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Tughlaq dynasty

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Tughlaq Dynasty
تغلق شاهیان or تغلقیه[1]
Territory under Tughlaq dynasty of Delhi Sultanate, 1330-1335 AD. The empire shrank after 1335 AD.[3]
Capital Delhi
Languages Persian (official)[4]
Religion Official: Sunni Islam
Subjects: Hinduism,[5] Shia,[6] Others[6]
Government Sultanate
 •  1321–1325 Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq
 •  1325–1351 Muhammad bin Tughluq
 •  1351–1388 Firuz Shah Tughlaq
 •  1388–1413 Ghiyath-ud-din Tughluq Shah / Abu Bakr Shah / Muhammad Shah / Mahmud Tughlaq / Nusrat Shah
Historical era Medieval
 •  Established 1320
 •  Disestablished 1413[2]
Area 3,200,000 km2 (1,200,000 sq mi)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Khilji dynasty
Sayyid dynasty
Vijayanagara Empire
Bahmani Sultanate
Bengal Sultanate
Gujarat Sultanate
Today part of  India
History of the Turkic peoples
History of the Turkic peoples
Pre-14th century
Turkic Khaganate 552–744
  Western Turkic
  Eastern Turkic
Khazar Khaganate 618–1048
Xueyantuo 628–646
Great Bulgaria 632–668
  Danube Bulgaria
  Volga Bulgaria
Kangar union 659–750
Turgesh Khaganate 699–766
Uyghur Khaganate 744–840
Karluk Yabgu State 756–940
Kara-Khanid Khanate 840–1212
  Western Kara-Khanid
  Eastern Kara-Khanid
Gansu Uyghur Kingdom 848–1036
Kingdom of Qocho 856–1335
Pecheneg Khanates
Kimek Khanate
Oghuz Yabgu State
Ghaznavid Empire 963–1186
Seljuk Empire 1037–1194
  Seljuk Sultanate of Rum
Kerait khanate 11th century–13th century
Khwarazmian Empire 1077–1231
Naiman Khanate –1204
Qarlughid Kingdom 1224–1266
Delhi Sultanate 1206–1526
  Mamluk dynasty
  Khilji dynasty
  Tughlaq dynasty
Golden Horde | [7][8][9] 1240s–1502
Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo) 1250–1517
  Bahri dynasty
  Ottoman Empire 1299–1923

The Tughlaq dynasty (Persian: سلسلہ تغلق‎‎),[10] also referred to as Tughluq or Tughluk dynasty, was a Muslim dynasty of Turkic origin which ruled over the Delhi sultanate in medieval India.[11] Its reign started in 1320 in Delhi when Ghazi Malik assumed the throne under the title of Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq. The dynasty ended in 1413.[2][12]

The dynasty expanded its territorial reach through a military campaign led by Muhammad ibn Tughluq, and reached its zenith between 1330 and 1335.[3] Its rule was marked with torture, cruelty and rebellions, resulting in the rapid disintegration of the dynasty's territorial reach after 1335 AD.[13]


The Khilji dynasty ruled the Delhi Sultanate before 1320.[14] Its last ruler, Khusro Khan was a Hindu who had converted to Islam and then served Delhi Sultanate as the general of its army.[15] Khusro Khan, along with Malik Kafur, had led numerous military campaigns on behalf of Alauddin Khilji, to expand the Sultanate and plunder non-Muslim kingdoms in India.[16][17]

After Alauddin Khilji's death from illness in 1316, a series of palace arrests and assassinations followed,[18] with Khusro Khan coming to power in June 1320 after killing licentious son of Alauddin Khilji, Mubarak Khilji.[14] However, he lacked the support of the Persian and Afghan nobels and aristocrats in Delhi. The Muslim aristocracy invited the Turkic origin Ghazi Malik, then the governor in Punjab under the Khiljis, to lead a coup in Delhi and remove Khusro Khan. In 1320, Ghazi Malik launched an attack and killed Khusro Khan to assume power.[13][19]


Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq

After assuming power, Ghazi Malik rechristened himself as Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq - thus starting and naming the Tughlaq dynasty.[20] Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq is also referred in scholarly works as Tughlak Shah. He was of Turko-Indian origins, with a Turkic father and a Hindu mother.[21]

Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq ordered the construction of Tughlakabad, a city near Delhi with fort to protect Delhi Sultanate from Mongol attacks.[16] Above is the Tughlaq fort, now in ruins.

Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq rewarded all those maliks, amirs and officials of Khilji dynasty who had rendered him a service and helped him come to power. He punished those who had rendered service to Khusro Khan, his predecessor. He lowered the tax rate on Muslims that was prevalent during Khilji dynasty, but raised the taxes on Hindus, wrote his court historian Ziauddin Barani, so that they might not be blinded by wealth or afford to become rebellious.[20]

He built a city six kilometers east of Delhi, with a fort considered more defensible against the Mongol attacks, and called it Tughlakabad.[16]

In 1321, he sent his eldest son Ulugh Khan, later known as Muhammad bin Tughlaq, to Deogir to plunder the Hindu kingdoms of Arangal and Tilang (now part of Telangana). His first attempt was a failure.[22] Four months later, Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq sent large army reinforcements for his son asking him to attempt plundering Arangal and Tilang again.[23] This time Ulugh Khan succeeded. Arangal fell, was renamed to Sultanpur, and all plundered wealth, state treasury and captives were transferred from the captured kingdom to Delhi Sultanate.

The Muslim aristocracy in Lukhnauti (Bengal) invited Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq to extend his coup and expand eastwards into Bengal by attacking Shamsuddin Firoz Shah, which he did over 1324–1325 AD,[22] after placing Delhi under control of his son Ulugh Khan, and then leading his army to Lukhnauti. Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq succeeded in this campaign. As he and his favorite son Mahmud Khan were returning from Lakhnauti to Delhi, Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq's eldest son Ulugh Khan schemed with Muslim preacher Nizamuddin Auliya to kill him inside a wooden structure (kushk) built without foundation and designed to collapse, making it appear as an accident. Historic documents state that the Sufi preacher and Ulugh Khan had learnt through messengers that Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq had resolved to remove them from Delhi upon his return.[24] Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq along with his favorite son Mahmud Khan died inside the collapsed kushk in 1325 AD, while his eldest son watched.[25] One official historian of Tughlaq court gives an alternate fleeting account of his death, as caused by a lightning bolt strike on the kushk.[26] Another official historian, Al-Badāʾunī ʻAbd al-Kadir ibn Mulūk-Shāh, makes no mention of lightning bolt or weather, but explains the cause of structural collapse to be the running of elephants; Al-Badaoni includes a note of the rumor that the accident was pre-planned.[22]


According to many historians such as Ibn Battuta, al-Safadi, Işāmi,[3] and Vincent Smith,[27] Ghiyasuddin was killed by his son Ulugh Juna Khanr in 1325 AD. Juna Khan ascended to power as Muhammad bin Tughlaq, and ruled for 26 years.[28]

Muhammad bin Tughluq
A map showing the expansion of Delhi Sultanate from 1320 (dark green) to 1330. The map also shows the location of the new temporary capital under Muhammad bin Tughlaq.

During Muhammad bin Tughluq's rule, Delhi Sultanate temporarily expanded to most of the Indian subcontinent, its peak in terms of geographical reach.[29] He attacked and plundered Malwa, Gujarat, Mahratta, Tilang, Kampila, Dhur-samundar, Mabar, Lakhnauti, Chittagong, Sunarganw and Tirhut.[30] His distant campaigns were expensive, although each raid and attack on non-Muslim kingdoms brought new looted wealth and ransom payments from captured people. The extended empire was difficult to retain, and rebellions all over Indian subcontinent became routine.[31]

He raised taxes to levels where people refused to pay any. In India's fertile lands between Ganges and Yamuna rivers, the Sultan increased the land tax rate on non-Muslims by tenfold in some districts, and twentyfold in others.[21] Along with land taxes, dhimmis were required to pay crop taxes by giving up half or more of their harvested crop. These sharply higher crop and land tax led entire villages of Hindu farmers to quit farming and escape into jungles; they refused to grow anything or work at all.[31] Many became robber clans.[21] Famines followed. The Sultan responded with bitterness by expanding arrests, torture and mass punishments, killing people as if he was "cutting down weeds".[31] Historical documents note that Muhammad bin Tughluq was cruel and severe not only with non-Muslims, but also with certain sects of Musalmans. He routinely executed Sayyids (Shia), Sufis, Qalandars, and other Muslim officials. His court historian Ziauddin Barni noted,

Not a day or week passed without spilling of much Musalman blood, (...)

