What was the Foreign Policy of Firuz Tughluq?


Firuz Tughluq was a pious and merciful ruler. He did not possess the courage which was required of a king of the 14th centruy. He did not possess the qualities which could help him to bring under his control all those parts of the Delhi Empire which had become independent during the reign of Muhammad Tughluq.

The Sultan had a horror of wars and his heart would beign to sink at the sight of bloodshed. According to Thomas, “His generalship in two campaigns to Bengal and his eventual reduction of the Thatta, seems to have been of the lowest order and the way he allowed himself to be deluded into the deserts of Cutch or the defiles of Jajnagar, seems to savour of positive fatuity.”

No attempt was made by the Sultan to bring the Deccan under his control. When his officers asked him to send and expedition to Daultabad, the Sultan “looked distressed and his eyes were suffused with tears and approving their arguments, he said that he was resolved never more to make war upon men of the Muhammad faith.”


There was no Mongol invasion during his reign. Yahiya tell us that the “frontiers of the kingdom were secured by placing them under great armies and the well-wishers of the Emperor.”


Haji Iliyas was the independent ruler of Bengal. He took up the title of Shams-ud-Din lliyas Shah. He made himself master of Eastern and Western Bengal.

He also attacked Tirhut with a view to annexation. In spite of his disinclination for war, Firuz Tughluq felt that action must be taken against Shams-ud-Din. In November 1353, the Sultan marched from Delhi at the head of 70,000 horses. When Ilivas heard of the advance of the Sultan, he treated into the fort of Ikdala which was situated at a distance of 10 or 12 miles from Pandua.


While pursuing the retreating enemy, the Sultan issued a proclamation to the people of Bengal which has been described by Dr. Ishwari Prasad as “one of the most extraordinary documents in the history of the Sultanate of Delhi and throws much light upon the mild policy of Firuz.”

After promising concessions to the people, the proclamation reads thus: “Where as it has come to our auspicious ear that Iliyas Haji has been committing oppression and high handedness upon the people of the territory of Lakhnauti and Tirhut, shedding unnecessary blood, even shedding the blood of woman, although it is a well established position in every creed and doctrine that no woman, even if she be a Kafir, should be slain.

And whereas the said Iliyas Haji has been levyig illegal cesses not sanctioned by the law of Islam and thus putting the people into trouble; there being no security of life and property, no safety for honour and chastity And whereas he has exceeded the limit and publicly rebelled against out authority, therefore we have approached invincible army for the purpose of opening this territory, and for the happiness of the people there of; desiring thereby to deliver all from this tyranny, to convert the wounds of his oppressions by the slaves of justice and and mercy and that the free of their existence, withered by the hot pestilential winds of tyranny and oppression, might flourish and fructify by the limpid water of our bounty.” Haji Iliyas was defeated by the Delhi troops but the Sultan did not take full advantage of his hard earned victory and went back to Delhi in September, 1354 without annexing Bengal.

There are two views regarding the action of the Sultan. One view is that the Sultan decided to retire on account of the cries of the women in the besieged fort. To quote Shams-i-Siraj Afif, “To storm the fort, put more Musalmans to the swords and expose honourable women to ignominy, would be a crime for which he could not answer on the Day of Judgment and which would leave no difference between him and the Mughals.”


Another view is that the Sultan retreated because he was afraid of the disasters that might come on account of the beginning of the rainy season. Whatever the cause of the retreat, one has to agree with the statement of Thomas that “the invasion only resulted in the confession of weakness.”

Firuz made another attempt to conquer Bengal after a few years. Zafar Khan, son-in-law of Fakhr-ud-Din Mubarak Shah of Eastern Bengal, ran away from Sunargaon to Delhi and complained to Firuz Tughluq of the high-handedness of the Bengal ruler.

The death of Haji Iliyas also encouraged Firuz to organise an expedition against Bengal. Firuz Tughluq set aside all previous treaties and assurance of friendship and marched in 1359 against Sikander Shah, the son and successor of Haji Iliyas. The army of the Sultan consisted of 70,000 horses, about 500 elephants and a considerable infantry.

On the way, the Sultan halted for 6 months at Jafarabad on the river Gomti and founded in its neighbourhood the city of Jaunpur in the memory of Muhammad Tughluq who was also known as Prince Juna Khan. When the rainy season was over, the Sultan continued his advance towards Bengal. Like his father, Sikandar Shah retreated into the fortress of Ikdala which was besieged by the Delhi troops.


The fort was defended bravely and when the rains came and the territory was flooded, the Sultan came to terms with Sikandar Shah which was favorable to the Bengal ruler. The result was that the second Bengal expedition failed in its objective. It merely proved the weakness of the Sultan.


While coming back to Delhi from Bengal, the Sultan decided to conquer Jajnagar (modern Orissa). It is difficult to state the real motive of the Sultan in waging war against Jajnagar. The view of Sir Wolseley Haig is that the Sultan wanted to capture Puri which was famous for the temple of Jagannath.

The ruler of Jajnagar ran away on the approach of Sultan and took shelter in Talingana. The Sultan destroyed the Hindu temples.


Their idols were thrown into the sea and some of them were sent to Delhi to be trodden under foot by the faithful. After that, the ruler of Jajnagar was called back and his territories were restored to him on the condition that he would send every a number of elephants to the Sultan.

