4 Dec 2015

Firoz Shah Tughlaq, "Akbar" of the Sultanate

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"Among the gifts which God bestowed upon me, His humble servant, was a desire to erect public buildings. So I built many mosques and colleges and monasteries, that the learned and the elders, the devout and the holy, might worship God in these edifices, and aid the kind builder with their prayers"

"I was enabled by God's help to build a Daru-sh shifa, or Hospital, for the benefit of every one of high or low degree, who was suddenly attacked by illness and overcome by suffering"

"Through God's mercy the lands and property of his servants have been safe and secure, protected and guarded during my reign; and I have not allowed the smallest particle of any man's property to be wrested from him"

"When any government servant filling an important position was carried off under the decrees of God to the happy future life, I gave his place and employment to his son, so that he might occupy the same position and rank as his father and suffer no injury"
(From Futuhat-i Firoz Shahi)

Sipah Salar Rajab was the younger brother of Sultan Ghias-ud-din Tughlaq, who was the founder of the Tughlaq Dynasty of Delhi. The three brothers, Tughlaq, Rajab, and Abu Bakr came from Khorasan to Dehli during the reign of Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji (1296-1316). Ala-ud-din treated them with great favour and all three brothers were taken into service. The country of Dipalpur (now in Punjab, Pakistan) was conferred upon Tughlaq. Tughlaq wished that his brother Rajab should marry Bibi Naila, the beautiful daughter of Rana Mall Bhatti of Abuhar, but the Rana refused to that proposal. Tughlaq Shah proceeded to the villages belonging to the Rana and demanded payment of the year's revenue, in ready money of the whole amount. The villagers suffered much hardship. When the mother of Rana Mall heard of Tughlaq Shah's severity to the people, she proceeded into the house of her son, weeping and tearing her hair. When Bibi Naila heard the cause of her grandmother's grief, she replied, "If my surrender will deliver the people from such misery, comply instantly with the demand and send me to him; consider that the Mughals have carried off one of your daughters". The grandmother informed this to the Rana and the Rana agreed for the marriage. After her marriage with Sipah Salar Rajab, her name was changed to Sultan Bibi Kadbanu. Firoz Shah was the son of Sipah Salar Rajab by Bibi Naila. He was born in 1309.

Firoz Shah (1351-1388) was the third ruler of the Tughlaq Dynasty of Delhi. He ascended the throne of Delhi, on March 23rd, 1351, at the age of 45. When Firoz was seven years old, his father died. Sultan Tughlaq considered Firoz as his own son. When Ghias-ud-din Tughlaq (1320-1325) ascended the throne, Firoz got knowledge of all public business transacted by the Sultan. Sultan Tughlaq was succeeded by his son Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq (1325-1350), who was also exceedingly kind and generous to his cousin Firoz. When Muhammad divided Delhi into four parts he placed one part under the charge of Firoz. Sultan Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq had no sons when he died. On his death bed, Muhammad nominated Firoz his successor. When Muhammad died, a troop of Mughal rebels of Thatta plundered the country. The nobles then assembled in council and placed Firoz Shah on the throne. Soon after his accession to the throne, Firoz Shah sent his army against the Mughal invaders and defeated them.

Great Builder of the Sultanate: Many beautiful buildings were erected during the reign of Firoz Shah Tughlaq. 

Foundation of New Towns:

Fatehabad (in Haryana): When his eldest son Fath Khan was born to him at Ikdar, Firoz Shah founded a town there, to which he gave the name of Fatehabad.

Hisar Firoza (1356), now known as Hisar (in Haryana): It took two and a half years to built the city of Hisar Firoza. Formerly, there were two large and populous villages stood, which were called Great Laras and Little Laras. The neighborhood of Great Laras greatly pleased Firoz and he decided the build a city there. Hard stone was brought from the hills of Narsai, and was used with strong quicklime and burnt bricks. A fort of great extent and height was commenced. Since there was scarcity of water, he built two canals; one from Yamuna and the other from Sutlej. The canal from the Yamuna was called Rajiwah and the other Alagh-khani. When it was built he laid out many gardens and planted many trees including all sorts of fruit trees.

