Khilji dynasty

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This article is about the Khilji dynasty centered in North India between 1290 and 1320. For the earlier Khilji dynasty centered in Bengal between 1204 and 1227, see Khilji dynasty of Bengal.
"Khalji" redirects here. For the village in Iran, see Khalji, Iran.
Khilji Sultanate
سلسله خلجی

Khilji dynasty
Capital Delhi
Languages Persian (official)[1]
Religion Sunni Islam
Government Sultanate
 -  1290–1296 Jalal ud din Firuz Khilji
 -  1296–1316 Alauddin Khilji
 -  1316 Shihab ad-Din Umar
 -  1316–1320 Qutb ad-Din Mubarak
 -  Established 1290
 -  Disestablished 1320
Area 2,700,000 km² (1,042,476 sq mi)
Today part of  India

The Khilji dynasty (Persian: سلسله خلجی‎; Hindi: सलतनत ख़िलजी) or Khalji was a Muslim dynasty of Turkic[2] origin which ruled large parts of South Asia between 1290 and 1320.[3] It was founded by Jalal ud din Firuz Khilji and became the second dynasty to rule the Delhi Sultanate of India. Under Ala-ud-din Khilji, the Khiljis became known for successfully defending against the repeated Mongol invasions of India.[4][5]


Tents of Kuchi nomads in Badghis Province of Afghanistan, which is next to neighboring Turkmenistan.
Front and back of copper coin with raised inscription, against a red background
Copper coin of Alauddin Khilji
History of the Turkic peoples
History of the Turkic peoples
Pre-14th century
Turkic Khaganate 552–744
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Avar Khaganate 564–804
Khazar Khaganate 618–1048
Great Bulgaria 632–668
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Turgesh Khaganate 699–766
Uyghur Khaganate 744–840
Kara-Khanid Khanate 840–1212
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Pecheneg Khanates
Kimek Khanate
Oghuz Yabgu State
Shatuo dynasties 923–979
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Ghaznavid Empire 963–1186
Seljuq Empire 1037–1194
Khwarazmian Empire 1077–1231
Seljuq Sultanate of Rum 1092–1307
Delhi Sultanate 1206–1526
  Mamluk dynasty
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Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo) 1250–1517
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The Khilji rulers trace their roots to Central Asia and were of Turkic origin.[6] They had long been settled in what is now Afghanistan before proceeding to Delhi in India. The name "Khilji" refers to an Afghan village or town known as Qalat-e Khilji (Fort of Ghilzai).[7] Sometimes they were treated by others as ethnic Afghans due to their adoption of some Afghan habits and customs.[8][9] As a result of this, sometimes the dynasty is referred to as a Turko-Afghan.[10][11][12][13] The three sultans of the Khalji dynasty were noted by historians for their faithlessness and ferocity.[6]

Ikhtiar Uddin Muhammad bin Bakhtiar Khilji was a servant of Qutb-ud-din Aibak, who was an ex-slave of the Ghurids with a Turkic background.[14] Mohammad Khilji was an Indo-Ghurid Shah (king) and founder of the Delhi Sultanate, which conquered Bihar and Bengal in the late 12th century. From this time, the Khiljis became servants and vassals of the Mamluk dynasty of Delhi. From 1266 until his death in 1290, the Sultan of Delhi was called Ghiyas ud din Balban,[15] another servant of Qutab-ud-din Aybak. Balban's immediate successors, however, were unable to manage either the administration or the factional conflicts between the old Turkic nobility and the new forces led by the Khaljis. After a struggle between the two factions, Jalal ud din Firuz Khilji was installed as sultan by a noble faction of Turkic, Persian, Arabic and Indian-Muslim aristocrats at the collapse of the last Mumluk sultan, Kay-Qubadh. Their rise to power was aided by outsiders (some of them Indian-born Muslims) who might enhance their positions if the hold of the followers of Balban and the "Forty" (the members of the royal Loya Jirga) were broken. Jalal-ud-din was old, and for a time he was so unpopular that he dared not enter the capital because his tribe was thought to be close to the nomadic Afghans. During his short reign (1290–96), some of Balban's officers revolted due to this assumption of power; Jalal-ud-din suppressed them, led an unsuccessful expedition against Ranthambhor and defeated a Mongol force on the banks of the Sind River in central India.

