Ala-ud-Din’s theory of kingship:

Ala-ud-Din maintained that the Sultan was God’s representative on earth. Ala-ud-Din’s theory of kingship may be explained in the words of historian, Ashraf,

“The Sultan of Delhi was in theory an unlimited despot, bound by no law, subject to no material check, and guided by no will except his own.”

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The Sultan used to say, “I do not know whether this is lawful or unlawful, whatever I think to be for the good of the state or suitable for the emergency, that I decree and as for what may happen to me on the approaching Day of Judgement that 1 know not.”


Principles of Ala-ud-Din’s theory of kingship:

1. Kingship was the creation of God.

2. The king was God’s representative on earth.

3. The king was there to rule.


4. The king’s authority could not be challenged.

5. The king’s word was law.

6. The king was not bound by the advice of anyone.

7. The king was supreme in matters of religion. He was not to be guided by the power of the Ulemas.


8. The king should expand his territories.

9. The king should devote himself to the good of the people.

Practical Implications of the Theory of Kingship:

All powers in one individual:

Ala-ud-Din combined in himself all powers. He was the Commander-in-Chief, the Supreme Administrator, the Chief Justice and the Temporal Head.

Desire for world conquest:

Ala-ud-Din’s desire to conquer the world was derived from his theory of Kingship. Ala-ud-Din wanted to be the ruler of the entire world. Of course, on the advice of the kotwal of Delhi, he gave up this idea but decided to bring the whole of India under his sway.

Desire for founding a new religion:

Ala-ud-Din wanted to set up a new religion. However, again on the advice of Qazi Ala-ul-Mulk who was also the Kotwal of Delhi, he gave up this idea. Nevertheless he decided to work independently in matters of religion and freed himself from the religious scholars (Ulemas).

Vast conquests:

Ala-ud-Din believed that a king should constantly extend his empire by conquests so that his name might become immortal. He, therefore, made all possible efforts to bring the whole of India under his influence.

Autocratic rule:

He believed that an autocratic rule was necessary for the stability and consolidation of royalty. Accordingly, he took various severe measures to check the powers of the nobles, He confiscated the property of several nobles. He established an efficient spy system to keep himself well informed of the affairs of the state.

Issue of regulations:

To prove that he was also a temporal head, he issued some regulations regarding inflicting punishments which were not in accordance with the Muslim law. Dr. Ishwari Prasad in this regard has observed, “Ala-ud-Din was opposed to the interference of the ‘Ulemas’ in matters of state and in this respect he departed from the previous position of the Sultans of Delhi.

The law was to depend upon the will of the monarch and had nothing to do with the law of the Prophet. This was the guiding maxim of the monarch.” As Dr. R.P. Tripathi observes, “Kingship could exist without any special religious support and that the outlook of a king was different from that of the clergy. This was the greatest contribution of Ala-ud-Din.

Ministers’ advice:

The king was the head of the administration. In the discharge of his kingly duties, Ala-ud-Din had certain ministers to assist him but their advice was not binding on him.

Public welfare:

Though Ala-ud-Din believed in assuming all powers in accordance with his theory of kingship, yet he was not averse to public welfare. In his despotism where was no lack of concern for public welfare.

Dispenser of justice:

His theory of justice derived its inspiration from the theory of kingship which proclaims that a king must do justice. He dispensed justice in the open court. According to Dr. Ishwari Prasad, “The reign of Ala-ud-Din represents the high watermark of despotism.” Lane-poole calls Ala-ud-Din “a bloody and unscrupulous tyrant. “In the words of Dr. V.A. Smith, “He was particularly a savage tyrant— exceedingly disgraceful in many respects.”

Lane-poole has summed up the personality and rule of Ala-ud-Din in these words, “Though he might be wrong-headed and disdainful of the low, he was a man of determination, who knew his own mind, saw the necessity of the situation, met it by his own methods, and carried out those methods, with persistence.”