Firozabad (1354), now known as Firoz Shah Kotla (in Delhi. Firoz Shah Kotla remains next to the Firoz Shah Kotla Cricket Stadium): On the banks of Yamuna, at the village of Gawin, five kilometers distant from Delhi, Firoz Shah founded the city of Firozabad. Shams-i Siraj says that, eighteen places were included in the city of Firozabad and one of them was the land of the tomb of Sultan Raziya. There were also eight public mosques.

Jaunpur (in Uttar Pradesh): Firoz Shah built a new town on the banks of Kowa in memory of Sultan Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq, and as his real name was Fakhr-ud-din Jauna, he named the place Jaunpur.

Firozpur (in Punjab): On the banks of Sutlej river, Firoz Shah built a new city which he called Firozpur.

Other Public Works: Firoz Shah brought many waste lands into cultivation. Public works constructed during the reign of Firoz Shah include 50 Dams across rivers to promote irrigation, 40 Mosques, 30 Colleges with mosques attached, 20 Palaces, 100 Caravansaras, 200 Towns, 30 Reservoirs or lakes for irrigating lands, 100 Hospitals, 5 Mausolea, 100 Public baths, 10 Monumental pillars, 10 Public wells and 150 bridges. Many wonderful things were invented by Sultan Firoz in the course of his reign, and among the most wonderful was the Tas­i ghariyal (a bell to tell the time), which was placed on the top of the darbar of the kushk in Firozabad. He laid out many gardens, around 1200, at Delhi alone. In Salaura, he made eighty gardens and in Chittor, forty-four. He transported two Asoka pillars to Delhi, one from Topra, in Ambala district (now in Haryana) and the other from Meerut. One was erected in the palace at Firozabad, near the Masjid-i jama, which was called Minara-i zarin and the other was erected in the Kushk-i Shikar or Hunting Palace (You can see the first pillar at Firoz Shah Kotla and the second pillar on the ridge near the Hindu Rao hospital at Delhi). He also built nearly 120 monasteries and inns for the accommodation of travellers.

He repaired the tombs and many other historical buildings of former kings: He rebuilt the Jami Masjid (Masjid-i Jami) of Qutub-ud-din Aibak, the Royal Tank of Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji (at Hauz-i-Khas complex), Jahan-Panah of Sultan Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq, Sultan Ghari Mausoleum and the Madrasa (college) of Sultan Shams-al-Din Iltutmish (and many other monuments). He also repaired the top two stories of the Qutub Minar, which were damaged by lightning in 1368. He founded an establishment called Diwan-i Khairat for the promotion of marriages. He established a hospital which is known as the Daru-sh shifa or Shifa Khana.

Firoz Shah was very fond of collecting slaves. Altogether in the city there were 180,000 slaves and he took especial care for their maintenance and attention. He bestowed villages and lands as salary to his followers and office-bearers. In the words of Shams-i Siraj Afif, this method of paying officials was introduced by Firoz Shah. He also made a law that army services should be hereditary.

He abolished a number of unlawful taxes. He collected only four taxes according to the Islamic Law. Those were the Kharaj or land tax, Zakat or tax collected from the Muslims for religious purpose, Jizya or religious tax on the Hindus and the Khams of the booty looted during wars. He imposed Jizya on the Brahmans for the first time. During his reign, a Brahman was burnt alive for advising the Muslims regarding Hinduism. Firoz Shah encouraged the conversion of Hindus to Islam. Many Hindu temples and idols were destroyed and mosques were raised. He prevented severe punishments to men. He ordered that no Muslim woman should go out on pilgrimage to the tombs. 

