Important Muslim Dynasties and Rulers in India are as follows:
1. Ghaznavi (962-1030 A.D.):
Mahmud of Ghazni, 997-1030 A.D. He succeeded to the throne of Ghazni in 997 after the death of his father Subuktgin. Mahmud Ghaznavi was a great conqueror and one of the greatest rulers of Asia. He carried out his ambition of building up an Asian empire. His 17 invasions of India (1000-1026) were carried out only to fulfill that ambition as the booty provided the necessary finances.
Big Hindu temples were his special targets for gold and jewellery. Destroying temples had another advantage. He could claim, as he did of obtainning religious merit by destroying idols.
His repeated invasions weakened the Indian rulers and paved the way for the attacks of Mohammad Ghori. Once again the North-West passes were opened and the insularity of country broken. The famous Persian poet Firdausi lived in his court and wrote the famous Persian epic Shahnama. He also sent the Asian scholar Alberuni to India who wrote an excellent account of India.
Ghori (1172-1206 A.D.):
Mohammad Ghori, 1186-1206. In 1186, he occupied Lahore. In 1191 he was defeated by Prithviraj, the ruler of Ajmer and Delhi, in the First Battle of Tarain. In 1192, Mohammad Ghori defeated Prithviraj at Tarain (Thanesar). This marked the commencement of permanent Muslim rule in India. He then occupied Ajmer, Delhi, Kannauj, Banaras, Gwalior, etc. Mohammad, Ghori is known as the founder of the Muslim rule in India.
2. Slave Dynasty (1206-1286 A.D.):
Qutb-ud-din Aibak, 1206-1210. He was a slave and one of the generals of Mohammad Ghori. After Ghori’s death he became the ruler of his Indian possessions.
He founded the Slave Dynasty. His great contribution to Islam is that he made India an independent political entity ruled by Muslims. He was famous for his generosity and was called Lakh Baksha (giver of lakhs of rupees). The building of famous Qutab Minar was also started by him.
Iltutmish, 1211-1236. He was the son-in-law of Qutb-ud-din Aibak. He made many conquests, and became the overlord of the whole of Northern India, consolidated the Delhi Sultanate and Muslim rule in Northern India down to Vindhyas. He completed the Qutab Minar which was begun by Qutb-ud-din.
Razia Begum, 1236-1239:
She was the daughter of Iltutmish, and the first woman ruler of Delhi. She was the most talented and capable child of Iltutmish. Despite all the good quantities she possessed, she was no match for the jealous band of Turk chiefs who hated being ruled by a woman. Another grievance against her was that she showered favours upon an Alyssinnian black slave Yaqut. She was ultimately defeated and later put to death.
After a number of less important sultans, came Balban, a strong and iron-willed sultan.
Balban (1266-87) was a man of lowly origins. He had risen from being a slave and a water-carrier to the governorship of a very powerful province. Balban was an old man, but he dealt with rivals with ferocious severity. His biggest problem was that the nobles had become very powerful and were threatening the position of the Sultan’.
Slowly but firmly Balban, broke their power and finally the position of the Sultan became all important. Balban was a severe but just ruler. He defended the frontiers against Mongols. His death at the age of eighty was hastened by the news that his only son had failed in the battle against the Mongol invaders.
Khilji (1290-1320 A.D.):
Ala-ud-din Khdji, 1296-1316. His reign marked the beginning of Imperial age under Islam. The Southern India was conquered for the first time by a Muslim ruler. His claim to fame is the secularisation of administration and various civil, military and economic reforms.
He lacked the qualities of heart, which resulted in alienating his people, and in the downfall of the Khilji dynasty. He was illiterate but was a great patron of the learned and the pious. Amir Khusro, the great poet, engaged his patronage.
The Tughlaq Sultans (1321 – 1386 A.D.):
After three years of anarchy, the nobles raised to the throne Ghyas-ud-Din of the Tughlaq family. He was said to have been the son of a Turki father and a Hindu mother. Ghyas-ud-Din was a capable general, who kept his local governors under control. It is believed that he was murdered by his son Muhammad, who succeeded him.
Muhammad Tughlaq ruled from 1325 to 1351 A.D. The North African Arab traveller, Ibn Batuta, was in India during thin time and left a detailed description of the conditions of the country under Muhammed Tughlaq.
