Qutbuddin Mubarak Shah

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Qutbuddin Mubarak Shah
Sultan of Delhi
Reign 1316-1320
Coronation 14 April 1316
Predecessor Shihabuddin Omar
Successor Khusrau Khan
Born Mubarak Shah
Died 1320
Dynasty Khalji dynasty
Father Alauddin khalji
Religion Sunni Islam

Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Shah Khalji (r. 1316–1320) was a ruler of the Delhi Sultanate of present-day India. A member of the Khalji dynasty, he was a son of Alauddin Khalji.

After Alauddin's death, Mubarak Shah was imprisoned by Malik Kafur, who appointed his younger brother Shihabuddin Omar as a puppet monarch. After Malik Kafur's murder, Mubarak Shah became the regent. Soon after, he blinded his brother, and usurped the power. After ascending the throne, he resorted to populist measures, such as abolishing the heavy taxes and penalties imposed by his father, and releasing thousands of prisoners.

He curbed a rebellion in Gujarat, recaptured Devagiri, and successfully besieged Warangal to extract a tribute. He was murdered by his slave general Khusrau Khan.

Early life

Mubarak Shah, also called Mubarak Khan, was a son of Alauddin Khalji. After Alauddin died on 4 January 1316, his slave-general Malik Kafur appointed Alauddin's 6-year-old son Shihabuddin as a puppet monarch, and himself held the power as regent. At Shihabuddin's coronation ceremony, Mubarak Shah and other sons of Alauddin were ordered to kiss Shihabuddin's feet.[1]

Later, Kafur started persecuting Alauddin's family members, whom he considered a threat to his control over the throne. Mubarak Shah, who was a major threat as one of the few adult sons of Alauddin, was imprisoned.[2] The former bodyguards (paiks) of Alauddin, who disapproved of Kafur's actions, freed Mubarak Shah after killing Kafur.[3] According to an account mentioned by the 16th century chronicler Firishta, Kafur had sent some paiks to blind Mubarak Shah, but the captive prince gave them his jeweled necklace, and convinced them to kill Kafur instead.[4] However, this account is a later-day fabrication: according to the earlier chronicler Ziauddin Barani, the paiks took the initiative to kill Kafur on their own.[5]


After Kafur's murder, the nobles offered the post of regent (naib-i mulk) to Mubarak Shah. However, Mubarak Shah believed that as a regent, his life would be in constant danger. Initially, he rejected the offer, and instead requested to be allowed to flee to another country with his mother. Nevertheless, the nobles persuaded him to accept the regency.[6]

Mubarak Shah thus became the regent of his younger step-brother Shihabuddin. Some weeks later, he accused Shihabuddin's mother Jhatyapalli of trying to poison him. Subsequently, he had Shihabuddin imprisoned in Gwalior and blinded, and usurped the throne.[6]


Square Billon 8 gani of Mubarak Shah

Mubarak Shah ascended the throne with the title Qutubuddin on 14 April 1316, when he was 17 or 18 years old.[7] Mubarak Shah retained Alauddin's officers and governors, which ensured a stable government during the first year of his reign.[8] He also made some new appointments:

  • Malik Dinar, who held the office of shuhna-i pil (Keeper of the Elephants) under Alauddin, was given the title of Zafar Khan. Later, Mubarak Shah married his daughter.[9]
  • Muhammad Maulana, a maternal uncle of Mubarak Shah, was given the title Sher Khan.[9]
  • Maulana Ziauddin, the son of the Sultan's calligraphy teacher Maulana Bahauddin, was given the title Qazi Khan and the office of sadr-i jahan.[9] A gold dagger studded with jewels was also presented to him.[10]
  • Malik Qara Beg, one of Alauddin's senior officers, was given around 14 offices. His sons also received high posts.[9]
  • Malik Fakhruddin Juna, a son of Ghazi Malik, was given the office of Amir Akhur (Master of Horse).[10]
  • The slave Hasan was given the title Khusrau Khan, with the fief of Malik Kafur. Later, within Mubarak Shah's first regnal year, he was promoted to vazir.[10]

The paiks who had killed Malik Kafur claimed credit for putting Mubarak Shah on the throne, and demanded high positions in his court. Mubarak Khan had them beheaded instead.[6]

Mubarak Shah attributed his rise to power to the divine will. He once asked his courtiers if any of them had expected him to become the king. When they replied in negative, he declared that the Allah had made him the king, and only the Allah could remove him from that position. He assumed the title Khalifatullah ("Representative of God"), which appears on his coins.[9]


