Sher Shah had three sons, of whom, the youngest, Qutb Khan died in a fight with the Mughals at Kalpi before the battle of Bilgram. At the time of Sher Shah’s death, the eldest son, Adil Khan was at Ranthambhor and the second son, Jalal Khan, was at Rewa. The Afghan nobles in Sher Shah’s court chose Jalal Khan to be the successor. Jalal Khan assumed the crown with the title of Islam Shah. The brothers remained unreconciled and a version of the story of Ibrahim Lodi was repeated.

Instead of consolidating and strengthening the empire left behind by his father, Jalal Khan, a good adminis­trator otherwise, chose to spend his energy in fighting various rebellions created by his brother Adil Khan, and the Afghan chiefs like Kawas Khan, Said Khan, Haibat Khan and Shujaat Khan.

Islam Shah was a strong administrator who followed the strict discipline of his father’s regime. Disobedience and violation of his orders was anath­ema to him and he expected everyone to be subordinate to him regardless of the rank and position. Consequently, his punishments to persons charged with actions against him were quite severe.

Covering almost all the aspects of governance, his laws were applied all over his empire uniformly without any exception. It is true that many of these laws were in existence before him, when they were applied on the basis of Sharia. It is to the credit of Islam Shah that he freed them from religion and enforced them only from the standpoint of the state’s administrative apparatus. Thus, he tried to free law and legal procedure from the influence of religion, which none of the earlier monarchs, not even his father, Sher Shah ever attempted.


He was, however, not a good judge of men and committed a serious mistake by elevating his cousin and brother-in-law Mubariz Khan to an important position. His son and successor paid for this blunder with his life, culminating in the eventual disintegra­tion and destruction of the second Afghan empire in India.

Islam Shah was succeeded by his twelve-year- old minor son, Firuz Shah, who was assassinated within three days of his coronation. His maternal uncle Mubariz Khan, who was the son of Sher Shah’s brother Nizam and a brother of his mother, Islam Shah’s wife, Bibi Bai, murdered him and ascended the throne with the tide Muhammad Adil (or Adil) Shah.

Adil Shah was a thoroughly incompetent person who could not control the disintegration which set in. His only act of consequence was that he ap­pointed in the post of wazir, a very capable Hindu, Hemchandra, more commonly known as Himu.

There were several revolts. The empire which had been built by Sher Shah and maintained with care by Islam Shah, thus fell to pieces, and it was parcelled out into four main divisions: Delhi and Agra under Ibrahim “Shah; Punjab under Sikandar Shah, Bengal under Shamsuddin Ghazi and the territories from the vicinity of Agra to Bihar to under Muhammad Adil Shah. As he was not satisfied with Punjab alone, Sikandar marched against Ibrahim for the possession of Delhi and Agra and defeated him at Farah, about twenty miles from Agra, despite the overwhelming numerical superiority of his opponent.


Sikandar then took possession of both Delhi and Agra in 1555.”

The rivalry and internecine war among the Afghans brought chaos and disorder in its wake, thus offering Humayun the opportunity he was waiting for to recover his lost empire.

The threat of the Mughals, however, did not put an end to the fights the Afghans were fighting amongst themselves. Ibrahim continued with his warfare against Adil Shah, Adil Shah’s wazir, Himu defeated him twice. Meanwhile, Muhammad Shah of Bengal wanting to join the fray was marching towards Kalpi which prompted Adil Shah to call back his minister Himu.

Himu defeated Muhammad Shah at Chapparghatta. Adil Shah occupied Bengal and after installing Shahbaz Khan as governor there came back to Chunar which he had made his residential capital. At this time (January, 1556) Humayun died and Akbar ascended the throne.


Taking advantage of the situation, Himu marched from Gwalior to Agra which he occupied easily because the governor, Iskandar Khan Usbeg fled to Delhi out of fear, without offering any fight. Himu marched to Delhi thereafter and occupied it after defeating the governor, Tardi Beg Khan.

Encouraged by his success and being in pos­session of Delhi, Himu assumed independence with the title of Raja Bikramjit, or Vikramaditya.