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Malik Ambar

Malik Ambar

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Malik Ambar was an Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

n born in Harar
Harar is an eastern city in Ethiopia, and the capital of the modern Harari ethno-political division of Ethiopia...

, sold as a child by his parents due to poverty and rose to the level of Prime Minister of the Ahmadnagar Sultanate
Ahmadnagar Sultanate
The Ahmadnagar Sultanate سلطان احمد نگر was a late medieval Indian kingdom, located in the northwestern Deccan, between the sultanates of Gujarat and Bijapur. Malik Ahmad, the Bahmani governor of Junnar after defeating the Bahmani army led by general Jahangir Khan on 28 May 1490 declared...

 in India. He eventually arrived in India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, where he was educated and given opportunities, but he remained a slave. Nevertheless in time he created an independent army that had up to 1500 men. This army resided in the Deccan region and was hired by many local kings. He also founded the city of Aurangabad Maharashtra on the site of a previous village. He eventually rose to become a very popular Prime Minister of Ahmadnagar, showing his administrative acumen in various fields. Malik is also regarded as a pioneer in Guerilla warfare in the Deccan region. He is credited with having carried out a systematic revenue settlement of major portions of the Deccan, which formed the basis for many subsequent settlements. He died in 1626. He is a figure of veneration to the Siddi
The Siddi, Siddhi, or Sheedi , also known as Habshi, are an Indian and Pakistani ethnic group of Afro-Arab and/or Black African descent. The Siddi population is currently estimated to be 20,000–55,000, with Gujarat and Hyderabad in India the main population centre. Siddis are mainly Sufi Muslims,...

s of Gujarat. He humbled the might of the Mughals and Adil Shah of Bijapur and raised the falling status of the Nizam Shah.

Early life

Malik Ambar was born in the city of Alhura in a Habshi tribe of Maya, the capital of the Adal Sultanate
Adal Sultanate
The Adal Sultanate or the Kingdom of Adal was a medieval multi-ethnic Muslim state located in the Horn of Africa.-Overview:...

, in modern eastern Ethiopia. Both Ethiopia and the rebellious (formerly vassal) Adal sultanate were devastated after two decades of war with each other. According to the Futuhat-i `adil Shahi, Malik Ambar then known as Shambhu or Shan-bu was sold into slavery by his parents. He ended up in al-Mukha
Mocha, Yemen
Mocha or Mokha is a port city on the Red Sea coast of Yemen. Until it was eclipsed in the 19th century by Aden and Hodeida, Mocha was the principal port for Yemen's capital Sana'a.-Overview:...

 in Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

, where he was sold again for 20 ducats and was taken to the slave market in Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

, where he was sold a third time to the Qadi al-Qudat
Qadi is a judge ruling in accordance with Islamic religious law appointed by the ruler of a Muslim country. Because Islam makes no distinction between religious and secular domains, qadis traditionally have jurisdiction over all legal matters involving Muslims...

 of Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

 and again in Baghdad to Mir Qasim al-Baghdadi, who eventually took him to south-central India
Deccan Plateau
The Deccan Plateau is a large plateau in India, making up the majority of the southern part of the country. It rises a hundred meters high in the north, rising further to more than a kilometers high in the south, forming a raised triangle nested within the familiar downward-pointing triangle of...

. Unlike most slaves sold from Ethiopia, he was ethnically Habesha
Habesha people
The term Habesha ābešā, Ḥābešā; al-Ḥabašah) refers to the South Semitic-speaking group of people whose cultural, linguistic, and in certain cases, ancestral origins trace back to those people who ruled the Axumite Empire and the kingdom known as DʿMT .Peoples referred to as "Habesha" today...

 (by the stricter definitions), as supported by the Dutch merchant Pieter van den Broecke
Pieter van den Broecke
Pieter van den Broecke was a Dutch cloth merchant in the service of the Dutch East India Company , and one of the first Dutchmen to taste coffee. He also went to Angola three times...

's description of him, "a black kafir from Abyssinia with a stern Roman face."

His career

Malik Ambar was the regent of the Nizamshahi dynasty of Ahmednagar from 1607 to 1626. During this period he increased the strength and power of Murtaza Nizam Shah and raised a large army. He changed the capital from Paranda to Junar and founded a new city, Khadki which was later on changed to Aurangabad by the Emperor Aurangzeb
Abul Muzaffar Muhy-ud-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb Alamgir , more commonly known as Aurangzeb or by his chosen imperial title Alamgir , was the sixth Mughal Emperor of India, whose reign lasted from 1658 until his death in 1707.Badshah Aurangzeb, having ruled most of the Indian subcontinent for nearly...

 when he invaded the Deccan (1658 to 1707). Malik Ambar cherished strong love and ability for architecture. Aurangabad was Ambar's architectural achievement and creation. Malik Ambar the founder of the city was always referred to by harsh names by Emperor Jahangir
Jahangir was the ruler of the Mughal Empire from 1605 until his death. The name Jahangir is from Persian جهانگیر,meaning "Conqueror of the World"...

