Delhi Sultans

Learning Goals:

Until 1526 the Tughluqs, Lodhis and Sayyid dynasties ruled Delhi and Agra. By then there were independent rulers in the following regions which became prosperous under them: Jaunpur, Bengal, Malwa, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Entire south India.

New ruling groups like Afghans and Rajputs also emerged during this period. Some of the states established during the period were small in size but very powerful and well-administered.

The Suri dynasty

This dynasty ruled only for fifteen years i.e. from 1540 to 1555. Their administrative measure had borrowed aspects of Alauddin Khalji. He made the administration more efficient than Khalji’s. Sher Shah Suri started his career as a manager of a small territory for his uncle in Bihar. He eventually challenged and defeated the Mughal emperor Humayun. His reign was from the year 1540 to 1545. He established his own dynasty after capturing Delhi. The great emperor Akbar (1556-1605) in the course of consolidation of the Mughal Empire followed the model of administration set by him.

Ibn Batuta

The fourteenth century traveller Ibn Battuta from Morocco Africa explained that chieftains sometimes fortified themselves in mountains, rocky and uneven places as well as in bamboo groves. The bamboos in India are big and so intertwined that even fire cannot affect them. The chieftains lived inside these and had their cattle and crops also inside these. Water was also available for them in the form of collected rain water. Hence it was very tough to subdue them except by strong armies who cut these bamboos on entering these forests.

The Three Orders

The idea of the ‘Three Orders’ was initiated in France in the early eleventh century. It divided the society into three classes which are:

This idea of division was supported by the Church which supported the new warrior group called Knights. The Church used them to propagate the idea of ‘Peace of God’. The attempt was to direct warriors away from conflict among themselves and send them on a campaign against the Muslims who had captured Jerusalem. This led to a series of campaigns known as the Crusades. This completely altered the status of Knights who originally did not belong to the class of nobles. Over the years in France and Germany the humble origins of the warriors were forgotten and by the twelfth century, the nobles also wanted to be known as Knights.

The Masjid

It is the Arabic word for mosque and is the place of worship for Muslims. In a ‘congregational mosque’ (masjid-i-jami or jama masjid), as the name suggests, Muslims read their prayers (namaz) in groups. It is led by the most learned male called the imam who also delivers the sermon during the Friday prayer. Muslims stand facing the Mecca during prayer. In India, it is to the west and this is called qibla.

Several mosques were built by the Delhi Sultans in cities all over the subcontinent. This proved their claim to be protectors of Islam and Muslims. Mosques also gave a sense of belonging and community to people who shared a belief system. This idea of community was necessary because Muslims came from a variety of backgrounds. Some of the mosques built during the period are as under:

These masjids or mosques showed an evolution of architectural tradition which culminated in Shah Jahan’s mosque in Delhi.


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