— Ziauddin Barni, Tarikh-I Firoz Shahi[6]

Muhammad bin Tughlaq founded a new city, called Jahanpannah (meaning, "Protection of the World"), which connected older Delhi with Siri.[32] Later, he ordered that the capital of his Sultanate be moved from Delhi to Deogir in Maharashtra (renaming it to Daulatabad). He ordered a forced mass migration of Delhi's population. Those who refused were killed. One blind person who failed to move to Deogir, was dragged for the entire journey of 40 days - the man died, his body fell apart, and only his tied leg reached Daulatabad.[27] The capital move failed because Daulatabad was arid and did not have enough drinking water to support the new capital. The capital then returned to Delhi. Nevertheless, Muhammad bin Tughlaq orders affected history as large number of Delhi Muslims who came to Deccan area, did not return to Delhi to live near Muhammad bin Tughlaq. This influx of the then Delhi residents into Deccan region led to a growth of Muslim population in central and southern India.[29]

Revolts against Muhammad bin Tughlaq began in 1327, continued over his reign, and over time the geographical reach of the Sultanate shrunk particularly after 1335. The Vijayanagara Empire originated in southern India as a direct response to attacks from the Delhi Sultanate.[33] The Vijayanagara Empire liberated southern India from the Delhi Sultanate.[34] In 1336 Kapaya Nayak of the Musunuri Nayak defeated the Tughlaq army and reconquered Warangal from the Delhi Sultanate.[35] In 1338 his own nephew rebelled in Malwa, whom he attacked, caught and flayed alive.[21] By 1339, the eastern regions under local Muslim governors and southern parts led by Hindu kings had revolted and declared independence from Delhi Sultanate. Muhammad bin Tughlaq did not have the resources or support to respond to the shrinking kingdom.[36] By 1347, Bahmanid Sultanate had become an independent and competing Muslim kingdom in Deccan region of South Asia.[37]

A base metal coin of Muhammad bin Tughlaq that led to an economic collapse.

Muhammad bin Tughlaq was an intellectual, with extensive knowledge of Quran, Fiqh, poetry and other fields.[31] He was deeply suspicious of his kinsmen and wazirs (ministers), extremely severe with his opponents, and took decisions that caused economic upheaval. For example, after his expensive campaigns to expand Islamic empire, the state treasury was empty of precious metal coins. So he ordered minting of coins from base metals with face value of silver coins - a decision that failed because ordinary people minted counterfeit coins from base metal they had in their houses.[27][29]

Ziauddin Barni, a historian in Muhammad bin Tughlaq's court, wrote that the houses of Hindus became a coin mint and people in Hindustan provinces produced fake copper coins worth crores to pay the tribute, taxes and jizya imposed on them.[38] The economic experiments of Muhammad bin Tughlaq resulted in a collapsed economy, and nearly a decade long famine followed that killed numerous people in the countryside.[27] The historian Walford chronicled Delhi and most of India faced severe famines during Muhammad bin Tughlaq's rule, in the years after the base metal coin experiment.[39][40] Tughlaq introduced token coinage of brass and copper to augment the silver coinage which only led to increasing ease of forgery and loss to the treasury. Also, the people were not willing to trade their gold and silver for the new brass and copper coins.[41] Consequently, the sultan had to withdraw the lot, "buying back both the real and the counterfeit at great expense until mountains of coins had accumulated within the walls of Tughluqabad."[42]

Muhammad bin Tughlaq planned an attack on Khurasan and Irak (Babylon and Persia) as well as China to bring these regions under Sunni Islam.[43] For Khurasan attack, a cavalry of over 300,000 horses were gathered near Delhi, for a year at state treasury's expense, while spies claiming to be from Khurasan collected rewards for information on how to attack and subdue these lands. However, before he could begin the attack on Persian lands in the second year of preparations, the plunder he had collected from Indian subcontinent had emptied, provinces were too poor to support the large army, and the soldiers refused to remain in his service without pay. For the attack on China, Muhammad bin Tughlaq sent 100,000 soldiers, a part of his army, over the Himalayas.[21] However, Hindus closed the passes through the Himalayas and blocked the passage for retreat. The high mountain weather and lack of retreat destroyed that army in the Himalayas.[43] The few soldiers who returned with bad news were executed under orders of the Sultan.[44]

During his reign, state revenues collapsed from his policies. To cover state expenses, Muhammad bin Tughlaq sharply raised taxes on his ever shrinking empire. Except in times of war, he did not pay his staff from his treasury. Ibn Battuta noted in his memoir that Muhammad bin Tughlaq paid his army, judges (qadi), court advisors, wazirs, governors, district officials and others in his service by awarding them the right to force collect taxes on Hindu villages, keep a portion and transfer rest to his treasury.[45][46] Those who failed to pay taxes were hunted and executed.[21] Muhammad bin Tughlaq died in March 1351[3] while trying to chase and punish people for rebellion and their refusal to pay taxes in Sindh (now in Pakistan) and Gujarat (now in India).[36]

Historians have attempted to determine the motivations behind Muhammad bin Tughlaq's behavior and his actions. Some[3] state Tughlaq tried to enforce orthodox Islamic observance and practice, promote jihad in South Asia as al-Mujahid fi sabilillah ('Warrior for the Path of God') under the influence of Ibn Taymiyyah of Syria. Others[47] suggest insanity.

