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Razia Sultana Biography

Razia Sultana was South Asia’s first female Muslim ruler and daughter of Iltutmush. She was talented, wise, brave, excellent administrator, and a great warrior. Razia Sultana was born in 1205. She belonged to the Turkish Seljuks ancestry. Like the Muslim princesses of the time, she received training in fighting, leading armies and also learned to administer kingdoms. She had all the qualities of an efficient ruler and was more competent than her brothers so Iltutmush selected Razia Sultana, as his successor. Whenever Iltutmush left the capital, he used to give Razia Sultana the power to discharge the responsibilities as a ruler. But after his death one of his sons, Rukn-ud-din Firuz occupied the throne. He ruled Delhi for about seven months. In 1236, Razia Sultana defeated her brother with the support of the people of Delhi.

Being an efficient ruler Razia Sultana set up complete law and order in her territory. She tried to improve the infrastructure of the country by encouraging trade, building roads, digging wells, and constructing schools and libraries. She contributed even in the field of art and culture and encouraged poets, painters and musicians.

To rule the country with a strong hand, Razia Sultana shed her feminine get up and dressed in masculine clothes, whether it was in the court or on the battlefield. She trusted an Ethiopian (Habshi) slave named Jalal-ud-din Yaqut and made him her personal attendant, thus challenging the monopoly of the powerful Turkish nobles. The Turkish nobles were reluctant to accept a woman as their ruler, especially when she challenged their power. They conspired against her, in1239 when she was trying to curb a rebellion against her by the Turkish Governor of Lahore, the Turkish nobles took advantage of her absence at Delhi and dethroned her. Her brother Bahram was crowned.

To reoccupy the throne Razia Sultana married the Governor of Bhatinda, Malik Altunia and marched towards Delhi with her husband. But on October 13, 1240, the unfortunate couple was killed by Bahram.