Firuz Shah Tughlaq
Firuz Shah Tughlaq (also spelled Tughluq) was the ruler of Dulhi Sultanate from 1351 t o 1358.
Firuz Shah was the son of Malik Rajab and a Hindu princess. As Muhammad bin Tughlaq left no son, his cousin Firuz Tughlaq ascended the throne as Sultan. Rajab was the younger brother of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq.
The coronation ceremony of Firuz Shah Tughlaq took place on March 23, 1315. Immediately on his accession Firuz Shah restored order in the army and after three days he sent his army against the Mongols which defeated and drove them away and freed the Indians who had been captured by them. At Siwistan where the new Sultan and his army stopped for few days Khutba was read in the name of Firuz Shah Tughlaq and proclamation of his assumption of the crown was sent all over the country. Special messengers with robes of honor were sent to officers in different parts of the country. The body of Muhammad bin Tughlaq was put into a coffin and placed on an elephant and sent to Delhi. The army proceeded to Bhakkar and then to Uch. Hardly it started from Uch information reached the Sultan that Khwaja-i-Jahan, the deputy of the late Sultan at Delhi had proclaimed a boy as Sultan and gave out him as the son of the late Sultan. At Multan Firuz held a council of the nobles and the Muslim jurists. The council refused to admit that the late Sultan had any son and the jurists pronounced that Khwaja-i-Jahan’s candidate being a minor was not qualified for the position of the Sultan. In Muslim law sovereignty was not an inherited right and it was useless to consider the legal aspect of the question whether the boy had any right or not. The circumstances of the time also needed a grown up man at the helm of affairs of the state.
Historians also differ as to the claim of Firuz to the throne of Delhi. Some historians are of the opinion that the boy proclaimed as the sultan by Khwaja-i-Jahan was ‘not a supposititious son’ but an issue of Muhammad bin Tughlaq’s body. Therefore according to him Firuz was a usurper. Other historian, however, maintain that there is no record or proof that Muhammad bin Tughlaq had a son. In any case, the accession of Firuz was sanctioned by the will of the electros – the nobles and the jurists. The accession of Firuz revived the principle of election which has been gradually receding to the background.
Firuz Shah Tughlaq reached Delhi, allowed Khwaja-i-Jahan to go back to his fief at Samana but was put to death by a follower of Sher Khan, governor of Sunam and Samana. He appointed Malik-i-Maqbul his prime minister and gave him the title of Khan-i-Jahan. Malik Maqbul was a Brahmin who had been only recently a convert to Islam. He was an able administrator and his appointment as prime minister proved to be a great asset to the administration. Firuz Tughlaq’s first task was to conciliate his subjects and with this end in view he remitted all their debts to the government. With the support of the people of Delhi, particularly the Sunni Muslims, whose confidence he had the good fortune to enjoy. Firuz succeeded in bringing peace and order out of the prevailing confusion which resulted due to the disturbances towards the end of the reign of Muhammad bin Tughlaq. Firuz looked upon himself as a mere trustee of the state, responsible for the security and welfare of the people. He was a believer in theocratic government and considered himself as the sovereign of the Muslim section of his subjects for the moral and material welfare of whom he did everything possible. Thus he had a dual sovereignty, temporal sovereign of all subjects under him and spiritual; sovereign of the Muslim subjects under him.
Next task of the Sultan Firuz was to raise the “Delhi Sultanate from the state of decrepitude and demoralization into which it had fallen since the closing years of his predecessor’s reign”. This could be done by spectacular military achievements and by recovering the Deccan, Bengal Sind and Rajasthan.
Deccan Policy of Firuz Shah
During the last years of the reign of Muhammad bin Tughlaq, Dakhin, i.e. south India had torn off from the Delhi Sultanate and became independent. Firuz was advised by his counselors to reduce Bahamani kingdom. Firuz Tughlaq who followed a vacillating military policy, evaded he issue on the plea that he was against shedding of Bahamani Muslim blood which was bound to take place if any attempt to recover Bahamani kingdom was made. But in case of Rajasthan, there was no question of shedding Muslim blood. But he did not evince any willingness to bring Marwar and other Rajput states back to the Delhi Empire.
In 1338, Bengal had declared herself independent of Delhi. Haji Iliyas, who assumed the title of Shams-ud-din Ilyas Shah, had brought the whole of the province of Bengal under his rule by 1352. Ilyas Shah had brought the whole of the province of Bengal under his rule by 1352. Ilyas Shah even invaded Tirhut. Firuz Shah marched against Iliyas Shah in order to bring Bengal under the rule of Delhi. Iliyas Shah took shelter in his well protected fort Ekdala. Firuz shah failed to take the fort and retired with his army. Whatever might have been the real cause of his withdrawal from Bengal, this expedition revealed the lack of military talent on the part of Firuz Shah (1353).
