The reign of Firoz Shah Tughlaq – I

He was the third of Tughlaq dynasty, ruled for 38 years ( 1351 – 88 AD ) and his reign was the longest of the Delhi Sultanate.

All Muslim chronicles of that period refer to him as the  most kindest, generous, religious and justice oriented Sultan among all the Sultans of Delhi. Elliot, the British historian who supervised over translations of many Persian chronicles  giving accounts of India during Muslim rule, has high praise for Firoz Shah and calls him as Akbar of his times ( Delhi Sultanate ).

He was neither a barbarian nor uncivilized and was a very illustrious King. Sure, he was a very devout Muslim, even though he took wine, and that outlook based on Islam towards his Hindu subjects, which is no diff. from rulings of Sharia, was the force behind his actions.

The story behind his birth gives insight in to the affairs of those days. His father, Sipah salar Rajjab was a  brother of Ghiyasuddeen Tughlaq, the founder of Tughlaq dynasty. At the time of his birth, Ghiyasuddeen was a noble in the court of Alauddin Khilji and assigned to Dipalpur ( in present day Pakistan’s Punjab ) as fief-holder ( iqtadar ). Wanting to amass wealth, he wanted his brother obtain a daughter of one of Hindu kings there in marriage.Having found a daughter of a small Hindu king, Ranamall Bhatti, he sends a proposal which was rejected by Ranamall. On this rejection, Ghiyasuddeen brings his army to villages belonging to Ranamall and starts harassing villagers by demanding full payment of one year’s revenue and helpless Ranamall agrees to the marriage proposal. After the marriage, her name ‘ Bibi Naila ‘ was changed to ‘ Sultan Bibi Kadbanu ‘. She gave birth to Firoz Shah in the year 1309 AD. ( Shams-I Siraj Afif’s Tarikhi Firoz Shahi ; Elliot Vol. 3, pp 271-273

So, what impact Hindu ancestry of his mother could have made on him ?

The very first lines from his autobiography, Fatuhat i Firoz Shahi, would point to the answer to the above question and his rejection of any religion other than Islam and his belief of superiority of lives of Muslims over others :

 “…..First I would praise Him [ Allah ] because when irreligion [ Hinduism ] and sins opposed to the Law [ Sharia ] prevailed in Hindustan, and men’s habits and dispositions were inclined towards them, and were averse to the restraints of religion, He [ Allah ] inspired me His humble servant with an earnest desire to repress irreligion  and wickedness, so that I was able to labour diligently until with HIS blessing the vanities of the world, and things repugnat to religion, were set aside, and the truthwas distinuguished from the false. “

“In the reigns of former Kings the blood of many Musslamans has been shed and many varieties of torture were employed…… [ he named the few of those tortures ] ……The Great and Merciful God [ Allah ] made me, His servant, hope and seek for His Mercy by devoting myself to prevent the unlawful killing of Musslamans.”  (Fatuhat i Firoz Shahi; Elliot, Vol. 3, page 375 )

It is easy for people to label this instinctively as bigotry by downplaying the influence of teachings of Islam even when there is irrefutable evidence from literature.

Firoz Shah was a cousin of the Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq who had no sons. The author of Tarikh-i Firoz Shahi, Afif, says that Muhammad bin Tughlaq suggested the name of Firoz Shah as possible and worthy successor to his throne. Nevertheless, Muhammad dies from fever without naming any successor and far way from Delhi, in the midst of a military camapaign to Thatta ( Sind ). Nobles who were with Muhammad bin Tughlaq, as per Afif’s version, urged Firoz Shah, who was also involved in that campaign, to take the throne and save the army from disintegration, as it was also simultaneously under pressure from Mongols.

Firoz Shah ruled by Sharia ( Islamic Law ) Law ardently and always referred to ulema for advise in matters of policy and administration. Afif writes, “Sultan Firoz made the Laws of Prophet (  Sharia Law ) his guide, acting zealously upon the principles laid down, and prohibiting all that was inconsistent therewith. ” ( Tarikh i Firoz Shahi; Elliot — Vol. 3, page 290  )

(Shams-I Siraj Afif was a contemporary chronicler of Firoz Shah; his father accompanied few military expeditions of Firoz Shah while he accompanied Firoz Shah on many hunting expeditions. )

Some time after his ascension to the throne, as Muslim governor of Bengal rebelled during the time of Muhammad bin Tughlaq and set up an independent Muslim state in Bengal, Firoz Shaw undertook a military expedition to Lucknauti ( i.e. Bengal ), his first military campaign. As his army arrives in Lucknauti, and after few clashes with the forces of Shamuddin, then the ruler of Lucknauti, Shamsuddin takes refuge in the fort of Ikdala as his army was scattered. Firoz Shah has no difficulty in occupying the city though he was yet to storm the fort.

In the exact words of Afif, ‘ Sultan there upon reflected that he had occupied the city, had overcome many Muslims, had taken possession of the country, and that Khutba would be said in his name. To storm the fort, put more Muslims to the sword, and expose honorable women to ignonimity, would be a crime for which he could not answer on the day of judgement. ‘  ( ibid, page 297 )

Firoz Shah decides to leave Lucknauti and return to Delhi with out storming the fort because the lives of Muslim soldiers on both sides will be lost !

Not just on this one occasion. Firoz Shah always used to shed tears and express anguish whenever he was forced to fight against Muslim rebels or other Muslims, for “Muslim men would be killed and their women widowed. ”

But he has no such compunctions in fighting, killing or enslaving Hindus.

Before starting returning to Delhi, still in Lucknauti, he directs that one silver tankah would be given for each head of Bengali ( Hindu ) his Muslim soldiers produce before him. Soon, 1,80,000 Hindus ( or Buddhists ) were slain and their heads were produced before him.  Afif writes : “Firoz Shah was near the mound of skulls with all magnificence and glory and was inspecting the counting of heads.” ( K.S.Lal’s Theory and Practice of Muslim State in India, pp-73-74 ).

