuddin planned (17) [OR] Shah Turkaan directed (15) the execution of several people of the kingdom, (15,17) including Sultante’s Tazik (non-Turkic) officers. (17) This led to the murders of several important Tazik officers, including Junaidi’s son Ziyaul mulk and Tajul Mulk Mahmud, who had drawn up the decree declaring Raziya as the heir apparent. (17) While Ruknuddin marched towards Kuhram to fight the rebels, (17) Shah Turkan planned to execute Raziya (6,17) in Delhi. (17)

Raziya counter coup I

Raziya had not given up her right to the throne. (16) Rather than slink away in defeat or go into hiding out of fear for her life, Raziya decided to appeal to the people of Delhi to support her. (18) Eventually Rukn ud din Firuz was considered an unfit ruler and (15) Raziya instigated a rebellion against him and Shah Turkan. (6,16)  She used one of her father’s policies to gain the attention and the support to regain her throne. (18) According to the sources most of the commoners of India wore white garments during this era. (18) In addition to having the bell installed at his palace for those people seeking justice, Altamish also instituted a policy whereby anyone seeking justice from the Sultan should wear dyed clothes, so if the Sultan was abroad and saw anyone wearing colourful clothes, he knew that that individual was oppressed and required justice and personally listened to his/her complaint. (18) One Friday, (13,16) the day when most Muslims were gathered in the mosque and other public places (18) dressed in red clothes (13,16) (the colour of protest), (16) she walked among the people (18) [OR] stood before the congregation that had gathered (13,16) in Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque (16) for the Friday prayers. (13,16) congregational prayer (17) (namaz) (13) Standing in front of her people she appealed for justice, (13,16) in a powerful speech, swaying their emotions (13) by reminding them of her father’s prosperous reign (16) and that he had named her as his heir. (13,16) She instigated the general public against Shah Turkan, (17,18) giving a graphic account of the atrocities of Shah Turkan. (13,18) She had been unjustly removed from her throne that was bequeathed to her by her father, their beloved and just Sultan. (18) She publicly presented herself as a victim of injustice and proclaimed her charges against Ruknuddin, also charging him with the murder of her other half-brother. (18) and made a dramatic appeal to the people to exercise their right of choosing the sovereign, of carrying out the last wishes of their popular monarch and of putting an end to the atrocities of Shah Turkan and Rukn-ud-din Firuz. (13) besought the people to do justice by her (13,18) by defending her from Ruknuddin, who was now also threatening her life. (18) According to the 14th century text Futuh-us-Salatin, she had asked the people if she failed to meet their expectations. (17) She concluded by solemnly affirming that if she did not prove worthy of their trust and devotion she would willingly embrace (13,17) death (13) [OR] deposition (17) as a penalty. (13,17) The people were moved by her words to great excitement, (13) She carried out her plan on Friday, in order to maximize the publicity of her message. (18) Raziya’s plan worked and the people who heard her speak, many of them members of the army, supported her claim. (18) and on the 19th (16) [OR] 9th of November (10,12) 1236, (10,12) the people attacked the palace (13,17) and detained Shah Turkan. (17) Ruknuddin then returned to the capital, (13,17) but Raziya sent a force to arrest him, (17) it defeated her brother (6,7) so she deposed him and seized the throne, (16) with the support of the people of, and Ikhtiar-ud-din Altunia a childhood friend, (15) Her installation was therefore unique not only because she was a woman, but also because the support from the Delhi general public (7,13) was the driving force behind her appointment. Several nobles (17)  a few rebel military leaders (13) and the army (16,17) pledged allegiance to Raziya, and placed her on the throne, making her the first female Muslim ruler in South Asia. (17) Ruknuddin was deposed (6,10) on 9th November 1236, and both he and his mother Shah Turkaan were assassinated (10,12) on that day. (15) [OR] on 19th November 1236. (17)  he was imprisoned. (11,13) Firoz died (11,13) [OR] was probably (17) executed. (4,10)  Thus, the rule of Shah Turkan and her son, Rukn-ud-din Firuz came to an end (13) having ruled for less than 7 months. (17) and so barely qualifying as a reign. (9) Raziya could only claim the crown after her brother died, (10) and she was chosen in his place. (11) [OR] The nobility then reluctantly agreed the accession of Raziya to the throne as the fifth sultan of the Mamluk Sultanate. (15) [OR] The people raised Raziya Sultan to the throne. (13) 

Raziya succeeds, 1236

Her coronation ceremony (15) as Sultan (4,5) was held (15) on 10th November 1236. (10,12) She was the fifth Mamluk dynasty ruler. (12,14) She took the name of Jalâlat ud-Dîn Raziyâ (10,12) Sultan . (16) [OR] Raziyat-ad-din (“Devoted to the Faith”). (11) Raziya was the first (2,5) and only (5,6) woman (2,5) [OR] female Muslim ruler (6,7) who ruled India, (2,5) [OR] in South Asia (5,7) [OR] the Delhi (6,14) Sultanate (5,6) in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. (6,8) and the first woman to lead the army of the Delhi sultanate. (8) Raziya refused to be addressed as ‘Sultana,’ the term that would be used to address her according to her gender. (12) Her justification was, Sultana meant ‘wife or mistress of a Sultan (ruler)’ (12,17) She proudly demanded she be addressed as “Sultan”, as she herself was second to none. (12) Never in the history of the Mamluk dynasty, had the title of ‘Sultan’ bestowed upon or used to address a woman, because a woman had never ruled before. (12) In fact, she was supreme, one of the very few female rulers in the history of Islamic civilizations across the world.(12)