At the time of Muhammad bin Tughlaq's death, the geographic control of Delhi Sultanate had shrunk to Vindhya range (now in central India).[3]

Feroz Shah Tughluq

After Muhammad bin Tughluq died, a collateral relative, Mahmud Ibn Muhammad, ruled for less than a month. Thereafter, Muhammad bin Tughluq's 45-year-old nephew Firuz Shah Tughlaq replaced him and assumed the throne. His rule lasted 37 years.[48] Firuz Shah was, like his grandfather, of Turko-Indian origins. His Turkic father Sipah Rajab became infatuated with a Hindu princess named Naila. She initially refused to marry him. Her father refused the marriage proposal as well. Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq and Sipah Rajab then sent in an army with a demand for one year taxes in advance and a threat of seizure of all property of her family and Dipalpur people. The kingdom was suffering from famines, and could not meet the ransom demand. The princess, after learning about ransom demands against her family and people, offered herself in sacrifice if the army would stop the misery to her people. Sipah Rajab and the Sultan accepted the proposal. Sipah Rajab and Naila were married and Firoz Shah was their first son.[49]

The court historian Ziauddin Barni, who served both Muhammad Tughlaq and first 6 years of Firoz Shah Tughlaq, noted that all those who were in service of Muhammad were dismissed and executed by Firoz Shah. In his second book, Barni states that Firuz Shah was the mildest sovereign since the rule of Islam came to Delhi. Muslim soldiers enjoyed the taxes they collected from Hindu villages they had rights over, without having to constantly go to war as in previous regimes.[3] Other court historians such as 'Afif record a number of conspiracies and assassination attempts on Firoz Shah Tughlaq, such as by his first cousin and the daughter of Muhammad bin Tughlaq.[50]

Firoz Shah Tughlaq tried to regain the old kingdom boundary by waging a war with Bengal for 11 months in 1359. However, Bengal did not fall, and remained outside of Delhi Sultanate. Firuz Shah Tughlaq was somewhat weak militarily, mainly because of inept leadership in the army.[48]

A painting of west gate of Firozabad fort, near Delhi. This fort was built by Feroz Shah Tughlaq in the 1350s, but destroyed by later dynasties.

An educated sultan, Firoz Shah left a memoir.[51] In it he wrote that he banned torture in practice in Delhi Sultanate by his predecessors, tortures such as amputations, tearing out of eyes, sawing people alive, crushing people's bones as punishment, pouring molten lead into throats, putting people on fire, driving nails into hands and feet, among others.[52] The Sunni Sultan also wrote that he did not tolerate attempts by Rafawiz Shia Muslim and Mahdi sects from proselytizing people into their faith, nor did he tolerate Hindus who tried to rebuild their temples after his armies had destroyed those temples.[53] As punishment, wrote the Sultan, he put many Shias, Mahdi and Hindus to death (siyasat). Shams-i Siraj 'Afif, his court historian, also recorded Firoz Shah Tughlaq burning Hindus alive for secretly following their religion and for refusing to convert to Islam.[54] In his memoirs, Firoz Shah Tughlaq lists his accomplishments to include converting Hindus to Sunni Islam by announcing an exemption from taxes and jizya for those who convert, and by lavishing new converts with presents and honours. Simultaneously, he raised taxes and jizya, assessing it at three levels, and stopping the practice of his predecessors who had historically exempted all Hindu Brahmins from jizya tax.[52][55] He also vastly expanded the number of slaves in his service and those of amirs (Muslim nobles). Firoz Shah Tughlaq reign was marked by reduction in extreme forms of torture, eliminating favours to select parts of society, but an increased intolerance and persecution of targeted groups.[52] After the death of his heir in 1376 AD, Firuz Shah started strict implementation of Sharia throughout his dominions.[3]

Wazirabad mosque, near Delhi, was built during Firoz Shah Tughlaq reign.

Firuz Shah suffered from bodily infirmities, and his rule was considered by his court historians as more merciful than that of Muhammad bin Tughlaq.[56] When Firuz Shah came to power, India was suffering from a collapsed economy, abandoned villages and towns, and frequent famines. He undertook many infrastructure projects including an irrigation canals connecting Yamuna-Ghaggar and Yamuna-Sutlej rivers, bridges, madrasas (religious schools), mosques and other Islamic buildings.[3] He also undertook destruction of Hindu temples, suppressed non-Sunni sects by demolishing their structures. Firuz Shah Tughlaq is credited with patronizing Indo-Islamic architecture, including the installation of lats (ancient Hindu and Buddhist pillars) near mosques. The irrigation canals continued to be in use through the 19th century.[56] After Feroz died in 1388, the Tughlaq dynasty's power continued to fade, and no more able leaders came to the throne. Firoz Shah Tughlaq's death created anarchy and disintegration of kingdom. In the years preceding his death, internecine strife among his descendants had already erupted.[3]

