Administrative Structure of the Delhi Sultanate [ Ch. 10
abolished Zakat on grain and it was not renewed by any subsequent Sultan. Jizyah, or poll tax, was levied on nonMuslims ”in return for which they received protection of life and property and exemption from military service.”22 The Holy Qur’an uses the word jizyah, like kharaj, to mean a tax, and early writers of Muslim India do not attach any technical significance to the term. It was, however, soon levied as a capitation tax. As such it was borrowed from Persia where it was called gezit. The Romans also imposed a poll tax on those who were not Roman citizen, and, in the Middle Ages, it was quite common to charge special taxes for military needs. As pointed out by Tripathi, jizyah ”served the purpose of what ’host tax’ was in France, ’Common penny’ in Germany, and the ’Victual money’ or ’Scutage’ in England”.23
As military duty was compulsory for Muslims, they were free from jizyah. According to Dr.Tripathi, until the legalistic and orthodox Firuz Tughluq took up the matter, the recovery of jizyah was often in abeyance. ”Although it is true thai jizyah had not been abolished and was probably realised to some extent, it was gradually falling into disuse. The ablest of the Delhi Sultans were taking more and more interest in the secular revenue and were inclined to ignore jizyah.”24 He says elsewhere: ”There is no definite evidence to show that jizyah was levied from the Hindu subjects living directly under the government of Delhi. From the trend of conversation between Ala-ud-Din and Qazi Mughis-ud-Din, it appears that the Sultan was well satisfied with the maximum tax he had imposed upon the people and was not inclined to press for jizyah. Zia-ud-Din would surely have not failed to mention it if it had been levied at all.”25 Dr.Levy expresses similar opinion, though he states that ’Ala’-ud-din did not levy jizyah on Hindus because he refused to accord them the status of dhimmis.26 This interpretation is not correct. Very often for the sake of convenience and more often in rural areas, jizyah and kharaj were realised as a consolidated tax. In the early days of the Sultanate, the rulers had not built up an elaborate organisation,
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and tax-farming-ultimately through Hindu middlemen-was the normal means of recovery. It appears unlikely that, apart from a comprehensive demand made on a village or a territory, separate and specific realisation of jizyah was feasible. Where jizyah was recovered it was charged in three categories. The richest paid four dinars per head per annum, the middle groups two dinars and the lowest class paid one dinar.27 Women, children and ”those who had not enough to pay the tax after defraying the cost of their living” were excused.
Coinage. Nothing illustrates the practical and statesmanlike approach of the early Muslim rulers better than the slow, cautious evolution of their coinage system. Muhammad Ghuri was the founder of the Muslim Empire in India. Some modern historians refer to him as a ”soldier of faith” keen on the destruction of Hindu idols and the establishment of Islam. Yet the three of his coins which are extant show him to be a cautious, practical man of affairs, rather than a fanatical soldier of faith. Two of those tell-tale coins are mere imitation of the earlier Hindu coins, with the figure of even the goddess Lakshmi reproduced, the only distinguishing element being the sovereign’s name inscribed in Indian characters. The third coin, though based on the dinar of Muslim countries, bears a Devanagri legend and the figure of a horseman, much in the tradition of Hindu coins. The Muslim rulers were faced with the problem of establishing a new currency amongst a people unacquainted with the Muslim coinage system much less with Arabic, and they tried to do this with minimum disturbance of the existing usages and practices. ”It was Balban who more than sixty years after the conquest of Delhi finally replaced the Hindu device of the ’bull and horseman, with the sovereign’s name inscribed in Devanagri characters.”
In the early years of the Sultanate, the Jital corresponding to the modern anna, and an adaptation of the old dehliwala current before the Muslim rule, was the token coin in use. The
Administrative Structure of the Delhi Sultanate [ Ch. 10
silver tanka (which was replaced by rupiah of Sher Shah and Akbar), was introduced by Iltutmish and marked ”the commencement of the Indo-Muslim monetary system”. In addition to its indigenous name, it was linked up with the weight standard, with which the people in India were familiar. It was planned to contain one tola or ninety-six rattis and to be divisible by the thirty-two ratti purana, to which weight the older dehliwala approximated. Once the Muslim monetary system became established, the rulers introduced changes and improvements in the designs and legends of their coins and made them approximate to the normal Muslim coinage in length and appearance. Iltutmish started the practice of inscribing the name of the mint on his tanka. By 622/1225, the name of the contemporary Abbasid Khalifah had begun to appear on the coins, which already contained the Muslim Kalimah. With the improvement of mints, the beauty and design of the coins improved, and in course of time kings and currency experts could indulge in their own whims or experiments. The fertile brain of Muhammad Tughluq thought of using coinage for propaganda. ”Not only are his coins noted for their novelty, for their superb die execution and for their design,” but by his giving up the tradition of the predecessors who styled themselves ”Sultans” or ”Shahs” or by similar titles uniformly maintained. He issued coins with different legends and titles such as (a) The just Sultan; (b) Fighter in the way of God; (c) The slave, Hopeful of the Grace of God.
Careful planning and skilful adjustment to local conditions ensured the success of the currency introduced by the Muslims. ”As a measure of the ability of the Delhi financiers, it would be observed that the relative value of the currency pieces remained static throughout the century.” The silver tanka was the principal coin which ruled all other denominations like jital (of mixed metal), and the copper fals (corresponding to modern paisa). The gold tanka was equal to ten silver tankas in value in the time of ’Ala’-ud-din Khalji. Apart from Muhammad Tughluq’s unsuccessfull effort to introduce token currency of
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mixed metal, the coins were of pure metal and standard weight, and the State took every precaution to maintain the purity and weight of its coins.
The ’Arid.Significantly enough Fakhr-i Mudabbir does not refer to a Qadi-i-Mumalik, presumably, as his functions were originally performed by Amir-i Dad, with the help of the qadis and other advisers, or by qadi-i lashkar, and the office of Qadii Mumalik was, perhaps, created after Ututmish. Nor does Fakhr devote a separate chapter to the functionary known as ’Arid or ’Arid al-Murnalik during the Sultanate (and Mir Bakhshi during the Mughal period) possibly as this functionary was, during the early days, directly under the Wazir, who looked after the military and financial side of the work and it was only under Balban that the’Arid was made independent of the wizarah. The ’Arid was already performing many of the duties later assigned to him. Fakhr-i Mudabbir describes a military review thus: ”The ’arid from a point of vantage, saw the left wing, the centre and then the right wing march past him, both cavalry and infantry. The naqibs stood by, and the ’arid scrutinized each soldier, his arms and his horse. Every soldier had an appointed place; the naqib had charts for arranging the soldiers in battle array.”28
The king was the commander-in-chief of the forces but with the expansion of the empire and the growth of the military side of the government, the importance of the Arid increased immensely. Not only did he function sometimes as the general of the forces, but he also acted as the chief recruiting officer and fixed the salary of each recruit. The commissariat was under him, and the Diwan-i ’Ard disbursed salaries to the troops. Even Amir Khusrau and other court officials who held military ranks received salaries from this office. Thus already under the Sultanate we can see the beginnings of the Mughal system of placing all public servants on the army pay list and giving them mansabs. The ’ArU-i Mumalik was not the commander-in-chief, of even the seniormost general -the king named the generals for different campaigns,-but it is not
175 Administrative Structure of the Delhi Sultanate [ Ch. 10
difficult to see in contemporary accounts the power and the importance of the head of the Diwan-i /Ird.Jalal-ud-din Khalji held this post before he ascended the throne, and the part played by Shaikh Farid, who held the corresponding position of Mir Bakhshi under Akbar, in securing the accession of Jahangir is well known.