Noble opposition crushed

Raziya had got the throne no doubt but it was a crown of thorns that had been placed on her head. (13) From the very beginning of her reign, (17) her accession was challenged by a section of Turkish nobles. (2,6) She had ascended the throne with support of the general public of Delhi rather than that of the powerful Turkic-origin provincial governors. (17) The Arabian Prophet had said that “the most precious thing in the world is a virtuous woman,” but he had also said that “the people that makes a woman its ruler will not find salvation.” (11) [OR] they felt a female Sultan was a humiliation to male warriors and nobles. (12) Raziya was clearly impossible. (11,14) Nizamul Mulk Muhammad (17) Junaidi, (13,17) a ‘Tazik’ (non-Turkic) officer who had held the post of Wazir (prime minister) since Altamish’s time, refused to accept her accession. (17) He was joined by other nobles who had also rebelled against Raziya’s predecessor Ruknuddin, (13,17) hoping to replace him by a person of their choice. (13) They had expected Raziya to be a figurehead, but she increasingly asserted her power, (6,14)  openly acting as an independent leader. (14) The nobles (2,7) including Malik Izzuddin Muhammad Salari of Badaun, Malik Izzuddin Kabir Khan Ayaz of Multan, Malik Saifuddin Kuchi of Hansi, and Malik Alauddin Jani of Lahore. (17) could not reconcile themselves to the rule of a woman. (2,7) They gained adherents among other provincial governors also, which was a serious problem. (13) A number of Altamish’s sons were still alive and they had their supporters both among the nobles and the people of Delhi. (13)

Military action

These nobles marched against Raziya from different directions, (17) and encamped their troops near Delhi. (13) she sought help from Malik Nusratuddin Taisi, whom she had appointed as the governor of Awadh. (17) However, shortly after crossing the Ganges on his way to Delhi, Taisi was captured by Kuchi’s forces, and died in captivity. (17) Raziya then led an army out of the fortified city of Delhi to fight the rebels, and set up a camp on the banks of the Yamuna River. (17) Raziya’s first military campaign directed at non-rebels was an invasion of Ranthambore, whose Chahamana ruler had asserted his sovereignty after Altamish’s death. (17) Raziya directed Malik Qutubuddin Hasan Ghuri to march to Ranthambore: he was able to evacuate the Turkic nobles and officers from the fort, but was unable to subjugate the Chahamanas. (17) The Chahamanas, in alliance with the Mewatis, captured a large part of present-day north-eastern Rajasthan, and carried out guerilla war around Delhi. (17) Raziya did not possess adequate forces to engage them in an open conflict. (13) She therefore led her forces out of the fort but tried to gain her end by diplomacy, exploiting the mutual jealousy of the rebel chiefs,(13) to divide the opposition (14) rather than by war. (13) After some indecisive skirmishes, (17) she won the majority (13,14) [OR] some of them over, (13,14) the rebel leaders Muhammad Salari and Izzuddin Kabir Khan Ayaz decided to join Raziya. (13,17) They secretly met with Raziya, and the group planned to arrest other rebel leaders, including Junaidi. (17) However, Junaidi and other rebel leaders came to know about the plan (17) [OR] she then gave wide publicity to the fact that a number of rebel chiefs had joined her and had promised to bring others in chains before her. (13) This caused such distrust and dismay among the rebels that each one of them fled for his own safety without reference to anyone else. (13) Junaidi escaped, pursued by Raziya’s forces. (17) He fled to the Sirmaur hills, and died there. (17) The others were thus (2,6) soon (2) defeated. (2,6) Saifuddin Kuchi and his brother Fakhruddin were captured, imprisoned, and later executed. (17) Alauddin Jani was killed at the Nakawan village, and his head was later brought to Delhi. (17) She extended the power of the state widely through the obedience and submission of maliks (kings) and amirs (state leaders). (14) The prestige of Raziya suddenly went up with a bounce and all provincial governors were so overawed that they willingly submitted to her authority and agreed to pay annual tribute. (13) Minhaj mentions that soon, all the nobles from Lakhnauti in the east to Debal in the west acknowledged her authority. (17)

Achievements

The greatest achievement of Raziya Sultan was that she successfully won the confidence of her people. (13) The conservative Muslims were however shocked and did not like her move of breaking the custom by giving up the veil and displaying her face in public. (15) She ran her government adroitly and confidently and at the same time There were people to whom Raziya was unacceptable simply because she had been born a woman. (13) She needed to suppress all such opponents and rehabilitate the dignity and power of her royal office. (13) Besides by her tact, wisdom, diplomatic skill, industry and martial valor, she had to prove her greater worthiness for the royal office than even men. (13) Raziya proved her efficiency as a ruler. (15) She quickly began establishing her authority. (8,10) She negotiated with important military commanders and forced powerful administrators into retirement. (8) Raziya attempted to offset the power of the Turkic nobility by creating a class of non-Turkic nobles, which led to further opposition from the Turkic nobles. (17) She made several important appointments. (17) She appointed Khwaja Muhazzabuddin as her new wazir (prime minister), and conferred the title Nizamul Mulk upon him. (17) Muhazzabuddin had earlier served as deputy to the previous wazir Junaidi. (17) Raziya appointed Malik Saifuddin Aibek Bahtu as the commander of her army, and conferred the title Qutlugh Khan upon him. (17) However, Saifuddin died soon after, and Raziya appointed Malik Qutubuddin Hasan Ghuri to the newly created office of naib-i lashkar (Commander-in-Chief). (17) Raziya assigned the iqta’ of Lahore, formerly held by the slain rebel Alauddin Jani, to Malik Izzuddin Kabir Khan Ayaz, the rebel who had joined her. (17) Raziya recalled Ikhtiyaruddin Aitigin, a Turkic slave purchased by Altamish, to her court in Delhi appointed her loyalists to imperial household positions, including Malik-i Kabir Ikhtiyaruddin Aitigin as Amir-i Hajib and Malik Jamaluddin Yaqut as Amir-i Akhur. (17), and made him Amir-i Hajib. (17) She also bestowed favours upon another slave of Altamish – Ikhtiyaruddin Altunia, assigning him first the iqta of Baran, and then, the iqta of Bhatinda. (17) She was fully devoted to her empire (2,10) and to her subjects. (2,10) She possessed remarkable talents. (2,7) She proved to be a good ruler, an efficient, (10,19) wise, (7,11) brave (7) just, (10,11) generous (11,19) woman. (19) and a noble sultan (10) She had the support of all the common people. (13)