From Elliot’s translation of Afif’s Tarikh i Firoz Shahi, we read : ” When the Sultan resolved upon returning to Delhi all his followers were much pleased. An order was given for collecting the heads of Hindus after they are slained, and a silver tanka was offered for every head. The whole army went busily to work and brought in the heads of Hindus and piled them in heaps, recieving in payment the silver tankas. The heads were counted and rather amounted to more than 1,80,000, for the battled had raged for a whole day over an extent of 7 kos.  ” ( Afif’s Tarikh i Firoz Shahi; Elliot Vol. 3 , page 297 )

On another occasion, when Firoz Shah attacked Jajnagar ( ORISSA ), one lakh Hindu men take refuge on an island along with their women and children. His soldiers attacked that island and turned it in to a basin of blood by the massacre of all those unbelievers. Before this, Muslim army after capturing Cuttack killed and enslaved large number of inhabitants. What happened was that those who could escape made it to that island, and pregnat women and women with babies were left behind along with their men. Sirat Firoz Shahi writes,”Women with babies and pregnant ladies were haltered, manacled, fettered and enchained, and pressed as slaves into service in the house of every Muslim soldier.” In the same campaign, ‘he captured the son of the Rai of Sikhar, converted him to Islam, and gave him the name of Shakr Khan.’ ( Yahiya, p.129. Firishtah, I, p.147; I read this in Prof. K.S.Lal ‘s online edition of Indian Muslims Who Are They ) 

The campaign against Jajnagar deserves few more words here. He undertook this campaign while returning from his second campaign against Lucknauti. Father of Siraj Afif was in this expedition. It’s from his noticings that Afif mentions Orissa as very prosperous and flourishing state, ‘I was informed that inhabitants there had spacious houses and fine gardens.’ And its this prosperity of Orissa which was talked about among the Muslim travelers, from whom Firoz Shah must have come to know and decided to invade it. Besides enslaving Hindus in huge numbers, they obtained so much other booty; Afif writes, ‘Their horses and cattle became the booty of Muslims. Those who took part in that expedition relate that number of animals of every kind was so great that on one cared to take them. Two jitals was the p[rice of a horse and as for cattle no one would buy them. Sheep were found in such countless numbers, that at every halt great numbers were slaughtered. If any were not required, they were left behind, because a plentiful supply was sure to be found at the next stage. The author has mentioned these matters to show the prosperity of the country.’ ( Afif’s Tarikh I Firoz Shahi; Eliot, Vol. 3, page 313 )

Though Firoz Shah undertook military expeditions against Lucknauti, Thatta ( Sind ), Gujarat, Jajnagar ( Orissa ) and Nagarkot ( Present day Kangra –   Firoz Shah definitely laid waste this city as Afif mentioned that the army indulged in plundering and destroying, though he left the kingdom in the hands of Hindu king in reurn for tribute ), Afif was very short on details on these military campaigns. During the Muslim rule, esp. during the Delhi Sultanate, one parameter for evaluating the success of military campaign is booty ( Ghanima ) taken; one key component of that booty is prisoners of war comprising of captured civilians and  military personnel; all these become slaves on capture. This capturing of civilians, both men and women, is perfectly allowed in Islam. Hidayah, manual of Islamic Law of Hanafi school, says that if the Musslamans subdue an infidel territory before any capitation tax be established, the inhabitants, together with their wives and children, are all plunder, and the property of the state, as it is lawful to reduce to slavery all infidels, whether they be Christians, Jews or idolaters. (Hidayah, Hamilton II, page 213 ). It also states that who ever slays an infidel is entitled to his private property. (ibid – page 181)

So, during his major expeditions too, ordinary people, both Hindu men and women, must have been captured and turned in to slaves in great numbers, and distributed among Muslim soldiers or sold in markets for profit. This conclusion can safely be drawn from what he wrote in his short autobiography, which deserves to be quoted in full here :

“Before my time it was the rule and practice that in repressing infidelity ( Hinduism ) four fifths of spoils of war ( booty ) was appropriated to public treasury and one-fifth was given to captors ( Muslim soldiers who participated in war); but the rule of the Law is that one-fifth be taken by the State and, four-fifth is allotted to captors. the provisions of Law had thus been subverted. As the Law was set at nought every man looked upon himself as the lawful owner of the spoil he captured. Hence children borne by female captives were the offspring of fornication. To Prevent these irregularities I decreed that one-fifth of spoils be taken by the State and four-fifth given to the captors.”  ( Fatuhuat i Firoz Shahi; Elliot, Vol. 3, page 377 )

Above points to yearning or craving among Muslim soldiers for booty esp. women slaves; needless to say that all this craving could only have lead to more wide-spread looting, killing and enslaving Hindus as many they could. Muslim soldiers plundered everything that they could get their hands on. Female slaves being used as concubines and for giving birth to Muslim off spring is in perfect accordance with Sharia Law as Hidayah says, “‘The objective of obtaining female slaves is cohabitation and generation of Muslim off-spring.’ (Hidayah – Hamilton II, page 409 )

Enslavement of Hindus or natives contributed to increasing the Muslim population significantly during the entire Muslim rule. ( I need not, of course, mention that all enslaved Hindus had to convert to Islam. Converting to Islam is the only option for them to have the hope of becoming free again and for anticipating fair treatment from his master.) This was how the population of Muslims increased in India. S.A.A. Rizvi, a scholar on Islamic history, turns down much publicized theory of lower castes converting to Islam, because he says that there is no evidence, and also that it was only through enslavement of Hindus that early Islam in India grew. In all the military capmaigns of Muslim rulers Hindus were enslaved in large numbers, sometimes after all Hindu men slaughtered; especially when Hindu women were enslaved and made concubines, children born through such enslavement formed the Muslim population; T.W. Arnold says in his book that women slaves turned concubines could increase the Muslim population by leaps and bounds when captured in large numbers. ( Preaching of Islam, page 365 )

Besides enslavement during the conquests, there was another Islamic custom through which invaders enslaved natives and which was used by Firoz Shah in acquiring slaves – which we see shortly.

