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For other uses, see Razia Sultana (disambiguation).
Razia Sultan
Sultan of Delhi
Reign 10 November, 1236– 13 October, 1240
Coronation 1236
Predecessor Rukn ud din Firuz
Successor Muiz ud din Bahram
Spouse Ikhtiar-ud-din Mirza Altunia
Issue Zubrudin Mirza Rashil (1237-1238); adopted son
Dynasty Mamluk
Father Iltutmish
Mother Qutub Begum
Born 1205
Delhi, India
Died 13 October, 1240 (aged 35)
Delhi, India
Burial Bulbul-i-Khan near Turkoman Gate, Delhi
Religion Islam

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 Muslim princesses of the time, she was trained to lead armies and administer kingdoms if necessary.[1] Razia Sultan was the only woman ruler of both the Sultanate and the Mughal period, although other women ruled from behind the scenes.[2] Razia refused to be addressed as Sultana because it meant "wife or consort of a Sultan". She would answer only to the title "Sultan."[3]


Raziya (also called Raziyya) 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 Muslim 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.

Ruknuddin's reign was short. With Iltutmish's widow Shah Turkaan for all practical purposes running the government, Ruknuddin abandoned himself to the pursuit of personal pleasure and debauchery, to the outrage of the citizenry. On November 9, 1236, both Ruknuddin and his mother Shah Turkaan were assassinated[4] after only six months in power. With reluctance, the nobility agreed to allow Razia to reign as Sultan of Delhi.

She "abandoned the veil and adopted masculine attire." She was an efficient ruler and possessed all the qualities of a monarch. According to Minhaj-i-Siraj, she was "sagacious, just, beneficient, the patron of the learned, a dispenser of justice, the cherisher of her subjects, and of warlike talent, and endoweed with all the admirable attributes and qualifications necessary for a king."[5]

As a child and adolescent, Razia had little contact with the women of the harem, so she had not learnt the customary behavior of women in the Muslim society that she was born into. Even before she became Sultan, she was reportedly preoccupied with the affairs of state during her father's reign.

A shrewd politician, Razia managed to keep the nobles in check, while enlisting the support of the army and the populace. Her greatest accomplishment on the political front was to manipulate rebel factions into opposing each other. At that point, Razia seemed destined to become one of the most powerful rulers of the Delhi Sultanate.

But Razia miscounted the consequences that a relationship with one of her advisers, Jamal-ud-Din Yaqut, an Abyssinian Siddi (Habshi) slave,[6] would have for her reign. According to some accounts, Razia and Yaqut were lovers, other sources simply identify them as close confidants. In any case, before long she had aroused the jealousy of the Turkic nobility by the favoritism she displayed toward Yaqut, who was not a Turk, when she appointed him to be Superintendent of the Stables. Eventually, a childhood friend named Malik Altunia, the governor of Bhatinda, joined a rebellion by other provincial governors who refused to accept Razia's authority.

A battle between Razia and Altunia ensued, with the result that Yaqut was killed and Razia taken prisoner.[7] 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 released in August 1240. Razia won over Altunia 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,[8] this date corresponds to October 13, 1240.[9] Bahram, for his part, reigned from 1240 to 1242, but would be dethroned for incompetence.


Billon Jital of Razia

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.[citation needed]

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.

Razia 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. Hindu works in the sciences, philosophy, astronomy, and literature were reportedly studied in schools and colleges.[citation needed]

In popular culture[edit]

Razia Sultan is a 1983 biopic on Razia Sultan, with Hema Malini taking the titular role.[10]

In 2015, & TV started airing a TV series on the life of Razia Sultan, starring Pankhuri Awasthy.[11]

Claimed burial sites[edit]

There are conflicting accounts regarding her actual site of grave. No archaeological or documentary evidences to confirm the site of her grave. The dispute is whether she was buried in Kaithal[12] 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.

There is a tradition that Razia Sultana was buried in Kaithal[13]. Altunia was also buried next to her.There was also a masjid nearby.
Viceroy of India (Lord Linlithgow) in 1938 came to kaithal to visit Razia's tomb. He approved a special grant for the restoration of the tomb[14]. After that Director General Archaeology India visited the tomb but due to second world war, the grant could not be spent on the restoration.


