Solution: Daily Problem Practice for 2022 History Optional [Medieval India: Day 9]

Solution: Daily Problem Practice for 2022 History Optional [Medieval India: Day 9]

Q. Critically examine the view that Firoz Shah Tughlaq was an ideal Muslim ruler in Medieval India. [15 Marks]


Firoz Shah Tughlaq was a ruler of the Tughlaq Dynasty, who reigned over the Sultanate of Delhi from 1351 to 1388. He tried to revive the tradition of a state based on benevolence and welfare of the people which had been sought to be established by Jalaluddin Khalji.

Firoz Shah Tughlaq as an ideal Muslim ruler
  • He linked state and religion and proclaimed to rule on the basis of Islam. He decided to forbid all practices which were against the shariat.
  • In order to bring the agricultural taxation system in line with the shariat, he abolished all the taxes not sanctioned by the shariat. Twenty-one such taxes were abolished. These included the ghari (house tax), many cesses on produce payable at the market etc. He also warned the revenue officials not to realise any such taxes.
  • As part of his policy of levying only taxes sanctioned by shariat, he insisted upon payment of jizyah by the non-Muslims. Firuz was the first ruler who collected jizyah as a separate tax apart from land-revenue. He also insisted on collecting jizyah from the brahmans who had been exempted from this tax till then.
  • He also ordered all paintings with human figures erased from his palace, and forbade the use of gold and silver vessels for dinner. He also banned clothes of pure silk or pure brocade, or where human figures had been painted.
  • He publicly burnt a brahman on the charge of openly conducting idol-worship at his house and allegation of converting a muslim woman.
  • He had razed the newly constructed Hindu temples. For ex – He destroyed new temples built in the villages of Salehpur and qasba Gohana.
  • In his eagerness to serve the shariat, Firuz inflicted death penalty on the leaders of the Ismaili group of Shias. He also inflicted a similar punishment on a number of Muslims who in a sufistic manner, had gone against the orthodox beliefs.
  • He even banned Muslim women going to the tomb of saints outside Delhi, as it would expose them to licencious people.
  • Another step taken by Firuz Tughlaq was to restore the rent-free lands (inam, idrar) granted to theologians, the learned and the weaker sections.
  • He also took keen interest in repairing and rehabilitating the mosques and the madrasas attached to them.
  • Many sufi khanqahs were repaired and rehabilitated and villages assigned for their upkeep.
  • Grants were also made to the old men and women, widows, orphans and the physically handicapped.
  • An attempt was made to set up a kind of an unemployment bureau for the unemployed, and to provide state help for the marriage of girls of respectable families. These measures were largely meant to benefit Muslims.
In the light of these arguments, it appears that Firuz Shah Tughlaq was an ideal Muslim ruler.
But he also undertook a number of measures which were not according to Shariat like –
  • Firuz did not prohibit wine drinking. In fact, Afif lists wine department as one of the department (Karkhanas) of the state.
  • He was fond of music and songs to which he listened during the festivals and after Friday prayers. He celebrated Shab e Barat with great pomp. These practices were later banned by Aurengzeb as being un-Islamic.
  • He prohibited torture and mutilation of human beings though Shariat sanctions cutting off hands and feets of robbers, etc. Firuz Tughlaq set up a hospital (dar-us-shafa) at Delhi for free treatment for all. The extension of state patronage to hospitals must be considered a positive factor.
In addition, his idealism has to be considered in larger perspectives like Legacy of Muhammad Bin Tughlaq; overall circumstances under which Firuz ascended the throne; and Weakness of his own personality, like –
  • Firuz followed the policy of conciliation i.e. trying to win over all sections of society – nobles, clergymen, soldiers, peasants etc which were alienated by Muhammad bin Tughlaq for one reason or other. In order to do this, he adopted a policy of appeasement towards clergymen, nobles etc.
  • In addition, weakness of his own personality like he was no military genius, he interpreted religion in a narrow sense and indulged in acts of bigotry and oppression against both Hindus and Muslims.


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