Chapter 4 - Muslim Rule in India
Muslim Rule in India
�The Great Mogol is a foreigner in Hindoustan. To maintain himself in such a country� he is under the necessity of keeping up numerous armies, even in the time of peace.�
The State that these Muslim invaders and rulers set up in India was a theocracy. This is the conclusion arrived at by Jadunath Sarkar, R.P. Tripathi, K.M.Ashraf, T.P. Hughes, the Encyclopaedia of Islam and many others. �All the institutions that the Muslims either evolved or adopted were intended to subserve the law,� observes Tripathi. On the other hand, I.H. Qureshi says that the �supremacy of the Shara (Islamic law) has misled some into thinking that the Sultanate was a theocracy.� Qureshi�s contention may not be taken seriously, because he tries to eulogize every aspect of Muslim rule in India. But even Mohammad Habib declares that �it (Muslim state in India) was not a theocratic state in any sense of the word� and that �its foundation was, non-religious and secular.�
Before analysing these two poles-apart views, let us first be clear about what theocracy means. According to the Oxford Dictionary the word theocracy is derived from the Creek theos, meaning God; and a state is theocratic when governed by God �directly or through a sacerdotal class�. Theocracy envisages �direct intervention and authorship of God through revelation in government of society.� The Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary defines theocracy as �that constitution of a state in which the Almighty is regarded as the sole soverign, and the laws of the realm as divine commands rather than human ordinances, the priesthood necessarily becoming the officers of the invisible ruler.�
The above premise makes three elements essential in a theocracy: (1) prevalence of the law of God, (2) authority of the soverign or ruler who promulgates this law, and (3) presence of a sacerdotal class or priesthood through which this law is disseminated. Let us examine to what extent these elements were present in the Muslim state in medieval India. We need not discuss the first two elements for, according to Dr. Qureshi himself, the Shara �is based on the Quran which is believed by every Muslim to be the word of God revealed to His prophet Muhammad� on these two rocks - the Quran and Hadis (the prophet�s interpretations, traditions) is built the structure of Muslim Law� This Law was the actual sovereign in Muslim lands.�
So far as the third element is concerned, it is true that there was no �ordained� or �hereditary� Muslim priesthood in medieval India. But there was a scholastic class called the Ulama, who wielded great influence with the Sultan. About their education and orthodoxy, Dr. Yusuf Husain has this to say: �The institutions of higher learning� called Madrasa, had developed into centres of learning with a distinct religious bias. They were essentially schools of theology� These Madrasas were the strongholds of orthodoxy and were subsidized by the state.� From amongst the products of these schools of theology were appointed jurists, advisers of Sultans and kings, and interpreters of the Shara (Islamic law). �The protection of Shariat,� writes Ibn Hasan, �has two aspects: The propagation of the knowledge of Shara and its enforcement as law within the state. The one implies the maintenance of a class of scholars devoted to the study, the teaching and the propagation of that knowledge, and the other the appointment of one from those scholars� as an adviser to the king in all his acts of state. The scholars devoted to that knowledge are called Ulama and the one selected from among them is termed Shaikh-ul-Islam.� The Shaikh-ul-Islam was the representative of the Ulama and it was his duty to bring �to the notice of the King what he thought detrimental or prejudicial to the interest of his religion, and the king had little option in acting upon such an advice.� Henry Blochmann elaborates the position still further. �Islam has no state clergy,� says he, �but we find a counterpart to our hierarchical bodies in the Ulemas about the court from whom the Sadrs of the provinces, the Mir Adls, Muftis and Qazis were appointed. At Delhi and Agra, the body of the learned had always consisted of staunch Sunnis, who believed it their duty to keep the kings straight. How great their influence was, may be seen from the fact that of all Muhammadan emperors only Akbar, and perhaps Alauddin Khalji, succeeded in putting down this haughty sect.� No amount of arguments can obliterate the fact of the great influence of the priestly class (Ulama and Mashaikh) in the Muslim state.
Thus the law which obtained in medieval India was the Shara which was based on divine revelation. It was not a secular law. Muslim state could not be a secular state. In fact Islam and secularism are mutually exclusive. One has only to read the Quran and a few Persian chronicles of medieval times to realise the extent to which the Muslim state in India was theocratic both in spirit and in action.
The fundamental basis of the Islamic polity is the attainment of complete religious uniformity, to root out heresy and to extirpate infidelity - populations everywhere were to be converted into true believers. The Quranic injuction is: �And when the sacred months (Ramzan) are passed, kill those who join other deities with God, wherever you shall find them. But if they shall convert� then let them go their way.� The prophet of Islam who had accorded some sort of religious toleration to the Jews of Medina, expelled them afterward to bring about a complete religious uniformity in that city, while Caliph Omar I (C.E. 634-644) expelled the Jews and Christians from the whole of Arabia.
In India the decision of Muhammad bin Qasim to accord to the Hindus the status of Zimmis (protected people against payment of jiziyah) paved the way for subsequent Muslim rulers to follow the same precedent; else Hindus as idolaters could not be given this concession reserved for Ahl-i-Kitab (or the People of the Book) Christians and Jews - and could only be given a choice between conversion and death. In all their discussions the Ulama and Sufis never conceded the status of Zimmis to the Hindus. In this regard the declaration of the �secular� Alim and Sufi, Amir Khusrau, may be taken as final: �Happy Hindustan, the splendour of Religion, where the Law finds perfect honour and security. The whole country, by means of the sword of our holy warriors, has become like a forest denuded of its thorns by fire� Islam is triumphant, idolatry is subdued. Had not the Law granted exemption from death by the payment of poll-tax, the very name of Hind, root and branch, would have been extinguished.� If the sultans treated Hindus as Zimmis, it was because of the compulsions of the Indian situation.
