Alauddin Khalji

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A painting of Alauddin Khalji.
Sultan Alau'd Din put to Flight; Women of Ranthambhor commit Jauhar, a Rajput painting from 1825.

Alauddin Khalji (r. 1296 – 1316) was the second and the most powerful ruler of the Khalji dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate in the Indian subcontinent.

Quotes from The History of India as told by its own Historians[edit]

  • When Sultan Alau-d din, the Sultan of Delhi, was well established in the centre of his dominion and had cut off the heads of his enemies and slain them, the vein of the zeal of religion beat high for the subjection of infidelity and destruction of idols, and in the month of Zi'l-hijja 698 H. (1298 AD) his brother Malik Mu'izzu-d din and Nusrat Khan, the chief pillar of the state and the leader of his armies, a generous and intelligent warrior, were sent to Kambayat, the most celebrated of the cities of Hind in population and wealth' With a view of holy war, and not for the lust of conquest...
  • They went by daily marches through the hills, from stage to stage, and when they arrived at their destination at early dawn they surrounded Kambayat and the idolaters were awakened from their sleepy state of carelessness and were taken by surprise, not knowing where to go, and mothers forgot their children and dropped them from their embrace. The Muhammadan forces began to 'kill and slaughter on the right and on the left unmercifully, throughout the impure land, for the sake of Islam,' and blood flowed in torrents. They plundered gold and silver to an extent greater than can be conceived, and an immense number of brilliant precious stones, such as pearls, diamonds, rubies, and emeralds, etc. as well as a great variety of cloths, both silk and cotton, stamped, embroidered, and coloured.
  • They took captive a great number of handsome and elegant maidens, amounting to 20,000, and children of both sexes, 'more than the pen can enumerate'... In short, the Muhammadan army brought the country to utter ruin, and destroyed the lives of the inhabitants, and plundered the cities, and captured their offspring, so that many temples were deserted and the idols were broken and trodden under foot, the largest of which was one called Somnat, fixed upon stone, polished like a mirror of charming shape and admirable workmanship' Its head was adorned with a crown set with gold and rubies and pearls and other precious stones' and a necklace of large shining pearls, like the belt of Orion, depended from the shoulder towards the side of the body....
    'The Muhammadan soldiers plundered all these jewels and rapidly set themselves to demolish the idol. The surviving infidels were deeply affected with grief, and they engaged 'to pay a thousand pieces of gold' as ransom for the idol, but they were indignantly rejected, and the idol was destroyed, and 'its limbs, which were anointed with ambergris and perfumed, were cut off. The fragments were conveyed to Delhi, and the entrance of the Jami' Masjid was paved with them, that people might remember and talk of this brilliant victory.' Praise be to God, the Lord of the worlds. Amen! After some time, among the ruins of the temples, a most beautiful jasper-coloured stone was discovered, on which one of the merchants had designed some beautiful figures of fighting men and other ornamental figures of globes, lamps, etc., and on the margin of it were sculptured verses from the Kurdn. This stone was sent as an offering to the shrine of the pole of saints... At that time they were building a lofty octagonal dome to the tomb. The stone was placed at the right of the entrance. "At this time, that is, in the year 707 h. (1307 a.d.), 'Alau-d din is the acknowledged Sultan of this country. On all its borders there are infidels, whom it is his duty to attack in the prosecution of a holy war, and return laden with countless booty."
    • Somnath. Abdu’llah ibn Fazlu’llah of Shiraz (Wassaf) : Tarikh-i-Wassaf (Tazjiyatu’l Amsar Wa Tajriyatu’l Ãsar), in Elliot and Dowson, Vol. III : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. pp. 43-44. Also quoted in Jain, Meenakshi (2011). The India they saw: Foreign accounts.
  • 'The tongue of the sword of the Khalifa of the time, which is the tongue of the flame of Islam, has imparted light to the entire darkness of Hindustan by the illumination of its guidance... On the other side, so much dust arose from the battered temple of Somnat that even the sea was not able to lay it, and on the right hand and on the left hand the army has conquered from sea to sea, and several capitals of the gods of the Hindus, in which Satanism has prevailed since the time of the Jinns, have been demolished. All these impurities of infidelity have been cleansed by the Sultan's destruction of idol-temples, beginning with his first holy expedition against Deogir,44so that the flames of the light of the law illumine all these unholy countries, and places for the criers to prayer are exalted on high, and prayers are read in mosques. Allah be praised!'...'On Sunday, the 23rd, after holding a council of chief officers, he [Malik Kafur, converted Hindu and commander of the Muslim army] took a select body of cavalry with him and pressed on against Billal Deo, and on the 5th of Shawwal reached the fort of Dhur Sammund after a difficult march of twelve days over the hills and valleys, and through thorny forests. 'The fire-worshipping' Rai, when he learnt that 'his idol-temple was likely to be converted into a mosque,' despatched Kisu Mal' The commander replied that he was sent with the object of converting him to Muhammadanism, or of making him a zimmi, and subject to pay tax, or of slaying him if neither of these terms were assented to. When the Rai received this reply, he said he was ready to give up all he possessed, except his sacred thread.
