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Society in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries: composition of rural society, ruling classes, town dwellers, women, religious classes, caste and slavery under the Sultanate: Part I

Society in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries: composition of rural society, ruling classes, town dwellers, women, religious classes, caste and slavery under the Sultanate: Part I

Composition of rural society

  • Rural society was heterogeneous in Nature. Many social classes existed:
    • Rural Intermediaries/elite:
      • There are references of Chaudhuris, Khuts, and Muqaddams.
        • Chaudhuris: lrfan Habib suggests that the chaudhuri was in fact a successor, though much reduced in authority, of the head of the chaurasi (group of eighty – four villages) of GujaraPratiharas and Chalukyas.
        • Khuts: Smaller landlords.
        • Muqaddams: Village headmen.
      • The historian Barani mentions their high status and they were the privileged people in the rural areas.
      • They acted as middlemen between peasantry and state.
      • Allauddin khalji under his land revenue policy had abolished the privileges of these groups. Even then they continued to enjoy a standard of life higher than that of the ordinary peasants.
        • It seems that after the death of Alauddin, they were able to resume their own ways.
        • Since the rural intermediaries were necessary for the system of land revenue realization. the stern measures against them were not to last longer.
      • Ghiyasuddin Tughluq introduced moderation. The exemption from grazing as well as tax on their own cultivation was granted again. But they were not allowed to impose any cess upon the peasantry.
      • They received further concessions under Feroz Tughluq and interestingly enough these concessions and a resulting affluence are very approvingly described by Barani.
      • From the time of Feroj Tughluq, all these intermediaries were given a blanket designation – Zamindar – a term coming much in vogue during Mughal period.
    • From the writings of the 12th century Jain writer, Hemachandra, we can divide the village folk into four categories:
      • (i) the produce-sharing peasants or share-croppers for whom the words karshak or ardhikas (receivers of a half share) are used;
      • (ii) plough-shares and field labourers for whom various words such as halavakaka, kinasa and even karshak are used.
        • These two sections constituted the lowest, most dependent peasantry. It seems that the word karshak, literally meaning the tiller of the soil, was a generic word for the lower peasantry which formed the largest group in the villages.
      • (iii) Free peasants, but for whom the word owner-proprietor may be more appropriate.
        • In later times, they were called malik-i-zamin (owners of the land) or khud-kasht (owner cultivators).
        • They were entitled to inherit the land they claimed by descent.
        • They also owned their huts or houses, and had the use of the village commons.
        • They were often organised on a caste basis.
      • (iv) The villages artisans: the cobbler, the rope-maker, the watchman, etc. Some of the village artisans, such as the cobbler and field-labourers belonged to the svapach (untouchable) category. The word low or adhama is generally applied to them.
    • Peasants formed the overwhelming majority of the population. The peasant continued to work hard and to eke out bare subsistence.
    • Rural moneylenders
    • Rural labourers
    • The poverty of the peasants and field-labourers is contrasted with the luxurious life of the landed aristocracy, the samantas.
    • Village society was highly unequal.
      • The growth of a cash nexus which became more rapid under the Sultanat increased the disparities further.
      • While the agrarian policies of the Sultans were meant to ensure a steady income for the ruler and the officials who administered the state, their policies also had an impact on the rural society and economy.
      • This is an aspect which we have to infer because the medieval chroniclers were hardly concerned about it.
  • Thus, Rural society was a stratified society as hierarchy existed between the superior right holders (khots, muqaddams and chaudhuris) and ordinary peasants (raiyat).
  • Caste system was an important institution in rural society.

Composition of ruling classes

The ruling class served as an important pivot to consolidate the conquered territories and shared the resources of the country. The Turks brought with them the institution of the iqtas, which helped in the centralization of authority to a great extent. As greater centralization was sought to be effected, changes could be seen in the institution of the ‘iqta’ as well as in the composition of the ruling class.

The ruling class at the time of the Ghurian Invasion

  • North India was divided into a number of principalities ruled by rais and ranas (local chiefs).
    • At the village level, khots and muqaddams (village hadman) stood on the borderline of the rural aristocracy.
