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Administration of the Sultanate


The government established by the Turks was a compromise between Islamic political ideas and institutions on the one hand and the existing Rajput system of government on the other. Consequently many elements of the Rajput political system with or without changes became part and parcel of the Turkish administration in India. Most of the Sultans kept up the pretence of regarding the caliph as the legal sovereign while they themselves were the caliph's representatives. Most of them included the name of the caliph in the Khutba and the Sikka and adopted titles indicative of their subordination to the caliph. Three rulers emphasised their own importance. Balban used to say that after the Prophet the most important office was that of the sovereign and called himself the Shadow of God. Muhmmad bin Tughlaq assumed this style during the early years of his reign and although Balban had retained the name of the caliph in the Khutba and Sikka, he made no mention of caliph anywhere. Despite all this neither of them had the power to call himself the caliph. The only person who had done this was Qutubuddin Mubarak Khalji. Only three Sultans sought and secured a mansur or letter of investiture from the caliph. The first among them was Iltutmish. Next Muhmmad bin Tughlaq tried to pacify the ulema by securing an investiture from the Abbasid Caliph in Egypt.

After him Firoz also sought and secured it twice. According to Islamic ideals essential attributes of a sovereign required that he should be a male adult suffering from no physical disability, a freeborn Muslim having faith in Islam and acquainted with its doctrines and he should be elected by the people. There were several violations of the prescribed criteria as Raziya was raised to throne despite her being a woman. Minority proved no bar in the case of Mohammad bin Tughluq. Alauddin Khalji admitted his ignorance of the Sharia but nobody questioned him. In the framing of new rules and regulations the authority of the Sultan was circumscribed and every ruler could not govern the kingdom in complete disregard of the advice of the ulema or theologians as Alauddin Khalji and Muhammad Tughluq had been able to do. The power of the nobility also blunted their authority to some extent. When there was a weak ruler on the throne the nobles and the ulema particularly dominated him but during the reign of Balban, Alauddin Khalji and Muhammad Tughluq these checks proved ineffective. The sultans were not powerful enough to rule the land in complete disregard of the sentiments of the Hindus.

The Sultan dominated the central government as he was the legal head of the state and acted as the chief executive and the highest court of appeal. The Sultan was assisted by number of ministers. The slave dynasty sultans constituted four ministers at the top level these were held by Wazir, Ariz I mamalik, the diwan -i-insha and the diwan-i-risalat. After sometime an extraordinary officer of the state styled as naib-ul-mulk or malik naib the regent came into existence. When the sultanate was well established two more departmental heads were raised to the status of central ministers sadr-us-sadur and the diwan-i-qaza. The commander of the royal army next after the sultan, the crown prince and above mentioned ministers constituted the nucleus of the council of advisers called majilis-i-am or majilis-i-khawat which comprised the most trusted and the highest officers of the state. The wazir also styled as vakil was the prime minister and his department was called the diwan-i-wizarat. He was head of the finance dept and usually held overall charge of the entire administrative set up. The head of the army establishment or the ministry of defence was the diwan -i-arz. He was responsible for the organization and maintenance of the royal army and exercised disciplinary control over it. The department of correspondence and records of the royal court was called diwan-i-insha; it was held under the charge of central minister known as dabir-i-mamlik, dabir-i-khas or amir munshi. The diwan-i-risalat constituted the fourth pillar of the imperial administration of the sultanate. Under slave dynasty the head of the dept was sadr-us-sadur who was primarily a minister for ecclesiastical affairs. During the time of Alauddin Khalji diwan-i-risalat dept was taken out of the hand of the sadr and renamed diwan-i-riyasat. Its primary function was to implement the economic regulations issued by the sultan and control the markets and prices. Barid-i-mamalik; vakil -i-dar, amir-i-barbak, amir-i-hajib, amir-i-majlis, amir-i-shikar, kotwal etc were other important officials of the time.

Local Administration

Local administration was vague and undefined and basically traditional system. The provinces were divided into 6 parts headed by shiqdars with main functions to maintain law and order and protect people against oppression of zamindars and had to perform military obligation. The shiqs were further divided into parganas and had different officials-

  1. Amil- collected land revenue and other taxes
  2. Mushrif
  3. Hazamdars- treasurer
  4. Qazi-Civil officials
  5. Shiqdar-Criminal official
  6. Kotwal-Police head under shiqdar
  7. Faujdar-Military official in charge of fort along with their adjoining territories
  8. Amin-Measure land
  9. Qanungo-Maintained previous records of produce and assessment
  10. Patwari-Village record keeper

At panchayat level khuts,muqaddam,chaudhary collected taxes and in lieu of their services they were exempted from the taxes.

1.Provincial System
2.Judicial System
3.Military organization
4.Iqtadari System