Founder/Real founder of the Delhi Sultanate:
Achievements of Aibak (1206 to 1210):
It appears that quite a large number of historians have been very generous to Iltutmish in their praise and rather unfair to Aibak. It is usually forgotten that had there been no Aibak there would not have been any Sultan by the name of Iltutmish.
There is no doubt that Qutab-ud-din Aibak founded the Mameluk of Slave Dynasty which had eleven rulers who ruled over Delhi from 1206 to 1290. Mameluk means a slave born of free parents. Iltutmish strengthened the Sultanate founded by his predecessor.
Main achievements of Aibak are as under:
1. It was Aibak who rendered a very useful service to Mohammad Ghori in the battle of Tarain. It was an important event which changed the course of Indian history.
2. Again it was Aibak who conquered the area of Hansi, Delhi and Ranthambore in the absence of Mohammad Ghori.
3. It was Aibak who helped Ghori to defeat Jaichand of Kanauj.
4. Not only this he defeated Bhimdeva II of Anhilwara who on one occasion had defeated Ghori. Aibak thus avenged the defeat of his master.
5. After Ghori’s death, Aibak had declared himself the ruler of his Indian possessions and he protected and extended’ the Delhi Sultanate.
6. By marriage diplomacy Aibak was able to overpower the difficulties that he faced in founding the empire. He entered into marriage alliances with three of the most important Turk nobles i.e. Qubacha, Yilduz and Iltutmish.
7. Aibak subdued several Rajput rulers.
In the words of Prof. S.R. Sharma, “Among these (rulers) Aibak must rank with Balban as pioneer founder of a great dynasty of rulers. Some of his successors might have added more glory to the empire as a whole. But the groundwork and examples were Aibak’s” Dr. Iwwari Prasad ranks Aibak “among the great pioneers of Muslim conquert in India.”
Iltutmish (1211-1235) as the Consolidator of the Delhi-Sultanate:
Iltutmish, a “slave of a slave” is regarded by several historians as the real founder and consolidator of the slave Dynasty and the Delhi Sultanate. According to them, Aibak was the ruler for four years only. There was so much anarchy after his death that the Sultanate of Delhi seemed slipping and a powerful ruler was needed to control the situation and Iltutmish rose equal to the occasion.
When we peruse the history we find that Mohammad- bin-Qasim was the first Muslim invader who came to India but he conquered only Sindh and Multan. In the words of Lane-poole “it was a mere episode in the history of India”. Mahmud Ghaznavi was the second great Muslim invader but his seventeen successful expeditions were primarily meant for plunder. His invasions did not lead to the establishment of any Muslim Kingdom in India.
For about 150 years there was no attempt to found any Muslim empire in India. Mohammad Ghori conquered the bulk of Hindustan but most of his time was spent in Ghazni-out of India. He himself did not rule over India but left to his viceroy Aibak.
Aibak extended his kingdom and formed an independent Muslim state in India. Since his rule was very short-lived, he could not consolidate the Sultanate. But the credit of founding the Sultanate must go to him. Of course, Iltutmish strengthened the foundation and saved the infant Muslim empire from collapsing.
On account of Iltutmish’s achievements in bringing about political consolidation out of turmoil, Dr. R.P. Tripathi has observed, “Qutub-ud- din cannot be regarded ever as sovereign ruler of Muslim India because no coins of his name are available and his name is conspicuous by its absence in the list of kings prepared by Ibn Batuta and in that prepared by Firoz- Shah Tughlaq for Khutba.” He has further observed, “The history of Muslim sovereignty in India begins properly speaking with Iltutmish.”
In the words of Dr. A.L. Srivastva, “Iltutmish was a brave but cautious soldier. He was also a successful general. He laid the foundation of a military monarchy that was to serve later as the instrument of a military imperialism under the Khaljis”.
In the opinion of Lane-poole, “Iltutmish is the true founder of the Dynasty of the Slaves, Kingdom.”
“It was he,” writes Prof. K.A. Nizami “who gave the country a capital (Delhi), an independent state, a monarchial form of government and a governing class.”