Even so, the Hindus, as Zimmis, became second class citizens in their own homeland and were suffered to live under certain disabilities. One of them was that each adult must pay a poll-tax called jiziyah. �Moreover, the main object in levying the tax is the subjection of infidels to humiliation �and �during the process of payment, the Zimmi is seized by the collar and vigorously shaken and pulled about in order to show him his degradation.� The Zimmis also had to suffer in respect of their mode of worship, payment of taxes, and on account of certain sumptuary laws. Death awaited them at every corner, because, being idolaters they could be given a choice only between Islam and death. �The State rested upon the support of the military class which consisted largely of the followers of the faith. They were treated as the favoured children of the state while various kinds of disabilities were imposed upon the non-Muslim� It is interesting to note that even (illiterate and unscrupulous) foreign adventurers were preferred just because they were Muslims to hold offices of importance and dignity which were denied to the Hindus.�
There are countless examples of prejudicial treatment meted out to non-Muslims under the theocratic government. Only a few may be mentioned here as an illustration. Amir Khusrau writes that under Jalauddin Khalji (1290-96), after a battle, �whatever live Hindu fell into the hands of the victorious king was pounded to bits under the feet of the elephants. The Musalman captives had their lives spared�. Similarly, Malik Kafur, the famous general of Alauddin Khalji (1296-1316), while on his expeditions in South India, spared the lives of Muslims fighting on the side of the Hindu Rai as they deserted to his army. Rizqullah Mushtaqi is all praise for Sultan Sikandar Lodi (1489-1517) because under him the Muslims dominated and the Hindus were suppressed (musalman china dast va hinduan ram). It was not only so in the medieval period. Such discrimination is observed in theocratic states even today.
�When, in 1910, Boutros Pasha was murdered by an Egyptian Muhammadan for no personal provocation but for the political reason that he had presided over the court that sentenced the Denshawai villagers, and the guilt of the murderer was conclusively proved by evidence, the Chief Qazi of Egypt pronounced the judgement that according to Islam it is no crime for a Muslim to slay an unbeliever. This is the opinion held by the highest exponent of Islamic law in a modern civilized country.�
And here is a case of the year 1990. �Sunil Vadhera was employed with M/s. Archirodo Construction (Overseas) Co., Riyadh. He died in an accident caused by a Creek national of M/s. Saboo. The defender deposited 1,00,000 Saudi riyals or Rs. 4.65 lakh with the Saudi government as compensation for death. But the Shariat Saudi court has ruled that as the �deceased was a Hindu, as per Shariat law he was entitled to Saudi riyals 6,666.66 only or Rs.30,000�. This is just about one-fifteenth of the compensation that the parents would have got if their son was a Muslim.�
The disabilities the Hindus suffered under this Islamic or Shariat law are clearly mentioned in the Quran, the Hadis and the Hidaya. It would be the best to go through these works as suggested in Chapter 2. However, these are also summarised in the Encyclopaedia of Islam, T.P. Hughes�s Dictionary of Islam, N.P. Aghnides�s Muhammadan Theories of Finance, Blochmann�s translation of the Ain-i-Akbari, Ziyauddin Barani�s Tarikh-i-Firoz Shahi and a host of other Persian chronicles, and there is no need to repeat here �zimmi�, �kharajguzar�, �jiziyah� syndrome. The fact to be noted is that Shariat law continued to prevail throughout the medieval period.
The Shariat law was so brazenly prejudicial to the interests of the vast majority of the non-Muslims (and hence the wishful thinking that it did not prevail and that the medieval state was �secular�), that even the medieval thinkers and rulers found it impracticable to enforce it in full. When the nobles and Ulama of the Sultanate pressed Shamsuddin Iltutmish to enforce the Shara, and give the Hindus a choice between Islam and death, the latter asked for time. Equally helpless (or shrewd) were Balban and Jalaluddin Khalji. It was probably the experience of such rulers that prompted Ziyauddin Barani to advocate that if the enforcement of the Shariat was impossible or impracticable, new laws should be enacted by rulers. �It is the duty of a king,� says he, �to enforce, if he can, those royal laws which have become proverbial owing to their principles of justice and mercy. But if owing to change of time and circumstances he is unable to enforce the laws of the ancients (i.e. ancient Muslim rulers), he should, with the counsel of wise men� frame laws suited to his time and circumstances and proceed to enforce them. Much reflection is necessary in order that laws, suited to his reign, are properly framed.� So that they in no way contravene the tenets of Islam. These laws Barani calls Zawabits.
Barani wrote in the fourteenth century. Perhaps he had in mind the rules of Alauddin Khalji about Market Control or his revenue regulations. Else, right up to the first half of the sixteenth century no king made any laws of the kind. No chronicler has made mention of any such laws. It was late in the sixteenth century that Akbar promulgated a number of regulations for �the real benefit of people.� There were some tolerant monarchs in medieval India, and yet none except Akbar ever thought of enacting any laws which would have removed to some extent the disabilities imposed on the majority of the population. Between 1562 and 1564 he abolished the pilgrim tax, the jiziyah and the practice of enslaving prisoners of war. Restrictions were imposed on the manufacture and sale of liquor in 1582 and the same year child marriage was discouraged by fixing the marriage age at 14 for girls and 16 for boys. In 1587 Akbar legalized widow remarriage and prohibited Sati for Bal Vidhvas in 1590-91. In 1601 he took the revolutionary step of permitting individuals to choose their religion and those who had been forcibly converted to Islam could go back to their former faith. But even Akbar did not �codify� any laws as such for his successors to follow. His beneficial and equitable regulations remained, as they could remain, only for his empire and during his life-time. It is significant to note that even in the few reforms that Akbar ordered, many nobles and Ulama saw a danger to Islam.