    • In between, the chaudhuri was the head of hundred villages (eighty four villages ac to Irfan Habib).

Ruling classes of Delhi sultanate

  • Nobility:
    • The early Turkish ruling class was very much in the nature of a co-sharer of political and financial powers with the Sultans.
    • In the beginning, the nobles (amirah) were practically independent in distant areas of the conquered territories where they were sent by the Centre as governors. The latter were designated muqti or wali and their territories were known as iqtas. Gradually, the practice began of transfering muqtis from one iqta to another.
    • The pre-Ghoriaran political structure seems to have continued, with tribute being realised from the rais and ranas, who were expected to collect taxes as they had done before.
    • From our contemporary historians, like Minhaj Siraj and Barani, we learn that the most important nobles, and even the Sultans, in the early stages of the foundation of the Sultanate, were from the families of the Turkish slave-officers.
      • Many of the early Turkish nobles and Sultans (such as Aibak and Iltutmish) had started their early career as slaves but they received letters of manumission (khat-i azadi) before becoming Sultans.
    • Iltutmish created his own corps of Turkish slaves-the Shamsi maliks, called by Barani turkan-i chihilgani (“The Forty”). Iltutmish’s nobility also included a number of Tajik or free-born officers. The problem of succession after the death of lltutmish brought into light the division within the nobles.
    • In spite of the internal quarrels within the ruling class, there was a basic solidarity which manifested itself in its hostility to outsiders. For example, Raziya’s (1236-1240) elevation of an Abyssinian, Jamaluddin Yaqut, to the post of amir-i akhur (“master of the royal horses’) caused great resentment.
    • Thus, Race and perhaps religion, too, played important role in the formation of ruling groups.
    • The ruling class was not a monolithic organization. There were numerous factions and cliques, each trying to guard their exclusive positions jealously.
    • The Turkish military leaders who accompanied and participated in the Ghorian invasion formed the core of the early Turkish ruling class: they acquired most of the key-posts at the center and provinces.
    • The Ilbarites:
      • The Sultans needed the support of the nobility to establish and maintain themselves in power. For instance, lltutmish came to the throne with the support of the nobles of Delhi.
      • According to Barani, the older Turkish nobility used to tell each other : “What are thou that I am not, and what will thou be, that I shall not be.”
      • The early Turkish nobility sought to emphasize their exclusiveness and their monopoly to rule. Efforts by other social groups to challenge their monopoly were resented and resisted. e.g.
        • Efforts of Nasiruddin Mahmud (1246-1266 A.D.) to break the vested power of Turkish nobels by dismissing Balban (who was one of the ‘Forty’) from the court and replacing him by Im’aduddin Raihan (an Indian convert), did not meet with much success.
        • Minhaj Voiced the anger of the “turks of pure lineage” who “could not tolerate lmaduddin Raihan of the tribes of Hind to rule over them.” The opposition of the Turkish ruling class forced the Sultan to remove Raihan and reinstate Balban.
      • On his accession to the throne, Balban (1266-1286) took measures to break the power of the turkan-i -chihilgani by various measures.
        • Barani states that Balban had several of the older Turkish nobles killed.
    • The Khaljis:
      • Barani mentions that the Khaljis were a different “race” from the Turks.
      • Modern scholars like C.E. Bosworth speak of them as Turks, but in the thirteenth century no one considered them as Turks, and thus it seems that the accession to power was regarded as something novel because earlier they did not form a significant part of the ruling class.
      • Alauddin Khalji further eroded the power of the older Turkish nobility by bringing in new groups such as the Mongols (the ‘New Muslims’), Indians and Abyssinians (for the latter, the example of Malik Kafur is well-known).
        • broadening of the composition of the ruling class continued during the rule of the Tughluqs.
    • There was a very small group called kotwalian (pl. of kotwal) at Delhi during the reign of Balban and Alauddin Khalji. This was a family group, headed by Fakhruddin who was the kotwal of Delhi. This group appears to have played some political role during and after Balban’s death.
    • The Tughluq:
      • During Muhammad Tughluq:
        • The ruling class, became unprecedentally more heterogenous : Indians, Afghans and the entry of larger numbers of foreign elements, especially Khurasani (Sultan called them aizza i.e : dear ones).