Reading Afif’s Tarikh I Firoz Shahi, one finds that reign of Sultan Firoz was not much different from other reigns like those of powerful kings like Alauddin Khilji and Muhammad bin Tughlaq who were bad tempered. Firoz shah was never averse to advise and council where as nobles even feared to give their council to Alauddin and Muhammad bin Tughlaq. At the same time, Firoz Shah can not be considered a weak King. The persecution and ruthless oppression of Hindus went as usual and doesn’t change much from one reign to another. One difference was in their attitude towards Muslim rebels. Unlike Firoz, who many times forgave Muslims for rebellions and corruption, Alauddin Khilji and Muhammad bin Tughlaq were ruthless towards Muslim rebels but they never destroyed Mosques in the places held by rebels while suppressing the  rebellions. When Muhammad bin Tughlaq died, the Sultanate was in disarray with rebellions, finances under strain and acute agrarian crisis. Firoz Shah couldn’t reverse breaking down of some provinces from Sultanate, but he averted further deterioration of agrarian crisis by decreasing the land tax on agricultural production ( Kharaj ), so that farmers could return to cultivation. During the time of Muhammad bin Tughlaq, his predecessor, there were about 17 kinds of different taxes, besides very high Kharaj and Jizya, that Hindus have to pay. Firoz Shah named all these taxes, calling them frivolous, in his auto-biography. And farmers left cultivation and farms, as they were unable to bear the high taxes and cesses that were levied on them, which in turn enraged Muhammad bin Tughlaq and he attacked them. And when many escaped to jungles and hid, he surrounded the jungles and hunted them like wild-beasts; Barani gives details of these in his Tarikhi Firoz Shahi :

” At this time, the country of the Doab was brought to ruin by the heavy taxation and the numerous cesses. The Hindus burnt their corn stocks and turned their cattle out to roam at large. Under the orders of the Sultan, the collectors and majistrates laid waste the country, and they killed some land lords, farmers and village chiefs and blinded others. Such of these unhappy inhabitants as escaped formed themselves in to bands and took refuge in the jungles. So the country was ruined. The Sultan then proceeded on a hunting excursion ( hunting Hindus who hid themselves in jungles.) to Baran, where, under his directions, the whole of that country was plundered and laid waste, and the heads of the Hindus were brought in and hung upon the ramparts of the fort of Baran.” ( Zianuddin Barani’s Tarikhi I Firoz Shahi ; Elliot , Vol. 3 page 242)

“The Sultan led forth his army to ravage Hindustan. He laid the country waste from Kanauj to Dalamu, and every person that fell in to his hands he slew. Many of the inhabitants fled and took refuge in the jungles, but the Sultan had the jungles surrounded, and every individual that was captured was killed. ” (  Zianuddin Barani’s Tarikhi I Firoz Shahi ; Elliot , Vol. 3 page 243 )

The disintegration of Muhammad bin Tughlaq’s empire started from levying oppressive taxes because, firstly, farmers abandoned cultivation which in turn increased the prices of commodities leading to general collapse, and secondly, many revolts arose; with respect to these revolts, towards the end of his reign, he laments, “When I collect my forces and put them down in one direction, they arise in some other quarter.” Thus, one reason that Firoz Shah reduced taxes on agricultural land was bringing back stability.

The policy of Delhi Sultanate or Mughal dynasty on taxing Hindus could be summed up in a singular detail of policy of Alauddin Khilji : Leave the barest minimum (just sufficient) so that they ( Hindus ) survive without starving to death. Muhammad bin Tughlaq even took away that because he wanted to invade Tibet.

Hindus having seen the worst under Muhammad bin Tughlaq, with Kharaz in some places being more than 60%, plus other taxes, felt comfortable when Firoz Shah fixed Kharaz at 50% which itself was high; so, the threat of force was always necessary to extract 50% Kharaz tax, as Aiman ul Mulk Mahr, governor of Sind ( Multan ) appointed by Firoz Shah, writes, ‘ Peasants ( dahaqin ) and zamindars who are only ostensible subjects and pay taxes out of fear of the army or the blow of the sword. ‘ ( Insha-i-Mahru  ( trans. Letters of ‘Ain ud-Din ‘Ain ul-Mulk Abdullah bin Mahru) ; page 75 )  – [ I read this in Peter Jackson’s The Delhi Sultanate ] 

Wasn’t that because taxes were high ? It looks what is so obvious can not be clear for British historian Peter Jackson and our Marxist, actually a Muslim fanatic, historian  Irfan Habib – who lectures that there was never any economic exploitation during the Muslim rule ! For these Marxists, taxes which never crossed 25% under Mauryan rulers were oppressive but taxes above 50% during the Islamic rule were liberating !

Any mentioning of reign of Firoz Shah has to include his role as a builder, and his patronage of arts and architecture was well known. He built two cities and few more towns. He built 8 mosques in Delhi alone, citadels and numerous gardens, besides digging two canals. He was the greatest builder among all the Delhi Sultans. His other feat mentioned in every history book on him is moving the two Ashoka pillars to Delhi, which was very significant in those days.

He built a hospital, in Delhi, too in which, according to Afif, all poor people can get free treatment and medicine. Does this ‘ all ‘ include poor Hindus too? Not sure from the writing of Afif because some other welfare programs taken by Firoz Shah were explicitly limited to Muslims. Firoz Shah constructed 120 khanakahs in Delhi besides repairing others but they were to serve only Muslim travelers and his army. Afif writes, “One hundred and twenty khanakahs ( monasteries ) were built in Delhi and Firozabad for the accommodation of the Muslims ( people of God ), in which travelers from all directions were receivable as guests for 3 days. These one hundred and twenty buildings were full of guests on all the three hundred and sixty days of the year. Officers of the Sunni Islam were appointed to these khanakahs and funds for their expenses were furnished from the public treasury.” ( Afif’s Tarikh I Firoz Shahi , Elliot – Vol.3  – page 354 )

These inns were not just for Muslims only ! They were also to be run by Muslims, that too, only Sunni Muslims.

Another benevolence of Firoz Shah was giving money to Muslim fathers who have unmarried daughters; Afif writes, “ Firoz Shah founded an establishment ( Diwan-i khairan ) for the promotion of marriages. Many needy Musslamans were distressed at having marriageable daughters, for whom they could provide no marriage portion. Notice was given that any man having a marriageable daughter might apply at Diwan-i khairat and  state his case and his poverty to the officers of that establishment. “. He mentions that such needy Muslim fathers were given from 50  to 25 tankahs, depending on the situation. ( ibid – page 361 )

Firoz Shah allotted thirty-six lakh tankahs for Ulema, learned men of Islam and Koran readers and one crore tankahs for fakirs and miskin ( needy Muslims ) annually. ( ibid – pp 317 and 361). There were also pensions for Muslims in old age. Firoz Shah himself mentions about constructing and repairing madrassas where people ( Muslims ) learn and study Islam.