So what Barani calls Zawabits were few and far between, and the Shara continued to be the supreme law prevalent in the Turkish and Mughal times. No wonder, contemporary chroniclers always eulogized the Indian Muslim kings as defenders of the Islamic faith. This tickled their vanity and prompted them to be strict in the enforcement of the law. It encouraged them to be iconoclasts, it made them patronize the Muslim minority and resort to all kinds of methods to obtain conversions, besides, of course, at the same time treating the non-Muslims unfairly to exhibit their love for their own faith. Secondly, the Ulama always tried to keep the kings straight. They considered it their sacred duty to see that the kings not only did not stray away from the path of religion and law, but also enforced it on the people. Such indeed was their influence that even strong monarchs did not dare suppress them. Others, of course, tried to walk on the path shown by this bigoted scholastic class. The third and the most important reason was that protestation of championship for Islam buttressed the claim of the king for the crown, for a ruler was not safe on the throne if he did not enforce the Shara. At the close of the Khalji regime, Ghiyasuddin declared himself as a champion of the faith, because the Ulama had been dissatisfied with Alauddin�s policies and Ghiyasuddin with the activities of Nasiruddin Khusrau. �The slogan of �Islam in danger� so common yet so effective in the history of the Muslims, was started.� And this to a great degree won Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq the throne. The Ulama were equally dissatisfied with Muhammad bin Tughlaq. On his demise, Shaikh Nasiruddin Chiragh obtained from Firoz a promise �that he would rule according to the tenets of justice and law.� Firoz Shah Tughlaq proved true to his word and �made religion the basis of his government.� A little later Amir Timur openly claimed to have attacked Hindustan with the avowed object of destroying idolatry and infidelity in the country. Akbar�s tolerance had exasperated the Muslim divines, and a promise was obtained from his successor, Jahangir, that he would defend the Muslim religion. Immediately after Akbar�s death �Mulla Shah Ahmad, one of the greatest religious leaders of the age, wrote to various court dignitaries exhorting them to get this state of things altered in the very beginning of (Jahangir�s) reign because otherwise it would be difficult to accomplish anything later on.� Aurangzeb openly claimed to have fought �the apostate� Dara to re-establish the law of Islam. Thus, whether we consider the influence of the Muslim religious class (the Ulama), the application of the law of Islam (Shara), or the activities of the kings, it is clear beyond doubt that the medieval state was a theocratic state. No wonder that many contemporary and later Muslim writers praise the deeds of Aurangzeb with great gusto. The name of Akbar is obliterated: it does not find mention by a single Muslim chronicler after his death.
Why is then there a desire to escape from this fact? In modern times values of life have changed. Today, in an age of science and secularism, ideas of religious disabilities and persecution appear to be so out of tune with .human behaviour, that we are made to believe that such disabilities were never there even in the past. Modern Indian government is based on the ideals of secularism. It tries to eschew religious controversies. It is felt that such was the position through the ages without realising that even now disabilities of non-Muslims are existing in many Islamic countries.
Fealty to Caliph
To maintain the Islamic character of the state, and to stabilize their own position as Muslim rulers, the Sultans of Delhi professed to be subservient to the Caliph. �Just as the Prophet is the viceregent of God and the Caliph is the viceregent of the Prophet,� says T.W. Arnold, �the monarch is viceregent of the Caliph� No king of the east and the west can hold the title of Sultan unless there be a covenant between him and the Caliph.�
The Muslim Sultanate in Hindustan was carved out and maintained by the sword, but it derived sustenance also from some moral bases of political power. These consisted of the government�s unqualified propagation of the Islamic religion, adherence to the Shariat law, regard for the Ulama and Sufis, and recognition of the supremacy of the Caliph. The sultans feigned to have trumped-up geneologies and on that basis claimed respect for the regime. The Ghaznavids and Ghaurids were plebians but to acquire legitimacy they sought high pedigrees, took grandiose titles, claimed divine origin for their kingship, and connected themselves with the old ruling families of Iran and Turan. Balban sought his descent from Afrasiyab, the legendary hero of Persia, and gave to his sorts and grandsons names of old Persian princes. Every sultan took high-sounding titles, and the Ulama made him and the people believe that he was the shadow of God on earth. Fictitious geneologies counted in politics, high titles created awe, and divine right and religious fervour earned the respect of high and low.
Withal a very important moral basis for Muslim political power in Hindustan was the recognition the Indian sultan received from the Caliph, the respected head of the medieval Muslim world. The first four Caliphs were directly related to the Prophet. Muawiyah, the founder of the Ummayad Caliphate, was a cousin and Abbas, the founder of the Abbasid Caliphate, an uncle of Muhammad. There was therefore very great reverence for the Caliphs in the world of Islam. The Abbasids had built up a large empire with capital at Baghdad. It is true that the Abbasid Caliphs did not enjoy any authority in the west. But the Muslim countries possessing an Islamic government and an Islamic civilization, were connected by such strong ties of common religion and common culture that their inhabitants felt themselves �citizens of a vast empire of which Mecca was the religious, and Baghdad the cultural and political center�� Its provinces were administered by their Turkish slave governors and Turkish mercenary troops. As the Caliphal empire disintegrated, in the third century of Islam, its provincial governors became independent. But officially these were only slaves and their tenure of power was based on force and chance. They, therefore, thought it politic not to snap their connections with the Khalifa completely, to go on paying him tribute and seek from him recognition of their �sovereignity.� The Caliphs too were eager to secure such wealth as could be obtained from these self-manumitted, self-appointed rulers by granting investitures which cost the Caliphs nothing. Thus came into being a sort of an Islamic commonwealth under the aegis of the Khalifa.
The contacts of Muslim rulers of India with the Caliphs were of old. The Arab governors of Sind used to read the khutba in the name of the Ummayad Caliphs. Even in the distribution of the booty taken by the early Arab invaders, one-fifth was reserved for the Khalifa. Under the jurisdiction of Saffah Abul Abbas, the first Abbasid Caliph, there were twelve provinces including Sind. Even when Sind had reverted to a period of Hindu domination, the khutba continued to be read in mosques in the name of the Abbasid Caliph, which boosted the morale of the few Muslims living there.
Mahmud Ghaznavi�s campaigns in India had Caliphal blessings. The introduction of Muslim rule in India was accordingly directly obliged to the Khalifa. Like the Ghaznavids, the Ghaurids were also alive to the importance of obtaining the confirmation of their sovereignty from the Caliphs of Baghdad. The earliest Muslim rulers of Hindustan were originally slaves, and it was recognised in all quarters that their position as rulers would be buttressed if they could receive caliphal recognition. Tajuddin Yilduz, the ruler of Ghazni, obtained the Caliph�s sanction for his authority. After Yilduz and Qubacha had been destroyed by Iltutmish, the latter received the investiture from the Abbasid Caliph al-Mustansir Billah as a legal sanction of his monarchy. It is not known if Iltutmish had requested the Khalifa for it and if so how much wealth and presents he had sent. However, he was overwhelmed with happiness and �religiously bound himself to the rules of obedience and submission�. Iltutmish inscribed the Caliph�s name on his coins and called himself Nasir-i-Amirul-Mauminin (helper of the Islamic Caliph). This �fact fastened the fiction of Khalafat on the Sultanate of Delhi, and involved legally the recognition of the final sovereignty of the Khalifa, an authority outside the geographical limits of India, but inside the vague yet none the less real brotherhood of Islam (1229).� However, the interesting point is that the Caliph at the same time conferred a patent of investiture also on Ghiyasuddin of Bengal. What were his considerations for simultaneously recongnising two sultans in Hindustan, is not known. Perhaps whosoever sent presents and treasures was conferred with an investiture. But Iltutmish defeated Ghiyas and forced him to recognise him (Iltutmish) as a superior (Sultan-i-Azam).
