Then Again




The Deeds of Sultan Firuz Shah



Firuz Shah Tughluq ruled the Delhi Sultanate from 1351 to 1388. This was the golden age of the Delhi Sultanate and the sultan enjoyed a reputation for humanity and generosity. The following is a document in which he summarized the accomplishments of his rule. One might compare this with the Deeds of the Divine Augustus. 




Praises without end and infinite thanks to that merciful Creator who gave to me his poor abject creature Firuz . . . His impulse for the maintenance of the laws of His religion, for the repression of heresy, the prevention of crime, and the prohibition of things forbidden; who gave me also a disposition for discharging my lawful duties and my moral obligations. My desire is that, to the best of my human power, I should recount and pay my thanks for the many blessings He has bestowed upon me, so that I may be found among the number of His grateful servants. First I would praise Him because, when irreligion and sins opposed to the Law prevailed in Hindustan, [1] and men's habits and dispositions were inclined towards them and were averse to the restraints of religion, He inspired me, His humble servant, with an earnest desire to repress irreligion and wickedness so that I was able to labor diligently until, with His blessing, the vanities of the world and things repugnant to religion were set aside, and the true was distinguished from the false.

In the reigns of former kings, the blood of many Muslims had been shed, and many varieties of torture employed. Amputation of hands and feet, ears and noses; tearing out the eyes, pouring molten lead into the throat, crushing the bones of the hands and feet with mallets, burning the body with fire, driving iron nails into the hands, feet, and bosom, cutting the sinews, sawing men asunder; these and many similar tortures were practiced. The great and merciful God made me, His servant, hope and seek for His mercy by devoting myself to prevent the unlawful killing of Muslims and the infliction of any kind of torture upon them or upon any men . . .

By God's help I determined that the lives of Muslims and true believers should be in perfect immunity and whoever transgressed the Law should receive the punishment prescribed by the book [2] and the decrees of judges . . .

The sect of Shi'as . . . had endeavored to make proselytes. They wrote treatises and books, and gave instruction and lectures upon the tenets of their sect, and traduced and reviled the first chiefs of our religion (on whom be the peace of God). I seized them all, and I convicted them of their errors and perversions. On the most zealous I inflicted punishment, and the rest I visited with censure and threats of public punishment. Their books I burnt in public, and so by the grace of God the influence of this sect was entirely suppressed . . .

The Hindus and idol-worshipers had agreed to pay the money for toleration and had consented to the poll tax, in return for which they and their families enjoyed security. These people now erected new idol temples in the city and the environs in opposition to the Law of the Prophet which declares that such temples are not to be tolerated. Under Divine guidance I destroyed these edifices, and I killed those leaders of infidelity who seduced others into error, and the lower orders I subjected to stripes and chastisement, until this abuse was entirely abolished . . . I forbade the infliction of any severe punishment on the Hindus in general, but I destroyed their idol temples, and instead thereof raised mosques . . . Where infidels and idolaters worshiped idols, Muslims now, by God's mercy, perform their devotions to the true God. Praises of God and the summons to prayer are now heard there, and that place which was formerly the home of infidels has become the habitation of the faithful, who there repeat their creed and offer up their praises to God . . .

In former times it had been the custom to wear ornamented garments, and men received robes as tokens of honor from kings' courts. Figures and devices were painted and displayed on saddles, bridles, and collars, on censers, on goblets and cups, and flagons, on dishes and ewers, in tents, on curtains and on chairs, and upon all articles and utensils. Under Divine guidance and favor I ordered all pictures and portraits to be removed from these things, and that such articles only should be made as are approved and recognized by the Law. Those pictures and portraits which were painted on the doors and walls of palaces I ordered to be effaced.

Formerly the garments of great men were generally made of silk and gold brocades, beautiful but unlawful. Under Divine guidance I ordered that such garments should be worn as are approved by the Law of the Prophet, and that choice should be made of such trimmings of gold brocade, embroidery, or braiding as did not exceed four inches in breadth. Whatever was unlawful and forbidden by, or opposed to, the Law was set aside.

Among the gifts which God bestowed upon me, His humble servant, was a desire to erect public buildings. So I built many mosques and colleges and monasteries, that the learned and the elders, the devout and the holy, might worship God in these edifices and aid the kind builder with their prayers. The digging of canals, the planting of trees, and the endowing with lands are in accordance with the directions of the Law. The learned doctors of the Law of Islam have many troubles; of this there is no doubt. I settled allowances upon them in proportion to their necessary expenses, so that they might regularly receive the income . . .

For the benefit of travelers and pilgrims resorting to the tombs of illustrious kings and celebrated saints, and for providing the things necessary in these holy places, I confirmed and gave effect to the grants of villages, lands, and other endowments which had been conferred upon them in olden times. In those cases where no endowment or provision has been settled, I made an endowment, so that these establishments might forever be secure of an income, to afford comfort to travelers and wayfarers, to holy men and learned men. May they remember those (ancient benefactors) and me in their prayers.

I was enabled by God's help to build a . . . Hospital for the benefit of everyone of high or low degree who was suddenly attacked by illness and overcome by suffering. Physicians attend there to ascertain the disease, to look after the cure, to regulate the diet, and to administer medicine. The cost of the medicines and the food is defrayed from my endowments. All sick persons, residents and travelers, gentle and simple, bond and free, resort thither; their maladies are treated, and, under God's blessing, they are cured....

I encouraged my infidel subjects to embrace the religion of the prophet, and I proclaimed that everyone who repeated the creed and became a Muslim should be exempt from the jizya, or poll-tax. Information of this came to the ears of the people at large, and great numbers of Hindus presented themselves and were admitted to the honor of Islam. Thus, they came forward day by day from every quarter, and, adopting the faith, were exonerated from the jizya, and were favored with presents and honors . . .

Whenever a person had completed the natural term of life and had become full of years, after providing for his support, I advised and admonished him to direct his thoughts to making preparation for the life to come, and to repent of all things which he had done contrary to the Law and religion in his youth; to wean his affections from this world, and to fix them on the next . . .

My object in writing this book has been to express my gratitude to the all-bountiful God for the many and various blessings He has bestowed upon me. Secondly, that men who desire to be good and prosperous may read this and learn what is the proper course. There is this concise maxim, by observing which, a man may obtain God's guidance: Men will be judged according to their works and rewarded for the good that they have done.

[1] The north-central region of India.

[2] The Qur'an

From: H. M. Elliot and John Dowson, eds. and trans., The History of India as Told by Its Own Historians, 8 vols. (London: Truebner, 1867-1877), Vol. 3 pp. 374-388, passim. Reprinted in: Alfred J. Andrea and James H. Overfield, The Human Record: Sources of Global History, Vol. I: To 1700 (Boston; Houghton Mifflin, 1990) pp. 294-296.


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