Razia Sultana, the Sultan of Delhi from 1236 to 1240, was one of the Mamluk dynasty’s renowned Muslim rulers of the Indian Subcontinent. Following the loss of her full brother, Nasiruddin Mahmud, she was named the heir apparent to Iltutmish. Her half-brother Rukn ud din Firuz was selected to take over as Sultan after Shamsuddin Iltutmish passed away. However, he was later assassinated since it was thought he wouldn’t be able to rule.
Let’s learn more about her by taking a stroll down his life’s historical pathways. Additionally, you’ll learn about her dynasty, kingdom, and role in Delhi Sultanate history. For those preparing for the UPSC exams, the following information on Sultana Razia would be helpful.
Early Life Of Razia Sultana Of Delhi Sultanate
Born in Budaun, Razia Sultana was the only daughter of Sultan Iltutmish, a Turkic slave. Her family didn’t belong to the class of nobles. Her family traces its origins to the Turkish Seljuk Slaves and her father entered Delhi as a slave under the reign of Qutb Al-Din-Aibak. Her father was a hardworking and humble man, which helped her rise to power. She received military and professional warfare training at a young age, along with her siblings. ltutmish had enormous confidence in her competence.
Growing up, Razia Begum had very little interaction with the women in the harem. So she never imbibed the customary demure behavior of women in the contemporary Muslim society of her times. She supported her father in affairs of state while he was still a Sultan. She also broke tradition as Sultan by leading her army into battle while riding an elephant.
To learn more about the Iltutmish, visit the linked article.
Accession To Throne
Before embarking on his war in Gwalior in 1231, Shams-ud-din Iltutmish assigned his daughter Razia al-din to manage the governance of Delhi. Because of how skillfully Razia handled her responsibilities, Shamsuddin Iltutmish chose to appoint her as his successor after he returned to Delhi.
No monarch has ever picked a woman to succeed him, therefore this went against all conventions by proposing a woman. Although they believed a woman being sultan was a disgrace to all the male troops and Turkish nobility, the Muslim aristocracy in the court opposed Razia’s candidacy as their monarch.
This broke all norms by nominating a woman, no ruler before him had ever chosen a woman successor. However, the Muslim nobility in the court did not support Razia’s nomination as their sultan as they considered a woman becoming the sultan an insult to all the male warriors and Turkish nobles.
Ruknuddin Firuz was chosen by the nobility to succeed Iltutmish as king upon his death. Iltutmish may have consented to name a son as his heir in his final years.
This is shown by the fact that he had sent Ruknuddin back to Delhi from Lahore after becoming critically ill. Another hypothesis is that Razia’s followers made up the rumor that Iltutmish had nominated her to be his successor. A total failure as a leader, the new Sultan wasn’t able to match the standards of a competent ruler. During his brief rule for all the practical purposes, Shah Turkan, Iltutmish’s widow, is thought to have effectively run the government while the Sultan was engrossed in the pleasures of his regal position. Later, a court scheme led to the murders of Ruknuddin and his mother Shah Turkaan in November.
The Accession to the Throne of Razia Sultana began in 1236 when she took the throne and became Delhi’s sole Muslim female ruler. On November 10th, 1236, Razia, formally known as jal’lat-ud-dîn raziy, succeeded to the throne. Upon becoming queen, she abandoned the traditional dress of Muslim women and adopted gender-neutral attire. She also refused to be called a Sultana, a term that denoted a woman who served as the mistress or wife of a Sultan. Razia al-din made it clear that she was supreme, and she made her accession to the throne an opportunity to make herself known.
Reign Of Razia Sultana
Sultana Razia proved she was an efficient ruler. She demonstrated her abilities as an effective administrator by enacting important reforms in the administration during her rule. She made an effort to improve the nation’s infrastructure by drilling wells, constructing roads, and promoting trade while also establishing adequate law and order throughout her kingdom.