To win popular support, Mubarak Shah revoked several of Alauddin's decisions:

  • Alauddin had ordered imprisonment of around 17,000-18,000 officers for a variety of reasons, including corruption and political offences. Mubarak Shah ordered the release of all these prisoners, who remained grateful to him.[8]
  • During the last years of his reign, Alauddin had stopped receiving public petitions. Mubarak Shah revived the petition system, and very often, issued orders favouring the petitioners.
  • Alauddin's administration had incorporated a number of private lands in the crown territory (khalisa). Mubarak Shah reinstated these lands to their private owners.[8]
  • Mubarak Shah abolished severe fines and taxes, and prohibited the revenue ministry from using harsh measures such as flogging and imprisonment to recover taxes.[11]
    • The lower land taxes improved the conditions of the landholders and the peasants. Ziauddin Barani, an orthodox Muslim, lamented that the Hindus (agriculturalists) who had been reduced to destitution during Alauddin's reign, now wore fine clothes and rode on horses.[11]
  • He also revoked Alauddin's price control measures, leading to increased inflation.[8]
    • The prices of grains and commodities rose substantially.[8] According to Barani, the Multani merchants rejoiced at Alauddin's death, and now openly resorted to profiteering.[10]
    • The price of beautiful slave girls, eunuchs and young boys rose to 500 tankas, and sometimes, as high as 2,000 tankas.[8] Besides inflation, the high demand was also a factor in this price increase: the new Sultan was fond of sensual pleasures, and the general public followed suit.[11]
    • The average wages increased four-fold. The annual pay of servants increased from 10-12 tankas to as high as 100 tankas.[8]
  • Mubarak Shah rewarded the army soldiers with an amount equal to six months of salary, and increased the officers' allowances and stipends.[10]
  • He also increased the grants to the Sayyids and the ulama.[8]
  • Mubarak Shah continued Alauddin's prohibition on intoxicants, but the implementation was lenient, and liquor was brought into the city.[8]

Military career

Suppression of rebellion in Gujarat

Before his death, Malik Kafur had conspired to kill Alp Khan, the governor of Gujarat. Because of this, the Sultanate's army in Gujarat, led by Haidar and Zirak, had revolted.[12] Kafur had dispatched the Devagiri governor Ayn al-Mulk Multani to suppress the rebellion. During his march to Gujarat, near Chittor, Multani received the news that Kafur had been killed. His officers then decided to abandon the march until further orders from Delhi.[2]

After ascending the throne, Mubarak Shah sent Malik Tughluq to Multani's camp, asking him to continue the march to Gujarat. However, Multani's officers suggested waiting for 1-2 months before implementing the orders, as they had not seen the new Sultan, and were not convinced that his rule would be stable. Tughluq determined that the dissenting officers wanted their posts to be guaranteed under the new regime. Therefore, he marched back to Delhi, and advised Mubarak Shah to send each officer a firman (letter of authority) and a khilat (robe of honour). The Sultan agreed, and when Malik Tughluq returned to Chittor, the officers agreed to continue their march to Gujarat. Tughluq led the vanguard, while Multani held the supreme command of the army.[12]

Multani convinced most of the rebels to join his forces. Haidar, Zirak and their supporters had to flee Gujarat. Mubarak Shah then appointed his father-in-law Malik Dinar Zafar Khan as the governor of Gujarat. The new governor compromised with the Hindu chiefs, and governed the province well.[13] He collected a large sum of money from the chiefs and landholders of Gujarat, and sent it to Delhi.[14]

In his second regnal year, Mubarak Shah executed Zafar Khan for unknown reasons, and appointed his homosexual partner Husamuddin as the governor of Gujarat. After Husamuddin was deposed by the local amirs for apostacy, Mubarak Shah appointed Wahiduddin Quraishi as the new governor of Gujarat. Quraishi was also given the title Sadrul Mulk. After Ayn al-Mulk Multani was sent to govern Devagiri, Quraishi was recalled to Delhi, and appointed wazir with the title Tajul Mulk.[13]

Devagiri expedition

Khalji territory (dark green) after the annexation of the Yadava kingdom, with the territories of the Khalji tributaries (light green)