  • When he advanced from the capital of Karra, the Hindus, in alarm, descended into the earth like ants. He departed towards the garden of Behar to dye that soil with blood as red as tulip. He cleared the road to Ujjain of vile wretches, and created consternation in Bhilsan. When he effected his conquests in that country, he drew out of the river the idols which had been concealed in it.
  • 'But see the mercy with which he regarded the brokenhearted, for, after seizing the rai, he set him free again. He destroyed the temples of the idolaters, and erected pulpits and arches for mosques.'67
  • 'When the blessed canopy had been fixed about a mile from the gate of Arangal, the tents around the fort were pitched together so closely that the head of a needle could not go between them' Orders were issued that every man should erect behind his own tent a kathgar, that is wooden defence. The trees were cut with axes and felled, notwithstanding their groans; and the Hindus, who worship trees, could not at that time come to the rescue of their idols, so that every cursed tree which was in that capital of idolatry was cut down to the roots'....
    'During the attack, the catapults were busily plied on both sides' 'Praise be to God for his exaltation of the religion of Muhammad. It is not to be doubted that stones are worshipped by Gabrs,74 but as the stones did no service to them, they only bore to heaven the futility of that worship, and at the same time prostrated their devotees upon earth
  • 'After returning to Birdhul, he again pursued the Raja to Kandur' The Rai again escaped him, and he ordered a general massacre at Kandur. It was then ascertained that he had fled to Jalkota' There the Malik closely pursued him, but he had again escaped to the jungles, which the Malik found himself unable to penetrate, and he therefore returned to Kandur' Here he heard that in Brahmastpuri there was a golden idol, round which many elephants wore stabled. The Malik started on a night expedition against this place, and in the morning seized no less then two hundred and fifty elephants. He then determined on razing the beautiful temple to the ground ' 'you might say that it was the Paradise of Shaddad which, after being lost, those hellites had found, and that it was the golden Lanka of Ram,' ' 'the roof was covered with rubies and emeralds', - 'in short, it was the holy place of the Hindus, which the Malik dug up from its foundations with the greatest care' and heads of the Brahmans and idolaters danced from their necks and fell to the ground at their feet,' and blood flowed in torrents. 'The stone idol called Ling Mahadeo which had been a long time established at that place and on which the women of the infidels rubbed their vaginas for [sexual] satisfaction, these, up to this time, the kick of the horse of Islam had not attempted to break.' The Musalmans destroyed all the lings, 'and Deo Narain fell down, and the other gods who had fixed their seats there raised their feet, and jumped so high, that at one leap they reached the fort of Lanka, and in that affright the lings themselves would have fled had they had any legs to stand on.' Much gold and valuable jewels fell into the hands of the Musalmans, who returned to the royal canopy, after executing their holy project, on the 13th of Zi-l Ka'da, AH 710 (April 1311 AD). They destroyed an the temples at Birdhul, and placed the plunder in the public treasury.'77
  • 'After five days, the royal canopy moved from Birdhul on Thursday, the 17th of Zi-l Ka'da, and arrived at Kham, and five days afterwards they arrived at the city of Mathra (Madura), the dwelling place of the brother of the Rai Sundar Pandya. They found the city empty, for the Rai had fled with the Ranis, but had left two or three elephants in the temple of Jagnar (Jagganath). The elephants were captured and the temple burnt.
  • There was another rai in those parts, whose rule extended over sea and land, a Brahmin named Pandya Guru. He had many cities in his possession, and his capital was Fatan, where there was a temple with an idol in it laden with jewels' The rai, when the army of the Sultan arrived at Fatan, fled away, and what can an army do without its leader? The Musalmans in his service sought protection from the king's army, and they were made happy with the kind of reception they met. 500 elephants were taken. They then struck the idol with an iron hatchet, and opened its head. Although it was the very Kibla of the accursed gabrs, it kissed the earth and filled the holy treasury.
  • 'Malik Naib Kafur marched on to Ma'bar, which he also took. He destroyed the golden idol temple (but-khanah i-zarin) of Ma'bar, and the golden idols which for ages had been worshipped by the Hindus of that country. The fragments of the golden temple, and of the broken idols of gold and gilt became the rich spoil of the army

