Muiz al-Din Qaiqabad, Last King of the Slave Dynasty

Muiz-ud-din Qaiqabad (r: 1286-1290) was the tenth ruler of the early Turkish empire of Delhi, commonly known as the Slave dynasty. He was the grandson of Balban, who himself was a son-in-law of Iltutmish. Qaiqabad's mother was the daughter of Nasir-ud-din Mahmud, who was the son of Iltutmish. Both of Qaiqabad's grandfathers were kings.

Balban's eldest son, Muhammad the Martyr prince (Khan-i shahid), had passed away during Balban's reign, and Bughra Khan, his second son and the governor of Lakhnauti, desired to retain control of the kingdom of Bengal. Consequently, Balban declared his eldest grandson and Muhammad's son, Kaikhusrau, as his successor.

However, Malik Fukhr-ud-din, the kotwal of Delhi and his adhererents who had been hostile towards the Martyr prince, sent Kaikhusrau to Multan under a false pretext. They summoned the chiefs and claimed that Kaikhusrau was unfit to rule due to his violent disposition. It was deemed most prudent to place the reins of government in the hands of Bughra Khan's son, Qaiqabad, who was present in Delhi at the time. Thus, Qaiqabad was crowned with the title of Muiz al-Din.

Qaiqabad was eighteen years old when he ascended the throne. He had been brought up and educated under the strict supervision of his grandfather Balban. His tutors had never allowed him to indulge in any pleasures, such as the company of beautiful girls or wine.

When Qaiqabad was suddenly freed from all restrictions, he immediately immersed himself in amusements and pleasures. Qaiqabad built a splendid palace at Kilokhari, on the banks of the Yamuna River, and made it his capital. Thereafter, he devoted his time to the company of women, singers, musicians, and jesters.

Malik Jhaju, the nephew of Balban, was appointed as the governor of Samana. Nizam-ud-din, the nephew and son-in-law of Fukhr-ud-din kotwal, was made the chief magistrate. The cunning and deceitful Nizam-ud-din quickly ingratiated himself with the Sultan and practically ruled the kingdom. Observing the Sultan's indulgence in luxury and enjoyment, Nizam-ud-din began plotting to seize the throne.

Murder of Kaikhusrau:

Kaikhusrau had gone to Ghazni in an attempt to win over the Mongols to his cause and regain the throne of Delhi. However, Kaikhusrau's scheme failed, and he was forced to return from Ghazni in great disappointment.

Nizam-ud-din's first move was to eliminate Kaikhusrau. He poisoned Qaiqabad's mind, stating that Kaikhusrau possessed many princely qualities and that the nobles regarded him as the rightful heir to Sultan Balban. Nizam-ud-din convinced Qaiqabad that the nobles would eventually set him aside and place Kaikhusrau on the throne.

Eventually, Nizam-ud-din obtained an order for Kaikhusrau's murder. Qaiqabad issued a command to summon the prince from Multan, and Nizam-ud-din dispatched his emissaries, who mercilessly assassinated the prince at Rohtak. With Kaikhusrau out of the way, Nizam-ud-din turned his attention to eliminating the chief nobles who were loyal to the late Sultan Balban.

Mongol Invasion:

Meanwhile, the Mongols, led by Tamar, invaded Lahore. Qaiqabad sent Khan Jahan Shahik Barbak with an army to confront them. The Mongols were forced to retreat, after a great slaughter, and a large number of them were taken prisoner.

Qaiqabad had enlisted a large number of Mongols who had converted to Islam in his service as soldiers of fortune. Nizam-ud-din, however, convinced the Sultan to issue a mandate to eliminate these Mongols. He argued that their presence in the capital posed a constant threat to the safety of the kingdom, for they were rich and powerful and had sympathies with their kinsmen, and might some day rise in revolt.

Consequently, a horrifying wave of violence ensued, resulting in the brutal murder of thousands of innocent individuals, including women and children. Many others were forced into exile, while their homes were destroyed or confiscated. Even those who had the slightest connection to them were imprisoned and banished to remote locations far from Delhi.

