Administration of Delhi Sultanate- Central, Provincial Administration

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

India witnessed a new administration of Delhi Sultanate under the rules of Sultans. The Sultans or nobles of the kingdom held political, legal, and military authority. The Delhi Sultanate heavily followed the laws of Islam. The Delhi Sultans followed the laws of Sharia for the administration of Delhi Sultanate. This article facilitates the complete details of the Delhi Sultanate and its administrative reforms under Sultans.

The administration of Delhi Sultanate was instrumental in improvising the working of Indian provinces and laid the foundation of the coming Mughal administration system. The rule of Delhi Sultans started with the Turkish Ruler Mehmud Ghazni. The Sultans acted as representatives of the Caliph. The Delhi Sultanate comprised Central, Provincial, and Local administrations. Art, architecture, and literature flourished during the reign of the Sultans. The administration of Delhi Sultanate was very articulated. The systematic approach adopted by the Sultans became the guiding light for future dynasties.

How was Administration of Delhi Sultanate?

The Sultans of Delhi established the reign over the territory between 1206 and 1526 CE. The Sultans had pursued numerous administrations of Delhi such as the central, provincial, revenue, and social administration. Remarkable pieces of art and architecture were also constructed during their reign. Various dynasties ruled during this period such as-

  • Mamluk Dynasty
  • Tughlaq Dynasty
  • Khilji Dynasty
  • Afghan Lodi Dynasty
  • Sayyid Dynasty

The Caliph possessed omniscient powers during the reign of the Sultans of Delhi. The social structure was not modified to that extent. This period flourished with innovations in the domain of art and architecture. The sultans viewed themselves as the Viceroys of the Khalifa. Sultans possessed major authority during that period.

Central Administration of Delhi Sultanate

The Sultan was the head of the Empire. After the Sultan, all his children had equal rights to the throne, i.e. they didn’t follow the hierarchical succession of the throne. Check here the points elaborating on the central administration of Delhi sultanate.

Several ministers handled different departments assigned to them. Some of the major titles in central administration during the Delhi Sultanate are:

  • Wazir: Prime Minister of the State and in charge of Revenue and Finance (Diwan-i-Wizarat)
  • Ariz-i-Mumalik: Head of Diwan-i-Ariz (Military Department)
  • Qazi: Head of the Legal Office
  • Sadr-us-Sudur: Head of Diwan-i-Risalat (Department of Religious Affairs)
  • Qazi-ul-Quzar: Head of Diwan-i-Qaza-i-Mamalik (Justice Department)
  • Amir-i-Majilis: Ministers of royal feasts and festivals.

The Naib was next to Sultan in the hierarchy of authority and virtually had the same powers. The post of Wazir was right beneath the Naib. The Ariz-i-Mumalik was in charge of recruiting and training the military personnel, but the Sultan himself acted as the army’s Commander-in-chief.

Diwan-i-Risalat, another important department, allocated funds for madrasas, mosques, and tombs. It also patronized scholars. The head of the Diwan-i-Risalat, Chief Sadr, also worked as Chief Qazi, the head of the justice system.

Provincial Administration of Delhi Sultanate

During Sultanate rule, the kingdom was divided into smaller provinces called Iqtas. Each Iqta was looked after by an Iqtadar. This unique system of land distribution evolved in the reign of the Iltutmish. Walk through the points elaborating on the provincial administration of Delhi sultanate.

  • Every Iqta was assigned nobles, officers, and soldiers for smooth administration.
  • Small Iqtas were held by individual troopers with no administrative responsibility.
  • The Iqtas were transferred, i.e. Iqtadars were assigned different Iqtas after 3-4 years.
  • Iqtas (provinces) were divided into Shiqs (districts), which were further divided into Pargana (sub-districts). The village was the smallest unit of land.
  • Provincial officers included:
    • Amir: Governor
    • Mukti/Wali: Tax collector, Law and Order In-charge.
    • Nazir/Wakuf: In charge of revenue collection.
    • Shiqdar: Officer in charge of Shiq

Local Administration Under Delhi Sultanate

Village administration or local Administration During Delhi Sultanate was handled by assigned officers and the village panchayat.

  • The local officers were responsible for the overall development of the villages.
  • Central Government did not interfere with the Village administration.
  • Some village officers include:
    • Amil: In charge of land revenue and taxes
    • Hazamdars: In charge of finance
    • Qazi: In charge of developmental records
    • Shiqdar: Criminal officials

Finance and Revenue Administration Of Delhi Sultanate

Land Revenue was the major source of income for Sultans. The economic and finance revenue for the administration of Delhi sultanate has been listed here. The taxes collected by Sultans are as mentioned below-

  1. Ushr: Land tax collected from Muslim peasants. It was 10% of the total produce on land watered by natural resources and 5% of irrigated land.
  2. Kharaj: ½ or 1/3 of total produce collected from non-Muslim peasants as land tax.
  3. Khams: 1/5 of the booty captured in war and 1/5 of mines or buried treasure found.
  4. Jizya: Religious tax is taken from non-Muslims for living in the Muslim kingdom.
  5. Zakat: Religious tax imposed on rich Muslims.