Quotes from the Khazainul-Futuh[edit]

  • He started his building programme with the Jami Hazrat mosque Thereafter he decided to build a second minar opposite to the lofty minar of the Jami Masjid, which minar is unparalleled in the world. He ordered the circumference of the new minar to be double that of the old one. People were sent out in all directions in search of stones. Some of them broke the hills into pieces. Some others proved sharper than steel in breaking the temples of the infidels. Wherever these temples were bent in prayers, they were made to do prostration.
    • Khazainul-Futuh by Amir Khusru, quoted in Khalji Kalina Bharata, Persian texts translated into Hindi by S.A.A. Rizvi, Aligarh, 1955. p. 156-157 ff
  • 'So the temple of Somnath was made to bow towards the Holy Mecca; and as the temple lowered its head and jumped into the sea, you may say that the building first said its prayers and then had a bath' It seemed as if the tongue of the Imperial sword explained the meaning of the text: 'So he (Abraham) broke them (the idols) into pieces except the chief of them, that haply they may return to it.' Such a pagan country, the Mecca of the infidels, now became the Medina of Islam. The followers of Abraham now acted as guides in place of the Brahman leaders. The robust-hearted true believers rigorously broke all idols and temples wherever they found them. Owing to the war, 'takbir,' and 'shahadat' was heard on every side; even the idols by their breaking affirmed the existence of God. In this ancient land of infidelity the call to prayers rose so high that it was heard in Baghdad and Madain (Ctesiphon) while the 'Ala' proclamation (Khutba) resounded in the dome of Abraham and over the water of Zamzam' The sword of Islam purified the land as the Sun purifies the earth.'
    • Khazainul-Futuh by Amir Khusru, translated by Mohammed Habib, Quoted by Jagdish Narayan Sarkar, The Art of War in Medieval India, New Delhi, 1964, pp. 286-87.
  • 'On Tuesday, the 3rd of Ziqad in AH 700 (10 July, 1301), the strong fort [of Ranthambhor] was conquered. Jhain which was the abode of the infidels, became a new city for Musalmans. The temple of Bahirdev was the first to be destroyed. Subsequently, all other abodes of idolatry were destroyed. Many strong temples which would have remained unshaken even by the trumpet blown on the Day of Judgment, were levelled with the ground when swept by the wind of Islam.'
    • Khazainul-Futuh by Amir Khusru, in: S. A. A. Rizvi, Khalji Kalina Bharata, Persian texts translated into Hindi by S.A.A. Rizvi, Aligarh, 1955. p. 160.

