Accession to the throne:
Raziyyat-ud-din commonly known as Razia Begum or Sultana Razia was the first and the last woman among the Muslims as well as the Hindus to occupy the throne of Delhi.
Her rule according to contemporary historian Minhaj, lasted for three years six months and six days.
Iltutmish had been succeeded by his son Ruskum-ud- din who proved to be an incompetent ruler and therefore was deposed by the nobility. His sister Razia was chosen to be the ruler.
Qualities of Razia:
To give a befitting reply to a section of people that being a woman, Razia was unfit for royal office, she took the following measures:
1. She gave up her ‘ Purdah’ and started appearing in the court in male attire wearing a ‘Kuva’ (Coat) and a ‘Kulah’ (Cap).
2. She started horse riding, hunting and commanding the army etc.
3. She took a keen interest in all the administrative activities of the state.
4. She herself appointed several Iqtadars, commanders, and other officers.
5. She conducted the affairs of the state in an open ‘durbar’.
Minhaj-us-siraj, a contemporary historian has aptly described the causes of her failure in these words, “She was endowed with all qualities befitting a king-beneficent, the patron of the learned, a dispenser of justice etc. But she was not born of right sex and so in the estimation of men all these virtues were useless.” Thus being a woman was an important cause of her failure.
Secondly, Razia’s becoming Sultana was against the traditions of Islam. This made many Turkish Chiefs against her as they considered it a great humiliation to work under a woman. Perhaps it was the first case in the Islamic history under a monarchical form of government. Lane-poole states that nothing would convince the Turkish chiefs that they should be led by a woman. In fact this practice was far ahead of the times.
Thirdly in place of winning favour of her opponent chiefs, she adopted retaliatory measures which annoyed them all the more.
Fourthly, Razia began to shower several favours to an Abyssinian slave Yakut. This provided a good deal of ammunition to the Turkish chiefs who were already against her.
Fifthly, Razia’s brothers considered her usurper of the throne. So they were able to gather round them several disgruntled elements.
Sixthly, the situation was further worsened by the orthodox Muslim clergies.
Several governors revolted against Razia. However, the most serious was that of Altunia, the governor of Bhatinda. Razia accompanied by Yakut marched against Altunia. On the way, Yakut was murdered by Turk soldiers and Razia was imprisoned. Razia, finding no way of her rescue, married Altunia. Razia and Altunia marched towards Delhi. In the meanwhile, Razia’s brother Bahram had been raised to the throne. The fate turned against Razia. Razia and her husband Altunia were defeated and murdered near Kaithal. Thus ended the four-year rule of Razia—the only woman to occupy the throne of Delhi.