        • Many of Khurasani were appointed as amir sadah (“commander of hundred”).
        • Concerning the non-Muslim as well as the converted Indians, Barani laments that the Sultan raised the “low-born” (jawahir-i lutrah) to high status. musicians, barbers, cooks, etc. got high positions. example:
          • Peera Mali (gardener) who was given the diwan-i wizarat.
          • Converts like Aziz-ud Din khammar (distiller) and Qawamul Mulk Maqbul, Afghans like Malik Makh and Malik Shahu Lodi Afghan, Hindus like Sai Raj Dhara and Bhiran Rai were given iqta and positions.
      • During Feroz Tughluq:
        • His reign does not give us any clear pattern about the social origins of the nobles. The situation was smooth with a false veneer of peace between the Sultan and the amirs.
        • Certain designations were used with reference to the nobles – khan, malik and amir.
          • Khan was often used with reference to Afghan nobles.
          • amir came to mean a commander,
          • malik-a chief, ruler, or king.
        • Along with these titles of honour, the nobles were given some symbols of dignity (maratib):
          • khilat (robe of honour), sword and dagger presented by the Sultan, horses and elephants that they were entitled to use in their processions, canopy of State and the grant of parasol (chhatri) and insignia and kettledrums
    • It is significant to note that every Sultan sought to form and organize a group of nobles which would be personally loyal to him.
      • That’s why we find terms like Qutbi (ref. Qutbuddin Aibak), Shamsi (ref. Shamsuddin Iltutmish). Balbani and Alai amirs etc.
    • But one thing was quite certain: Every group tried to capture the attention of the Sultan-whether weak or strong- because all privileges and power issued forth from the sovereign. Thus it turn it gradually strengthen the position of the Sultan if he was of strong will.
    • The Afghans were frequently recruited into the feudal bureaucracy of the Delhi Sultanate. With the coming of the Lodis, the Afghan predominance got enlarged.
  • Social origin:
    • During the early phase, there was considerable social mobility among the nobles, and people from a wide social background, who had the capacity to attract and maintain a military following (jamiat) or who caught the eye of the Sultan, could, with luck, rise to the position of a Malik. Many of the nobles had, in fact, started their career as slaves, and slowly climbed the social ladder.
    • This open character of the nobility continued to a large extent during the 13th century on account of the rapid rise and fall of dynasties, resulting in large scale displacement of nobles belonging to the previous regimes. Thus, in the 13th century we hardly hear of families whose members continued to hold the position of high grandees for more than one generation.
    • During the 14th century, with the rise of the Khaljis, and then of the Tughlaqs who ruled for almost a hundred years, the social character of the nobility broadened, and it became more stabilized.
      • With the breaking of the Turkish monopoly of high offices, the zone of recruitment to the nobility broadened. Many Khaljis, Afghans and Hindustanis were admitted to the nobility. No attempt was made to exclude the Turks.
      • However, even when a noble lost his power and position, the tradition of former dignity and social honour were handed over to his descendants who believed that their restoration to former power was only a question of time and opportunity.
    • Along with the clergy, these sections constituted what were called ashraf or the respected sections.
      • According to contemporary thinking, the state had a special responsibility towards these sections, not only in matters of employment, but for giving pensions to the widows, even providing funds for the marriage of their unmarried daughters.
    • There was a broad division among the ahl-i-saif or men of the sword, and the ahl-i-qalam or the literati.
      • The latter were chosen for judicial and clerical posts. The ulema also fell in this category.
      • As long as administration was tantamount to a military exercise for realising land-revenue from recalcitrant chiefs, muqaddams and peasants, the literati had to be kept away from administration, although it was urged that the wazir should come from the class of the literati.
      • In general, the nobles looked down on the literati, and considered them unfit for administrative or political matters.
        • Thus, Alauddin Khalji not only rejected the advice of Qazi Mughis to try and arrange a compromise with the Mongols, but ridiculed him for offering advice on military and political matters although he was a nawisanda (clerk).
  • Category of nobles:
    • Generally, the nobles have been divided into three categories,
      • the Khans being the highest category, followed by Maliks and Amirs.
