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Razia Sultana

Razia Sultana

Overview
Razia al-Din ' onMouseout='HidePop("27967")' href="http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Hindi">Hindi
Hindi
Standard Hindi, or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi, also known as Manak Hindi , High Hindi, Nagari Hindi, and Literary Hindi, is a standardized and sanskritized register of the Hindustani language derived from the Khariboli dialect of Delhi...

: रज़िया सुल्ताना), throne name Jalâlat ud-Dîn Raziyâ , usually referred to in history as Razia Sultan, was the Sultan of Delhi in India
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...

 from 1236 to May 1240.
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Razia al-Din ' onMouseout='HidePop("27967")' href="http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Hindi">Hindi
Hindi
Standard Hindi, or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi, also known as Manak Hindi , High Hindi, Nagari Hindi, and Literary Hindi, is a standardized and sanskritized register of the Hindustani language derived from the Khariboli dialect of Delhi...

: रज़िया सुल्ताना), throne name Jalâlat ud-Dîn Raziyâ , usually referred to in history as Razia Sultan, was the Sultan of Delhi in India
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...

 from 1236 to May 1240. She was of Seljuq slave ancestry and like some other Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 princesses of the time, she was trained to lead armies and administer kingdoms if necessary. Razia Sultana, the fifth Mamluk Sultanate was the only woman ruler of both the Sultanate and the Mughal period.

Razia as Sultan


Razia (also called Radiyya or Raziyya) succeeded her father Shams-ud-din Iltutmish
Iltutmish
Shams-ud-din Iltutmish was the third ruler of the Mamluk dynasty of Delhi of Turkic origin. He was a slave of Qutub-ud-din-Aybak and later became his son-in-law and close lieutenant. He was the Governor of Badaun when he deposed Qutub-ud-din's successor Aram Shah and acceeded to the throne of the...

 to the Sultanate of Delhi
Delhi Sultanate
The Delhi Sultanate is a term used to cover five short-lived, Delhi based kingdoms or sultanates, of Turkic origin in medieval India. The sultanates ruled from Delhi between 1206 and 1526, when the last was replaced by the Mughal dynasty...

 in 1236. Iltutmish became the first sultan
Sultan
Sultan is a title with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic language abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", and "dictatorship", derived from the masdar سلطة , meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who...

 to appoint a woman as his successor when he designated his daughter Razia as his heir apparent
Heir apparent
An heir apparent or heiress apparent is a person who is first in line of succession and cannot be displaced from inheriting, except by a change in the rules of succession....

. (According to one source, Iltumish's eldest son had initially been groomed as his successor, but had died prematurely.) But the Muslim nobility had no intention of acceding to Iltutmish's appointment of a woman as heir, and after the sultan died on April 29, 1236, Razia's brother, Rukn ud din Firuz
Rukn ud din Firuz
Rukn ud din Firuz was the fourth sultan of the Mamluk Sultanate , who ruled for just seven months. He was the son of Shams ud din Iltutmish and was raised to become Iltutmish's heir. However after Iltutmish's death in April 1236 he was viewed as being unfit to rule and was murdered in November 1236...

, was elevated to the throne instead.

Ruknuddin's reign was short. With Iltutmish's widow Shah Turkaan for all practical purposes running the government, Ruknuddin abandoned himself to the pursuit of personal pleasure and debauchery, to the considerable outrage of the citizenry. On November 9, 1236, both Ruknuddin and his mother Shah Turkaan were assassinated after only six months in power.

With reluctance, the nobility agreed to allow Razia to reign as Sultan of Delhi. As a child and adolescent, Razia had had little contact with the women of the harem
Harem
Harem refers to the sphere of women in what is usually a polygynous household and their enclosed quarters which are forbidden to men...

, so she had not learnt the customary behavior of women in the Muslim society that she was born into. Even before she became Sultan, she was reportedly preoccupied with the affairs of state during her father's reign. As Sultan, Razia preferred a man's tunic and headdress; and contrary to custom, she would later show her face when she rode an elephant into battle at the head of her army.

