The Delhi Sultanate

The Delhi Sultanate

The transformation of Delhi as capital had started way before 1931. This transformation came into action after the Delhi Sultanate. But what was the Delhi Sultanate? Who all were the part of this Sultanate? Let us travel back in time and find out more about the Delhi Sultanate.

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The Beginning of The Delhi Sultanate

The Delhi Sultanate was a major Muslim sultanate from the 13th to the 16th century in India. It began with the campaigns of Muʿizz al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Sām (Muḥammad of Ghūr; brother of Sultan Ghiyās̄ al-Dīn of Ghūr) and his lieutenant Quṭb al-Dīn Aibak primarily between 1175 and 1206.

It was the victory against the Rajputs that began the established the reign of the Delhi Sultanate.

Until the end of the 12th century, it was Prithviraj Chauhan who ruled on the Indian land. During his reign, Prithviraj Chauhan fought many battles out of which both the battles of Tarain fought in the late 12th century were crucial. In both battles, he fought Muhammad of Ghur of the Ghuride dynasty of Afghanistan.

In the first battle of Tarain between Muhammad of Ghur and Prithviraj Chauhan and other Indian rulers that was fought in 1191 A.D, Muhammad of Ghur faced a harsh defeat and had to retreat. And in the second battle that was fought in 1192 A.D., he returned and fought with more reinforcements and a stronger army with an intention to defeat the Rajputs and succeeded in doing so. This defeat ended the Rajputs’ supremacy in north India and gave way for Turkish emperors to establish themselves in the sub-continent.

The Administration of the Delhi Sultanate

The Delhi Sultanate was administrated and governed as per the laws stated in the holy Quran. This Quranic law was the supreme law of the empire. The Caliph was the supreme leader according to the Islamic theory. And all the Muslim rulers in the world were to be his subordinates.

Sultan – The head of the Sultanate

The head of the administration of the Sultanate was the king or the Sultan himself.  The Sultan was embodied with all the powers in his will and his will would be the law of the country. Since there was no principle of hereditary succession the Sultan had the power to nominate the heirs of his choice and they would be recognized by all other nobles.

All the Muslims were allowed in the Sultan’s office but that was only theoretically, in reality, the Sultanate was open only for the immigrant Turkes. In the later period, the Sultanate became even more restricted allowing only the members of the royal family.

Following the Islamic theory, the Sultans of Delhi were considered to be the messengers of Allah, i.e. God and it was their duty to enforce the laws stated in the Holy Quran.

Wazir or The Prime Minister

The Wazir exercised the Sultan’s power and rules and regulations laid down by him. The Wazir appointed all the important officers of the state under the name of the Sultan. In the absence of the Sultan, it’s the Wazir who took care of everything.

He advised the Sultan in the matters of administration and always kept him updated about the sentiments and needs of his people. The Wazir handled all the financial matters; he was also the superintendent of the civil servants and commanded the military establishment. All the requirements of the army were to go through him.

The Army Master or Diwan-i-Ariz

Diwan-i-Ariz controlled the military establishment. Diwan-i-Ariz recruited the troops for the army. The Sultan was the commander-in-chief of the army. He mostly looked after the discipline of the army and their equipment and their requirements on the battlefield that were then informed to the Wazir.

The minister for foreign affairs or Diwan-i-risalt

He was the minister responsible for the foreign affairs and handled the diplomatic correspondences, the ambassadors, and the envoys received from the other rulers.

Minister of the department of religions or Sadr-us-Sudur

The Sadr-us-Sudur was the minister who handled the religious department, endowment, and charity. He was to enforce the Islamic rules and regulations and it was his duty to ensure that all Muslims strictly followed these rules and regulations.

Sources of the Delhi Sultanate

The important sources of information available about the Delhi Sultanate are:

  • Inscriptions: They are found on old coins, historical monuments, milestones, and tombstones.
  • Monuments: The Sultans of Delhi built many monuments that reveal not only the cultural traditions of that period but also the living conditions, faiths and beliefs and the socio-cultural outlook of the rulers. One such monument is the Qutub Minar.

Invasion of Muhammad Ghori

Muhammad of Ghur after winning the second battle of Tarain with Prithviraj Chauhan started his exploitation in India. However, soon after that, he returned to his kingdom and left his trusted lieutenant and former slave Qutbuddin Aybak behind to rule on his behalf. These marked the beginnings of the Slave or the Mamluk dynasty in north India.

Slave Dynasty


Source: StoryofPakistan.com

Qutubuddin Aibak, born as a slave in then Turkistan and as he grew up he became the trusted lieutenant of Muhammad Ghur; is regarded as the founder and the first ruler of the slave dynasty or then called as the ‘Mamluk Dynasty’. It was Qutub-ud-din Aibak who laid the foundation for Qutub Minar in Delhi which was finished by Iltutmish.  However, under his reign, there were no major territorial expansions of the dynasty under his rule.

Khiliji Dynasty


Alauddin Khilji (Source: Indiatimes.com)

Jalaluddin Khilji was the founder and the first ruler of the Khilji dynasty, after the Slave dynasty. He got the throne of the Khilji dynasty after killing Kaikubad, the last ruler of the slave dynasty.  Jalaluddin Khalji was a nobleman of the Turkish origins who had settled in Afghanistan. The Delhi Sultanate rapidly expanded under the Khalji dynasty.

Tughluq Dynasty

The Tughluq dynasty was established by Ghiyasuddin Tughluq who expanded his kingdom after the Khalji dynasty collapsed. Muhammad bin Tughluq and Feroze Tughluq were the well- known rulers among the Tughluqs. However, Muhammad bin Tughluq was considered a prominent ruler who was scholarly and well-read in many subjects.

He had also mastered in mathematics, astronomy, logic and physical sciences. He enjoyed Persian literature, music, fine arts, and calligraphy. After his death, the Sultanate grew very weak and eventually collapsed.

Sayyed Dynasty

The Tughluq dynasty had come to an end by the 14th century due to the invasion by the Turkish ruler Timur. However, Timur soon left and when he left, a local governor of Multan named Khizr Khan replaced him and announced himself as the ruler of Delhi and established the Sayyid dynasty.

Question For You

Q. Mohammad Ghori invaded the provinces of Sindh and ___________.

a. Punjab

b. Jammu and Kashmir

c. Rajasthan

d. Uttar Pradesh

Sol: a. Punjab. During the last quarter of the 12th century Mohammed Ghori, who was ruling a kingdom in Afghanistan, invaded India and secured the provinces of Sindh and Punjab. When he made further advances into Indian territories, Prithviraj Chauhan, the king of Delhi and Ajmer, routed him in a battle. However, Mohammad was spared from the death penalty.

The very next year Mohammad came to India and fought with Prithviraj and defeated him. Mohammad gave orders to kill him. Delhi came under the control of Mohammad Ghori. Before returning to Afghanistan he transferred the conquered territories to his general by name Qutubuddin Aibak. Aibak started ruling as the sultan of Delhi.

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