Shamsuddin Firoz Shah

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Shamsuddin Firoz Shah
Independent Sultan of Bengal
Reign 1301–1322
Predecessor Rukunuddin Kaikaus
Successor Nasiruddin Ibrahim (his son)
Died 1322
Issue Shihabuddin Bughda
Jalaluddin Mahmud
Ghiyasuddin Bahadur Shah
Nasiruddin Ibrahim
Tajuddin Hatim Khan
Kutlu Khan

Shamsuddin Firoz Shah (Persian: شمس الدين فيروز شاه‎, Bengali: শামসুদ্দীন ফিরুজ শাহ) (reigned: 1301–1322) was the independent ruler of the Bengal. He ascended the throne with the title of Al-Sultan Al-Azam Shams Al-Duniya wa Al-Din Abu Al-Muzaffar Firoz Shah Al-Sultan and invoked the name of the Abbaside Caliph Mustasim Billah in his coins.

Origin[edit]

Controversies persist among scholars regarding his origin and identity. According to Ibn Battuta, he was the son of Bughra Khan and the grandson of Sultan Ghiyasuddin Balban. 13th century scholar, Amir Khusrow, mentioned the names of two sons of Bughra Khan - Qaiqabad and Rukunuddin Kaikaus but he did not mention the name of Shamsuddin Firoz. Moreover, Sultan Ghiyasuddin Balban, following the Iranian tradition, named his grandsons as Kaikobad, Kaikaus, Kaikhusrau, Kaimurs etc. But the name Firoz does not agree with the Iranian tradition. Furthermore, Kaikobad was only 19 at the time of his accession to the throne of Delhi in 1288 AD. Kaikaus was a younger brother of Kaikobad and hence, if Firoz was a younger brother of Kaikaus, he would be in his mid-thirties at the time of his accession to the throne of Lakhnauti in 1301 AD. Two of his grown-up sons are found helping their father in affairs of state. But at such an age it is unlikely for a person to have two or more grown-up sons. On these grounds and on a close examination of his coins modern scholars hold that he did not belong to the House of Balban. Shamsuddin Firoz nowhere claims himself to be the son of a sultan, but all his sons and successors call themselves Sultan bin Sultan (Sultan, the son of Sultan).

It is assumed that Shamsuddin Firoz was one of the two Firozes left by Sultan Ghiyasuddin Balban to assist his son Bughra Khan, who was appointed to the governorship of Lakhnauti. Of these two officers, Firoz Iitigin, the ruler of Bihar, was more competent. Probably Firoz Iitigin, one of the two Firozes, after the death of Rukunuddin Kaikaus or displacing him forcibly, came to the throne of Lakhnauti in 1301 CE with the title of Sultan Shamsuddin Firoz Shah. On his accession to the throne, Sultan Shamsuddin Firoz Shah entrusted the governorship of Bihar to Tajuddin Hatim Khan, one of his sons.

Expansion of kingdom[edit]

Having consolidated his position, Firoz Shah turned his attention towards the expansion of his kingdom. The Muslim principality of Lakhnauti was limited to Bihar, north and northwest Bengal and up to Lakhnur in southwest Bengal. Rukunuddin Kaikaus had already started the conquest of the eastern part of Bengal, and the task was completed during the time of Firoz Shah. It is said that Kaikaus issued coins for the first time from the Kharaj of Bang. But during the time of Firoz Shah the Sonargaon area (southeast Bengal) was included in the Muslim Kingdom. He built a mint at Sonargaon from where a large number of coins were issued. Similarly, the conquest of Satgaon, begun during the time of Kaikaus under his general Zafar Khan, was completed during the time of Firoz Shah. From an inscription of Firoz, it is learnt that one Zafar Khan built a madrasa called Dar-ul-Khairat in 1313 CE. Very little is known about his conquest of Mymensingh. It is only known that his son Ghiyasuddin Bahadur issued coins from Ghiyaspur mint, identified with a village having the same name, about 24 km from Mymensingh. During the reign of Firoz Shah, Sikandar Khan Ghazi led a fruitful expedition against Matuk, a Hindu Raja of the Sundarban area. A coin of Sultan Firuz has been discovered in a village in the extreme south of Satkhira District. The most important event of the reign of Firoz Shah was the conquest of Sylhet. According to an inscription Firoz Shah conquered Sylhet in 1303 CE. The names of the Sufi-saint Shah Jalal and the commander Syed Nasiruddin are associated in connection with the conquest of Sylhet.

Firoz Shah held Bihar firmly against the Khaljis. Two inscriptions of his reign, discovered in Bihar, prove this. Thus during his time, the Bengal Sultanate during extended from at least from the rivers Son and Ghogra in the west to Sylhet in the east and from Dinajpur-Rangpur in the north to Hughli and the Sundarbans in the south.

Sharing power[edit]

Firoz had six grown-up sons - Shihabuddin Bughda, Jalaluddin Mahmud, Ghiyasuddin Bahadur, Nasiruddin Ibrahim, Hatim Khan and Kutlu Khan. Of these six, Tajuddin Hatim Khan was the governor of Bihar. It is evident from numismatic evidence that during the lifetime of Firoz Shah, his sons Jalaluddin Mahmud, Shihabuddin Bughda and Ghiyasuddin Bahadur issued coins in their own names from the Lakhnauti mint. Ghiyasuddin Bahadur also issued coins from the mints of Sonargaon and Ghiyaspur.

A group of scholars, on the basis of these coins, have argued that the sons of Firoz Shah rose in rebellion against their father and alternately ruled Lakhnauti. But the minting of coins by the sons of Firoz Shah was not the result of their rebellion, rather it was the result of their sharing of power with their father. In fact, Firoz Shah ascended the throne of Lakhnauti at quite an advanced age when he was the father of six grown-up sons who helped him in the affairs of the kingdom. Being satisfied with the co-operation of his sons, Firoz Shah allowed his sons to run the administration of some portions of his kingdom independently and to exercise royal authority as in the minting of coins. Had the sons revolted against their father, chaos and confusion would have prevailed and expansion of the kingdom would not have been possible.

Death[edit]

Firoz Shah died in 1322 CE.

Preceded by
Rukunuddin Kaikaus
(Balban Dynasty)
Independent Sultan of Bengal
1301–1322
Succeeded by
Ghiyasuddin Bahadur Shah

See also[edit]

References[edit]