The following points highlight the various domestic policies laid down by Firuz Shah of the Tughluq Dynasty. They are: 1. Finance 2. Irrigation 3. Public Works 4. Humanitarian Measures 5. Justice 6. Education 7. Slaves 8. Army Organization 9. Religious Policy.
Domestic Policy # 1. Finance:
Firuz imposed only four taxes sanctioned by Islamic laws viz., kharaj (land tax), khams (1/5 of the looted property during wars), Jizya (religious tax on the Hindus), and Zakat (2 ½ per cent of the income of the Muslims which was spent for the welfare of Muslim subjects and their religion). Besides, he imposed irrigation-tax after getting sanction of the Ulema.
All those peasants who used the water of the canals constructed by the state had to pay 1/10 of their produce to the state as irrigation-tax. Rest of the taxes were abolished. Firuz abolished nearly twenty-four taxes which were, certainly, burdensome to the people. The state officials were ordered to collect only those taxes which were accepted rightful by the state.
Probably, the state-demand was 1/5th to 1/3rd of the produce as land revenue. A rough estimate was made of the produce and revenue was fixed accordingly. Khwaja Hisam-ud-din Junaid was assigned the task of fixing the revenue from the khalisah (state) land. The assessment which he made was not based on measurement of the land or on the basis of actual produce.
Rather, it was the result of guess which was, of course, supported by previous revenue records. The revenue which was fixed up, remained unchanged during the reign of Firuz. Its advantage was that the income of the state was fixed and was known beforehand. But, the system was illogical as it was not based on measurement of land and actual produce. Further, the state could draw no advantage even if there was increase in production.
Yet, the state was benefited as the expenditure of the state could be adjusted according to its income which was known beforehand. Firuz laid out 1,200 fruit gardens which enhanced the income of the state. He also arranged for increased means of irrigation which resulted in enlargement of area under cultivation and larger produce. He also adopted measures for improvement of quality of cultivation and better crops.
Firuz increased the salaries of his officers, gave them jagirs, abolished the practice of extorting truth by torture and also the practice of offering presents to the Sultan so that they might not pressurize the peasants. The peasants were freed from return of Taqavi loans given to them by the state.
Firuz abolished a number of internal trade taxes which resulted in reduction of prices of goods and enhancement of trade.
The measures of Firuz were successful. They resulted in increased prosperity both for the subjects and the state. The prices of articles were reduced. There was all round prosperity among the people and there was no famine during the reign of Firuz.
All contemporary historians praised the prosperity of his reign. Shams-i-Shiraj Afif wrote- “The necessaries of life were abundant and grain continued to be cheap throughout the reign of Firuz as in that of Ala-ud-din Khalji, but without any effort.”
However, the arrangement of Firuz suffered from two serious defects viz., Jagir system and the farming of the land. Neither jagirdars nor the professional contractors who were assigned land periodically for the collection of the revenue were kept under control of the state or expected to look after the welfare of the peasants. Yet, it is creditable that both the peasants and the state enjoyed prosperity during the reign of Firuz.
Domestic Policy # 2. Irrigation:
Firuz constructed five canals for the purpose of irrigation. The one was 150 miles long and carried the waters of the river Yamuna to Hissar. The second was 96 miles long and ran from the Satluj to the Ghaghara. The third started from the neighbourhood of Sirmaur hills and ran up to Hansi. The fourth ran from the Ghaghara to Firozabad and the fifth from the Yamuna to Firozabad. He also got 150 wells bored for the purpose of irrigation and also for the use of travellers.
According to Firishta, Firuz also constructed fifty dams and thirty tanks or lakes to store water. All these were meant for the purpose of irrigation. All these efforts resulted in the extension of area under cultivation, enhancement of trade and also income of the state in the form of irrigation- tax.
Domestic Policy # 3. Public Works:
It is said that Firuz established 300 towns. Probably, these included even those villages which were left desolated by the people but were repopulated because of the increased facilities provided by the state during the reign of Firuz. The important towns established by him were only Fatehabad, Hissar, Firuzpur, Jaunpur and Firuzabad. Firuzabad near the Red Fort in Delhi was the favourite city of Firuz where he mostly lived.
Now only its ruins have remained and their location is called ‘Kotla Firuz Shah’. Firishta credited him with the construction of 50 dams, 40 mosques, 30 colleges, 20 palaces, 100 caravan serais, 200 towns, 30 reservoirs, 100 hospitals, 5 mausoleums, 100 public baths, 10 monumental pillars, 10 public wells, and 150 bridges, besides numerous gardens and pleasure houses. One Ashoka pillar from Khizrabad and another from Meerut were also brought to Delhi by him. Thus, Firuz did many works of public utility.
He also arranged for the maintenance and repairs of his buildings and assigned lands for that purpose. He also repaired many old historical buildings. In his autobiography entitled Futuhat-i-Firuz Shahi, he claimed to have repaired the Jama Masjid of old Delhi, the Qutb Minar, the Shamsi Tank, the Ali-i-Tank, the Jahan Panah, the madrasa of Sultan Iltutmish, and the mausoluems of Sultan Iltutmish, Sultan Bahram Shah, Sultan Rukn-ud-din Firuz Shah, Sultan Jalal- ud-din. Sultan Ala-ud-din, Shaikh Taj-ud-din Kafuri and Shaikh Nizam-ud-din Auliya.
Domestic Policy # 4. Humanitarian Measures:
Firuz distributed a large amount of wealth and land among saints and other religious people. He established an employment bureau which arranged for the employment of unemployed people. He established a separate department called Diwan-i-Khairat which cared for orphans and widows and arranged marriages of poor Muslim girls. He also established a charitable hospital called Dar-ul-shafa near Delhi.