There is nothing unique about Firoz Shah sanctioning his benevolence on Muslims alone. That was the policy of entire Muslim rule in India. Then, to expect Firoz or other Muslim ruler to show benevolence on their Hindu ‘subjects’ is plain stupidity when they had already imposed Jizya and other grinding taxes on Hindus.

Esteemed historian K.S.Lal observes: ” All Muslim kings were exceedingly benevolent to men of religion – including secular Akbar and Jahangir. “ Jahangir was even showering his kindness and benevolence on Muslims outside his empire and those living in Persia, Roum, Bokhara and Azerbaijan. All this was also in accordance with the teachings of Islam, like ‘Muslim is a brother of another Muslim’ and ‘Muslims are those who are kind to each other and harsh towards non-Muslims’.

In his short auto biography, Fatuhat I Firoz Shahi, he writes that he gave a general order of not persecuting Hindus and about tolerating them, and that he enforced the Sharia Law strictly.

But enforcing Sharia Law on Hindus itself amounted to horrible persecution of Hindus, then what was that he was forbidding ? One understands this better by knowing the state of Hindus before Firoz Shah; the partial account of plight of Hindus during the time of  Muhammad bin Tughlaq was already presented above.

And during the time of Alauddin Khilji too, it was not much different He fixed Kharaj at 50% uniformly and levied many new taxes like house tax, grazing tax on all milk-producing animals. Maulana Shamsuddin Turk who arrived in India from Egypt during the time of Alauddin Khilji praised the Sultan for reducing Hindus to such a condition that they begged at the doors of Muslims, His words :

“I heard that wives and children of the Hindus beg at the doors of Muslims. Praise be to you, O Padishah of Islam, for the protection of religion of Mohammad which you perform.” 

(Today his grave is being worshiped in Panipat ‘ for he was a Sufi saint who preached love, non-violence and harmony’ !!! )

Zianuddin Barani too observes the same, “No Hindu could hold up his head, and in their houses no sign of gold or silver, of of any superfluity to be seen. Driven by destitution, the wives of Hindus including zamindars went and served for hire in the houses of Musslamans.” (Barani’s Firoz-i Firoz Shahi, Elliot Vol. 3, page 183 )

Firoz Shah Tughlaq mentioning about not persecuting Hindus is no more than  removing all these, that were levied by Muhammad bin Tughlaq, 17 arbitrary taxes, even if he detested Hindus. He did so after convening ulema who advises him that these arbitrary 17 taxes were not mentioned in the manual of Islamic Law (Sharia), Hidayah.

Jizya : 

The devout Sultan, even though he removed ‘frivolous’ taxes, dutifully imposed Jizya and 50% Kharaz on Hindus as these two were enjoined upon Hindus by Sharia Law. The rates of Jizya, for the territory of Delhi, were 40 tankahs for rich, 20 for middle class and 10 tankahs for poor. Compare this with standard line of our ’eminent’ and ‘secular’ historians that poor Hindus were exempted from Jizya and that Jizya was very small or insignificant monetarily ! But 20 or 10 tankahs is neither small nor insignificant when we compare with other figures given by Afif e.g. he says that Sultan donated 25 to 50 tankahs, which was mentioned above, to poor Muslim fathers who were unable to pay for the marriage of their daughters. If 25 tankahs was sufficient for marriage in those days, Jizya of 10 and 20 tankahs was not small but very crippling.

Another line of distortion from our ’eminent’ historians is that Jizya was never meant for forcing or coercing Hindus to convert to Islam or Muslim kings were not interested in converting Hindus to Islam, thus Islamic rule in India was one golden period of harmony and peace ! But the literature left by Muslim historians of that time was clear and contradicts what they say e.g. lets see what else Firoz Shah writes in his auto biography, Fatuhat I Firoz Shahi :

“I encouraged my infidel subjects to embrace the religion of the prophet, and I proclaimed that every one who repeated the creed and become a Muslaman should be exempt from Jizya, or poll tax. Information of this came to the ears of the people at large, and great number of Hindus presented themselves, and were admitted to the honor of Islam. Thus they came forward day by day from every quarter, and, adopting the faith, were exonerated from jizya, and were favoured with presents and honours.”  ( Fatuhat-i Firoz Shahi, Elliot, Vol. 3, Page 386 )

Above were the exact lines from Firoz Shah, one can not attribute his motives to other than religious, and they contradict everything our ’eminent’ historians say. Was it not because of unbearable burden of Jizya that some Hindus converted to Islam here ? Firoz Shah went further in ordering his Amils ( below Maulivi s) to convert Hindus to Islam. ( Afif, pp. 268-269 )

Concealing this kind from primary sources of history, our ’eminent’ historians tell us why jizya could have been light and never burdensome, because ‘only an insignificant section of population converted to Islam due to Jizya’ !! Today, this fraudulent logic is being applied on much wider scale like, if Islam was not peaceful and tolerant, how come India is still a Hindu majority nation ! By this reason, Afghanistan, which was Hindu and Buddhist ( in majority ) once, is 100% Islamic today, and this must prove that Islam is intolerant ! After all, by and by, the natives of both the regions were subjected to the same kind of violence and intolerance on massive scale. India is still Hindu majority because of their firm attachment to their faith and their tenacity. India is still Hindu majority because its geography and natural forests offered them a chance to put up firm resistance to Islamic imperialism.

The purpose of levying Jizya on non-Muslims is not monetary alone, it was also meant for humiliating Hindus, which is achieved in the manner of how it should be collected. Hidayah, manual of Sharia, clearly lays down the procedure for collecting jizya from Hindus ( or non-Muslims ), “Jizya is a sort of punishment inflicted upon infidels for their obstinacy in infidelity, whence it is that it cannot be accepted of the infidel if he send it by the hands of a messenger, but must be exacted in a mortifying and humiliating manner, by the collector sitting and receiving it from him in a standing posture, saying that pay your jizya, O ‘ dhimmi. Tax receiver can also seize Dhimmi by his throat and shake him. Afif doesn’t provide any details about how it was collected during the time of Firoz Shah but there are hints which show that jizya was collected as laid out in Hidayah.

