Alauddin Husain Shah

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Alauddin Husain Shah
Sultan of Bengal
Shah E Bangal
the right hand of the caliphate, the defender of the Commander of the Faithful
Reign1494 - 1519
PredecessorShamsuddin Muzaffar Shah
SuccessorNasiruddin Nasrat Shah
IssueNasiruddin Nasrat Shah
Ghiyasuddin Mahmud Shah
Daughter (married to Kandarpadeva of Bhaturia)[1]
Raushan Akhtar Banu (married to Syed Ibrahim Danishmand)[2]
FatherSyed Ashraf al-Husaini
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Ala-ud-din Husain Shah (Bengali: আলাউদ্দিন হোসেন শাহ); reign 1494–1519)[3] was an independent late medieval Sultan of Bengal, who founded the Hussain Shahi dynasty.[4] He became the ruler of Bengal after assassinating the Abyssinian Sultan, Shams-ud-Din Muzaffar Shah, whom he had served under as wazir. After his death in 1519 his son Nusrat Shah succeeded him.

Early life and accession[edit]

Husain Shah's original name is Sayyeed Husain. According to a 1788 chronicle, Riyaz-us-Salatin, Husain was the son of Sayyeed Ashraf Al Husaini Al Fatimi Al Makki, a Sharif of Mecca and an inhabitant of Tirmiz (in Turkestan).[5] Besides both historians Salim (writer of Riyaz-us-Salatin) and Firishtah (from late 16th century) mentioned him as Sayyed - this indicates Husain's Arab descent. Besides, the term Sultan Husain Shah bin Sayyeed Ashraf-ul-Husaini (Sultan Husain Shah, son of Sayyed Ashraf-ul-Husaini) frequently appeared on his coins.[5] But it is not yet known how he came to Bengal and occupied the post of Vizier of Sultan Shamsuddin Muzaffar Shah. Most likely he first settled in Chandpara, a village in Murshidabad district. Because a number of inscriptions of Husain Shah's early years found in the villages around Chandpara and also a mosque called Kherur Mosque is constructed by Sultan Husain in the locality in 1494.[5][6][7] A lake, Sheker Dighi, is also associated with Husain Shah.[7]

Initially, he secretly sympathized with the rebels but ultimately he put himself openly as their head and besieged the citadel, where Muzaffar Shah shut himself with a few thousand soldiers. According to the 16th-century historian Nizamuddin, the Sultan was secretly assassinated by Husain with the help of the paiks (palace-guards), which ended the Abyssinian rule in Bengal.[3]


Husain Shah's long reign of more than a quarter of a century was a period of peace and prosperity, which was strikingly contrast to the period that preceded it. The liberal attitude of Husain Shah towards his Hindu subjects is also an important feature of his reign.[3]

Initial administrative actions[edit]

Immediately after accession to the throne, Husain Shah ordered his soldiers to refrain from plundering Gaur, his capital city. But being annoyed with their continuous plundering, he executed twelve thousand soldiers and recovered the looted articles, which included 13,000 gold plates. Subsequently, he disbanded the paiks (the palace guards) who were the most significant agitators inside the palace. He removed all Habshis from administrative posts and replaced them with Turks, Arabs, Afghans and the local people.[3]

Engagement with the Delhi Sultanate[edit]

Sultan Hussain Shah Sharqi, after being defeated by Bahlol Lodi, retired to Bihar, where his occupation was confined to a small territory. In 1494, he was again defeated by Sultan Sikandar Lodi and fled to Bengal, where he was granted asylum by Sultan Ala-ud-Din Husain Shah.[8] This resulted in an expedition against Bengal in 1495 by Sultan Sikandar Lodi. Husain Shah of Bengal sent an army under his son Daniyal to fight with the Delhi army. The armies of Delhi and Bengal met at Barh near Patna. Sikandar Lodi halted the advance of his army and concluded a treaty of friendship with Ala-ud-din Husain Shah. According to this agreement, the country west of Barh went to Sikandar Lodi while the country east of Barh remained under Husain Shah of Bengal. The final dissolution of the Jaunpur Sultanate resulted in the influx of the Jaunpur soldiery in the Bengal army, which was further strengthened by it.[3]

Kamata-Kamrup expedition[edit]

From 1499 to 1502, Husain Shah's general Shah Ismail Ghazi led an expedition to the Kamata kingdom and annexed the territory up to Hajo. They took Nilambara, King of Kamata, as prisoner and pillaged the capital city. This was publicly recorded in an inscription at Malda.[3]

Orissa campaigns[edit]

According to the Madala Panji, Shah Ismail Ghazi commenced his campaign from the Mandaran fort (in the present-day Hooghly district) in 1508-9 and reached Puri, raiding Jajpur and Katak on the way. The Gajapati ruler of Orissa, Prataparudra was busy in a campaign in the south. On hearing this news, he returned and defeated the invading Bengal army and chased it into the borders of Bengal. He reached the Mandaran fort and besieged it, but failed to take it. Intermittent hostilities between the Bengal and Orissa armies along the border continued throughout the reign of Husain Shah.[3]

Capture of Pratapgarh[edit]

When Gouhar Khan, the Bengali governor of Sylhet (in present-day Bangladesh) died, the district was seized by ruler of the neighbouring kingdom of Pratapgarh, Sultan Bazid.[9] One of Husain Shah's nobles, a Hindu convert named Surwar Khan was sent to confront Bazid and when attempts at negotiations failed, fought against the Sultan and his allies. Bazid was defeated and captured and was forced to give heavy concessions in order to keep his kingdom, though under the suzerainty of Bengal. In reward for his actions, Surwar Khan was named the new governor of Sylhet and the defeated Sultan's daughter was given in marriage to his son, Mir Khan.[10][11]

