|•||1290–1296||Jalal ud din Firuz Khilji|
|•||1316||Shihab ad-Din Umar|
|•||1316–1320||Qutb ad-Din Mubarak|
|Area||2,700,000 km² (1,042,476 sq mi)|
|Today part of|| India|
The Khilji dynasty (Persian: سلسله خلجی; Hindi: सलतनत ख़िलजी) or Khalji was a Muslim dynasty of Turkic origin, which ruled large parts of South Asia between 1290 and 1320. It was founded by Jalal ud din Firuz Khilji and became the second dynasty to rule the Delhi Sultanate of India. The dynasty is known for their faithlessness and ferocity, as well as their raids into the Hindu south and defending the Sultanate against the repeated Mongol invasions of India.
History of the Turkic peoples
|Turkic Khaganate 552–744|
|Khazar Khaganate 618–1048|
|Great Bulgaria 632–668|
|Kangar union 659–750|
|Turgesh Khaganate 699–766|
|Uyghur Khaganate 744–840|
|Karluk Yabgu State 756–940|
|Kara-Khanid Khanate 840–1212|
|Gansu Uyghur Kingdom 848–1036|
|Kingdom of Qocho 856–1335|
| Pecheneg Khanates
| Kimek Khanate|
| Oghuz Yabgu State|
|Ghaznavid Empire 963–1186|
|Seljuk Empire 1037–1194|
|Seljuk Sultanate of Rum|
|Kerait khanate 11th century–13th century|
|Khwarazmian Empire 1077–1231|
|Naiman Khanate –1204|
|Qarlughid Kingdom 1224–1266|
|Delhi Sultanate 1206–1526|
|Golden Horde | 1240s–1502|
|Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo) 1250–1517|
|Ottoman Empire 1299-1923|
The Khilji rulers trace their roots to Central Asia and were of Turkic origin. They had long been settled in present-day Afghanistan before proceeding to Delhi in India. The name "Khilji" refers to an Afghan village or town known as Qalat-e Khilji (Fort of Ghilji). Sometimes they were treated by others as ethnic Afghans due to their adoption of some Afghan habits and customs. As a result of this, sometimes the dynasty is referred to as a Turko-Afghan. The three sultans of the Khalji dynasty were noted by historians for their faithlessness and ferocity.
- Jalal-ud-din Khilji
Ikhtiar Uddin Muhammad bin Bakhtiar Khilji was a servant of Qutb-ud-din Aibak, who was an ex-slave of the Ghurids with a Turkic background. Khiljis were vassals of the Mamluk dynasty of Delhi and served the Sultan of Delhi, Ghiyas ud din Balban. Balban's successors were murdered over 1289-1290, and the Mamluk dynasty succumbed to the factional conflicts within the Mamluk dynasty and the Muslim nobility. As the struggle between the factions razed, Jalal ud din Firuz Khilji led a coup and murdered the 17-year-old Mamluk successor Muiz ud din Qaiqabad - the last ruler of Mamluk dynasty.
Jalal ud din Firuz Khilji was accepted as sultan by a faction of Muslim amirs of Turkic, Persian, Arabic factions and Indian-Muslim aristocrats. However, Jalal-ud-din in his old age was unpopular and not universally accepted. During his six-year reign (1290–96), some of Balban's officers revolted due to his assumption of power and the subsequent sidelining of nobility and commanders serving the Mamluk dynasty. Jalal-ud-din suppressed the revolt and executed some commanders, then led an unsuccessful expedition against Ranthambhor and repelled a Mongol force on the banks of the Sind River in central India with the help of his nephew Juna Khan.
- Alauddin Khilji
Juna Khan, later to be known as Alauddin Khilji, was the nephew and son-in-law of Jalal-ud-din, raided the Hindu Deccan peninsula and Deogiri - then the capital of the Hindu state of Maharashtra, looting their treasure. He returned to Delhi in 1296, murdered his uncle and father-in-law, then assumed power as Sultan.
Ala al-din Khilji continued expanding Delhi Sultanate into South India, with the help of generals such as Malik Kafur and Khusraw Khan, collecting large war booty (Anwatan) from those they defeated. His commanders collected war spoils from Hindu kingdoms, paid khums (one fifth) on Ghanima (الْغَنيمَة, booty collected during war) to Sultan's treasury, which helped strengthen the Khalji rule.
