Indian History Part 54 The Slave Dynasty Section VII: An Appraisal

 

Canberra, 22 December 2016

Balban’s death created a power void in Delhi with no credible successor to fill the large shoes that he left behind. Balban had been an efficient and effective regent and then a monarch for a total of 40 years. In medieval politics, a powerful individual personality and force of character were extremely important traits for a ruler. Success and failure of the king depended almost entirely on these two individual attributes. When a colossus such as Balban dies, especially without a capable successor, the confidence in the dynasty and its ability to rule is shaken. It is necessary for the successor to establish continuity and effectiveness at the earliest in order to ensure that challenges to the throne does not start to coalesce and become troublesome. Unfortunately for the Slave dynasty, at this juncture there was no one to assume the mantle of a powerful sultan. The state rapidly descended into confusion.

The Fall of the Slave Sultans

As mentioned in the previous chapter, Balban had nominated his favourite son Muhammad’s son Kai Khusrav as his successor. However, on Balban’s death, the Delhi nobles led by Fakr ud-Din, the kotwal (commander of the fort and police chief) and friend of the sultan, set aside his wishes. They placed 17-year old Kaiqubad, Bughra Khan’s son, on the throne. He assumed the title of Muiz ud-Din Kaiqubad on being anointed sultan. Kaiqubad started his reign with a distinct disadvantage. He had been raised by his grandfather in a strict and puritanical manner, not even being permitted to glance at a damsel and completely protected from any kind of vice. With the restraining arms of his grandfather now having been removed and more importantly being made aware of the power that he wielded as the sultan and the wealth that was at his disposal, Kaiqubad felt free to indulge himself in any and all kinds of pleasures that life had to offer. That is precisely what he commenced to do.

As the sultan he started to enjoy the pleasures of life—the proverbial wine, women and song—in an unrestrained manner. Worldly pleasures that he had so far been denied became his consuming passion and in a short period of time he not only became pleasure-loving in the extreme, but dissipated into becoming a complete debaucher. The nobles of the court, ever willing to corrupt the king, followed the sultan’s example. The strict and solemn court of Balban resounded to revelry and merriment of all sorts. Obviously the administration of the realm was neglected and rapidly started to show signs of fraying.

The real reason for Fakr ud-Din to have placed Kaiqubad on the throne became apparent very soon—his crafty son-in-law, Nizam ud-Din fairly rapidly inveigled himself into the sultan’s favour and became the real power behind the throne. Kaiqubad became a mere a puppet in the hands of these two unscrupulous men. Nizam ud-Din was a person of limited capability but harboured ambitions beyond that, which made him arrogant, scheming and ruthless. He was hated by the older nobles who had worked very hard to establish the sultanate in Delhi. With the ultimate aim of usurping the throne for himself, Nizam ud-Din committed a series of atrocities.

Through a web of intricate intrigue, Nizam ud-Din obtained assent from the sultan to murder Kai Khusrav, who would otherwise have become a threat to his own kingly ambitions. Nizam ud-Din had Kai Khusrav recalled from Multan, where he was the provincial governor, and had him murdered in Rohtak while he was making his way to Delhi. Nizam ud-Din also had a number of other nobles, whom he perceived as being a threat to his progress, murdered after getting their death warrants signed by the sultan while insensate with drink. The nobles were angry at such manipulations but could not raise a rebellion in the face of the combined stranglehold that Nizam ud-din and his father in-law Fakr ud-Din had over the court.

While the Delhi court was being misruled by the father- and son-in-law combine, a clan of Khilji (also spelt in some texts as Khalji) warriors was gradually gaining power. The Khiljis were hostile to the Turks because of the elitist manner in which the Turks held on to power. An ancestor of the clan had conquered the Bengal region early in the 12th century and many other members had served in different parts of the sultanate in leadership positions. Therefore, the clan was able to form a powerful lobby under the leadership of Jalal ud-Din Firuz Khilji, who was accepted as the head of the clan. Nizam ud-Din was aware of the danger of the rise of the Khiljis and tried, unsuccessfully, to get rid of them and to whittle down their growing influence and power. He considered them, correctly as it turned out, as a direct impediment to his own ambitions of becoming the sultan. In the fledgling Delhi sultanate, yet another civil war was in the making.

