Malik Ambar was one of the greatest personalities of his times in medieval India. By sheer dint of his abilities, he rose from the position of a slave to the highest position of a wazir or even a king-maker.
In the teeth of opposition from the Mughals, the Deccani ruler and his own rivals, he succeeded in his life’s ambition to re-establish and rejuvenate the Nizam Shahi kingdom to which he remained loyal to the last breath of his life. He was unmindful of the methods to achieve his ends.
He had no permanent enemies or permanent friends. He made use of his allies and had no scruples to turn against them when his objective had been achieved. He organized a grand alliance of the Deccani powers against the Mughals but was not unwilling to lend support to the latter when the interest of his master-the Nizam Shahis-so required.
He was, however, a Deccani first and aroused the patriotic feelings of the people of the region against the Mughal invaders. He was a great general and strategist of the highest order.
He realized the importance of guerilla warfare in a hilly region like Deccan and trained the Maratha band which was a source of immense strength to him in wars against the mighty Mughal armies.
Even the Mughal historian Muhammad Khan pays a handsome tribute to this great adversary in these words: “In warfare, in command, in sound judgement and in administration, he had no equal. He well understood that predatory warfare which in the language of the Dakhin is called bargi giri.
He kept down the turbulent spirits of the country, and maintained his exalted position to the end of his life and closed his career in honour. History records no other instance of an Abyssinian slave arriving at such eminence.” Though a foreigner, he won over the respect of all and was loved by Hindus and muslims both.
He appointed a number of Hindus to high places and never interfered with their religion or demolished their temples. He was undoubtedly one of the greatest statesmen of his times. He restored internal peace in the Nizam Shahi kingdoms.
As a clever politician, he made alliances and broke them according to the exigencies of the situation. He befriended the Mughals and made overtures to Khan-i-Khanan but did not hesitate to fight him when necessary. He refused to give support to Prince Shahjahan when he was a fugitive. He knew it would involve him in unnecessary war with the Mughal emperor.
His administrative reforms particularly in the field of revenue system not only enhanced the income of the Government but were also to the benefit of the peasants and increased the production.
He was a patron of the learned. In spite of his occupations with military affair, he found time to spend in the company of scholars who flocked to his court from Arabia and Persia. He was also a builder.
He founded the town of Khirki in 1605 and built a number of buildings including mosques and palaces in the town which later on came to be known as Aurangabad, though it had been named after his son as Fatehnagar.
“Thus, for twenty-six years”, writes his biographer Radhey Shyam “Malik Ambar with his singular zeal, uncompromising determination, struggled against the heavy odds and bore quietly the shocks and jolts of the times.
His enemies found it easy to bend him, put to stop for a while his rising ambitions but even they found it difficult to break him. Such was a person, whose achievements could be aptly compared with some of the renowned personalities of the medieval period.”