Foreign War

Raziya was a great warrior, (7,10) who led in battles. (10,11) she demonstrated her warrior skills by riding an elephant and leading her forces from the front in the battles as the chief of her army. (15) Raziya also sent a force to re-assert Delhi’s control over Gwalior, but this campaign had to be aborted. (17) During Raziya’s reign, the Shias revolted against the Sultanate, but the rebellion was suppressed. (17) In a major incident, the Shia Qarmatians carried out an attack on the Jama masjid in Delhi. (17) The Qarmatian leader Nuruddin Turk had earlier condemned the Sunni Shafi‘i and Hanafi doctrines, and had gathered nearly 1,000 supporters from Delhi, Gujarat, Sindh, and the Doab. (17) On 5 March 1237, he and his supporters entered the mosque, and started killing the Sunnis assembled there for the Friday prayers, before being attacked by the citizens. (17)

The Rajputs had started the offensive again and were laying siege to Ranthambhor. (13) She led (10,11) her horse (10) [OR] elephant (11,12) into the battlefields, (10,11) with her face displayed in public. (12,13) She conquered new territories (10,12) and attempted to strengthen her kingdom. (10) Her gender was never an excuse. (12) Even Bengal made a grudging submission, but this was short lived, and the calm merely presaged a storm. (9) In 1238, Malik Hasan Qarlugh, the former Khwarazmian governor of Ghazni, faced a Mongol threat, and sent his son to Delhi, probably to seek a military alliance against the Mongols. (17) Raziya received the prince courteously, assigned him the revenues of Baran for his expenses, but refused to form an alliance against the Mongols. (17) In 1238–1239, Malik Izzuddin Kabir Khan Ayaz – the governor of Lahore – rebelled against Raziya, and she marched against him, forcing him to flee to Sodhra. (17) Because the area beyond Sodhra was controlled by the Mongols, and because Raziya continued to pursue him, Izzuddin was forced to surrender and accept Raziya’s authority once again. (17) Raziya treated him leniently: she took away the iqta of Lahore from him, but assigned him the iqta of Multan, which Altamish had assigned to Ikhtiyaruddin Qaraqash Khan Aitigin. (17) However, Aitigin and Altunia conspired with other Turkic officers to overthrow her, while she was away on the Lahore campaign. (17) [OR] The constant support of Altunia enabled Raziya to rule the Sultanate successfully. (15) [OR] she ruled independently in her own right and was not a puppet through whom powerful men ruled. (18)

Domestic

She established law and order in her territory. (7,15) By building a system of roads, (7,14) she could easily inform herself of the affairs in the distant parts of the empire. (14) She linked towns up with villages (14,16) and built small forts as guard posts around these routes. (14) She impressed everybody by her ability, love of justice, recognition of merit and capacity for hard work. (13) She listened to the grievances of her subjects (13,14) and exercised general supervision over the work of every department. (13) She tried to reserve herself as a guiding hand among them instead of an indifferent ruler. (14) She tried to improve the infrastructure of the country by encouraging trade, (7,15) and digging wells. (7,14)

Educational

She constructed schools, libraries (7,10) academies, (12,15) [OR] academics, (14) and centres for research. (12,14) A secular ruler, (15) Raziya was religiously tolerant: (10,14) and made an effort to safeguard and conserve the culture of her Hindu subjects. (15) The syllabus included Hindu works in the sciences and literature, (10,12) in addition to the works of ancient philosophers, the Qur’an, (10,12) and the traditions of Muhammad. (12,15) This was only one of the many examples that showed that Raziya considered the Muslim community and the Hindu community on an equal footing. (14) She attempted to do away with (15) [OR] abolished Jazia Tax, (16) which was collected from the Hindus (16) [OR] non-Muslims. (15) but was opposed by the nobility. (15) She contributed in the field of art and culture, encouraging poets, painters and musicians. (7,15) An interesting emancipation can be seen on Raziyya’s coins. (8,14) Minting coins was one of the signs of sovereignty and rulership in the Muslim world. (18) Her initial coins were issued with her father’s name, (8,17) but by 1237–1238, (8,17) She had them minted in her name (8,10) as “the great sultan,” (8) “Pillar of women, Queen of the times, Sultana Raziya, (10,12) [OR] Raziya Sultan, NOT Raziya Sultana, (14) daughter of Shamsuddin Altumish”, (10,12) underlining her personal credentials as a powerful (14,18) female (18)  sovereign leader of the Sultanate of Delhi. (14,18) Another one had “In the Era of Imam al-Mustansir Commander of the Faithful, Mighty Sultan Splendour of the World and the Faith Malika Altamish, Daughter of Sultan Altamish”. (18) This one legitimizes her rule under the reigning Abbasid caliph as his loyal supporter. (18)