Rawat’Ard. In the early period the post gained immensely by the sagacity, popularity and competence of Amir Khusrau’s maternal grandfather, who had the title of ’Imad al-Mulk, popularly known as Rawat ’Ard. He began service under Ututmish, who later appointed him as head of the Diwan-i ’Ard. He retained this position during many political changes which took place after Iltutmish’s death, and was confirmed in his office by Balban, who made him independent of the wazir and raised the office to the level of an independent minister. In fact, Balban had ordered that Rawat ’Ard should take precedence over all nobles and chiefs, Rawat ’Ard seems to have been a most remarkable officer. He retained his position in those troubled times for sixty-two years,29 which in itself seems extraordinary, but the paternal way in which he looked after his soldiers was even more remarkable. Any sawar accidentally losing his horse or armour was sure to get it from the private account of Rawat ’Ard.”He was kinder than a father and a mother to all his soldiers, and he used to say, I am the guardian of the kingdom, and a prop of the kingship of the rulers, who have entrusted to me all affairs relating to the armed forces, If I am negligent in looking after the army, and do not spend my day and night in making arrangements for them and do not treat my soldiers better than my brother and sons, I would be considered untrue to my salt in this world and ’wHl 4«ek small on the Day^f Judgment.”30
He had ajn open table where not only nobles but clerks and
• peons were welcomes and were entertained on a lavish scale. He
maintained the efficiency of the War Office, which is praised
% contemporary historians, but his success was also due to h
tact ”and statesmanship. Partly on accoiyit of the political
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condition and partly on account of Rawat’Ard’s own personality, the importance of the office increased enormously. Balban laid down that he should be supreme (mutlaq al-inari) in his department. He had direct access to the ruler, and the officers of the departments placed their annual reports regarding the army and the muster directly before the kings.
Army. The situation with which the Muslim rulers were confronted in India necessitated maintenance of an effective army. The Muslim task was facilitated by their superior generalship and quality of their troops, but they had also developed the science of warfare to a high level. We have already referred to Fakhr-i Mudabbir’s book on government. Of the two extant copies of the book, one is entitled Adab alMuluk wa kifayat al-Mamluk and the second is called Adab alHarab wa al-Shuja’ah. One-third of the book deals with the organisation of government, but the greater part is a War Manual, dealing with different aspects of warfare. It deals with such practical subjects as camping places, battle array of the armies, despatch of spies and scouts (Tilayah), surprise night attacks, and different types of equipment and arms. Three chapters are devoted to horses, viz. the qualities of good method of treatment in case of illness.
The steps taken by Balban to keep his troops in good trim and by ’Ala-ud-din Khalji to raise and maintain a large standing army have been described by Barani. The cavalry was the backbone of the army, but the Sultans did not confine their organisation to the traditional pattern. They soon began to employ elephants on an extensive scale, and Balban considered a single war elephant to be as effective in battle as five hunderd horsemen. The foot-soldier (Payaks) were mainly Hindus of poor classes, slaves or other persons of small means, who wanted employment and could not afford horses. Military grades were organised on a decimal basis. ”A sarkhel had ten horsemen under him, a sipah-salar directed ten sarkhels; an amir ten sipah-salars; a Malik had authority over ten amirs and a khan’s forces contained at least those of ten Malik’s.31
Administrative Structure of the Delhi Sultanate [ Ch. 10
The use of naphtha and Greek fire was known from early times. Incendiary arrows and javelins as well as pots of cumbustibles were hurled against the enemy. The Delhi army used grenades, fireworks and rockets against Timur, but, although there are references to a crude form of cannon, and in the provincial kingdoms of Gujarat and the Deccan, this arm was properly developed, the Sultanate of Delhi had no made much progress in the use of artillery. It was the neglect of this arm which turned the scales against the Delhi forces in the first battle of Panipat in 933/1526.
One of the main military tasks before the early Sultans was the security of the northwestern frontier. The Mongols who had overwhelmed Muslim States in Central and Western Asia were always at their doors. Perhaps the greatest achievement of the Sultanate was to save India from this calamity, and this was made possible, not only through an adequate army, but by the completion of a network of forts in the western Punjab. The magnitude of this achievement is more easily appreciated if it is compared with the ineffective efforts put in by the Rajput rulers to deal with the smaller problem of Muslim invasion, and their failure to develop and work out an efficient system of frontier defences.
A section of the army, which was distinct from the contingents of Iqta ’dars and the royal army, consisted of the volunteers for jihad, often called the ghazis. Thousands of such volunteers joined Mahmud in his Indian campaigns and they remained a factor of some importance in the early days of the Sultanate-probably until the reorganisation of the army by Balban and ’Ala’-ud-din Khalji at Delhi, and even till a later date in Bengal.32 They were not registered in the Diwan-i Ard like the regular soldiers entitled to a salary, ”but eventually an attempt was made to control their exuberance and make better practical use of them1. At the time of Mahmud’s expedition to Somnath 50,000 dinars were allotted from the State treasury for their weapons and equipment and in the reign of his son Mas’ud a special Salar-i Ghaziyan remained stationed at
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Lahore. These volunteers formed a part of Muhammad Ghuri’s army. The soldiers who accompanied Muhammad b. Bakhtiyar Khalji in his adventurous exploits included many ghazis and, in general, the role of Muslim volunteers in expansion of Muslim rule in Bengal has been important. Shah Jalal, who with his companions played a decisive role in the conquest of Sylhet, may be taken as a notable example of this secondary source of Muslim military strength.
Judiciary. Muslim judicial practice recognised four types of courts: (1) diwan-i mazalim, presided over by the ruler or his representative; (2) qadi’s courts; (3) the courts of muhtasibs to deal among other things with certain offences against religious ordinances; and (4) the police (shurtah) courts. In Muslim India, the third type of courts gained in power and prestige under the Tughluqs, and later under Aurangzeb.
