Early Life

Firuz Shah Tughlaq was born in 1309 to a Turkic Muslim family.

Firuz Shah Tughlaq’s father Rajab was the younger brother of Ghiasuddin Tughluq. His mother was a Bhatli Rajput lady. She had to marry Rajab in order to save the estate of her father Ran Mai of Abohar from destruction at the hands of the Muslim Army.

Rise to Power

In 1351, Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq had gone in pursuit of Taghi the ruler of Gujarat. Firoze Shah Tughluq succeeded his cousin Muhammad bin Tughlaq following the latter’s death at Thatta in Sindh. 

Sultan Firuz Shah Tughlaq (1309 – 20 September 1388) was a Turkic Muslim ruler of the Tughlaq Dynasty
Sultan Firuz Shah Tughlaq (1309 – 20 September 1388) was a Turkic Muslim ruler of the Tughlaq Dynasty

For the first time in the history of Delhi Sultanate, a situation was confronted wherein nobody was ready to accept the reins of power. With much difficulty, the camp followers convinced Firuz to accept the responsibility.

Khwaja Jahan, the Wazir of Muhammad bin Tughlaq had placed a small boy on throne claiming him to the son of Muhammad bin Tughlaq. Khwaja Jahan meekly surrendered afterwards. Due to widespread unrest, his realm was much smaller than Muhammad’s.

Policy Reform for Welfare of People

On the advice of his prime minister, the Sultan wrote off all the debts of the agriculturists and others. 

Firuz Shah Tughlaq revised the penal code and soften the punishments. He abolished brutal punishments based on physical torture and amputation of organs.

The judicial set up was overhauled and even-handed justice administered to all. The Sultan increased the salaries of the civil servants and the army.

The next problem that confronted Firuz Shah Tughlaq was the near economic bankruptcy of the state. Soon, he thoroughly revised the fiscal policy of his predecessors with the twin objects of ensuring adequate state revenues and reducing the burden on the tax payers.

The Sultan deputed Khwaja Hisamuddin Junaid to prepare a rough estimate of the public revenues of the state. Khwaja Hisamuddin Junaid adopted various rough and ready methods based on local traditions and customs for the assessment of land revenue. It helped him in ensuring a steady flow of revenues into the exchequer and regulating the expenditure of the state in accordance with the income.

Firoze Tughluq protected the interests of the agriculturists during his regime. The Sultan constructed four or five fine canals which irrigated a large tract of land in the vicinity of Delhi, including Hissar (mod. Haryana). New agricultural settlements sprang up along the banks of these canals.

Firoze Tughluq revived the jagir system with a vengeance. The Sultan parcelled out the whole kingdom into fiefs and the fiefs into districts. These land were held by the regional and local government officials almost as personal estates.

Reformation of Coinage

Firoze Tughluq carried out extensive reforms in the minting of coins. The poor quality of coins produced by Muhammad bin Tughluq had encouraged the imitators and forgers to let down the state currency.

Firoze Tughluq improved the technique of minting and issued several varieties of standard coins. Besides the gold and silver tankas, he produced beautiful coins which contained silver in due proportions, mixed with the other metals.

He produced in abundance the fractional currency of the lowest denominations, all made of copper and bronze. Much of the fractional currency used by the public in their daily transactions was nothing but token in character, yet it enjoyed full confidence of the people.

Construction Projects

He founded the cities of Fatehabad, Hissar Firoza (mod. Hissar), Jaunpur and Firozabad, now known as Kotla Firozshah, a part of the metropolis.

The sultan showed keen interest in the preservation of old monuments. He carried out extensive repairs to most of the tombs and public buildings of his predecessors.

Firuz Shah Tughlaq ordered his troop to bring two of ashoka pillar to Delhi. Soon, he got one from Topra (district Ambala) and the other from Meerut, and transplanted them at the new township of Firozabad. Though ignorant of the real significance of the Ashokan pillars.

Religious Policy

He suffered from an inferiority complex that he had been born of a Hindu mother. Therefore, in order to establish his credibility as the sovereign of an ‘Islamic state’ and leader of the ‘faithful’, he publicly demonstrated contempt for Hinduism and displayed extraordinary zeal for Islam.

He was equally intolerant towards the shias and other Muslim dissenters. Firoze Shah Tughluq always attempted to win the goodwill and support of the ulama and extended the influence of theologians in the state affairs.

Military Campaign

Firuz Shah Tughlaq displayed no fondness for conquests. Most of the military campaigns undertaken by him proved unsuccessful and exposed the poor organisational skill, lack of direction and incompetence of the Sultan as a general.

The region of Deccan peninsula was cut off from the sultanate of Delhi. He never contemplated the reconquest of the Deccan. Bengal had become independent during the reign of Muhammad bin Tughluq. Later, Firoze Tughluq made two abortive attempts to reconquer it.

The Firuz Shah Tughlaq lacked the courage to pursue the task and returned to the capital empty-handed to  the great chagrin of the military generals and soldiers while he made himself a laughing stock of the people.

In 1360, Firoze Tughluq led an expedition for the conquest of Kangra. Hindu ruler of Kangra had reasserted his independence after the death of Muhammad bin Tughluq. Later, the raja defended himself heroically for six months and ultimately got rid of the invader by offering nominal submission on the promise to pay annual tribute to Delhi.

In 1362, Firoze Shah Tughluq directed his last military campaign against Sind. Jam Babiniya ruled Sind with his headquarters at Thatta. The Sultan laid siege to the fort but failed to conquer it ; meanwhile, the outbreak of plague and famine wiped out a quarter of the royal army. Panic-stricken, the Sultan ordered the retreat of his army towards Gujarat

The offensive power of the royal army had been lost during the reign of Muhammad bin Tughluq ; its defensive teeth were mercilessly broken by Firoze Tughluq through callous disregard of the most elementary principles of the army organisation.

Later Life and Death

His eldest son, Fath Khan, died in 1376. Later, the Sultan then abdicated in August 1387 and made his other son, Prince Muhammad, king. A slave rebellion forced the Sultan to confer the royal title to his grandson, Tughluq Khan.

His tomb is located in Hauz Khas (New Delhi), attached to the tomb is a madrasa built by Firoz Shah in 1352-53.

Firuz Shah Tughlaq Legacy

Tughlaq’s death led to a war of succession coupled with nobles rebelling to set up independent states. His lenient attitude had strengthened the nobles, thus weakening the Sultan’s position.

His successor Ghiyas-ud-Din Tughlaq II could not control the slaves or the nobles. The army had become weak and the empire had shrunk in size. Ten years after his death, Timur’s invasion devastated Delhi. 

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