Iltutmish was the greatest of the slave kings. He was the slave who rose to eminence by sheer dint of merit. He was Turk of Ilbari tribe in Turkestan.
He belonged to noble family. As a child, he was very beautiful and showed signs of intelligence and sagacity. He excited the jealousy of his brothers who manraged to deprive him to his paternal home and care.
He was sold to a merchant of Bukhare and the latter sold him to Quab-ud- din Aibak. Iltutmish rose step by step till he was made Governor of Badaun. He was also married to the daughter of Quab-ud-din.
He won his spurs in the battle against the Khokhars. In recognition of his service. Iltutmish, by the orders of Muhammad Ghori, was manumitted and given the rank of Amir-ul-Umara.
When Qutab-ud-din Aibak died in 1210 he was succeeded by Aram Shah. As he was founded to be most incompetent, the nobles of Delhi decided to invite Iltutmish to the throne and their choice was in the best interest of the infant empire.
The election of Iltutmish was opposed by the commander of the guards of Quab-ud-din but his opposition collapsed as there was no serious backing.
The jurists headed buy Qazi Wajih-ud-din opposed Iltutmish on the ground that he was not a freeman. When Iltutmish showed them the letter of Manumission, they also kept quiet.
When Iltutmish became the ruler in 1211, he had a large-number of difficulties to face. Instead of being heartened by them, he faced them boldly and overcame them all.
He took, attempt action against Qutbi and Muizzi Mail is and gave them, a crushing’ defeat in t neighbourhood of Delhi. He consolidated his position in the area around Delhi; He also secured a letter of manumission from Yildoz.
Taj-ud-din Yildoz was a-formidable; foe of Iltutmish. He considered himself to be the successor of Muhammad Ghor and was not prepared to allow the Muslim empire in India to be independent.
In 1214 Yildoz came to Lahore and occupied the same. This was too much for Iltutmish. He marched against Yildoz and defeated him in the battle of Tarain near Thaneswar. Yildoz was made a prisoner and sent to the fortres of Badaun where he was later on put to death; it was in this way that Iltutmish was successful in disposing if one of his enemies.
Iltutmish was also successful against Nasir-ud-din Qabacha who ruled over Uch and Multan. After the death of Quab-ud-din Qubacha had occupied even a portion of the Punjab.
As Qabacha refused to recognize Iltutmish as overlord, Iltutmish declared war against him in 1217 and he was successful in driving him out of the Punjab. As the power of Qabacha was not completely crushed, he managed to remain independent- for another decade.
In 1227, Iltutmish once again marched against him and was successful in capturing Uch without much resistance. Qabacha escaped from Uch and took shelter in Bhakkar. When Bhakkar also was besieged by Iltutmish, Quabacha lost heart and asked for peace.
He sent his son Masud Bahrain to negotiate the terms but he was imprisoned. Qabacha was so much upset that he tried to escape from Bhakkar but was drowned in the river Indus.
One view is that he was killed in an accident. Still another view is that he committed suicide. Whatever the truth. Iltutmish captured Bhakkar and appointed Vizir Muhammad Junaidi to complete the conquest of lower Sind.
After the death of Quab-ud-din Aibak, Ali Mardan declared himself independent in Bengal and took up the title of Ala-ud-din. How ever he died after two years. He was succeeded by his son Hisam-ud-din hVaz. The latter took up the title of Ghias-ud-din and struck coins in his own name.
Even the Khutba was read in his name. This was too much for Iltutmish to put up with such defiance. No wonder, he sent an expedition against him in 1225 and he followed the same. When Ghias-ud-din heard the approach of Iltutmish, he at once submitted and agreed to pay a huge sum as tribute.
The submission of Ghias-ud-din was not a lasting one and after some time he once again raised the standard of revolt. Another expedition was sent against him.