      • However, this categorisation was never very clear.
    • People holding junior posts in and around the court, such as
      • sarjandar (commander of the king’s personal forces),
      • saqi-i-khas (in-charge of water and other drinks etc.), as also those holding the posts of sipahsalar,
      • sar-i-khail (junior commanders of military forces) were called amirs.
      • Later, the word amir began to be used in a loose sense to signify a person of wealth and influence in the government.
    • The most important categories remained the Maliks, and the Khans.
      • All the top posts in the government were held by persons belonging to these categories.
      • In the lists of nobles given by Minhaj Siraj and Barani, only Maliks are mentioned.
      • The category of Khan was the result of Mongol influence among whom the Qa-an (Khan) was the commander of 10,000 troops.
      • In the Delhi Sultanat, the word ‘Khan’ was only used to give a special status. Thus, Balban was given the title of Ulugh Khan.
    • The nobles were also dignified by being given other titles, such as Khwaja Jahan, Imad-ul-Mulk, Nizam-ul-Mulk, etc.
      • They were also awarded various privileges (maratib), such as robes of different kinds, sword and dagger, flags, drums, etc.
      • These were greatly valued because they often signified status, and closeness to the Sultan. Horses and elephants with costly trappings were also awarded to them on special occasions.
  • Number of Nobles:
    • Minhaj Siraj gives a list of 32 Maliks under Iltutmish which included 8 princes who were displaced Central Asian rulers. Perhaps, the term Turkan-i-Chahalgani, or the corps of forty Turks used by Barani is a reflection of the number of top nobles.
    • For Balban’s reign, Barani gives a list of 36 Maliks excluding qazis. The number of top nobles rose to 48 under Alauddin Khalji, out of which 7 were relations, including sons.
    • From this, we may conclude that till the Sultanat suddenly expanded after the death of Alauddin Khalji, the number of top nobles or Maliks in the country was quite small.
  • Factional fighting:
    • Even among this small group of nobles, there was bitter factional fighting. In this struggle, mutual relationships, ethnicity etc. played a role.
    • The Turks considered themselves superior to all others such as Tajiks, Khaljis, Afghans, Hindustanis etc.
    • The Turks ousted the Tajiks after the death of Iltutmish, and established a virtual Turkish monopoly over high offices. This was broken with the rise of the Khaljis.
    • Under the Khaljis and the Tughlaqs, Indian Muslims forged ahead, largely on the basis of personal efficiency.
    • However, foreign blood, or descent from a well-known foreign family continued to have considerable social value and esteem, as the Moorish traveller, Ibn Battutah, testifies.
  • The dispersal of resources among ruling class:
    • The revenue from the land, called iqta, was assigned by the state to the nobles. The muqtis or iqta-holders were required to:
      • furnish military assistance to the Sultan in times of need.
      • maintain law and order.
      • collecting the revenue from their iqta.
    • Through the institution of iqta the Sultan was able to control the nobles:
      • These revenue assignments were generally non-hereditary and transferable.
      • The demand to send the excess amounts (fawazil) of collected revenue to the diwan-i wizarat was symbolic of the trend towards centralization.
      • The muqti also had to submit accounts of their realization and expenditure to the treasury. Auditing was severe to prevent fraud.
    • Alauddin Khalji also took other measures for controlling his nobility:
      • barids (intelligence officers) kept him posted with the actions of the nobles.
      • A check was kept on their socializing, and marriages between them could not take place without the permission of the Sultan.
    • Main reason behind these check and restrictions was recurrent incidents of rebellions in which the muqtis utilized and appropriated the resources of their areas, to rebel or to make a bid for the throne.
    • Measures for more control by Muhammad Tughluq:
      • The nobles were given iqta in lieu of cash salary but their troops were paid in cash by the treasury in contrast to the earlier period.
      • These new fiscal arrangements and the greater control over assignments contributed to the conflict between the Sultan and the nobles since they were deprived of the gains of the iqta management.
    • During Feroz Tughluq :
      • retreat from the practice of increased central authority over iqta.
      • In practice, Feroz started granting iqta to the sons and heirs of iqtaholders.
