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Firoz Shah Tughlaq

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Title: Firoz Shah Tughlaq  
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Firoz Shah Tughlaq

Sultan Feroze Shah Tughluq (Persian: فیروز شاہ تغلق‎, Hindi: फ़िरोज़ शाह तुग़लक़; 1309 – September 20, 1388) was a Turkic Muslim ruler of the Tughlaq Dynasty, who reigned over the Sultanate of Delhi from 1351 to 1388.[1] He was the son of a Hindu princess of Dipalpur.[2] His father's name was Rajab (the younger brother of Ghazi Malik) who had the title Sipahsalar.[3] Sultan Feroze Shah Tughluq succeeded his cousin Muhammad bin Tughluq following the latter's death from a fatal illness, but due to widespread unrest Sultan Feroze Shah Tughluq's realm was much smaller than Muhammad's. Sultan Feroze Shah Tughluq was forced by rebellions to concede virtual independence to Bengal and other provinces.


Sultan Feroze Shah Tughluq was the Sultan of Delhi from 1351 to 1388. At his succession after the death of Muhammad Tughlaq, he faced many rebellions, including Bengal, Gujarat and Warangal. Nonetheless he worked to improve the infrastructure of the empire building canals, rest-houses and hospitals, creating and refurbishing reservoirs and digging wells. He founded several cities, including Jaunpur, Firozpur and Hissar-Firoza. In the mid 1350s he developed the city near Delhi, calling it Firozabad. Most of that city was destroyed as subsequent rulers dismantled its buildings and reused the spolia as building materials,[4] and the rest was subsumed as New Delhi grew.


Sultan Feroze Shah Tughluq probably learnt many lessons from his cousin Muhammad's rule. He decided not to reconquer areas that had broken away. He decided to keep nobles and the Ulema happy so that they would allow him to rule his kingdom peacefully. In fact, almost all the rebellions during his rule were inherited from Muhammad bin Tughluq. We come to know about him from a 32-page brochure he wrote. Sultan Feroze Shah Tughluq allowed a noble's son to succeed to his father's position and jagir after his death. The same was done in the army, where an old soldier could send his son, son-in-law or even his slave in his place. He increased the salary of the nobles. He stopped all kinds of harsh punishments such as cutting off hands. Firoz also lowered the land taxes that Muhammad had raised. Sultan Feroze Shah Tughluq's reign has been described as the greatest age of corruption in medieval India. It can be imagined from the fact that Sultan Feroze Shah Tughluq once gave a golden tanka to a distraught soldier so that he could bribe the clerk to pass his sub standard horse. The case of Imadulmulk Bashir, the minister of war who began his career as an inherited slave of Sultan Feroze Shah Tughluq, in course of his service is said to have accumulated wealth to the tune of thirteen crores, when the state's yearly income was six crores and seventy-five lakh tankas.

Infrastructure and education

Two storeys of Qutb Minar, that were added by Sultan Feroze Shah Tughluq, after lightning damaged previous one, in 1368 AD.]]Sultan Feroze Shah Tughluq instituted economic policies to increase material welfare of his people. Many rest houses (sarai), gardens and tombs were built. A number of Madrasas were opened to encourage literacy. He set up hospitals for the free treatment of the poor and encouraged physicians in the development of Unani medicine.[5] He provided money for the marriage of girls belonging to poor families. He commissioned many public buildings in Delhi. He built over 300 villages and dug 5 major canals for irrigation bringing more land under cultivation for growing grain and fruit. For day to day administration, Sultan Feroze Shah Tughluq heavily depended on Malik Maqbul, previously commander of Warangal fort, who was captured and converted to Islam.[6] When Feroz Shah was away on a Campaign to Sind and Gujarat for six months and no news was available about his whereabouts Maqbul ably protected Delhi.[7] He was the most highly favoured among the significant number of the nobles in Sultan Feroze Shah Tughluq's court and retained the trust of the sultan.[8] Sultan Feroze Shah Tughluq used to call Maqbul as 'brother'. The sultan even remarked that Khan-i-Jahan (Malik Maqbul) was the real ruler of Delhi.[9] he written his autobiography by name 'futuhat-e-firozshahi'.

Hindu religious works were translated from Sanskrit to Persian. He had a large personal library of manuscripts in Persian, Arabic and other languages. He brought 2 Ashokan Pillars from Topara in Ambala district, and Meerut, carefully wrapped in silk, to Delhi. He re-erected one of them in his palace at Feroz Shah Kotla.

He had about 70,000 slaves, who had been brought from all over the country, trained in various arts and crafts. They however turned out to be undependable. Transfer of capital was the highlight of his reign. When the Qutb Minar struck by lightning in 1368 AD, knocking off its top storey, he replaced them with the existing two floors, faced with red sandstone and white marble. One of his hunting lodges, Shikargah, also known as Kushak Mahal, is situated within the Teen Murti Bhavan complex, Delhi. The nearby Kushak Road is named after it, as is the Tughlaq Road further on.[10][11]

Establishment of Islamic Law

He won over the Ulemas by giving them grants of revenue, which gave him political power, but also ensured their participation in politics. Under his rule, Hindu Brahmins were not exempted from paying mandatory tax Jizya levied on Hindus on the ground that it was not mentioned in Sharia.

Atrocities on Hindus

Sultan Feroze Shah Tughluq was the third ruler of the Tughlaq dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate. The "Tarikh-i-Firuz Shah" is a historical record written during his reign that attests to the systematic persecution of Hindus under his rule.[12] In particular, it records atrocities committed against Hindu Brahmin priests who refused to convert to Islam:

“An order was accordingly given to the Brahman and was brought before Sultan. The true faith was declared to the Brahman and the right course pointed out. but he refused to accept it. A pile was risen on which the Kafir with his hands and legs tied was thrown into and the wooden tablet on the top. The pile was lit at two places his head and his feet. The fire first reached him in the feet and drew from him a cry and then fire completely enveloped him. Behold Sultan for his strict adherence to law and rectitude.[12]

Under his rule, Hindus who were forced to pay the mandatory Jizya tax were recorded as infidels, their communities monitored and, if they violated Imperial ordinances and built temples, they were destroyed. In particular, an incident in the village of Gohana in Haryana was recorded in the "Insha-i-Mahry" (another historical record written by Amud Din Abdullah bin Mahru) where Hindus had erected a deity and were arrested, brought to the palace and executed en-masse.[12]

In 1230, the Hindu King of Orissa Anangabhima III consolidated his rule and proclaimed that an attack on Orissa constituted an attack on the king's God. A sign of Anangabhima's determination to protect Hindu culture is the fact that he named his new capital in Cuttack “Abhinava Varanasi.” His anxieties about further Muslim advances in Orissa proved to be well founded.


Sultan Feroze Shah Tughluq's death led to a war of succession coupled with nobles rebelling to set up independent states. His lenient attitude had strengthened the nobles, thus weakening the Sultan's position. His successor Ghiyas-ud-Din Tughluq II could not control the slaves or the nobles. The army had become weak. Slowly the empire shrank in size. Ten years after his death, Timur's invasion devastated Delhi.

Preceded by
Muhammad bin Tughluq
Sultan of Delhi
Succeeded by
Ghiyas-ud-Din Tughluq II

See also


Further reading

  • Romila Thapar. 1966. A History of India, Volume I. Penguin Books.

External links

  • The Dargah Qadam Sharif or Shrine of the Holy Foot, Delhi
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