Firuz Shah again invaded Bengal in 1359. The ruling Sultan of Bengal, Sikandar, like his father, fled to fort Ekdala and ultimately Firuz Shah had to recognize his independence and return to Delhi without achieving anything.
Conquest of Nagarkot
During the closing years of the reign of Muhammad bin Tughlaq Nagarkot in Kangra had torn off from the Delhi Empire. Sultan Firuz Shah Tughlaq led an expedition against Nagarkot in 1360. After a prolonged siege of six months the fort surrendered and the Raja submitted to the Sultan. He was received honorably by the Sultan. The Sultan acquired a great booty which included 1,300 Sanskrit manuscripts, some of which were got translated by the Sultan into Persian.
Conquest of Sind
In 1361-62 Sultan Firuz Shah Tughlaq proceeded with 90,000 horses, a large number of infantry and 480 elephants, supported by a navy of many boats. The ruler of Sind opposed the Sultan with an equally strong army. In the engagement, the Sultan’s army suffered great loss and he was compelled to retreat to Gujarat for reinforcement. But he was misled by the guides into the Rann of Kutch. It took long six months for the sultan and his army to emerge from the Rann of Kutch and there was no information about him during this period in Delhi.
The reign of Firuz Tughlaq was free from the Mongol menace. It is said that there were only two raids during his reign by the Mongols but both were beaten off.
Revenue Policy of Firuz Shah Tughlaq
One of the factors that had contributed to the stability of Firuz Shah’s government was his revenue settlement. He appointed Khwaja Hisamuddin Junaid as assessor who made extensive tours for six years with a large staff and “fixed the income of the whole realm at six crore and seventy five lakhs of tanakas”. Although the state demand of the revenue was not made on the basis of measurement of land or any estimate of the actual produce, the land revenue was fixed more or less on a permanent basis which in itself was a creditable achievement. The Sultan stopped the practice of levying benevolences which the provincial governors had to pay and the time of their appointment and annually, because the burden of this payment used to be passed on to the shoulders of the people by the governors. Due to excavation of irrigation canals a vast area was brought under cultivation which had been hitherto fallow lands. As a result of this and also due to 10% increase in the revenue for the use of the irrigation canals, the state revenue increased further.
Public Works of Irrigation
Firuz Shah Tughlaq was a lover of buildings and he is credited with building 300 towns. This is, obviously, an exaggeration. Among the towns founded by him the most important ones were Fatehabad, Hissar, Jaunpur, Firuzabad etc. Firuzabad was the Sultan’s favorite residence. It was crowded with buildings, eight large each large mosques, enough to accommodate 10,000 devotees.
Firuz Tughlaq is specially credited with the construction of five irrigation canals. The longest and the most important of these was 150 miles long and connected Jamuna and the town of Hissar. One that connected Ghagra and Sutlej was 96 miles long. Two others connected Firuzabad with Ghagra, Firuzabad and Jamuna. The fifth canal connected Sirmur Hills with the town of Hansi.
Firuz Shah was responsible for the construction of 50 dams across rivers for the purpose of irrigation, 40 mosques, 30 colleges with mosques attached to them, 20 palaces, 100 caravan series, 200 towns, 30 reservoirs or lakes for irrigation, 100 hospitals, 5 mausoleum, 100 public baths, 10 monumental pillars, 10 public wells and 150 bridges besides numerous gardens. He had transhifted two Ashokan pillars one from Merrut and another from Khizirabad to Delhi by an extremely laborious process..
Firuz Shah abolished internal tariffs so that the products of one part of the country might easily find market in other parts. The rapid growth of trade and commerce as also industries was the good result of this policy of the Sultan. The fall in prices of the commodities of daily use made the life of the common people easy.
Firuz Shah had also introduced certain judicial reforms. He abolished the practice of amputation of hands, legs etc. as a mode of punishment. He prohibited this kind of inhuman punishment and made the penal system more humane. For solving the problem of unemployment, Firuz Shah set up an employment Bureau. For the treatment of the poor he instituted Dar-ul-Shafa which offered free treatment at the cost of the state. For giving alms to the poor and indigent section of the people Firuz Shah opened Diwan-i-Khairat, i.e. Alms house. He also had improved the currency system by introducing two types of coins of mixed metal.