Such was the moral support derived from the Caliph�s recognition that even after the murder of the Baghdad Caliph Al-Mustasim by the Mongols in 1258, his name continued to appear on the coins of Indian sultans like Ghiyasuddin Balban, Muizuddin Kaiqubad and Jalaluddin Khalji. Jalaluddin even called himself Yaminul Khilafat (Right hand of the Caliphate), reminiscent of Al-Qadir�s title to Mahmud Ghaznavi. The Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad was no more, but the association of his name was of such great import that it was not given up by the Delhi rulers.
Alauddin Khalji (C.E. 1296-1316) made a departure from the practice probably because he had built up a strong empire and also, because he had come to learn about the demise of the Abbasid Caliph. His son and successor Qutbuddin Mubarak Khalji went a step further. He himself assumed the title of Caliph. He had inherited a strong empire built up by Alauddin Khalji, and he was young. He might not have cared to pay homage to a dead Caliph, or even might have thought that if there could be Caliphs in Madinah, Dimishq (Damascus), Baghdad and Qurtubah (Cordova), and later on in Qahirah (Cairo) why not in India, which was, if Amir Khusrau�s Nuh Sipehr at all reflects Qutbuddin�s views, superior to all countries. But these are only conjectures; the real reasons for his assumption of Caliphal titles are not known. He appropriated to himself titles like Amir-ul-Mauminin and Imam-i-Azam, as well as the pseudo-Abbasid ruling name of Wasiq. But this was an isolated case of assumption of Caliphal titles by an Indian sultan, and at that a profligate. Though not without some interest, it is hardly of any significance in the history of the Sultanate.
Nasiruddin Khusrau and Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq continued with the old pattern of loyalty to a universal Caliphate, while Muhammad Tughlaq did not rest content until he had made the discovery of the presence of the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mustakfi in exile at Cairo, and applied to him for investiture. His obvious motive was to strengthen his waning authority reflected in the recurrent rebellions in all parts of the country. In such a situation he did not try to seek support in India from his (non-Muslim) people, but he attached such great importance to Caliphal recognition that he declared that all the sultans who had not applied for or received Caliphal investiture as usurpers (Mutaghallib). In 1343 he received the Caliphal edict and the robe of honour. His religious devotion to the Caliph and emotional behaviour towards the Caliph�s envoys were so ludicurous as to call forth a contemptuous comment from the contemporary chronicler Ziyauddin Barani. �So great was the faith of the Sultan in the Abbasid Khalifas,� says he, �that he would have sent all his treasures in Delhi to Egypt, had it not been for the fear of robbers.� But the Sultan must have sent a substantial amount, because when Ghiyasuddin, who was only a descendant of the extinct Caliphal house of Baghdad, visited India, Muhammad�s bounty knew no bounds. He gave him a million tankahs (400,000 dinars), the fief of Kanauj, and the fort of Siri, besides such valuable articles as gold and silver wares, pages and slave girls. Withal one thousand dinars were given for head-wash, a bath-tub of gold, and three robes on which in place of knots or buttons there were �pearls as large as big hazel nuts.� If this was given to a scion of a house which had become defunct, how much more was sent to the living Caliph at Cairo can only be surmised. No wonder that because of the generosity of the Sultan, in his time the Caliphal investitures were received more than once. Muhammad Tughlaq included the names of Abbasid Al-Mustakfi and his successors Al-Wasiq I and Al-Hakim in his khutba, and inscribed on his coins their names to the exclusion of his own.
Such an attitude of subservience combined with munificence encouraged the Caliph to send to Muhammad�s successor Firoz Tughlaq, a patent of investiture, entrusting to him the territories of Hind. Although the honour was unsolicited, yet Firoz felt extremely happy as he confesses in his Futuhat-i-Firoz Shahi that �the greatest and best of honours that I obtained through God�s mercy was, that by my obedience and piety, and friendliness and submission to the Khalifa, the representative of the holy Prophet, my authority was confirmed; for it is by his (Caliph�s) sanction that the power of the kings is assured, and no king is secure until he has submitted himself to the Khalifa, and has received a confirmation from the sacred throne.� Firoz Tughlaq�s successors continued to inscribe the name of Al-Mutawakkil on their coins.
With the fall of the Tughlaq dynasty the name of the Caliph was dropped from Delhi coins. To the Saiyyad rulers, Timur and his successors were the real �Caliphs�. �More than once, robe of honour and flag came from (Shah Rukh) to Delhi for Khizr Khan� and Mubarak Khan. In return annual tribute was sent to Shah Rukh. Sultan Muhammad Saiyyad also remained loyal to him. Henceforward it was Timur who provided source of inspiration to the Indian Muslim regime. Muslim regime in India depended for sustenance and strength not on the Indian people but on foreign Muslim Caliphs and potentates. For, while the Saiyyad Sultans were obliged to Amir Timur for installing them on the Delhi throne, the Mughal emperors descended directly from him. Timur or Tamerlane had carried fire and sword into Hindustan (1398-99) and his name revived horrendous memories among the Indian people, but to the Mughal emperors his name provided as good an inspiration for their Islamic rule in India as that of the Caliphs for the Delhi Sultans. Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur as a conqueror and a descendant of Amir Timur, assumed the title of Ghazi. But so also did Jahangir, although �a true Indian,� adopt the lofty title of �Nuruddin Mohammad Jahangir Padshah Ghazi.� Shahjahan, who was more Indian than even Jahangir, took the title of �Abul Muzaffar Shihabuddin Muhammad Sahib-i-Qiran-i-Sani (or Timur the Second).� Right up to the end of the Mughal empire in India, the Mughal kings took pride in calling themselves descendants of Amir Timur and in belonging to the Chaghtai Turk clan of the Mongols. The last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar asked Mirza Ghalib to write a history of the �Taimuria dynasty� on a payment of rupees six hundred annually as noted by the poet in his Dastanbuy. Furthermore, after the collapse of Mughal power early in the nineteenth century, the name of the Sultan of Turkey began to be mentioned in khutba in Indian mosques.