Bughra Khan, ruling at leisure in Bengal, came to know of these developments and marched towards Delhi with a powerful army. There are conflicting reports of his intention, with one group maintaining that he intended to seize the throne of Delhi and the other stating that he only intended to advise and assist his son. Considering the reluctance that Bughra Khan had displayed earlier when offered the throne by his father, the second opinion seems to be the more likely version—he wanted to advise his son to mend his ways and give up the pleasure-loving life, which was a sure path to ruin, and to rule the kingdom wisely.

In 1288, Bughra Khan and his army reached Ghaghra, near Ayodhya, on the banks of the River Sarayu. Although Kaiqubad was reluctant to take to the field, he was cajoled by Nizam ud-Din to march out with an impressive army to face his father. Nizam ud-Din wanted son and father to fight each other so that it would become easier for him to usurp the throne on either one being killed in battle. However, fate in the guise of some of the older and loyal nobles intervened, and they were able to bring about a reconciliation between Bughra Khan and his even more profligate son. Kaiqubad accepted his father’s advice and gave up his indulgent life, turning instead to becoming a model sultan leading a ‘good’ life. It is reported that Bughra Khan then returned to Bengal, without being convinced that his son’s change of attitude would last long and that he would transform into an effective ruler.

True to his father’s concern, Kaiqubad reformed for a short period of time, but was eventually led back into his original corrupted life-style by self-serving nobles. The narrative splits into two contradictory parts from here for a brief period of time. The first states that while he was in the process of reforming, Kaiqubad had Nizam ud-Din transferred to Multan and then poisoned him. Jalal ud-Din Khilji was then appointed the commander of the army. The second narrative, which is the more probable goes like this: Kaiqubad became paralysed because of excessive indulgence and nobles still loyal to Balban and the dynasty placed his infant son on the throne with the title Shams ud-Din Kayumars. Since the Khilji power was becoming overwhelming by this time, they also declared Jalal ud-Din and his entire clan traitors.

The narrative comes together again at this stage. On being declared traitors, Jalal ud-Din’s sons stormed the palace, carried away the infant sultan, and went on to capture the whole of Delhi. The paralysed Kaiqubad is said to have been kicked to death by a Khilji noble whose father had been murdered on the sultan’s orders. His corpse was thrown into the River Yamuna, bringing a sordid end to a sordid life. Jalal ud-Din acted as the regent for the infant sultan for a transitional period of time. Thereafter, the infant was presumable put to death, since there is no further mention of him, and Jalal ud-Din ascended the throne in March 1290. The Slave dynasty came to an inglorious end.

Territorial Integrity

In terms of territory, the Turkish kingdom established by Muhammad of Ghur remained static throughout the reign of the Slave sultans. If anything, it contracted geographically through losses suffered in rebellions. Further, the integrity of the territorial holdings were also in question almost through the entire time, with the Hindu kings mounting repeated attacks and taking back parts of the annexed territories. Year after year, sultan after sultan had to undertake numerous expeditions to put down the uprisings of independence that broke out routinely across all parts of the conquered territories. Therefore, it is not surprising that the boundary of the Delhi sultanate fluctuated, at times fairly wildly, from reign to reign dependent on a number of factors—the main one being the stability and strength of the central rule to enforce its will on outlying areas.

In a very broad manner, the territorial boundaries were: in the north, the Himalayan foothills called the Tarai; a zig-zagging line, passing through North Bengal, Bihar, Bundelkhand, Gwalior, Ajmer and north of Gujarat in the south, which moved up and down almost every year; in the east the control was limited to about half of Bengal and the border was nowhere near Dacca, although Balban did reach close to that city in his pursuit of the rebel Tughril Khan; and in the north-west, the River Jhelum, although the border shrank at times to the River Beas. Most of the time the Delhi sultans were able to exercise only tenuous control over Lahore, Multan and Sindh. There is no doubt that Jammu and Kashmir was always outside the Slave dynasty’s control. Even within this established territory, many Hindu kings, especially within the Doab and parts of Rajasthan, were independent rulers or at best recalcitrant vassals. It is clear that the Slave sultans did not enjoy absolute sovereignty over the territories that they had inherited at some stage and claimed as their sultanate. The sultanate could at best be described as somewhat weakly held and only beginning to gain an integral identity of its own.

The Nature of the State

The Slave sultanate was the first established Turkish/Muslim state in the Indian sub-continent, and like all other Islamic states of the time, was a theocracy. Its functioning was completely based on Islamic Law, laid down as per the Holy Quran and expounded and/or interpreted by the jurists who had created the Sharia or the Law. The criminal and civil laws were not delineated as separate entities. Islam was the declared state religion and, in theory, the entire resources of the state was available for the propagation of the religion and other religious propaganda purposes. However, in practice this was adapted to suit different contexts and political conditions, according to the felt and perceived needs of the ruler and the clergy.