  1. ^ Gloria Steinem (Introduction), Herstory: Women Who Changed the World, eds. Deborah G. Ohrn and Ruth Ashby, Viking, (1995) p. 34-36. ISBN 978-0sex670854349[dead link]
  2. ^ Table of Delhi Kings: Muazzi Slave King The Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1909, v. 2, p. 368..
  3. ^ O’Brien, Derek. Derek Introduces: 100 Iconic Indians. Rupa Publications. ISBN 8129134136. 
  4. ^ Satish Chandra, History of Medieval India(800–1700), New Delhi, Orient Longman, (2007), p.100. ISBN 81-250-3226-6
  5. ^ Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. pp. 74–76. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4. 
  6. ^ Dr. Richard Pankhurst, "Ethiopia Across the Red Sea and Indian Ocean", Addis Ababa, Addis Tribune, (21 May 1999)
  7. ^ "Raziya Sultan". 
  8. ^ Razia Sultan The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians. The Muhammadan Period, 1867–1877.
  9. ^ Conversion of Islamic and Christian dates
  10. ^ "Razia Sultan". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  11. ^ "Pankhuri Awasthi follows Hema Malini for 'Razia Sultan'". Times of India. IANS. 5 February 2015. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  12. ^ http://kaithal.nic.in/history.htm
  13. ^ 1- Book Name "Taareekh-e-Punjab by Kalidas Rai, 2- "Taareekh Buzargaan-e-Kaithal by Sheikh Muhammad Shakir Shah Abadi
  14. ^ Book Name "Ehad-e-Gul by Syed Fayyaz Hussain Zaidi
Preceded by
Rukn ud din Firuz
Mamluk Dynasty
Succeeded by
Muiz ud din Bahram
Preceded by
Rukn ud din Firuz
Sultan of Delhi
Succeeded by
Muiz ud din Bahram

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Razia_Sultana — Please support Wikipedia.
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Leading four-star property Sheraton Deira Hotel, Dubai recently named the first lucky winners of its September “Maharaja Weekend” raffle draw, hosted in collaboration with flag carrier Air India. Akhilesh Bhadran from India and Razia Sultana Javed Khan ...
Times of India
Sun, 23 Aug 2015 10:14:52 -0700

Nanglakhumba, Meerut: She is named after the only woman ruler of the Sultanate and Mughal era. Seventeen-year-old Razia Sultana is a picture of girlish grace, dressed in a black salwar kameez, with a dupatta neatly draped over her head. She has seen ...

The Nation

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Gulzar and his brother Mukhtar Ahmed Khan were elected to the Upper House where as his spouse Razia Sultana served as a member of the Lower House. The family created history when Gulzar and his son Waqar Ahmed Khan became members of the ...

Financial Express Bangladesh

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Sun, 27 Sep 2015 04:19:22 -0700

Two siblings were killed and four others injured in an attack over a trifling matter at Boirati village in Gouripur upazila of Mymensingh on Sunday. The deceased were identified as Razia Sultana, 55, and his younger brother Rajtik, 50, -- daughter and ...

Times of India

Times of India
Fri, 12 Jul 2013 13:23:23 -0700

NEW DELHI: Razia Sultana, a teenager from a village in Uttar Pradesh's Meerut, was awarded the United Nations' Special Envoy for Global Education's Youth Courage Award for Education on Friday. The award is in recognition of her efforts to help liberate ...

The Express Tribune

The Express Tribune
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 10:45:26 -0800

PESHAWAR: Vice chancellor (VC) of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University (SBBWU), Peshawar, Razia Sultana, has urged the provincial government to provide sufficient funds to ensure women studying at the institute have access to basic facilities.
Times of India
Thu, 21 Jun 2012 07:57:44 -0700

According to historians, Razia Sultana succeeded her father Shams-ud-din Iltutmish to the Sultanate of Delhi in 1236. As the first female monarch of Sultanate Delhi, Razia Sultan has been the subject of interest for centuries. Her greatest ...


Sun, 28 Jul 2013 04:51:22 -0700

RAZIA SULTANA: I used to go to school and thereafter, along with many other children, would stitch footballs. A contractor would handover the raw material to us and we would get down to work. Each small football would fetch us Rs5 (30 fils) and a ...

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