Muhammad was a man of ideas and tried so far as possible to rule on the principles of reason. Many of his ideas were very sensible and rational but they did not work out well because he did not do the right things to make them work.
He transferred the capital from Delhi to Doogiri (which he renamed Daulatabad). Daulatabad (near modern Aurangabad) would have been a better place for controlling the Deccan. The shifting of the capital was, however, not a success. It was too far from northern India and the Sultan could not keep a watch on the northern frontiers.
So Muhammad Tughlaq returned to Delhi. The southern kingdoms saw this as a sign of weakness on the part of the Sultanate. Soon after this two independent kingdoms arose in the Deccan – the Bahmani and the Vijayanagara kingdoms – and the Sultanate had no say in the affairs of the Deccan.
The Sultan decided to issue ‘token’ coins in brass and copper which could be exchanged for silver coins from the treasury. This scheme would have worked if he had taken care to see that only his government was issuing the ‘token’ coins. But as it happened many people started making brass and copper ‘tokens’ and the Sultan, therefore, had no control over the finances. The token coins had to be discontinued.
Unfortunately for Muhammad Tughlaq, his policies tended to go wrong and he gradually lost the support of not only the people but also of the nobles and the ulema (Muslim divines). After Muhammad his cousin Feroze Shah (1351-88) became the Sultan of Delhi. He was an able ruler and made an attempt to consolidate the Sultanate.
Following the death of Feroz, the Sultanate declined and eventually only a small area around Delhi remained in the hands of the Sultans. The Turkish chief Timur or Tamerlane led an army from Central Asia into India and conquered Delhi.
After looting the city he returned to Samarqand. Timur’s invasion gave a fatal blow to the tottering Tughlaq dynasty and the Delhi Sultanate. The Tughlaq dyansty ended in 1413 and a local governor occupied Delhi.
3. The Lodi Dynasty (1450-1526):
Bahlol Lodi, who succeeded in 1450, was a good ruler. He is described as a man of simple habits, pious and generous. His son Sikander Lodi (1489-1517) was a good administrator. Like his father he was determined to restore the ancient glory of the Delhi Sultanate. He moved the capital from Delhi to a new town which later became famous as the city of Agra.
He felt that he would be able to control the kingdom better from Agra. Sikander Lodi died in 1517 and was succeeded by his son Ibrahim Lodi, who was a tyrant and an incapable ruler. He quarreled with his Afghan nobles who decided to call in Babar, the king of Kabul. Babar accepted the invitation and succeeded in overthrowing Ibrahim in 1526 (The First Battle of Panipat).
4. The Bahmani Kingdom of the Deccan:
In 1347, during the reign of Muhammad Tughlaq an Afghan officer named Hasan (surnamed Gangu Bahmani) set up an independent kingdom called Bahmani kingdom with its capital at Gulbarga. The Bahmani kingdom lasted for about one and a half centuries. The first king, Hasan, was a good organiser. Among the other rulers, the most prominent were Muhammad Shah (1358 – 73) and Firoz (1397 – 1422).
The Bahmani rulers waged fierce wars against the Rajas of Vijayanagar and their allies, the kings of Warrangal. The bone of contention was the Raichur Doab between Krishna and Tungbhadra rivers.
The Bahmani kingdom reached the zenith of its power during the time of Mahmud Gawan, popularly known as Khwaja Gawan. He was the prime Minister of Muhammed Shah III (1463—82). The Bahmani kingdom reached its highest watermark during his reign. It extended from the river Narmada in the north to Krishna in the south.
Khwaja Gawan’s chief title of fame however rests on his administrative reforms. These reforms embraced almost every department of administration. He also founded a big college at the capital, Bidar, and equipped it with a grand library, which could boast of over three thousand books in Persian and Arabic – a remarkable achievement for his age.
The Bahmani kingdom was too far away from northern India to play any effective part in Indian history. In the Deccan, however, it played an important role. In the first place, it established and consolidated Muslim power in the midst of Hindu population.
It thus ultimately gave, by a long process of immigration and conversion, a strong element of Muslim population of southern India. Secondly, it checked the expansion of the Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar towards the north and eventually overthrew it altogether.
Thirdly, the Bahmani rulers built many strong fortresses perched on hilltops in the Deccan. These were eventually utilized by the Marathas in their defensive warfare against the Mughals.