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5/5/2014 The Sultanate of Delhi: ADMINISTRATION UNDER THE SULTANATE

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S A T UR D A Y, NO V E M B E R 2 8 , 2 0 0 9
ADMINISTRATION UNDER THE SULTANATE
ADMINISTRATION UNDER THE SULTANATE
IQTA SYSTEM The iqtadari was a unique type of land distribution
and administrative system evolved during the Sultanate per~od.
Under the system, the whole empire was divided into several large
and small tracts of land, called the iqtas, which were assigned to
nobles, officers and soldiers for the purpose of administration and
revenue collection. The iqtas were transferable, i.e., the holders of
iqtas-iqtadars-were transferred from one region to an other every
three to four years. It means that the grant of iqta did not imply a
right to the land. It was just an administrative unit.
The iqtas could be big (whole province) or small. The assignees of
bigger iqtas-known as muqti or lOali-had dual obligation, tax
collection and administration. They collected revenue from their
iqta, defrayed their own expenses, paid the troops maintained by
them and sent the bawazil (sur plus) to the Centre. Their accounts
were checked by the royal auditors of the dilOan-i-lOizarat.
The holders of small iqtas were individual troopers. They had no
administrative responsibilities. They appropri ated, for their
personal use, the land revenue collected by them. In return, when
the central government called them
for service or inspection, they had to be present with horses and
arms.
Muhammad of Ghur was the first to introduce the iqta system in
India, but it was lltutrnish who gave it an institutional form. The
iqtadari system witnessed numerous changes during the Sultanate
period. Initially, iqta was a revenue-yielding piece of land which
was assigned in lieu of salary. However, during Firuz Shah
Tughlaq's reign, it became hereditary.
The government of the Delhi sultans was a theocracy in the sense
that the ruler was subject to the Shariat, the Islamic law. The
sultans were head of state, not religion, but their duty was to
observe the Shariat in matters of state. The Sultan was an autocrat
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T HE S UL T ANAT E OF DE L HI
5/5/2014 The Sultanate of Delhi: ADMINISTRATION UNDER THE SULTANATE
http://sultanatofdelhi.blogspot.in/2009/11/administration-under-sultanate.html 2/3
and his will was law, though he considered himself the deputy of
the Khalifa. The Sultans of Delhi did not follow any law of
succession. The choice of the sultan depended largely on the
decisions of nobles. The organisation of the government was
feudal in character. The provinces were mostly military fiefs
entrusted to the charge of nobles.
The sultan was the chief law-giver and the final court of appeal. He
was also the commander-in-chief of the military forces. He had a
council of trusted advisers, called majlis-i-khaiwat which he
consulted on important occasions but he was not bound to accept
its decision. The business of the government was organised in
several departments.
The lOazir was the chief minister of the state. He was in charge of
revenue and finance, and controlled the other departments. l-Jis
office was known as the dilOan-i-lOazarat. The next important
department was diwan-i-arz headed by ariz-i-mumalik, who was
responsible for the recruitment, payment and inspection of
troops. The diwan-i-insha headed by dahir-i-mumalik managed
the royal correspondence. Religious matters and endowments
were dealt with by the diwan-i-rasalat headed by sadr-us sudur.
(But Dr. Habibullah holds that this official managed foreign affairs,
and received and sent envoys.) The sadr-us-sudur enforced the
Islamic rules and regulations, and supervised charity and pious
foundations.
In the 13th century, the Delhi Sultanate was divided into a number
of military regions, called iqtas. The provinces were also called
iqtas. Each province was under a mukti or lOali. During the reign
of Ala-ud-din Khalji, three types of provinces existed. Muktis or
lOalis were responsible for law and order and collection of taxes in
their iqtas or provinces. They were also responsible for
implementing the decision of the courts, providing
encouragement to trade and com merce, and managing judicial
administration.
During the Sultanate period, many officials were re cruited in the
provinces for collecting revenue. These officials included nazir
and lOakuf. Besides, sahib-i-diwan or khlOaja maintained accounts
of the provinces and sent them to the central administration.
Each province was divided into a number of shiqs which were
under the officials called shiqdars. The shiqdar was responsible for
maintaining law and order in their areas. There was also an official

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F O L L O WE R S
B L O G A R C HI V E
2009 (14)
November (14)
POINTS TO REMEMBER
5/5/2014 The Sultanate of Delhi: ADMINISTRATION UNDER THE SULTANATE
http://sultanatofdelhi.blogspot.in/2009/11/administration-under-sultanate.html 3/3
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called katwal at the shiq level. The demarcation of duties between
shiqdars and katwais is not very clear.
Each shiq was divided into a number of parganas, groups of
hundred villages. The chaudhari was the head of a pargana. A
m1'shrif was in charge of accounts and revenue at the pargana
level.
The village was the smallest unit of administration. The
functioning and administration remained basically the same as it
had existed during the pre-Turkish phase. Khat, muqaddam and
patwari were the main village functionaries.
POSTED BY SUNI L BHASKAR AT 2: 06 AM
LABELS: DELHI , GENERAL KNOWLEDGE, HI STORY
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The Sultanate of Delhi
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