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Razia Sultana
Razia Sultan, sometimes razia sultana, (1205 – 14 October 1240) was the Sultan of Delhi from 10 October 1236 to 14 October 1240. A member of the Mamluk

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This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (October 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) Razia Sultan the great sultan of Delhi Sultan of DelhiReign 10 October 1236 -14 October 1240Coronation 10 October 1236Predecessor Rukn ud din FiruzSuccessor Muiz ud din BahramBorn c. 1205
Budaun, Uttar Pradesh, IndiaDied 14 October 1240 (aged 35)
Delhi, Delhi SultanateBurial Bulbul-i-Khan near Turkmen Gate, DelhiSpouse Malik Altunia Full name Raziya Begum bint. Shams-ud-Din IltutmishRegnal name Jalâlat-ud-Dîn RaziyâHouse MamlukFather IltutmishMother Qutub BegumReligion Islam

Razia Sultan, sometimes razia sultana, (1205 – 14 October 1240) was the Sultan of Delhi from 10 October 1236 to 14 October 1240. A member of the Mamluk dynasty, she is known for being the only female ever to rule the Delhi Sultanate.[1]

  • 1 Early life and Career
  • 2 Personal Life
  • 3 Death
  • 4 Legacy
    • 4.1 In popular culture
  • 5 Claimed burial sites
  • 6 References
  • 7 Bibliography
  • 8 External links
Early life and Career

Razia Sultana was the daughter of Shams-ud-din Iltutmish,[2] who had begun life as a Turk slave and ended it as Sultan of Delhi.[3] Iltutmish had been a great favorite of his master, Qutb ud din Aibak, the first Sultan of Delhi, and had been married to his only daughter Qutb Begum, who gave birth to Razia.[4][5]

She had her own brother named Nasiruddin Mahmud.[6] Razia being a member of the ruling family, grew up in privileged circumstances and was close to the levers of power both within the harem (where her mother was dominant) and in the court, where she was a favorite of both her maternal grandfather and her father. This was in contrast with her half-brothers Rukn ud din Firuz, and Muiz ud din Bahram who were the sons of former slave-girls, and thus grew up quite distant from the centers of power.

When Razia was five years old, Qutubuddin Aibak died and was succeeded by Iltutmish. Razia was a favorite of her father, and as a child was allowed to be present around him while he dealt with affairs of state. Later, like some other princesses of the time, she was trained to administer a kingdom if required, in the absence of her father or her husband.[7] Her abilities and diligence, no less than her mother's royal lineage, commended Razia to Iltutmish and made her a confirmed favorite with him. Nevertheless, Iltutmish's eldest son Nasiruddin Mahmud (Razia's brother) was groomed by Iltutmish to succeed him.

However, Nasir ud din Mahmud died suddenly in 1229 CE, and Iltutmish was at a loss as to a successor because he felt that none of his several surviving sons, born of his other wives, were worthy of the throne.[3] In 1230, he had to leave the capital in order to lead an invasion against Gwalior. During his absence, Razia acted as a competent regent, with the assistance of the Sultan's trusted minister. Iltutmish returned to Delhi in 1231 after having captured Gwalior, and the issue of succession was foremost on his mind. Iltutmish became the first sultan to appoint a woman as his successor when he designated Razia as his heir apparent. Razia was the first and only female ruler of Delhi Sultanate. However, after Iltutmish died on Wednesday 30 April 1236, Razia's half-brother Rukn ud din Firuz was elevated to the throne instead.