Quotes from Zafarul Walih Bi Muzaffar Wa Ãlihi[edit]

  • 'He routed Ramdev everywhere except the fort. The fort contained temples of gold and silver and images of the same metals. Besides, there were jewels of different varieties. He ordered them to be destroyed and collected its gold. Ruler of the fort was surprised at this action and his mind got confused. He sent an envoy for conclusion of peace on condition of sparing the temples from destruction which was agreed to
    • Devagiri (Maharashtra) . Zafarul Walih Bi Muzaffar Wa Ãlihi, translated into English by M.F. Lokhand­wala, Baroda, 1970 and 1974, Vol. I, p. 138

Quotes from Muslim medieval histories[edit]

  • In the beginning of AH 697 'Alau'd-Din sent Almas Beg and Nasrat Khan along with other chiefs of Dehli and the army of Sindh, for the conquest of Gujarat' Gujarat had a very famous idol which was not only of the same name as Somnat but was also equally prestigious. The Musalmans got hold of this idol and had it sent to Dehli so that it could be trampled upon230
    • Abdul Hai Khwajah, Translated from the Urdu version of Tarikh-i-Firishta by Abdul Hai Khwajah, Deoband, 1983, pt. I, p. 349.
  • In the year AH 710 (AD 1310), the King again sent Mullik Kafoor and Khwaja Hajy with a great army, to reduce Dwara Sumoodra and Maabir in the Deccan, where he heard there were temples very rich in gold and jewels' They found in the temple prodigious spoils, such as idols of gold, adorned with precious stones, and other rich effects, consecrated to Hindoo worship. On the sea-coast the conqueror built a small mosque, and ordered prayers to be read according to the Mahomedan faith, and the Khootba to be pronounced in the name of Allaood-Deen Khiljy. This mosque remains entire in our days at Sett Bund Rameswur, for the infidels, esteeming it a house consecrated to God, would not destroy it.
    • John Briggs, Tarikh-i-Firishta, translated by John Briggs under the title History of the Rise of the Mahomedan Power in India, first published in 1829, New Delhi Reprint 1981, Vol. I, pp. 213-14.
  • When Raja Sidhraj Jaisingh Solanki became the king, he extended his conquest as far as Malwa and Burhanpur etc. and laid foundation of lofty forts such as the forts of Broach and Dabhoi etc. He dug the tank of Sahastraling in Pattan, many others in Biramgam and at most places in Sorath. His reign is known as 'Sang Bast', the Age of Stone Buildings. He founded the city of Sidhpur and built the famous Rudramal Temple. It is related that when he intended to build Rudramal, he summoned astrologers to elect an auspicious hour for it. The astrologers said to him that some harm through heavenly revolution is presaged from Alauddin when his turn comes to the Saltanat of Dihli. The Raja relied on the statement of astrologers and entered into a pledge and pact with the said Sultan. The Sultan had said. 'If I do not destroy it under terms of the pact, yet I will leave some religious vestiges.' When, after some time, the turn of the Sultan came to the Saltanat of Delhi, he marched with his army to that side and left religious marks by constructing a masjid and a minar...[Sidhpur (Gujarat)]
    • Mirat-i-Ahmadi by Ali Muhammad Khan, in Mirat-i-Ahmdi, translated into English by M.F. Lokhandwala, Baroda, 1965, P. 27-29. Quoted in S.R. Goel: Hindu Temples What Happened to them. Sita Ram Goel adds the following comment "This account is obviously a folktale because ‘Alau’d-Din Khalji became a Sultan two hundred years after Siddharaja JayasiMha ascended the throne of Gujarat. Moreover, ‘Alau’d-Din never went to Gujarat; he sent his generals, Ulugh Khan and Nasrat Khan."
  • The Sultan requested the wise men to supply some rules and regulations for grinding down the Hindus, and for depriving them of that wealth and property which fosters disaffection and rebellion. ... The people were brought to such a state of obedience that one revenue officer would string twenty khiits, mukaddims, or chaudharis together by the neck, and enforce payment by blows. No Hindu could hold up his head, and in their houses no sign of gold or silver, tonkas or jitals, or of any superfluity was to be seen. These things, which nourish insubordination and rebellion, were no longer to be found. Driven by destitution, the wives of the khuls and mukaddims went and served for hire in the houses of the Musulmans.... The Hindu was to be so reduced as to be left un- able to keep a horse to ride on, to carry arms, to wear fine clothes, or to enjoy any of the luxuries of life. .... I have, therefore, taken my measures, and have made my subjects obedient, so that at my command they are ready to creep into holes like mice. Now you tell me that it is all in accordance with law that the Hindus should be reduced to the most abject obedience.I am an unlettered man, but I have seen a great deal; be assured then that the Hindus will never become submissive and obedient till they are reduced to poverty. I have, therefore, given orders that just sufficient shall be left to them from year to year, of corn, milk, and curds, but that they shall not be allowed to accumulate hoards and property."
    • Tarikh-i Firoz Shahi, of Ziauddin Barani in Elliot and Dowson, Vol. III : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. p. 182 ff.
  • The Sultan then asked, "How are Hindus designated in the law, as payers of tributes or givers of tribute? The Kazi replied, "They are called payers of tribute, and when the revenue officer demands silver from them, they should tender gold. If the officer throws dirt into their mouths, they must without reluctance open their mouths to receive it. By doing so they show their respect for the officer. The due subordination of the zimmi is exhibited in this humble payment and by this throwing of dirt in their mouths. The glorification of Islam is a duty, and contempt of the Religion is vain. God holds them in contempt, for he says, "keep them under in subjection". To keep the Hindus in abasement is especially a religious duty, because they are the most inveterate enemies of the Prophet, and because the Prophet has commanded us to slay them, plunder them, and make them captive, saying, 'Convert them to Islam or kill them, enslave them and spoil their wealth and property.' No doctor but the great doctor (Hanifa), to whose school we belong, has assented to the imposition of the jizya (poll tax) on Hindus. Doctors of other schools allow no other alternative but 'Death or Islam.'"
    • Qazi Mughisuddin's reply to Sultan Alauddin Khalji. Tarikh-i Firoz Shahi, of Ziauddin Barani in Elliot and Dowson, Vol. III : Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, 8 Volumes, Allahabad Reprint, 1964. pp. 184, chapter 15 [1]. Quoted in B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946).