Amir-i Dad. The first important judicial dignitary of the sultanate at Delhi to whom a reference is found in contemporary records, was Amir-i Dad (chief justiciary or chief magistrate). Sipah Salar ’Ali Isma’il the first Amir-i-Dad of Delhi, was the head of the group of noblemen and officers who invited Iltutmish to occupy the throne of Delhi in opposition to Aibak’s adopted son, Aram Shah. He was obviously a layman, and the office was usually reserved for a leading noble, with special aptitude for judicial work. Fakhr-i Mudabbir, who devoted a chapter to the qualifications of the Amir-i Dad, desired that only a man belonging to the royal or a nobel family, and known for piety and learning, should be appointed to this post and should have a large salary paid to him, as he may have to try complaints against governors and high commanders. In the absence of the Sultan, who functioned as Supreme Judge throughout Muslim rule, the Amir-i Dad presided over the ”Court of Complaints and justice”. The court was called the Diwan-i Mazalim under the Abbasid government of Baghdad while Minhaj refers to the institution at Delhi as Masnad-i Mazalim wa’ Adi. Amir-i Dad, who later came to be called Dadbak, ”controlled the kotwal, the police and the
179 Administrative Structure of the Delhi Sultanate [ Ch. 10
muhtasib.”33 He ”was also responsible for the proper maintenance of mosques, bridges and public buildings, as also of the city walls and gates....His office kept copies of the documents registered with the qadi; it was his duty to forbid a covenant which transgressed the law”.34 ”If he felt that there had been a miscarriage of justice, he could either draw the attention of the qadi to the fact or delay the execution of the decision until the matter was reconsidered by a fuller or a higher court.”35 Amir-i Dad ordered the apprehension of criminals, dealt with breaches of law, and tried cases, where necessary, with the assistance of a qadi, who functioned as a legal adviser. Minhaj had some interesting observations to make about one of the early occupants of this office, with whom he worked for several years, and his account shows that although Amir-i Dad gave judgement and awarded punishment, his court functioned as a judicial bench. Minhaj says: ”It must be about eighteen years since the bench of the administration of justice was adorned by his (Saif-ud-din ’Ajami’s) dignity; and, during the whole period, he has been obedient to the canons of the (Muhammadan) law, and beyond those which the law decrees he has not added a title. The writer of this work, upon two occasions, for early eight years, by the gracious command of the Sultan of Sultans (Nasir-ud-din Mahmud) was seated on the same bench with that just Malik in the Court of justice at the capital city, Dehli, and the author has seen that all his acts, procedures, and expositions have been conformable with the faith and its ordinances. By the dignity of his punishments, and the majesty of his justice, the multitude of contumacious (persons) round about the capital, and the gangs of evil-doers and robbers, having drawn back the hand of violence within the sleeve of relinquishment and suspension, are quiescent in the corner of fear and terror.”36
Amir-i Dad had his representative in the provinces as well as in the army. For example, Malik Saif-ud-din Aibak, with whom Minhaj worked at Delhi, was originally at Kara. Barani at one place, refers to amir-i dad-i-mumalik. The mir-i-adl, to
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whom reference is made by the Mughal historians, corresponded to amir-i-dad or his regional representative, but the provincial and city governors and the kings began to handle some disputes themselves, and referred others to the qadi, and the posts of amir-i-dad or mir-i ’adl seem to have been filled in a few cases only. Still, the kings and governors made regular arrangements for personal dispensation of justice. Ibn Battutah and another Arab writer describe the detailed arrangements made by Muhammad Tughluq, who presided over the diwan-i mazalim, with the Chief Qadi at his side ”to give him legal advice....Under Sikandar Lodi, the wazir (Mian Bhowa also functioned as mir-i’adl and) presided over the mazalim court; the legal advice was given by the qadi, who was assisted by twelve learned lawyers.”37
Qadis. While the system of dispensation of justice by the king or his representative continued, administration of justice by the qadis grew in importance and became a prominent feature of the Tughluq rule. The main concern of the qadi was with civil disputes amongst Muslims, ”but later his jurisdiction widened and embraced considerably the supervision and management of the property of orphans and lunatics the execution of testamentary dispositions and the supervision of awqaf.”n They were appointed by the central government and were completely independent of the governors. The office of the Qadi-i Mumalik or Qadi al-Qudat was normally held by the head of the ecclesiastical department, who was generally known as the Sadr-i Jahan. It is not certain whether Qadi alQudat heard appeal against the judgments of the qadis. ”Possibly, his functions with regard to qadis were merely administrative; as an appeal judge, he probably sat with the king.” The Chief Qadi was also the Sultan’s legal adviser in matters relating to Shari’ah. The enlightened opinion and books on Muslim statecraft emphasise the importance of appointing only honest, pious and well-qualified qadis in the realm, but with the monarch retaining the powers of appointment of th* Chief Qadi, the Sultan had the final say in the framing of the
Administrative Structure of the Delhi Sultanate [ Ch. 10
judicial structure. Still public opinion was critical of any appointment of chief qadis for considerations other than those of merit, and such an appointment made by ’Ala’-ud-din Khalji was very unpopular. Most of the kings took steps to uphold the prestige of the judiciary. The manner in which, on one occasion, Muhammad Tughluq appeared like an ordinary plaintiff in the court of a qadi and saluted him may be nothing more than a theatrical gesture, but such episodes built up the prestige of the courts and enabled the general public and the legal profession to realise what was expected of the judges. There are plenty of instances to show that, although under a despotic monarchy there were obvious limitations to the role which an individual could play, the jurists often acted with courage and independence. When Jalal-ud-din Khalji wanted Sayyidi Maula, who was accused of high treason, to vindicate himself by walking through fire, the jurists vetoed the idea by contending that fire did not distinguish between the innocent and the guilty. The Sultan bowed to their decision, though he later instigated and connived at Sayyidi’s murder. Similarly, in spite of ’Ala’-ud-din khalji’s reputation for ruthlessness, Qadi Mughith-ud-din did not fail to criticise his action, and let it be said to the credit of the Sultan that, in spite of this condemnation, he rewarded the qadi with a khil’at. The sanctity attached to the office of the qadi, his being an expert in Islamic Law, and the pressure of public opinion encouraged an independent judiciary, the need for which was universally recognised.
Rise of Indo-Muslim Law
Nur-ud-din Mubarak Ghaznavi (d. 631/1234). The first important personality who is stated to have been consulted on questions of Islamic Law in the Sultanate of Delhi was Sayyid Nur-ud-din Mubarak Ghaznavi. His figure is shrouded in obscurity, but the long extract which Barani has given of his address to Iltutmish about the lines on which a Muslim king should conduct himself and the forthright manner in which he expressed himself indicate his importance. According \oAkhbar
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al: Akhiyar, he was ”the leader and the Shaikh al-Islam of Delhi, and was known as the chief of Delhi in the days of Sultan Shams-ud-din (Iltutmish).”39 In Ottoman Turkey, Shaikh al-Islam was the principal dignitary entrusted with the exposition of Islamic Law, but in Muslim India the term has normally been applied to the principal sufi Shaikh of the day. Shaikh Nur-ud-din Mubarak was not a jurist but a mystic. On account of his prominence and Iltutmish’s regard for the sufis, he seems to have been consulted on questions of Islamic Law and political theory, which normally are not the concern of the mystics. He was born in Ghazni, and was one of the early immigrants to the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent. He was held in high regard by Sultan Muhammad Ghuri, who is stated to have appointed him as Shaikh al-Islam. He died in 631/1234 shortly before Iltutmish’s death. Barani’s account of his discourses shows that he was extremely critical of the court etiquette and the mode of living adopted by Muslim kings. The Shaikh wished the Sultan to deal firmly with non-Muslims, and condemned not only all heresy, but also the study of philosophy. Barani often puts some of his own ideas in the discourses which he attributes to important personalities, but the puritanical, ultra-democratic and ascetical approach which he attributes to Nur-ud-din Mubarak Ghaznavi appears typical of the early days of Muslim India, when simplicity and piety found favour, not only with the jurists,but with the ruling monarch.