Civil wars

The first civil war broke out in 1384 AD four years before the death of aging Firoz Shah Tughlaq, while the second civil war started in 1394 AD six years after Firoz Shah was dead.[57] The Islamic historians Sirhindi and Bihamadkhani provide the detailed account of this period. These civil wars were primarily between different factions of Sunni Islam aristocracy, each seeking sovereignty and land to tax dhimmis and extract income from resident peasants.[58]

Firuz Shah Tughluq's favorite grandson died in 1376. Thereafter, Firuz Shah sought and followed Sharia more than ever, with the help of his wazirs. He himself fell ill in 1384. By then, Muslim nobility who had installed Firuz Shah Tughluq to power in 1351 had died out, and their descendants had inherited the wealth and rights to extract taxes from non-Muslim peasants. Khan Jahan II, a wazir in Delhi, was the son of Firuz Shah Tughluq's favorite wazir Khan Jahan I, and rose in power after his father died in 1368 AD.[59] The young wazir was in open rivalry with Muhammad Shah, the son of Firuz Shah Tughluq.[60] The wazir's power grew as he appointed more amirs and granted favors. He persuaded the Sultan to name his great grandson as his heir. Then Khan Jahan II tried to convince Firuz Shah Tughlaq to dismiss his only surviving son. Instead of dismissing his son, the Sultan dismissed the wazir. The crisis that followed led to first civil war, arrest and execution of the wazir, followed by a rebellion and civil war in and around Delhi. Muhammad Shah too was expelled in 1387 AD. The Sultan Firuz Shah Tughluq died in 1388 AD. Tughluq Khan assumed power, but died in conflict. In 1389, Abu Bakr Shah assumed power, but he too died within a year. The civil war continued under Sultan Muhammad Shah, and by 1390 AD, it had led to the seizure and execution of all Muslim nobility who were aligned, or suspected to be aligned to Khan Jahan II.[60]

While the civil war was in progress, predominantly Hindu populations of Himalayan foothills of north India had rebelled, stopped paying Jizya and Kharaj taxes to Sultan's officials. Hindus of southern Doab region of India (now Etawah) joined the rebellion in 1390 AD. Sultan Muhammad Shah attacked Hindus rebelling near Delhi and southern Doab in 1392, with mass executions of peasants, and razing Etawah to the ground.[60][61] However, by then, most of India had transitioned to a patchwork of smaller Muslim Sultanates and Hindu kingdoms. In 1394, Hindus in Lahore region and northwest South Asia (now Pakistan) had re-asserted self-rule. Muhammad Shah amassed an army to attack them, with his son Humayun Khan as the commander-in-chief. While preparations were in progress in Delhi in January 1394, Sultan Muhammad Shah died. His son, Humayun Khan assumed power, but was murdered within two months. The brother of Humayun Khan, Nasir-al-din Mahmud Shah assumed power - but he enjoyed little support from Muslim nobility, the wazirs and amirs.[60] The Sultanate had lost command over almost all eastern and western provinces of already shrunken Sultanate. Within Delhi, factions of Muslim nobility formed by October 1394 AD, triggering the second civil war.[60]

Tartar Khan installed a second Sultan, Nasir-al-din Nusrat Shah in Ferozabad, few kilometers from the first Sultan seat of power in late 1394. The two Sultans claimed to be rightful ruler of South Asia, each with a small army, controlled by a coterie of Muslim nobility.[60] Battles occurred every month, duplicity and switching of sides by amirs became common place, and the civil war between the two Sultan factions continued through 1398, till the invasion by Timur.[61]

Timur's Invasion

The lowest point for the dynasty came in 1398, when Turco-Mongol[62][63] invader, Timur (Tamerlane) defeated four armies of the Sultanate. During the invasion, Sultan Mahmud Khan fled before Tamerlane entered Delhi. For eight days Delhi was plundered, its population massacred, and over 100,000 prisoners were killed as well.[64]

Ibn Battuta's memoir on Tughlaq dynasty

Ibn Battuta, the Moroccan Muslim traveller, left extensive notes on Tughlaq dynasty in his travel memoirs. Ibn Battuta arrived in India through the mountains of Afghanistan, in 1334, at the height of Tughlaq dynasty's geographic empire.[46] On his way, he learnt that Sultan Muhammad Tughluq liked gifts from his visitors, and gave to his visitors gifts of far greater value in return. Ibn Battuta met Muhammad bin Tughluq, presenting him with gifts of arrows, camels, thirty horses, slaves and other goods. Muhammad bin Tughlaq responded by giving Ibn Battuta with a welcoming gift of 2,000 silver dinars, a furnished house and the job of a judge with an annual salary of 5,000 silver dinars that Ibn Battuta had the right to keep by collecting taxes from two and a half Hindu villages near Delhi.[45]