Quotes about Alauddin Khalji[edit]

  • In the days of Ala-ud-Din, at the beginning of the fourteenth century, the Hindus had in certain parts given the Sultan much trouble. So, he determined to impose such taxes on them that they would be prevented from rising in rebellion. " The Hindu was to be left unable to keep a horse to ride on, to carry arms, to wear fine clothes, or to enjoy any of the luxuries of life."
    • B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946), quoting Dr. Murray Titus
  • It is true that Mosque architecture in Gujarat only began in the 14th century. When Ala-al-Din Khalji conquered and annexed the country to the Delhi Sultanate in the later part of the 13th century, there still flourished a singularly beautiful indigenous style of architecture. The early monuments of Gujarat, notably at Patan (Anhilvada) tell the same story of the demolition of local temples and the reconstruction of their fragments.
    • Syed Mahmudul Hasan, Mosque Architecture of Pre-Mughal Bengal, Dacca (Bangladesh), 1979, p. 45 ff
  • Hindus found it very hard to understand the psychology of this new invader. For the first time in their history, Hindus were witnessing a scene which was described by Kanhadade Prabandha (1456 AD) in the following words: “The conquering army burnt villages, devastated the land, plundered people’s wealth, took Brahmins and children and women of all classes captive, flogged with thongs of raw hide, carried a moving prison with it, and converted the prisoners into obsequious Turks.” That was written in remembrance of Alauddin Khalji’s invasion of Gujarat in the year 1298 AD. But the gruesome game had started three centuries earlier when Mahmud Ghaznavi had vowed to invade India every year in order to destroy idolatry, kill the kafirs, capture prisoners of war, and plunder vast wealth for which India was well-known.
    • Goel, S. R. (2001). The story of Islamic imperialism in India.
  • Why does the monstrous men of an Alauddin Khalji, a Firuz Shah Tughlaq, a Sikandar Lodi, and an Aurangzeb, to name only the most notorious, pop out so soon from the thickest coat of cosmetics?
    The answer is provided by the Muslim historians of medieval India. They painted their heroes in the indelible dyes of Islamic ideology. They did not anticipate the day when Islamic imperialism in India will become only a painful memory of the past. They did not visualise that the record of Islam in India will one day be weighed on the scales of human values.
    • Sita Ram Goel: The Story of Islamic Imperialism in India
  • But in areas controlled by the Muslim monarchs, Hindus had been turned into dumb driven cattle, always at the mercy of the meanest Muslim. Barani himself writes: “Sultan Alauddin (Khalji) demanded from learned men rules and regulations, so that the Hindu could be ground down and property and possession, which are the cause of disaffection and rebellion, could not remain in his house.” One of these “learned men” was Qazi Mughisuddin. He advocated very stern measures and advised: “If the revenue collector spits into a Hindu’s mouth, the Hindu should open his mouth to receive it without hesitation.” Alauddin Khalji raised the land revenue to one-half of the gross produce. He imposed a grazing tax on all milch cattle and a house-tax. Barani himself reports: “The people were brought to such a state of obedience that one revenue officer would string twelve khuts, muqaddams and chaudharies (all Hindus) together by the neck and enforce payment by blows.” Hindus were so much impoverished that their wives had to work as servants in Muslim houses. Next came Alauddin’s market regulations which our secularists and the All India Radio have been hailing as “the first experiment in socialism in India’s history”. The peasants, who were Hindus, were ordered to sell their grains