Razia Sultan was the first Muslim female ruler of the Delhi Sultanate. She reigned from 1236 to 1240. She was the first woman who got the title of Sultan. This is because no other woman had ruled before Razia.
She was the first one. It was historically important for her when she got the throne because the previous generations of her family, that is, her ancestors were not nobility. They were actually slaves.
Razia Sultan a very bold and young woman. She was trained in administration and military warfare. It was not easy for her to get the throne as her brother had taken over the throne after the father’s death.
But after she got the throne, she chose masculine attire and became a noble and efficient ruler. She was greatly devoted to her empire. All her subjects had great respect for her.
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Life of Razia Sultan
Razia was born in the year 1905 in a place called Budaun, India. When she was born her name was Raziya al-Din. Her father’s name was Shams-ud-din Iltutmish while her mother was the daughter of Qutb-ud-din.
Razia had three brothers and was Iltutmish’s only daughter. Qutb-ud-din gave his daughter to Iltutmish because he was a hardworking man and valour.
After Qutb-ud-din died, his son Aram Baksh took over the throne in the year 1210. But he could not be on the throne for a long time as he was not competent enough to handle all the responsibilities.
So, after Aram, Iltutmish ascended on the throne by the Turkish nobles’ help. Iltutmish was a person who had free thinking and was also an efficient ruler. He never distinguished among his children and gave them administration and martial arts training to all his children.
Razia did not follow the customary behaviours that were expected to be done as a woman of the Muslim society during that time. This is because she rarely interacted with the women of the harem at that time. Even her father Iltutmish was in power, she actively took part in helping him related to the state affairs.
Being a Sultan, against the custom, she showed her face in the public and rode like that on the elephant while fighting in the battles when she was the chief of the army. By then Iltutmish realized that her daughter Razia was more efficient than his sons.
This was because the sons were more interested in the royal pleasures and privileges than on the other things. On the other hand, Razia was more skilled and sincere among all the children. This is why he decided to make Razia his successor. Thus, she became the first woman successor of a Sultan.
When Razia became the Sultan, Jamaluddin Yaqut became her favourite. He was an Abyssinian slave. It was a rumor at that time that she fell in love with Yaqut. But he died when Razia was fighting in a battle against Altunia. Even though Altunia captured her, she was treated royally and finally both of them got married.
Accession and Reign of Razia Sultan
Razia’s father Iltutmish died in the year 1236 on April 30th. Before he died he had made Razia his successor, the Muslim nobility did not support because she was a woman and hence could not become the Sultan. This is why instead of her, her brother Rukn ud din Firuz took over the throne.
But he turned out to be an incompetent ruler. But after six months he was assassinated along with his wife. Finally, Razia got the power and the throne on 10th November, 1236. When she got the throne, she took her name as Jalalat ud-Din Raziya.
After getting the throne she stopped covering her face with veil and wore men’s attire. This was against the conservative Muslim society and this act of hers gave a shock to everyone in the society.
She was regarded and addressed as Sultana which meant a Sultan ruler’s wife or mistress. But she decided to be called as Sultan as she was supreme and was not the second of anyone. As soon as she got the throne, her authority on the empire began to start.
She ordered to mint coins in her name where it would be written- “Pillar of women, Queen of the times, Sultana Razia, daughter of Shamsuddin Iltutmish”. She was not only a good ruler but compassionate as well.
She had genuine care for her subjects. She was very brave, a good administrator and skilled. She led the army during the battles and brought many new territories under their empire. This helped to strengthen the empire.
Razia was the Sultan who was religiously tolerant. She made schools, public libraries, academies. The libraries would have the Qur’ran and various works of ancient philosophers. Apart from this science and literature was also taught in the institute. But her relations with the Turkish nobles were not good.
They were jealous of her because a woman became the sultan. They decided to revolt and conspire against her. Their leader was Malik Ikhtiar-ud-din Aitigin who was earlier the governor of Badaun. But first Razia’s childhood friend Malik Ikhtiar-ud-din Altunia revolted against her.
Even though she fought against him with all her efforts and army, she was defeated. Altunia then captured her and made her a prisoner but still treated her royally. After Razia became a prisoner, her throne was taken over by her brother Muizuddin Bahram Shah.
Administration under Razia Sultan
Everyone was impressed and happy by Razia’s hard work, ability, merit recognition and love of justice. She did not support purdah system anymore. She held open court, was ever ready to listen to the problems of her subjects.
She herself supervised how each department in the empire worked. She also took many steps to boost the sovereign’s status.
She gave Wazarat to Muhazaabuddin who was the Naib Wazir. Salari’s and Kabir Khan’s Jagirs were greater than before. She wanted to make the Turks dependent on her and break their monopolistic power. She did this by giving the higher posts in the empire to the non-Turkish Muslims.
Works and Achievements of Razia Sultan
Razia Sultana was the only woman who ruled the Delhi Sultanate. She became the subject of many famous legends. Razia: Queen of India was a historical fiction which was written on Razia’s life by Rafiq Zakaria. Amar Chita Katha is an Indian comic book series which is a reputed one. Razia has her own title in this comic book.
She was the first one and last one as well. She was skilled and also a very brave woman. She abandoned the Muslim traditions of covering the face by veil and even the purdah system. She was the one who led the army during the battles on her horse.
She is known to be a ruler who was devoted, loving, helpful and compassionate. She was generous to all her subjects. She was always ready to listen to their grievances.
She won the hearts of many people. All her subjects were happy with her. She won their confidence. This is why the public, that is, the common people supported her all the time.
At one of time, troops were camped near Delhi. These troops belonged to the governors of Badaun, Lahore, Hansi and Multan. But at that point of time Razia did not have enough forces to fight against them. This is why she took her army out of the fort.
She won against not by engaging in a war but by diplomacy. The rebel chiefs were jealous with each other. She took advantage of that and she gained victory against Kabir Khan and Izzuddin Salari. She then brought them to her side. She began to publicize that many rebel chiefs had come and joined with her.
She later made a promise that she would bring all others in chain before her. Due to this act of Razia, the rebels began to distrust each other. After this most of the rebels ran away for their own safety. Suddenly Razia’s status increased which wondered many governor provincials and they themselves submitted the authority of Razia.
Death of Razia Sultan
When Bahram took over the throne, he did not enjoy his power. In the mean time Altunia was pleased by Razia because of her intelligence and charm. Soon both of them got married.
After their marriage he wanted to seize Delhi. But both husband and wife were defeated while trying to seize Delhi. They tried to save their lives but were killed in the year 1240 on October 13th.