The Yadava kingdom, with its capital at Devagiri in the Deccan region, had become a tributary state to Delhi during Alauddin's reign. Alauddin had decided against annexing the Deccan kingdoms to his empire, because it was difficult to control these distant territories from Delhi.[13] However, after the rebellion of the last Yadava tributary Bhillama, his general Malik Kafur had taken charge of Devagiri, and had received letters of submission from the various chiefs. After Malik Kafur was recalled to Delhi, Ayn al-Mulk Multani acted as the governor of Devagiri, but later, he too was recalled to crush a rebellion in Gujarat.[15]

Taking advantage of this, the Yadavas seized Devagiri, and declared their independence. They were led by Harapaladeva (or Hirpal), who was probably a son-in-law of the former Yadava monarch Ramachandra, and his prime minister Raghava (or Raghu).[16]

Mubarak Shah wanted to recapture Devagiri immediately after his ascension, but his counsellors had advised him against attempting to do so without consolidating his rule in Delhi first. In April 1317, during the second year of his reign, Mubarak Shah marched to Devagiri with a large army.[15] Before leaving Delhi, he assigned the administration to his father-in-law Shahin with the title Vafa Malik.[17]

Mubarak Shah followed the well-known route to Devagiri, assembling his forces at Tilpat near Delhi, and then marching to Devagiri in around two months.[18] When the army reached Devagiri, all the local chiefs except Raghava and Harapaladeva accepted Mubarak Shah's suzerainty without offering any resistance.[15]

Raghava and his nearly 10,000-strong cavalry, as well as Harapaladeva, fled to the hilly region near Devagiri. The Delhi generals Khusrau Khan and Malik Qutlugh (who held the title amir-i shikar) led an army to pursue them.[15] The Delhi forces completely routed Raghava's army.[18] Khusrau Khan dispatched a force led by amir-i koh Malik Ikhtiyaruddin Talbagha (son of Yaghda) to pursue Harapaladeva, who was wounded and captured after 2-3 skirmishes. Harapaladeva was presented before Mubarak Shah, who ordered his beheading.[19] The body of Harapaladeva was hung at the gates of Devagiri.[10]

Mubarak Shah spent some time consolidating his rule in Deccan. Malik Yaklakhi, who had served as Alauddin's Naib-i-Barid-i-Mumalik, was appointed as the governor of Devagiri.[20]

Siege of Warangal

The Kakatiya kingdom, with its capital at Warangal, was another kingdom tributary to Alauddin. However, the Kakatiya ruler Prataparudra had stopped making tribute payments to Delhi. Therefore, Mubarak Shah sent an army to subjugate him. The army was led by Khusrau Khan, Khwaja Haji (who had served as Alauddin's minister of war), and Malik Qutlugh (amir-i shikar)[19] The Delhi army besieged the Kakatiya capital Warangal, and Prataparudra decided to negotiate truce after putting up some resistance.[19] He surrendered a huge amount of wealth to the invaders, and agreed to make regular tribute payments.[21]

After subduing the Kakatiyas, Khusrau Khan marched to Ellora, where Mubarak Shah had been residing for a month. The rest of the army joined him on the banks of the Narmada River on his way back to Delhi.[21]

Personal life

Mubarak Shah was bisexual.[9][22] His harem had a large number of women, many of which accompanied him on his campaigns.[9] After killing his brother Khizr Khan, he took the latter's widow Deval into his own harem.[23] According to the 16th century historian Firishta, who calls Mubarak Shah "a monster in the shape of man", Mubarak Shah used to parade naked prostitutes on the terraces of his palaces and make them urinate on the nobles entering his court.[24][25]

Mubarak Shah was also a homosexual.[26][27] He had sexual relations with two uterine brothers, Hasan (later Khusrau Khan) and Husamuddin (or Hisamuddin).[28][29] According to Amir Khusrau's Tughluq Nama, the two brothers belonged to a Hindu military caste called Baradu. They had been captured during Ayn al-Mulk Multani-led 1305 conquest of Malwa. They were brought as slaves to Delhi, where they were brought up by Alauddin's naib-i khas-i hajib Malik Shadi. The two brothers acted as passive homosexuals only to maintain their status and position.[28] Mubarak Shah appointed Husamuddin as the governor of Gujarat, after executing the former governor Malik Dinar Zafar Khan for no apparent reason. Husamuddin later became an apostate (from Islam), because of which the amirs of Gujarat arrested him, and sent him to Delhi in chains. Mubarak Shah merely slapped him, and gave him a high position in the royal court.[13]