Minhaj al-Siraj, Chief Qadi of the Realm. A different type of personality and one whose policy left a great impression on the history of Islamic Law in the country was Qadi Minhaj alSiraj, better known as the most important historian of the Slave Dynasty. In the days of Iltutmish’s successors, he held the important office of the Chief Qadi of the realm for a number of years, and, though his close association with a particular group of nobles in later years with Balban’s partly resulted in his displacement when his enemies came to power, he was reappointed after a brief interval. Hadrat Nizam-ud-din Auliya’ is reported to have stated that the same1 (ecstatic dances), to
Administrative Structure of the Delhi Sultanate [ Ch. 10
which most orthodox lawyers objected, became prevalent in Delhi when Minhaj became Qadi.40 He also quoted a contemporary of Minhaj as saying that the latter was not fit to be a qadi, but should have been the principal sufi Shaikh. These significant statement give a clue to the personality of and policies followed by Minhaj, as qadi of the realm (and of the capital). Minhaj himself has recorded that he was not popular with other religious dignitaries and once they attempted to have him assassinated.41
In the light of these observation (and even Minhaj’s very close association with Balban), it is reasonable to infer that he was not right in the application of Islamic Law, and his long tenure as Chief Qadi contributed towards the evolution of suitable modus operandi for the new Muslim government. Minhaj was one of the most learned men of his day and was an eloquent preacher. Hadrat Nizam-ud-din Auliya’ says that he used to go every Monday to hear Minhaj’s tadhikir, and the contemporary rulers often called upon him to address the army or public meetings, when they were confronted with a crisis. When Iltutmish besieged the fort of Gwalior and met with difficulties, under royal orders, Minhaj addressed the troops ninety-five times in the course of the protracted siege. Similarly, when after the Mongol invasion of the Punjab and destruction of the city of Lahore in 639/1241, there was panic at the capital, Bahram Shah, the reigning monarch ”assembled the people of the city of Delhi in the Qasr-i Safaid” and asked Minhaj to deliver a discourse. Minhaj was effective as usual and the people enthusiastically pledged their fealty to the Sultan.
Minhaj’s scholarship and oratory were undoubtedly of a high order, but he was more of an ”elder stateman” than a religious dignitary. He was called upon to exercise his diplomatic skill on a number of occasions (e.g. when governors of Bengal and Oudh started fighting), and his versatile personality was not an unimportant factor in determining the course of events.
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The tradition of strong common sense and a realistic approach to problems built up by Minhaj was maintained by his maternal grandson, Sadr-ud-din Arif, who was a na’ib to the Chief Qadi for a long time, and whom ’Ala’-ud-din Khalji early promoted as Sadr-i Jahan. According to Barani, he was not distinguished for scholarship, but he was a strong executive officer and thoroughly understood the temperament of the people. ”In spite of the crooks and the freed slaves with which Delhi was full, it was not possible for anyone to resort to swindling, deception or trickery before his masnad (court).” After him, the office lost its importance, and did not regain it till under the Tughluqs. His successor in office was Qadi Diya’-ud-din of Biana, who was a sound scholar, but who lacked piety and received this high office as a reward for his father’s loyal services, to judge by the absence of crime even during the last days of ’Ala’-ud-dm, the judiciary under Hamid-ud-din could not have been inefficient, but ’Ala’-ud-din selection of the Chief Qadi, not for the qualities laid down in law books but as a reward for loyal services, set up a precedent which was followed by others. His successor gave the office to Diya-ud-din, whose father had been his teacher, and, although he was steadfast in his loyalty to the ruler and the realm, and lost his life in the insurrection of Khusrau Khan, his appointment reduced the independence and dignity of the post.
Maulana Burhan-- i-din Mahmud Balkhi (d. 637/1288). Qadi Minhaj al-Siraj, uini others mentioned along with him, held high judicial office^, and influenced the course of legal history by their practices and policy, but the scholar who directly influenced the course of Indo-Muslim law and was probably the first to introduce its systematic study in the subcontinent, was Maulana Burhan-ud-din Balkhi. He was born in Balkh, and was reputed to have seen in his early childhood, Shaikh Burhan-ud-din (d. 592/1196), the famed author of the Hidayah, and even studied under him. At any rate, he introduced in India the study of Hidayah when he migrated to Delhi, and it became the favourite legal text-book of Muslim
185 Administrative Structure of the Delhi Sultanate [ Ch. 10
India. The Hidayah became the subject of numerous abridgments (e.g. Wiqayah) and innumerable commentaries, and retained its pre-eminence so long that when, at the end of the Muslim rule, the officers of the East India Company needed a text-book of Muslim Law, they selected Hidayah, which was translated in parts by Hamilton into English on the basis of an imperfect Persian translation, specially prepared for the purpose by Muslim scholars.
Maulana Burhan-ud-din did not hold any office, but such was his pre-eminence that, according to Barani, even the punctilious Balban used to visit him after Friday prayers, with the entire royal cavalcade and listen to his discourses respectfully. • -
Maulana Burhan-ud-din laid the foundation of the study of Islamic Law in India, but he does not appear to have been an extremist or unduly rigid in its application. On the crucial question of sama’, which remained the major legal controversy of the day generally provided the dividing line between the mystics and the theologians, his practice, at any rate, was not different from that of the more tolerant Minhaj. Hadrat Ni/amud-din Auliya’ quoted him as saying ”I have not committed any major sin in life, except hearing of sama’, which I have heard, and want to hear again, if I get an opportunity.”
Maulana Burhan-ud-din died in 687/1288, and was buried near Haud-i Shamsi in old Delhi, and for a long time his memory was reverenced as that of the foremost scholar of early days of Muslim rule.4i
Some other legal text-books written by scholars of Central Asia-mainly Farghanah and Bukhara-were brought to the subcontinent a little later. They did not displace Hidayah, but their contents were”incorporated indigenous compilations. The popularity of Hidayah and other text-books from Central Asia ensured that in legal affairs Muslim India followed the traditions of Central ASia.
