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Razia Sultana

Sultan Raziyyat-Ud-Dunya Wa Ud-Din, also known as Razia Sultana, was the sultan of Dehli. She was the daughter of Shamsuddin Iltutmish and Turkan Khatun, the Mamluk sultan. Razia Sultana was South Asia’s first Muslim Woman ruler and Delhi’s first female Muslim ruler. She was renowned for her ability, wisdom, justice, and generosity. Razia sultana ruled from 1236 until 1240. Razia ruled Delhi between 1231 and 1232, while her father was engaged in the Gwalior war. According to a potentially apocryphal tale, Iltutmish selected Razia as his heir apparent upon his return to Delhi, pleased by her performance during this time. Ruknuddin Firuz, Razia’s half-brother, succeeded Iltutmish, whose mother Shah Turkan intended to kill her. Razia incited the populace against Shah Turkan during a revolt against Ruknuddin and seized the throne after Ruknuddin’s deposition stirred 1236.

Where is the real tomb of Razia Sultana? - Quora

Razia’s ascent oppos a segment of nobility, some of whom decided to join her, while the rest defeated. The Turkic nobility who backed her intended her to remain a figurehead, but she gradually pushed her authority. This, coupled with her selections of non-Turkic officials to critical positions, led to their hatred towards her. She overthrown by a party of nobility in April 1240, after having reigned for less than four years. She married one of the rebels, Ikhtiyaruddin Altunia, and tried to reclaim the throne, but was thwarted by her half-brother and successor Muizuddin Bahram in October that year and was murdered soon after.

Early Life of Razia Sultana

Razia was born to Shamsuddin Iltutmish, a Turkic slave (mamluk) of his predecessor Qutb al-Din Aibak, to the Delhi Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish. Razia’s mother – Turkan Khatun – was the chief wife of Iltutmish and Qutb al-Din Aibak. Razia sultana was Iltutmish’s eldest daughter and most likely his firstborn child.

Razia Sultana consolidated her country’s law and order. To rule the country, she shed her femininity and donned a more masculine look. When she appeared in public, whether in court or on the battlefield, she dressed as a man. She appointed an Ethiopian slave named Jalal-ud-din Yaqut as her attendant and began placing her most significant trust in him. This posed a challenge to the Turkish nobles’ claimed monopoly of power.

Ascend to Authority Of Razia Sultana

Iltutmish trained his eldest child Nasiruddin Mahmud to succeed him, but he died in 1229. Iltutmish suspected that his other sons soaked up in leisure pursuits and would be incapable of governing state affairs following his death. While departing for his Gwalior campaign in 1231, Iltutmish left Delhi’s administration in the hands of his daughter Razia. Razia conducted her duties admirably, and upon her return to Delhi, Iltutmish appointed her as his successor. Iltutmish directed that his officer mushrif-i mamlakat Tajul Mulk Mahmud Dabir draught a decree designating Razia sultana as the heir apparent. When his nobles objected because he had surviving sons, Iltutmish responded that Razia was more skillful than his sons.

However, following Iltutmish’s demise, the nobles unanimously elected his son Ruknuddin Firuz to succeed him as king. Iltutmish appears to have agreed to appoint a son as his successor during his final years. This is indicates the fact that he summoned Ruknuddin from Lahore to Delhi after becoming gravely ill.

Conspiracy to assassinate (non-Turkish) officers

Ruknuddin was an incompetent ruler who delegated government to his mother, Shah Turkan. The pair’s bias execution of Iltutmish’s popular son Qutubuddin, blended with Shah Turkan’s tyranny, resulted in revolts by several nobles, including the wazir (prime minister) Nizamul Mulk Junaidi. This situation deteriorated further when slave officers of Turkic origin close to Ruknuddin plotted the assassination of the Sultanate’s Tasik (non-Turkic) officers.

first female Muslim monarch in South Asia (Razia sultana )

This led to the murder of many top Tajik officials, including Junaidi’s son Ziyaul Mulk and Tajul Mulk Mahmud, who wrote the proclamation declaring Razia sultana the heir presumptive. While Ruknuddin proceeded towards Kuhram to face the rebels, Shah Turkan planned Razia’s death in Delhi. At a congregational prayer, Razia stirred the entire people against Shah Turkan. A crowd then stormed the royal palace and arrested Shah Turkan. Several nobles and the soldiers swore loyalty to Razia and put her on the throne, making her the first female Muslim monarch in South Asia. Ruknuddin marched back to Delhi, but Razia sultana dispatched an army to capture him: imprisoned and possibly killed on November 19, 1236, having reigned for less than seven months.Raz

Razia’s ascent to the throne of Delhi was unusual, not solely that she was a woman but also because the backing from the general people was the driving force behind her selection. According to the 14th-century book Futuh-us-Salatin, she had urged the people to overthrow her if she failed to fulfill their expectations.


She a superb administrator and was highly educat in legislative issues. She was not only an excellent commander on the battlefield, but she was an outstanding warrior. Whenever Iltutmush had to depart the capital, he used to leave Razia Sultana in charge of the affairs in Delhi.

Immediately after assuming the throne, Razia sultana made many significant appointments. She selected Khwaja Muhazzabuddin as her new wazir (prime minister) and bestowed Nizamul Mulk’s title upon him. Razia sultana appointed Malik Saifuddin Aibek Bahtu as the in-charge of her army and awarded the title Qutlugh Khan. However, Saifuddin died shortly after, and Razia nominated Malik Qutubuddin Hasan Ghuri to the newly formed position of naib-i Lashkar (in charge of the army). Razia gave the iqta’ of Lahore, previously held by the dead insurgent Alauddin Jani, to Malik Izzuddin Kabir Khan Ayaz, the insurgent who had joined her. Razia nominated her supporters to imperial household posts, notably Malik-i Kabir Ikhtiyaruddin Aitigin as Amir-i Hajib and Malik Jamaluddin Yaqut as Amir-i Akhur.

Guerrilla warfare

Minhaj says that shortly, all the nobility from Lakhnauti in the east to Debal in the west accepted her rule. Razia’sultana first military expedition aimed against non-rebels was an assault of Ranthambore, whose Chahamana king had established his authority following Iltutmish’s death. Razia ordered Malik Qutubuddin Hasan Ghuri to march to Ranthambore: he was able to remove the Turkic nobles and officers from the fort but was unable to subdue the Chahamanas. The Chahamanas, in conjunction with the Mewatis, seized a significant portion of present-day north-eastern Rajasthan and carried out guerilla war near Delhi. Razia also dispatched a force to re-assert Delhi’s authority over Gwalior, but this expedition had to be abandoned.

During Razia's rule, the Shiites revolted against the empire

During Razia’s rule, the Shias rebelled against the Sultanate, but the uprising was crushed. In a significant event, the Shia Qarmatians carried out an assault on the Jama Masjid in Delhi. The Qarmatian leader Nuruddin Turk had previously denounced the Sunni Shafi’i and Hanafi teachings and had collected almost 1,000 followers from Delhi, Gujarat, Sindh, and the Doab. On March 5, 1237, he and his followers invaded the mosque and began murdering the Sunnis gathered there for the Friday prayers before being assaulted by the townspeople.

In 1238, Malik Hasan Qarlugh, the Khwarazmian governor of Ghazni, faced a Mongol danger and dispatched his son to Delhi, presumably to establish a military coalition against the Mongols. Razia greeted the prince courteously, gave him the income of Baran for his expenditures, but refused to establish an alliance against the Mongols.

Events leading to Overthrowing of Sultana

The nobility who backed Razia wanted her to be a figurehead, but she asserted herself more and more. For instance, her first coins included her father’s name, but from 1237–1238, she began producing coins exclusively in her name. According to historians, she initially followed purdah, in which a screen separated her throne from the courtiers and the general public, and female guards guarded her. Later in life, she began appearing in public dressed as a conventional man, complete with a cloak (qaba) and headgear (kulah). She rode elephants around the streets of Delhi, just as previous Sultans did.

Razia’s rule,

Razia’s growing assertiveness and her selection of non-Turkic individuals to high-ranking positions created animosity among Turkic nobility. Because the position of Amir-i Akhur had traditionally been held by officers of Turkic ancestry and Yaqut was of Abyssinian ancestry, Razia’s Turkic officers objected to this appointment. Isami, Sirhindi, Badauni, Firishta, and Nizamuddin Ahmad all ascribe Razia’s demise on her closeness with Yaqut.

Malik Izzuddin Kabir Khan Ayaz, the governor of Lahore, revolted against Razia in 1238–1239, and she marched against him, forcing him to escape to Sodhra. Because the Mongols dominated the region beyond Sodhra and Razia pursued him, Izzuddin compelled to submit and accept Razia’s rule once again. Razia was generous with him: she stripped him of his iqta of Lahore but gave him the iqta of Multan, which Iltutmish had given to Ikhtiyaruddin Qaraqash Khan Aitigin.

Razia had summoned Ikhtiyaruddin Aitigin, an Iltutmish-purchased Turkic slave, to her Delhi court and appointed him Amir-i Hajib. She had also favored another Iltutmish slave – Ikhtiyaruddin Altunia – by first giving him the iqta of Baran and later the iqta of Tabarhinda. However, when she was gone on the Lahore campaign, these two officers plotted with other Turkic officers to depose her.

Razia ruled for three years, six months and six days.

On April 3, 1240, Razia arrived in Delhi and learned that Altunia had revolted against her in Tabarhinda. Razia marched towards Tabarhinda ten days later, unaware that other Delhi nobility had joined Altunia in plotting against her. At Tabarhinda, rebel troops assassinated and imprisoned her loyalist Yaqut. Razia reigned for three years, six months, and six days, according to Minhaj.


When word of Razia’s sultana imprisonment reached Delhi, rebel nobles appointed Muizuddin Bahram, Iltutmish’s son. It was on April 21, 1240, when the nobility swore allegiance to him. Ikhtiyaruddin Aitigin set naib-i mamlakat (regent) by the elite, who anticipated the new monarch to be a mere figurehead. But in 1–2 months, the new monarch had Ikhtiyaruddin Aitigin killed.

The Delhi nobility divided key positions and iqtas after deposing Razia, notwithstanding Ikhtiyaruddin Altunia’s imprisonment at Tabarhinda. Altuna lost all chance of benefiting from Razia’s overthrow when Aitigin died. Thus she allied with her. In September 1240, Razia married Altunia to reclaim the crown. Disgruntled Turkic nobility like Malik Qaraqash and Malik Salari backed them up.

Isami claims Altunia gathered a Khokhar, Jat, and Rajput army. Sultan Muizuddin Bahram led an army against Altunia and Razia in September 1240 and conquered them on October 14. Altuna and Razia forced to flee to Kaithal, where a Hindu mob murdered them. Razia died in 1240.

She is the only Muslim woman to have sat on Delhi’s throne.

Tomb of Shamsuddin Altamash, Delhi, India stock image | Look and Learn
Razia sultana Tomb


As sultan, Razia sultana allegedly tried to eliminate the levy on non-Muslims but was opposed by the noblemen. Razia, by way of rebuttal, has stated that the spirit of religion is more essential than its components and that even the Muslim Prophet warned against overburdening the non-Muslims. On a different occasion, Razia allegedly attempted to nominate an Indian Muslim, who had become an official position from Hinduism but was once again opposed by the nobility. In this instance, she concluded that Islam’s ties were weaker than outdated biases.

The cause of her kingdom and her people was allegedly dedicated to Razia. There is no evidence that she tried to keep her subjects away, but she seems to like to mix them. Her tolerance of Hinduism subsequently brought her Muslim historians’ censure.

Razia has built schools, academies, research centers, and public libraries containing great thinkers, the Quran, and the Prophet’s traditions. Hindu writings in science, philosophy, astronomy, and literature are allegedly studied in schools and colleges.


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