A shrewd politician, Razia managed to keep the nobles in check, while enlisting the support of the army and the populace. Her greatest accomplishment on the political front was to manipulate rebel factions into opposing each other. At that point, Razia seemed destined to become one of the most powerful rulers of the Delhi Sultanate.

But Razia miscounted the consequences that a relationship with one of her advisers, Jamal-ud-Din Yaqut
Jamal-ud-Din Yaqut
Jamal-ud-Din Yaqut was an Abyssinian slave who was a close confidante of Razia Sultana, the first female monarch of the Delhi Sultanate in India and is speculated to have been her lover...

, an Abyssinian
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...

 Siddi
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,...

 (Habshi) slave, would have for her reign. According to some accounts, Razia and Yaqut were lovers, other sources simply identify them as close confidants. In any case, before long she had aroused the jealousy of the Turkic nobility by the favoritism she displayed toward Yaqut, who was not a Turk, when she appointed him to be Superintendent of the Stables. Eventually, a childhood friend named Malik Altunia
Malik Altunia
Malik Altunia was the governor of Bhatinda in India under the rule of the Delhi Sultanate under the Mamluk Sultanate. He led a revolt against Razia Sultana, the Sultana of Delhi and his childhood friend. To escape death, Razia agreed to marry Altunia...

, the governor of Bhatinda, joined a rebellion by other provincial governors who refused to accept Razia's authority.

A battle between Razia and Altunia ensued, with the result that Yaqut was killed and Razia taken prisoner. To escape death, Razia agreed to marry Altunia. Meanwhile, Razia's brother, Muizuddin Bahram Shah, had usurped the throne. After Altunia and Razia undertook to take back the sultanate from Bahram through battle, both Razia and her husband were defeated on 24th of Rabi' al-awwal
Rabi' al-awwal
Rabi' al-awwal is the third month in the Islamic calendar. During this month, Muslims around the world celebrate Mawlid - the birthday of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Sunni Muslims believe the exact date of birth of Muhammad to have been on the twelfth of this month, whereas Shi'a Muslims believe...

 A.H.
Islamic calendar
The Hijri calendar , also known as the Muslim calendar or Islamic calendar , is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 lunar months in a year of 354 or 355 days. It is used to date events in many Muslim countries , and used by Muslims everywhere to determine the proper day on which to celebrate Islamic...

 638 (Oct. 1240). They fled Delhi and reached Kaithal
Kaithal
Kaithal is a city and a municipal council in Kaithal district in the Indian state of Haryana. Kaithal was previously a part of Karnal District and later, Kurukshetra District until 1 November 1989, when it became the headquarters of the Kaithal District of Haryana. Kaithal shares common boundary...

 the next day, where their remaining forces abandoned them. They both fell into the hands of Jats and were robbed and killed on 25th of Rabi' al-awwal
Rabi' al-awwal
Rabi' al-awwal is the third month in the Islamic calendar. During this month, Muslims around the world celebrate Mawlid - the birthday of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Sunni Muslims believe the exact date of birth of Muhammad to have been on the twelfth of this month, whereas Shi'a Muslims believe...

 A.H.
Islamic calendar
The Hijri calendar , also known as the Muslim calendar or Islamic calendar , is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 lunar months in a year of 354 or 355 days. It is used to date events in many Muslim countries , and used by Muslims everywhere to determine the proper day on which to celebrate Islamic...

 638, this date corresponds to October 14, 1240. Bahram, for his part, would later be dethroned for incompetence.

Razia's Legacy



Razia is said to have pointed out that the spirit of religion was more important than its parts, and that even the Islamic prophet
Prophets of Islam
Muslims identify the Prophets of Islam as those humans chosen by God and given revelation to deliver to mankind. Muslims believe that every prophet was given a belief to worship God and their respective followers believed it as well...

 Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

 spoke against overburdening the non-Muslims. On another occasion, Razia reportedly tried to appoint an Indian Muslim convert from Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 to an official position but again ran into opposition from the nobles.

