Raziya Sultana
By Iffat  Mahmood
Raziya Sultana  was  the  first  women king  of Northern  India. Especially  of  a  Muslim  state. Her  father  was  the  famous  Turkish  slave  ,who  later  became  one  of  the  greatest   kings  of  the  Mumluq (slave)  dynasty in  Delhi. Raziya  was  chosen  to  be  sultan
(ruler)  over  her  wayward  half  brothers. As  Raziya  was  a  women , the  nobles  and  many  subjects  were  not  pleased with  this and  riots  broke  out. Raziya   led  her  troops  and  put  down  these  riots.
Although  at  the  time  Muslim  girls  were  not  educated, Raziya  had  been  as  the  royal  princesses  usually  were. She  built  schools  and  libraries, pursued  foreign  trade  and  had  coins  minted  in her  name  with  the following  inscriptions 'Pillar  of  women, Queen  of  the 
times'. She  dressed  like  a  man , wearing  trousers  and  a  turban  and kept a sword while she  refused  to  wear  the  veil. Raziya  held  court, hunted  and  led  her  army  in   battle. She  was  known  as  a  great  swordsman in  battle. One  such  battle  was  where  she  led  an  expedition  against  Ranthambore  to  control  the  Rajputs ( Kings of other kingdoms). She successfully established law and order  in the entire length and breadth of her kingdom.
It has been speculated that Raziya fell in love with Jamal -al - Din Yaqoot, an Abyssinian slave that she promoted to Master  of  the  stables .  This caused jealousies among the people in court  especially  the  turbulent  turki chiefs,who couldn't be  reconciled  to  the  rule  of  a  woman. One day it was witnessed that  Yaqut helped Raziya get on her horse by lifting her up. The fact that Sultana allowed herself to be touched by a slave was seen as a violation of ethical behaviour and was used by her enemies as a pretext to have her removed from the throne. Revolts  broke  out  and  an  army  led  by Ikhtiar  Al  din  Altuniya  captured  Raziya . However  Raziya  captivated  Altuniya's  heart  and  the  two  married. They  both  set  forth  to  regain  her  lost  throne  occupied  by  her  brother  Baraham.   She  fought  two  bloody   battles  before  they  were  defeated .
   Raziya  fled  and  overpowered  by  hunger  with  fatigue ,  she  asked  a  peasant  whom  she  found  tilling  the  soil, for  something   to  eat  .  He   gave  her  food,  which  she  ate  and  fell  asleep.  As  Raziya  was  dressed  like  a  man  ,  the  peasant  thought  she  was  a 
man  until  his  eyes  fell  upon  her  gown  studded  with  jewels, underneath  her  clothes.  He  killed  her ,  drove  away  her  horse  and  then   burried  her  in  a  field.  Then   he  went  to  market  place  to  sell  one  of  her  garments,  but   the  people  of  the  market  became  suspicious  and   handed  him  to  the  Shinha ( police). There  he  was   beaten  into  confessing and  pointed  out  where  he  had  buried  her.  Her  body  was  taken  and  buried   again.

      Although   Raziya  ruled  for  only  three  years,  she  is  still  known  as  one  of  the  great  queens  of  India.  

Iffat  Mahmood is a homemaker who has obtained a Diploma  in  Writing from the Writer's School  of  Australia.  She lives in the United Arab  Emirates  and  has had an article published in the   'Gulf News', a local newspaper in the  Gulf.