His Assignment of Land revenue to the Army
Sultan Firuz Shah re-introduced the system of revenue assignments to the military and civil officials. In such assignments he was very generous. Ala-ud-din was against assignment of land revenue to officers, for it some of them would combine, this would lead to trouble. But Firuz Shah revived the old system of revenue assignment that is Jagir system.
Firuz Shah Tughlaq levied four kinds of taxes. These were
- Land tax,
- Benevolence to the government.
- Poll tax on non-Muslims,
- Tax on mines.
These apart, an irrigation tax as well as a part of the booty were realized by the state. There were many other taxes illegally realized from the people but Firuz Shah prohibited their realization.
Firuz Shah Tughlaq owed his throne to the ulemas and prominent nobles. He followed the policy of restoring the prestige and power of the ulemas and unlike Ala-ud-din and Muhammad bin Tughlaq he consulted the ulemas in matters both political and religious.
He encouraged Hindus to embrace Islam. Muslim women were ordered not to come out of their houses or to go to tombs outside Delhi. Firuz Shah held the Caliph of Egypt in high esteem and twice received investiture and robes of honor from him.
Patronage of Leaning
Firuz Shah was a great patron of learning. He granted liberal allowances to scholars and established many schools and colleges and placed them in charge of learned men who were paid from the state handsomely. Each mosque had an educational institution attached to it. Ziauddin Barani and Shams-i-Siraj ‘Afif’ enjoyed his liberal patronage. Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi and Fatawa-i-Jahandari was the important historical works written during his reign. The latter was the work of Barani. Firuz Shah wrote his autobiography which is entitled Futuhat-e-Firoz Shahi. He caused the Sanskrit manuscripts at least some of them, which he had found in the Kangra fort to be translated into Persian.
Firuz Shah & The Slaves
Firuz Shah took great interest in increasing the number of his slaves. He issued instruction to the governors in different parts of the kingdom to send him slaves. Under him the number of slaves totaled one lakh eighty thousand out of which forty thousand been put in the service of the Sultan’s palace. A separate officer with necessary staff was in charge of the slaves and a large sum of money was allocated for the expenses of this department. Slaves would also be posted in different provinces. Firuz Tughlaq made arrangements for the education and training of the slaves but the system was positively pernicious as the slaves like the ulemas began to interfere in the administration and eventually became at least one of main causes of the disintegration of the Delhi Sultanate.
Last Days of Firuz shah:
The last years of Firuz Shah Tughlaq’s rule and life were not happy. He lost his eldest son Fateh Khan, whom he had nominated as the heir apparent, in 1374. He now nominated his second son Zafar Khan as his heir, but he also died. The third son Muhammad Khan was the next choice but no formal nomination was made in his case.
In the meantime the prime minister Khan-i-Jahan Maqbul had died and his son had become prime minister. The new prime minister persuaded the Sultan to believe that the prince was conspiring with the nobles to seize power and got the Sultan’s permission to punish the Prince’s partisans. But the prince Muhammad Khan met the Sultan Firuz and convinced him that the Khan-i-Jahan, i.e. the prime minister was trying to destroy the royal family to clear his way to the throne. Firuz Shah permitted Muhammad Khan to punish Khan-i-Jahan who getting the sense of the situation fled to Mewat.
Mahammad now began to assist his father Firuz Shah in the administration and was allowed to share the royal title. He was now formally declared heir-apparent (1387). Soon after the prince got Khan-i-Jahan killed and assumed all power of the state in his own hands. But instead of looking into the administration he gave himself up to pleasure. The administration naturally becomes lax and everything was in confusion. Some of the nobles who were loyal to the crown tried to rouse Muhammad Khan to his responsibilities, but to no purpose. They therefore organized a rebellion Muhammad was now obliged to throw off his lethargy and fight the nobles. But the nobles brought the old Sultan Firuz Tughlaq to the battled field and brought a sense of nervousness on the side of Muhammad Khan who fled for life. Firuz Shah Tughlaq died on Sept. 20, 1388.
Character and Estimate of Firuz shah:
Historians have diametrically opposite views about the character and personality of Firuz Shah Tughlaq. Some contemporary writers like Ziauddin Barani have called him the most just, merciful and benevolent ruler since the days of Nasir-ud-din Muhammad. Some historians went to the extent of calling him Akbar of the Sultanate period. However, some other historians have rejected the this opinion.
Firuz was both a patron of learning and an accomplished scholar himself. The teachers of madrasa, schools and colleges that he established were liberally paid by him. He encouraged learned men to reside in different parts of the country so that instruction might be imparted to people of the different parts of the kingdom. He caused some of the Hindu books, the manuscripts of which he found at Kangra, to be translated into Persian.