Razia was reportedly devoted to the cause of her empire and to her subjects. There is no record that she made any attempt to remain aloof from her subjects, rather it appears she preferred to mingle among them. Her tolerance of Hinduism would later bring her criticism from Muslim historians.

Razia established schools, academies, centers for research, and public libraries that included the works of ancient philosophers along with the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 and the traditions of Muhammad
Sunnah
The word literally means a clear, well trodden, busy and plain surfaced road. In the discussion of the sources of religion, Sunnah denotes the practice of Prophet Muhammad that he taught and practically instituted as a teacher of the sharī‘ah and the best exemplar...

. Hindu works in the sciences, philosophy, astronomy, and literature were reportedly studied in schools and colleges.

Razia refused to be addressed as Sultana because it meant "wife or mistress of a sultan". She would answer only to the title "Sultan".

Controversy regarding Razia's Grave


There are conflicting account regarding her actual site of grave. There are at least three claims regarding her grave site. This is compounded by the fact that none of the 3 grave site has epitaph (inscription) on tombstone in memory of the one buried there. So far there are no archaeological or documentary evidences to confirm the site of her grave. The dispute is whether she was buried in Kaithal or Delhi or Tonk, and also where were Altunia and Yakut buried.

Claim regarding Razia's Grave at Old Delhi


First claim is that Razia's grave lies among the narrow lanes of Old Delhi
Old Delhi
Old Delhi , walled city of Delhi, India, was founded as Shahjahanabad by Mughal Emperor Shahjahan in 1639. It remained the capital of the Mughals until the end of the Mughal dynasty....

, in a courtyard in Bulbul-i-khana, Shahjahanabad, near the Turkman Gate entrance. Crumbling and covered by dust and grime, the grave has clearly suffered the ravages of time. The grave is surrounded on all sides by unattractive residential buildings not yet given over to INTACH for demolition and gentrification
Gentrification
Gentrification and urban gentrification refer to the changes that result when wealthier people acquire or rent property in low income and working class communities. Urban gentrification is associated with movement. Consequent to gentrification, the average income increases and average family size...

 purposes. In the 13th century, the site of the tomb was a jungle, and no one knows how Razia's body ended up where it lies today. A second grave, believed to be that of her sister, Shazia, accompanies Razia's. Some of the Muslim residents of the neighborhood have turned a part of the tomb into a mosque, where prayers are conducted five times each day.

Claim regarding Razia's Grave at Siwan near Kaithal in Haryana


Second claim is that the tomb of Razia is situated in Siwan near Kaithal
Kaithal
Kaithal is a city and a municipal council in Kaithal district in the Indian state of Haryana. Kaithal was previously a part of Karnal District and later, Kurukshetra District until 1 November 1989, when it became the headquarters of the Kaithal District of Haryana. Kaithal shares common boundary...

 city, Haryana
Haryana
Haryana is a state in India. Historically, it has been a part of the Kuru region in North India. The name Haryana is found mentioned in the 12th century AD by the apabhramsha writer Vibudh Shridhar . It is bordered by Punjab and Himachal Pradesh to the north, and by Rajasthan to the west and south...

 state. The tomb lies in the north-western suburbs of the city where, a few years back, a jail was erected by the present administration. A newsletter of the Haryana chapter of Intach-Virasat says “ Restoration of Razia Sultan’s tomb at Kaithal and its beautification was prepared by HUDA engineers at an estimated cost of Rs. 52.85 lakhs. The absence of response from the Waqf Board that had been approached for release of funds was noted, and the Haryana chapter now proposes to approach some corporate sector companies.”. Given the controversy surrounding her grave site, it is possible that she may have been initially interred at Kaithal and then later at Delhi but this remains purely a speculation with no evidence of any kind.