Rukn ud din Firuz's reign was short. With Iltutmish's widow Shah Turkaan for all practical purposes running the government, Rukn ud din abandoned himself to the pursuit of personal pleasure and debauchery, to the outrage of the citizenry. On 9 November 1236, both Rukn ud din and his mother Shah Turkaan were assassinated[8] after only six months in power. With reluctance, the nobility agreed to allow Razia to reign as Sultana of Delhi.[9]

Razia was an efficient ruler and possessed all the qualities of a monarch. According to Minhaj-i-Siraj, she was "sagacious, just, beneficent, the patron of the learned, a dispenser of justice, the cherisher of her subjects, and of warlike talent, and endowed with all the admirable attributes and qualifications necessary for a king. She is also famous for her romantic involvement and legends with her lover and later turned husband, Malik Ikhtiar-ud-din Altunia "[10]

Personal Life

Razia and Malik Ikhtiar-ud-din Altunia, the governor of Bathinda, were childhood friends. Some recognize them as childhood sweethearts who were strongly in love with each other. However, when Altunia was in Bathinda, the Turkic aristocracy spread rumors about Razia's romantic involvement with Jamal-ud-Din Yaqut, an Abyssinian Siddi (Habshi) slave. This triggered Altunia's jealousy and he led a rebellion against Razia, simply with the intention of getting her back.[11] As Iltutmish wanted Razia to rule over India, to keep her father’s promise Razia did not marry Altunia but she kept a friendly relationship.


Meanwhile, Razia's half-brother, Muiz ud din Bahram, had usurped the throne. Altunia and Razia undertook a military campaign to take back the sultanate from Bahram, but they were defeated on the 24th of Rabi' al-awwal 638 A.H. (October 1240). They fled Delhi and reached Kaithal the next day, where their remaining forces abandoned them. They were killed on the 25th of Rabi' al-awwal 638 A.H.,[12] this date corresponds to 13 October 1240.[13] Bahram, for his part, reigned from 1240 to 1242, but would be dethroned for incompetence.

The place of Razia's burial is disputed by historians. There are 3 places where Razia is claimed to be buried. They are Delhi, Kaithal and Tonk, Rajasthan.[14]

Legacy Billon Jital of Razia

Razia was reportedly devoted to the cause of her empire and to her subjects. There is no record that she made any attempt to remain aloof from her subjects, rather it appears she preferred to mingle among them. She especially protected and preserved the indigenous cultures of her Hindu subjects during her reign.[15] Her reign was characterised as spirited and dynamic by many.

In popular culture

Razia Sultan is a 1983 biopic on Razia Sultan, with Hema Malini taking the titular role.[16]

In 2015, & TV started airing Razia Sultan, a TV series on the life of Razia Sultan, starring Pankhuri Awasthy. It highlighted her tough journey towards becoming a Sultana and her much spoken about passionate love life with Altunia.[17]

Claimed burial sites

There are conflicting accounts regarding her actual site of grave. No archaeological or documentary evidences are found to confirm the site of her grave. The dispute is whether she was buried in Kaithal[18] or Delhi or Tonk, and also where were Altunia and Yakut buried.

It is claimed that Razia's grave lies in neglected condition among the narrow lanes of Old Delhi that is in a courtyard in Bulbul-i-khana, Shahjahanabad, near the Turkman Gate entrance.[19]

There is a tradition that Razia Sultana was buried in Kaithal.[20] Altunia was also buried next to her. There was also a masjid nearby.
Viceroy of India (Lord Linlithgow) in 1938 came to kaithal to visit Razia's tomb. He approved a special grant for the restoration of the tomb.[21] After that Director General Archaeology India visited the tomb but due to second world war, the grant could not be spent on the restoration.

