(Last Updated on : 28/03/2012)
Firoz Shah Tughlaq was chosen as the Sultan of Delhi after the demise of his cousin brother Muhammad Bin Tughlaq
. He ascended the command of the throne with much hesitation and persuasion of the nobles. Firoz Shah Tughlaq succeeded in withdrawing the army without serious disaster to Delhi and thus received the support of the citizens of Delhi
. He paid great attention in improving the domestic affairs and administrative policy of the state.
Firoz Shah paid attention towards the domestic affairs of the state. During the last years of the reign of Muhammad Bin Tughlaq, the administration had disrupted and the subjects were dissatisfied, and also there was a breakdown of the economy. Firoz Shah concentrated his efforts to improve these matters. He neither had the desire nor the capacity to bring back under his suzerainty the lost provinces of the Delhi Sultanate. He simply strived to defend the remaining frontiers, reinstate confidence among his subjects, restore financial prosperity of his subjects and the state and win over the confidence of the Muslim subjects. He largely succeeded in achieving these objectives.
Firoz Shah, possessed wisdom to select good subordinates, assign them powers, and command their respect and faith. He also desired the welfare of his subjects and certainly attempted for it. His thirty-seven years of rule was that of a successful internal consolidation and increased prosperity of his subjects. Firoz started his reign with liberalism. He assured protection to all members of the royal family, tried to please every noble, did not try to take back that wealth which was distributed by previous Vazir, Khwaja Jahan among persons to get their support, paid back the loans on the state and promised to rule according to the principles of Islam
Firoz imposed only four taxes sanctioned by Islamic viz., kharaj (land tax), khams (1/5 of the looted property during wars), Jizya (religious tax on the Hindus), and Zakat (2 1/2 per cent of the income of the Muslims which was spent for the welfare of Muslim subjects and their religion). He imposed irrigation tax after getting it sanctioned from the Ulema.
Firoz abolished nearly twenty four taxes which were, certainly, burdensome to the people. He abolished a number of internal trade taxes which resulted in reduction of prices of goods and enhancement of trade. He also adopted measures for improvement of quality of cultivation and better crops. The measures of Firoz were successful and resulted in the growing prosperity of both the subjects and the state.
Firoz Shah founded three hundred towns. The important among them were Fatehbad, Hissar, Firozpur, Jaunpur and Firozabad. He mostly lived in Firozabad which was his favourite city. He also arranged for the maintenance and repairs of his buildings and assigned lands for that purpose. He also repaired many old historical buildings. Firoz Shah distributed a large amount of wealth and land among saints and other religious people. An employment bureau was set up by Firoz shah, which arranged for the employment of the unemployed. He established a charitable hospital called Dar- ul- shafa near Delhi.
Firoz Shah`s administrative justice was based on Islamic laws. He restored the privileges of the qazis. He was in favour of mild punishment and held his own court for administering justice. Firoz Shah was himself a scholar and patronised learning. Zia- ud- din Barani and Shams- i- Siraj Atif wrote their works under his patronage. Firoz Shah established a large library at the temple of Jvalamukhi which consisted of three hundred volumes of Sanskrit texts. He encouraged education and learning. The literature of his time was influenced by Islamic faith.
Firoz Shah Tughlaq also set up one of the two Asoka Pillars at Firozabad, which he removed from their original sites. He cut a canal from the Sutlej River
in 1355 and in the next year excavated another canal from the Yamuna River
to Hansi, near which he built Hissar Firoza. He was also credited with building numerous canals, bridges, baths, forts and colleges. He planted numerous gardens near Delhi, entrusted the construction of canals to skilled engineers, levied on the cultivators a special water rate and reclaimed large areas for cultivation. All these works done by him made the Muslim chroniclers bound to praise him. Most of all, he was always available and ready to help those who needed him. He had resolute and capable advisers like Makbal Khan, the wazir and his son.
The foreign policy of Firoz Shah Tughlaq was a failure to a large extent. His virtues as a man and as a king were attributed to his training at the hands of his ancestors and his devotion to Islam. The reign of Firoz Shah was a failure and it is displayed in his two campaigns to Bengal (1353-54 A.D. and 1359-60 A.D.) and in his eventual fall of Thatta (1371-72 A.D.). This proves his lack of strategical skill and military ability. In his second expedition to Bengal against the son of Ilyas Shah, the Sultan gave up the struggle when the enemy was about to surrender in his fort of Ikdala. However, returning back to Delhi, he marched against Jajnagar of Orissa
and pursued its Brahman ruler who fled, and he robbed the Jagannath temple
there. In his Nagarkot expedition in 1360-61 AD, Firoz Shah robbed the famous temple of Jvalamukhi and the ruler submitted before him.
The Sultan improved the coin system and introduced a larger and more systematic supply of gold and silver coins. He struck also half and quarter jitals of mixed copper and silver which were largely used by the poorer classes of the people and remained in circulation for a long time afterwards. Firoz Shah Tughlaq also reorganised the royal households. All were provided with separate offices and accounts. He employed large bodies of artisans, who worked under trained superintendents. Many slaves were imported from various parts of the country and separate office was created for their proper management. These slaves were then trained as artisans and craftsmen or devoted themselves to the study of literature and religion.
The last days of Firoz Shah were very painful. His elder son died in 1374 AD and the conflict started between his next son, Prince Muhammad, and the vazir, Khan-i-Jahan owing to the latter`s usurpation of all power in the state. The vazir was discredited and put to death and Firoz made his son his successor and retired into private life. He died in October 1388 at a very old age.