[PDF Notes] Complete Estimation on Ala-ud-Din Khilji

According to prof. S. R. Sharma, Ala-ud-Din Khalji was the first Muslism Emperor of India. During the reign, for the first time, the Crescent dominated over the whole country from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin and from sea. He was also the first Muslim ruler of India to make a bold experiment in administration. Balban had done little beyond consolidating his kingdom and maintaining order therein.

What little of government there was, under the greatest of the Slave Sultan was of a primitive character. Suppression of rebellion eradication of robbery and defense of the realm against foreign invaders were the primary task which absorbed all energies of Balban. Ala-ud-Din no doubt reaped all the benefits of this most essential spade-work.

But he was also an innovator. However crude his autocracy and whatever fate his dynasty might have immediately suffered, his administrative system supplied the foundation on which all later Muslim rulers in India built.”

Lane-Poole say: “Though he might be wrong-headed and disdainful of the law, Ala-ud-Din was a man of sense and determination, who knew his own mind, saw the necessities of the situation, met them by his own methods and carried out those method with persistence.”

Ferishta tells us that so long as Ala-ud-Din was active, he “executed justice with such rigor that robbery and theft, formerly so common, were not heard of in the land. The traveler slept secure on the highway and the merchant carried his commodities in safety from the sea of Bengal to the mountains of Kabul and from Telingana to Kashmir.”

The view of Elephantine was that the rule of Ala-ud-Din was glorious and he was a successful monarch who exhibited a just exercise of his power. However Dr. V. A. Smith does not agree with Elephantine. His contention is that “facts do not warrant the assertion that he exhibited a just exercise of his powers and that his reign was glorious.”

In reality he was a particulary savege tyrant with very little regard for justice and fiis reign, though marked by the conquest of Gujarat and many successful raids like the storming of the two great fotresses, was exceedingly disgraceful in many respects.

According to Dr. S. Roy, “It is difficult to analyse or pass a verdict on Ala-ud-Din’s character. As a king he was a ruthless tyrant and as man, treacherous and ungrateful. But with all these defects in his character, what carried him through was his resourceful-ness energy and capacity for work to which was added his unbounded courage tempered with calculation and a penetrating commonsense. He was a man of inordinate ambition, but also possessed bold and original ideas to which he would give practical shape with his genius for organisation and leadership.

A vigorous commander, he knew how to carry his army through strenuous campaigns. A master of diplomacy and finesse, he revealed it in his wonderful blitzkrieg in Devagiri and the subsequent events which led to his accession. As a ruler he was vigorous and efficient; and as a reformer, bold and original.

He held a very exalted conception of kingship; the absolute State was the ideal for which he worked-a state untrammelled by the authority of the Ulama and unhampered by the influence of powerful nobility.

He understood the value of and prepared the ground for the separation of the State from the Church. He was not more bigoted than his age. Himself almost illiterate, he had nothing but contempt of learning and scholarship, though during his reign Delhi become ‘the rival of Cairo and the equal of Constantinople’ because of the throng of great men of whom the poet Amir Khusro and Hasan were the most famous.

Ala-ud-Din was the first Muslim imperialist and the first great Muslism administrator of India. The history of Muslim empire and Muslim adminisrator in India really begins with his. Ala-ud-Din, Sher Shah, and Akbar-each marks a distinctive step in the evolution of Indo-Muslim history.”‘

Dr. K. S. Lai rightly points out that although Ala-ud-Din ascended the throne at the age of 30, he reached the apogee of power at 45 through unrivalled skill, studies tact and phenomenal energy. From nothingness, he rose to be one of the greatest rulers of Medieval India.

With the help of a strong and disciplined army, he pulled down the native princes and stamped out sedition from the land. By a systematic tariff policy, he controlled the fluctuating market and with efficient administrative machinery effectively governed the country for two decades.

It is true that there were certain defects in his administrative system. His Government was one man’s rule and such a Government is by its very nature uncertain. His rule was based on force and not on the will of the people. He was only feared and obeyed but not loved or respected.

He neglected the economic prosperity of the state and just to benefit his military population, he killed every incentive to trade and commerce. Under his regulations, the traders had neither freedom of movement nor hope of profit. He fleeced the peasantry. His spy system made the life of the people a hell.

The oppression of the nobility left the Government in a paralytic condition after his death. However, in the view of Dr. K. S. Lai, all these accusations do not seem to hold water when a careful and critical analysis of his solid achievements is made. Ala-ud-Din had achieved much.

He was able to turn a small kingdom of Delhi into an Empire comprising almost the whole of India. He was the first ruler whose political hegemony extended over the Deccan peninsula. He dealt a death­blow to the Mongol aggrandizement which threatened the very existence of Muslim rule in India.