Cross dressing

Upon becoming the sultan, (10,12) Raziya still wore a veil and kept out of public sight. (16,17) Isami mentions that initially, she observed purdah: a screen separated her throne from the courtiers and the general public, and she was surrounded by female guards. (17) To rule the country with a strong hand, (7,16) [OR] to keep close relations with her people, (14,18) to be able to listen to their grievances. (18) [OR] to prove herself a man, (11) she held open courts. (5,13) Whether at court or (7,17) on the battlefield, (10,11) she adopted a gender-neutral attire (12) [OR] masculine clothes (5,7) (a tunic) (8) [OR] coat (9) [OR] a cloak (qaba) (17) and a man’s head-dress (8,9) a hat (kulah) [OR] turban (8) [OR] cap (9) more like the male rulers before her. (12,15) Raziya knew that ruling an empire while hidden behind a veil was impossible and she would have been unable to address the issues of her kingdom head on, (16) and so later, she started to assert herself more (17) and made a conscious decision to give up her traditional Muslim woman attire, (10,12) the veil (10,11) and the pardah, (5,12) appearing in public dressed in traditional male attire. (17) She cut her hair short, did not veil her face and rode like a man, armed with bow, quiver, and sword, (18) This cross dressing helped her cultivate her popularity with the people of Delhi, since male attire allowed her to ride out (8,14) on an elephant (14,17) in public. (8,14) The 13th century poet Amir Khusro wrote:

“For several months, her face was veiled,

her sword’s ray flashed, lightning-like, from behind the screen,

 Since the sword remained in the sheath

 Many rebellions were left unchecked.

 With a royal blow, she tore away the veil

She showed her face’s sun from behind the screen

 The [lioness] showed so much force/ that brave men bent low before her…”

It may have been more a need than a personal choice, but it opened her up to criticism from the nobility. (16)

Offends Muslims

She was well respected and loved by her subjects. (10) [OR] There was a section of the people which could never bear the idea of a woman being the head of the state. (13Her abandonment of the veil shocked Muslim society. (9,10) The decisions to dispense with the veil and show herself among the people in were unnecessarily (9) provocative to Muslim sensitivities. (9,12) It duly brought unfavourable comment from the historian Ezami. (9) Declaring that a woman’s place was “at her spinning wheel” and that high office would only derange her, he insisted that Raziya should have made “cotton her companion and grief her wine Cup”. (9) Minhaji Siraj Juzjani, too, acknowledges Raziya’s ability, it is hard for him to accept a female ruler: “She was a great monarch, wise, just, generous, benefactor to her realm, dispenser of justice, protector of her people and leader of her armies; and endowed with all the admirable attributes and qualifications necessary for a king. (16) Her only tragic flaw was that she was born a woman”. (16) “She had all the kingly qualities except sex, and this exception made all her virtues of no effect in the eyes of men, God’s benison upon her!” (11)

Raziya and Yakut

Raziya took a number of steps to enhance the prestige of the sovereign. (13,17) Muhazzabuddin, the Naib Wazir, was given the Wazarat. (13) The Jagirs of Kabir Khan and Salari were increased. (13) She wanted to extinguish was the growing power of the nobility and a way of doing it was to promote non-Turks to important positions. (13,16) This created resentment among the Turkic nobles. (17) In order to break the monopoly of (13) the Turko-Afghan nobles, called khans, or “lords,” (11) [OR] She did not intend to counter the power of her Turkish nobles. (14) In particular, because of his calm and dependable nature, (14) she trusted (7) and showed considerable favouritism towards (10) an Ethiopian (7,8) (Habshi) (7,14) named Jalal (7) Jamal (13,14) ud-din (7,13) Jamaluddin (14) Yaqut (7,11) who had probably once been a (9,15) slave (7,8) in her court, (8) and was very definitely in African (9,15) Siddi. (15) She appointed him Amir Akhur (13,14) [OR] Amir-e-Akhur (16,17) (Commander of the horses) (16) [OR] (Intendent of the royal stables). (14) Of all the things she did, nothing caused more problems than this appointment of Malik Yakut (16) because it was a strategic position, very close to the sovereign, (14) previously given only to Mamluk nobility (16,17)  of Turkic origin (17) Raziya’s Turkic officers resented this appointment. (17) In essence Raziya had made a non-Turk (14,16) a nobleman, (15) put him in command of her army (14) and made him her ‘personal attendant’. (7,9)  It proved too much for the Delhi male elite, (8,11) who were not likely to endure the insult of seeing an Abyssinian set over them by a woman, (11) and it eventually led to the nobles’ decision to depose her. (14) Challenging the monopoly of the powerful Turkish nobles, (6,7) combined with her appointments of non-Turkic officers to important posts, (6,14) led to their resentment against her. (6,7)  Fatima Mernissi argues in her book The Forgotten Queens of Islam that Raziya was overthrown because she fell in love with a lowly Ethiopian slave whom she promoted to a high post at court too rapidly. (18) It is around this time that (16) many tried to assassinate her character with (12) rumours of a love affair (8,10) between Raziya and Yakut (8,10) which started to spread. (16). Her enemies were watching her closely and witnessed Yakut help Raziya mount her horse by placing his hands under her armpits and lifting her up. (18) Such a familiar gesture and such physical contact between a ruler and an inferior slave was deemed unethical. (18)  [OR] She was perfectly innocent so far as any evidence goes, (11) but as the rumour of the affair between the two spread, Raziya’s name was tainted. (18) [OR] There is no mention of such a relationship in the writings of Minhaj-i-Siraj, however their relationship is mentioned by later historians. (16) Chroniclers such as Isami, Sirhindi, Badauni, Firishta, and Nizamuddin Ahmad attribute Raziya’s intimacy with Yaqut as a major cause of her downfall. (17) It has been debated for centuries whether the two were lovers or not. (10)