  1. ^ Table of Delhi Kings: Muazzi Slave King The Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1909, v. 2, p. 368..
  2. ^ "The rise and fall of Delhi's only female monarch". 
  3. ^ a b Reina Pennington (2003). Amazons to Fighter Pilots: a Biographical Dictionary of Military Women. Westport, CT: Greenwood press. p. 355. ISBN 0313291977. 
  4. ^ Sharma, Sudha (21 March 2016). The Status of Muslim Women in Medieval India. SAGE Publications India. pp. 196, n.2, 3. ISBN 978-9-351-50567-9. 
  5. ^ Jackson-Laufer, Guida Myrl (1999). Women Rulers Throughout the Ages: An Illustrated Guide. ABC-CLIO. p. 341. ISBN 978-1-576-07091-8. 
  6. ^ Siddiqi, Iqtidar Husain (1992). Perso-Arabic sources of information on the life and conditions in the Sultanate of Delhi. Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers. p. 6. 
  7. ^ Gloria Steinem (Introduction), Herstory: Women Who Changed the World, eds. Deborah G. Ohrn and Ruth Ashby, Viking, (1995) p. 34-36. ISBN 978-0670854349 Archived 19 June 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ Satish Chandra, History of Medieval India(800–1700), New Delhi, Orient Longman, (2007), p.100. ISBN 81-250-3226-6
  9. ^ Reina Pennington (2003). Amazons to Fighter Pilots: a Biographical Dictionary of Military Women. Westport, CT: Greenwood press. p. 356. ISBN 0313291977. 
  10. ^ Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. pp. 74–76. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4. 
  11. ^ Richard Pankhurst (21 May 1999) "Ethiopia Across the Red Sea and Indian Ocean" Archived 2008-05-13 at the Wayback Machine., Addis Ababa, Addis Tribune.
  12. ^ Razia Sultan The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians. The Muhammadan Period, 1867–1877.
  13. ^ Conversion of Islamic and Christian dates
  14. ^ Verde, Tom. 2016. Malika II: Radiyya bint Iltutmish. AramcoWorld. Volume 67 (3). May/June 2016. Pages 34–37.
  15. ^ Majumdar, R.C., ed. The History and Culture of the Indian People. Volume V. Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1957
  16. ^ "Razia Sultan". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  17. ^ "Pankhuri Awasthi follows Hema Malini for 'Razia Sultan'". Times of India. IANS. 5 February 2015. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-16. Retrieved 2015-04-09. 
  19. ^ "A forgotten tomb". thehindu.com. 9 August 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  20. ^ 1- Book Name "Taareekh-e-Punjab by Kalidas Rai, 2- "Taareekh Buzargaan-e-Kaithal by Sheikh Muhammad Shakir Shah Abadi
  21. ^ Book Name Ehad-e-Gul by Syed Fayyaz Hussain Zaidi
Preceded by
Rukn ud din Firuz Mamluk Dynasty
1236–1240 Succeeded by
Muiz ud din Bahram Preceded by
Rukn ud din Firuz Sultan of Delhi
1236–1240 Succeeded by
Muiz ud din Bahram Bibliography
  • Asif, Salman, and Kate Montgomery. Razia: Warrior Queen of India. London: Hood Hood Books, 1998. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/43208215
  • Goel, Devendra, Chandrakant Chadda, Nirupa Roy, Jairaj, Kamran, M. Kumar, N.A. Ansari, and Lachhiram. Razia sultan Raziyā Sultāna. Mumbai: Shemaroo Entertainemtn, 2012. DVD; NTSC all regions; 5.1 surround sound. Hindi with English subtitles. Abstract: A tale of stormy love and passion for each other and unflinching loyalty between Razia, the Queen Empress of India and an Abyssinian slave Yaqub. She became immortalised as a symbol of the highest, the noblest and the most sacred in love. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/905056178
  • Dasgupta, Shahana. Razia: The People's Queen. New Delhi: Rupa & Co, 2001. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/422540172
  • Maqbul Arshad. Razia Sultana. Lahore: Maqbul Academy, 1900. Fiction: Juvenile audience: Urdu. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/651942430
  • Waeerkar, Ram, and Anant Pai. Sultana Razia: Empress of India. Mumbai: Amar Chitra Katha, ACK Media, 2009. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/609715545
  • Zakaria, Rafiq. Razia, Queen of India. : Popular Prakashan, 1966. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1210383
External links
  • Project Continua: Biography of Sultan Raziyya bint Iltutmish
  • An Impartial History of the Only Empress of India : Jalalat -al-din Razia Sultan (r. 1236/7-40 C.E.) : http://ishq-e-dilli.blogspot.in/2016/06/an-impartial-history-of-only-empress-of.html
  • Exploring Razia Sultan’s Tomb at Mohalla Bulbuli Khana,Delhi : http://ishq-e-dilli.blogspot.in/2016/07/exploring-razia-sultans-tomb-at-mohalla.html
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