Delhi Sultanates

The Tabaqat-i-Nasiri, one of the most valuable source-books for the history of early Sultans of Delhi gives a general history of Islam from the earliest times to A. D. 1259. The author, Minhaj al-Siraj Juzjani, was a migrant to India who enjoyed the patronage of the youngest son of Iltutmish, Sultan Nasir-ud-din Mahmud (A.D. 1246-1265). Major H C Raverty's translation of this book is a classic, and is newly available in two volumes.


The Tabaqat-i-Nasiri (the image on the left is a cover of another edition) the 'very thesaurus of the most varied...material', is divided into twenty-three tabqat or collections of annals and biographical notes arranged in generations within a superimposed dynastic frame work. It gives a fairly reliable account of the dynasties which flourished in Ghor, Ghazna and Hindustan and includes in it contemporary accounts of the Sultans of Delhi from Iltutmish to Nasir-ud-din Mahmud Shah.

Minhaj al-Siraj Juzjani, whose full name was Abu Umar Usman ibn Muhammad al-Minhaj-e-Siraj al Juzjani, came from Ghor to Sind, Uch and Multan in 1227 and occupied various high positions till he was appointed the Kazi and Sadr of Delhi by Iltutmish. He continued to hold these offices during the reigns of his successors but for a brief period when he stayed at Bengal. His chief patron, however, was Sultan Nasir-ud-din Mahmud in whose honour he named his work Tabaqat-i-Nasiri which concludes with an account of the events of the fifteenth year of his reign. Though Minhaj al-Siraj Juzjani relied heavily upon the works of the earlier writers, his account of the Delhi Sultans are particularly useful for being a contemporary source of Indian History of the early Indo-Muslim period.

Tabakat-i-Nasiri: A General History of the Muhammadan Dynasties of Asia including Hindustan from A. H. 194 (810 A. D.) to A. H. 658 (1260 A. D.) and the irruption of the infidel Mughals into Islam.

In two volumes, Rs 1100.

Breaking the conventional belief that urbanization was shaped solely by economic factors, Viva Books' Delhi Sultanate: Urbanization and Social Change by I H Siddiqui seeks to highlight social and cultural processes that accompanied economic changes, thereby transforming little-known trading towns into full-fledged centres of learning and culture. I. H. Siddiqui draws on a rich corpus of Persian sources to establish links between economic change and changes in language, literature, teaching, book trade and even pyrotechnics. Delving into unconventional markers of change like food makes the work interesting and informative. The case study of the city of Kalpi is valuable, for it outlines the political, social and cultural ramifications brought by its transformation into an urban city.

Modern scholars have studied the political history of the Delhi Sultanate in detail since the colonial period. However, its cultural splendour has not received adequate attention, although the standards set during the Delhi Sultanate period in arts, architecture, literature and its currency retained their appeal and provided a reference point to the Mughals. The author probes into the complex socio-cultural phenomena and uses his analysis to unravel less- known aspects of the Sultanate political economy, the process of urbanization, economy and trade and their impact on society. Besides new professions that flourished as well as scientific developments, teaching and literary traditions that led to social change and enhanced social mobility are discussed in detail. His exposition of the social and economic role of the bazaars and urban centres in general, and in the metropolis of Delhi in particular, is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the history and composite culture that developed during the Delhi Sultanate period.

Delhi Sultanate: Urbanization and Social Change, by Iqtidar Husain Siddiqui. Hardcover, 252 pages, Rs 795. ISBN: 9788130910147

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