Ghias- id-din was defeated and killed and Bengal was completely brought under the throne of Delhi. When Nasir-ud-din who had conquered Bengal died in 1229, the Khalji Maliks revolted in Bengal under Balka Iltutmish himself went to Bengal at the head of the army and defeated Balka and put Ala-ud-din Jani in charge of Bengal.
After the death of Aibak, the Rajputs did their best to drive away the Turks. The Chandelas recovered Kalinjar and Ajaigarh. The Pratiharas drove away the Muslim garrisons from Gwalior and reoccupied the city. They also occupied Narwar and Jhansi.
The Chauhan ruler of Ranthambhor turned out the Turkish troops and brought under his control Jodhpur and the adjacent areas.
The Chauhans of Jalor conquered once again Nadol, Mandor, Bharmer, Ratnapur, Sanchor, Radhadhara, Khera, Ramasin and Bhinamal. Jadon Bhatlis established their sovereignty in Northern Alwar, Ajmer, Bayana, and Thangir put an end to Turkish supremacy and became independent.
Iltutmish could not be expected to allow the Rajputs to remain independent for long. In 1226, he besieged Ranthambhor, captured it and rcgarrisoned it. Mandor.
Capital of the Marmara Rajputs was also captured and regarrisoned. Next he besieged Jalor, Udai sing, its ruler, offered stiff resistance. Ultimately, he was made to surrender. However, he was allowed to continue as ruler on the condition of his payment of tribute. Bayana and Thangir were also recaptured. Ajmer was captured after stiff resistance. Nagair in Jodhpur was recovered.
In 1231, Gwalior was besieged. Malayavarma Deva it ruler, fought bravely but ultimately surrendered. Trilokyavarma, the ruler of Kalinjar, abandoned Kalinjar and the same was plundered. However, the Chandelas were able to turn out the Muslims once again. Iltutmish led- the attack on Nagada in person.
However, lie was defeated by Kshetra Singh, its ruler, and Iltutmish suffered heavy losses. Iltutmish tried to subdue the Chalukyas of Gujarat but he was unsuccessful. In 1234-35, Iltutmish led an expedition to Malwa. He plundered Bhilsa and Ujjain. He also destroyer the temple of Mahakal at Ujjain.
The contention of Sir Wolseley Haig is that Iltutmish conquered and annexed Malwa but it appears that it was merely a raid and not a war of conquest.
Badaun, Kanauj, Banaras, and Katehar (Rohilakhand) etc, aasserted their independence in the time of Iltutmish. However as soon as Iltutmish was able to re-establish his authority, he took action against them. One by one, Badaun, Kanauj and Banaras were recaptured.
The same was the case with Katehar. An expedition was sent to Bahraich and the same was captured Avadh was also brought under Delhi after stiff resistance. It was found difficult to defeat a local, tribe which was fighting under their chief named Bartu or Pirthu.
The Turks were defeated by them on many occasions and more than a lakh of the troops were destroyed by them. It was only after the death of Prithu that the local tribes were subdued. Expeditions were also sent against Chandwara and Tirhut.
In the year 1221, the Mongols appeared for the first time on the banks of the river Indus under their famous leader Changiz Khan who had overun the countries of Central and Western Asia with lightning rapidity. When he attacked Jalal-ud-din Mangabarni, the last Shah of Khwarizm of Khiva, the latter field to the Punjab. He asked Iltutmish to give him shelter. Iltutmish felt that by helping Jalal-ud-din he would be inviting trouble from Changiz Khan.
Consequently he wrote back saying that although he had no objection to giving him shelter, he was afraid that the climate of the Punjab would not suit him.
This was a very polite way of refusing the request. The result was that Jalal-ud-din entered into an alliance with the Khokhars. He defeated Nasir-ud-din Qabacha of Multan and plundered Sind and Northern Gujarat.
After that he went away to Persia. The Mongols also retired. Thus, the infant Muslim empire in India was saved.