‘Dhimmitude’ under Firoz Shah :

Its not like a non-Muslim pays jizya and, then, goes on to live a free life like Muslims live; nor that non-Muslims become subjects of Islamic state like Muslims are. Jizya is not in isolation, as its paying involves being a second class citizen whose testimony is not accepted in court or whose life is never equal to that of a Muslim. The status of non-Muslims living in an Islamic state is guided by the doctrine or pact ‘ DHIMMAH ‘ – as laid down in Sharia in accordance with the verse 9.29 and Sunna – which imposes about two dozens of restrictions and stipulations, which cover  every aspect of life – whether they be political, social or religious, of non-Muslims, whose main purpose is to humiliate non-Muslims and establish the superiority of Muslims. Three of those stipulations are, 1) Hindus should not observe their religious practices in public and 2) Hindus should not convert Muslims to Hinduism i.e. Hindus should not proselytize 3) Hindus should not construct new temples. How Firoz Shah enforced these upon Hindus and how our historians insinuate falsehood can be seen from the below case :

‘Firoz Shah Tughlaq executed a Brahman for abusing the Prophet of Islam’, Satish Chandra, one of our ’eminent’ historians, writes in his book Medieval India, a textbook for students of history for class XI (which was recalled after NDA came to power in 1998), while enlightening us about ‘THE POLICY OF BROAD TOLERATION’ as religious policy of Delhi Sultanate. But actual text from Afif’s reads as :

“A report was brought to the Sultan that there was in Delhi an old Brahmin who persisted in publicly performing the worship of idols in his house; and that the people of the city, both Musslamans and Hindus, used to resort to his house to worship the idol. This Brahman had constructed a wooden tablet whic h was covered within and without paintings of demons and other objects. On days appointed, the infidels went to his house and worshipped the idol, without the fact becoming known to the public officers. The Sultan was informed that this Brahman perverted Muhammadan women, and had led them to become infidels. An order was accordingly given that the Brahman, with his tab let, should be brought in to the presence of the Sultan at Ferozabad. The judges and doctors and elders and lawayers were summoned, and the case of the Brahman was submitted for their opinion. Their reply was that the provisions of law were clear : the Brahman must either become a Musslaman or be burned. The true faith was declared to the Brahman, and the right course pointed out, but he refused to accept it. Orders were given for raising a pile of faggots before the door of the darbar. The Brahman was tied hand and foot and cast in to it; the tablet was thrown on the top and the pile was lighted. The writer of this book was present at the darbar and witnessed the execution. The tablet of the Brahman was lighted in two places, at his head and at his feet; the wood was dry, and the fire first reached his feet, and drew from him a cry, but the flames quickly  enveloped his head and consumed him. Behold the Sultan’s strict adherence to Law and rectitude, how he would not deviate in the least from its decrees.  ( Afif’s Tarikh-i Firoz Shahi – Elliot Vol. 3, page 365 )

So, nowhere in the paragraph we find anything suggesting that Firoz Shah executed him for blasphemy. He was executed because he refused to convert to Islam, for observing rituals at his home and fitna. These ’eminent’ and ‘progressive’ historians not only distort by concealing the actual history but also state outright lies. Every intolerant facet of Islam is thus explain ed away, if not omitted and distorted; massive slaughter and destruction of temples are explained away as ‘for political reasons’; oppressive taxes and tax system are presented as ‘agrarian reforms’ and as ‘liberating’; extreme intolerance and discrimination is presented as ‘broad toleration’ and ‘liberal norm’; A Muslim fanatic like Amir Khusru is presented as ‘symbol of syncretic culture’; intolerant sufis become as ‘worshipable’.

The question of ‘WHY’ naturally arises regarding ‘ telling such outright lies ‘, and is it because of their belief that no one else would be reading the actual texts ? No. They do so because they know that they control all the institutions and the entire public discourse on such matters. It’s these eminent ‘historians’ who distorted and falsified the history, yet we have seen them writing in media accusing Modi’s Govt. of distorting and communalizing history ! The malice and intellectual corruption of these ’eminent’ historians run much deeper than it is presented here; we see some more of it, besides iconoclasm in the reign of Firoz Shah Tughlaq, in the next part to this.

Firoz Shah appointed a certain Muslim named Furhut ul-Mulk as governor of Gujarat, probably after his campaign against Thatta when he removed Nizamu-ul Mulk. To the dismay of sufis and ulema, this general was found to be ‘tolerant’ towards Hindus and Hinduism, in the words of Farishtah, ‘(He) encouraged the Hindu religion, and thus rather promoted than suppressed the worship of idols.’ They complained this to Firoz Shah and he, after meeting sufi saints at Delhi, and in accordance with their wishes, removed Furhut-ul Mulk as the governor and appointed Muzafur Khan, a name to become popular, in his place who unleashed a wave of terror against Hindus. Firoz Shah Tughlaq died in the year 1388 and as his sons fought for the throne, Muzafur Khan declared independence from Delhi and, in the year 1395, proceeded to Somnath to destroy the famous temple. M.M. Syed writes:

 “In 1395, Muzaffar Khan invaded Somnath, burnt the temple, and destroyed the idol. He killed many Hindus, and left the place after arranging for the erection of a mosque. In 1401, news reached him that the hindus were trying to restore the temple of somnath, and revive their customary worship. Muzaffar immedaitely proceeded thither with an army, and the Hindus, defeated after a sharp encounter, retired to the fort of the lop. This fort also fell after a few days of fighting, and Muzaffar killed the entire garrison, and had the men trampled under the feet of elephants. He then demolished the temples and laid the foundations of a mosque.” ( History of the Delhi Sultanate, page 184 ) 

Razzias ( Raids on Hindu villages during the absence of campaigns for conquest ) and special slaves of Firoz Shah Tughlaq :

There is a difference between full pledged military campaigns and these raids. Military campaign was undertaken with the aim of conquering additional lands or bringing those lands under Islamic rule or for extracting tribute or for plundering on grand scale. Such campaigns were mostly led by the King or the person, usually a noble, authorized by the King. But the purpose of these raids (razzias) is booty, plundering, enslaving Hindus, and mainly, instilling terror in the hearts of natives and paving the way for future conquests. The size of these raiding parties, in terms of numbers of soldiers, might vary from hundreds to thousands, depending on the situation i.e. target  and rank of the leader of the raiding party. At the same time, they could not be of huge size as, firstly, nobles ( chiefs of provinces or fiefs ) were not permitted to mount huge military expeditions without permission from the Sultan or the King, secondly, from the point of simple economics as costs of mounting a huge raid could outweigh the value of the booty itself. The primary sources of history suggest that these raids could take place within their kingdom or at its periphery i.e. in another kingdom adjacent to it i.e these raids took place at the local level.