Alauddin Khilji, his nephew and son-in-law, was ordered by his father[citation needed] to lead an expedition of between 4,000 and 7,000 men into the Hindu Deccan (where many rulers had refused to submit) and capture Ellichpur and its treasure. Upon his return in 1296 (having gained status and power) he killed his uncle.[16]

Alauddin reigned for 20 years and is considered the greatest member of the dynasty. He captured Ranthambhor (1301) and Chittorgarh (1303), conquered Māndu (1305) and captured the wealthy Hindu state of Devagiri,[17] also repelling two Mongol raids. Alauddin's lieutenant, Malik Kafur (a Muslim Indian), was sent on an expedition to the south in 1308 which led to the capture of Warangal, the overthrow of the Hoysala Empire south of the Krishna River and the occupation of Madura in the south.[17] Malik Kafur returned to Delhi in 1311. The empire fell into political decadence, and the sultan died in early 1316; Malik Kafur’s attempted to become the sultan but was killed. The last Khalji (Qutb ud din Mubarak Shah) was murdered in 1320 by Khusraw Khan. Power was then assumed by Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq, the first ruler of the Turkic Tughluq dynasty.

Position in Turkic Indian society

The Khilji Turks were not recognized by the older nobility as coming from a pure Turkic stock, even in Singam and Kuselan (since they had intermarried with non-Turks: Indians, Afghans (Pashtun) and Arab Bedouins); their customs and manners were seen as different from those of other Turks. Although they had played a role in the success of the Turkic armies in India, they had always been looked down upon by the leading Turks (the dominant group during the Slave dynasty). This tension between the Khiljis and other Turks (kept in check by Balban) surfaced in the following reign, and ended in the displacement of the Ilbari Turks.[18]

Khalji people

Further information: Ghilzai

Before their expansion into India, the Khalji people were mainly concentrated in Turkestan.[19][20][21] In the writings of Al-Biruni, Ibn-Batuta, Ibn-Khaldun, Al-Khwarezmi, Masudi, Varahamihira and in Hudud al-'alam, they are presented as a group of Turkic origin which formed one of the older members of the Hephthalite confederation, and included many nomads near Bactria (in Turfan) and east of modern Ghazni. Many migrated to various parts of Persia, including to parts of what are now Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, then under the control of the Ghaznavids.[22] In Iran they migrated mainly to Pars, where they settled an isolated region which is called today Khaljistan ("land of Khaljis"). However, Persian-speakers in Iran also used the term Khalji to describe nomads of Turkic background in their country.[22] The Khaljis began to become Pashtunized (Afghanized) since the 8th century and later known as Ghilzais, part of the Pashtun ethnic group.[23]

The official and court language of the Khilji dynasty was Perso-Arabic.[1] The co-existence of different languages gave birth to an early form of Urdu.

Propagation of Islam

According to the 14th century scholar Ibn Batuta, the Khilji dynasty encouraged conversion to Islam by making it customary to have the convert presented to the sultan (who would place a robe on him and reward him with gold bracelets).[24] During Ikhtiyar Uddin Bakhtiyar Khilji's control of Bengal, Muslim missionaries in India achieved their greatest success in the number of converts to Islam.[25]

List of Khilji rulers of Delhi (1290–1320)

Titular Name Personal Name Reign
Shāyista Khān

جلال الدین

Malik Fīroz
ملک فیروز خلجی
Juna Khan Khilji
علی گرشاسپ خلجی
شھاب الدین
Umar Khan Khilji
عمر خان خلجی
قطب الدین
Mubarak Khan Khilji
مبارک خان خلجی
Khusro Khan ended the Khilji dynasty in 1320.

Khalji Sultans of Malwa (1436–1531)

  • Mahmud Khilji (1436–1469)
  • Ghiyas ud din Khilji (1469–1500)