In his memoirs about Tughlaq dynasty, Ibn Batutta recorded the history of Qutb complex which included Quwat al-Islam Mosque and the Qutb Minar.[65] He noted the 7 year famine from 1335 AD, which killed thousands upon thousands of people near Delhi, while the Sultan was busy attacking rebellions.[45] He was tough both against non-Muslims and Muslims. For example,

Not a week passed without the spilling of much Muslim blood and the running of streams of gore before the entrance of his palace. This included cutting people in half, skinning them alive, chopping off heads and displaying them on poles as a warning to others, or having prisoners tossed about by elephants with swords attached to their tusks.

— Ibn Battuta, Travel Memoirs (1334-1341, Delhi)[45]

The Sultan was far too ready to shed blood. He punished small faults and great, without respect of persons, whether men of learning, piety or high station. Every day hundreds of people, chained, pinioned, and fettered, are brought to this hall, and those who are for execution are executed, for torture tortured, and those for beating beaten.

— Ibn Battuta, Chapter XV Rihla (Delhi)[66]

In Tughlaq dynasty, the punishments were extended even to Muslim religious figures who were suspected rebellion.[65] For example, Ibn Battuta mentions Sheikh Shinab al-Din, who was imprisoned and tortured as follows:

On the fourteen day, the Sultan sent him food, but he (Sheikh Shinab al-Din) refused to eat it. When the Sultan heard this he ordered that the sheikh should be fed human excrement [dissolved in water]. [His officials] spread out the sheikh on his back, opened his mouth and made him drink it (the excrement). On the following day, he was beheaded.

— Ibn Battuta, Travel Memoirs (1334-1341, Delhi)[65][67]

Ibn Batutta wrote that Sultan's officials demanded bribes from him while he was in Delhi, as well as deducted 10% of any sums that Sultan gave to him.[68] Towards the end of his stay in Tughluq dynasty court, Ibn Battuta came under suspicion for his friendship with a Sufi Muslim holy man.[46] Both Ibn Battuta and the Sufi Muslim were arrested. While Ibn Battuta was allowed to leave India, the Sufi Muslim was killed as follows according to Ibn Battuta during the period he was under arrest:

(The Sultan) had the holy man's beard plucked out hair by hair, then banished him from Delhi. Later the Sultan ordered him to return to court, which the holy man refused to do. The man was arrested, tortured in the most horrible way, then beheaded.

— Ibn Battuta, Travel Memoirs (1334-1341, Delhi)[46]

Slavery under Tughlaq dynasty

Each military campaign and raid on non-Muslim kingdoms yielded loot and seizure of slaves. Additionally, the Sultans patronized a market (al-nakhkhās[69]) for trade of both foreign and Indian slaves.[70] This market flourished under the reign of all Sultans of Tughlaq dynasty, particularly Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq, Muhammad Tughlaq and Firoz Tughlaq.[71] Both Ibn Battuta's memoir and Shihab al-Din ibn Fadlallah al-'Umari texts recorded a flourishing market of non-Muslim slaves in Delhi. Al-'Umari wrote, for example,

The Sultan never ceases to show the greatest zeal in making war upon the infidels. Everyday thousands of slaves are sold at very low price, so great is the number of prisoners (from attacks on neighboring kingdoms).

— Shihabuddin al-Umari, Masalik-ul- Absar[72]

Ibn Battuta's memoir record that he fathered a child each with two slave girls, one from Greece and one he purchased during his stay in Delhi Sultanate. This was in addition to the daughter he fathered by marrying a Muslim woman in India.[73] Ibn Battuta also records that Muhammad Tughlaq sent along with his emissaries, both slave boys and slave girls as gifts to other countries such as China.[74]

Muslim nobility and revolts

The Tughlaq dynasty experienced many revolts by Muslim nobility, particularly during Muhammad bin Tughlaq but also during other rulers such as Firoz Shah Tughlaq.[48][75]

The Tughlaq's had attempted to manage their expanded empire by appointing family members and Muslim aristocracy as na'ib (نائب) of Iqta' (farming provinces, اقطاع) under contract.[48] The contract would require that the na'ib shall have the right to force collect taxes from non-Muslim peasants and local economy, deposit a fixed sum of tribute and taxes to Sultan's treasury on a periodic basis.[48][76] The contract allowed the na'ib to keep a certain amount of taxes they collected from peasants as their income, but the contract required any excess tax and seized property collected from non-Muslims to be split between na'ib and Sultan in a 20:80 ratio (Firuz Shah changed this to 80:20 ratio). The na'ib had the right to keep soldiers and officials to help extract taxes. After contracting with Sultan, the na'ib would enter into subcontracts with Muslim amirs and army commanders, each granted the right over certain villages to force collect or seize produce and property from dhimmis.[76]