And these peacetime raids are not restricted to India alone under Islamic rule; they happened in all the places conquered by Islam for the simple reason that Islam, anywhere, based on Sunna and Koran inspires same hatred and enmity towards non-Muslims. Sunna, example of life of Prophet Mohammad, is replete with HIM organizing and sending these raiding parties, at-times he even led them.

Firoz Shah orders Muslim fief-holders ( chiefs or army officials responsible for collecting revenue and administration within their respective fiefs [ iqtas ] ) to send the best ones ( boys or men ) among slaves captured in their raids on Hindu villages for the service in his palace. That’s how he came to possess huge number of slaves ( boys or men ), numbering to 1,80,000 ( or 2,00,000 – as some say ). Fief-holders recognizing the Sultan’s eagerness for slaves, they sent so many slaves that the slaves in his palace and Delhi became too numerous. ” When the chiefs ( fief holders ) perceived  the Sultan’s eagerness for slaves, and that their efforts to get them being highly appreciated, they exerted themselves more in providing them, and the numbers brought  every year exceeded description.“, Afif writes. (Tarikhi I Firoz Shahi;  Elliot, Vol. 3, page 341 )

they exerted themselves more in providing them ‘ means making more and more raids on Hindu villages and Hindu mahals. Contrast this with what our ’eminent’ historians always say, ‘ only on few occasions of war times that atrocities on Hindus were committed.’

Despite clear evidence from primary texts like Afif’s, even after noticing and writing about how early Muslim governors in Sind sent periodic expeditions ( raids ) in to Malwa and Kashmir for plundering as part of their Jihad, and even after noticing the exploits of Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khilji where he writes, ‘ A Khalaj warrior named Mahammad b. Bhkatiyar had secured a base in Awadh, from where he mounted regular plundering expeditions in to the Hindu tracts of Maner and Bihar.‘, Peter Jackson finishes, ‘ Many expeditions must have been designed simply to replenish stocks of cattle and slaves……….There must have been numerous military operations conducted at a local level by amirs and mukta s which won fresh territory for revenue collector and settler, of which we know nothing’; such is the craft of these imperial historians and their Marxist colleagues in India.

Coming to the reign of Firoz Shah, If those fief holders sent the best boys or men among the captives, thus slaves, to Firoz Shah then they must have kept the remaining of them for their own services or must have sold in the market. If we consider that on average one slave out of five qualify for the condition of ‘best’, then the total number of enslaved could be more than one million.  Afif writes that khans, maliks  and amirs – these are various titles ( or ranks ) of army officials – got very rich during the time of Firoz Shah.

Afif : “All the khans, mailks and amirs grew rich in his reign and had vast stores of wealth and jewels and diamonds of great value.” (Afif’s Tarikh-i Firoz Shahi; Elliot, Vol. 3, page 347 )

This means one way to get rich is, raid the Hindu villages and take Hindus as captives and sell them in the market.

A story deserves to be mentioned here. Firoz Shah had a slave by the name Imandu’l Mulk Bashir; he also happened to be a general in the Kings army and was given a vast territory as his fief [ iqta ] by Firoz Shah Tughlaq. Afif mentions that the wealth of this slave was legendary in those days and he was only interested in acquiring more, and that when he died, his wealth amounted to more than 12 crore silver tankahs on calculation. The entire annual revenue of Sultan’s empire, according to Afif, stood at 6.087 crore tankahs. Afif doesn’t mention how he became so rich but it’s obvious.

Imandu’l Mulk Bashir had a son named Malik Isha’q, so its natural that he must have inherited all this wealth. But Islamic law states that the property of the slaves belongs to the master. That’s what Firoz Shah means when says : “Bashir belongs to me, so his wealth is mine.”  When Iman’du Mulk died, Firoz Shah took 9 crore silver tankahs of 12 crores while leaving the rest, 3 crore tankahs, to Malik – Imandu ‘s son.

Nobles raiding the villages in their fiefs for booty and enslavement of Hindus was a practice that was prevalent during the entire period of Muslim rule in India; when Akbar disapproved enslavement of women and children in the war times, his military officials continued to make raids on the villages to capture women and children. His biographer Abul Fazl mentions : “He ( Akbar ) knew that many evil hearted and vicious men used to proceed to villages and mahals and sack them.

But the mighty emperor, ‘secular’ Akbar, couldn’t do anything ??

W.H. Moreland ( who made an extensive study of Mughal rule ) too observes the same; during the time of Akbar, he says, ‘It became a fashion to raid a village without any obvious justification, and carry of the inhabitants as slaves.

One such example is worth mentioning here; Abdullah Khan Uzbeg’s ( a noble and general in Akbar’s army) force of 12,000 horse and 20,000 foot destroyed, in the Kalpi-Kanauj area alone, all towns, took all their goods, their wives and children as slaves and beheaded and immortered  (fixed heads with mortar in walls and pillars)  the chiefest of their men. ( Abul Fazl – Akbar Nama II – pages 195-96)

( Just in this small narrative, we see the region of Kanauj being ravaged twice; my first mention was with regard to Mohammad bin Tughlaq. )

The same khan, Uzbeg, boasted, ” I made prisoners of five lacks of men and women and sold them. They all became Muhammadans. From their progeny there will be crores by the day of judgement. ” ( Shah Nawaz Khan – Maasir ul-Umara I, pahe 105)….The very essence of Jihad. As mentioned earlier, enslavement of natives served as the major means of proselytization. Muslim kings and nobles know what they were doing and the rewards, in this life and hereafter, for they are very much conscious of the need of Islamization of India as their faith demands of every Muslim. K.M.Ashraff, supposedly a Marxist intellectual, notes, ‘The slaves added to the growing Muslim population of India.‘ Not entirely and factually correct, but such things coming from a mouth of Muslim is quite significant. Another famous Muslim historian, Qureshi I.H., an ardent proponent of Pakistan, says also the same thing, “Every Sultan, as champion of Islam, considered it a political necessity to plant or raise Muslim population all over India for the Islamization of the country and countering native resistance.‘ (K.S.Lal, Muslim Slave System in Medieval India, page 69 )

Qureshi I.H. was recipient of Pakistan’s highest civilian award.