Mubarak Shah preferred Hasan as a partner, but turned to Husamuddin whenever Hasan was not available. Their relationship was not a secret, and Mubarak and Hasan used to exchange hugs and kisses in public. Mubarak gave Hasan the title Khusrau Khan, several iqtas, the army of the deceased Malik Kafur, and the wizarat.[28] According to the chornicler Barani, Mubarak became "so enamored by Hasan ... that he did not want to be parted from him for a moment." Barani further states that Hasan resented "the way the Sultan forced himself upon him and took advantage of him", and secretly planned revenge against him.[30] Mubarak's other subordinates warned him about Khusrau's treacherous plans, but while being sodomized by the Sultan, Khusrau convinced him that the accusers were falsely slandering him.[31] Mubarak was ultimately killed by Khusrau Khan's accomplices.[32]


Qutb-ud-din was murdered by Khusro Khan in 1320,[33] which ended the Khalji dynasty.

Ibn Battuta asserted that Qutbuddin Mubarak Shah's system of proselytization provided a convenient handle to his enemies to murder him by introducing into the palace a large number of Hindus declaring them to be possible converts. This shows that Qutbuddin was accustomed to converting large numbers of Hindus to Islam.[34][need quotation to verify]


  1. ^ Banarsi Prasad Saksena 1992, p. 425.
  2. ^ a b Banarsi Prasad Saksena 1992, p. 426.
  3. ^ Banarsi Prasad Saksena 1992, p. 427.
  4. ^ Kishori Saran Lal 1950, p. 321.
  5. ^ Banarsi Prasad Saksena 1992, pp. 428-429.
  6. ^ a b c Banarsi Prasad Saksena 1992, p. 428.
  7. ^ Kishori Saran Lal 1950, p. 322.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Banarsi Prasad Saksena 1992, p. 429.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Banarsi Prasad Saksena 1992, p. 430.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Kishori Saran Lal 1950, p. 323.
  11. ^ a b c Kishori Saran Lal 1950, p. 324.
  12. ^ a b Banarsi Prasad Saksena 1992, p. 432.
  13. ^ a b c d Banarsi Prasad Saksena 1992, p. 433.
  14. ^ Kishori Saran Lal 1950, p. 327.
  15. ^ a b c d Banarsi Prasad Saksena 1992, p. 434.
  16. ^ A. S. Altekar 1960, p. 556.
  17. ^ Kishori Saran Lal 1950, p. 328.
  18. ^ a b Kishori Saran Lal 1950, p. 329.
  19. ^ a b c Banarsi Prasad Saksena 1992, p. 435.
  20. ^ Kishori Saran Lal 1950, p. 330.
  21. ^ a b Banarsi Prasad Saksena 1992, p. 436.
  22. ^ Abraham Eraly 2006, p. 460:Even some of the sultans were bisexual or homosexual. In medieval Muslim society, as in ancient Greece, none of that entailed any strong disapprobation. Thus sultan Mubarak, a successor of Ala-ud-din, Khalji, spent his whole time 'in extreme dissipation', reports Barani.
  23. ^ Iqtidar Alam Khan 2008, p. 118.
  24. ^ John Keay 2011, p. 428.
  25. ^ Wendy Doniger 2009, p. 420.
  26. ^ Khaliq Ahmad Nizami 1997, p. 86:Mubarak Khalji, though awfully homosexual, was very particular about his haram which used to accompany him on campaigns as well as hunting expeditions.
  27. ^ R. Vanita & S. Kidwai 2000, p. 113:"Mubarak Shah Khalji was in love with Khusro to the point of distraction"
  28. ^ a b c Banarsi Prasad Saksena 1992, p. 431.
  29. ^ Saiyid Athar Abbas Rizvi 1987, p. 42:"Mubarak Shah could have ruled for many years without much problem but, although he was fond of pretty girls, he was also passionately homosexual. He fell deeply in love with two Islamicized Baradus brothers, Hasan and Husamu'd-Din."
  30. ^ R. Vanita & S. Kidwai 2000, p. 133.
  31. ^ R. Vanita & S. Kidwai 2000, p. 134.
  32. ^ R. Vanita & S. Kidwai 2000, p. 135.
  33. ^ Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. pp. 88–89. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4.
  34. ^ Lal, Kishori Saran. Khaljis. p.305


External links

  • Sultan Qutb ud din Mubarak Shah The Muntakhabu-’rūkh by Al-Badāoni (16th century historian)
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