Delhi Sultanate: Socio Economic setup

During the Delhi Sultanate, the society was in transition phase. Based on the religion, people were broadly categorised into Hindus and Muslims.

The Sultanate of Delhi faced a flux in socio economic structure. 

Economic condition during Delhi Sultanate

Trade increased immensely during the Delhi Sultanate. Currency system existed, which was based on the silver tanka. Roads were developed, connecting Delhi, Lahore, and Sonargaon in Bengal. Communication system also emerged, where a relay system of post was created, with horse riders to carry the post. Delhi, Lahore, Multan, and Lakhnauti were centers of new industries, such as metal work, paper making, and textile. Textile trading was done with China and west Asia, where horses, ivory, and spices were imported in place of textiles. The trade was dominated by the Arabs, but the Tamils, the Kalingas, and Gujaratis also participated in trade.

Most people were labourers, who lived at a sustenance level. Some landowners were prosperous, that included both Hindus as well as Muslims. The Sultan and his nobles lived a lavish life, by owning a palace. The artisans and shopkeepers were included in the middle classes. Slavery was present during that period.

The main source of income of the state was land revenue termed as Kharaj. This denoted all taxes including Jaziyah raised from the non-Muslims. AlauddinKhilji raised the land tax from the earlier one-sixth and one-half of the gross produce. This was a type of capitation tax levied upon every Hindu. Zakat is the name of the tax raised from rich Muslims for helping the poor Muslims, Khams or Ghaninah.

Social condition during Delhi Sultanate

During the Delhi Sultanate, the society was in transition phase. Based on the religion, people were broadly categorised into Hindus and Muslims. Muslims were again divided into two categories: nobility and the chiefs. The nobles were divided into three classes: the Khans, the Maliks and the Amirs. The chief included the emergent Zamindars and other administrative cadre.

Most of the nobles were Turkish and Persian Muslims, but even Indian Muslims also emerged. Still foreign Muslims were given preference, and when a noble lost his power, it goes to his descendants. The nobles called Ashraf were the respected segment who enjoyed the prime position on the social structure. This established the social stratification among Muslims.

Nobles lived a luxurious and lavish life because of their position and monetary condition. Warrior noble’s gradually transformed into patrons of culture. During those days, political relationship between the Turkish rulers and the Hindu Rajputs became common.

Qazis and Mujiis were the judicial functionaries that helped the nobles. Mehtasib used to supervise the behavioural pattern of Muslims in following shariath. All these were paid posts. There were number of clerks and petty officials, and also slave population.

There was no distinguished change in the society structure of the Hindus. During Delhi Sultanate, the Purdah system became widespread. In the upper classes, the women were hidden, but in the lower classes enjoyed more freedom. At that time, customs like sati and the ban on widow remarriage were established. Only one favourable thing was that widows were allowed to inherit their husbands’ property.

Muslim society was divided into ethnic and racial group, with great economic inequality. There were hardly any marital contacts amongst the Turks, Iranians, Afghans and Indian Muslims. Hindu converts to Islam were given a lower rank and less preference.

The Hindus were holding the entire local system of administration. Both Hindu and Muslim communities were overlapping with each other. Still there were differences in social and cultural ideas and beliefs. This created an atmosphere of tension and led to decreased mutual understanding and cultural adjustments.

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