During the time of Muhammad bin Tughlaq, this kind of raids on villages also took place; slaves obtained in these in together with slaves obtained in incessant warfare by Muhammad Tughlaq resulted in massive number of slaves being sold – the number and presence of slaves was so great that prices of slaves went down.

Warfare on Hindus and enslavement of Hindus during the reign of Mohammad bin Tughlaq was so intense that it was even talked in distant parts of Islamic world. A Muslim from Damascus, Shahabuddin Abbas Ahmad, who lived during the reign of Muhamamd Tughlaq writes, ‘ The Sultan never ceases to show the greatest zeal in making war on infidels, both by sea and land. Every day thousands of slaves are sold at a very low price, so great is the number of prisoners.‘  (Elliot Vol. 3, page 580 )

The precarious state of lives of Hindus during Delhi Sultanate can be best understood from the statement of this infamous Muslim, Amir Khusru, in his poem, Nuh Sipehr: “the Turks, whenever they please, can seize them (Hindus), buy them and sell them at will….The Hindu happens to be a wretched slave in all respects.” ( Nuh Sipehr, Wahid Mirza ed. , Calcutta, 1998, Sipehr II – pp. 89, 130-131 ) 

Coming to Firoz Shah’s reign, with 1,80,000 ( men ) slaves, no wonder that he stands among all Delhi Sultans as the greatest builder.  If not all, most of these must have been made to work in construction. Afif does not give the figure of no. of slaves employed in construction during Firoz Shah’s time but its a common practice during Muslim rule that slaves were employed in construction activity, for Historian Barani mentioned that about 70,000 slaves worked in construction under Alauddin Khilji. That’s behind those ‘massive structures’ we see standing even today with awe and feelings of proud ‘composite culture’ .

These slaves were working in all kinds of jobs. Afif mentions that there was no occupation in which his slaves were not employed. According to him, about 12,000 slaves were employed in karkanas, where all kinds of products ranging from weapons to clothes to perfumes to liquor for royal palaces were made. He further adds : “Forty thousand were every day in readiness to attend as guards at the Sultan’s equipage or palace…. ……  When Sultan went out in state the slaves accompanied him in distinct corps – first the archers, fully armed, next the swordsmen, thousands in number, ……..These all, thousands upon thousands, accompanied Royal retinue.” ( Afif, Tarikh I Firoz Shahi; Elliot, Vol. 3 , pp 341-342 )

Though Afif was not a Muslim zealot like other historians, he writes as a typical Muslim that Firoz treated his slaves very well and that some slaves even went on Hajj pilgrimage. And also that some slaves used to spend their time in memorizing Koran. Afif could have well said that Firoz Shah pampered some of his slaves, and so did Muhammad bin Tughlaq. On the occasions of celebrating id, these two  Kings used to confer few of them in marriage ( we come to this later ).

The slaves, if not all, many, were castrated too for guarding harems of Sultan and nobles. Every Muslim ruler in India had his harem and it was the largest department in the empire. Afif doesn’t say anything about harem of Firoz Shah, but he reports that Sultan’s close confidant and his wazir Khan i Jahan Maqbool had 2000 concubines in his harem. Khan i Jahan was himself a Hindu from Warangal once and was captured by Muhammad bin Tughlaq in his expedition against Raja Rudra Pratap.

( The price of castrated slaves ( eunuchs ) was 3 to 4 times to that of non-castrated ones. Another salient feature of Muslim rule in India was that all nobles and officials mimicked their King (or Sultan) in living and appearance, like when Firoz Shah shaved his head all his nobles too shaved their heads. If Sultan possessed many slaves, the noble also did their best to possess many slaves. If the Sultan lives a pompous and luxurious life, the nobles too did. )

Afif also mentions that all his nobles had their own harems : “In the store house of every noble there were good carpets. A group of pretty sonorous-voiced dancing girls and concubines were there to remove all traces of anxiety and sadness. Whenever the amir halted in the course of journey all kinds of food and pleasure were made available to him including intimate companionship. ” (Afif’s Tarikh-i Firoz Shahi, Elliot, Vol. 3, pp -288-89 )

If Firoz Shah Tughlaq did not maintain a harem, Afif would have mentioned how  Firoz Shah departed from the prevailing practice of Sultans maintaining harems, for the fact that both his predecessors Alauddin Khilji and Muhammad bin Tughlaq maintained harems of 1000 or more concubines and slaves.

So how many slaves of those 1,80,000, that were castrated, were required or employed to guard this harem of Firoz Shah ? The figure was not available, but its sure that number must have been very high, for such are the intricacies of harem. Firstly, with hundreds ( or even thousands ) of concubines, sex slaves and wives, they can not be trusted with male guards unless they are castrated. Secondly, slaves were also needed to do other works. Thirdly, unless guarded properly, harem always is a security risk for the women and for the life of the King.

And if these guards are younger, it’s that much advantageous to the King in terms of loyalty. Firoz Shah insisted upon fief-holders sending the best ( looking ) boys among those captured in their raids on villages.

Slaves showed loyalty to Sultan in anticipation of better and kinder treatment. The Sultan too was relatively kind for their loyalty in return. But the same loyalty took their lives too. Afif writes, “After his ( Firoz Shah ) death, the heads of these favoured servants were cut off without mercy, and were made in to heaps before the royal darbar.” ( ibid, page 342 )

‘Slaves were made slaves for no fault of theirs and they were massacred for the fault of being ‘loyal’ slaves to their masters.’, K.S.Lal writes.