While the Mughal kings sought inspiration from the name of Timur and the Turkish Sultan, the people of India considered them as foreigners for that very reason. Bernier did not fail to notice that �the Great Mogol is a foreigner in Hindustan, a descendant of Tamerlane, chief of those Mogols from Tartary who, about the year 1401, overran and conquered the Indies, consequently he finds himself in a hostile country, or nearly So�� In short, except for the confusion created by Indian-ness or foreignness of emperor Akbar, the state remained basically foreign in character throughout the medieval period. The aim of the Caliphs in inspiring the Sultans of Delhi and that of Timur in invading India was the same, to spread Islam in idolatrous Hindustan.
Before closing the discussion on the Caliph�s status in the eyes of the Delhi Sultans, an often-asked question may be attempted to be answered. Did the Caliphal recognition make the Sultanate of Delhi subservient to the Caliphs? Although it would be difficult to subscribe to the view that by receiving a formal Caliphal investiture, Iltutmish had made �the Delhi Sultanate a direct vassal� of the Caliphate, yet as Firoz Tughlaq admitted, the Indian sultans were convinced that �it is by the Caliph�s sanction that the power of the kings is assured; and no king is secure until he has submitted himself to the Khalifa�. No wonder none of the sultans who ruled between Iltutmish and the later Tughlaqs repudiated this legal �vassalage� with the inexplicable exception of Mubarak Khalji. They all claimed to be the lieutenants of the Caliph, the supreme head of the world of Islam. Allegiance to the Caliph by India�s Muslim kings gave the Khalifa prestige and wealth. It gave the Indian Sultans, many of whom were originally slaves, a status of honour in the Muslim world and satisfied the formalities of Muslim law. Moreover, inclusion of the Caliph�s name in the khutba, endeared the sultan to his Muslim subjects. Besides, the way in which Caliphal envoys and investitures were received, indicates that this was not just lip subservience, and the extra-territorial allegiance to the Caliph provided a very strong moral and legal basis of political power to the Muslim regime in India. Timur�s name and Institutes provided similar legitimacy and strength to Mughal emperors.
So that, in the Islamic state, Delhi was not the capital of the empire; it was Quwwat-ul-Islam. The king was not the ruler of the people; he was Amir-ul-Mauminin, �the conqueror of infidels and shelterer of Islam.� The army was not the royal army; it was Lashkar-i-Islam. The soldier was not a cavalry man or infantry man; he was Ahl-i-Jihad. The law of the state was not any secular or humanitarian law; it was Shariat, the law of Islam. The state was not an end in itself, like the Creek state, but a means of sub-serving the interests of Islam. Conquests were made, shrines were broken, captives were taken, converts were made - all in the name of Islam. The raison d�etre of the regime was to disseminate the Islamic faith.
This aim of the Muslim state could be achieved through its administrative set up and military might. Actually the theocratic nature of the state and fealty to the Caliph formed the moral bases of the regime�s authority; administration and army its material strength. All these components were alien and exotic and were implanted from abroad. In its core the administration was Islamic and was based on Quran and Hadis, though Persia also contributed much to its development and application in India.
The administrative system of Islam had evolved gradually. In Arabia, in its earliest stages, the problem was to provide the new converts made by Muhammad with subsistence. They were indigent and poor, and to help them, poor tax (zakat), voluntary contributions, and war-booty (ghanaim) formed the revenue of the state at the start. Muhammad was followed (632 C.E.) by a succession of Caliphs at Medina. According to Mawardi (who wrote in the fifth century of Islam), the Imamate, or Caliphate, was divinely ordained and the Khalifa inherited all the powers and privileges of the Prophet. The four Schools of Islamic jurisprudence also made the Khalifa ecclesiastical as well as secular head of the Muslim world. The title of Amir-ul-Mauminin indicated and emphasised the secular, that of Imam the religious leadership of the Caliph. His name had a hallow and a charm, and the institutions which developed under his rule became models of governance in the world of Islam. The Caliph Muawiyah (66189 C.E.) transformed the republican Caliphate into a monarchy and created a governing class of leading Arab tribes. These two institutions - kingship and nobility became an integral part of Islamic polity. After the Umayyad came the Abbasid Caliphs. They established their capital in the newly built city of Baghdad situated on the borders of Persia. The Abbasids were more religious and devoted to the mission of Islam, but they came under the irresistible influence of superior Persian culture and Persian institutions. The Abbasid dynasty lasted for full five centuries (752-1258 C.E.), and under it different branches of administrative machinery were greatly elaborated and new departments and offices created. If the Quran contained almost nothing that may be called civic or state legislation, Persian theories and practices filled the lacuna. Persian court etiquette, Persian army organisation, administrative system, postal service, conferment of robes of honour, and many similar institutions were all adopted and developed under the Abbasids.
The Turks brought these institutions into India, adding some more offices and institutions while keeping the core intact. Ziyauddin Barani openly asserts: �Consequently, it became necessary for the rulers of Islam (the Caliphs) to follow the policy of Iranian Emperors in order to ensure the greatness of True Word, the supremacy of the Muslim religion� overthrow of the enemies of the Faith� and maintenance of their own authority.� Therefore, when Fakhr-i-Mudabbir or Ziyauddin Barani recommend the Sassanian pattern of governance to the Sultans of Delhi, they neither saw anything new nor un-Islamic in their advice.
The four schools (mazahib) of Islamic jurisprudence also arose during the period of the Abbasids. Even in the compilations of Hadis the contribution of Persia was great. Of the Traditionists, only Imams Malik and Hanbal belonged to the Arab race; the rest were from Ajam, who sojourned in Arabia for years together collecting and compiling the Hidaya. In matters of law where the Quran and Hadis were silent, the jurisconsults resorted to qiyas or analogy, that is, the extension of an acknowledged principle to similar cases. Where qiyas was not possible, they appealed to reason or judgement, known in Arabia as ra�y. Ra�y has become a technical term in Arabic jurisprudence. Consensus of opinion of the learned was known as ijma. The principle of istihasan (or �regarding as better�) was developed by Abu Yusuf, disciple of Abu Hanifa which gave him great freedom of interpretation and allowed him to adopt local customs and prejudices as part of the general laws of Islam.� Mawardi felt himself compelled to admit that �the acts of administration were valid in view of the circumstances of the time.� In the case of any doubt about interpretation of rules, administrative manuals like Abul Hasan Al-Mawardi�s Ahkam-us-Sultaniya, Abu Ali Nizam-ul-Mulk Tusi�s Siyasat Nama, Jurji Zaydan�s Attamadun-i-Islami or Fakhr-i-Mudabbir�s Adabul-Harb (also known as Adab-ul-Muluk) were readily available for consultation and guidance.