Under the administration of Delhi Sultanate, the lands were stratified into three classes which are named Iqta land [allocated to officials iqtas were drawn from them instead of payment], khalisa land [under the governance of the Sultan] and inam land [ allocated to the religious organizations]. Check here the other economic administration during the administration of Delhi Sultanate.

  • Farmers were mandated to provide 1/3rd of their produce. Some of the rulers such as Muhammad Bin Tughlaq uplifted the irrigation facilities led to the improvement and upgradation of agricultural practices. They also facilitated the farmers with loans.
  • Cities and towns were established that would lead the way to urbanization. The major cities that were created under the administration of Delhi Sultanate are Delhi, Jaunpur, Daulatabad, Kara, Lakhnauti, Multan, Lahore, Anhilwara, Broach, Cambay.
  • The silk and cotton textile industry also thrived during the administration of Delhi Sultanate. It also witnessed a rise in the paper industry. The development of silk and the business of sericulture was instituted that assisted India in becoming self-reliant.
  • Roadways were established for effective and efficient commutation.
  • Numerous types of coinage were used during the administration of Delhi Sultanate.
  • Numerous techniques were used during that time such as armor, spinning wheel etc.

Social System of Delhi Sultanate

The social structure did not witness any major alterations under the administration of Delhi Sultanate. The Hindus were stratified into different classes, and Brahmans were considered to be the superiors. The purdah system for women was quite prevalent. It was considered to be a symbol of the upper class.

The Muslims were stratified into ethnic and racial classes, such as the Afghans, Iranians, Turks, and Indian Muslims. Marriage did not take place between these differentiated classes. The people paying land revenues which were renowned as jaziya to the Muslims were considered to be safeguarded. Initially, Brahmins were not mandated to pay jaziyas but later it was made a different tax and Brahmins also had to pay jaziya.

Administration of Delhi Sultanate- Art And Architecture

The amalgamation of Islamic and Indian art thrived during the administration of Delhi Sultanate. The structure of Domes, towers, minarets, and numerous other arts and architectures were instituted during Lodi, Khilji, and Mamluk periods. The architecture that gained prominence in the time period of Sultans were Delhi or Imperial style, the Provincial style, and the Hindu architectural style. The examples of the splendid architecture established by the Sultans are as listed here-

  • Qutub Minar- It was established by Qutub-ud-din-Aibak. Iltutmish is renowned for completing the construction of the Qutub Minar to commemorate the memory of Qutub-ud-din Bakhtiyar Kaki. Alauddin Khilji is renowned to have built the entrance of the Qutub Minar [Alai Darwaza].
  • Tomb of Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq
  • Jahanpanah
  • Lodi Gardens
  • Siri
  • Hauz Khas
  • Qutub-Ul-Islam Mosque
  • Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia

Literature of Delhi Sultanate

Numerous poetries and works were instituted during the reign of Sultans. Under the administration of Delhi Sultanate, literature was regarded highly and held essentiality. The Sultans wanted to promote Persian literature. History writing also gained prominence during that time period. The table illustrates the authors and their works, walk through the table to gain insights into the literature during the Delhi Sultanate.

Authors Works
Minhaj-us-Siraj Tabaqat-i-nisari
Birani Tarikh-i-Firoz
Amir Khusrau Khazain-ul-Futuh, Tughlaqnama, Tarikh-i-Alai
Zia Nakshabi Translated Sanskrit stories into Persian Language
Kalhana Rajatarangani
Al-Beruni Kitab-ul-Hind
Chand Bardai Prithviraj Rasau
Nusrat Shah Translated Mahabharata to Bengali
Krittivasa Translated Ramayana to Bengali

Administration of Delhi Sultanate- Music

New ragas and musical instruments were established during this reign of Administration of Delhi Sultanate. It also led to a rise of the amalgamation of Indian and Iranian music leading to the birth of Qawwali. It was introduced by Amir Khusrau.

  • Amir Khusrau is accredited for the institution of Ghora and Sanam ragas and led to the creation of Sitar.
  • Firoz Shah Tughlaq is renowned and accredited for his invention of translating the famous classical work RangDarpan into Persian.
  • Raja Man Singh was also a great musician and is also renowned for composing numerous songs.
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