Farishtah, another Muslim historian, writes : “The fault of these slaves seems to be that they were firstly not asl ( or pure ) Muslims and secondly they were loyal to Firoz Shah and his progeny.”

After killing the old slaves, the new Sultan needs slaves, that too his own set of slaves, so starts collecting fresh batches of slaves, meaning more Hindus being enslaved.

The institution of slavery, during the Islamic rule, became a part of India though Hindus stayed away from slave trade. During the reign of Tughlaq dynasty this institution took roots in all parts of India i.e. many centers must have propped up for selling and buying slaves; earlier besides Delhi there were only one or two such centers. And eunuchs formed an institution within this institution, for they exerted massive influence over the entire administration as every branch in the administration was connected to harem in one or other way. Their influence can be seen from so many of them rising to the positions of nobles.

( Take the example of Malik Kafur in Alauddin Khilji ‘s time. He, a Rajput, was captured during  Alauddin Khilji’s conquest of Khambat. Alauddin fell in love with this handsome lad so much that one Muslim historian writes that ‘he married Malik Kafur by tying zunnar to his own wrist’. He was turned in to an eunuch and he subsequently became Alauddin’s general and wazir too; and he also hastened the death of Alauddin by poisoning, and went on to disfigure and incapacitate some of his children before being stopped and killed by paiks ( other Hindu slaves of Alauddin Khilji ). Paiks freed the imprisoned son of Alauddin Khilji, Mubarak Khilji, who after acting as guardian for boy King, put up by Malik Kafur, usurps the throne and puts all those ‘paiks’ to death. Not learning anything from all this, this pervert and degenerate King, Mubarak, falls in love with another ( Hindu  ) slave and gives him a title ‘ Khusru Khan ( We will read more about him here later. ). He was so blinded by his passion for this handsome slave that he punished those who were warning him about the plans of Khusru Khan and ultimately pays the price. The price was heavy as the entire bloodline of Alauddin Khilji was eliminated. Probably, it is also the fate as Alauddin himself came to occupy the throne by murdering his uncle – who happened to be his father-in-law, benefactor and mentor – Sultan Jalaluddin and his progeny. )

The number of eunuchs employed in harems must have been great, as their cadre was hierarchical; senior eunuchs were known as Nazirs and Khwaja Saras. Each of them had a number of junior eunuchs under him. ( K.S.Lal, Muslim Slave System in Medieval India, pages 112-113 )

The distribution of Hindu women as sex slaves during the celebrations of Id : 

Besides these raids ( razzias ) by his military officers, according to Afif, Firoz Shah directly conducted military operations on low level for obtaining slaves and plunder on yearly basis, as Afif writes, ‘ In places which are sacked and looted captives are selected as per royal regulations. Those fit for the royal service were sent to the court’. ( Afif, page 267-268 ). This is what Will Durant must be referring to when he wrote , ‘ Firoz Shah invaded Bengal, offered a reward for every Hindu head, paid for 1,80,000 of them and raided Hindu villages for slaves……’ in his book ‘The Story of Civilization, Vol. 1, Chapter 16’ . It must be that, as always was the custom, capture of Hindu women was the focus in such campaigns, for Afif says that Firoz Shah distributed thousands of Hindu women among the nobles during the yearly celebrations of id. ( Afif, 119-120, 180, 265; K.S,Lal’s Muslim Slave System in Medieval India, page 162 )

Ibn Bhattuta gives details of how id was celebrated in the royal court in the reign of Mohammad bin Tughlaq :

“First of all, daughters of Kafirs ( Hindus ) and Rajas captured during the course of the year, come and sing and dance. There after they are bestowed upon amirs and important foreigners. After this daughters of other kafirs dance and sing….The Sultan gives them to his brothers, relatives and sons of Maliks etc. On the second day the durbar is held in a similar fashion after Asr. Female singers are brought out…the Sultan distributes them among mamluke amirs…….. Then, on the fourth day men slaves are married and on the fifth day slave-girls. On the sixth day men and women slaves are married off. “ ( Ibn Bhattuta 63; ( Hindi tran. ) Rizvi’s  Tughlaq kalin Bharat  part I, Aligarh 1956, page 189; K.S.Lal’s Muslim Slave System in Medieval India, page 162 )

His successor, Firoz Shah, too followed the same custom in distributing female slaves captured in his campaigns. This practice was seen during the time of Mughal emperors like Jahangir and Shahjahan. Its this inhuman treatment meted out to female captives made ‘jauhar’ famous among Hindu women during the attacks.


The books I read and referred to :

1) Muslim Slave System in Medieval India by K.S.Lal ( ISBN 81-85689-67-9)

2) Theory and Practice of Muslim State in India by K.S.Lal ( ISBN 81-86471-72-3) 3)

3) The History of India as told by Indians , Elliot and Dawson , Vol. 3  [ Tarikh-i Firoz Shahi by Zianuddeen Barani ; Tarikh-i Firoz Shah by Shams’ Siraj  Afif ; Fatuhat-i Firoz Shahi by Firoz Shah Tughlaq ]

4) HinduTemples : what happened to them, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 by Sita Ram Goel

5) Eminent Historians their technology their line their fraud by Arun Shourie

The books I have not read but referred to :

1) Peter Jackson’s The Delhi Sultanate

2) Will Durant’s The Story of Civilization

Note : I read the accounts of Barani, Afif and so through translations available in Elliot and Dawson’s The History of India as told by Indians, Vol. 3. Like in many cases, they do not translate the entire works of Barani and Afif.

Barani’s Tarikh-i Firoz Shahi is diff. from Afif’s Tarikh-i Firoz Shahi. Barani’s version is a general history with very little on Firoz Shah. It seems this name was given because he finished his manuscript during the early reign of Firoz Shah. On the other hand, Afif’s Tarikh-i Firoz Shahi is entirely devoted to Firoz Shah Tughlaq.

In translating Afif’s account, they ( Elliot and Dawson ) leave out many chapters ( mukaddamas ) completely towards the end and partially in the middle. But professional historians like Prof. K.S.Lal must be well versed in Persian language as he gives references to the original work of Afif in Persian language.


One response

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