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Who was the Greatest Leader of the Khilji Dynasty?

Info: 3116 words (12 pages) Essay
Published: 8th Feb 2020 in History

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Allauddin vs Jalaluddin vs Mubarak Shah

The Delhi Sultanate was a predominantly muslim run sultanate based in Delhi, India. Throughout the 320(1206 AD-1526 AD) years it held power, 5 major dynasties ruled over it: The Mamluk Dynasty(1206-90), The Khilji Dynasty(1290-1320), the Tughlaq Dynasty(1320-1414), The Sayyid Dynasty(1414-1451), and the Lodi Dynasty(1451-1526).[1] The strongest and most stable dynasty was the Khilji Dynasty, and its best ruler was Alauddin Muhammad Khilji. Alauddin Khilji was said to be the most ruthless ruler of the dynasty and had the longest rule over the Sultanate for over 2 decades (1296-1316), [2] and he desired to become like Alexander the Great, and rule over a world wide empire.[3] 3 Alauddin Khilji was born as Ali Gurshap in Afghanistan, was the nephew of Jalaluddin Khilji, the founder of the Khilji dynasty and the first Sultan of the dynasty[4]. He desired to overthrow Jalaluddin, and killed him in a ploy to take over the Sultanate. While some of these actions may shine Alauddin in a ruthless light, he was the most powerful leader of the Khilji Dynasty and achieved feats that weren’t accomplished by his predecessor, Jalaluddin, or his successor, Qutbuddin Mubarak Shah.

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I believe that the sentence that I highlighted in yellow is your thesis.  I like that you are setting him up as a ruthless ruler, but one who accomplished a lot of things.  The problem is that you haven’t set out what exactly these feats were (military, social, economic?).  Your thesis needed to summarize what you’ll discuss in this essay.  Regarding the rest of your introduction, thank you for including some dates to help situate the reader in time.  You provided some thoughtful contextual information.

Jalaluddin Khilji was the 11th Sultan of the Delhi Sultanate and the founder of the Khilji Dynasty. The topic sentence I have highlighted is purely narrative in form, i.e. it just states a fact rather than posing some interpretation of his rule.  The sentence I highlighted and commented on below is much more representative of what a topic sentence should look like. Before becoming the Sultan he was the chief of bodyguards for the Mamluk Dynasty that preceded the Khiljis. Jalaluddin was around 70 years old when he rose to power by executing the previous Sultan, and took the throne for himself.[5] He reigned for 6 years (1290-96), and in that short time managed to suppress revolts against his rule, inhibit incoming Mongols, and attempted to expand the Sultanate. In the first year of Jalaluddin’s rule, the nephew of the previous leader of the Sultanate, Malik Chajju, attempted to overthrow him and take the title of Sultan. He was supported by many older nobles who supported the Mamluk Dynasty and Hindu chiefs that wanted more power who believe Jalaluddin as a weak ruler. Chajju assembled an army to march to Delhi, but the sultanate’s forces managed to defeat them with ease and Chajju fled from the scene. He was later handed over to Jalaluddin and was punished for his crimes.[6] Not long after Chajju’s failed coup, a mongol force was sent to attack a province of the Sultanate, and were met by the Sultan on the battlefield. In the end, the Sultanate was victorious and while most mongols retreated, Jalaluddin allowed mongols who had converted to Islam a haven in India.[7] Jalaluddin’s next course of action was to capture the Chahamana Kingdom southwest of Delhi. He managed to capture the fortress of Mandawar and the town of Jhain with great ease. The courtier of that time, Amir Khusrau, wrote that thousands of defenders were slain in the siege, while only one Turkic soldier of the Sultanate lost his life. While these claims might be exaggerated, the message showing the might of the Sultanate was clear.[8] Though, Jalaluddin was forced to retreat from Ranthambore, the capital of the Kingdom, due to the inability to scale the steep hill the fort was situated on, and decided that too many of his people would die before he would capture it, and retreated from the area.[9] In 1296, Jalaluddin got news that his nephew, Ali Gurshap, had captured and looted Devagiri, the capital of the wealthy Yadava Kingdom, and went to the town under his control, Kara, in order to asses the loot and bring it back to Delhi.[10] This was, in fact, a ploy so that Ali could kill Jalaluddin and become the Sultan himself. Ali was successful with his plan and assassinated Jalaluddin, [11] and according to sources at the time, speared his head and carried it with him to Delhi. [12]

