Raziya al-Din (1205 in Budaun – October 13, 1240), throne name Jalâlat ud-Dîn Raziyâ, usually referred to in history as Razia Sultana, was the Sultan of Delhi in India from 1236 to May 1240. Like some other princesses of the time, she was trained to lead armies and administer kingdoms if necessary. She was the first female ruler of the Delhi Sultanate. She refused to be addressed as Sultana because it meant “wife or consort of a Sultan”. She would answer only to the title “Sultan.”
Raziya (also called hafsa moeen) succeeded her father Shams-ud-din Iltutmish to the Sultanate of Delhi in 1236. Iltutmish became the first sultan to appoint a woman as his successor when he designated his daughter Razia as his heir apparent. Razia was the first and last female ruler of Delhi Sultanate. (According to one source, Iltumish’s eldest son had initially been groomed as his successor, but had died prematurely.) But the Turkish nobility had no intention of acceding to Iltutmish’s appointment of a woman as heir, and after the sultan died on Wednesday 30 April 1236, Razia’s brother, Rukn ud din Firuz, was elevated to the throne instead.
Conspiracy for Downfall
The Turkish nobles now formed a plan of an organized resistance. They wanted to weaken royalty permanently vis-a-vis the nobility. The leader of this conspiracy was Malik Ikhtiar-ud-din Aitigin who had risen from the office of the governor of Badaun. Aitigin felt that no large-scale rising was possible in Delhi as long as the queen was present there because of her precautionary measures. The plans were therefore laid out with great care. Malik Ikhtiar-ud-din Altunia the governor of Bhatinda and her childhood friend, first raised the standard of revolt. Razia immediately proceeded against him at the head of an army. Aitigin and his fellow-conspirators captured Yaqut and killed him and then made common cause with Altunia to defeat and capture Razia. She was entrusted to the care of Altunia and the rest of the nobles returned to the capital.
Love life and Marriage
Razia and Malik Ikhtiar-ud-din Altunia, the governor of Bhatinda were childhood friends, some recognize them as childhood sweethearts who were strongly in love with each other. However when he was in Bhatinda the Turks spread rumors about Yaqut Jamal-ud-Din Yaqut, an Abyssinian Siddi (Habshi) slave, which triggered the wrath and jealousy within Altunia and he led a rebellion against her, simply with the intention of getting her back.
A battle between Razia and Altunia ensued, with the result that Yaqut was killed and Razia taken prisoner. She was incarcerated in April, 1240 at Qila Mubarak at Bathinda. While in prison, Razia Sultan was allowed to go to Hajirattan mosque to offer prayers on Fridays in a special palki. She was kept in royalty and Altunia visited her regularly, it was then that their love triumphed and finally she was released in August 1240. Razia won over Altunia with love and married him.
Meanwhile, Razia’s brother, Muizuddin Bahram Shah, had usurped the throne. After Altunia and Razia undertook to take back the sultanate from Bahram through battle, both Razia and her husband were defeated on the 24th of Rabi’ al-awwal A.H. 638 (October 1240). They fled Delhi and reached Kaithal the next day, where their remaining forces abandoned them. They both fell into the hands of Jats and were robbed and killed on the 25th of Rabi’ al-awwal A.H. 638, this date corresponds to October 13, 1240. Bahram, for his part, reigned from 1240 to 1242, but would be dethroned for incompetence.
The place of Razia’s burial is disputed by historians. There are 3 places where Razia is claimed to be buried. One of them is Tonk, Rajasthan.
Razia is said to have pointed out that the spirit of religion was more important than its parts, and that even the Islamic prophet Muhammad spoke against overburdening the non-Muslims. On another occasion, she reportedly tried to appoint an Indian Muslim convert from Hinduism to an official position but again ran into opposition from the nobles.
Razia was reportedly devoted to the cause of her empire and to her subjects. There is no record that she made any attempt to remain aloof from her subjects, rather it appears she preferred to mingle among them.
Claimed burial sites
There are conflicting accounts regarding her actual site of grave. No archaeological or documentary evidences are found to confirm the site of her grave. The dispute is whether she was buried in Kaithal or Delhi or Tonk, and also where were Altunia and Yakut buried.
First claim is that Razia’s grave lies among the narrow lanes of Old Delhi that is in a courtyard in Bulbul-i-khana, Shahjahanabad, near the Turkman Gate entrance.