Coup against her, 1239

The Planning

After Raziya had reigned for four years (6,8) Altunia left for Bhatinda. (15) Perceiving that Raziya was now without her right hand man, a junta (6,9) of male chauvinist (9) Turkish nobles (6,7) rose in rebellion. (11,19) In 1239, the Turkish governor of Lahore rebelled against Raziya Sultana. (19) However, when she marched against him, he first fled and then apologized. (19) There are a number of possible reasons for this uprising against the Sultana. (18) One is the alleged affair with Yakut. (18) Another view is that there was always an animosity among the more conservative traditionalist Muslim scholars and their supporters against the idea of a woman ruling and they had always preferred a male ruler and had gathered support for their cause over the four years that Raziya ruled. (18) One of the rebels, (10,13) Malik (7,10) [OR] Malik-i-Kabir (14) Ikhtiar-ud-din (10,12) [OR] Ikhtiyaruddin (6,14) Aitigin, (10,13) had risen from the office of the governor of Badaun (10,13) and he felt that no large-scale rising was possible in Delhi as long as the queen was present there because of her (13,14) popularity (14) and precautionary measures. (13) The plans were therefore laid out with great care. (13) They would start rebellions in distant provinces. (14) Their aim was to help (12,16) Raziya’s brother, Muizuddin (6,12)  Bahram (6,7) OR] Balban (1) [OR] Behran (5) Shah, (10,12) (1240 – 42) (5) take possession of the throne (12,16) and rule as their puppet. (14,17)  thus weakening royalty permanently vis-a-vis the nobility. (13) [OR] Bahram usurped the throne. (10) Then the governor of Bhatinda (19)  Malik Ikhtiyauddin Mirza (14) Altunia, (5,6) revolted. (19) He was a key chess piece in the plans of Bahram and Aitigin. (14) Altunia had been a childhood friend of Raziya, (10,12) [OR] a prominent noble man under Raziya’s father. (14) According to many the two were childhood sweethearts (15) [OR] Altunia had been one of Raziya’s closest childhood friends. (16)  Altunia had supported Raziya’s accession, and she had rewarded him with (14,15) the governorship of (7,10) Bhatinda (7,10) [OR] Bathinda,(10) [OR] Lahore, (7) [OR] Tabarhinda (14) He was ‘a chief of Bhatinda. (15) Before his departure to Bhatinda, he offered marriage to Raziya which she refused stating that her priority was taking care of the empire. (14) The Turkish nobles (14,15) Aitigin and and Ghiyasussin Balban, (14) deliberately spread rumour linking Raziya with Jamal-ud-Din Yaqut her close confidante. (14,15) They told Altunia of the rumours about Raziya’s and Yakut’s intimacy, (12,14) to arouse Altunia’s jealousy by telling him that Raziya was in love with Yakut. (12,14) This was credible, because Raziya and Yakut were always together, discussing affairs concerning the empire and she asking him advice about strategies. (14) In anger, (14) Altunia joined the conspiracy. (13,14) [OR] He offered his help to depose Raziya in the hope of receiving a portion of the empire, (14,15) [OR] however only to get her back. (15) He raised the standard of revolt. (13,14)

The execution 

In 1239 (7) [OR] in April 1240 (6,17) [OR] Raziya arrived in Delhi on 3rd April, and came to know that (17) to her great surprise, (14) Malik Ikhtiar-ud-din Altunia, governor of Bhatinda (7,10) had risen against her (7,10) there. (14,17) [OR] She was pursued from Delhi by the rebel army under the leadership of Altunia. (18) He had previously supported her, Raziya had never expected rebellion to break out there. (14) Raziya fled Delhi with those troops who still supported her. (18) Altunia caught up with the fleeing Sultana and a pitched battle was fought between the two sides. (18) Raziya faced the threat head on, fighting valiantly, (14,16) and asked Yakut to prepare to march against Altunia. (14) At that moment, the army was exhausted, having put down a different rebellion in Lahore and Yakut feared that victory would not come so easily this time, but out of loyalty, he did not discourage her. (14) And so, she bravely (9,10) dashed across the Punjab in high summer (9) to put down the rebellion (7,10) in Bhatinda. (9) She was isolated (9) with her army (12) by the conspirators and (9,13) [OR] by Altunia. (13) A battle took place (12,14) between Raziya and Altunia. (15,18) She fought tooth and nail (12) but suffered a miserable defeat. (12,18) Yakut was captured, and Altunia realized that to defeat Raziya and to gain power for the nobles at Delhi, he had to kill Yakut, (14) which he did. (14,15) [OR] Aitigin and his fellow-conspirators captured (13)her Abyssinian friend Yaqut, (7,10) and killed him. (9,10) [OR] in the battle. (16) With the death of the commander, the soldiers lost confidence and eventually surrendered to Altunia in spite of Raziya’s efforts to rally them. (14) Altunia (10,11) [OR] Aitigin and his fellow-conspirators (13) then defeated and captured Raziya. (10,11) Thus she ended a captive (8,9) in the fort (9) at Qila Mubarak at Bhatinda, (10,12) which she had come to liberate. (9) She had been elbowed aside.(9) According to Minhaj, she had ruled for 3 years, 6 months, and 6 days. (17) [OR] three years and a few months, (2) [OR] three years and a half. (11) She was entrusted to the care of Altunia and the rest of the nobles returned to the capital. (13,15) The nobles [OR] at Delhi (14) had recognized Bahram and he had declared himself (12,15) as Sultan of Delhi (11,12)