According to strict Islamic theory, God is the real king of a Muslim state. The legitimacy of the earthly ruler, the sultan, is based on being elected by the ‘millat’—an electorate consisting of all male Muslims in the country. However, this process was found to be impractical even in Arabia, the fountainhead of Islam. In any case, the Turks who came to India were not the original followers of the religion and did not follow any fixed law or protocol for succession—a fact amply demonstrated by the history of the Slave dynasty. The choice of the sultan was normally confined to the surviving members of the family of the deceased ruler. In the case of a powerful noble usurping the throne, he ensured that no male family member of the previous sultan’s family survived in order to avoid internecine wars in the future. In practice, it is seen that succession was based on birth, ability, nomination by the dead king and, most importantly, the support of the court nobles. The determining factors for a person to be able to ascend the throne were always decidedly practical.

The Delhi sultanate, especially in its infancy at the time of the Slave dynasty, was a military state dependent on military force to rule as opposed to ruling by consent. Obviously this was the case of most conquered states, at least in the initial period of the new rule. The physical territories were held by Turkish nobles and troops. Since the Slave sultanate was a foreign government with no cultural or religious commonality to the conquered people, the ruling elite did not connect temporally, even remotely, with the land. The Turkish nobles discharged only two responsibilities—the collection of revenue and the maintenance of law and order. Social welfare of the people was never considered as a matter of concern for the state.

Within the sultanate, the ruling Turkish elite followed the standard Muslim practice applied to all conquered lands—they offered the local population three alternatives, conversion to Islam; death; or life as a degraded subject paying a separate tax called ‘jizziya’ with almost no rights as citizens. Only Muslims, mainly of Turkish origin, were considered full-fledged citizens. In the Indian sub-continent, the vast majority of the population who were Hindus, elected to pay the jizzya and accepted the concerted discrimination that was heaped on them as non-Muslims. They were being denied citizenship of the place where they had lived for generations. The worst offenders in perpetuating religious bigotry were the ulema, the so-called ‘learned divines’, who were particularly vicious in their hostile attitude towards non-Muslims of all denomination. There were also regular attempts by rulers, particularly the zealously religious ones, to systematically erase the concept of idolatry, meaning Hindu practices. These efforts were egged on by the ulema. However, these attempts were only a religious façade meant to provide a cover for plundering and looting the rich Hindu temples.

Modern Muslim writers (such as Dr I H Qureshi, Dr Mahdi Husain etc.,) have attempted to prove that no persecution of Hindus took place during the establishment of the Delhi sultanate or even during later Muslim rule. Some of these historians have gone to the extent of stating that the Hindus were happier under Muslim rule than they were under earlier Hindu kings. Nothing could be further from the truth and these writings have to be discounted as attempts to sweep away the atrocities that were committed in the name of religion and direct efforts to gradually re-write history. The glorification of Muslim rulers of the medieval period as religiously tolerant and benign rulers is not supported by any shard of evidence and is based on unconvincing arguments. This aberration in recounting the history of India, that is still being perpetuated, is not being debated or discussed any further in this chapter. The fact remains that the early Turkish sultans attempted forced conversions of the ‘non-believers’ on a continual basis. That was their creed and calling.

The ‘Slave’ Government

The government of the Slave dynasty, till its demise, was a work in progress. In theory, the sultan was an absolute despot with unlimited power, the supreme executive of the state, the temporal head of all the people and the religious head of all Muslims. However, in practice, the sultan functioned within the constraints of several, and at time severe, checks and balances imposed on him by the nobles and the ulema. Further, the ambiguity that prevailed over the succession issue eroded the power and stature of the sultan, especially towards the waning years of his rule and life. To add to this uncertainty, the government in Delhi grew in a haphazard manner without any indication of planned development. This was so even during the times of Balban, by far the most efficient of the Slave sultans. In addition, ministers and other senior officials were appointed and dismissed at the pleasure of the sultan, which translated to truncated tenures and made assured continuity of administration an impossibility.