In brief, Muslim administration had evolved in Muslim lands through centuries and was highly developed before it was brought to India by the Turkish Sultans. At the head was the monarch or Sultan. He appointed and was assisted by a number of ministers. A brief list of ministers and officers will give an idea of the framework of the central administration. At the top were four important ministers (and ministries) which formed the four pillars of the State. These were Wazir (Diwan-i-Wazarat), Ariz-i-Mumalik (Diwan-i-Arz), Diwan-i-Insha and Diwan-i-Rasalat. The Wazir was the Prime Minister who looked after revenue administration. Ariz-i-Mumalik or Diwan-i-Arz was head of the army. He was known as Mir Bakhshi under the Mughals and was the inspector-general and paymaster-general of the army. Diwan-i-Insha was incharge of royal correspondence, and Diwan-i-Rasalat of foreign affairs and pious foundations. Mushrif-i-Mamalik was the accountant-general and Mustaufi the auditor-general. Sadr-i-Jahan, also called Sadr-us-Sudur, was the Chief Qazi. Under him served several Qazis and Miradls. Barid-i-Mumalik was minister in charge of reporting and espionage. There were officers of the royal household like Vakil-i-Dar (Chief Secretary), Amir-i-Hajib (Master of Ceremonies) and Barbak, �the tongue of the sultan,� whose duty it was to present petitions of the people to the king. There were dozens of other officers and hundreds of subordinates both in the Central administration and in the Subahs or provinces. However, here only a few top ministers and officers may receive detailed attention to enable us to appraise the working and spirit of the government.
The Central government was formed on the Persian model. As seen above, the Prime Minister was called Wazir and his ministry Diwan-i-Wazarat. All Muslim political thinkers attached great importance to this office. Fakhr-i-Mudabbir says that, �as the body cannot exist without life so also no regime can sustain without the Wazir.� Ziyauddin Barani declares that, �without a wise Wazir, kingship is vain� a king without a wise Wazir is like a palace without foundations. If the Wazir is wise the folly of the king does not lead to the ruin and the destruction of the kingdom.� The main business of the Wazir was finance, the Wazir�s ministry or the Diwan-i-Wazarat cannoted the Revenue Department. Other duties and obligations of the Wazir included all the constructive functions of the state in a broad sense. He was to recommend promotions of officers, enlist and inspect the army and take steps to make the people prosperous, happy and contended. It was his duty also to look after men of piety and learning and protect the weak and the indigent, the widows and the orphans. In short, �Agriculture, Building, Charitable institutions, Intelligence Department, the Karkhanas and the Mint were all directly or indirectly under the Diwan-i-Wazarat.� It was his duty to organise the offices and make them efficient in their work. The Wazir in a word was the head of the entire machinery of the governments. The Diwan-i-Arz or the Ariz-i-Mumalik was the controller-general of the military department. The Ariz-i-Mumalik (Mir Bakhshi of the Mughals) had his provincial assistants and their duties comprised enlisting recruits, fixing their pay, inspecting the army and disbursing salaries to the troops. The Diwan-i-Insha dealt with the correspondence between the sultan and the local governments, including all correspondence of a confidential nature. Since there was no typing, cyclostyling or printing in those days, dozens of hand-written copies of king�s orders and farmans had to be prepared in this office for despatch to iqtas and subahs. The Diwan-i-Rasalat, as the term indicates, looked after diplomatic correspondence, and as such this ministry was a counterpart of the present-day foreign office.
The Diwan which dealt with religious charities was presided over by the Sadr-us-Sudur. The Diwan-i-Qaza, or the department of justice, was presided over by the Chief Qazi, and the two offices of the Chief Qazi and the Chief Sadr were generally held by one and the same person. Administration of justice was given a place of importance in Islamic polity, and there were elaborate rules about administering justice to civil and military men. Similarly there were detailed rules about the functioning of the police departments and awarding of punishments. One department of considerable importance was that of the Barid-i-Mumalik, who was the head of the State Information Bureau. Through this department the centre was kept informed of all that was happening all over the empire. A net-work of news agents or intelligencers was spread out in all localities. They acted both as secret information agents as well as open news-reporters. There were also a large number of spies in every place and chiefly in the houses of the nobles to report their affairs to the Sultan.
The king�s court, palace and household had an elaborate administrative set up of its own. The Vakil-i-Dar, or keeper of the keys of the palace gate was the most important. The Amir-i-Hajib, also called Barbak (or Lord Chamberlain) made arrangements for functions and ceremonies and enforced court etiquette. Other officers were Amir-i-Akhur (Master of the Horse), Shahna-i-Pilan, (Superintendent of the Elephants), the Amir-i-Shikar (Superintendent of the Royal Hunt), Sharabdar (Incharge of the Sultan�s Drinks), Sar Chashnigir (Incharge of the Royal Kitchen), Sar Silahdar (Keeper of the Royal Weapons), Muhardar (Keeper of the Royal Seals), Sarjandar (Commander of the King�s Bodyguards who were called Jandars), and a host of others with specific duties and functions. Such an elaborate administrative system strengthened the position of the Sultan and roots of the Sultanate in India.
The provincial government was a miniature model of the central. The governors were called Walis and Muqtis. An expert in accounts called Sahib-i-Diwan was appointed in each province. He kept the local revenue records and submitted them to the Wazir. The army maintained by the governors and garrison commanders was subject to control and inspection by the provincial Ariz, who was responsible to the central government. Similary, administrative arrangement of parganas, shiqqs and later sarkars was also clearly laid down. During the Mughal period, some new offices were created while nomenclatures of some others were changed. The administrative system also got the stamping of the Chingezi Yassa and the Institutes of Timur. But the core of administration remained Islamic.
