In this article we will discuss about the foundation of Muslim rule in India.
The foundation of Muslim rule in India was laid by Shabab-ud-Din Ghori towards the close of the 12th century A.D. However, long before that Muslims had started making attempts to enter India.
The first such attempt was made in the middle of the 7th century A.D. which however, proved a failure in 711-713 A.D. the Arabs under Muhammad- bin-Qasim, nephew of the Governor of Basra attacked India and conquered Sindh and Multan.
However, the Arabs could not retain control over this region for long as the Arabs were unskilled in the art of Government, they left administration of these areas completely in the hands of the natives. This occupation of Sindh by the Muslims came to an end with the death of Muhammad-bin Qasim.
The next attempt to capture India was made by the Turks of Ghazni. Subuktgin and his son Mahmud (995—1030) attacked Punjab which was then ruled by the Shahi dynasty. Subuktgin defeated the Shahi ruler Jaipal and deprived him of his trans Indus territory. The rest of the territories of Jaipal were wrested by his son Mahmud.
Mahmud in all conducted seventeen raids against northern India and carried away huge booty. Though these invasions of Mahmud were barren of any political results, yet they exposed the political and military weaknesses of India to the Muslim world.
The credit for laying firm foundation of the Muslim rule in India goes to Shahab ud Din Ghori. Shahab-ud-Din Ghori seized the throne of Ghazni in 1173. After consolidating his position, he turned his attention towards the fertile plains of India.
During the next ten years he conquered a number of areas like Multan, Uchh and Lahore. He even defeated the Rajput ruler, Prithviraj of Delhi at the battle of Tarain in 1192. After this he conquered Ajmer, Kanauj and Banaras.
After the death of Shahab-ud-Din Ghori, his Viceroy Kutub- ud-Din Aibak set up Slave dynasty in India. Kutub-ud-Din ruled India for four years and greatly extended the conquests made by Mohammad Ghori with the assistance of Mohammad Bakhtiyar Khilji. He brought the whole of northern India under his control.
The other important rulers of Slave Dynasty who consolidated and extended the Empire were Iltutmiah and Balban. Altutmish not only saved the dismemberment of the Muslim Empire by curbing various revolts by the Governors of Bengal and Bihar but also conquered Malwa and Sindh.
Likewise, Balban, as a Minister of Altutmish rushed the rebellions of Hindu kings and Muslim governors. He also successfully repulsed attacks of the Mongols. Later on as a king, Balban not only re-organised the administrative machinery but also raised strong protection against Mongol raids in the north-western frontiers.
After the Slave Dynasty, Jalal-ud-Din Khilji founded the new Khilji Dynasty. The most important ruler of this dynasty was Ala-ud Din Khilji. Under him the kingdom of Delhi reached its zenith. He greatly extended his Empire both in the north as well as in the south. In fact, it was the first Muslim Empire which covered practically the whole of India.
However, this Empire did not survive for long and declined after his death. In fact, during the last years of his time Ala-ud-Din Khilji saw this wieldy fabric tumbling. But it certainly goes to the credit of Ala-ud-Din Khilji that he subjugated Rajput kingdoms of Mewar, Ranthambhor, Gujarat, etc., and also annexed kingdoms of Devgiri, Warangal and Madura in the south.
He also abolished the feudal system of administration and centralised the entire administration in the hands of the king. He introduced far reaching military and economic reforms. But probably the most important contribution of Ala-ud- Din Khilji was that he, “expounded the theory that the king was responsible for the good government of the country and as such he should not be bound by the verdict of the Muslim Ulemas”.
In short, we can say that under the Khilji’s not only the territorial expansion of the Empire took place but certain new administrative principles were also enunciated.
After the assignation of the last ruler of Khilji Dynasty, Ghazi Malik ascended the throne under the title of Gias-ud-Din Tughlaq and founded a new Dynasty known as Tughlaq Dynasty. Soon after assuming power, he tried to champion the cause of Muslims. He was not contented with the acknowledgement of his suzerainty by the Hindu monarchs of the South and therefore adopted the policy of conquest and annexation.
He annexed the kingdom of Devgiri, Warangil and Dwarasamudra thus we find that under the Tughlaqs, the Empire extended to the whole of India. Tughlaq rule’s divided the country into 23 provinces for the efficient administration of the vast territory. However, this solidarity did not last long.
Another prominent ruler of this dynasty was Mohammad Tughlak. He was a distinguished scholar and a man of ideas. He prepared several schemes of conquest and introduced numerous administrative reforms. These schemes have been described by the scholars as visionary and their failure is attributed to the impracticable nature of these schemes.