The sultan was completely dependent on the army for survival and the strength and stature of the government was directly proportional to the strength, cohesiveness and effectiveness of the army. Even so, the governance was decentralised and built around the military commands established across the territory of the sultanate. The lands around Delhi was maintained by the crown as the sultan’s personal lands and the rest divided into provinces. These territorial divisions had no homogeneity in size, population or income and was totally ad hoc in nature. A province was called an iqta and was ruled by a governor called muqti, who was appointed by the sultan.  They were equated to fiefdoms of the European nations by the early Western historians, although this would not be strictly correct. The muqti had territorial jurisdiction over his province and ruled according to a personal interpretation of the sultan’s will. He was also independent for all practical purposes as long as the stipulated tribute was paid to the sultan in Delhi on time. The muqti also maintained his own army, which had to be placed under the command of the sultan when demanded. However, the size and composition of the army was left to the muqti to determine. Some of the more powerful muqtis even controlled vassal rulers, normally smaller Hindu chieftains whose land holdings fell within the iqta.

The Army

The army was the source of all power of both the sultan and the fledgling sultanate. However, strangely, the strength of the central standing army was very limited, unlike in the case of the Mauryas, Guptas and the Vardhanas of ancient India. The permanent standing army in the capital was limited to the sultan’s immediate bodyguards and the small contingent that patrolled the capital to maintain law and order. According to some estimates, the numbers were not even sufficient to defend Delhi, in extremis. For a government dependent on its army for survival, the lack of a large standing army under the direct control of the sultan is an inexplicable fact.

The army, when needed, comprised of a combination of different contingents from the various iqta, provided on demand by the muqti. This method had great disadvantages in that the loyalty of the various groups was never fully ascertained and their fighting capability was an unknown factors. The reason for this unorthodox organisation can be traced back to the original invasions by the two Muhammads—one of Ghazni and the other of Ghur. The initial invading contingent were all soldiers who fought together and would come together eve later when required to face a common enemy. This worked well as long as the invasions were expeditions of plunder without any thought or intent to conquer the land on a permanent basis. However, when the governance of conquered lands became a semi-permanent situation, the Turkish nobles automatically assumed these duties, taking their group of soldiers with them to their individual provinces. The territory to control was large and the provincial iqta in turn created armies of professional soldiers around the core of the original invading force. These soldiers were recruited from the local converts to Islam and officered by Turks. Gradually, through a process of evolution, large standing armies came to be provincial in nature. Even so, with the increasing stature of the sultan, the size of the bodyguards also increased. By the time of Balban’s reign, their size was sufficient to form an effective nucleus for a collective army.

The army consisted mainly of cavalry and infantry, along with support personnel for logistics and other maintenance, normally termed as ‘camp followers’. The officers were invariably cavalrymen, some being prominent nobles of the realm and also provincial governors. A majority of the officers were ‘slaves’, who were divided into three main groups—the Muizzis, slaves of Muiz ud-Din Muhammad of Ghur; Qutubis, slaves of Qutb ud-Din Aibak; and Shamsis, the slaves of Shams ud-Din Iltutmish.

The army did not undertake any organised regimental training. Its fighting efficiency depended on the sultan’s leadership and strategic acumen, combined with the officer corps’ tactical ability. The muqti had complete freedom in terms of numbers, payment, equipment and discipline in creating their provincial armies that came together to form the army of the sultanate when needed. It is obvious that there was not much cohesion in the different groups even when fighting as a single entity. The army also consisted of a limited number of volunteers at various levels. These soldiers brought their own arms and mounts and were mostly fortune seekers of limited reliability. The other kind of soldiers were the jihadi elements. These were exclusively devout Muslims and were predominantly recruited to wage a ‘holy war’ against the local Hindu princes. These forces were allowed to plunder the conquered areas and retain four-fifth of the loot for themselves while depositing the remaining one-fifth as the share of the sultan.

The jihadi forces are very seldom mentioned even in the contemporary narrative of Indian history since it does not accord with the genial attitude of the Muslim rulers towards non-Muslims, which is a perception being fostered in the recounting. However, these special groups existed and were employed against non-Muslim states, regions and areas in a systematic manner. The jihadi force formed the core of the modus operandi that was employed, through plunder and pillage, to subjugate the common people of the land. Essentially they were ground into poverty and subsequent oblivion over a period of extreme oppression, sanctioned by the sultan. The sultan was the supreme commander of the army, including the jihadi forces, a post that was never relinquished to anyone else throughout the dynastic rule of the Slave sultans. The reason for this is obvious—the sovereignty of the rule was built on and maintained by the fighting power of the army.