The Sultanate of Delhi, and more particularly the Mughal empire, possessed a highly unified and systematized bureaucratic apparatus the central point of which was the mansab or numerical rank. Mansab (introduced by emperor Akbar in 1573) defined the status and income of the holder, although titles of nobles in Persian, Turkish and Arabic sometimes make it difficult for us to form an idea of the exact grading. An elaborate bureaucratic administrative set up tends to be top-heavy and slow-moving. But the Turkish and Mughal administrative system was not so. Decision making was quick and so was action. It did not mean that the administration was all good. For example, if the theory of taxation was clear there were just four taxes-Kharaj, Jiziyah, Khums and Zakat-and collection rates and procedures clearly defined. But the taxes actually levied far exceeded these. Many abwabs (cesses) were cropping up from time to time so that, in spite of the measures taken by Alauddin Khalji, Firoz Tughlaq, Sher Shah and Akbar to increase and also keep control over the income of the state, �no system of assessment and collection could be discovered that was satisfactory both to the cultivator and the state.�
Just as the administrative system implanted in India had evolved in Iran and adjoining Islamic countries, important administrators also came from these regions to run it. With the establishment of Muslim rule, batches of Muslims began to arrive in Hindustan from Central Asia, Persia, African Muslim countries and what is now called Afghanistan. India was rich and fertile as compared with their own lands and with the extension of Muslim political power in India, many emigrants - soldiers and administrators - attracted by the �abundance of wealth in cash and kind� - began to flock to Hindustan. Minhaj Siraj says that people from Persia (and adjoining countries) came to India in �various capacities.� Fakhr-ul-Mulk Isami, who had been Wazir at Baghdad for thirty years, but then had suffered some disappointment, arrived in India and was appointed Wazir by Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish. Qazi Hamiduddin Nagori had also come from abroad. Thus from Wazir downwards the foreign Muslim elite filled all important offices in administration. Because of the Mongol upheaval twenty-five princes with their retinues from Iraq, Khurassan and Mawaraun Nahr arrived at the court of Iltutmish. During the reign of Sultan Balban fifteen more refugee princes came from Turkistan, Mawaraun Nahr, Khurasan, Iran, Azarbaijan, Rum and Sham. From among these hundreds of officials must have been appointed to administrative positions in the Sultanate of Delhi. �The Abbasid tradition thus gained a firm footing in the administration of the Sultanate of Delhi.�
Balban had a weakness for things Persian. He introduced the Persian ceremonial in his court; his royal processions were organised on the Iranian pattern. His sons and grandsons were given Persian names of Kaimurs, Kai-Khusrau and Kaiqubad. Thus under the Ilbari Sultans many Persian and Persian-knowing nobles and officers served as administrators and officers. The Khaljis and Tughlaqs employed them too. Muhammad Tughlaq secured the services of many foreign nobles and patronised, among them, Khorasanis and Arabs. In the medieval period, heredity and lineage were taken into account in the selection of officers and nobles, and as far as possible low-born Indian Muslims were not appointed to high offices. Foreign Muslims were generally preferred, not only in the Sultanate of Delhi or the Mughal Empire, but also in the independent kingdoms of Gujarat and Malwa and the Adil Shahi and Qutbshahi kingdoms of the Deccan.
the coming of the Mughals, Persian element in administration became more
prominent. Both Babur and Humayun depended upon Persia for help at one
time or the other. In
their days of distress, they were served by Persian nobles with loyalty
and distinction. In all his trials and tribulations of exile, Bairam Khan
proved a valued guide to Humayun. Bairam
Khan�s services in the reestablishment of the Mughal empire, and management
of the affairs of the government in the early years of Akbar�s reign, are
praiseworthy. The flow of immigration of Persian nobles and officers remained
continuous under all the great Mughals - Akbar, Jahangir, Shahjahan and
Aurangzeb. In Jahangir�s reign Persian influence increased much more because
of the powerful queen Nur Jahan. Her father and brother, Itmad-ud-Daulah
and Asaf Khan, rose to dizzy heights. Three of Shahjahan�s chief nobles-Asaf
Khan, Ali Mardan Khan and Mir Jumla-were Persian. Their meritorious services
added to the glory of the Mughal Empire. Jadunath Sarkar sums up the situation
thus: �The Persians were most highly valued for their polished manners,
literary ability and capacity for managing the finance and accounts. There
was always a keen desire on the part of the Mughal emperors to seduce to
their service the higher officers of the Shah of Persia� For
such officers, when they fell into disgrace in their homeland� a flight
to India opened a road to honour, power and wealth.�
more prominent. Both Babur and Humayun depended upon Persia for help at one time or the other. In their days of distress, they were served by Persian nobles with loyalty and distinction. In all his trials and tribulations of exile, Bairam Khan proved a valued guide to Humayun. Bairam Khan�s services in the reestablishment of the Mughal empire, and management of the affairs of the government in the early years of Akbar�s reign, are praiseworthy. The flow of immigration of Persian nobles and officers remained continuous under all the great Mughals - Akbar, Jahangir, Shahjahan and Aurangzeb. In Jahangir�s reign Persian influence increased much more because of the powerful queen Nur Jahan. Her father and brother, Itmad-ud-Daulah and Asaf Khan, rose to dizzy heights. Three of Shahjahan�s chief nobles-Asaf Khan, Ali Mardan Khan and Mir Jumla-were Persian. Their meritorious services added to the glory of the Mughal Empire. Jadunath Sarkar sums up the situation thus: �The Persians were most highly valued for their polished manners, literary ability and capacity for managing the finance and accounts. There was always a keen desire on the part of the Mughal emperors to seduce to their service the higher officers of the Shah of Persia� For such officers, when they fell into disgrace in their homeland� a flight to India opened a road to honour, power and wealth.�
Persians alone did not monopolise high offices in the Mughal empire. Young Akbar, insecure on his throne, made overtures to the Ottoman Sultan, Sulaiman the Magnificent, for friendship so as not to remain dependent entirely on Persian goodwill. Qandhar was a bone of contention between the Persian Shah and the Mughal Emperor. Many Persian nobles while serving the Mughals, secretly sympathised with the Safavids. Because of suspicion, Mughal Emperors Shahjahan and the more orthodox Sunni Aurangzeb, began to favour Turani nobles, and a struggle between Irani and Turani nobility hastened the decline if not the fall of the Mughal Empire. With this background, it needs no reitreration that, by and large, Muslim administration drew neither on India�s native tradition nor on native manpower and the development of Muslim administrative system and its implementation and execution in India owed much to foreign elements.
