Friday, July 27, 2012

Ramadan Challenge Day 8: Razia Sultana, first Muslim woman ruler of South Asia

The first Muslim female ruler of South Asia, Razia Sultana was the only female to ever rule Delhi! Following the death of her father and brother, Razia Sultana took over the throne of Delhi upon the wishes of her late father who preferred her over his other sons. 

Razia Sultana's political acumen:
Having ruled for four years, she established orderliness and peace and order, encouraged trade, built infrastructure including roads and wells, as well as the construction of schools and libraries. Like Zubaydah al Jaafar and Shujarat al Durr, she too was a patroness of poets, painters, and musicians.

Another example of a woman of great political acumen, Razia Sultana was well-acquainted with governmental affairs as her father left her in-charge of the capital every time he left Delhi. Like some other Muslim princesses of the time, Razia Sultana was also trained to lead the army and was an excellent fighter in the battle-field. 

A bit of a tom-boy:
Having been brought up in a house full of brothers, and regularly left in charge of stately affairs even before she became a ruler herself, Razia spent little time in the harem with women. She was distant from feminine customs and almost a bit of a "tom-boy" for purposes of better imagination. She refused to be addressed as "Sultana" as it meant wife/mistress of a Sultan. Razia wanted to be called "Sultan" and refused to be addressed as Sultana because it meant "wife or mistress of a sultan". 

Razia Sultana's tolerance and intellect:

Razia was a patroness of education and research. She established schools, academies, centers for research, and public libraries that included the works of ancient philosophers along with the Qur'an and the traditions of Muhammad. In the schools constructed under her patronage, it is reported that subjects like the the sciences, philosophy, astronomy, and literature were taught.

Victorious against Turkish nobles:
Sultana Razia's most trusted personal attendant was an an Ethiopian slave named Jalal-ud-din Yaqut. Her power challenged the Turkish nobles who conspired against her. In 1239, in response to their rebellion when she marched against him, he not only fled but also apologized to her.

Her demise:
However, it was the revolt of the governor of Bhatinda that led to the demise of Razia Sultana. She died in 1240 

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