However, Dr. Ishwari Prasad is of the opinion that his schemes were noble but he failed to execute them properly. The civil administration provided by Mohammad Tughlaq bears the stamp of his individuality spirit of tolerance and justice.
Mohammad Tughlaq was succeeded by his cousin Firoz Tughlaq. During his time the policy of territorial extension and annexation was given up. He permitted the provinces of Bengal and Sindh to claim their independence. Firoz Tughlaq was a bigoted king and did not treat the Hindus and Shias justly.
However, during his time remarkable improvement was effected in the administrative machinery. As one historian has said, “He was the first Muslim king of India who had accepted the principle that the -duties of a sovereign are not limited only to the protection of person and property of his subjects but that the States must also adopt measures which contribute to their happiness and general welfare.”
He not only revised the entire penal code but also abolished the inhuman punishment. He undertook varijm projects of irrigation, reduced taxes on land, revised the revenue clauses and abolished numerous duties on small trade and profession.
He extended patronage to education by maintaining several schools and colleges. During his times a number of new buildings, towns, mosques and gardens were constructed and laid dawn. He also revived the Jagir and Slave systems.
Despite these measures the Tughlaq Empire did not last long and broke down to pieces after the death of Firoz Tughiaq. After him two rival claimants to the throne contested and there was a period of political instability. At this juncture Timur attacked India and dealt a death below to the tottering Tughlaq Empire.
After the Tughlaqs, Sayyid Khizar Khan ascended the throne of Delhi and founded the Sayyid Dynasty. In all there were four rulers of this Dynasty but their rule was confined to the walls of Delhi alone. They neither assumed the royal style nor struck coins in their own names. During their times repeated rebellions broke out in various parts and these rulers had to exert much of their energy in suppressing these rebellions.
The last ruler of this Dynasty abdicated the throne in 1451 in favour of Bahlol Lodhi, the Governor of Punjab. Bahlol Lodhi founded the Lodhi dynasty. He suppressed the prevailing disorder and established a stable government in the country. He also conquered Jaunpur, Kalpi, Dholpur, Bari and Ala pur and thus tried to revive the glory of the former Delhi Sultanate.
His son, Sikandar Lodhi was another notable ruler of this dynasty. He was a staunch Muslim and followed the policy of persecution of the Hindus. However, he was a great patron of learning and continued to rule till 1517. With his death, the Delhi Empire started crumbling down, and his successor Ibrahim Lodhi was defeated by Babur in 1526 at the historic battle of Panipat.
This marked the end of the Sultanate of Delhi and the beginning of the Mughal rule in India.
Establishment of Mughal Rule:
After defeating Ibrahim Lodhi, Babur, a prince of Farghana, established the Mughal rule in India. Next year, he defeated the famous Rana Sanga at Kanwah. His successor Humayun could not consolidate his hold in northern India and was defeated by the famous Afghan ruler Sher khan.
Sher Khan founded the Suri Dynasty in 1540. He provided a sound system of civil administration and introduced a number of original land reforms, works for public utility. He followed the policy of tolerance and justice and earned reputation as a great ruler. However, his dynasty did not last long because his successors were very weak. This was fully exploited by Humayun to regain his kingdom after 15 years of exile in Persia.
Humayun’s son Akbar put the Mughal rule in India on firm footing. He defeated the great Hemu at the battle of Panipat in 1556. Akbar also annexed territories like Malwa, Gondwana, Gujarat, Ranthambhor, Chittor, Bengal, Kabul, Kashmir, Sindh, Baluchistan Orissa and Ahmednagar and established his sway over the whole of northern India with the exception of Mewar. Akbar tried to project himself as a national ruler.
He followed a policy of religious tolerance towards Hindus and abolished pilgrim tax and poll taxes. He introduced a number of social reforms and improved the revenue administration. Jahangir who succeeded Akbar followed the policy laid down by his father.
However, during his times the Persian influence greatly increased because of Nur Jahan. Shah Jahan, the next ruler waged successful struggle against the Deccan rulers of Golconda and Bijapur and established Mughal suzerainty over them. Under him also the national character of the state was maintained. His reign also witnessed the construction of some of the marvelous buildings of the Mughal period.
Aurangzeb who ascended the throne after imprisoning Shah Jahan reversed the policy of Akbar and tried to establish an Islamic stale. He adopted an all out anti-Hindu policy and re-imposed various taxes on the Hindus which were abolished by Akbar.
In short, we can say that Aurangzeb destroyed the national State created by Akbar. The successors of Aurangzeb were very weak and the Mughal Empire continued to decline under them. The Mughal Empire came to an end in 1857 when the British deposed Bahadur Shah the last Mughal ruler.