Claim regarding Razia's Grave at Tonk in Rajasthan


Third and more recent claim that she and her African slave paramour are buried at Tonk
Tonk District
Tonk District is a district of the state of Rajasthan in western India. The city of Tonk is the administrative headquarters of the district. The district is bounded on the north by Jaipur district, on the east by Sawai Madhopur district, on the southeast by Kota district, on the south by Bundi...

 in Rajasthan
Rajasthan
Rājasthān the land of Rajasthanis, , is the largest state of the Republic of India by area. It is located in the northwest of India. It encompasses most of the area of the large, inhospitable Great Indian Desert , which has an edge paralleling the Sutlej-Indus river valley along its border with...

 where her father Iltumish had laid a siege The controversy and re-examination of historical facts arose after Sayed Sadique Ali, an Urdu lecturer at the local government post-graduate college claimed that the graves at the site are that of Razia and her trusted slave, Yaqut. He based his findings on the calligraphic Arabic script deciphered by the pattern of stones of irregular shapes affixed around the graves. The stones convey a particular message which, according to him, is: "Shahide Muhabbat Quvvatul-Mulk Jamaluddin Yaqut" around the smaller grave, and on the main grave, situated at a higher level, it reads: "Sultanul Hind Razia."

Razia killed by Jats near Kaithal in Haryana


In addition there is a lot of controversy over her death. According to the historian Satish Chandra, Razia died in the year 1239 in raids by bandits in a forest upon returning from battle on her elephant with a halted unit of her army. This does not hold water as she was likely to be on a horse in the battle. Popular legend tells of the queen's death to be an arrow shot into her heart when on the battlefield crying over her husband, Altunia's death - this account however is very unlikely because of her mobility on the horse during the war and because her brother on the throne wouldn't have decided to kill her right away.

Medieval history does provide real reason for her death by referring to her escaping in a man's disguise, being given shelter but then killed by Jats near Kaithal.

In popular culture


Being the first female monarch of the Delhi Sultanate, Razia Sultan has been the subject of many legends. A piece of historical fiction entitled 'Razia: Queen of India' based on the Sultana's life written by Rafiq Zakaria in 2000. The Sultana also has her own title in the Indian comic book series, Amar Chitra Katha. More recently, she was the subject of Razia Sultan
Razia Sultan (film)
Razia Sultan is 1983 Urdu film, written and directed by Kamal Amrohi, and starring Hema Malini and Dharmendra in lead roles.The film's music was provided by Khayyam, with lyrics by Jan Nisar Akhtar and two songs by Nida Fazli who walked into the project when Akhtar died...

, a 1983 urdu
Urdu
Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia. It belongs to the Indo-European family. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in some regions of India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an...

 film, written and directed by Kamal Amrohi
Kamal Amrohi
Syed Amir Haider Kamal Naqvi popularly known as Kamal Amrohi or Amrohvi in Urdu was an Indian film director, screenwriter, and dialogue writer. He was a Shi'a Muslim and an Urdu and Hindi poet. He is most known for his Hindi films such as Mahal , Pakeezah and Razia Sultan...

, starring Hema Malini
Hema Malini
Hema Malini is an Indian actress, director and producer, as well as a Bharatanatyam dancer-choreographer. Making her acting debut in Sapno Ka Saudagar , she went on to appear in numerous Bollywood films, most notably those with actor and future-husband Dharmendra. She was initially promoted as...

 as Razia and Dharmendra
Dharmendra
Dharmendra Singh Deol |Punjab]]), better known as Dharmendra, is an award-winning Hindi film actor who has appeared in more than 247 Hindi-language films as of 2011. In 1997, he received the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Hindi cinema and also another Lifetime...

 as Jamal-ud-Din Yaqut
Jamal-ud-Din Yaqut
Jamal-ud-Din Yaqut was an Abyssinian slave who was a close confidante of Razia Sultana, the first female monarch of the Delhi Sultanate in India and is speculated to have been her lover...

.

Razia Sultana also features in an online comic strip entitled "Razia Sultan" by Halima Voyles. In the comic, Razia features as a female sultan dealing with the disgruntled Turkish nobility and courts, the disapprobation of her brothers Rukn and Muiz, her sister Shazia and her love struck childhood friend Altunia.

Literature

  • Jamila Brijbhushan, Sultan Raziya, Her Life and Times: A Reappraisal, South Asia Books (1990) ISBN 8185425094
  • Rafiq Zakaria, Razia, Queen of India, Oxford University Press (1966)