Delhi Sultans – Study Material
- The Delhi Sultanate was a Muslim sultanate based mostly in Delhi that stretched over large parts of the Indian subcontinent for 320 years (1206–1526). Five dynasties ruled over the Delhi Sultanate sequentially: the Mamluk dynasty (1206–1290), the Khalji dynasty (1290–1320), the Tughlaq dynasty (1320–1414), the Sayyid dynasty (1414–1451), and the Lodi dynasty (1451–1526). The sultanate is noted for being one of the few states to repel an attack by the Mongol Empire, and enthroned one of the few female rulers in Islamic history, Razia Sultana, who reigned from 1236 to 1240.
- During and in the Delhi Sultanate, there was a synthesis of Indian civilization with that of Islamic civilization, and the further integration of the Indian subcontinent with a growing world system and wider international networks spanning large parts of Afro-Eurasia, which had a significant impact on Indian culture and society, as well as the wider world. The time of their rule included the earliest forms of Indo-Islamic architecture, increased growth rates in India’s population and economy, and the emergence of the Hindi-Urdu The Delhi Sultanate was also responsible for repelling the Mongol Empire’s potentially devastating invasions of India in the 13th and 14th centuries.
The context behind the rise of the Delhi Sultanate in India was part of a wider trend affecting much of the Asian continent, including the whole of southern and western Asia: the influx of nomadic Turkic peoples from the Central Asian steppes. This can be traced back to the 9th century, when the Islamic Caliphate began fragmenting in the Middle East, where Muslim rulers in rival states began enslaving non-Muslim nomadic Turks from the Central Asian steppes, and raising many of them to become loyal military slaves called Mamluks. Soon, Turks were migrating to Muslim lands and becoming Islamicized. Many of the Turkic Mamluk slaves eventually rose up to become rulers, and conquered large parts of the Muslim world, establishing Mamluk Sultanates from Egypt to Afghanistan, before turning their attention to the Indian subcontinent.
Sultans of Delhi Sultanate :
|Sultans (Kings/Rulers)||King in||Death||Note|
|Qutb-ud-din Aibak||1206||1210||First Sultan|
|Razia Sultan||1236||1240||Women Ruler|
|Nasir ud din Mahmud||1240||1266|
|Ghiyas ud din Balban||1266||1287|
|Muiz ud din Qaiqabad||1287||1290|
The Tughlaq dynasty lasted from 1320 to nearly the end of the 14th century. The first ruler Ghazi Malik rechristened himself as Ghiyath al-Din Tughlaq and is also referred to in scholarly works as Tughlak Shah. He was of Turko-Indian origins; his father was a Turkic slave and his mother was a Hindu. Ghiyath al-Din ruled for five years and built a town near Delhi named Tughlaqabad. According to some historians such as Vincent Smith, he was killed by his son Juna Khan, who then assumed power in 1325. Juna Khan rechristened himself as Muhammad bin Tughlaq and ruled for 26 years. During his rule, Delhi Sultanate reached its peak in terms of geographical reach, covering most of the Indian subcontinent.
- The Sayyid dynasty was a Turkic dynasty that ruled the Delhi Sultanate from 1415 to 1451. The Timurid invasion and plunder had left the Delhi Sultanate in shambles, and little is known about the rule by the Sayyid dynasty. Annemarie Schimmel notes the first ruler of the dynasty as Khizr Khan, who assumed power by claiming to represent Timur. His authority was questioned even by those near Delhi. His successor was Mubarak Khan, who rechristened himself as Mubarak Shah and tried to regain lost territories in Punjab, unsuccessfully.
- With the power of the Sayyid dynasty faltering, Islam’s history on the Indian subcontinent underwent a profound change, according to Schimmel. The previously dominant Sunni sect of Islam became diluted, alternate Muslim sects such as Shia rose, and new competing centres of Islamic culture took roots beyond Delhi. The Sayyid dynasty was displaced by the Lodi dynasty in 1451.
- The Lodi dynasty belonged to the Pashtun (Afghan) Lodi tribe.Bahlul Khan Lodi started the Lodi dynasty and was the first Pashtun, to rule the Delhi Sultanate.Bahlul Lodi began his reign by attacking the Muslim Jaunpur Sultanate to expand the influence of the Delhi Sultanate, and was partially successful through a treaty. Thereafter, the region from Delhi to Varanasi (then at the border of Bengal province), was back under influence of Delhi Sultanate.
- After Bahlul Lodi died, his son Nizam Khan assumed power, rechristened himself as Sikandar Lodi and ruled from 1489 to 1517. One of the better known rulers of the dynasty, Sikandar Lodi expelled his brother Barbak Shah from Jaunpur, installed his son Jalal Khan as the ruler, then proceeded east to make claims on Bihar. The Muslim governors of Bihar agreed to pay tribute and taxes, but operated independent of the Delhi Sultanate. Sikandar Lodi led a campaign of destruction of temples, particularly around Mathura.
Before and during the Delhi Sultanate, Islamic civilization was the most cosmopolitan civilization of the Middle Ages. It had a multicultural and pluralistic society, and wide-ranging international networks, including social and economic networks, spanning large parts of Afro-Eurasia, leading to escalating circulation of goods, peoples, technologies and ideas. While initially disruptive due to the passing of power from native Indian elites to Turkic Muslim elites, the Delhi Sultanate was responsible for integrating the Indian subcontinent into a growing world system, drawing India into a wider international network, which led to cultural and social enrichment in the Indian subcontinent.
The Indian population had largely been stagnant at 75 million during the Middle Kingdoms era from 1 AD to 1000 AD. During the Medieval Delhi Sultanate era from 1000 to 1500, India experienced lasting population growth for the first time in a thousand years, with its population increasing nearly 50% to 110 million by 1500 AD.
While the Indian subcontinent has had invaders from Central Asia since ancient times, what made the Muslim invasions different is that unlike the preceding invaders who assimilated into the prevalent social system, the successful Muslim conquerors retained their Islamic identity and created new legal and administrative systems that challenged and usually in many cases superseded the existing systems of social conduct and ethics, even influencing the non-Muslim rivals and common masses to a large extent, though the non-Muslim population was left to their own laws and customs. They also introduced new cultural codes that in some ways were very different from the existing cultural codes. This led to the rise of a new Indian culture which was mixed in nature, different from ancient Indian culture. The overwhelming majority of Muslims in India were Indian natives converted to Islam. This factor also played an important role in the synthesis of cultures.
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