Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah

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Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah (original name was Yadu or Jadu[1]) was the son and successor of Raja Ganesha. He ruled Bengal in two phases first 1415 to 1416 and then 1418 to 1433. He was converted to Islam by Qutb al Alam and was named Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah. During his reign in second phase, he assumed the titles of Sultan, Amir and Khalifat Allah.[2]

First phase (1415-1416)[edit]

According to Goron and Goenka, Raja Ganesha seized control over Bengal soon after the death of Sultan Bayazid (1412–1414). Facing an imminent threat of invasion at the behest of a powerful Muslim holy man named Qutb al Alam, he appealed to the saint to call off his threat. The saint agreed on the condition that Raja Ganesha's son Jadu would convert to Islam and rule in his place. Raja Ganesha agreed and Jadu started ruling Bengal as Jalal al-Din in 1415 AD. Nur Qutb died in 1416 AD and Raja Ganesha was emboldened to depose his son and accede to the throne himself as Danujamarddana Deva. Jalaluddin was reconverted to Hinduism by the Golden Cow ritual. After the death of his father he once again converted to Islam and started ruling his second phase.[3]

Second phase (1418-1433)[edit]

Jalaluddin maintained a peaceful kingdom during his second phase. His authority stretched to eastern Bengal Moazzamabad (present-day Sunamganj) and south-eastern Bengal (present-day Chittagong). He also conquered Fathabad (present-day Faridpur) and the southern Bengal. During his reign Firuzabad Pandua became a populous and flourshing town. It is recorded in the Ming shi that a Chinese explorer, Cheng Ho, visited the city twice in 1421-22 and 1431-33. He later transferred the capital from Pandua to Gaur.[2] The city of Gaur began to be re-populated during his reign. Jalaluddin himself constructed a number of buildings and sarais there.[4]

Relation with non-Muslims[edit]

He maintained good rapport with Non-Muslims in his kingdom. According to an interpretation of a Sanskrit sloka by D. C. Bhattacharya, Jalaluddin appointed Rajyadhar, a Hindu, as the commander of his army.[4] He gained support of Muslim scholars - Ulama and the Shaikhs. He reconstructed and repaired the mosques and other religious architectures destroyed by Raja Ganesha.[2] 17th century Persian historian, Firishta, applauded him by saying:

He upheld the principles of justice and equity and became the Naushirwan of the age.

His remark is corroborated by the evidence of the Smritiratnahara and the Padachandrika. According to the Padachandrika, a commentary on the Amarakosha in Sanskrit, Brihaspati Mishra, a Brahmin from Kulingram (present-day Bardhaman district), was promoted by Sultan Jalaluddin to the position of the Sarvabhaumapandita (Court Scholar). And Vishvasrai, son of Brihaspati Mishra, was also appointed a minister by the Sultan.[4] But according to a 19th-century chronicle written by Francis Buchanan-Hamilton, Jalaluddin compelled many Hindus to convert to Islam, resulting in many Hindus fleeing to Kamrup.[5]

Relation with foreign rulers[edit]

He also maintained good diplomatic relations. He was in correspondence with the Timurid ruler Shah Rukh of Herat, Yung Le of China and al-Ashraf Barsbay, the Mamluk ruler of Egypt.[2] Ibrahim Sharqi attacked his kingdom but censure from Yung Le and Shah Rukh caused him to withdraw. Jalaluddin helped Meng Soamun Narmeikhla, King of Arakan, to recover his kingdom from Burma; in return he became the overlord of Arakan. He, at some point, also ruled over parts of Tripura and southern Bihar.

Jalaluddin tried to legitimize his rule by publicly displaying his credentials as a devout and correct Muslim. Contemporary Arab sources hold that upon his conversion to Islam, Jalaluddin adopted the Hanafi legal tradition. Between 1428-31, he also supported the construction of a religious college in Mecca and established close ties with Barsbay. With the exchange of gifts, Jalaluddin requested in return a letter of recognition from the Egyptian Mamluk Sultan. Barsbay was the most prestigious Muslim ruler in the Islamic heartlands and the custodian of a remnant line of the Abbasid caliphs. The Mamluk Sultan complied with the request by sending him a robe of honor and the letter of recognition. In 1427, Jalaluddin described himself in an inscription as Al-sultan al-azam al-muazzamin khalifat Allah 'ali al-makunin Jalal al-Dunya w’al-Din (the most exalted of the great sultans, the caliph of Allah in the universe).

Coins[edit]

Silver tanka of Jalaluddin Muhammad, showing a lion on the obverse.

Several undated issues of his silver coins and a huge commemorative silver coin minted at in Pandua in 1421, bear the stylized figure of a lion, the vehicle of the Goddess Chandi.[6] Another theory says that they were issued to celebrate the arrival of a Chinese ambassador and yet another theory says that they marked the withdrawal of Jaunpur's threatening army.[7] Regardless, they are the most unusual and were copied by two later Bengal sultans and by the kings of Tripura. In 1430, he included Khalifat al-Allah (the caliph of Allah) as one of his titles on his coins.[6] In 1431 AD he issued a new coin inscribing Kalema-tut-shahadat.[2] Thus he reintroduced on his coins the Kalimah, which had disappeared from Bengal Sultanate coins for several centuries.

He died in Rabi 2, 837 AH (1433 AD) and was buried in Eklakhi Mausoleum at Pandua.[2]

Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah
House of Raja Ganesha
Preceded by
Bayazid Shah
Ruler of Bengal
1415–1416
Succeeded by
Raja Ganesha
Preceded by
Raja Ganesha
Sultan of Bengal
1418–1433
Succeeded by
Ahmad Shah

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Stan Goron and J.P. Goenka: The Coins of the Indian Sultanates New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 2001.
  2. ^ a b c d e f MA Taher, Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah, Banglapedia: The National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, Dhaka, Retrieved: 2011-04-26
  3. ^ Biographical encyclopedia of Sufis By N. Hanif, pg.320
  4. ^ a b c Majumdar, R.C. (ed.) (2006). The Delhi Sultanate, Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, pp.209-11
  5. ^ Buchanan (Hamilton), Francis. (1833). A Geographical, Statistical and Historical Description of the District or Zila of Dinajpur in the Province or Soubah of Bengal. Calcutta: Baptist Mission Press. pp. 23–4. 
  6. ^ a b Eaton, Richard Maxwell. (1993). The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204-1760. Berkeley: California University Press. pp. 57–8. ISBN 0-520-08077-7. 
  7. ^ See the discussion in Goron and Goenka, op. cit.