In this article we will discuss about the career of Sultan Iltutmish and difficulties faced by him.
Iltutmish was the first real Turkish Sultan of Delhi. He was recognised as such not by any Sultan of Ghur but by the Khalifa. Besides, he succeeded in killing both Yildiz and Qabacha, the claimants of suzerain power of Delhi, consolidated the Turkish power in north India, saved Delhi Sultanate from the invasion of the Mongols, tried to break up the power of the Rajput chiefs, made his family rule hereditary, issued coins in his name and made Delhi beautiful and respectable as a fit capital of Turkish dominions in India.
Early Career of Sultan Iltutmish:
Shams-ud-din Iltutmish was born of Turkish parents of the Ilbari tribe of Central Asia. He was handsome and intelligent and his father loved him very much. His envious brothers sold him as a slave while he was yet a child. His master Jamal-ud-din took him to Ghazni where Sultan Muhammad desired to purchase him. But Jamal-ud-din asked for more than what the Sultan desired to pay.
Therefore, the Sultan forbade to sell Iltutmish in Ghazni. Iltutmish was then taken to Delhi where Qutb-ud-din Aibak purchased him. Iltutmish proved his worth and rose to higher positions by his own merit. He got promotions one after another till he became the master of the hunt (Amir-i-Shikar).
Then he was sent as incharge of the fort of Gwalior. After that he got the governorship of Baran (Bulandshahr), was married to the daughter of Qutb-ud-din and, finally, appointed as governor of the Iqta (province) of Badaun.
While fighting against the Khokhars in 1205-06 A.D., Sultan Muhammad was impressed so much with his valour that he advised Aibak to free him from slavery which was subsequently done. After the death of Aibak, the citizens of Delhi felt that the infant Turkish empire in India required the services of a capable ruler than that of lazy Aram Shah.
Therefore, Sipahsalar Amir Ali took consent of the citizens and Turkish nobles of Delhi and invited Iltutmish to come to Delhi. Iltutmish assumed the reigns of government, defeated Aram Shah and, thus, became the ruler of Delhi in 1211 A.D.
Difficulties of Sultan Iltutmish:
Iltutmish was not the son but the son-in-law of Qutb-ud-din. His family was Shamsi and, therefore, he established the rule of a new Turkish dynasty at Delhi. Certain scholars, therefore, have expressed the view that Iltutmish thus had no legal claim over the throne of Delhi and, therefore, was an usurper. But this opinion has no valid justification.
By that time, the Turks had not accepted the hereditary principle of succession and, therefore, every powerful noble or governor could contend for the throne. Iltutmish did the same. While Aram Shah was supported by the nobles at Lahore, Iltutmish was supported by the nobles at Delhi and he won in the contest.
Besides, the infant Turkish kingdom of Delhi required the services of a competent ruler which Iltutmish certainly proved to be. Therefore, Iltutmish had every legitimate reason and claim over the throne of Delhi and cannot be accepted as an usurper.
Iltutmish ascended an insecure throne. When he ascended the throne he was master of only Delhi, Badaun and the outlying districts extending from Banaras in the east to the Shivalik hills in the west. He certainly defeated Aram Shah but when the Turkish nobles assembled in Delhi, some of them opposed his claim to the throne and decided to revolt.
Iltutmish defeated and killed most of them and, thus, succeeded in overcoming his initial difficulties. Yet he had challenges, both foreign and domestic. Taj-ud-din Yildiz, the ruler of Ghazni still claimed suzerainty over the Indian territories of Sultan Muhammad. Nasir-ud-din Qabacha, ruler of Uch, occupied Multan and, taking advantage of the difficulties of Iltutmish, extended his hold over Lahore, Bhatinda and even Sursuti.
Ali Mardan Khan declared himself independent at Lakhnauti and, thus, separated Bengal and Bihar from the Delhi Sultanate. The Rajput rulers also reasserted their independence. Jalor, Ranthambhor, Gwalior and Ajmer became independent and Turkish power was thrown out of even Doab.
The same time, the Delhi Sultanate was threatened by the Mongols at its north-west frontiers. Besides, the inheritance of Qutb-ud-din was not a unified kingdom but a military jagir (principality) which could be kept under control only by force. Thus, Iltutmish had to face many difficulties after his accession to the throne of Delhi. He faced them all with success.