See also

References and footnotes

  1. ^ a b "Arabic and Persian Epigraphical Studies - Archaeological Survey of India". Retrieved 2010-11-14. 
  2. ^ "Khalji Dynasty". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2010-08-23. "this dynasty, like the previous Slave dynasty, was of Turkic origin, though the Khiljī tribe had long been settled in what is now Afghanistan ... With the title of ʿAlāʾ al-Dīn Khaljī,He was the first Turkish Sultan of Delhi who separated religion from politics. He proclaimed- "KINGSHIP KNOWS NO KINSHIP." He was the first sultan to have permanent army-paid soldiers in cash,imported horses,detailed description of each soldier(CHEHRA) and each horse (DAGH) wqas kept. BOTH AMIR KHUSRAU and MIR HASAN DEHLVI enjoyed his patronage. Jūnā Khan reigned for 20 years." 
  3. ^ Dynastic Chart The Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 2, p. 368.
  4. ^ Mikaberidze, Alexander (2011). Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World: A Historical Encyclopedia: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 62. ISBN 1-5988-4337-0. Retrieved 2013-06-13. 
  5. ^ Barua, Pradeep (2005). The state at war in South Asia. U of Nebraska Press. p. 437. ISBN 0-8032-1344-1. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  6. ^ a b c "Khalji Dynasty". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2010-08-23. "this dynasty, like the previous Slave dynasty, was of Turkic origin, though the Khiljī tribe had long been settled in what is now Afghanistan..." 
  7. ^ Thorpe, Showick Thorpe Edgar (2009). The Pearson General Studies Manual 2009, 1/e. Pearson Education India. p. 1900. ISBN 81-317-2133-7. Retrieved 2010-08-23. "The Khilji dynasty was named after a village in Afghanistan. Some historians believe that they were Afghans, but Bharani and Wolse Haig explain in their accounts that the rulers from this dynasty who came to India, though they had temporarily settled in Afghanistan, were originally Turkic." 
  8. ^ Chaurasia, Radhey Shyam (2002). History of medieval India: from 1000 A.D. to 1707 A.D.. Atlantic Publishers & Distributors. p. 337. ISBN 81-269-0123-3. Retrieved 2010-08-23. "The Khiljis were a Central Asian Turkic dynasty but having been long domiciled in present-day Afghanistan, and adopted some Afghan habits and customs. They were treated as Afghans in Delhi Court." 
  9. ^ Cavendish, Marshall (2006). World and Its Peoples: The Middle East, Western Asia, and Northern Africa. Marshall Cavendish. p. 320. ISBN 0-7614-7571-0. Retrieved 2010-08-23. "The sultans of the Slave Dynasty were Turkic Central Asians, but the members of the new dynasty, although they were also Turkic, had settled in Afghanistan and brought a new set of customs and culture to Delhi." 
  10. ^ Yunus, Mohammad; Aradhana Parmar (2003). South Asia: a historical narrative. Oxford University Press. p. 97. ISBN 0-1957-9711-6. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  11. ^ Farooqui, Salma Ahmed (2011). A Comprehensive History of Medieval India: From Twelfth to the Mid-Eighteenth Century. India: Pearson Education India. p. 114. ISBN 81-317-3202-9. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  12. ^ Kumar Mandal, Asim (2003). The Sundarbans of India: A Development Analysis. India: Indus Publishing. p. 43. ISBN 81-738-7143-4. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  13. ^ Singh, D. (1998). The Sundarbans of India: A Development Analysis. India: APH Publishing. p. 141. ISBN 81-702-4992-9. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  14. ^ "Slave Dynasty: 1206-1290". Retrieved 2010-11-14. 
  15. ^ "Ghiyas-ud-din Balban [1200-1287]". 2003-06-01. Retrieved 2010-11-14. 
  16. ^ Holt et al., The Cambridge History of Islam - The Indian sub-continent, south-east Asia, Africa and the Muslim west, ISBN 978-0521291378, pp 8-14
  17. ^ a b Sastri (1955), pp 206–208
  18. ^ Frances Pritchett. "V. Expansion in the South: The Khaljis and the Tughluqs". Retrieved 2010-11-14. 
  19. ^ E.J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936, p. 326
  20. ^ Eran, Land zwischen Tigris und Indus, 1879, p. 268
  21. ^ The Pathans: 550 B.C.-A.D. 1957, by Olaf Kirkpatrick Caroe
  22. ^ a b The Cambridge History of Iran, 1968, p.217 by William Bayne Fisher, Ehsan Yarshater, Ilya Gershevitch and Richard Nelson
  23. ^ "Ghilzay". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2012-12-03. "They are reputed to be descended at least in part from the Khalaj or Khilji Turks, who entered present Afghanistan in the 10th century..." 
  24. ^ The preaching of Islam: a history of the propagation of the Muslim faith By Sir Thomas Walker Arnold, pg. 212
  25. ^ The preaching of Islam: a history of the propagation of the Muslim faith By Sir Thomas Walker Arnold, pg. 227-228

Further reading

  • The Oxford History of India, Clarendon Press, 1958.

External links