The last expedition of Iltutmish was directed against Banian. According to Raverty, this was situated in hill tracts of the Sind Sagar Doab or in the country immediately west of the Salt Range. Iltutmish was attacked on the way by such a severe illness that he had to be carried back to Delhi in a litter. The disease proved fatal and he died on 29 April, 1236.
The famous Quab Minar near Mehrauli near Delhi was got completed by Iltutmish in the year 1231 -1232. It stands as a testimony to the greatness of Iltutmish.
The Quab Minar was not named after Quab-ud-din Aibak but after Khwaja Qutab-ud-din-a native of Uch near Baghdad who had come to live in Hindustan and was held in great esteem by Iltutmish and others, out of gratitude. Iltutmish got the names of his patrons, Quab-ud-din Aibak and Sultan Muiz-ud-din, inscribed on it. A magnificent mosque was also built by the orders of the Sultan.
The reign of Iltutmish saw the decline of Lahore and the rise of Delhi. Delhi gradually became the greatest centre of learning and culture in the East. Great scholars like Nur-ud-din. Mohammad Aufi. Minahaj-us- Siraj and Hasan Nizami were assembling in his court. Likewise, many saints, artists and artisans also flocked to Delhi. The result was that Delhi became “Second Baghdad.”
The Delhi Sultanate owes the outlines of its administrative system to Iltutmish. He organised the Revenue and Finance Departments.
This was a task which had not been attempted by any other Muslim ruler in India before him. An administrative structure could not be built without the support of the Turkish nobility and that could be done either by fear or through favour.
The first was out of the question as the Muslim state in India was in its infancy and there was also the danger of Mongol invasions and opposition from the Hindus. No wonder, Iltutmish tackled the problem in a spirit of reconciliation and compromise.
He divided the Empire into several Iqtas which were assigned to various nobles. Every Iqtadar had to maintain law and order and collect revenue.
After deducting his salary and the expenses of the Government, he sent the surplus revenue to the Central Government. The Iqtadari system differed from the feudal system of Europe. The Iqtadars were not the owners of the land allotted to them. They were mere functionaries.
They could be transferred from one assignment to another and could even be deprived of their Iqtas at the sweet will of the Emperor. It is true that the Iqtadari system was not an ideal one but is suited the needs of the moment. The system also satisfied the vanity of the nobles and they could be prevented from frittering away their energy in mutual fights or in opposing the Emperor.
In order to check the tendency on the part of the nobles to become too powerful. Iltutmish set up an official nobility of salves know as the Chahalgani or the corps of forty. As the members of the Chahalgani w ere the personal salves of the Emperor, the latter could depend on their loyalty and allegiance and through them could keep a grip over the affairs of the Government.
It cannot be denied that by establishing peace and by curbing the centrifugal Forces, Iltutmish created a sort of political unity and a centralised government which guaranteed protection to the people both from foreign invasion and internal disturbances.
Iltutmish inscribed upon his coins the proud legend “The Mighty Sultan. Sun of the Empire and the Faith. Conquest-laden Iltutmish” and “Aid of the Commander of the Faithful”. Before Iltutmish, the Muslim rulers issued small bullion coins of the native from and inscribed their names sometimes in Nagari script and sometimes in Arabic.
Those coins also bore symbols familiar to the Hindus, such as the bull of Shiva and the horseman. Iltutmish was the first who introduced a purely Arabic coinage.
He adopted as his standard coin the silver tanka, the ancestor of his rupee, weighing 175 grains. Gold tankas of the same weight were introduced later on by Balban.
Iltutmish was a pious Muslim. He was very particular about his five daily prayers. However, he was intolerant towards the Shias. No wonder the lsmail-Shias revolted against him but their revolt was crushed.
A large number of them were put to death. His treatment of the Hindus was also not enlightened. He continued to persecute them. Iltutmish cannot be described ‘as a constructive statesman. However, through his courage and bravery, he was able to save the infant Muslim empire in India. He continued the work started by Qutb-ud-din Aibak.