Bk. I ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 186
Later compilations. The Hidayah and other text-hooks, introduced into India from Central Asia, mainly by refugees coming during Balban’s reign, were in Arabic. With efforts made by Firuz Tughluq to run the government according to Islamic Law, it became necessary to have summaries and abstracts of Islamic Law in Persian, the court language of Muslim India. We accordingly see a large number of manuals prepared in his reign, usually based on the compilations of the lawyers of Central Asia. In addition, more substantial efforts for compilation of books on Islamic Law in Persian and Arabic were made. The earliest of such compilations prepared in India was in the time of Balban and was dedicated to him. Fiqh-i Firuz Shahi, which was a digest of civil and ecclesiastical law, was compiled under Firuz Tughluq’s patronage and named after him. An earlier compilation was Majmu’ah-i Khani, prepared at Daulatabad and dedicated to Qutlugh Khan, originally the tutor of Muhammad Tughluq and later governor of Daulatabad. The most comprehensive digest compiled in Muslim India, prior to the compilation of Fat-awa1 Alamgiri in Aurangzeb’s reign, was the Fatawa’- Tatar Khaniyah.43 It was named after the pious nobleman, Tatar Khan, who died a little after 752/1351 but who sponsored the compilation. It was prepared by a committee of ulema, headed by ’Alim b. Ala Hindi and completed in thirty volumes. It attracted attention outside the subcontinent, and a summary was prepared by Shaikh Ibrahim, the Imarn of the mosque of Sultan Muhammad, the conqueror, in Istanbul.
Provincial and Local Administration, Contemporary historians give meagre details about the provincial governments and it seems a fair inference that the provincial administrative structure did-jtoj jjrjjpejjy. crystalline till the days of Sher Shah and Akbar, and, even then, it was possible because, in the interval, regionat’kijfgddms hM been established in what were originally iqta Visions)’of~the Delhi Sultanate and elaborate administrative ’tfraisftlortMwt.grown under them. From the
) and walls were appointed
187 Administrative Structure of the Delhi Sultanate [ Ch )u
for large iqta’s which later became provinces, but their responsibilities were mainly the maintenance of peace, establishment and extension .of authority of the government, and recovery of State dues from Hindu chiefs and others. The observance of State laws and maintenance of order depended on the ability and interest of the individual governor, and in some areas their authority must have been confined to main centres of administration and places easily accessible. The provincial boundaries were shifting and vague, and it was a long time before the territorial units took a stable form. Even the powers of all the governors were not identical. Governors in charge of bigger or more important areas or with special claims exercised wider powers than ordinary muqti’s and were often referred to as walls.*4
The governor enjoyed great autonomy in administrative matters. Before Balban they were often semi-independent military chief of the territories conquered by them or by their ancestors, but many functions remained outside their domain. They were not given authority in religious and judicial affairs, nor were the local officers of the intelligence department under their control. These departments were kept under the supervision of the centre. The provincial governor was concerned primarily with military and revenue departments, though as the Wizarat became more organised at the centre and the provincial dlwans were posted from Delhi, a close check was exercised by the central government over the recovery and transmission of revenue. The provincial Sahib-1 Dlwan was appointed by the Sultan on the recommendation of the wazir, and submitted detailed statements of provincial accounts to the capital. On the basis of these statements, the wazir’s department settled to accounts with the muqti’s.45 Even in military sphere, the powers of provincial governors came to be regulated by the presence of the provincial ’arid who was under the ’artd-i mumallk, and was responsible for the recruitment and supervision of the army.
Bk. I ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 188
Balban had asserted the authority of the central government over provincial chiefs, and ’Ala-ud-din Khalji tried to introduce system and uniformity in the administration of the Doab (the fertile area between the Ganga and the Yamuna), the most dependable source of State revenue, Ghiyath-ud-din Tughluq, who had long experience of provincial administration in the Punjab, took steps to improve the administration, but details of his provincial administration have not been recorded. It is under his son, Muhammad Tughluq, that we have details of the hierarchy of provincial officials possibly following a pattern introduced by his father. His empire consisted of twenty-four provinces. ”The provinces or aqalim were divided into a number of rural districts or shiqqs and urban districts or madinas or shahrs; the rural districts were subdivided into hazaris or collections of 1,000 village and sadis or collections of 100 villages. The chief officer of the province was called wali, the shiqqs were under the shiqqdars, amils or nazims, while the sadis, the smallest administrative units (perhaps corresponding to the modern Taluqas or tehsils), were under the Amiran-i Sadah under whom where smaller village officials such as mutasarrif, karkun, balahar, Chowdhuri, patwari, etc.”46 The governor of a town was called ”the Kotwal or Amir while Amir-i Sadah was something like the modern Tehsildar.”47 It is thought that the system broke down during the second half of Muhammad Tughluq’s reign and could not be operate during the decline of the Delhi Sultanate. In the absence of evidence, this is a matter of conjecture. What is equally likely is that this system continued, at least in certain areas like Jaunpur, and provided the basis, which was improved upon by Sher Shah and Akbar.
The province came to be subdivided into shiqqs which would correspond to modern commissioner’s divisions. The next smaller unit after the shiqq was the parganah, an aggregate of villages. In a parganah and in the villages, the old Hindu organisation continued. The head of each parganah was a Chaudhuri, while a muqaddam or a mukhiya was the
189 Administrative Structure of the Delhi Sultanate [ Ch. 10
headman of the village. The rnost important feature of Muslim administration in India was the local autonomy enjoyed by the rural areas. This was introduced by Muhammad b. Qasim in the earliest days of Muslim rule, and was maintained by the Sultans of Delhi. Qutb-ud-din Aibak, who originally handed back Ajmer to a son of Pirthvi Raj, first adopted the policy of appointing Hindu officers for the administration of the country. A contemporary history (Taj al-Ma’athir), describing his conquest and settlement of Asni, refers to his posting of Ranas on every side for the administration of the people and the territory. This was continued and, of course, the organisation in the rural areas was not disturbed. ”The Hindu chief played such important role in the rural life of the period, that to many he was the government, whereas the Sultan was almost a mythical figure.”48
The Character of Government. The position of the nobility and officers was so dominant in the early period that Minhaj, the historian of the period, devotes more space to an account of principal officers of thg realfn than to kings. This is understandable as the administrative„ machinery was run by them and the strength and stability*of the State depended on their ability and devotion. Dr Qureshi says: ”In form, the sultanate was a monarchy, partially elective, partially hereditary; in reality it was a dictatorial bureaucracy.”49 And again: ”The administration, therefore, was a bureaucracy, the major portion of which was not affected by changes of dynasty. It is a common mistake to think that a change of ruler involved the very current of the life of the people; actually only a small number of leading officials were affected. These revolutions were little more than ripples on the surface beneath which the water continued to flow steadily.”50
The truth of Dr Qureshi’s observations comes out clearly if we study the history of various offices and the life story of prominent officials of the period. Of course, minor officials tike Amir Khusrau and Amir Hasan, were not affected by the changes of rulers or even dynasties, but the continuity of
Bk. I ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 190
tradition and often of the personnel, in the highest offices, is most remarkable. Amir Khusrau’s grandfather, Rawat ’Ard. was, for example, in charge of the War Office for more than half a century. Even when there are short breaks in the continuity of the wazirs, we see them return to office again. When a wazir was removed from office, his place was often given to his deputy, as we have seen in the case of Khwajah Muhadhdhab-ud-din and Khwajah Khatir.