Alauddin Khilji reigned for 20 years. He attacked and seized Hindu states of Ranthambhor (1301 AD), Chittorgarh (1303), Māndu (1305) and plundered the wealthy state of Devagiri, also withstood two Mongol raids. Ala al-din is also known for his cruelty against attacked kingdoms after wars. Historians note him as a tyrant and that anyone Ala al-din Khilji suspected of being a threat to this power was killed along with the women and children of that family. In 1298, between 15,000 and 30,000 people near Delhi, who had recently converted to Islam, were slaughtered in a single day, due to fears of an uprising. He also killed his own family members and nephews, in 1299-1300, after he suspected them of rebellion, by first gouging out their eyes and then beheading them.
In 1308, Alauddin's lieutenant, Malik Kafur captured Warangal, overthrew the Hoysala Empire south of the Krishna River and raided Madura in Tamil Nadu. He then looted the treasury in capitals and from the temples of south India. Among these loots was the Warangal loot that included one of the largest known diamond in human history, the Koh-i-noor. Malik Kafur returned to Delhi in 1311, laden with loot and war booty from Deccan peninsula which he submitted to Aladdin Khilji. This made Malik Kafur, born in a Hindu family and who had converted to Islam before becoming Delhi Sultanate's army commander, a favorite of Alauddin Khilji.
- The last Khilji sultans
Aladdin Khilji died in December 1315. Thereafter, the sultanate witnessed chaos, coup and succession of assassinations. Malik Kafur became the sultan but lacked support from Muslim amirs and was killed within a few months. Within the next three years, three more Khilji successors violently assumed power but were in turn, all violently put to death in coups. After Malik Kafur's death, the Muslim amirs installed Shihab-ud-din Omar - a six-year-old as Sultan, with his elder teenage brother Qutb ud din Mubarak Shah as regent. Qutb ud din Mubarak Shah killed his younger brother and then appointed himself as the Sultan. To win over the loyalty of the amirs and the Malik clan in the Sultanate, Mubarak Shah offered Ghazi Malik the command of Punjab and others various offices or death. The amirs chose the office. Mubarak Shah ruled for less than 4 years, then was murdered in 1320 by his army general Khusraw Khan. The Muslim amirs in Delhi reached out and invited Ghazi Malik, then Muslim army commander in Punjab to lead a coup against Khusraw Khan. Ghazi Malik attacked Khusraw Khan in Delhi, beheaded him, and rechristened himself as Sultan Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq, the first ruler of the Tughluq dynasty.
Economic policy and administration under Khilji dynasty
Alauddin Khilji changed the tax policies to strengthen his treasury to help pay the keep of his growing army and fund his wars of expansion. He raised agriculture taxes from 20% to 50% – payable in grain and agricultural produce (or cash), eliminating payments and commissions on taxes collected by local chiefs, banned socialization among his officials as well as inter-marriage between noble families to help prevent any opposition forming against him; he cut salaries of officials, poets and scholars in his kingdom.
Alauddin Khilji enforced four taxes on non-Muslims in the Sultanate - jizya (poll tax), kharaj (land tax), kari (house tax) and chari (pasture tax). He also decreed that his Delhi-based revenue officers assisted by local Muslim jagirdars, khuts, mukkadims, chaudharis and zamindars seize by force half of all produce any farmer generates, as a tax on standing crop, so as to fill sultanate granaries. His officers enforced tax payment by beating up Hindu and Muslim middlemen responsible for rural tax collection. Furthermore, Alauddin Khilji demanded, state Kulke and Rothermund, from his "wise men in the court" to create "rules and regulations in order to grind down the Hindus, so as to reduce them to abject poverty and deprive them of wealth and any form of surplus property that could foster a rebellion; the Hindu was to be so reduced as to be left unable to keep a horse to ride on, to carry arms, to wear fine clothes, or to enjoy any of the luxuries of life". At the same time, he confiscated all landed property from his courtiers and officers. Revenue assignments to Muslim jagirdars were also cancelled and the revenue was collected by the central administration. Henceforth, state Kulke and Rothermund, "everybody was busy with earning a living so that nobody could even think of rebellion."