Firuz Shah acted sincerely up to his convictions and really wished the welfare of his people. No ruler of the Delhi Sultanate did so much for the material welfare of the people. His revision of the revenue policy encouraged agriculture and brought comfort and life, of ease to the vast majority of the people.
The irrigation system of Sultan Firuz Shah was unique during the Sultanate period developed agriculture considerably. His abolition of internal tariff encouraged trade and commerce which brought prosperity to the state and the people, and brought down prices of the essentials of daily life. It is by the quantum of material prosperity that the people judge a ruler and they saw much prosperity under Firuz Tughlaq which earned for him the golden opinion of the people, and historians both contemporary and modern. Firuz Shahs numerous acts of charity, his attempt at solution of the unemployment problem, his setting up of a free hospital and alms house speak well of his liberal attitude towards his subjects. His generous treatment of the state employees, arrangements for the comfort of the travelers and the holy men were proofs or his regarding himself as the trustee of the welfare of the people, He abolished inhuman punishment for criminal offence, forbade extortionate realization by the revenue officers and maintained law and order more effectively than many of the Sultans.
Yet taking the age in which he ruled into consideration, it must be remarked that the prestige of the Sultan depended much on his military efficiency and exploits. But here Firuz Shah failed. His Bengal expeditions, his wandering in the Rann of Kutch for six months etc. were not to his credit. He was timid and timorous and his military expeditions did not bring any gain or prestige to the Sultanate.
His benevolence was at times indiscriminate and bestowed on undeserved persons which injured the interests of the state. It is said that he once paid a gold tanka to a trooper who was found to despair his lot that in the muster his horse would not be passed as fit for military service. The Sultan gave him the money for bribing the officer who would inspect the horses at the muster so that the unfit horse might be passed. His system of revenue assignment to the civil and military officers led to much malpractice as these assignments were sold by the assignees to the brokers at a cheaper price, and as a result the latter became very rich.
The Sultan’s fondness for the slaves to one lakh eighty thousand and a regular department had to be maintained at a great cost to manage the slaves. The slaves began to interfere in the administration as did the ulemas which injured the interest of the state.
Firuz Tughlaq restored the ulemas to their old position of power and prestige. He for the first time under the Sultanate made proselytizing a state policy and encouraged the Hindus to accept Islam by proclaiming that such converts would be exempt from the payment of jizya. A large number of poor Hindus accepted Islam to avoid payment of jizya. Firuz Tughlaq earned the good opinion of the Sunni Muslims by his orthodox religious policy. He did not hesitate to persecute the Shia section of the Muslims. It was the irony of Firuz’s fate that the very qualities for which he had earned the praise of the people were the very causes that were largely responsible for the weakness of the Delhi Sultanate.
Successors fo Firuz Shah Tughlaq
All the Tughlaq rulers that succeeded Firuz Shah were utterly incompetent persons without any rule or any ability to rule or any force of personality or character. All of them were virtually puppets in the hands of their unscrupulous and ambitious nobles who were busy in lining their coats at the cost of the state.
On the death of Firuz Shah in September, 1388, his grandson Ghiyas-ud-Din Tughluq II, son of Fateh Shah, eldest son of Firuz Shah, ascended the throne. He was inexperienced as given to pleasure and merry-making. The maliks and the amirs were all offended at the conduct of Ghiyas-ud-din and they combined to depose him.
They placed Abu Bakr, son of Zafar Khan, second son of Firuz Shah on the throne on February 19, 1389. But Firuz’s third son Muhammad Khan reappeared to assert his claim to the throne. With the support of some powerful nobles he proclaimed himself king at Samana on April 24, 1389.
A struggle for the throne of Delhi began between the two claimants and ultimately Abu Bakr was compelled to leave the throne to Muhammad Shah in 1390. Sultan Muhammad’s intemperate life and excessive indulgence told upon his health and he died in January 1394.
Muhammad was succeeded by Humayun under the title Sikandar Shah who could rule for barely a year, for he died in March 1395.
He was succeeded by Nasir-ud-din Mahmud Shah Tughluq who became the sultan.
Nusrat Shah, a son of Fateh Khan disputed his claim to the throne and for some time both of them became Sultans one at Delhi and the other at Firuzabad. According to Badauni, they lived and quarreled like the kings of a game of chess. The weakness of the situation was taken advantage of by the Muslim governors and the Hindu chiefs who threw off their allegiance to the Delhi Sultan and proclaimed their independence. The vast empire built by the labors of successive Sultans from Qutb-ud-din to Muhammad bin Tughlaq began to fall apart.