The power of the chief nobles and religious dignitaries can also be seen in the sad fate of Muhammad Tughluq. He was a well-qualified monarch, who had ample experience of administration and military command before ascending the throne, and who had a strong will, but he proved completely powerless against ”the Establishment.”
Temper of the Times. We have not dealt at length with battles and warfare and the horrors and atrocities connected with them. This should ’not, however, give an impression that the period was peaceful. The modern wars and the recent treatment of minorities have illustrated the extent to which man remains a brute in spite of scientific and intellectual advancement. Medieval times were distinctly harsher, and human life was considered of little value. The smallest excuse could lead to the drawing of the sword and the shedding of human blood. This was not confined to the thoughtless and the inconsiderate. In fact, more blood was spilled in the name of justice, state policy and religion than on account of passion and anger. Rulers like Balban were not deficient in their sense of justice or a political ability. These qualities, however, did not deter Balban from awarding severe punishment and free spilling of blood. As a matter of fact, sense of justice and public welfare seemed to dry up the milk of human kindness. Once the ”deterrent” theory of punishment was adopted and carried to extremes, all other human considerations gave way before it. In vain did the religious lawyers and intellectuals try to curb the punitive powers of the Sultans. Qadi Mughith argued before ’Ala’-ud-din Khalji that many of his punishments
191 Administrative Structure of the Delhi Sultanate [ Ch 10
and demands on the bait al-mal were unauthorised and unIslamic, while the historian Barani told Muhammad Tughluq that human life could be taken only for seven specific crimes,51 but the autocratic Sultans refused to accept this position.
Not only was human life held in little esteem, but there were revolting cases of torture and mutilation. In this Muhammad Tughluq, who was a highly educated monarch and enjoyed the company of intellectuals and philosophers, was the worst culprit. Some of the punishments awarded by him--for example, to his cousin Gurshasp-are truly revolting. The Moorish traveller, Ibn Battutah wrote about him:
”Notwithstanding all his modesty, his sense of equality and justice, and his extraordinary liberality and kindness to the poor-, he had immense daring (sic) to shed blood. His gate was hardly free from the corpse of a man who had been executed. And I used to see frequently a number of people killed at the gate of the royal palace and the corpses abandoned there.
”The Sultan used to punish all wrongs whether big or small and he would spare neither the men of learning (ahl al’ilm) and probity (salah), nor those of high descent Jsharaf). Every day hunderds of people in chains with their hands fastened to the neck and their feet tightened were brought into the council hall. Those who were to be killed were killed and those who were to be tortured were tortured and those who were to be beaten were beaten. May God save us from calamity.”
It is true that these punishments were reserved for treason, and it is also true that condition in the medieval ages in other parts of the world was not very much better, but the position in Muslim India in this respect seems to have distinctly worsened during the hundred years or so following the death of Iltutmish. Possibly this coarsening of moral fibre was due to the example and impact of the Mongols. As harshness and severity associated with Muhammad Tughluq or even Balban and ’Ala’-ud-din Khalji did not exist in the days of Muhammad
Bk. I ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 192
b. Qasim, Aibak and Iltutmish. Rightly did Firuz Tughluq rebel against these trends and issue firm orders against torture ad ci-uelt.es. ”In the reigns of former kings the blood of many Musulmans had been shed, and many varieties of torture employed. Amputation of hands and feet, ears and nosestearing out the eyes, pouring molten lead into the throat’ crushing the bones of the hands and feet with mallets, burning the body with fire, driving iron nails into the hand, feet and bosom, cutting the sinews, sawing men asunder; these’ and many similar torture were practised. The great and merciful God made, me His servant, hope and’seek for His mercy by devoting myself to prevent the unlawful killing of Musulmans, and the mfliction of any kind of torture upon them or upon any man. ^2 J
Administrative Structure of the Delhi Suite
tote • \ Ch. 10
NOTES & REFERENCES
On the form of this somewhat peculiar book, Professor introduction to the English version: ”We discover that Su hero of the book but curiously enough we find three persona* the other-Sultan Mahmud, a contemporary of Sultan MT himself-and it is difficult to say where speech of one of speech of the other begins. Also Mahmud is sometimes spo» at other times as dead.
Dr. Afsar Begum, Tr , Falawa’-i Jahandan, p 65
For details see K.A. Nizami, Some Aspects of Religion or _ during the 13th Century, pp. 113-14
Professor M. Habib, Tr. (Barani’s Falawa’-i Jahandan) Pe= Delhi Sultanate, p 65.
Dr I H. Qureshi, The Administration ofihe Sultanate nfDep 43
Diya’ ud-din Barani, Tarikh-i Firm Shahl, p 47 Ibid., p 289.
About this brief but important chapter in the constitutions India, some details are found in the work of the historian B«B Na’al-l Muhammadl, he gives a long anecdote about the some extremist ulema regarding the Hindus, and the evasivw Wazlr, Nizam al-Mulk Junaidi, at Iltutmish’« behest (s«eQuarterly, Aligarh, 1/3 &4, 104--5). The views of mm theologian, Nur-ud-din Turk Ghaznavi, on the basic policy Muslim king in India are given at length in Tarikh-i FinnBarani wrote more than a century after these discussions,
Habib writes in his
Itan Mahmud is the
•s speaking one after
ahmud, and Barani
” them ends and the
•ken of as living and
nd Politics in India
•jlitical Theory of the
-Wi (1st edn , 1942),
I history of Muslim •rani. In his Shifah-i
views expressed by •e reply given by the ~e Medieval Indian •n influential early to be adopted by a
- Shahi (pp 41-44)
and his information
was based on hearsay. His own extremist, anti-Hindu atti rrmwiude may also have coloured his account, but this echo of early debates in his o. --;.vork» is not without signifiance for the historian,
Dr. K M. Ashraf,”Life and conditions of the People of HIIthe Asiatic Society of Bengal, p. 145.
”The Quran wanted to set up a ’Kingdom of God’ in whic=- among or rules the creatures of Allah by His command. Irm Sultanate is a purely secular institution signifying the domini « and not a theocracy” (Ibid., p. 126, footnote 2.)
Dr. I.H. Qureshi, op. cit , p, 50
U.N.Day. \dministratwn nfthe Sultanate /if Delhi, pp -»J 34_ R.K. InpaUii, some Aspects of Muslim Administration, p p. 52. Quoted in Qureshi, op cit., pp. 78-79.
dustan,” Journal of
h the Caliph judges contrast to this the on of man over man
Qureshi, op. cit.,
Bk. I ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 194
The low position to which Balban reduced the wazir proved disastrous to his own schemes.
Elliot and Dowson, History of India As Told By Its Own Historians, TV. 451. Khusrau, son of Khan-i Shahid, should succeed him. Some influential nobles of the capital decided to ignore Balban’s wishes and enthroned Kaiqubad. The wazir favoured adherence to his old master’s will, but was powerless to enforce it and was sent into exile.
Tripathi, op. cit., p. 193.
