Analyze the steps taken by Razia Sultan to strengthen her position as an independent ruler despite various obstacles.

Analyze the steps taken by Razia Sultan to strengthen her position as an independent ruler despite various obstacles. ©


Initial difficulties of Raziya

Soon after her accession Raziya found herself confronted with numerous obstacles.

  • The wazir and the provincial governors were keen to replace Ruknuddin by a person of their choice whom they could control and influence.
  • The orthodox Muslims resented the enthronement of a woman as a sultan.
  • Added to these problems was that a number of sons of Iltutmish were still alive. They had their own supporters and partisans among the nobles and people of Delhi.
  • The Rajputs, taking advantage of the prevailing confusion and uncertainty had started their offensive against the sultanate.

Raziya strengthens her position

(1) Justification of claim to the throne

  • Razia justified her claim to the throne despite being a woman by recalling that in his life time, her father Iltutmish had nominated her as his successor in preference to his sons.
  • She started horse riding, hunting and commanding the army etc. She gave up her ‘ Purdah’ and started appearing in the court in male attire wearing a ‘Kuva’ (Coat) and a ‘Kulah’ (Cap).

(2) Use of Diplomacy

  • The hostile provincial governors of Badaun, Hansi, Lahore and Multan ably supported by wazir Junaidi, who felt isolated and ignored, mustered their troops near Delhi. Realizing the difficulty of organizing a matching army, Raziya avoided a military encounter with the rebels and instead resorted to diplomacy.
  • She entered into a secret alliance with Salari and Kabir Khan. Thereafter she spread rumours that a number of rebels had joined her.
  • This caused suspicion and distrust among the rebel chiefs who withdrew from the capital quietly. Raziya’s stratagem succeeded and her prestige was enhanced. The provincial governors submitted to her authority.

(3) Distribution of important offices to the supporters

  • Raziya adopted a number of measures to increase the power and prestige of the monarchy. She distributed important offices of the state amongst her supporters. The naib wazir, Muhazzab-ud-din was put in charge of the wazarat.
  • Her partisan Kabir Khan was appointed to the governorship of Lahore. Tughril Khan, the governor of Lakhnauti (Bengal) was rewarded with vice-royalty for not joining the rebels.

(4) Breaking the monopoly of the Turkish nobles

  • In an effort to break the monopoly of the Turkish nobles to high offices, Raziya adopted the policy of appointing non-Turkish nobles to higher posts. A number of Indian Muslims were appointed as qazis. An Abyssinian, Jamal-ud-din Yaqut was elevated to the position of amir-a-khur (master of the horses).
  • As a result of these measures, according to Minhaj-us-Siraj, “From Debal to Lakhnauti, all the maliks and amirs manifested their obedience and submitted.”

(5) Raziya also organized a campaign against the Rajputs. Ranthambhor was besieged and captured. Like her father Iltutmish, Raziya was determined to assert the authority and establish an independent and absolute monarchy. She suppressed the Turkish nobles, who challenged her authority.

(6) Raziya governed the sultanate in a befitting manner. Bold and courageous, she gave up purdha (veil), held open court, listened to the grievances of her subjects and exercised general control over the administrative departments. In battles, Raziya rode at the head of her armies. Thus, she proved her ability, love of justice and capacity for hard work.

But Razia’s firmness, and desire to exercise power directly became the major cause of the dissatisfaction of the Turkish nobles with her. Her appointment of an Abyssinian, Malik Yakut, as Superintendent of the Stables was resented by the Turkish nobles who wanted to monopolize all the important offices in the state. This finally led to the rebellion and she was made captive by Tabarhind governor Altunia. In spite of her marrying with Altunia to win his support, she could not win over rebels and finally lost her life. ©

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