He curbed the power of the Hindu Rajas in the far off South. His work at least had permanent results even if his conquests were not permanent.

Most of his administrative reforms served as models for later monarchs. Barani refers to the achievements of Ala-ud-Din in these worlds: “The first special feature of Ala-un-Din’s time is the cheapness of the necessaries of life and fixed rates of grains in seasons of plenty and scarcity; the second is the unbroken chain of victories which the King and his commanders obtained, and it appeared as if victory preceded a militrary enterprise; the third is the crushing of the Mongols; the fourth is that a large force remained calm and contented on small salary; the fifth is that contumacious landholders were suppressed; the sixth is that roads and highways became safe and those who used to rob were made to guard them; seventh, that the traders were compelled to be honest; eighth is the abundance of strong buildings; ninth, that the Hindus were compelled into obedience and Muslims became true, abstemious and just; and the tenth is the congregation of artiste and learned men such as had not been found to exist in any other reign.”

Ala-ud-Din was great military leader. He carried the militaristic ideal of Balban to its logical conclusion. He showed great vigor as an administrator. He can claim the credit of governing the country independently of the authority and guidance of the Ulema.

However, Dr. Ishwari Prasad rightly points out that the foundations of the political system set up by Ala-ud-Din were unsound. His policy created a lot of discontentment among the various sections of society.

The Hindu Rajas, who were deprived of their independence, merely waited for the opportunity to throw off the yoke of the Delhi Sultanate. The nobles were sick of the restrictions imposed upon them. The merchants resented the control of the market. The Hindus complained of their humiliation. The new Muslim intrigued against the Sultan.

Over-centralisation, repression and espionage undermined the authority of the Sultan. Ala-ud-Din raised low-born persons to the position of honour and eminence and that was resented by the nobles. Towards the end, the Sultan also became violent and whimsical. However, the greatest mistake of Ala-un-Din was that he allowed Malik Kafur to become all-powerful. That ultimately proved suicidal not only to Ala-un-Din himself but also to the Empire founded by him.

Ala-un-Din was a great parton of learning. Amir Khusro was patronised by him. He was the greatest literary figure of that time. To being with Khusro lived in the Court Prince Muhmmad, the son of Balban.

When Prince Muhammad died, he wrote a eulogy on Muhammad. Later on, Amir Khusro wrote Tarikh-i-Alai or Khazain-ud-Futuh. In this book he gave an account of the conquests of Ala-ud-Din.

He wrote another book called ‘Ashiqa’ which contains the love story of Deval Devi and Khizr Khan Amir Khusro continued to enjoy royal patronage even after the death of Ala-ud-Din. In his “Nuh-Spihr or Nine Skies,” he gave the story of Sultan Mubarak Shah.

He also lived in the court of Ghias-ud-Din Tughluq and wrote Tughluqnama in which he gave the stroy of Ghais-un-Din Tughluq. Khusrom wrote a lot in Hindi and he is considered to be a great Hindi writer. Khusro is also known as Tuti-i-Hind or Parrot of India. He was and excellent singer.

Zia-ud-Din Barani tells us that ih addition to Amir Khusro, 46 scholars were patronised by Ala-un-Din. Amir Hassan was one of them. He is known as the Sadi of India.

Amir Arsalan Kohi and Kabir-ud-Din were great historians of this period and were patronised by Ala-ud-Din. Shakh Nizam-ud-Din, Shaikh Rukn-ud-Din and Qazi Mughis-ud-Din were great masters of philosophy and theology of those time and were all patronised by Ala-ud-Din.

Ala-ud-Din was fond of architecture. Many forts were built by his orders and the most important of them was Alai Fort or Koshak-i-Siri. The walls of this fort were made of stones.

Brick and lime. There were seven gates in it. According to Amir Khusro, “All the mosques which lay in ruins, were built a new by a profuse scattering of silver.”

In 13 ll, Ala-ud-Din began to extend the Qutb Minar. He also started the construction of a new Minar in the courtyard of the mosque of twice the size of the old Kutb Minar. The construction of the new Minar could not be completed by him. In 1311, Ala-ud-Din caused a large gate to be built for this mosque of red sand-stone and marble, with smaller gates on four sides of the larger gate.

Ala-ud-Din bult the “Palace of a Thousand Pillars” called Hazar Situn. The Jams Masjic was also constructed by him. The construction of the Shamsi Tank was also due to him. Zia-ud-Din Barani tells us that Ala-ud-Din employed 70,000 men in public works alone. Those men could build a palace in two or three days.

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