Differential treatment was not unusual in the Middle Ages. In Hindu India,
Brahmans were free from all taxation (a position which Muhammad b. Qasim
recognised vis-a-vis the levy of jizyah and death penalty could not be imposed
on them for any offence.
N.H. Moreland, The Agrarian System of Moslem India, pp. 30-31.
/AW., p. 31.
For details see I.H. Qureshi, op. cit., pp.111-14.
The Cambridge Medieval History, TV, 287, quoted in Tripathi, op, cit., p. 339.
Tripathi, op. cit., p, 339, footnote 2.
Ibid,, pp. 266-67.
R. Levy, Sociology of Islam, p. 406 . , *
Qureshi, op. cit., p, 94.
Ibid , p. 137.
Barani, op. cit., p. 115.
Ibid., p. 116.
Ibid., p. 145, quoted by Qureshi, op. cit., p. 153.
The importance of volunteers for jihad was revived during the decline of the Muslim rule, especially for fighting the Sikh freebooters. Khushwant Singh suggests that the Mughal army had its own ’suicide squads”. Referring to the Sikh Nihangs, he says: ”Nihangs were suicide squade of the Mughal army and wore blue uniforms. The Sikhs took the name and the uniform from the Mughals” (A History of the Sikhs, I, 215. footnote).
Qureshi, op. cit., p. 162.
Raverty, Tr., Tabaaat-i Nasiri, p. 789.
Qureshi, op. cit., p. 159.
Ibid., p. 160.
’Abd al-Haqq, Akhbar al-Akhiyar (Mujtaba’i), p. 28.
Hasan Sijzi, Fawa’id al-Fu’ad, p. 239.
Raverty, p. cit., p. 660.
Shaikh’abd al-Haqq Muhaddith, writing more than three hundred years later, staled that the people of Delhi made their children reverence that dust of Maulana’s grave so that the they may rapidly progress in their studies.
ForFatawa-i Tatar Khamyah, see Catalogue of Persian Manuscripts, Bankinur, Vol. XIX, No. 1715, p. 14.
Qureshi, op. cit., p. 197.
Administrative Structure of the Delhi Sultanate [ Ch. 10
45. Iblaff ., P. 201.
46. trUSS” Sherwani, The Bahmanis of the Doccan, p. 16.
47. Qui-ftdtti, op, cjt., p. 186.
48. IbiaT- - p. 204.
50. Ibid - , f- 203.
51. See JEUiot «nd OOWMMI, op. eit., HI, 184-87 and 255.
52. Ibid- , MI, 375.
SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CONDITIONS
Muslim Nobility. During the Sultanate period, the most important class in the country was the Muslim bureaucracy consisting of governors, court officers, other dignitaries at the capital, and the officers in the provinces. The highest among the= nobles bore the title Khan, and as a special distinction some of t hem-usually never more than one-received the title -- of Ulugh Khan or Khan-i A’zam. Next in rank came the nurfifa. and then the amirs. There was no lower rank of aristocracy in the court of Sultans of Delhi. Below the maliks and amirs came the military ranks of.upah-sulartndtur-khai/, classified, as stated elsewhere, on a decimal system.
The Muslim conquest of the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent was not the work of a central authority preparing a blueprint of annexation, obtaining necessary personnel and equipment, and carrying out the plan. It was largely and in its most fruitful phases (e.g. Muhammad b. Bakhtiyar Khalji’s conquest of Bitiar and Bengal, and ’Ala-ud-din Khalji’s incursions into Mlalwa and Deccan), the work of brave and resourceful individuals, working on their own initiative. These individuals and their peers formed the aristocracy,of the realm.
The Muslim nobles, in the beginning, claivwed to share sovereignty .with the Sultan, and lltutmish seemed to agree to this. After his death, the corps of his ”Forty” slaves managed the affairs of the country. But Balban, who followed the Persian theory of monarchy, broke their power, and made the mo narch supreme. The search for an organisation providing the ”sBk. I ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan
experiments were tried by different rulers. The Khaljis, who were not liked by the old Turkish aristocracy, broadened the basis of government and freely encouraged newly converted Muslims, like Malik Kafur and Khusrau Khan, but these converts from the lower classes showed themselves devoid of both moral scruples and statesmanship, and not only brought ruin upon themselves, but brought down the fabric of the Khalji rule.
The Tughluqs searched in other directions for the personnel of their government. Muhammad Tughluq started by favouring foreign visitors from Muslim lands, but the Muslim bureaucrats did not take kindly to his erratic policies, and he resorted to entrust in important offices of State to more pliant commoners of Indian origin. This plan also failed and his successor followed more orthodox ways. Firuz Tughluq’s allpowerful wazir was a converted Brahman and Firuz recruited a large number of slaves to maintain the- fabric of his government. But until a well-organised bureaucracy, recruited from all available sources, was built up under Akbar, no finality was reached and experiments continued to be made.
Under the early Turkish rulers, power was in the hands of the Turkish nobles, and Balban was punctilious in entrusting good positions to Turkish nobles of high birth only. It appears, however, that, in spite of their high-sounding foreign titles, at least some of the dignitaries were of indigenous origin. Rawat ’Ard, who was in charge of the War Office for nearly sixty years, is generally considered to be of Indian origin. Barani also says that the very first wazir of Iltutmish, who had the grand title of Nizam al-Mulk, was originally a julaha (a weaver), though this does not necessarily mean that he was an Indian by birth.
The Turkish nobles and their spokesmen like Barani wanted high offices of State to be the close preserve of the Turkish nobility, but there was stiff resistance to this from local elements. Behind the many personal struggles for power this conflict between foreign and local Muslims can be seen.
Social and Economic Condm .tions
Bror example, the nearly successful attempxt to oust Balban from the position which he had gained under >>3asir-ud-din Mahmud, fcias been described as a struggle of this t;ype. ”Being a Muslim •^vas not considered enough to make aaaiy difference to his jpolitical status, unless he was a Turk of” pureblood,”1 and the mwo parties to the conflict were the Tim. kish amirs and other ^foreigners led Isy Balban, and the Inc3ians, including both ”IHindus and Muslims, led by ’Imad-ud-di m Raihan. Perhaps the attempt of Khwajah Muhadhdhab-ud-din -who took away power from the Turkish amirs had the same basis. The successful tenure of Khan Jahan, the first importa»nt Indian wazir of the Sultanate, meant the final end of thu-e theory of Turkish supremacy and ”we do not hear of it agai«L.
Muslim noHes were paid for their s- «ervices by the grant of iqta’s and it is sometimes stated that th«*ey occupied a position similar to the feudal landlords in n-nedieval Europe. The comparison, however, is misleading. The nobles had no hereditary or even life interest in their ic^ta’s. They had a right to the income from these areas so lo-mg as they performed duties with which the grant was conneczted. The rulers would frequently tansfer them and allot them »new iqta’s. The nobles were really civil servants, appointed and usually paid by temporary grant of revenue from land.