Ashoka Pillar on the ridge near the Hindu Rao hospital at Delhi

Conquests:

Lakhnauti (now Gaur or Gauda) in West Bengal: During his first conquest in 1353-54, Firoz Shah defeated Shams-ud-din of Bengal but didn't annex the State. In the second expedition in 1359-60, Sikandar Shah, son of Shams-ud-din, made his submission.

Jajnagar (now Jajpur) in Orissa: Adaya, the Rai of Jajnagar, submitted. Firoz Shah destroyed the Jagannath Puri temple and carried the idol to Delhi.

Nagarkot (in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh): The Rai of Nagarkot also offered his submission to Firoz Shah. The people of Nagarkot told Firoz that the idol which the Hindus worshiped at the Jwalamukhi temple of Nagarkot was the image of Naushaba, the wife of Alexander the Great. In this temple, there was a fine library of Hindu books consisting of 1300 volumes. Firoz ordered one of those books, which treated of philosophy, astrology, and divination, to be translated into prose in Persian by Eiz-ud-Din Khalid Khan and called it Dulayil Firoz Shahi.

Thatta (Sindh in Pakistan): He crushed the revolt of Jam and Babiniya.

Firoz Shah's Tomb in the Hauz-i-Khas village at Old Delhi

Last Days of Firoz Shah Tughlaq: In 1375, Prince Fath Khan, his eldest and favorite son, died and the Sultan was greatly affected by his death. When the Sultan was nearly ninety years (1387), Khan-i-Jahan, the wazir, got absolute power of the kingdom. One day he represented the Sultan that Prince Muhammad Khan (second son of Firoz Shah) had allied himself to certain nobles and was planning to raise a rebellion. The Sultan ordered that they should be taken into custody. The Prince came before his father, fell down at his feet and told him that the suspicions he had of him were worse than death itself and he had come to receive his fate from the King's own hands. Firoz Shah now realized that he had been deceived and authorized his son to act against the Khan-i-Jahan. The Prince with his forces attacked the Khan-i-Jahan and beheaded several of his adherents. Khan-i-Jahan was defeated and fled. Soon after these events, Firoz Shah, who was now old and feeble, gave over to the Prince the reigns of the government and himself retired. Prince Muhammad Khan then ascended the throne assuming the title of Nasir-ud-din Mahmud. During this time there was a rebellion occurred in Gujarat. The Prince couldn't maintain the struggle. The rebellion was put out only when Firoz Shah resumed his full authority. The Prince fled with his followers to the mountains of Sirmor. Firoz Shah then placed Prince Ghias-ud-din Tughlaq (1388-1389), son of Fatheh Khan, on the throne and retired.

Firoz Shah was the last powerful ruler of the Tughlq Dynasty of Delhi. After 38 years of reign, he died at the age of 90 and his tomb is located in the Hauz-i-Khas complex at Old Delhi. After his death in 26th September, 1388, Malwa, Gujarat and Jaunpur Kingdoms broke away from the Sultanate and the Tughlaq dynasty virtually came to an end (The Tughlaq dynasty was completely disintegrated at Timur's invasion in 1398). His soldiers and his subjects were equally happy under his administration. Elliot has described him as the "Akbar of the Sultanate". Futuhat-i Firoz Shahi is the Autobiography of Sultan Firoz Shah Tughlaq. In this little work, he had written about his "victories". Firoz Shah ends his "Futuhat-i Firoz Shahi" thus, "Men will be judged according to their works, and rewarded for the good that they have done".

Reference:

Futuhat-i Firoz Shahi of Sultan Firoz Shah Tughlaq
Tarikh-i Firoz Shahi By Shams-i Siraj Afif
Tarikh-i-Mubarak Shahi By Yahya-bin-Ahmad Abdullah Sirhindi

1 comment:

  1. Good literature stuff for study and knowledgeable treasure. the title 'Akbar of saltwater ' proved right with his work and liberal attitude during reigns of tughlaq dynasty. However he was soft and continuing jariya on hindus indicate him as hardcore muslim ruler.

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