Alauddin Khilji taxation methods and increased taxes reduced agriculture output and the Sultanate witnessed massive inflation. In order to compensate for salaries that he had cut and fixed for Muslim officials and soldiers, Alauddin introduced price controls on all agriculture produce, goods, livestocks and slaves in kingdom, as well as controls on where, how and by whom these could be sold. Markets called shahana-i-mandi were created. Muslim merchants were granted exclusive permits and monopoly in these mandi to buy and resell at official prices. No one other than these merchants could buy from farmers or sell in cities. Alauddin deployed an extensive network of Munhiyans (spies, secret police) who would monitor the mandi and had the power to seize anyone trying to buy or sell anything at a price different than the official controlled prices. Those found violating these mandi rules were severely punished, such as by cutting out their flesh. Taxes collected in form of seized crops and grains were stored in sultanate's granaries. Over time, farmers quit farming for income and shifted to subsistence farming, the general food supply worsened in north India, shortages increased and Delhi Sultanate witnessed increasingly worse and extended periods of famines. The Sultan banned private storage of food by anyone. Rationing system was introduced by Alauddin as shortages multiplied; however, the nobility and his army were exempt from the per family quota-based food rationing system. The shortages, price controls and rationing system caused starvation deaths of numerous rural people, mostly Hindus. However, during these famines, Khilji's sultanate granaries and wholesale mandi system with price controls ensured sufficient food for his army, court officials and the urban population in Delhi. Price controls instituted by Khilji reduced prices, but also lowered wages to a point where ordinary people did not benefit from the low prices. The price control system collapsed shortly after the death of Alauddin Khalji, with prices of various agriculture products and wages doubling to quadrupling within a few years.
The tax system introduced during the Khalji dynasty had a long term influence on Indian taxation system and state administration,
Alauddin Khalji's taxation system was probably the one institution from his reign that lasted the longest, surviving indeed into the nineteenth or even the twentieth century. From now on, the land tax (kharaj or mal) became the principal form in which the peasant's surplus was expropriated by the ruling class.
Massacre of New Muslims
Mongols from central Asia tried to invade Delhi during the reign of Alauddin many times. Some of these Mongol people also settled near Delhi and accepted Islam. They were called "New Muslims". However, their financial condition was not good. Ala ud-din Khilji suspected them of being involved in a conspiracy against him and of being a threat to his power. He ordered his forces to eradicate them within a day. In 1298, between 15,000 and 30,000 men who had recently converted to Islam were slaughtered in a single day, due to fears of an uprising. The surviving women and children were made slaves.
Slavery during Khilji dynasty
Within Sultanate's capital city of Delhi, during Alauddin Khilji's reign, at least half of the population were slaves working as servants, concubines and guards for the Muslim nobles, amirs, court officials and commanders. Slavery in India during Khalji, and later Islamic dynasties, included two groups of people - persons seized during military campaigns, and people who failed to pay tax on time. The first group were people seized during military campaigns. The second group of people were revenue defaulters. If a family failed to pay the annual tax in full on time, their property was seized and even some cases all their family members seized then sold as slaves. The institution of slavery and bondage labor became pervasive during the Khilji dynasty; male slaves were referred to as banda, qaid, ghulam, or burdah, while female slaves were called bandi, kaniz or laundi.
Ala-ud-din Khilji is credited with the early Indo-Mohammedan architecture, a style and construction campaign that flourished during Tughlaq dynasty. Among works completed during Khilji dynasty, are Alai Darwaza - the southern gateway of Qutb complex enclosure, the Idgah at Rapri, and the Jamat Khana (Khizri) Mosque in Delhi. The Alai Darwaza, completed in 1311, was included as part of Qutb Minar and its Monuments UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993.
Perso-Arabic inscriptions on monuments have been traced to the Khilji dynasty era.
