Jalal-ud-din Firuz Khilji

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Jalal-ud-din Firuz Khilji


Jalal-ud-din Firuz Khilji was the founder of Khilji Dynasty. He was the Sultan of Delhi for the period between 1290 and 1296.

The people of Delhi, however, did not at first welcome Jalal-ud-din Firuz Khilji as they regarded him as of Afghan stock. Modern writers are also of opinion that the Khiljis were originally of Turkish stock but had acquired Afghan character during their long residence in Afghanistan and between them and the Turks there was no love lost.

As Jalal-ud-din was an old man of seventy when he performed his coronation ceremony and declared himself as the Sultan. Sultan’s conciliatory temperament, his excellence of character, his justice, generosity and devotion, gradually removed the aversion of the people and earned the affections of the nobles. His extraordinarily guileless and sincere heart, his childlike lack of equivocation marked him as a saintly ruler. Disposed to rule without blood-shed and oppression he showed most impolitic tenderness towards criminals and even rebels. This naturally led to a recrudescence of intrigues by the nobles and the authority of the Sultan was not being respected.

In August 1290, Balban’s nephew and head of old royal family raised the standard of revolt at Kara. He was joined by Amir Ali Hatim Khan, governor of Awadh and other nobles of the old regime. Jalal-ud-din out of imprudent generosity pardoned the rebels.

Sultan’s peaceful disposition and undeserved leniency made him unpopular even with his Khilji nobles. Malik Ahmad Chap, the Master of Ceremonies told Jalal-ud-din plainly and bluntly that the king should reign and observe the rules of government or else should relinquish the throne. The only departure was the execution of Siddi Maula, a darvesh under Jalal-ud-din’s reign, on mere suspicion of treason.

It is needless to say that for such a ruler expansion of territories by conquest was impossible. Naturally his expedition against Ranthambhor proved a failure. Jalal-ud-din Firuz Khilji returned from the expedition on the realization that the fort could not be taken without sacrificing the lives of many musal­mans.

In 1292 a Mongol horde numbering 1,50,000 invaded India under the leadership of a grandson of Hulagu. Severely defeated by the Sultans’s troops the invaders were compelled to make peace.

To the vacant governorship of Kara, Jalal-ud-din appointed his brother’s son Ali Gurshap (later Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji) whom he had brought up from his infancy and gave his daughter in marriage. The nephew was just the opposite of his uncle, was unscrupulous, aggressive, over-ambitious, haughty and sharp-tongued. He aimed at an independent and glorious existence. To fulfill his ambition he required money which he thought of collecting by raids on the neighboring states. With the Sultans’s permission he led an expedition in 1293 to Bhilsa via Chanderi. Giving resistance no chance to gather Ali Gurshap plundered the ancient town and carried away ‘immense booty. He obtained Sultan’s permission to use the surplus revenue of his province for expanding his army for carrying raids on territories beyond Chanderi. In about a year he equipped himself with men and money and in the winter of 1295 set out in an expedition against Devagiri the Yadava capital with about eight thousand picked cavalry. He defeated the king of Devagiri had to pay for heavy indemnity and allow the victorious soldiers to plunder the city.

The news of the exploit of Ali Gurshasp had trickled through to Jalal-ud-din, who although somewhat hurt at the secretiveness of his nephew was pleased at the prospect of so vast a treasure coming to his possession. Jalal-ud-din Firuz Khilji moved to Gwalior to receive the victorious prince, but when the news reached him of his nephew’s direct return to Kara, Jalal-ud-din summoned his Council to deliberate on the course of action to be followed. Ahmed Chap and other realists who knew the price better, urged strong measure against him for the unauthorized campaign and warned the Sultan against allowing the prince to carry all the treasured to Kara.

But Jalal-ud-din faith in his nephew could not be shaken. Jalal-ud-din returned to Delhi and was hopefully awaiting his nephew to present the spoils of the expedition to him with adequate apology. Ali Gurshap returned to Kara and sent a report confessing his guilt and asking for pardon, which the Sultan granted through a communication sent per a messenger. Ali Gurshap detained the messenger who was astounded to find the huge army that the prince had organized at Kara.

The unauthorized behaviour of Ali Gurshap clearly revealed his treasonable intentions. But his unsuspecting uncle (Sultan Jalal-ud-din Khilji) was not ready to listen to the warnings. The Sultan decided to see his nephew at once, and disregarding the all counsels of caution Jalal-ud-din proceeded for the trap laid by his nephew.

Ali Gurshap killed Jalal-ud-din Firuz Khilji at Kara in 1920. Jalal-ud-din became a victim of his own frankness and good faith. After his death, Alauddin became the Sultan of Delhi.

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