Prof. A.B.M. Habibullah states, “Aibak outlined the Delhi Sultanate and its sovereign status, Iltutmish was unquestionably its first king.”
Sir Wolseley wrote, “Iltutmish was the greatest of all the slave kings.”
Minhaj-us Siraj, a contemporary historian of Iltutmish wrote, “Never has a sovereign so virtuous, kind hearted and revered towards the learned and the divine sat upon the throne.”
Dr. Iswari Prasad regards Iltutmish “undoubtedly the real founder of the Slave Dynasty.”
According to Dr. R.C. Majumdar, “Iltutmish may justly be regarded as the greatest ruler of the early Turkish Sultanate of Delhi which lasted till 1290 A.D.”
Difficulties of Iltutmish:
With a view to appreciate the role of Iltutmish, it is very necessary to know the difficult circumstances under which he acceded to the throne. The newly Muslim empire was threatened with disintegration.
Important difficulties facing Iltutmish are mentioned here in brief:
1. Iltutmish had no hereditary claim to the throne.
2. Iltutmish was slave of a slave (Aibak) and according to Muslim law no slave could ever occupy the throne.
3. There were several equally powerful nobles who would not tolerate the rise of an equal to the position of a Sultan.
4. Nasir-ud-din Qubachah, the governor of Sindh and Multan and Taj- ud-din Yalduz, the ruler of Ghazni refused to recognise Iltutmish as the rightful successor to the throne of Delhi.
5. Some of the Muslim generals asserted their independence taking advantage of the confusion.
6. Rajput rulers of Jalaun, Kalinjar, Ranthambhore and Gwalior declared their independence.
7. The Mongol invasion posed a great threat to the Sultan.
Solving Difficulties by Iltutmish:
Iltutmish exhibited remarkable energy and patience in solving the difficulties. Some of his achievements were as under:
1. He quelled the nobles who opposed him in becoming the Sultan. He defeated Aram Shah, the son of Qutub-ud-din who had declared himself as the Sultan.
2. He defeated Yalduz, made him prisoner and executed him.
3. Qubachah was defeated and he lost his life while crossing the river Indus.
4. Iltutmish suppressed the revolt in Bengal.
5. Iltutmish conquered the Rajput states of Gwalior, Malwa, Ujjain and Ranthambore.
6. Iltutmish got recognition as the Muslim Sultan of India by the Khalifa of Baghdad, Iltutmish, thereafter assumed the title of ‘Amir-ul- Mommin or ‘Commander of the Faithfuls’ and had the name of Khalifa inscribed on his coins. As a result of recognition by Khalifa, Iltutmish’s power and status were enhanced.
According to Prof. S.R. Sharma, “It is for this reason that Iltutmish has been considered as the real founder of the Muslim Kingdom of Delhi, though it is too much an exaggeration to call him the greatest of all slave kings.”
7. Iltutmish with great diplomatic skill prevented the Mongols from invading India. He very politely put off the king of Khwarizm who sought refuge in India from the Mongols.
8. One of the momentous measures of Iltutmish was that he changed his capital from Lahore to Delhi, and it for the first time became the capital of Hindustan.
9. With the help of Fakh-ud-din Ismani, an experienced Wazir of Baghdad, Iltutmish organised his administrative set up and provided a benign and sound administration to the hitherto, disorganised and dismembered empire.
10. According to Thomas, “Iltutmish instituted the veritable commencement of the silver coinage of the Delhi Sultanate.”
11. Iltutmish created a ‘Corps of Forty’ slave who were very loyal to him and kept a watch on the activities of nobles.
From the above account it is clear that Iltutmish was undoubtedly a successful ruler. His greatness lay not only in saving the infant Muslim empire in India but also in organising the scattered conquered territories of Ghori and Aibak into a well-organised and well-administered empire. Besides being a conqueror, he was a good administrator. He provided a systematic administrative set-up.
By dint of his dauntless bravery and wisdom he transformed a weak and vulnerable kingdom into a stable empire in India. He freed the Delhi Sultanate from the claim of suzerainty by the rulers of Ghazni. On account of these features, Iltutmish is often called the real founder of the Muslim empire in India.