to the merchants at arbitrarily fixed prices. The merchants, who were also Hindus, were forced to sell this grain to the State, again at arbitrarily fixed prices which hardly left any margin of profit. There was so much grain stored in state godowns that Ibn Battutah who visited Delhi 18 years after Alauddin’s death, ate rice which had been procured during Alauddin’s reign. The Hindu merchants had to procure all sorts of merchandise from areas where there was no fixation of prices. But the prices at which they had to sell to the state were fixed without any reference to costs involved. And the merchants had to keep their wives and children as hostages at the capital to ensure that they brought regular supplies. This was expropriation, pure and simple, under conditions from which there was no escape except death.
    • Quoted from Goel, Sita Ram (2001). The story of Islamic imperialism in India. ISBN 9788185990231
  • The process of enslavement during war went on under the Khaljis and the Tughlaqs. Alauddin had 50,000 slaves some of whom were mere boys, and surely many captured during war. ... Ziyauddin Barani’s description of the Slave Market in Delhi (such markets were there in other places also) during the reign of Alauddin Khalji, shows that fresh batches of slaves were constantly replenishing them.
    • Lal, K. S. (2012). Indian muslims: Who are they.
  • One idea that struck Alauddin Khalji (1296-1316) was that it was “wealth” which was the “source of rebellion and disaffection.” It encouraged defiance and provided means of “revolt”. He and his counsellors deliberated that if somehow people could be impoverished, “no one would even have time to pronounce the word ‘rebellion’.” ...According to W.H. Moreland “the question really at issue was how to break the power of the rural leaders, the chiefs and the headmen of parganas and villages…” Sultan Alauddin therefore undertook a series of measures to crush them by striking at their major source of power-wealth. But in the process, leaders and followers, rich and poor, all were affected. The king started by raising the land tax (Kharaj) to fifty percent....Furthermore, under Alauddin’s system all the land occupied by the rich and the poor “was brought under assessment at the uniform rate of fifty per cent”. ....In short, a substantial portion of the produce was taken away by the government as taxes and the people were left with the bare minimum for sustenance. For the Sultan had “directed that only so much should be left to his subjects (raiyyat) as would maintain them from year to year… without admitting of their storing up or having articles in excess.” ... Maulana Shamsuddin Turk, a divine from Egypt, was happy to learn that Alauddin had made the wretchedness and misery of the Hindus so great and had reduced them to such a despicable condition “that the Hindu women and children went out begging at the doors of the Musalmans.” ....While summing up the achievements of Alauddin Khalji, the contemporary chronicler Barani mentions, with due emphasis, that by the last decade of his reign the submission and obedience of the Hindus had become an established fact. Such a submission on the part of the Hindus “has neither been seen before nor will be witnessed hereafter.”
    • Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 7, quoting Moreland, Agrarian System of Moslem India, p. 32 fn., Barani
  • The resultant effect of [Alauddins] policy was that the people in the villages suffered from extreme financial hardship. The poverty of Indians was noticed in the later period by foreigners.
    • The position of Hindus under the Delhi Sultanate, 1206-1526 by Kanhaiya Lall Srivastava, quoted in Elst, Koenraad (2014). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. p. 390

See also[edit]

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