Sample Material of Our IAS Mains History Study Kit
Subject: History (Optional)
Topic: Administration & Economy
Muslims believe that Islamic society and government should be
organised on the basis of divine injunctions of the Quran. The sayings and
doings of Prophet Mohammad, collectively known as the “Hadis”, began to be
supplemented to the above. (The ulema have given various rulings on the basis of
the Quran and the Hadis to meet different situations and problems, which are
together known as the “Shariat” (Islamic Law). Moreover, “Zawabit” (rules and
regulations framed by the sultans) were also used for a smooth and efficient
running of the administration. But only three Sultans sought, and secured a
“mansur” or “letter of investiture” from the Caliph. The first among them was
Iltutmish. Next Muhammad-bin-Tughluq tried to pacify for ulema by securing
investiture from the Abbasid Caliph in Egypt. After him Firuz also sought and
The Sultan dominated the Central Government. He was the legal
head of the state and acted as the chief executive and the highest court of
appeal. Political, legal and military authority was vested in the Sultan. He was
responsible for administration and was also the commander-in-chief of the
military forces. He was also responsible for the maintenance of law and justice.
No clear law of succession developed among Muslim rulers. Thus military strength
was the main factor in succession to the throne. He was the chief of the armed
forces number of officials, chief among whom were the following:
Naib Sultan: The naib or deputy enjoyed practically
all the powers of the Sultan on his behalf and exercised a general control over
the various departments of the government.
Wazir: He was the head of the finance department,
called “Diwan-i-Wazarat”. He had a number of powerful assistants, three among
whom deserve special mention (i) Naib Wazir (ii) Mushrif-i-Mumalik and (iii)
Mustaufi-i-Mumalik. The first acted as his chief’s deputy. The second maintained
a record of the accounts. The third audited this account.
Ariz-i-Mumalik: He was the head of the military
department, called “Diwani-iArz”. The special responsibility of the Ariz’s
department was to recruit, equip and pay the army.
Sadr-us-Sudur (Chief Sadr): He was the head of Public
Charities and Ecclesiastical Department knows as “Diwan-i-Risalat”. It was he
who made grants in cash or land for the construction and maintenance of mosques,
tombs, khanqahs and Madrasas. Again, it was he who granted maintenance
allowances to the learned, the saintly and orphaned or the disabled. It has
usually a separate treasury which received all collections from zakat (a tax
collected from rich Muslims only).
Qazi-ul-Quzat (Chief Qazi): He was the head of the
judicial department and usually the posts of the chief Sadr and the chief Qazi
was combined in single person.
Amir-Munshi: He was the head of the Record Department,
known as Diwan-iInsha. The farmans of the Sultan were issued from his office,
while all high level correspondence also passed through his hands.
Barid-i-Mumalik: He was the head of the Information
and Intelligence department.
Diwan-i-Risalat dealt with religious mailers, pious
foundations and stipends to deserving scholars and men of piety. It was presided
over by a chief Sadr or chief Qazi.
The whole kingdom was divided into a number of provinces and
tributary states. But the provincial administration under the Sultans was
neither well organised nor efficient. Governor was called nayim or wali: Below
the provincial governor there was a provincial wazir, a provincial ariz and a
provincial qazi. Their functions correspond to those of similar dignitaries at
The provinces were divided into “shiqs” and below it into “parganas”.
The shiq was under the control of the “shiqdar”. The pargana, comprising a
number of villages was headed by the “amil”. The village remained the basic unit
of administration. The most important official in the village was the headman
known as “muqaddam” or “chaudhari”. Below the province were the Shiqs and below
them the Paragana. We are told that the villages were grouped into units of 100
or 84 traditionally called Chaurasi. The Paragana was headed by Amil. The most
important people in villages were the Khuts (Landowners) or Muqaddam or headman.
We also hear of village accountant called Patwari.
Delhi Sultans classified the land into three categories:
Iqta land i.e. land assigned to officials as iqtas. Khalisa
land or crown land, i.e. land which is under the direct control of the Sultan
and whose revenues were meant for his maintenance and that of the royal
household. Inam land (also known as madad-i-maash or waqf land), i.e. land
assigned or granted to pious persons and religious leaders and also to religious
The Delhi Sultans took efforts to enhance agricultural
production by: Providing irrigational facilities and by advancing “takkavi”
loans for different agricultural purposes; Encouragement given to cultivate cash
crops instead of food crops, and superior crops (e.g. wheat) in place of
inferior ones (e.g. barley). Extension of cultivated area by granting waste
lands to different people. The largest numbers of canals were constructed on the
orders of Firuz Tughlaq. He had two canals cut from the Yamuna, one from the
Sutlej and one from the Ghaggar, in addition to numerous smaller ones. Crops
dependent on artificial irrigation, like wheat and sugarcane were more valued
from those raised on rain water.
Sericulture, the breeding of the mulberry silkworm for
producing true silk, reached India from China through a circuitous route in the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. On Firuz Tughlaq’s instructions, 1,200
orchards were laid out in the neighbourhood of Delhi and seven varieties of
grapes grown. The peasant was assured an inalienable right to land as long as he
tilled it and paid his share of the state revenue demand. The highest category
of peasants were the khots and muqaddams (headmen), who assisted the the
authorities in the collection of land revenue. Allauddin Khilji’s policies
severely curtailed the power of this class.
According to historians, in the mid-fourteenth century the
chaudhuri appears as the highest rural personage responsible for land revenue to
the state. Land taxation, which began to be collected in an organised manner
from the time of Alauddin Khilji, had been described by modern historians as
“very heavy and regressive.” Barani states that Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq levied
kharaj on the basis of actual produce and not on the basis of estimated yields.
Muhammad bin Tughlaq resorted to even more stringent measures
than Alauddin Khilji. To begin with, the oppressive taxation system, hitherto
confined to the Doab, was extended to other territories, including Gujarat,
Malwa, the Deccan, and Bengal. Firuz Tughlaq abolished the ghari and charai and
limited the total taxes above the kharaj to four per cent. Jaziya was levied as
part of the land tax, which was known as kharajjaziya.
The land tax remained unchanged under the Lodis, but was now
collected in kind instead of in cash. Territories whose revenues went directly
to the Sultan’s treasury were called khalisa, while those parcelled out among
his nobles were called iqtas. Tax free grants of land were called inam or
madad-i-maash, grants to Muslim religious establishments being known as waqf. A
portion of these grants was in the form of wastelands which the grantees were
required to bring under cultivation. Under Firuz Shah, it has been estimated,
that revenues relinquished in this manner amounted to more than five per cent of
the government share.The grants were generally hereditary, but could be resumed
anytime by the Sultan.