From Jajnagar, the Sultan went to Chhota Nagpur. On the route to Nagpur, the Sultan lost his way and for several months nothing was known about his whereabouts. A large number of soldiers died in those jungles.


It is true that the fort of Nagarkot had been conquered in 1337 by Muhammad Tughluq but it had become independent once again towards the end of his reign. Firuz Tughluq decided to conquer it once again.

The fort was besieged for 6 moths and ultimately its ruler submitted. The Sultan entered the Jawalamukhi temple. Its idols were broken and their pieces were mixed with flesh and blood of the cow. Some of the idols were sent as trophies to Medina.

It is to be noted that from the temple of Jawalamukhi, a large number of Sanskrit books fell into the hands of the Sultan and some of them were translated into Persian under the title of Dalail-Firuz Shahi.


Muhammad Tughluq had died while fighting in Sind and Firuz Tughluq himself was coronated in a camp in Sind. It was considered necessary to reconquer Sind.

In 1361-62 A.D., Firuz Tughluq marched towards Thatta, capital of the Jams of Sind, with 90,000 cavalry, 480 elephants, 5,000 boats and numerous infantry. Jam Babaniya, the ruler of Sind, decided to oppose the Sultan with an army of 20,000 cavalry and 4,000,000 infantry.

The Delhi army suffered on account of the outbreak of famine and an epizootic disease. About three-fourths of the Delhi army was destroyed in this manner. It is under these circumstances that the Sultan decided to retreat to Gujaret. Unfortunately, while retreating to Gujarat, he lost his way on account of the treachery of the guides.

He drifted into the Rann of Cutch. For about 6 months, nothing was known about the whereabouts of the Sultan and his army. However, Khan-i-Jahan Maqbul, his able minister, sent fresh troops to the Sultan and it was with the help of those troops that the Sultan attacked the Sindhis in 1363 and forced them to come to terms. The Sindhis agreed to pay an annual tribute of several lakhs of Tankas to the Sultan and also acknowledged the overlordship of the Sultan.

Jam Babaniya was taken away to Delhi and his brother was appointed in his place. The conquered Jam appears to have remained loyal to the Sultan all his life. According to Dr. Ishwari Prasad, the Sind expedition is “a singular instance of the Sultan’s fatuity and lack of strategical rkill.”

Death of Firuz

The last days of the Sultan were not peaceful. As he advanced in age, his judgment began to fail. He received a severe shock when his eldest son Fateh Khan died in 1374. He made a mistake in sharing the work of administration with his son Muhammad Khan. Instead of doing work, the Prince devoted all his time to pleasure.

Attempts were made to create more interest for work in the Prince but failed. Being disappointed, the nobles organised a rebellion against the authority of Muhammad Khan and the latter was obliged to fight.

He was on the verge of victory when he nobles brought the Sultan into the field. The result was that Muhammad Khan was defeated and he fled for his life towards the Sirmur hills.

Firuz then appointed his grandson, Ghias-ud-Din Tughluq Shah, son of Fateh Khan, as his heir and also conferred upon him the royal title. Firuz Tughluq died on 20th September, 1388, at the age of 80. According to Moreland, “The death of Firuz marked the end of an epoch.

In the course of a few years the kingdom broke up and during the first half of the fifteenth century there was no longer a single predominant Muslim power in India.”

Khan-i-Jahan Maqbul

Khan-i-Jahan Maqbul was originally a Hindus of Telingana. His Hindus name was Kuttu or Kunnu. He became a Muslim in the time of Muhammad Tughluq. He was given the fief of Multan and he managed it very efficiently. When Firuz ascended the throne, he called Maqbul to his court and made him his Prime Minister after the fall of Ahmad-bin-Ayaz. The Sultan conferred upon him the title of Khan-i-Jahan, “Lord of the World”.

The Sultan comes to have so much of confidence in him that whenever he went out of Delhi, the affairs of the state were left into the hands of Maqbul.

He saved his master from disaster in Sind by sending him timely help. According to Lane-Poole, “As the Sultan’s Deputy and alter ego he held the state securely while his master was away, stood always between him and his official worries and administered the kingdom with exceptional skill and wisdom. If the borders were more limited than before, the smaller area was better developed and made more productive.

It was doubtless due to Maqbul’s influence, coned by the Rajput blood which Firuz inherited from Bibi Naila, that the new regime was marked by the utmost gentleness and consideration for the peasantry.”

Although Moqbul was a great statesman, he was a slave to pleasures. He had in his harem 2,000 ladies who ranged from olive Greeks to saffron Chinese. The Sultan was so much fond of Maqbul that he allowed an income of over a thousand a year to every son that was born to him and yet more by way of marrige portion to each daughter.

The amount must have been very great taking into consideration the number of women in his harem. Maqbul had another weakness. He gave high and lucrative posts to his relatives and children. He lived to a ripe old age and when he died in 1370, his son Juna Shah was appointed in place of his father and was also given the title of Khan-i-Jahan.

Unfortunately, he was not loyal like his father. He tried to estrange the relations between the Sultan and his son Prince Muhammad Khan. When the Sultan came to know of it, he was dismissed.

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