. In his memoirs he never mentions his name without prefixing epithets like wretch, cursed fellow, Habshi, Ambar Siyari, black Ambar, and Ambar Badakhtur. Some historians believe that those words came out of frustration as Malik Ambar had resisted the powerful Mughals and kept them away from Deccan. "

Pioneer of guerilla warfare

Malik Ambar is said to be the pioneer of guerilla warfare in the Deccan region. He had mobilized the Marathas who were then farmers, trained them in guerilla warfare. Malik Ambar trained the Marathas and transformed them into excellent riders, warriors, and masters of surprise attacks on the enemy. This helped Malik Ambar gain a reputation as one general who had never lost a battle. Shahji Bhonsle who was in the servitude in the court of the Sultan assisted him greatly in assembling and training the mobile units of Marathas. Malik Ambar assisted Shah Jahan
Shah Jahan
Shah Jahan Shah Jahan (also spelled Shah Jehan, Shahjehan, , Persian: شاه جهان) (January 5, 1592 – January 22, 1666) Shah Jahan (also spelled Shah Jehan, Shahjehan, , Persian: شاه جهان) (January 5, 1592 – January 22, 1666) (Full title: His Imperial Majesty Al-Sultan al-'Azam wal Khaqan...

 wrestle power in Delhi from his stepmother, Nur Jahan, who had ambitions of seating her son-in-law on the throne. Maratha fighters were also used for this purpose. Malik Ambar and Shahji had also restored some credibility to the Sultans of Ahmadnagar, who had been subdued by the earlier Mughals (Akbar had annexed Ahmadnagar).

Malik Ambar designs the neher system

Malik Amber is especially famous for the Neher, the water system, (Aurangabad) the rendering of which to this day is a miracle. His plan for the Nehar was met with sarcasm and ridicule. Vazir Mullah Mohammad declared it as a preposterous fancy which would require 'Um-Re-Noh' (Noh’s life span), 'Sab-Re-Ayub' ( Ayub’s patience), 'Khazana-Kharun' ( Kharun’s treasure). But Malik Ambar completed the Neher within fifteen months, spending a nominal of sum of two and a half lakhs. This city is situated on the banks of river Kham, a small perennial stream which takes it’s rise in the neighbouring hill. "

Conflict with Mughals

Malik Amber thrust defeats on the Mughal General Khan Khanan many times and attacked Ahmadnagar often. Lakhuji Jadhavrao, Maloji Bhosale, Shahaji Bhosale and other Maratha chiefs had gained great prominence during this period. With the help of these Maratha Chiefs, Malik Ambar had captured Ahmednagar Fort and town from the Mughals. But in one of the battles Malik Ambar was defeated by the Mughals and had to lose the fort of Ahmadnagar. Many Maratha Chiefs and especially Lakhuji Jadhavrao joined the Mughals. Shah Jahan
Shah Jahan
Shah Jahan Shah Jahan (also spelled Shah Jehan, Shahjehan, , Persian: شاه جهان) (January 5, 1592 – January 22, 1666) Shah Jahan (also spelled Shah Jehan, Shahjehan, , Persian: شاه جهان) (January 5, 1592 – January 22, 1666) (Full title: His Imperial Majesty Al-Sultan al-'Azam wal Khaqan...

 once again laid a crushing blow to Malik Ambar in one of the battles and further decreased his power. Malik Ambar was a great statesman and soldier. He humbled the might of the Mughal and Adil Shah of Bijapur and raised the falling status of the Nizam Shah. Though defeated by the Mughals he was never cowed down by their might.


He died in 1626 at the age of 80 (eighty). Malik Ambar had two sons, Fatteh Khan and Changiz Khan. Fatteh Khan succeeded his father as the regent of Nizam Shah.

Comments of Historians

A noted historian Dr. Beni Prasad notes: "The chief importance of the Deccan campaigns of the Mughals lies in the opportunities of military training and political power which they afforded to the Marathas. Malik Ambar, who was a great master of the art of guerilla warfare as Shivaji himself, stands as the head of the builders of the Maratha nationality. His primary object was to serve the interest of his own master, but unconsciously he nourished into strength a power which more than avenged the injuries of the South on the Northern power."

Foundation of Aurangabad

He founded/inhabited Aurangabad  on the site of the Khirki/Khadke("Big Rock") village in 1610. After his death in 1626, the name was change to Fatehpur by his son Fatehkhan. When Aurangzeb, the mughal emperor invaded Deccan in the year 1653, he made Fatehpur his capital and renamed it as Aurangabad. Since then it is known as Aurangabad. Two capital cities Viz. ‘Pratisthan’ (Paithan) i.e. the capital of Satavahanas (2nd B. C. to 3rd A. D.) and Devagiri - Daulatabad the capital of Yadavas and Muhammad bin Tughluq
Muhammad bin Tughluq
Muhammad bin Tughluq was the Turkic Sultan of Delhi from 1325 to 1351. He was the eldest son of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq.He was born in Kotla Tolay Khan in Multan. His wife was daughter of the raja of Dipalpur...

are located within the limits of Aurangabad.

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