      • witnessed comparatively few rebellions but it also saw the beginning of the disintegration and decentralisation.
    • By the time of the Lodis (1451- 1526 A.D.), the iqtadars (now called wajhdars) do not seem to have been subject to constant transfers.
  • Social stratification was also visible in Muslim society:
    • It was broadly divided in two sections, ashraf (the respected sections) and ajlaf (the lower, inferior classes).
      • ashraf was constituted by nobility and clergy. According to contemporary thinking, the state had a special responsibility towards these sections, not only in matters of employment, but for giving pensions to the widows, even providing funds for the marriage of their unmarried daughters.
      • Ajlaf was constituted by of citizens, and professionals such as weavers, peasants, and labourers.
    • Not only marriage between the two sections, the ashraf and the ajlaf, was unthinkable, even social intercourses between the two was at a discount. While such social gradations had existed among the Muslims in West and Central Asia, they became even more rigid and pronounced after their coming to India which had a tradition of stratification on the basis of heredity, i.e. caste.
    • Arising from this deep social division was the belief that only persons belonging to the ‘respectable’ classes (ashraf) had the right to occupy high offices in the state.
      • Hence, there was widespread resentment among the upper classes when Muhammad Tughlaq appointed to high offices, apparently on the basis of their efficiency, Hindus and Muslims belonging to the ‘inferior’ classes (ajlaf) or castes, such as barbers, cooks, gardeners, shop keepers (bazaris) etc.
      • Firuz Tughlaq earned high praise and approval when he chose as nobles only those whose ancestors had been in the service of the king or belonged to the ‘respected’ classes.
      • That the prejudice was not against ‘Hindustanis’ as such but against the so-called inferior classes, whether Hindustani Muslim, is borne out by the fact that Firuz’s wazir, Khan-i-Jahan, who was a converted brahman, was acceptable to all sections of the Muslims.
  • Salary to nobles:
    • Barani says that during the time of Balban when, apparently, the nobles did not have much ready cash in their hands, whenever they wanted to hold a majlis or a convivial party, their agents would rush to the houses of the Sahs and Multanis to borrow money, so that all the money from their iqta went to them as repayment, and gold and silver was to be found in the houses of the merchants alone.
      • This situation seems to have changed with the coming of Alauddin Khalji and the growth of a new centralised system of land revenue administration which began with him, and continued under the Tughlaqs.
      • In the new system of revenue administration, there was an emphasis on payment of land-revenue in cash. This applied not only to khalisa territories income from which went to the central treasury, but even in areas assigned as iqta.
      • Thus, when Ibn Battutah was appointed a judge and given a salary of 5,000 dinars, it was paid for by assigning him 21/2 villages, the annual income of which came to that sum. We now also hear of nobles being assigned large salaries.
    • Salaries were even higher under Firuz Tughlaq.
      • This implied unprecedented centralization of the rural surplus in the hands of the central elite.
      • The high emoluments not only implied great affluence for the nobles, but possibility of hoarding of wealth. When Malik Shahin, who was naib amir-i-majlis of Sultan Firuz, died, he left behind 50 lakh tankas besides jewels, ornaments and costly robes. Imad-ul-Mulk Bashir-i-Sultani, who had been the Sultan’s slave, left behind 13 crores tankas of which the Sultan confiscated 9 crores.
      • However, these appear to be exceptions rather than the rule. Apart from being an insurance against uncertainty, the growth of such hoards was also an index of a slow growth of a money economy in the country.
  • Attitude towards trade:
    • The growth of a money economy seems to have led to a change in the attitude towards trade and traders. Ibn Battutah alludes to the ships owned by the sultan of Delhi. On one occasion, the sultan, Muhammad bin Tughlaq, placed three ships at the disposal of Shihabuddin Kazruni, a friend and associate, who had a flourishing overseas trade, and was called a “king of merchants.”
    • Almost for the first time, traders began to be involved in the tasks of administration. Thus, Muhammad Tughlaq gave Shihabuddin the city of Khambayat in charge. Sultan had even promised him the post of the Wazir, but he was murdered at the instance of the Wazir, Khan-i-Jahan, while on his way to Delhi.