Ali Gurshup ascended the throne in July of 1296, and was named Allauddin Khilji, the second Sultan of the Khilji Dynasty. In the earlier years of his rule, Allauddin was plagued with invasions led by the Mongols to invade Delhi. The first time they attacked was in 1297 in Punjab, and they were soundly defeated by Alauddin’s brother Ulugh Khan. According to a poet at the time, Amir Khusro, more than 20,000 mongols were killed in battle.[13] The year after, in 1298, another army was sent to Sindh, present day Pakistan, and this force was once again defeated by the general of the Sultanate army, Zafar Khan.[14] It was at this time when Allauddin learned about the greek emperor, Alexander the Great, and desired to rule over his own world wide Empire.[15] In 1299, he sent his armies to invade present day Gujrat, and they captured the Veghala Kingdom with ease, and Allauddin started his plan to take over India.12 He was interrupted however, by another invading mongol force, who were defeated by the Sultan himself at the Battle of Kili. [16] Allauddin’s next triumph was at Ranthambore, which even Jalaluddin failed to capture. The Sultan himself led the siege against the fort at managed to capture it within a few months.[17] In the pursuing years, Allauddin captured Warangal, the capital of the Kakatiya Kingdom, and Chittor, the capital of the Guhlia Kingdom, but while he was laying siege to the fortress of Chittor, [18] the Mongols managed to invaded Delhi and ransack the city and its neighboring towns before Alauddin had the chance to attack.[19] This defeat against the Mongols was the most serious defeat the Sultanate took, and led to many reforms being made. After the invasion, only two more attempts of invading India while Allauddin was Sultan occured, the Battle of Amroha in 1305, and the Battle of Ravi in 1306, both of which resulted in victory for the Sultanate.[20] [21] Over the course of the next seven years, Allauddin led many successful invasions, mostly focused on the kingdoms of Southern India. His army captured the Siwana fort in Marwar, the fort of Jalore, the Hoysala Kingdom, and the Pandya Kingdom.[22] [23] Raiding all of these massive kingdoms brought great wealth to the Sultanate, and made it so Allauddin was the first person to conquer so much of India in such a short amount of time. I am very glad you included this sentence at the end which provided an interpretation of his prowess as a conqueror.  You’re doing a nice job of describing what he did and when, but to bring this discussion to the next level, you need to provide more interpretations of his actions. 

While Allauddin was a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield, he was also an extraordinary reformer. He was responsible for many changes in the Sultanate, some of which are still used today. When his army was returning after the invasion of Gujrat, a mutiny occured, led by the Muslim Mongols, and was suppressed by the commanders. In response to this blatant disobedience, Allauddin brutally punished the families of the soldiers involved, and according to the chronicler of the time, Ziauddin Barani, this practice started in Delhi. [24] This was not the only time Allauddin’s soldiers would rebel against him, as during the invasion of Ranthambore, it is said that Allauddin had to put down 3 different coups. As a result of this, Allauddin created his personal intelligence and surveillance system, banned the nobles in his court from intermingling, and took away wealth from the people. These actions allowed him to prevent uprising against him from occurring.[25] Allauddin even managed to set up a tax system that was used for centuries after his death. He implemented the Jizya, a tax on non-muslims, Ghari, a tax on any houses, and Charai, a tax on agricultural fields and the grazing of animals.[26] He banned all intoxication at the time, including alcohol and cannabis, due to the belief that if people were intoxicated, thoughts of rebellion might enter their head. [27]All of these reforms allowed Allauddin to remain in power for 2 decades, and in his last days, Alauddin became ill and died in 1316. According to Barani, some people believed his viceroy and commander, Malik Kafur, killed him and appointed his son, Shihabuddin, as the new Sultan. Shihabuddin was murdered within a few days by his elder brother, Mubarak Khan, who took over the Sultanate as the third Sultan.[28]

Mubarak Shah aka Mubarak Khan (and after becoming Sultan, Qutbuddin Mubarak Shah), was a son of Alauddin Khilji. After Allauddin’s death in 1316, Mubarak’s younger brother, Shihabuddin Omar, was crowned the next Sultan, while Mubarak became his regent.[29] A few weeks after the coronation, Mubarak accused Shihabuddin and his mother for poisoning him, and had them both imprisoned and killed. Thereafter, Mubarak took over the Sultanate, becoming its 3rd Sultan. [30] Mubarak was not very popular amongst the people of the Sultanate, and in order to gain their support, he abolished many of Allauddin’s policies which helped him remain in power. He freed multiple prisoners that Allauddin had held captive, returned private lands the Sultanate had taken over to their former owners, and lenientized the prohibition of intoxication.[31] Mubarak was unable to expand the Sultanate anymore, but he managed to suppress multiple revolutions against the Sultanate. He stifled an uprising in Gujarat, [32]recaptured the Yadava Capital, Devagiri, [33]and besieged the capital of the Kakatiya Kingdom, Warangal once again.[34]