The Fall of Raziya

Deposed

When the news of Raziya’s arrest (13,17) in Bhatinda (13,15) reached Delhi, (13,17) the rebel nobles (13,17) there (14,17) [OR] returning from Bhatinda (13) took advantage of her absence from Delhi (7) to dethrone her. (6,7) The forty chiefs (15) proclaimed (11,13) her brother (11,12) [OR] stepbrother (14) [OR] half-brother Muizuddin (12,14) Bahram (6,7) Shah, (12,14) the third son of Altamish, (13,14) Sultan. [OR] He had already been elevated to the throne. (13) He formally took the throne on 21st April 1240, and the nobles pledged allegiance to him on 5th May. (17) The nobles expected him, too, to be a figurehead, (14,17) and intended to control the affairs of the state through the newly created office of naib-i mamlakat (equivalent to regent), which was assigned to Ikhtiyaruddin Aitigin. (17)

And Altunia

Altunia double crossed by the conspirators

Raziya, still captured, needed to regain the throne, (6,7) [OR] to escape death. (12) She was already being treated royally even as a prisoner. (10,12) Altunia and Raziya had been childhood friends, and some (10,12) sources also suggest that they were deeply in love once upon a time. (10,12) Altunia was now in love with her, (16,18) claiming that the rumours of her relationship with Yakut triggered his rebellion. (16) She seems to have decided that she might achieve her aim if she could convince Altunia that they were fighting against a common enemy, and that cooperating with her might lead him to power in the sultanate (14) After deposing Raziya, the nobles at Delhi had distributed important offices and iqtas among themselves. (17) Altunia had not figured anywhere in the division of loaves and fishes of office. (13,14) Being absent from Delhi, nobody seemed to have remembered him. (13,14) or the promises of preferment that the noblemen had made. (13,14) This annoyed him, (13,14) and in addition, Sultan Bahram had Aitigin assassinated within 1–2 months. (17) After Aitigin’s death, Altunia had no hope of benefiting from Raziya’s overthrow, (17) and his best hope of getting on now rested with the new offer which Raziya had made him. (34) Altunia decided to help her. (9,11) 

Raziya marries Altunia 

Raziya also saw this as an opportunity to win back the throne, and (17) with time (15) [OR] soon (16) the lovers cleared their misunderstandings. (15,16) It is not known who made the offer of marriage first (14) but Raziya now married Altunia, (6,7) in September 1240. (17) in spite of the fact that he had been one (9,14) [OR] or the leader (7,10) of the conspirators. (9,10) 

Counter-Coup II

With Altunia’s (9,11) backing and affection, (9,11) in a last-ditch effort to recapture her throne, (16) Raziya decided to try and take back the kingdom from her brother. (6,10) who was a drunkard and oppressed the people (14) and killed opponents (14,17) like Aitigin. (17) unmercifully. (14,17) The people of Delhi, though overwhelmingly in favour of Raziya, could offer no resistance because there was no-one to lead it. (13) Recruiting an army (9,14) which according to Isami, included Khokhars, Jats, and Rajputs, and some other disgruntled Turkic nobles, including Malik Qaraqash and Malik Salari (17) Altunia and Raziya marched on Delhi, (7,9) to seize it. (13,15) Perhaps if the conduct of their forces had been left to the experienced Raziya they might have prevailed. (9) But, as a wife, she deferred to Altunia.(9) As they neared Delhi, Bahram Shah realised that his survival depended on killing Raziya. (14) The people of Delhi were still allied to Raziya Sultan and merely her presence was enough to harden their love and respect for her. (14) Sultan Muizuddin Bahram led an army against her. (17) On 14th (17) October 1240, the two armies faced one another ready for battle. (16,17)

Defeat

Raziya and Altunia were heavily (9,18) defeated (6,9) by her half-brother (6,18) [OR] brother (2,7) and successor (1,7) on (7) October (6,7) 12th (10,13) [OR] 13th (7) [OR] 14th, (5) [OR] 24th of Rabi’ al-awwal A.H.638, in the Muslim calendar (12,15) 1240. (2,5) (9)

