Raziya Sultan was a successful ruler endowed with many qualities of head and heart. Under the contemporary circumstances her nomination to the office of Sultan was quite just and appropriate. Dr. R. P. Tripathi remarks,
“Considering the time, in the general outlook of Muslim people, chiefly of the military and religious classes, the selection of Raziya was unique and most dating.”
But unfortunately, she could not face her problems successfully, She failed in suppressing her opponents, nor could she perform the work of administration very capably. The following reasons and circumstances contributed to her downfall.
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Opposition of Turkish Nobles:
The chief reason of the downfall of Raziya was the opposition of the Turkish slaves of Iltutmish. He had organized this group in order to strengthen the kingdom but after his death its members became king-makers and they enthroned Ruknuddin in place of Raziya violating the will of their master as they were not prepared to bow down before a woman.
When Raziya ascended the throne they wished her to dance to their tune but she was not prepared to be a puppet in the hands of slave officers. She rather started to oppress them. The slave officers could not tolerate her behaviour and began to hatch conspiracy against her which ultimately resulted in her downfall.
The greatest weakness of Raziya was her sex. Lane-poole writes,
“Sultan Raziya was a great monarch, wise, just, generous, benefactor to her realm, a dispenser of equity, the protector of her people, leader of her army. She had all kindly qualities except sex.”
Raziya was a woman of progressive ideas. She cast off her female attire and gave up Pardah. It was not approved by the staunch Muslims, They began to condemn and criticize her for it and she being a woman could not face their criticism.
It ultimately led to her downfall Dr. Ishwari Prasad writes, “She tried her best to play the king.
She cast off female garments, abandoned seclusion of the Zanana, donned the head dress of a man and transacted business in open darbar.
She took active part in the campaigns against the Hindus and the rebellions of the Muslim chiefs and herself led an expedition against the Governor of Lahore, who was compelled to acknowledge her authority but her sex proved her worst disqualification.”
Her Favour to Jamaluddin Yakut:
Rumours were set afloat, casting aspersions on her character. One such rumour was about her romance with her Amir-i-Akhur, Jamaluddin Yakut. In fact, Raziya Sultan had great regard for Jamaluddin Yakut who was an Abyssinian slave.
Ibn Batuta writes that her fondness for the slave Yakut was criminal. Perhaps it was the result of her state policy by which she wanted to crush the monopoly of the Turkish nobles but some of her critics remarked that she had actually fallen in love with Yakut.
Minhaj-us-Siraj states that considerable familiarity existed between them so much so that when she rode, he always lifted her off the horse by raising her up under the arms. Her Turkish opponents, who failed to crush her, resorted to her character assassination. Thus the only weakness that made her downfall inevitable was her sex and even the best of her talents and virtues were insufficient to protect her from that single weakness.
Thomas Roe has also written, “It was not that a virgin queen was forbidden to love—she might have indulged herself in submissive Prince Consort or reveled almost unchecked in the dark recesses of the palace Harem but wayward fancy pointed in a wrong direction and led her to prefer a person employed in her court, an Abyssinian, moreover, the favours extended to whom, the Turkish nobles resented with one accord.”
The brothers of Raziya and other members of her family were not cooperative. First of all, Ruknuddin Firoz violating the will of his father and the claim of her sister was enthroned by the powerful forty slaves.
Later, when Raziya began to show signs of power, they plotted against her and made her another brother Bahram Shah sit on the throne. Thus on both the occasions, his brothers proved her enemies. Thus the family discord proved helpful in her downfall.
Besides the above reasons, the arbitrary tendency of high officers, the weakness of the central government, and non-cooperation of the public, specially of religious class, also con- tribute to the-downfall of Raziya. Although it was blamed on her that she failed because of her sex but it is also not true, as she never showed any sign of feminine weakness; rather she was a symbol of power, courage and confidence. Dr. A. L. Srivastava has remarked about her,
“Raziya was the first and last ruler of Iltutmish’s dynasty to dominate the politics of the Sultanate of Delhi by the sheer force of her ability and character.”