Zafar Khan (general)

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Zafar Khan, originally named Malik Yusuf Hizbaruddin[1] was the Muslim Indian general of Alauddin Khilji of the Khilji dynasty, ruler of the Delhi Sultanate in northern India.[2] Zafar Khan holds the honour of being one of the few undefeated military commanders in history. he defeated an invading Mongol army near Jalandhar in 1297 which secured Alauddin Khilji's throne. according to Barani's Tarikh i Firoze Shahi, he was regarded by Barani as one of four Alauddin's most important and trusted general which collectively known as 'four great Khans' of Delhi Sultanate, the other Khans consisting Ulugh Khan, Nusrat Khan, and Alp Khan. he has nephew named Alisha, or Ali Shah was an amir a sada(literally leader of hundred) under Qutlugh Khan[3]


Zafar Khan was one of the non-Turkish origins aside Nusrat Khan and Malik Kafur who achieved high position in the sultanate. he along with Ulugh Khan, Alauddin's brother was important supporter of Alauddin when he coup against Alauddin's Uncle Jalaluddin and succeeded as the next Sultan. After Alauddin's conquest of Delhi, he want to settle score with Jalali family which headed by Arkani Khan, the Governor of Multan and Sindh. so he dispatch Ulugh Khan and Zafar Khan with 30.000-40.000 cavalry. they laid siege the fort of Multan for two months before the fort was finally subdued and Arkali was made prisoner[4][5]

During the invasion of the Mongols, they attacked under the command of Saldi. They captured the fort Siri. Zafar Khan, recaptured the fort. About 2,000 Mongols were captured and brought before the King.[citation needed], in 1298 he once again led the Sultanate army to defeat the Mongols who invaded Sindh and occupied Siwistan fortress.[6] this great victory was inspired awe in Zafar Khan's name. so in effect he was given charge of Samana, an important military post in Punjab to defend the Sultanate from the Mongol invasion[7]

The biggest Mongol invasion took place in 1299, when under the command of Qutlugh Khwaja, Mongols attacked India. This time they did not just want to rob the country. The Mongols did not plunder the people on the way to Delhi. They did not want to waste their energy doing this. This was a wise step and succeeded to reach near Delhi. The situation became very grave. The people of nearby areas entered into Delhi. There was no free space even in mosques.

Ala-ud-Din consulted his ministers and chiefs. Many of them said that it was impossible to say as to which side was likely to emerge victorious. They said that their own army had spent their lives in warfare against the Hindus only, and had not joined in battle against the Mongols. They suggested for a compromise, but Ala-ud-Din was not ready for it. He rejected their advice and said, "If I were to follow your advice how could I show my face, how could I go into my harem? No, come what may tomorrow, I must march into the battlefield".

He ordered his army to attack under the command of Zafar Khan and Ulugh Khan. His army attacked and fought bravely. They defeated the Mongols after many great battles. Legend has it that Zafar Khan created such great terror in the minds of the Mongols that whenever their horse refused to drink water, the Mongols would ask them if they had seen Zafar Khan.[8] Ala-ud-Din defeated the Mongols despite Zafar Khan was killed in this battle by the Mongol commander Targhi Beg because he was recklessly pursue the retreating enemy without realizing he's falling onto trap[9]


Zafar Khan's tomb is situated just opposite the main entrance of Tughlaqabad Fort in the octagonal fortress enclosing the majestic tomb of Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq which also has the grave of Muhammad bin Tughluq, on the Mehrauli-Badarpur Road in New Delhi.

Modern depiction[edit]

Zafar Khan was appeared in semi historical novel of ancient India kingdoms Gods, Kings & Slaves: The Siege of Madurai written by Venketesh R.

Reference List[edit]

Other Language Books[edit]

See also[edit]

Mongol invasions of India