The administrative operations of the state piqued her interest, and many commanders, Iqtadars, and other officers were personally chosen by her. Khwaja Muhazzabuddin was given the title Nizamul Mulk and designated as her new wazir. Malik Saifuddin Aibek Bahtu was given the title Qutlugh Khan by Razia Sultana and given the responsibility of leading her army. She managed state affairs in a visible “durbar” and stopped wearing pardah, the traditional clothing for Muslim women.
She ordered coins to be minted with her title as “Pillar of Women, Queen of the Times, Sultan Razia, daughter of Shamsuddin Iltumish” during his reign. As a secular monarch, Razia Sultan made attempts during her rule to protect and preserve the innate culture of her subjects who were Hindu. The nobility rejected her attempts to abolish the tax placed on non-Muslims. She established academic institutions, research institutes, and schools in addition to public libraries that contained the Qur’an, Prophetic traditions, and works by ancient philosophers.
Several governors conspired to remove Razia. The most tragic death involved Malik Ikhtiar-ud-din Altunia, the governor of Bhatinda. Ikhtiyaruddin Aitigin, a Turkic slave bought by Iltutmish, had been sent back to Razia’s court in Delhi where he was given the title of Amir-i Hajib. Malik ikhtiar-ud-altunia had also received favors from her by receiving the iqta of Baran first, followed by the iqta of Tabarhinda. However, when she was away on the Lahore campaign, these two commanders planned to dethrone her.
Relable article: To gain more information regarding Iqta System In Delhi Sultanate, explore the linked article.
On April 3, 1240, the sultan landed in Delhi. In Tabarhinda, she learned that malik ikhtiar-ud-altunia had rebelled against her. Ten days later, Razia and Jamal-ud-Din Yaqut marched in the direction of Tabarhinda. She had no idea that Altunia had gained the help of other Delhi nobility to plot her destruction. Jamal-ud-din yaqut, an Abyssinian slave, was killed and imprisoned by the rebel forces at Tabarhinda.
She married Malik Altunia as a result of her failure to find a solution to save herself. Altunia and Razia moved in a forward march toward Delhi. Razia’s fate hasn’t been on her side. Altunia and Razia were defeated and died close to Kaithal. This marked the end of Razia’s four-year rule as Delhi’s sole female monarch.
The Tomb of Razia Sultana is situated in the Bulbul-i-Khan neighborhood, east of Kalan Masjid, in Old Delhi, next to the Turkman Gate. Ibn Batuta, a traveler from the 14th century, reports that her tomb has turned into a major site for pilgrimage. People prayed to it, and a dome had been constructed above it.
The tomb is quite plain-looking; it has four walls without roofs and two tombs positioned in the middle of the enclosure. The tomb has experienced the effects of time because it is covered in dust and dirt. In the meantime, encroachments have protruded through a corner that juts in and an air conditioner duct that protrudes here and there. According to legend, Razia’s half-brother and successor Muizuddin Bahram Shah built her grave, her burial is situated close to another grave that is believed to belong to her sister Shazia. Her tomb is also considered Shah Turkman Bayabani’s hospice. According to legend, Razia’s original grave was located beside a collapsed building in Kaithal.
Among the rare female sultans in the history of Islamic civilization was Razia Sultan, the 5th Mamluk Sultan. For approximately three and a half years, Razia Sultan was in power. She implemented many significant reforms in the administration and educational system. But, she was unable to stand alone in front of the Muslim Nobles. The male powers’ jealousy and discontentment made the rule of women vulnerable. Still, she became a display of power and a brave ruler. By removing the veil and taking the lead on the battlefield, she disobeyed Muslim tradition. She earned the reputation of being a kind woman ruler throughout her brief reign.
What Are The Reasons For The Decline Of Razia Sultana?
Some of the factors that sparked a plot to have her destroyed are enlisted below:
1. It was against Islamic tradition for Razia to be made a Sultana.
2. Due to their view that working under a woman was a great shame, several Turkish chiefs moved against her.
3. She adopted harsh measures that annoyed her rival leaders much more than garnering their favor or trust.
4. Traditionalist Muslims were shocked by her choice to take off her veil, and the religious authorities did not take it well.