Thus, Qaiqabad became nothing more than a puppet in the hands of Nizam-ud-din. Whenever any of his well-wishers hinted at Nizam-ud-din's scheming ways, the Sultan would immediately summon Nizam-ud-din and repeated to him, "someone has spoken ill of you," and would seize that person and hand them over to him.

The Meeting of the Father and Son:

After the death of Balban, Bughra Khan asserted his independence and proclaimed himself the Sultan of Bengal with the title of Nasir-ud-din. On learning of the ruinous condition of Delhi, Bughra Khan decided to march towards the city. Upon hearing this news, Qaiqabad gathered his forces and advanced to Oudh to confront him. The two armies set up camps on opposite sides of the Sarayu River, also known as Ghaghra.

The historic meeting of Bughra Khan and Qaiqabad on the banks of the Sarayu River is vividly described in Amir Khusru's Qiran-us-Sadain (Conjunction of two Auspicious Stars).

Afterwards, several meetings took place between the father and son. At the time of bidding farewell, during their final tender meeting, Bughra Khan gave his son various pieces of advice concerning the reformation of his conduct and state policy. He specifically requested his son to dismiss Nizam-ud-din as soon as possible. Subsequently, Bughra Khan returned to Bengal, while Qaiqabad went back to Delhi.

Murder of Nizam-ud-din:

After arriving in Delhi, Qaiqabad initially heeded his father's advice, but he often found himself drifting away from it. Furthermore, Nizam-ud-din, driven by his ambition to seize the throne, soon led him back to his pleasures. Consequently, Qaiqabad continued along this path of pleasure until his excessive drinking and debauchery took a toll on his health.

A few months after arriving in Delhi, he fell ill, prompting him to recall his father's counsel. He made plans to free himself from Nizam-ud-din's grip. He ordered Nizam-ud-din to take charge of the government of Multan. Sensing that his removal was influenced by the Sultan's father, Nizam-ud-din continuously made excuses to delay his departure. At last, some of the Sultan's loyal attendants, upon learning of his intentions, eliminated Nizam-ud-din by administering poison.

Arrival of Malik Firoz in Delhi:

Following the removal of Nizam-ud-din, the government of Qaiqabad was thrown into a state of paralysis. Despite his cunning nature, Nizam-ud-din was an able and shrewd administrator. Unfortunately, there was no one capable enough to fill his position.

It was at this critical moment that Qaiqabad summoned Malik Firoz Khilji from Samana and appointed him Aariz-ul-Mumalik (Commander-in-chief of the army) and governor of Baran with the title of Shaista Khan. Many chieftains joined Firoz's service and he quickly gained significant influence in the kingdom. Firoz's adept control over the situation was such that no decision could be made without his consent.

Meanwhile, Qaiqabad's health deteriorated significantly, leading to palsy and paralysis that confined him to his bed. He lost the use of one side of his body, and his mouth became distorted. There was no hope for his recovery.

Subsequently, the Khilji chief deposed Qaiqabad and installed his three-year-old son, Kaimurs, at the palace of Kilokhari, making himself the regent. Firoz's regency continued for approximately three months.

Death of Muiz-ud-din Qaiqabad:

Qaiqabad was lying sick in the palace at Kilokhari, who had only a little life left in his body. Suffering from thirst and hunger, the Sultan penned the following lines:

"The horse of my excellence is standing on the plain.
The hand of my generosity is under an anvil.
My eyes that never beheld less than gold mines and jewels
Come and see, how much is it perplexed today!

Meanwhile, a malik, whose father had been put to death by Qaiqabad, resolved to avenge his father's blood. The assassin entered Qaiqabad's chamber, wrapped his body in a bed sheet and kicked him speedily to death. Qaiqabad's lifeless body was thrown out of a window into the waters below.

This is the sad story of the last king of the early Turkish dynasty, founded by Muhammad Ghori's former slave Qutub-ud-din Aibak. Qaiqabad's rule lasted for three years and a few months.

After the death of Qaiqabad, Malik Firoz ascended the throne of Delhi, assuming the title of Jalal-ud-din, and established the Khilji dynasty, the second Turkish dynasty.

Qaiqabad's wife was the daughter of Malik Jhaju. He was the first king to employ the renowned poet Amir Khusro in his service.