Jamal-ud-Din Yaqut

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Jamal-ud-Din Yaqut (also Jamaluddin Yakut) was an African Siddi slave-turned-nobleman who was a close confidante of Razia Sultana, the first female monarch of the Delhi Sultanate in India, and who is speculated to have been her lover. Razia Sultana's patronage made him an influential member of the court, provoking racial antagonism amongst the nobles and clergy, who were both primarily Turkish and already resentful of the rule of a female monarch.

Ethnic background[edit]

Jamal-ud-Din Yaqut lived during the time of the Sultan Iltutmish and then Razia Sultan, sometime from 1200 to 1240 CE, when he was slain in a revolt against Razia Sultan.[1] Yaqut was a habshi. Habshi's were enslaved Africans of East African descent frequently employed by Muslim monarchs in India for their reputed physical prowess and loyalty and as such were an important part of the armies and administration of the Delhi Sultanate.[2]

Biography[edit]

Yaqut rose in the ranks of the Delhi court, and found favour with the first female monarch of the Mamluk dynasty, Razia Sultana. Yaqut soon became a close advisor and was widely rumoured in the court and amongst the nobles to be the queen's lover. Contemporary historians were also conflicted in their assessment — many including Ibn Battuta record that their relationship was illicit and too intimate in public, but others assert that Yaqut was just a close advisor and friend.[3] A particular incident that provoked the rumours was when Yaqut was observed sliding his arms under the queen's armpits to hoist her onto a horse, which was seen as a flagrant act of intimacy.[1] His power and influence grew through his close relationship with Razia Sultana, who appointed him to the important post of superintendent of the royal stables, giving a loyalist an important post and challenging the power of the Muslim nobles and orthodox leaders.[3] She awarded him the honorific title Amir-al-Khayl (Amir of Horses) and later the much higher Amir al-Umara (Amir of Amirs), much to the consternation and outrage of the Turkish nobility.[1] Already resented for being a woman ruler by the Muslim nobles and clerics, Razia's proximity to an Abyssinian slave (considered racially inferior to the Turkish nobles who ruled the Sultanate) alienated the nobility and clerics and soon provoked open rebellion and conspiracy.[4][5][3]

A rebellion led by Malik Altunia, the governor of Bhatinda (Punjab) broke out against Razia and Yaqut; fearing a siege, Razia and Yaqut chose to go out of Delhi to engage the rebels. Forces loyal to Razia and Yaqut were routed by Altunia; Yaqut was killed and Razia was imprisoned until she married Altunia; however, both Razia and Altunia were subsequently killed in battle against Razia's brother Bahram Shah, who had usurped the throne of Delhi in Razia's absence.[1][3]

Modern influence[edit]

The speculated relationship between the slave Yaqut and the queen Razia has become famous and a part of folklore in India. The character of Jamal-ud-Din Yaqut was played by the Indian actor Dharmendra in the 1983 Hindi film Razia Sultan, whose plot was centred around the love story of Yaqut and Razia, who was portrayed by the actress Hema Malini.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Mernessi, Fatima (1997). The Forgotten Queens of Islam. University of Minnesota Press. p. 97. ISBN 0-8166-2439-9. 
  2. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica
  3. ^ a b c d Mahajan, V. D. (2001). History of Medieval India. S. Chand. p. 102. ISBN 81-219-0364-5. 
  4. ^ Queen empress of quiet
  5. ^ Keay, John (2001). India: A History. Grove Press. p. 245. ISBN 0-8021-3797-0. 
  6. ^ Razia Sultan film