Razia Sultan: The Story of the First, and Last, Female Ruler of the Delhi Sultanate

By on March 22, 2019

Renowned as the first Muslim female ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, Razia Sultan ruled Delhi from 1236 to 1240.
Never in the history of the Mamluk dynasty, had the title of ‘Sultan’ bestowed upon or used to address a woman, because a woman had never ruled before.

When she took over the throne on 10 November 1236, with the official name of Jalâlat-ud-Dîn Raziyâ, she made a conscious decision to give up her traditional Muslim woman attire, including the pardah, which invited the fury of conservative Muslims. She adopted a gender-neutral attire instead, more like the male rulers before her.

Razia refused to be addressed as ‘Sultana,’ the term that would be used to address her according to her gender. Her justification was, Sultana meant “wife or mistress of a Sultan (ruler).” And she proudly proclaimed she be addressed as “Sultan”, as she herself was second to none. In fact, she was supreme.

The fifth Mamluk dynasty ruler, history deems Razia Sultan as one of the very few female rulers in the history of Islamic civilizations across the world.

During her reign, she ordered coins be minted with her title as “Pillar of Women, Queen of the Times, Sultan Razia, daughter of Shamsuddin Iltumish.”

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