The responsibility for payment of the soldiers that were send to the sultan from the iqta is unclear. Most likely they were paid on an assignment basis by the sultan, rather than on the time spend in central service. The muqti was obviously expected to take up the slack as well as pay for other expenditure for equipment and maintenance. The collection of revenue by the provincial governments were therefore directly influenced by the state of affairs in Delhi and the stability or otherwise that prevailed. The slave army had a rudimentary organisation. However, they displayed relatively higher efficiency in the actual fighting than the forces of the Hindu princes for three intangible reasons. One, the Muslim army was religiously homogenous and therefore inherently possessed much greater solidarity and cohesiveness. Two, there was an added pull towards unity because the soldiers were strangers to the country, essentially being invaders in a hostile and foreign land. Three, the lure of plunder and self-aggrandisement was a powerful stimulant for exhibiting ferocious bravery.

Sources of Income

The sultanate relied on three main sources of income—taxes, excise duties, and wealth from mines and mineral resources.

Taxes. Five taxes were instituted as sanctioned by the Sharia. First, the Kharaj, a land tax levied on the Hindus alone, which was a ratio of the produce collected as the state share. The ratio varied and was normally calculated at random and through guess work. In some of the more organised provinces, the old Hindu records were consulted. Second, the Ushr, a land tax on the Muslims, which was set at one-tenth of the produce. However, this ratio was changed over a period of time when large scale conversions made it unprofitable for the central exchequer to levy only this small ratio. Third, the Jizzya, levied on all non-Muslims. The entire Hindu population, which formed more than 90 per cent of the country, was divided into three tiers paying 48, 24 and 12 dirhams respectively per living male person in a family. Fourth was the Khams, which was one-fifth of the plunder of the infidel wealth carried out by the Jihadi forces, as explained earlier. Fifth, the Zakat, levied on Muslims and consisted of one-fortieth of an individual’s income. The amount collected was spent on items that benefited only Muslims, such as repair of mosques, pension for the ulema and other religious purposes.

Excise and custom duties were levied on all goods that were imported into the sultanate. The rate was two and one-half percent of value for Muslim traders and five and one-half per cent for Hindu merchants. All mines, mineral wealth and other underground treasures automatically belonged to the sultan. During the Slave rule, the maximum income to the central treasury came from the Khams, the sultan’s share of the booty and spoils of the plunder from Hindu territories and treasure. The fact that even though only one-fifth went to the sultan, in a short span of a century the sultanate had amassed unaccounted wealth, stands as silent testimony to the richness and wealth of the kingdoms and principalities of the Indian sub-continent.

The System of Justice

The justice system was served by a pyramidal structure of judges, called quazi, which started at the lowest courts in important towns and cities, the provincial court at the seat of power and the central court in Delhi. The sultan was the fountainhead of all justice and he was the last ‘court’ of appeal for justice. It was not uncommon for the sultan to hear cases personally and give judgement. However, he appointed a chief quazi who in turn appointed the other judges all the way to the lowest court in the land. The chief quazi assisted the sultan in arriving at judgements, especially in complex cases. The chief mufti, the religious leader, was also called to advice the sultan in cases where religious disputes were involved.

The Slave dynasty did not interfere in village life other than to collect revenue and neither did they deliver any kind of justice to the rural areas. Cases that involved only Hindus were left to the lower level panchayats to arbitrate even if the issue fell within the jurisdiction of a court that was available. However, if there was Muslim involvement, the quazi presided over the trial. There was a kotwal, head of police, in every town, who also doubled as the magistrate. The punishments for criminal offences were severe and enforced strictly.

The Early Muslim Society in the Sub-continent

The establishment of the Slave sultanate also marked the beginning of the Muslim society in the sub-continent. The Turks, the original ruling class within the sultanate, belonged to different tribes but came together in the face of being in a hostile country. They were uniformly arrogant, carried an extremely deep-set superiority complex, and were die-hard racists believing implicitly in their own purity and superiority of birth. They looked down on the local converts to Islam and did not like to associate with them in any manner.

Even though the local Muslims were treated with disdain, the number of ‘Indian Muslims’ grew rapidly through forced and/or opportunistic conversions. There were also other foreigners adhering to Islam who had arrived with the invading force of the Turks—Persians, Afghans and a smattering of Arabs. Within this eclectic group of Muslims, racial mixing was inevitable. Even the Turks intermarried with each of the other racial types—native Muslims, refugees from Central Asia, and newly converted Mongols—creating a hybrid race that became the 13th century Muslim population of the sub-continent. Continuing inter-marriages created a fusion of various races and ethnicities that became the ‘Indian’ Muslim.