Death

Not much is known about the circumstances of her death. (14,16) Some believe she fought as a valiant warrior on the battlefield until an arrow struck her. (14) [OR] She and Altunia (10,11) deserted by their troops (11,12) escaped from the battlefield (10,11) and fled from Delhi, (9,10) into the jungle (11) reaching Kaithal the next day, (12,15) where they were deserted by their remaining forces. (15,17)  [OR] they were defeated and killed on the same day. (13) [OR] she fled (14) and, plagued with hunger and thirst she approached a farmer tilling his fields and asked him for help. (18) where her survival was depending on a (14,18)  peasant (19) who gave her bread (14,18) and water (18) and a place to sleep. (14,19) During her sleep, the man saw a tunic of gold and pearls under her male army garment and realized that the man he had helped was a woman. (14,18) He killed her (14,18) drove away her horse, (18) despoiled her of all her valuables buried her body and took her valuables to sell on the market. (14,18) The farmer immediately drew the suspicion of the local magistrate when he attempted to sell his stolen goods in the local market and a confession was quickly beaten out of him. (18) Raziya’s body was disinterred, washed and reburied. (18) [OR] She and Altunia into the hands of Hindu (9,12) Jats and (10,12) were robbed and (10,12) killed (9,10) [OR] she got killed in the ensuing conflicts. (10) [OR] The unfortunate couple (2,6) were beheaded at Kaithal (5) by Bahram (2,6) after losing the battle for Delhi (18) [OR] by the Hindus (9,17) on 13th (10,13) [OR] 14th (12)[OR]  15th (17) October 1240. (10,12) [OR] 25th of Rabi’ al-awwal A.H. 638. (12,15) [OR] she died. (11) Thus her life ended (2,10) miserably (2) and tragically, (10) at the young age of 35, (12,16) There is a dispute regarding the actual site of her grave. (15) While many say that she was buried in a courtyard in Bulbul-i-Khan near Turkmen Gate, Delhi, (15,17) some say the site is in Kaithal (15,17) where a ruined building in Kaithal is purported to be the site of Raziya’s original grave. (17) The Viceroy of India Lord Linlithgow came to visit in 1938. (15) There are others who claim the site to be in Tonk, Rajasthan. (15) The 14th century traveller Ibn Batuta mentions that Raziya’s tomb (17,18) which is on the Yumuna River (18) had become a pilgrimage centre: a dome had been built over it, (17,18) by Bahram. (17) and people sought blessings from it. (17,18) Another grave, said to be of her sister Shazia, is located beside her grave. (17) Raziya was a devotee of the Sufi saint Shah Turkman Bayabani, and the place where she is buried is said to be his hospice (khanqah). (17) Today, the site is largely neglected: the Archaeological Survey of India performs annual maintenance to it, but has been unable to beautify it further because it is surrounded by illegal construction, and is approachable only through a narrow, congested lane. (17) In the late 20th Century, the local residents constructed a mosque near it. (17)

After Raziya

Bahram (2,6) [OR] Elalban, (5) [OR] Balban (1,11) assumed the style of Muiz-ud-din Bahram and ruled from 1240 to 1242. (13) Before his accession, he had had to agree to all the terms proposed by the nobles, so he never enjoyed the substance of power. (13) Rasiya’s demise was followed almost immediately by another Mongol irruption in 1241. (9) The invaders sacked Lahore whose ruins were then picked over by the predatory gocars unlike Delhi, so that Lahore thus lost all trace of its Ghaznavid and Ghorate past and has no monuments prior to those of the moguls. (9) There is no need to dwell upon the brief and inglorious reigns of (11) Bahram (2,6) [OR] Elalban, (5) [OR] Balban (1,11) and Mas’ud, [OR] Alaud-din- Masudshah (5) the one a brother, the other a nephew, of Raziya. (11) the founder of the second llban dynasty, became the Sultan. (5) Bahram (2,6) was “a fearless, intrepid, and sanguinary man: still he had some virtues – he was shy and unceremonious, and had no taste for gorgeous attire.” (11) After taking over the reins he had to face many revolts. (1) He was an able administrator, but he had a huge task to regain the lost prestige. (1) Following Altamish’s lead, he introduced tankas, gold coins of the same weight. (11) He restored the policy of despotism, (1) and his two years of power were spent in plots and counterplots, treacherous executions, and cruel murders. (11) The Turkish military oligarchy who now dominated daily affairs intrigued both against one another and against the more amorphous grouping composed of Indian converts to Islam and eminent refugees from Afghanistan beyond. (9) At the whim of these cut-throat godfathers young and ineffectual sultans were casually summoned and quickly dispatched usually to the higher after. (9) Balban was killed after a siege of Delhi (11) and was succeeded by Naziruddin Muhammad (1246 – 1266). (5) OR [OR] Balban is known for strengthening the position of the Sultan, efficient spy system, liquidation of the Corps of Forty, Strengthening administrative structure, Providing justice, Confiscation of ‘fiefs’ (Jagirs) and Massacre of the Mewati Rajputs. (note on pic of him)

Estimate

Raziya was the first and only female monarch of the Delhi Sultanate. (16) It’s easy to see parallels between the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh, Hatshepsut, and the Indian Sultan. (16) Though their lives were separated by centuries, their struggle against a patriarchal society was very similar. (16) While Raziya reigned for only four years, Hatshepsut ruled for more than twenty. (16) She was the only woman ruler of Delhi during the rule of Delhi Sultanate and Mughal Empire combined. (13) Her ascent to the throne is of much historical significance not only because she was a woman, but also because her ancestors were originally slaves, not nobility. (10) Raziyya’s rule stands out for its relative length. (8) At the time, her rule exceeded that of the ruler before her and the one that came after her. (8) Minhaji Siraj Juzjani, wrote the following passage:

Sultan Raziyya – may she rest in peace – was a great sovereign, and wise, just, and beneficent, the patron of the learned, a dispenser of justice, the cherisher of her subjects, and of warlike skills, and was endowed with all the admirable attributes and qualities required of kings; but as she did not attain the destiny, in her creation, of being computed among men, of what advantage were all these excellent qualifications unto her?

mnha juice Siraj said:

“Sultan Raziya, may God have mercy on her, was a great monarch. She was wise, just and generous, a benefactor to her Kingdom, a dispenser of justice, the protector of her subjects, and the leader of her armies. the country under Sultan Raziya enjoyed peace and the power of the state was manifest. She was endowed with all the qualities befitting a King, but she was not born of the right sex and so in the estimation of men all these virtues were worthless.”

