In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Early Career of Qutb-Ud-Din Aibak 2. Difficulties of Qutb-Ud-Din Aibak 3. Efforts and Achievements.

Muhammad of Ghur had no son and therefore, his nephew, Ghiyas-ud-din succeeded him at Ghur while his empire was virtually divided by his powerful and ambitious governors. Taj-ud-din Yildiz who held the area from Afghanistan to Upper Sindh, Nasir-ud-din Qabacha who held Uch and Multan and Qutb-ud-din Aibak who was the governor of his Indian provinces, became virtually independent in their respective territories.

Early Career of Qutb-Ud-Din Aibak:

Qutb-ud-din has been regarded as the real founder of Turkish rule in India. Of course, Muhammad of Ghur had included the territories of India in his empire but his seat of power was not India. Primarily he remained the Sultan of Ghur. But Qutb-ud-din severed his connections with Ghazni and Ghur. He, therefore, is rightly regarded as the first Turkish Sultan of Delhi.

Qutb-ud-din was sold as a slave in his childhood and, after passing through some hands, was purchased by Sultan Muhammad. Very soon he drew the attention of his Master and was given several responsible posts gradually.


He served his Master well during his Indian campaign and therefore, he was assigned the charge of his Indian conquests after the second battle of Tarain in 1192 A.D. Qutb-ud- din not only helped Muhammad in all his Indian campaigns but also consolidated and extended his conquests whenever Muhammad happened to be away from India.

In 1206 A.D., Qutb-ud-din was formally invested with viceregal powers and promoted to the rank of Malik by Sultan Muhammad. When the death of Muhammad became known, the citizens of Lahore invited Qutb-ud-din to assume sovereign powers. Qutb-ud-din reached Lahore, assumed sovereign powers though formally ascended the throne after three months of Muhammad’s death.

Ghiyas-ud-din who had succeeded Sultan Muhammad at Ghur sent him the royal insignia and standard and also conferred upon him the title of Sultan though his formal manumission was not granted till 1208 A.D.

Qutb-ud-din remained satisfied with the titles of Malik and Sipahsalar and did not struck coins or read the Khutba in his name but he became the de facto Sultan of the larger part of the Indian territories of Sultan Muhammad soon after his death and did not share his power with anybody else.

Difficulties of Qutb-Ud-Din Aibak:


Qutb-ud-din had to face many challenges in order to keep his position intact. He could not depend on the loyalty of all his Turkish officers among whom many could be jealous of his powers and position.

The Rajputs, of course, were defeated and the sovereignty of north India was snatched away from their hands by the Turks yet they were contesting against the Turks at different places and were sure to take advantage of any and every available weakness of the Turks. The distant provinces which were captured by Turks were not under complete control of Qutb-ud-din as was the case with Bengal.

More than that, Taj-ud-din Yildiz and Nasir-ud-din Qabacha were strong contenders for the throne of Delhi. Yildiz, the father-in-law of Qutb-ud-din, had occupied Ghazni and was claiming to be the ruler of all the empire of Sultan Muhammad including his Indian conquests.

Nasir-ud-din Qabacha was the governor of Uch. One of his wives was the daughter of Yildiz while another one was the sister of Qutb-ud-din and he too was ambitious enough to contend against Qutb-ud-din for the throne of Delhi.


Professor A.B.M. Habibullah and Dr A.L. Srivastava have opined that Sultan Muhammad had assigned the title of Malik to Qutb-ud-din and desired that he should succeed him as far as his Indian conquests were concerned.

But Professor K.A. Nizami has not agreed with them. He says that Sultan Muhammad could not decide anything about his succession before his death and therefore, each of his governors was left free to decide his own course of action.

Qutb-ud-din, therefore, had no better claim over the throne of Delhi as compared to Yildiz and Qabacha. Probably, powerful nobles like Baha-ud-din Tughril Khan and Bakhtiyar Khalji would have also contended against Qutb-ud-din if they would have been alive at that time because none of them was subordinated to Qutb-ud-din by Sultan Muhammad. The events which occurred after the death of the Sultan tally with the viewpoint of Professor Nizami. Qutb-ud-din had no legal claim over the throne of Delhi. He had to win it.

However, more than anything else, the one great danger for Qutb-ud-din was the expanding power of Khwarizm Shah Ala-ud-din Muhammad, the ruler of Persia who desired to capture Ghazni and could lay his claim over the kingdom of Delhi as well.

Efforts and Achievements of Qutb-Ud-Din Aibak:

Qutb-ud-din faced all these difficulties with determination. He decided to keep himself independent and keep his kingdom free from the politics of Central Asia. However, he moved with caution. He first strengthened his position in Delhi and Lahore. He persuaded most of the Turkish nobles in India to accept his subordination and married his sister to Qabacha and his daughter to Iltutmish. Probably, Qabacha accepted his claim over Delhi but Yildiz did not.

Yildiz was accepted as the independent ruler of Ghazni by Sultan Ghiyas- ud-din. But he was pressurized by Khwarizm Shah and forced to leave Ghazni. He attacked Panjab. Qutb-ud-din faced him and forced him to return back.

Qutb-ud-din even occupied Ghazni where he was invited by its citizens. But he was forced to leave it after forty days when Yildiz reached back there. Thus, Qutb-ud-din failed to occupy Ghazni, but at the same time, he did not permit Yildiz to occupy any part of his Indian territory.

Qutb-ud-din was troubled by instable affairs of Bengal and Bihar as well. Ali Mardan Khan, who had set himself as an independent ruler there, was dethroned and imprisoned by Khalji nobles and Muhammad Sheran was offered the throne on the condition that he too would maintain the independence of Bengal.

However, Ali Mardan escaped from confinement, reached Delhi and requested Qutb-ud-din to interfere in the affairs of Bengal. Qutb-ud-din handed over this task to his noble, Qaiwaz Rumi Khan. Rumi Khan used both force and diplomacy and, ultimately, succeeded in convincing the Khalji nobles of Bengal that they should accept Ali Mardan as the governor of Bengal under the suzerainty of Delhi. Thus, finally, Ali Mardan became the governor of Bengal and agreed to pay annual tribute to Qutb-ud-din.

Qutb-ud-din could not pursue the policy of extension of his kingdom. He could not pay attention even towards the Rajputs who succeeded in recovering some of their places from the Turks. Mostly he remained busy in defending his independent position and therefore, the affairs in the north-west and Bengal in the east remained his primary concerns.

That is why mostly he remained at Lahore instead of Delhi. Besides, Qutb-ud-din got very little time as an independent ruler. While playing Chaugan (horse-polo), he fell from his horse and shortly died in 1210 A.D. He was buried at Lahore and a simple monument was raised on his grave.

Home››History of India››Rulers››