Malik Kafur

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The last act of Malik Naib Kafur, A.D. 1316

Malik Kafur (died 1316), was a prominent military general of Alauddin Khilji. He led three campaigns in Southern India from 1294 to 1316 AD, and set the stage for the consequent arrival of the Madurai Sultanate.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Malik Kafur begun his life as Sabour Bhai, the son of the Rajput landlord, Jera Bhai. Alauddin Khilji was so enamoured by the young effeminate body of Sabour Bhai, that he was purchased for a 1000 dinars, in order to serve as a slave of the Emperor in Delhi; thus his sobriquet "Hazar Dinari" or "Thousand Dinars". However, this does not to be confused with Malik Dinar, another Indian slave general who served under Malik Kafur and sent by Kafur to suppress rebellion in Gujarat and whose daughter married the third sultan, Qutb ud din Mubarak Shah.[3][4][5] He was then castrated and made to follow Islam, changing his name to Kafur. Kafur quickly came to play an important role in the Khilji dynasty, and was consequently made a Military General, earning the title "Naib"—an honorific title for a military commander. Ziauddin Barani, a Muslim historian of the time notes,[6] "In those four or five years when the Sultan was losing his memory and his senses, he had fallen deeply and madly in love with the Malik Naib. He had entrusted the responsibility of the government and the control of the servants to this useless, ungrateful, ingratiate, sodomite."

In 1294, Kafur led the Sultan's army through the Mountain range, attacking the capital city of the Yadava kingdom of Devagiri, which was ruled by Ramdeva. The king's son Sankardeva was slain in the battle.[7] Kafur led further invasions southward into the Kakatiya dynasty, winning immense riches for the sultanate and sacking many Hindu temples.[8][9] The booty from Warangal included the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond.[10] During the course of the attack he sacked and plundered many Hindu temples including the famous Hoyasaleshwara temple in Halebidu. His campaigns were wholesale massacres, wherein he looted palaces, treasuries, homes, temples alike.[11]

In 1305 Kafur defeated the Mongols at the Battle of Amroha and led two campaigns in South India between 1309 and 1311 - the first against Warangal - and the second against Dwar Samudra, Malabar, and Madurai. Kafur was made malik naib, the senior commander of the army, after its southern campaigns.[12]

In 1318 Malik Kafur killed the last king of Yadava, Raja Harapal.[13]


After the death of Khilji, he blinded two of the heir princes and made the third, the King after 35 days into the death of his lover. He was later assassinated.[14]


The invasion that led by Malik Kafur in 1311 CE, which sacked Madurai, shattered the Pandyan empire beyond revival and subsequently paving the way for Ulugh Khan to annex the former Pandyan dominions to the Delhi Sultanate as the province of Ma'bar. Most of South India came under the Delhi's rule and was divided into five provinces - Devagiri, Tiling, Kampili, Dorasamudra and Ma'bar.[15]


  1. ^ Keay, J. India, 2001, p. 257, Grove Press, ISBN 0-8021-3797-0
  2. ^ The history of India, By John McLeod, p. 36
  3. ^ Peter Jackson (2003). The Delhi Sultanate: A Political and Military History. Cambridge University Press. p. 177. ISBN 0521543290. 
  4. ^ Iqtidar Alam Khan (2008). Historical Dictionary of Medieval India. Scarecrow Press. p. 59. ISBN 0810864010. 
  5. ^ Satish Chandra Misra (1982). The Rise of Muslim Power in Gujarat: A History of Gujarat from 1298 to 1442. Universitas Michigan. p. 90. . The very same title was bestowed to one of greatest Khilji military general who repelled the Chagatai Khanate repeated invasions into India, Malik Hizbaruddin Zafar Khan
  6. ^
  7. ^ Decisive Battles India Lost (326 BC to 1803 AD); Jaywant Jogleka;, 2006; ISBN=1847283020, 9781847283023
  8. ^ Studies in Islamic History and Civilizaion, David Ayalon, BRILL, 1986, p. 271; ISBN 965-264-014-X
  9. ^ "Halebidu – Temples of Karnataka". Retrieved 2006-08-17. 
  10. ^ A History of India, Hermann Kulke and Dietmar Rothermund, Edition: 3, Routledge, 1998, p. 160; ISBN 0-415-15482-0
  11. ^ Keay, J. India, 2001, Grove Press; ISBN 0-8021-3797-0
  12. ^ *Khilji's Commander:
  13. ^ Famous Monuments of India; Anu Sharma ; Pinnacle Technology, 2011; ISBN=1618205455, 9781618205452
  14. ^ Gopal, Madan (1990). K. S. Gautam, ed. India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 217. 
  15. ^ Nilakanta Sastri, p. 213