Sikandar Shah

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Sikandar Shah
the exalted Sultan, the wisest, the most just, the most liberal and most perfect of the Sultans of Arabia, Persia and India
Caliph of the Faithful
2nd Sultan of Bengal
Reign 1358–1390
Predecessor Shamsuddin Ilyas Shah
Successor Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah
House Ilyas Shahi dynasty

Abul Mujahid Sikandar Shah (Bengali: আবুল মুজাহিদ সিকান্দর শাহ), commonly known as Sikandar Shah; also known as Alexander Shah;[1] was the second Sultan of Bengal and the Ilyas Shahi dynasty. He was the son of Shamsuddin Ilyas Shah. Sikandar Shah continued to project the imperial ambitions of his father.[2] He defeated the Sultan of Delhi in 1359.[3] His reign is also noted for its grandoise architectural projects.[3]

Reign[edit]

Sikandar Shah assumed the throne after the death of his father. He continued to consolidate and expand the territory of the Bengal Sultanate, which had emerged as one of the leading powers in the Indian subcontinent. The most significant event of his reign was the second invasion of Bengal by the Delhi Sultan Firuz Shah Tughluq in 1359. The Tughluqs declared Zafar Khan Fars, a Persian noble and son-in-law of Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah, as the legitimate ruler of Bengal. Firuz Shah Tughluq led an army consisting of 80,000 cavalry, a large infantry and 470 elephants to Bengal. Sikandar Shah took refuge in the fortress of Ekdala, in the same way his father did earlier. The Delhi forces besieged the fort. The Bengal army strongly defended their stronghold until the start of the monsoon. Eventually, Sikandar Shah and Firuz Shah reached a peace treaty, in which Delhi recognized Bengal's independence and withdrew its armed forces.[4]

The reign of Sikandar Shah lasted for three decades. It was characterized by stability and prosperity. He constructed many grand buildings and mosques, including the Adina Mosque, which was the largest mosque in the subcontinent.[2] The interior of the mosque, a pet project of the sultan, projected an aura of imperial majesty. To the immediate north of the central sanctuary is a raised platform, the “king’s throne”, which enabled the sultan and his entourage to pray at a height elevated above the common people. The mosque was built on a pre-Islamic structure, which is evident in the defaced Hindu and Buddhist sculptures on its exterior walls.[2] It is the largest and most important Islamic building in Bengal. Other structures built during his reign were the tomb and mosque of Akhi Sirajuddin, the Kotwali Gateway at the southern entrance of Lakhnauti, a vault at Ganagarampur, Dinajpur and a mosque at Mulla Simla, Hughli.

Known as sober and gentle, Sikandar Shah liked the association of learned persons and respected the clergy and Sufis. He continued the liberal and tolerant practices of his father.[4]

Succession[edit]

In 1390, one of Sikandar Shah's eighteen sons revolted and occupied Sonargaon and Satgaon. A war of succession raged. At the Battle of Goalpara, near the capital Pandua, Sikandar Shah was killed by the forces led by his son, who assumed the throne of Bengal as Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah.[5]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

Preceded by
Ilyas Shah
Sultan of Bengal
1358–1390
Succeeded by
Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah