Shamsuddin Iltutmish

Shamsuddin Iltutmish

Shamsuddin Iltutmish, sultan of delhi
Shamsuddin Iltutmish

Sultan of Delhi

Reign – A.D. 1211 to 1236

Father - Ilam Khan

Iltutmish was a Turk by caste like his master Qutbuddin Aibak, but he belonged to Ilbari tribe of Central Asia. His father Ilam Khan was belonging to head of his tribe. Iltutmish was very handsome, virtuous and intelligent and his father loved him very much. Dr. R.C. Majumdar has written, “He had a remarkably beautiful appearance and showed signs of intelligence and sagacity from his early days.” His intelligence and virtues excited the jealousy of his half-brother who sold him as a slave to a slave trader named Jamaluddin. After passing through many hands, he was ultimately sold to Qutbuddin Aibak who treated him very kindly. Lanepoole remarks, “What Aibak had been to Muhammad Ghori, Iltutmish was to Aibak who treated him like his own son.”

As it was the fashion in those days that the slave traders used to train some promising young slaves, Iltutmish seems to have attained education and knowledge of the Islamic world during the early days of his adversity. Aibak was very much impressed by his qualities and provided him with high practical military training. Being influenced by his merits and ability he appointed him on various important posts, such as Sir Jandar (Head of the Bodyguards) and Amir-i-Shikar (Lord of the Hunts). In fact, he rose to higher positions by his own merit by winning the confidence and affection of his master.

In A.D. 1205 when Muhammad Ghori made an invasion against the Khokhars in Punjab, Iltutmish impressed the master of his master very much and he ordered his slave Aibak to free Iltutmish from slavery. Minhaj-us-Siraj remarks, “The Sultan (Muhammad Ghori) in the midst of the battle observed his feats of daring and courage and enquired who he was. When his Majesty was enlightened upon this point, he called him into his presence and honored him with a special notice. Qutbuddin was ordered to treat Iltutmish well, as he was destined for great works. His majesty then ordered the deed of his freedom to be written out and graciously granted him his liberty.”

After the victory of Gwalior Iltutmish was appointed as in-charge of the fort of Gwalior and Aibak gave his daughter to him in marriage. The title of Amir-ul-Umra was also bestowed on him. Subsequently, the governorship of Baran (Bulandshahar) was given to him. Finally, in A.D. 1206, he had the charge of Badaun as one of the most beloved lieutenants and son-in-law of Aibak.

Iltutmish was a brave soldier and an experienced military commander. The Sultan, Muhammad Ghori, was very much impressed by his valour and instructed his slave Aibak to free him from slavery. He led the army against Yaldoz, Qubacha, Rajputs and Bengal and always attained victory due to his ability and capability.

Dr. A.L. Srivastava writes, “Iltutmish was not a builder of civil institutions and was not a constructive statesmen.” But Dr K.A. Nizami does not agree with Srivastava and remarks, “The administrative setup of Iqta (Province) and the maintenance of the army of the Sultan were his contributions to the administration of the Delhi Sultanate.” Moreover, introduction of Arabic coinage such as silver ‘Tanka’ and copper ‘Jital’ were also wonderful contributions of Iltutmish.

Iltutmish was a far-sighted diplomat. He gave birth to dynastic monarchy system and strengthened the political structure of the sultanate. His behavior towards Chengiz Khan and Mangbarni was purely diplomatic. He cleverly refused to support prince Mangbarni and yet did not let the Muslims be annoyed. He provided a legal status to the infant Muslim Kingdom and established dynastic rule very successfully. Dr. R.P. Tripathi writes about him, “The history of Muslim sovereignty in India begins with him

Professor A.B.M. Habibullah writes, “Aibak outlined the Delhi Sultanate and its sovereign status. Iltutmish was unquestionably its first king.”

Iltutmish was a religious person. He used to spend enough time in worship and contemplation. He gave liberal patronage to Sufi saints and other learned persons. But he was intolerant towards the Hindus and his behavior toward the Shias was also callous. He destroyed the Hindus temple of Mahakal at Ujjain. He did not bother to consult in Ulema again and again. Nomination of Raziya as his successor is a clear indication of this fact.

Minhaj-us-Siraj praises Sultan Iltutmish in these words, “No king so benevolent, sympathetic, reverent to the learned and the old, ever rose by his own efforts to the cradle of Empire.”

Although Professor habibullah does not accept Iltutmish to be a great ruler, he mentioned, “He was an unusually able ruler who left his mark on every sheet of Sultanate’s activity.

Lane-Poole regards Iltutmish to be “a true founder of the Slave kings which Aibak did not live long enough to consolidate.” Dr. Ishwari Prasad remarks, “Iltutmish is undoubtedly, the real founder of the slave dynasty.”

On the way to attack Bayana, he fell ill. His condition became so precarious that he had to return to Delhi but no medicine could cure him and ultimately he died in his palace in A.D. 1236.

To sum up, we may quote Dr. B.C. Majumdar, “Iltutmish may justly be regarded as the greatest ruler of the early Turkish Sultanate of Delhi which lasted till A.D. 1290.


Milan Tomic

Hi. I’m Designer of Blog Magic. I’m CEO/Founder of ThemeXpose. I’m Creative Art Director, Web Designer, UI/UX Designer, Interaction Designer, Industrial Designer, Web Developer, Business Enthusiast, StartUp Enthusiast, Speaker, Writer and Photographer. Inspired to make things looks better.

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