The 14th Century traveller Ibn Batuta mentioned that the tomb of Sultan Raziya in Old Delhi attracted pilgrims who sought blessings from it, but today it is largely neglected. (16)

Appendix I: Paper and the Spinning Wheel.

These hostile rhymes written against her in 1350 are of additional interest in data, according to if Irfan Habib, India’s most distinguished economic historian, they contain “the earliest reference to the spinning wheel so far traced in India”. (9) Since the device is known in Iran from a prior source “the inference is almost inescapable that the spinning wheel came to India with the Muslims”. (9) So did the paper on which his army penned his patronising lines, palm leaves having previously served as a somewhat friable writing surface. (9) Both introductions were of incalculable value. (9) Governance and taxation could be expedited, and literature, scholarship and the graphic arts wrestle revolutionised by the availability of a uniform writing material. (9) In fact it became so common that by the mid-15th century Delhi’s confectioners were already wrapping their sticky halwa in recycled writing paper, 8 practise which would continue until the triumph of the polythene bag in the late 20th century. (9) Likewise, the spinning wheel greatly boosted the production of yarn and no doubt provided employment for many more weavers. (9) High quality cotton textiles had long been an important export; But thanks to the spinning wheel and other innovations, India’s cottage based cotton industry would in time become a barometer of national self esteem. (9) In adopting the spinning wheel as a symbol of Indian independence, Mahatma Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress party were not, however, courting Muslim votes. (9) The irony of predominantly Hindu India sporting a national icon of Islamic provenance went unnoticed. (9)

Appendix 2: Raziya and Hatshepsut

Like Raziya, the ancient Egyptian Hatshepsut had also been very close to her father, who had valued her highly for her bright mind. (16) She possessed more capabilities than his son, but she could not inherit the throne. (16) Power was supposed to pass to the male heir, to maintain Maat (universal order). (16) Thus, despite her potential, she only got power after she was married off to the future Pharaoh, her half-brother, Thutmose II. (16) Another similarity in the reigns of both Raziya and Hatshepsut, was their willingness to give up female attire and adopt the clothing of their male counterparts. (16) When they gained power, neither of them wished for others to think that they were second to anyone. (16) Sultan Raziya may have been in a powerful position, but she lacked the freedom that most male rulers had. (16) Any decision she made, would have been subject to great scrutiny. (16) Hatshepsut suffered the same fate; particularly when she favored her architect Senenmut above other nobility. (16) Powerful women have always been seen as a threat, whether they ruled a thousand years ago, a hundred, or even today. (16) Rana Safvi says “Independent women carving their own destinies have always been suspect.” (16) While the 14th century traveler Ibn Batuta mentions that the tomb of Sultan Raziya in Old Delhi attracted pilgrims who sought blessings from it, today it is largely neglected. (16) Sultan Raziya may have been a woman ahead of her time, but her achievements cannot be forgotten. (16) She made a lasting impression in the minds of the people and her legacy continues to this day, inspiring others to follow in her footsteps. (16)

Footnotes:

1 First Qutub Begum and then Shah Turkan.

2 But not if Raziya was only a half sister; Ruknuddin was killed and another brother

3 Difficult if he was ‘on his death bed’ when he nominated Raziya, as (12) says.

4 Original had ‘accession’

5 Only one?

6 physical segregation of the sexes and the requirement that women cover their bodies so as to cover their skin and conceal their form. (14 says it was just the veil)

7 The text had ‘dispose’!

8A phrase which assumes that Altunia had not been in Bhatinda all that time.

9All this suggests that he had gone there some time before, rendering the idea that he was Raziya’s right hand man, and that the nobles attacked when he went there inconsistent.

10 Text has ‘Dehli’

11As if they had not brought it with them

12 Evidently sober for a time.

Bibliographical Notes

(10 and (12) suspiciously similar.

FRESCI

Foreign and Military: Father and grandfather warriors, and she was trained as one. ‘A good fighter’, but beaten by rebels and drunken Balban!

Religion and Ideas: High status Muslim father, and at first adhered to veils before abandoning it. Her sex and cross dressing an aspect of her downfall, offending the 40. Education policy promoted Hindu scholarship.

Economic & Financial: work on infrastructure; suspension of jizya tax on non Muslims.

Social & Cultural: Education; dress code; career open to talents pleased Hindus. Coinage

Constitutional: Fair judgements; access to her; succession issue accession not run past ulema; not exceptional for being deposed and killed;

Individual & Random: Superior merits to half brothers; Yakut and Altunia. Mongols turning west; Unexpected death of expected heir.

Points of View: Muslim writers torn between her merits and antinomianism. Ascription of death to ‘Hindus’;

Language: ‘Sultan’ v ‘Sultana’;

Alternative Hypothesis: when did Altamish nominate Raziya, after his elder son’s death or on his own death bed? Who captured Raziya, Aitigin or Altunia? Who promoted Balban, himself or the 40? If Balban was a useless drunk and a puppet, and Raziya was a military genius, now did Balban defeat her? Did the Hindus, or an individual peasant kill Raziya?

Concepts CCC Cause: Why did  Altamish think he was in a position to install Raziya? Why did she fall?

Comparison: Hatshepsut; Matilda; Mary Tudor; Jane Grey; Elizabeth I; Catherine de Medici.  

Consequence: No other female Muslims; Under 40 oligarchy, Delhi Sultanate continued on downward path until extinguished by Babur at Panipat.

Time: Pocket of time between c 1220 and 1526 before the Mogul Empire.

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