    • Abul Hasan Ibadi of Iraq, who lived in Delhi, used to trade with the money of Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq, and to buy weapons and goods for him in Iraq and Khurasan.
    • On balance, it appears that the major investments of the nobles were not in trade but in orchards, the numbers of which grew sharply under Firuz with the growing prosperity of the nobles. However, further development in the direction of productive investments by the nobles had to await the re-centralization of the empire under Akbar.
  • Literacy of nobles:
    • Nobles were not illiterate: even slaves purchased by merchants in the slave market of Samarqand and Bokhara were educated before being resold. Although many of the slaves were newly converted, they had imbibed the Islamic religious and cultural norms prevalent in Central Asia, Khurasan etc. Nonetheless, they could hardly have imbibed the cultural graces of an old and well-established nobility. Nor could they be expected to be knowledgeable patrons of culture, though it was considered a mark of prestige to patronize poets and writers, sometimes even to give them extravagant rewards. This began to change with the rise of Amir Khusrau and his companion, Amir Hasan Sijzi, towards the end of the 13th century. Gradually, a new Indo-Muslim culture developed, and many nobles and sufis actively contributed to it. Thus, Zia Nakkshabi (d. 1350) wrote on many subjects including poetry, and had a number of Sanskrit works translated into Persian.
    • Thus, from being merely rude warriors, the nobles began slowly to emerge as patrons of culture as well.
  • The Chiefs—Emergence of “Zamindars
    • Although the Rajputs had lost state power almost all over north India, with the exception of Rajasthan and adjacent areas, and in the remoter hill regions of the Himalayas, Bunde lkhand, etc., Rajput rajas continued to dominate large tracts of the countryside even in the centrally administered areas of Punjab, the doab, Bihar Gujarat, etc. They were called rai, rana, rawat, etc.
    • However, the term ‘chief’ has been applied to them. They had their own armed forces, and generally lived in the countryside in their fortresses. They were important in the political, social and economic life of the countryside.
    • Although the contemporary sources invariably portray them as enemies against whom constant jihad was not only legitimate but necessary, a relationship of permanent hostility was not feasible for the Turkish rulers, or for them.
      • For the Turkish rulers, it was convenient to allow them to rule the areas under their control as long as they paid a stipulated sum of money regularly as tribute, and generally behaved in a loyal manner.
    • We have evidence of a growing political relationship between the Turkish rulers and the Hindu chiefs. e.g
      • when Firuz Tughlaq invaded Bengal, he was joined by the rais of eastern U.P., the most important of them being Udai Singh, the Rai of Gorakhpur and Champaran.
      • In another instance, when Malik Chhajju, a nephew of Balban and governor of Kara rebelled against Jalaluddin Khalji, he was joined by the local rais, and rawats and payaks of the area . Malik Chajju was defeated, but from this time onwards, Hindu chiefs seem to have been in attendance of the Sultan at his court.
    • Despite these growing political linkages during the Sultanat rule, the position of the chiefs was one of considerable uncertainty.
      • It was a part of the policy of the sultans of Delhi to overthrow the Hindu chiefs whenever they could, or at any rate, to try and reduce their powers and privileges by extending the imperial system of revenue administration to the territories dominated by the chiefs.
    • By the beginning of the 14th century, we find increasing references to the zamindars. This term, which does not exist outside India, was used increasingly to designate the hereditary intermediaries.
      • Amir Khusrau was amongst the first to use it.
      • In course of time, the term began to be applied to the khuts and muqaddams and chaudhris.
    • Under the Mughals, and word “zamindar” began to be used for all hereditary owners of land or those who had a hereditary share in the land revenue.
      • Even chiefs were included in this category. Generally affluence of the privileged rural sections can be contrasted to the poverty of the rest.
  • Adjuncts to the Ruling Class: Judicial, Junior Administrative Officers, and the Ulema
    • The ruling classes, especially the nobility, could hardly have functioned without the help of a group of lower functionaries, in addition to the large number of servants, slaves and other retainers they employed.
    • These functionaries can be broadly divided into two:
      • judicial and religious functionaries
      • revenue and administrative functionaries
    • Judicial and religious functionaries:
      • It consisted of qazis and muftis who were appointed in every city where there was a sizable population of Muslims.
