Administration During the Sultanate Rule

Dr. Richa Sharma


The Government established by the Turks was a compromise between Islamic political Ideas and institutions on one side and existing Rajput political systems with or without changes on the other.

To understand the Muslim administration it is equally important to understand Muslim political ideas. Muslim political ideas were derived from Muslim theology and to some extent, Greek thought. The Greek thinkers provided the ideas, which were put forward as a rational justification for the institutions adopted and developed by the Muslim theologists.

For better administration, the sultanate was divided into divisions from the province to the village level.

  • Province- Subah
  • District- Sarkar
  • Parganah- taluka/block
  • Village- Gram

In the Central administrative system, the following were the important provisions.

Sultan: He dominated the government and was the legal head of the state. He acted as the chief executive of the highest court of appeal. His chief responsibilities included protection of the state, enforcement of law, collection of taxes, and the welfare of the people. The nobility, civil services and the ulema supported the sultan. He made appointments for all the higher civil and military posts.

Wazir was the most important post next to that of the Sultan. He was in charge of the entire fiscal administration of the realm and all matters relating to income and expenditure. His department was known as the Diwan-i-Wazir.

Musharaf-i-Mumalik was equal to the present day Accountant General. This office was used to maintain the accounts of the state. He assisted the Wazir.

Sadr-us-Sadar, also known as the Qazi-i-Mumalik had to deal with religious affairs, immunities to scholars and members of piety.

Munshi-i-Mumalik was the post and dealt with all state correspondence.

Naib sultan– the appointment to this position was made only when the ruler was weak or a minor.

The relationship between the Sultan of Delhi with the Caliph:

Most of the sultans kept the pretence of regarding the Caliph as the legal sovereign while they were the Caliph’s representatives. Most of them included the name of the Caliph in Khuluba and Sikka and adopted the titles indicative of their subordination to the Caliph. Some emphasised their own importance, such as Balban, who considered his position to be the most important, next only to that of the Prophet, Muhammad Tughlaq, who also did the same during the early years of his reign. However, Balban retained the name of the Caliph on the Sikka and Khuluba. Neither of the two had the power to  all themselves the Caliph. The only person to do this was Qulubbudin Mubarak Khilji, son of Allauddin Khilji. Only 3 Sultans sought and received the letter of investiture from, the Caliph and they were Iltutmish, Muhammad Bin Tughlaq and Firoz Shah. Muhammad Bin Tughlaq did this to pacify the Ulema.

The Laws of Succession: The Turko-Afgans failed to evolve any definite laws of succession.  According to Islamic ideas, “A male adult suffering from no physical disability, a free born Muslim, having faith in Islam, and acquainted with its doctrine and who is elected by the people.”However, in practice, there were several violators, for example, Razia who was a woman. Minority proved no bar in the case of Muhammad Bin Tughlaq. Kaiquabad was paralytic but remained Sultan. Allauddin frankly admitted his ignorance to Shariyat.

Revenue System: State depended upon agricultural produce. Revenue was taken in cash or kind. Jazia was enforced on non-Muslims. However, women, children, old people, and the physically disabled, monks and priests were exempted from Jazia.

Army System

The army was administered by Ariz-i-Mumalik whose duty was to provide horses and ration to the soldiers. He was to assign different tasks to the soldiers and was also responsible for transfer of military personnel. However, he was not the commander in chief of the army but was its collector general. Thus, the department was to recruit, equip and pay the army. The sultanate was a military dictatorship. It owed its genesis to the military victory of the Turks over the Indian rulers in the twelfth and thirteenth century. Its strength and stability depended on its strong and efficient army. The army organisation of the Sultan was based on feudal principles which carried all the inherent defects of the system with it.

Judicial System

Sultan was the highest court of appeal as well as the fountainhead of justice. He used to sit at least twice a week to hear complaints against official of the state.  Qazi-i-Mumalik used to sit with the Sultan to give him legal advice. Decisions were made according to Shariya whereas cases of the non-Muslims were decided according to their own religious laws.


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