This system of tax extraction from peasants and sharing among Muslim nobility led to rampant corruption, arrests, execution and rebellion. For example, in the reign of Firoz Shah Tughlaq, a Muslim noble named Shamsaldin Damghani entered into a contract over the iqta' of Gujarat, promising an enormous sums of annual tribute while entering the contract in 1377 AD.[48] He then attempted to force collect the amount deploying his cotorie of Muslim amirs, but failed. Even the amount he did manage to collect, he paid nothing to Delhi.[76] Shamsaldin Damghani and Muslim nobility of Gujarat then declared rebellion and separation from Delhi Sultanate. However, the soldiers and peasants of Gujarat refused to fight the war for the Muslim nobility. Shamsaldin Damghani was killed.[48] During the reign of Muhammad Shah Tughlaq, similar rebellions were very common. His own nephew rebelled in Malwa in 1338 AD; Muhammad Shah Tughlaq attacked Malwa, seized his nephew, and then flayed him alive in public.[21]

Indo-Islamic Architecture

The Sultans of Tughlaq dynasty, particularly Firoz Shah Tughlaq, patronized many construction projects and are credited with the development of Indo-Islamic architecture.[77]


Titular Name Personal Name Reign
Sultan Ghiyath-ud-din Tughluq Shah
سلطان غیاث الدین تغلق شاہ
Ghazi Malik
غازی ملک
Sultan Muhammad Adil bin Tughluq Shah
سلطان محمد عادل بن تغلق شاہ
Ulugh Khan
الغ خان
Juna Khan
جنا خان
Malik Fakhr-ud-din
ملک فخر الدین
Sultan Feroze Shah Tughluq
سلطان فیروز شاہ تغلق
Malik Feroze ibn Malik Rajab
ملک فیروز ابن ملک رجب
Sultan Ghiyath-ud-din Tughluq Shah
سلطان غیاث الدین تغلق شاہ
Tughluq Khan ibn Fateh Khan ibn Feroze Shah
تغلق خان ابن فتح خان ابن فیروز شاہ
Sultan Abu Bakr Shah
سلطان ابو بکر شاہ
Abu Bakr Khan ibn Zafar Khan ibn Fateh Khan ibn Feroze Shah
ابو بکر خان ابن ظفر خان ابن فتح خان ابن فیروز شاہ
Sultan Muhammad Shah
سلطان محمد شاہ
Muhammad Shah ibn Feroze Shah
محمد شاہ ابن فیروز شاہ
Sultan Ala-ud-din Sikandar Shah
سلطان علاءالدین سکندر شاہ
Humayun Khan
ھمایوں خان
Sultan Nasir-ud-din Mahmud Shah Tughluq
سلطان ناصر الدین محمود شاہ تغلق
Mahmud Shah ibn Muhammad Shah
محمود شاہ ابن محمد شاہ
Sultan Nasir-ud-din Nusrat Shah Tughluq
سلطان ناصر الدین نصرت شاہ تغلق
Nusrat Khan ibn Fateh Khan ibn Feroze Shah
نصرت خان ابن فتح خان ابن فیروز شاہ
  • The colored rows signify the splitting of Delhi Sultanate under two Sultans; one in the east (Orange) at Firozabad & the other in the west (Yellow) at Delhi.