        • They dispensed civil justice where Muslims were concerned, leaving the Hindus to deal their own cases on the basis of customary law, and the Dharmashastras.
        • They also dealt with criminal justice. At their head was the Chief Qazi.
      • In the capital and perhaps in other cities there was a Dad Bak who was responsible for checking arbitrary exaction of taxes, and supervising and controlling the amirs who were responsible for surveying and keeping a record of properties of Muslims for purposes of taxation.
      • There was the muhtasib who worked under the kotwal and was responsible for seeing that the Muslims did not openly violated the sharia, or disregard compulsory obligations such as observation of roza, namaz etc. He was also responsible for checking weights and measures.
      • All these posts were paid, and their numbers grew as the size of the Muslim population in the country increased.
      • There were also Imams, muazzins etc. who were appointed in various mosques, and reciters of the Holy Quran who were appointed to mausoleums, or were called to various religious functions. In addition, there were religious divines who were appointed as teachers in various schools (maqtab), colleges (madrasa) etc. All these sections broadly constituted the theological class or ulema.
      • Ulema:
        • The theological class that had an important position in the Sultanate. They were highly respected. As a general rule, they had undergone a course of training in Muslim Law, logic and theology, including some knowledge of Arabic.
        • important legal and judicial appointment were made from them. e.g : the sadr-us sudur, shaikh-ul Islam, qazi, mujti, muhtasib, imam and khatib.
        • The ulema can be seen as an adjunct of the ruling class, maintained by revenue grants from the Sultan, and often by members of the ruling class.
        • The ideological significance of the ulema was great as they provided legitimacy to the ruling class.
        • They exercised an influence which was not only religious but sometimes political,too.
        • But, In general, the nobles considered them unfit for administrative or political matters.
          • Thus, Alauddin Khalji not only rejected the advice of Qazi Mughis to try and arrange a compromise with the Mongols, but ridiculed him for offering advice on military and political matters.
          • Amir Khusrau considered the qazis who accepted judicial offices to be corrupt and ignorant, and unfit to occupy any responsible positions in the kingdom.
        • In general, the Sultans did not allow them to have any say in political affairs, confining them to deciding judicial cases, religious matters and education.
          • Nonetheless, the ulema did play a positive role in acting as a bridge between the ruling classes and the ordinary Muslims, and imbuing the Muslims with a sense of unity.
        • Simultaneously, it must be noted that many of the ulemas were foreigners who had taken refuge in India on account of the Mongols, or were attracted to India by its prosperity.
          • They had little understanding of India, and they and a section of theologians in India accentuated social tensions and bitterness between the ordinary Hindus and Muslims by constantly harping on elements of religious conflict, ignoring the sense of social amity that generally prevailed among the people.
    • Revenue and administrative functionaries:
      • A large number of clerks and officials were needed to man the growing machinery of administration at the centre, and in the various provincial and district towns following the new system of revenue administration introduced by Alauddin Khalji.
      • The power of these officials, possibilities of corruption and oppression on their part, and the harsh corrective steps taken by Alauddin against them have been described by Barani.
        • A large number of them may have been converted into Indian Muslims, or members of the ulema class.
      • If we exclude the muqaddams and the patwaris (village acountant) who were Hindus, and who lived in the villages, most of these lower officials must have been Muslims.
        • However, Hindus seem to have entered into this class under Muhammad bin Tughlaq. This would explain the selection by him of a small number among them to high positions. Thus, we have the emergence of a class of Persian knowing Hindus by this time.
      • Very often, poets, scholars, historians, doctors and lower functionaries in the government—the amils (revenue collectors), muharrirs (accountants) etc. came from the same social class.
        • We can also call this class the literati, or the educated, literate class.
        • As we know, in a country which was predominantly illiterate, people who were educated and could also speak in the name of religion, had enormous prestige.
    • Note:

Sultanate was divided into Iqtas (administered by muqtis ). The Iqtas were divided into Shiqs (administered by shiqdar) and the next division was Parganas. The Parganas comprised of number of villages and was headed by amils.

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