Fakhr-ud-din Muhammad Jauna Khan (A.D 1324-A.D. 1351) who ascended the throne of Delhi assuming the title of Muhammad Tughluq, is one of the most interesting and controversial characters in medieval history.
In spite of being an accomplished scholar in many branches of art and learning, an able warrior and a gifted sultan with many ideas of reforms, Muhammad Tuguluq proved to be an unsuccessful ruler. Most of his plans ended in disastrous failure.
Muhammad was no doubt successful in strengthening the sultanate in the first four or five years of his reign. The whole of Deccan and the South as far as Madura was brought under his direct rule. Never before in the history of the Delhi sultanate had the authority and prestige of the sultan touched such as a high watermark.
According to the contemporary historian Barani, never so much revenue had flowed into the Delhi treasury from every direction as under Muhammad Tughluq. A number of rebellions broke out in several places such as Oudh (Avadh), Sind, Gujarat and the Deccan.
He tried to pacify the country by introducing several economic and administrative measures. He was anxious that his reforms should succeed but he could not trust his old officers for their implementation.
Therefore, he appointed new officers of humble birth whom Barani calls “upstarts” and stigmatizes them as barbers, cooks, gardeners, weavers, drunkards, rogues, etc. But his attempt ended in failure. One by one, all the territories conquered by him were lost and even in the territories he had inherited disintegration began.
In the words of Dr. R.C. Majumdar, “Muhammad Tughluq had succeeded by A.D. 1328, in establishing his authority almost up to the southern extremity of the Indian Pennisula. But in less than ten years he lost the entire region to the south of the Krishna Tungabhadra line and even a part of Telingana and the coastal districts of Andhra”.
Muhammad Tughuq had earlier appointed Qutlug Khan, his preceptor as the viceroy of Deccan after he had been able to subjugate almost the whole of the peninsula. He was capable and shrewd person who won over the hearts of the people with his generous and affable nature.
His popularity with the masses and nearness to the King made some of the powerful nobles at the court extremely jealous of him. They formed a well-knit group which continuously poisoned the mind of the King against this loyal and venerable officer.
He was ultimately recalled in 1345 and his brother Ain-ul-Mulk was appointed in his place. Isami, author of Futuh-us Salatin, mentions that “even the walls cried out that all that was good was now departing from the Deccan”, when Qutlug Khan left for the North.
Ain-ul-Mulk’s appointment was, however, an interim arrangement. Deccan was too big a region to be entrusted to a junior officer like him. It comprised of 23 aqlims or provinces.
The most important of them were Jajnagar (Orissa), Marhat (Maharashtra), Telingana, Bidar, Kampili and Dwarasamudra. Each aqlim was divided into shiqs (rural districts) and madinas or shahrs (urban districts). The shiqs were further divided into hazaris (collection of one thousand villages) and sadis (collection of one hundred villages).
The chief officers of the provinces were the walis, the shiqdars, the amir-i-hazar and amir-i-sadahas.The government officers in the villages were known as mutasrrifs, karkuns, batahas, chaudhuris and patwaris. But the actual responsibility for running the administration fell on the shoulders of sadah amirs (centurians).
Most of them belong to the upper middle class families. They were revenue collectors as well as military commandars. These were the persons who were ultimately responsible for securing the independence of Deccan from Mughal imperialism.
Ain-ul-Mulk was soon replaced and Imad-ul-Mulk was appointed as the new viceroy of Deccan. He distrusted the officers of the earlier regime and made new appointments particularly in the central position.
These new officers, many of whom belonged to the lower classes, were disliked by the sadah amirs who were proud of their heredity. It led to bitterness and even confrontation. Mohd. Tughluq appointed Aziz-ud-din Khammar, a man of low birth and upbringing, as governer of Malwa.
The sultan warned Aziz against the sadah amirs who were not reconciled to the new regime and were always ready to revolt and create chaos. He wanted Aziz to deal with them firmly.
Aziz carried out the instructions of the king most faithfully. Soon after taking office, Aziz held them responsible for the recent rebellion, invited eighty amirs of Malwa and Dhar and got them executed in front of his palace at Dhar to strike terror in the minds of the people.
The Sultan was highly pleased and honoured Aziz for the massacre of these foreign amirs. This led to revolt of sadah amirs of Gujarat who took possession of Khambayat (Cambay) and killed Aziz Khammar in A.D. 1345. Mohd. Tughluq himself marched to the south, defeated the rulers and ordered the culprit amirs to be brought to Broach where he had encamped.
But the amirs proved more than a match for him. They freed themselves from their captors, took possession of Daulatabad fort after a bitter fight. They elected one of their members, Ismail Mukh as the sultan of Deccan. They were joined by the centurians of Dabhoi and Baroda and were able to establish their rule over a large part of Maharashtra.