See also


  1. ^ Encyclopaedia Islamica Archived 29 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ a b Edmund Wright (2006), A Dictionary of World History, 2nd Edition, Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780192807007
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  4. ^ "Arabic and Persian Epigraphical Studies - Archaeological Survey of India". Retrieved 2010-11-14. 
  5. ^ Henry Sharp (1938), DELHI: A STORY IN STONE, Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, Vol. 86, No. 4448, pp 321-327
  6. ^ a b c Tarikh-I Firoz Shahi Ziauddin Barni, The History of India by its own Historians - The Muhammadan Period, Volume 3, Trubner London, pages 236-238
  7. ^ Marshall Cavendish Corporation (2006). Peoples of Western Asia. p. 364. 
  8. ^ Bosworth, Clifford Edmund (2007). Historic Cities of the Islamic World. p. 280. 
  9. ^ Borrero, Mauricio (2009). Russia: A Reference Guide from the Renaissance to the Present. p. 162. 
  10. ^ The historical spelling is Ṭughlāq (طغلاق).
  11. ^ Lombok, E.J. Brill's First Encyclopedia of Islam, Vol 5, ISBN 90-04-09796-1, pp 30, 129-130
  12. ^ Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. pp. 90–102. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4. 
  13. ^ a b W. Haig (1958), The Cambridge History of India: Turks and Afghans, Volume 3, Cambridge University Press, pp 153-163
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  15. ^ Vincent Smith, The Oxford Student's History of India at Google Books, Oxford University Press, pp 81-82
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  17. ^ Elliot and Dowson (Translators), Tarikh-I Alai Amir Khusru, The History of India by its own Historians - The Muhammadan Period, Volume 3, Trubner London, pages 67-92; Quote - "The Rai again escaped him, and he ordered a general massacre at Kandur. He heard that in Brahmastpuri there was a golden idol. (He found it). He then determined on razing the beautiful temple to the ground. The roof was covered with rubies and emeralds, in short it was the holy place of the Hindus, which Malik dug up from its foundations with greatest care, while heads of idolaters fell to the ground and blood flowed in torrents. The Musulmans destroyed all the lings (idols). Much gold and valuable jewels fell into the hands of the Musulmans who returned to the royal canopy in April 1311 AD. Malik Kafur and the Musulmans destroyed all the temples at Birdhul, and placed in the plunder in the public treasury."
  18. ^ Tarikh-I Firoz Shahi Ziauddin Barni, The History of India by its own Historians - The Muhammadan Period, Volume 3, Trubner London, pages 214-218
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  26. ^ Elliot and Dowson (Translators), Táríkh-i Fíroz Sháh Ziauddin Barani, The History of India by its own Historians - The Muhammadan Period, Volume 3, Trubner London, pages 609-611
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  28. ^ Elliot and Dowson, Táríkh-i Fíroz Sháhí of Ziauddin Barani, The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians. The Muhammadan Period (Vol 3), London, Trübner & Co
  29. ^ a b c Muḥammad ibn Tughluq Encyclopædia Britannica
  30. ^ Tarikh-I Firoz Shahi Ziauddin Barni, The History of India by its own Historians - The Muhammadan Period, Volume 3, Trubner London, pages 236-237
  31. ^ a b c d Tarikh-I Firoz Shahi Ziauddin Barni, The History of India by its own Historians - The Muhammadan Period, Volume 3, Trubner London, pages 235-240
  32. ^ Henry Sharp (1938), DELHI: A STORY IN STONE, Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, Vol. 86, No. 4448, pp 321-322, 325-326
  33. ^ Hermann Kulke and Dietmar Rothermund, A History of India, (Routledge, 1986), 188.
  34. ^ Advanced Study in the History of Medieval India by Jl Mehta p.97
  35. ^ A Social History of the Deccan, 1300-1761: Eight Indian Lives, by Richard M. Eaton p.50
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  37. ^ See:
    • M. Reza Pirbha, Reconsidering Islam in a South Asian Context, ISBN 978-9004177581, Brill
    • Richards J. F. (1974), The Islamic frontier in the east: Expansion into South Asia, Journal of South Asian Studies, 4(1), pp. 91-109
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  39. ^ Cornelius Walford (1878), The Famines of the World: Past and Present, p. 3, at Google Books, pp 9-10
  40. ^ Judith Walsh, A Brief History of India, ISBN 978-0816083626, pp 70-72; Quote: "In 1335-42, during a severe famine and death in the Delhi region, the Sultanate offered no help to the starving residents."
  41. ^ Domenic Marbaniang, "The Corrosion of Gold in Light of Modern Christian Economics", Journal of Contemporary Christian, Vol.5, No.1 (Bangalore: CFCC), August 2013, p.66
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  44. ^ Vincent A Smith, The Oxford History of India: From the Earliest Times to the End of 1911, Oxford University Press, Chapter 2, pp 236-242
  45. ^ a b c d Ross Dunn (1989), The Adventures of Ibn Battuta: A Muslim Traveler of the 14th Century, University of California Press, Berkeley, Excerpts Archived 24 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
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  58. ^ Agha Mahdi Husain (1963), Tughluq Dynasty, Thacker Spink, Calcutta
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  63. ^ M.S. Asimov & C. E. Bosworth, History of Civilizations of Central Asia, UNESCO Regional Office, 1998, ISBN 92-3-103467-7, p. 320: "… One of his followers was […] Timur of the Barlas tribe. This Mongol tribe had settled […] in the valley of Kashka Darya, intermingling with the Turkish population, adopting their religion (Islam) and gradually giving up its own nomadic ways, like a number of other Mongol tribes in Transoxania …"
  64. ^ Hunter, Sir William Wilson (1909). "The Indian Empire: Timur's invasion 1398". The Imperial Gazetteer of India. 2. p. 366. 
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External links