Administration in Delhi Sultanate

Administration during the Delhi Sultanate was based on the laws of the Shariat or the laws of Islam. Political, legal and military authority was vested in the Sultan. Thus military strength was the main factor in succession of throne. Administrative units were, Iqta, Shiq, Paraganaa and Gram.
Created On: Sep 3, 2015 15:50 IST
Modified On: May 24, 2016 17:22 IST

Administration during the Delhi Sultanate was completely dependent on Muslim laws which were the laws of the Shariat or the laws of Islam. The Sultans and the nobles primary duty was to observe the laws of Shariat or Islamic laws in the matters of the state. This period rightfully stated that the Administration of Delhi Sultanate was largely influenced by their religion.

Central Administration of Delhi Sultanate

The given figure demonstrates the central administration of Delhi Sultanate.


The Central administration of the Delhi Sultanate followed a very systematic and well planned administration procedure which was run by different ministers who had specific work assigned to them. Besides, there were also several other departments and the Sultan appointed their officers to carry on specific duties.

1. The SULTAN - was the head of the state and enjoyed unlimited powers in every sphere of state activity.
2. The NAIB - also enjoyed equivalent position as that of the Sultan.
3. The WAZIR - was the Prime Minister of the state and headed the financial department.
4. Diwan –I- Ariz – He was the head of the department of diwani-i-arz and in that capacity was the controller-general of the military department.
5. Diwan –I- Risalt - was the minister of foreign affairs he was in command of state tie ups with neighboring kingdoms and also was assigned the task of alliancing with powerful rulers.
6. Sadr –Ur -Sadar - was the head of the religious department. His work was to the safeguard the Islamic Laws and its upkeep.
7. Amir –I-Mazls -Shahi - he was the minister who looked after the festivals of the state, and made sure of all the public conveniences and arrangements during festive seasons.
8. Diwan-I-Insha- was the minister who looked after the local correspondence of and different offices.

Administration During Delhi Sultanate

The Delhi Sultanate was further divided into smaller provinces for it was convenient for the ministers to help them in the administration. They were called IQTAS.

Iqta System

• The Iqtadari was a unique type of land distribution and administrative system evolved during the sultanate of Iltutmish.
• Under this system, the entire empire was very evenly divided into several large and small tracts of land, called the Iqtas.
• These plots of land were assigned to the various nobles, officers and soldiers for the purpose of easy and flawless administration and revenue collection.
• The Iqtas were transferable, i.e., the holders of Iqtas-Iqtadars-were transferred from one region to other every three to four years.
• The holders of small Iqtas were individual troopers. They had no administrative responsibilities.
• Muhammad of Ghur in 1206 A.D. the able king was the first to introduce the Iqta system in India, but it was lltutrnish who gave it an institutional form. The Iqtadari system witnessed numerous changes during the Sultanate period. Initially, Iqta was a revenue-yielding piece of land which was assigned in lieu of salary. However, during Firuz Shah Tughlaq's reign,in the year  1351 A,D, it became hereditary.

Local Administration

• Local administration was vague and undefined and basically traditional system.
• The provinces in this period were divided into 6 parts headed by shiqda
• The main functions to maintain law and order and protect people against oppression of zamindars and had to perform military obligation.
• The Shiqs were further divided into parganas and had different officials some of which were-

1. Amil- officers who collected land revenue and other taxes
2. Mushrif
3. Hazamdars- treasurers who kept the finances in control.
4. Qazi-Civil officials, who maintained developmental records.
5. Shiqdar-Criminal official and law makers.
6. Kotwal-Police head under shiqdar.
7. Faujdar-Military official in charge of fort along with their adjoining territories.
8. Amin- Officers in charge of measuring land and allocating their usage’.
9. Qanungo-Maintained previous records of produce and assessment.
10. Patwari-Village record keeper

Hence we can decipher that the establishment and expansion of the Delhi Sultanate led to the evolution of a powerful and efficient administrative system. At its zenith the authority of Delhi Sultans had extended as far south as Madurai. They are evn today remembered for their very systematic administrative capabilities. Although the Delhi Sultanate had disintegrated, their administrative system made a powerful impact on the Indian provincial kingdoms and later on the Mughal system of administration.

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