Domestic Policy # 5. Justice:
Firuz’s administration of justice was based on Islamic laws. He restored the privileges of the qazis. There was a chief qazi at the capital and other qazis in provincial towns. He also held his own court for administering justice and was in favour of mild punishment. He abolished the practice of torturing the guilty to extract the truth from them.
Domestic Policy # 6. Education:
Firuz himself was a scholar and patronized learning. Zia-ud- din Barani and Shams-i-Siraj Afif wrote their works under his patronage. Barani wrote Fatwah-i-Jahandari; Afif wrote his Tarikh-i-Firuzshahi; and the Sultan wrote his autobiography, Fatuhat-i-Firuzshahi. The author of Sirat-i-Firnzshahi was also patronized by the Sultan.
There was a fine library at the temple of Jwalamukhi which consisted of 1,300 volumes of Sanskrit texts. Some of those texts were translated into Persian by the orders of the Sultan. One of the translated works which concerned with philosophy and astrology was titled Dalail-i-Firuzshahi. Firuz established thirty madrasas including three colleges. Teachers were liberally paid by the state and stipends were granted to students.
According to Afif, the Sultan spent thirty-six lakhs of tankas as allowance to learned men and Quran-readers. Thus, Firuz encouraged education and learning. However, the literature of his time was influenced by Islamic faith and therefore, suffered from narrow sectionalism.
Domestic Policy # 7. Slaves:
Firuz was fond of keeping slaves and their number reached to 1,80,000 during his rule. He organised a separate department under a separate officer to look after their welfare. Every care was taken for education and employment of the slaves.
Even the provincial governors were ordered to treat their slaves as their own sons. But, this fondness for slaves of the Sultan went against the interest of the state. It put unnecessary burden on the treasury and, afterwards, the slaves of Firuz interfered in affairs of the state which also contributed towards the downfall of Tughluq dynasty.
Domestic Policy # 8. Army Organization:
The army organisation of Firuz remained weak. No standing army was kept at the centre. The Sultan, therefore, had to depend on the forces of his provincial governors during times of war. The soldiers of the Sultan were mostly paid by grants of land. Besides, military service was made hereditary. It meant that when a soldier retired, his son, son-in-law or even a slave could claim his post. Thus, the principle of merit was rejected in enlisting soldiers.
Probably, the Sultan kept 80 to 90 thousand horsemen at the centre and, for the rest, depended on his nobles and governors. The Sultan did not attempt to enforce discipline in the army. Cases of corruption were also there.
It is said that the Sultan once gave a Tanka to one of his soldiers to give it as bribe to his officer in order to get his horse cleared for service. Therefore, the military organisation of the Sultan suffered and the army no more remained a powerful army.
Domestic Policy # 9. Religious Policy:
Firuz was the first Sultan of Delhi who accepted predominance of Islamic laws and the Ulema in administering the state. Of course, other Sultans supported Islam and were prejudiced against the Hindus, yet none accepted Islamic laws as basic principles governing their administration. Firuz proved an exception. He frankly accepted Islamic laws as basic principles in administering the state.
Thus, his principles remained closer to that of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb who followed him much later, but of course, with a difference. While Aurangzeb regarded himself as the master of Islamic laws and therefore, did not depend on the Ulema for their interpretation, Firuz depended on the Ulema for their clarification or interpretations. Therefore, the religious policy of Firuz remained intolerant towards people of every faith except the Sunnis.
Firuz was intolerant towards the Shias, the Sufis, munhidan and ibahatiyan, i.e., the Ismaili group of Shias and also other sects of Muslims. In his autobiography, he claimed to have burnt the books of Shias.
Firuz remained fanatically intolerant towards the Hindus. He propagated Islam and encouraged the Hindus for conversion. In his autobiography, Fatuhat-i-Firuzshahi he gives us a clear impression that he regarded himself the ruler of Muslims only.
He wrote- “I encouraged my infidel subjects to embrace the religion of the Prophet, and I proclaimed that everyone who left his creed and became a Musalman should be exempted from the Jizya.”
In it, he has narrated various occasions when he destroyed Hindu temples, prohibited Hindu festivals and killed Hindus or forced them to embrace Islam. He destroyed the temple of Jwalamukhi in Kangra and one of the primary aims in attacking Puri was to destroy the Hindu temple there so that, like Mahmud of Ghazni, he could claim to be an idol-breaker.
He imposed Jizya on Brahmanas who were either left free from this tax or neglected while collecting it by all previous Sultans. Thus, Firuz practised severely intolerant policy towards the Hindus. Dr R.C. Majumdar writes- “Firuz was the greatest bigot of his age and the precursor of Sikandar Lodi and Aurangzeb in this respect.” Professor Banarsi Prasad Saxena also writes: “But in the last fifteen years of his reign Firuz was an incurable and degenerate fanatic.”
Firuz got recognition of his title of Sultan from the Khalifa twice. He called himself the Naib of the Khalifa and inscribed his name on his coins. He did all this because he wanted to capture the loyalty of the Ulema and reactionary group of Muslims who all had supported him in capturing the throne.
The religious policy of Firuz was reactionary in principle and did positive harm to the state in practice. The Hindus who constituted the majority became certainly disloyal to the state. In a way, his religious policy also contributed in bringing about the downfall of the Tughluq empire.
Firuz was neither a laborious nor an efficient administrator. The credit of his success goes to his capable officers. His religious policy, slave-system and the weak organisation of the army, certainly, weakend the state. But his economic and public welfare works were successful which made his subjects happy and prosperous. Thus, largely he was successful in his domestic policy.