Taking all of the Sultan’s accomplishments into account, I believe that Alauddin Khilji was by far the most powerful, successful, and greatest ruler of the Khilji Dynasty. While each of sultans of the Khilji Dynasty played a part for the Sultanate, Alauddin did more for it than the others. Jalaluddin Khilji was the first Sultan in the dynasty,4 and when he took over power, he needed to establish that his rule was law, and he did so by repressing the coup led by Malik Chajju. Once he had reinforced his power within the Sultanate, he attempted to expand the Sultanate throughout India, conquering much of the Chahamana Kingdom. When Alauddin took power by killing Jalaluddin, he did many things for the sultanate. He conquered most of India and at the same time held back the Mongols from invading India. He also set up tax systems that brought revenue to the Sultanate, and abolished substances that would interfere with the people’s heads. Mubarak Shah on the other hand tried to stay in power by abolishing many of the reforms made by the previous Sultans, and appealed to the people. Mubarak was the least successful in his rule, only reigning 4 years before he was killed, and Jalaluddin reigned for 6 years before he was killed. Allauddin managed to retain his rule for some more than 2 decades and reigned with very little defeats and uprising against him.


There should be no numbers.

Sources should be alphabetized. 

I have questions about whether sources are print or online.


  1. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Delhi Sultanate.” Encyclopædia Britannica. April 25, 2019. Accessed May 14, 2019. https://www.britannica.com/place/Delhi-sultanate.
  2. Habib, Mohammad, and Khaliq Ahmad Nizami. A Comprehensive History of India. Delhi: People’s Pub. House, 1992. Online source?  Needs weblink.
  3. Srivastava, Ashirbadi Lal. The Sultanate of Delhi. Agra: Agarwala, 1959. Online source?  Needs weblink.
  4. Lal, Kishori Saran. History of the Khaljis, 1290-1320. Bombay: Asia Pub. House, 1967. Online source?  Needs weblink.
  5. “Ala-ud-din Muhammad Khalji.” Middle Ages Reference Library, edited by Judy Galens and Judson Knight, vol. 2: Vol. 1: Biographies, UXL, 2001, pp. 9-14. World History in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3426200038/WHIC?u=mlin_m_bucking&sid=WHIC&xid=9c3422e2 . Accessed 21 May 2019.
  6. PHI Persian Literature in Translation. Accessed May 21, 2019.      http://persian.packhum.org/main?url=pf?file=80201013&ct=18

[1]  Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Delhi Sultanate.” Encyclopædia Britannica. April  25, 2019. Accessed May 14, 2019. https://www.britannica.com/place/Delhi-sultanate.

[2]  Habib, Mohammad, and Khaliq Ahmad Nizami. A Comprehensive History of India. Delhi: People’s Pub. House, 1992. Page 326. Should be Muhammad Habib and Khaliq Ahmad Nizami, A Comprehensive History of India (Delhi: People Pub. House, 1992), 326.  Is this a print source or did you find it online?  I asked you this on your rough draft.  Right now, it looks like a print source.

[3]  ”Ala-ud-din Muhammad Khalji.” Middle Ages Reference Library, edited by Judy Galens and Judson Knight, vol. 2: Vol. 1: Biographies, UXL, 2001, pp. 9-14. World History in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3426200038/WHIC?u=mlin_m_bucking&sid=WHIC&xid=9c3422e2. Accessed 21 May 2019.

[4]  Srivastava, Ashirbadi Lal. The Sultanate of Delhi. Agra: Agarwala, 1959.  Print source?  Page number?  Weblink? Incorrect format for footnote citation.

[5]  Ibid.

[6] Habib., 313.

[7] Ibid., 317.

[8] Ibid., 318.

[9] Ibid., 319.

[10] Ibid., 323.

[11]  Srivastava., 145.

[12]  PHI Persian Literature in Translation. Accessed May 21, 2019. http://persian.packhum.org/main?url=pf?file=80201013&ct=18. needed title of source and specific weblink.  this does not specific which document you used.

[13] Jackson, Peter. The Delhi Sultanate: A Political and Military History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Page 221. Same formatting issues.  Is this a paper source?

[14] Jackson., 220.

[15] Habib., 334-335.

[16] Ibid., 338.

[17] Ibid.. 342-352.

[18]  Ibid., 366.

[19] Ibid., 368.

[20] Ibid., 392.

[21] Jackson., 229.

[22] Habib., 396.

[23] Ibid., 411-417.

[24] Ibid 335. Actually on page 336.

[25] Ibid., 350-352.

[26] Jackson., 243.

[27] Lal, Kishori Saran. History of the Khaljis, 1290-1320. Bombay: Asia Pub. House, 1967. Same formatting issues.  Print or online source?  Page number?

[28] Habib., 425.

[29] Ibid., 426.

[30] Ibid., 428.

[31] Ibid., 429.

[32] Lal., 327.

[33] Habib., 434.

[34] Ibid., 436.


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