While many Muslim were in Si tate service, civil or military, the common view that Muslirm immigrants were not engaged in agriculture is incorrect. W*~ e get evidence of this from the fact that in the early days of thu e Sultanate, a family as distinguished as that of Khwajah Mu’i m-ud-din of Ajmer was engaged in cultivation. According to Siyar al-Auliya’, the Khwajah’s sons were employed in agriculture and when the local officials demanded State author! ty for their exemption from land revenue, the venerable Khw=ajah had to go to Delhi to obtain it.2 There are other similar cas. es on record.
Muslim Social Life. The formal h Istories of the Sultanate are largely devoted to military e~3scpeditions and plae revolutions, but other works like the JRMah of Ibn Batt
Bk. I ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 200
the mathnavis of Amir Khusrau and the table talk of Hadrat Nizam-ud-din Auliya illuminate the social scene.
Muslim society during the period was dominated by the Turkish rulers and nobles who sought to maintain their positions, not only against non-Muslims or Muslims of indigenous origin, but also against other non-Turkish immigrants. Out of the four groups, which had played a prominent part in the establishment of Muslim rule, the Turks, the Tajiks, the Khaljis and the Afghans, the Tajiks were eliminated from key positions soon after the death of Iltutmish. The Khaljis (apart from the shortlived burst of glory in distant Bengal) did not come into their own until the revelries of Kaiqubad destroyed the fabric of Turkish supremacy, and the Afghans had to wait till the days of the Lodis. The first hundred years of the Delhi Sultanate are a period of Turkish supremacy, when they produced, not only two great rulersIltutmish and Balban-but also the greatest poet of the period, Amir Khusrau.
Under ’Imad al-Mulk Raihan, the Indian Muslims attempted to assert themselves, but Balban and the Turkish nobles were too powerful for them. Their number and position, however, gradually improved. Under the Khaljis, Malik Kafur and Malik Khusrau, both of Indian origin, attained high positions, but their excesses brought about their early downfall. The position improved under the Tughluqs. Ghiyath-ud-din Tughluq had an Indian mother; Muhammad Tughluq appointed a Hindu as the governor of upper Sind, and the dominant personality of the reign of Firuz Tughluq was Khan Jahan, a Hindu convert from Telingana.
It took some time for the Muslims of indigenous origin to reach positions of power in the State, but local usages and customs were influencing social life and behaviour even at an
• early period. The Indian pan (betel leaf) soon became popular amongst the Muslims. Both Barani and Khusrau in their accounts of the latter’s grandfather ’Imad -al-Mulk (Rawat ’Ard), speak of the continuous relay of trays of this delicacy
Social and Economic Conditions
[ Ch. 11
being brought to the assemblies in the diwan-i’ard, and distributed amongst those present. ”The seasoning of food with rich spices and chillies, almost unknown in the Muslim lands, had also become widely prevalent; the culinary art brought by the Muslims to India had already absorbed several Indian elements. Standard dishes which, from their names, would appear to be of foreign origin, such as pilau and qawarma, were now very different from what they had been in Iran or Khurasan.”3 Amir Khusrau speaks of the headgears known as the chira and the pag, which were both of Indian origin. ”Among the religious ceremonies and social functions those of the ’aqiqa, the bismillah, the circumcision, the marriage and the funeral played the most important part in the life of an individual, and in these also we can easily trace Indian influence. Several ceremonies, connected specially with marriage and death, were common, as they are today, to both the communities although the Muslims, following the old Arab tradition, continued in India, as elsewhere, to marry cousins and other close relations. The Indian bridal decoration, the sol ah singhar, had already become familiar to the Muslims, and often mentioned by the name of ’haft-o-nuh’ (sic) by Khusrau and others.”4
The popularity of music. In spite of the persistent opposition of the religious groups, reflected the local atmosphere though the art was also highly cultivated at Damascus and Baghdad. Iltutmish tried to preserve a pious Islamic atmosphere at his capital but his gay successor, Ruknud-din Firuz, made his darbar a centre of muscians and dancers of both sexes. During the reaction which set in under Kaiqubad against the strict discipline of Balban, music and dancing again came into their own, and the accounts of Delhi at that time recall the later days of Muhammad Shah Rangila and Wajid ’Ali Shah. Under Jalal-ud-din Khalji, conditions be=came more regular, but he also had a gay court and Barani recalls with nostalgia performances of music and dancing seen at that time. Ghiyath-ud-din Tughluq banned music, but
Bk. I ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 202
Muhammad Tughluq revived it and had a number of musicians in his service. This later became the normal tradition of the royal court, except under very orthodox rulers like Aurangzeb.
The everyday humdrum life of the common people ”was frequently brightened up by the royal cavalcades, jashns (such as that of the nauruz), and receptions, when the streets were lavishly decorated and beautiful kiosks or pavilions (qubbas) erected at regular intervals, in which there were stationed beautiful singing and dancing girls, and where the spectators were treated not only to music but also to pleasant drinks. Glowing accounts of these qubbas are found in the writings of Khusrau, Ibn Battutah and other writers.”5 Anniversaries (urs) of sufi saints provided other occasions for outings, and often became popular public diversions.
The lives of the Muslim upper classes were modelled very much of those of their Turkish and Persian counterparts. ”The game of chaugan (polo), riding, racing, hunting, and archery were very popular as outdoor sports among the nobility and the better classes of (Muslim) society, but the poorer people could seldom indulge in them. Among the indoor games, popular both among the rich and the poor, chess and backgammon (nard or chaupaf) are often mentioned, although they were usually frowned upon by the religious divines as frivolous pursuits beguiling the faithful from more useful and more serious occupations. Drinking of wine, in spite of the strict ban placed on it by Islam, seems to have been very common, especially in the higher classes of society, and convivial wine parties supplied another source of recreation.”6 ”The arrogant aristocratic classes gradually developed a sort of caste system which was alien to the spirit of Islam and was certainly the product of Indian influence. Thus a Turk (or Mughul), a Pathan, a Sayyid, or even a Shaikh, would never think of a matrimonial alliance with a person of a lower rank, that is one outside these four dhats or qaums, or even outside his own particular denomination. The purdah or seclusion of women had already become a common practice. This is evident from
Social and Economic Condition^ s
the remarks made by contemporary historians and poets on the bold step taken by Sultana Raziyya in disca__rding the veil and dressing herself up in male attire.”7
During early days, the Muslims w«*ere largely citydwellers. Many of them served in the army and were attached to the garrisons of important places. Their pastimes and games were soldierly, and there was much communaal life amongst the rank and file. There were numerous tanczurs in the cities, functioning as communal bakeries, insteadB of the separate chulhas of the Hindus. Bathrooms in indivHdual houses were few, but humams (Turkish baths) were common in towns. Although Amir Khusrau and others mention a large number of dishes, yet the diet was much simpler than it is today. Even references to elaborate Turkish dishes, like qgjormah, mutanjan, and pila’u are not very numerous in the literature of the Sultanate period. Food was not highly spiced. A popular dish, now out of vogue, was sakba consisting oflf various kinds of meats. Another popular dish was harisah. ThMe thin chapati had not yet been adopted, and the nan was