In the Sultanate of Delhi; in the independent Muslims kingdoms of Gujarat, Malwa, Bengal and the Bahmani kingdom; and in the Mughal empire, that is almost in the whole country Muslim administration based on Muslim law prevailed for five hundred years, at the minimum from the end of the thirteenth to the end of the eighteenth century. Therefore, it did not fail to leave its impress on the administrative system of contemporary or later Indian states. The Rajput, the Maratha and the Sikh kingdoms in particular adopted many institutions and offices of Muslim administration. The British administration in India was partially influenced by Muslim administration. Persian administrative terms were in common use in Indian executive and judiciary right up to the middle of the twentieth century. Therefore, the importance of the legacy of Muslim administration in India has to be assigned its proper place.
Like administration the core of the army of the Sultanate and the Mughal empire too was foreign. The establishment, expansion and continuance of Muslim political power and religion in India was due to its army. A very important source of strength of this army was the constant inflow of foreign soldiers from Muslim homelands beyond the Indus. These may be called, for the sake of brevity, by the generic terms Turks and Afghans. The Turks came as invaders and became rulers, army commanders and soldiers. The warlike character of the Afghans attracted the notice of the conquerors of India who freely enrolled them in their armies. Mahmud Ghaznavi and Muhammad Ghauri brought thousands of Afghan horsemen with them. Indian sultans continued the tradition. They had a preference for homeland troops, or Muslim warriors from the trans-Indus region. In the time of Iltutmish, Jalaluddin of Khawarism, fleeing before Chingiz Khan, brought contingents of Afghan soldiers with him. In course of time, many of them took service under Iltutmish. Balban employed three thousand Afghan horse and foot in his campaigns against the Mewatis, and appointed thousands of Afghan officers and men for garrisoning forts like Gopalgir, Kampil, Patiali, Bhojpur and Jalali. In the royal processions of Balban hundreds of Sistani, Ghauri, Samarqandi and Arab soldiers with drawn swords used to march by his side. The Afghans had got accustomed to the adventure of soldiering in India. They joined in large numbers the armies of Mongol invaders as well as of Amir Timur when the latter marched into India. Like the Afghans, the Mongol (ethnically a generic term, again) soldiers too were there in the army of the Sultanate in large numbers. Abyssinian slave-soldiers and officers became prominent under Sultan Raziya. The immigration of foreign troops continued without break in the time of the Khaljis, Tughlaqs, Saiyyads and Lodis. Under the Saiyyad and Lodi rulers, they flocked into India like �ants and locusts.� As conquerors, officers and soldiers these foreigners were all in pretty nearly the same stage of civilization. The Khurasanis or Persians were, for instance, more advanced and perhaps possessed milder manners than the Turks. But considering their �imperial� point of view regarding Hindustan, this original difference of civilization was of little consequence. Their constant induction from Muslim lands contributed to the strength and maintenance of Muslim character of the army of the Sultanate.
Indians, or Hindus, too used to be enrolled. Ziyauddin Barani was against the recruitment of non-Muslims in the army, but right from the days of Mahmud of Ghazni, Hindus used to join Muslim armies, and lend strength to it. Most of the Hindus in the army belonged to the infantry wing and were called Paiks. Some of these were poor persons and joined the army for the sake of securing employment. Others were slaves and war-captives. The Paiks cleared the jungles and were often used as �cannon fodder� in battle. But others, especially professionals, joined the permanent cadre of infantry for combat purposes. Barbosa (early sixteenth century) says this about them: �They carry swords and daggers, bows and arrows. They are right good archers and their bows are long like those of England. They are mostly Hindus.� They were a loyal lot. Alauddin Khalji, Mubarak Khalji and Firoz Tughlaq were saved by Paiks when they were attacked by rivals and adventurers, a phenomenon so common in Muslim history. But despite their loyalty the Paiks remained relegated to an inferior position.
There were also Muslim mercenaries or volunteers enrolled on the eve of a campaign. �The volunteer element in the army was known by the name of Ghazi. The Ghazis were not entitled to any salary, but relied mostly on �rich pickings from the Indian campaigns.� Prospect of loot whetted their thirst for war, the title of Ghazi spurred their ego. The victories of the Ghaznavids had attracted these plundering adventures to their standards. The tradition of enrolling Ghazi merecenaries was continued by the Turkish sultans in India.� Right up to the Tughlaq times and beyond, merecenaries (Muslims says Afif for Firoz�s times) joined the army for love of plunder and concomitant gains. These enthusiasts naturally added strength to the regular army, and also to its character.
Soldiers in permanent service, and the king�s bodyguards called Jandars, were largely drawn from his personal slaves. Right from the days of Mahmud of Ghazni the pivot of the regular army was provided by the slave force (ghilman, mamalik). Young slaves were obtained as presents, as part of tribute from subordinate rulers and as captives during campaigns. They were also purchased in slave markets in India and abroad. Captured or imported, they were broken in and brainwashed at an early age, their minds moulded and their bodies trained for warfare. The practice may sound cruel but it was eminently Islamic and was universal in the Muslim lands. Compare, for example, the Dewshirme (�collecting boys�) system of the Turkish empire according to which every five years, and sometimes every year, the Ottomans enslaved all Balkan Jewish and Christian boys aged 10-15, took them to Constantinople and brought them up in Islamic ideology. They were used for the further subjugation of their own people. The value of the slave troops lay in their lack of roots and local connections and attachment to the master by a personal bond of fealty. The foundation of this relation was military clientship, the attachment of man to man, the loyalty of individual to individual, first by the relation of chief to his companion and, if the warrior master succeeded in conquest and setting up a dominion, by the relation of suzerain to vassal. The devotion of man to man is the basis of the slave system, of feudalism, of imperialism of the primeval type, and of the success of medieval Muslim army. Slaves were collected from all countries and nationalities. There were Turks, Persians, Buyids, Seljuqs, Oghuz (also called Irani Turkmen), Afghans, Khaljis, Hindu etc. in the army of Mahmud. The success of the Ghaznavids and Ghaurids in India was due, besides other reasons, to the staunchly loyal slave troops. This tradition of obtaining slaves by all methods and from all regions, was continued by the Delhi Sultans. In his campaign agai