Disputed historical sources on Khilji dynasty
Historians have questioned the reliability of historical accounts about the Khilji dynasty. Genuine primary sources and historical records from 1260 to 1349 period have not been found. One exception is the short chapter on Delhi Sultanate from 1302-1303 AD by Wassaf in Persia, which is duplicated in Jami al-Tawarikh, and which covers the Balban rule, start of Jalal-ud-din Chili's rule and circumstances of succession of Alauddin Khilji. A semi-fictional poetry (mathnawis) by Yamin al-Din Abul Hasan, also known as Amir Khusraw Dihlawi, is full of adulation for his employer, the reigning Sultan. Abu Hasan's adulation-filled narrative poetry has been used as source of Khilji dynasty history, but this is a disputed source. Three historical sources, composed 30 to 115 years after the end of Khilji dynasty, are considered more independent but also questioned given the gap in time. These are Isami's epic of 1349, Diya-yi Barani's work of 1357 and Sirhindi's account of 1434, which possibly relied on now lost text or memories of people in Khilji's court. Of these Barani's text is the most referred and cited in scholarly sources.
List of Khilji rulers of Delhi (1290–1320)
|Titular Name||Personal Name||Reign|
| Malik Fīroz
ملک فیروز خلجی
| Juna Khan Khilji
علی گرشاسپ خلجی
| Umar Khan Khilji
عمر خان خلجی
| Mubarak Khan Khilji
مبارک خان خلجی
|Khusro Khan ended the Khilji dynasty in 1320.|
- Ikhtiyar Uddin Muhammad Bin Bakhtiyar Khalji
- Khalaj people
- Persianate society
- List of Sunni Muslim dynasties
References and footnotes
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This dynasty, like the previous Slave dynasty, was of Turkish origin, though the Khaljī tribe had long been settled in Afghanistan. Its three kings were noted for their faithlessness, their ferocity, and their penetration of the Hindu south.
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this dynasty, like the previous Slave dynasty, was of Turkic origin, though the Khiljī tribe had long been settled in what is now Afghanistan...
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The Khilji dynasty was named after a village in Afghanistan. Some historians believe that they were Afghans, but Bharani and Wolse Haig explain in their accounts that the rulers from this dynasty who came to India, though they had temporarily settled in Afghanistan, were originally Turkic.
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The Khiljis were a Central Asian Turkic dynasty but having been long domiciled in present-day Afghanistan, and adopted some Afghan habits and customs. They were treated as Afghans in Delhi Court.
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The sultans of the Slave Dynasty were Turkic Central Asians, but the members of the new dynasty, although they were also Turkic, had settled in Afghanistan and brought a new set of customs and culture to Delhi.
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Jalāl al-Dīn's nephew Jūnā Khan led an expedition into the Hindu Deccan, captured Ellichpur and its treasure, and returned to murder his uncle in 1296.
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- Holt et al., The Cambridge History of Islam - The Indian sub-continent, south-east Asia, Africa and the Muslim west, ISBN 978-0521291378, Cambridge University Press, pp 9-13
- Tapan Raychaudhuri, Irfan Habib and Dharma Kumar (1982), The Cambridge Economic History of India: c.1200-c.1750, Cambridge University Press, pp. 61-62, ISBN 978-0-521-22692-9
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- M.A. Farooqi (1991), The economic policy of the Sultans of Delhi, Konark publishers, ISBN 978-8122002263
- Irfan Habib (1984), The price regulations of Alauddin Khalji - a defense of Zia Barani, Indian Economic and Social History Review, vol. 21, no. 4, pp. 393-414
- K.S. Lal (1967), History of the Khaljis, Asian Publishing House, ISBN 978-8121502115, pp 201-204
- Vincent A Smith (1983), The Oxford History of India, Oxford University Press, pp 245-247
- Tapan Raychaudhuri, Irfan Habib and Dharma Kumar (1982), The Cambridge Economic History of India: c.1200-c.1750, Cambridge University Press, pp. 87-88, ISBN 978-0-521-22692-9
- Tapan Raychaudhuri, Irfan Habib and Dharma Kumar (1982), The Cambridge Economic History of India: c.1200-c.1750, Cambridge University Press, pp. 62-63, ISBN 978-0-521-22692-9
- The Life and Works of Sultan Alauddin Khalji- By Ghulam Sarwar Khan Niazi
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- Peter Jackson (2003), The Delhi Sultanate: A Political and Military History, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521543293, pp 49-52
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Media related to Khilji dynasty at Wikimedia Commons
- Encyclopædia Britannica - Khalji Dynasty
- Khilji - A Short History of Muslim Rule in India I. Prasad, University of Allahabad
- The Role of Ulema in Indo-Muslim History, Aziz Ahmad, Studia Islamica, No. 31 (1970), pp. 1–13