Expeditions to Tripura and Arakan[edit]

According to Rajmala, a late royal chronicle of Tripura, Husain Shah despatched his army four times to Tripura, but the Tripura army offered stiff resistance and did not yield any territory. But the Sonargaon inscription of Khawas Khan (1513) is interpreted by a number of modern scholars as an evidence of annexure of at least a part of Tripura by Husain Shah's army.[3]

During Husain Shah's expeditions to Tripura, the ruler of Arakan helped Dhanya Manikya, the ruler of Tripura. He also occupied Chittagong and expelled Husain Shah's officers from there. In 1513, Husain Shah assigned the charge of Arakan expedition to Paragal Khan. Paragal Khan advanced from his base on the Feni River. After Paragal's death, his son Chhuti Khan took over the charge of the campaign until Chittagong was wrested from Arakanese control. The expedition of territory to the western bank of Kaladan river was placed under his governorship administration. The hostilities probably ended in 1516.[3]

The Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, arrived India by sea in 1498.[12] Consequently, a Portuguese mission came to Bengal to establish diplomatic relations towards the end of Husain Shah's reign.[5]

Cultural contribution[edit]

Choto Shona Mosque built during the reign of Alauddin Husain Shah

The reign of Husain Shah witnessed a remarkable development of Bengali literature.[3] Under the patronage of Paragal Khan, Husain Shah's governor of Chittagong, Kabindra Parameshvar wrote his Pandabbijay, a Bengali adaptation of the Mahabharata. Similarly, under the patronage of Paragal's son Chhuti Khan, who succeeded his father as governor of Chittagong, Shrikar Nandi wrote another Bengali adaptation of the Mahabharata. Kabindra Parameshvar in his Pandabbijay eulogised Husain Shah.[13] Bijay Gupta wrote his Manasamangal Kāvya also during his reign. He eulogised Husain Shah by comparing him with Arjuna (samgrame Arjun Raja prabhater Rabi).[14] He mentioned him as Nrpati-Tilak (the tilak-mark of kings) and Jagat-bhusan (the adornment of the universe) as well.[5] An official of Husain Shah, Yashoraj Khan, wrote a number of Vaishnava padas and he also praised his ruler in one of his pada.[15] During Husain Shah's reign a number of significant monuments were constructed. Wali Muhammad built Chota Sona Masjid in Gaur.[16]

Religious tolerance[edit]

The reign of Husain Shah is also known for religious tolerance towards his subjects. However, R.C. Majumdar write that during his Orissa campaigns, he destroyed some Hindu temples, which Vrindavana Dasa Thakura has mentioned in his Chaitanya Bhagavata.[17] However the destruction of the temples was not carried out by the orders of the Sultan himself. The celebrated medieval saint, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and his followers preached Bhakti (Nath-Gopi) throughout Bengal during his reign.[18] When Husain Shah came to know about Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's huge following amongst his subjects, he ordered his qazis not to injure him in any way and allow him to go wherever he liked.[17] Later, two high level Hindu officers in Husain Shah's administration, his Private Secretary, (Dabir-i-Khas) Rupa Goswami and his Intimate Minister (Saghir Malik) Sanatana Goswami became devoted followers of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.[18]

Preceded by
Abyssinian rule
(Shamsuddin Muzaffar Shah)
Sultanate of Bengal
Hussain Shahi dynasty

Succeeded by
Nasiruddin Nasrat Shah

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jagadish Narayan Sarkar, Hindu-Muslim relations in Bengal: medieval period (1985), p.52
  2. ^ Reena Bhaduri, Social Formation in Medieval Bengal (2001), p.128
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Majumdar, R.C. (ed.) (2006). The Delhi Sultanate, Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, pp.215-20
  4. ^ Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. pp. 120–121. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4.
  5. ^ a b c d e Chowdhury, AM (2012). "Husain Shah". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  6. ^ Mitra, Pratip Kumar (2012). "Kherur Mosque". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  7. ^ a b "Chronological History of Murshidabad". Independent Sultanate of Gauda. District Administration. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2011-05-04.
  8. ^ Majumdar, R.C. (ed.) (2006). The Delhi Sultanate, Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, pp.143, 192
  9. ^ Kara, Subīra (2008). 1857 in North East: a reconstruction from folk and oral sources. p. 135.
  10. ^ Choudhury, Achyut Charan (1917). Srihattar Itibritta. p. 484.
  11. ^ Bangladesh Itihas Samiti, Sylhet: History and Heritage, (1999), p. 715
  12. ^ KingListsFarEast
  13. ^ Sen, Sukumar (1991, reprint 2007). Bangala Sahityer Itihas, Vol.I, (in Bengali), Kolkata: Ananda Publishers, ISBN 81-7066-966-9, pp.208-11
  14. ^ Sen, Sukumar (1991, reprint 2007). Bangala Sahityer Itihas, Vol.I, (in Bengali), Kolkata: Ananda Publishers, ISBN 81-7066-966-9, p.189
  15. ^ Sen, Sukumar (1991, reprint 2007). Bangala Sahityer Itihas, Vol.I, (in Bengali), Kolkata: Ananda Publishers, ISBN 81-7066-966-9, p.99
  16. ^ Majumdar, R.C. (ed.) (2006). The Delhi Sultanate, Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, p.693
  17. ^ a b Majumdar, R.C. (ed.) (2006). The Delhi Sultanate, Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, p.634
  18. ^ a b Majumdar, R.C. (ed.) (2006). The Delhi Sultanate, Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, pp.513-4