The society was divided into two main branches: the soldiers or fighting men who were rulers and formed the aristocracy; and the scholars and chroniclers. The soldiers and the ruling class were mainly Turks and men of the sword. They formed the aristocracy and maintained their own hierarchy, the lowest being Amir, then Malik and the highest being titled Khan. Amongst the Khans, one person was designated Ulugh Khan, and was considered the leading noble of the kingdom. At any given time this title was bestowed only on one person. Turkish slaves could aspire to be promoted up to the rank of Malik, with only Balban being an exception, having been titled Khan during the time of his regency. The scholars and chroniclers, men of the pen, were mainly non-Turks who were mostly literary men or theologians. There were also a separate, but very influential, category of Muslims—the group of household slaves who may originally have been non-Muslims, meaning Hindus, but were bought and converted in their master’s household. The Muslim society was primarily urban and also included traders, clerks and artisans in small numbers.

From a purely religious perspective, the society was divided between the followers of Sunni and Shia Islamic faiths. The animosity between the two was clearly visible even at this early stage of the establishment of the religion in the sub-continent. The Shias were concentrated in Multan and Sindh. They made several attempts to capture power in Delhi, but were always put down ruthlessly. From the time of the establishment of the sultanate, the Sunnis were in control in Delhi. The 13th century also saw the appearance of the Sufi saints in ‘Hindustan’. These were Muslim mystics, men of learning who supported the belief of direct communication between God and the individual. This concept resonated with the Bhakti movement in Hindu religious practice. The Sufis practised piety and self-imposed poverty, electing to stay in remote places far removed from normal society.

The leaders of this movement were saintly persons, who deservingly attained acclaimed sainthood on their passing. Most of them had large followings of people who wanted to be initiated into the intricacies of Sufi practices. In the early days, two main orders of Sufis were established in India. One was the group that followed the teachings of Muin ud-Din Chishti of Ajmer, called the Chishtias; and the second were the disciples of Bha ud-Din Zakaria in Multan who came to be known and the Suhrawardia clan. The main impact of the Sufi movement was that a large number of voluntary conversion to Islam took place, especially in the regions around Ajmer and Multan. Sufism formed an acceptable bridge between Islam and Hinduism, where the exchanges and influences flowed in both directions. In the development of Islam in the sub-continent, Sufism created a common ground for mutual exchange and acceptance of ideas.

Conclusion

Even though some of the Turkish ruling elite were patrons of learning, this was not an overarching situation. However, within the Muslim society, education was institutionalised. The maktab was a primary school attached to the local mosque, and the madrsah the seat of higher learning, especially in theology. Some nobles endowed colleges of higher learning, which normally taught the practice of calligraphy and/or architecture. The Turks imported architectural concepts and building techniques from Central Asia and started the blend with the classic Indian concepts that was to become famous in later years.

Some modern Muslim writers have attempted to create an unjustified perception that the Delhi sultanate was a ‘cultural’ state. These claims are completely wrong, being efforts at re-writing history and altering the truth. Definitely a few of the sultans were found of literature, but that does not make the state they ruled a culturally evolved one. Further, these very same sultans were also ferocious tyrants. The bit of ‘culture’ that can be gleaned was confined to the capital and the aristocracy. The majority of the followers who came with the invading force were crude soldiers of fortune.

There is no doubt that the sultanate was a military state. It was held together by building well protected and powerful military garrisons, manned by Turkish and other foreign troops, and located at strategic points. Further, the government carried out only two functions, the collection of revenue and maintenance of law and order. The sultan and the provincial governors neither considered, nor cared for, the moral, ethical, cultural, physical or material welfare of the people, the vast majority of whom were oppressed Hindus. They were a deprived lot and not accorded full rights as citizens in their own land. The existence of the Hindu religion and its adherents were tolerated as unavoidable evils, an attitude that continued for many centuries till the end of the Islamic rule in the sub-continent with the arrival of the Western powers. The relegation of Hindus as second class citizens in their own land started at the very beginning of Muslim rule in the sub-continent. In fact it was perpetuated by the first dynasty to rule an established Muslim sultanate in the sub-continent.

© [Sanu Kainikara] [2016]
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About Sanu kainikara

Sainik School Kazhakuttam (Kerala), National Defence Academy 39/A, 108 Pilot's Course IAF, fighter pilot, QFI, FCL, psc, HACC, Voluntary Retirement as Wing Commander. Canberra-based Defence Analyst specialising in air power and national security. PhD in International Politics from University of Adelaide Adjunct Professor, University of New South Wales, Distinguished Fellow Institute For Regional Security (IFRS) Distinguished Fellow Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS)

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