Mystery of Muhammad Bin Tughlaq's Son

When Muhammad Bin Tughlaq passed away on March 20th, 1351, the royal camp fell into complete chaos and disorder.  It was ravaged by rebels from Sind and Mongol mercenaries, who had been hired by the Sultan to fight against Taghi.

Muhammad's cousin Firoz was present in the camp during this tumultuous time. Recognizing the need for a leader, the chief nobles gathered in council and unanimously chose Firoz Shah (r: 1351-1388) as their Sultan. Some accounts even suggest that Muhammad himself had nominated Firoz for the throne.

Taking charge of the situation, Firoz Shah dispatched an army to confront and defeat the Mongols, successfully driving them away from the camp.

Rebellion of Khwaja Jahan:


Khwaja Jahan Malik Ahmad Ayaz was a prominent figure in the court of Muhammad Bin Tughlaq, serving as his trusted wazir. However, his name became entangled in a scandal when Ibn Battuta accused him of masterminding the destruction of a recently erected structure, resulting in the unfortunate demise of Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq in 1325. Khwaja Jahan was the son of Muhammad Ayaz, who held the position of kotwal of Siri during the reign of Ala-ud-din Khilji.

According to Muhammad Zaki, the translator of Tarikh-i-Muhammadi, Khwaja Jahan's original name was Har Dev. His father had a connection to Raja Ramadeva of Devagiri, and he migrated to Delhi after the conquest of Devagiri by Ala-ud-din. Afterwards, he embraced Islam.

Muhammad Bin Tughlaq had left the Khwaja to act as regent in Delhi, an elderly man of over eighty years. It was widely believed that upon hearing of Firoz Shah's accession to the throne, Khwaja Jahan rebelled and installed Muhammad's son, under the title of Ghiyas-ud-din Mahmud Shah, as the ruler of Delhi. Khwaja Jahan himself took charge of the kingdom's affairs and managed to gain the support of the amirs and maliks of Delhi, who pledged their allegiance to the young ruler.

Shamsi-Siraj Afif, the historian of Firoz Shah, provides evidence that exonerates Khwaja Jahan. A slave of Khwaja Jahan gave him news of Sultan Muhammad's death and the plunder of the camp by the Mongols. The slave also mentioned that Tatar Khan and Firoz Shah were missing, leaving uncertainty about whether they had been captured or killed by the Mongols. Khwaja Jahan and Firoz Shah shared a deep bond. The Khwaja had addressed Firoz as his son. Trusting the account of the slave to be true, Khwaja Jahan made a hasty decision and placed a child, claiming to be Sultan Muhammad's son, on the throne. However, when Khwaja Jahan discovered that Firoz Shah was alive and had assumed the throne, he became acutely aware of his grave mistake.

Afif highlights that in matters of sovereignty, none accepts his mistake until a peaceful resolution is reached between the parties involved. Hence Khwaja Jahan gathered a strong army and prepared for war. He generously rewarded his followers with wealth. Yahya bin Sirhindi adds that due to Khwaja Jahan's impulsive actions without proper consideration, he felt compelled to persist in his course of action.

Numismatic evidence suggests that Khwaja Jahan minted a significant number of gold coins in the name of Ghiyas-ud-din Mahmud, the pretender.

Firoz Shah came to know that Khwaja Jahan had declared a stranger to be the son of Sultan Muhammad. While on his way to Delhi, Firoz Shah met messengers from the Khwaja who informed him that the empire was still in the possession of Sultan Muhammad. They presented Firoz Shah with two options: either accept the position of deputy, or choose some provinces in Hindustan.

The amirs and maliks who were with Firoz Shah unanimously declared that Sultan Muhammad had no son, only a daughter. They were puzzled as to where Khwaja Jahan had found this supposed son. Maulana Kamal-ud-din stated that whoever had assumed the responsibilities of the empire from the very beginning held the highest claim and was the rightful sovereign.

Firoz Shah proposed a condition to Khwaja Jahan: if he surrendered, he would be pardoned. As news of Firoz Shah's approach to Delhi spread, many of Khwaja Jahan's followers, including Qiwam-ul-mulk, deserted him and joined Firoz Shah.

Finally, in a state of great distress and anxiety, Khwaja Jahan made the decision to submit to Firoz Shah. He always held onto the hope that Firoz would forgive him on the basis of their earlier relationship. According to Afif, Khwaja appeared before Firoz as a criminal, wearing an iron chain around his neck, a skull cap on his head, and a sword fastened to his throat.

With the submission of Khwaja Jahan, Delhi fell under the possession of Firoz Shah. Afif writes that Firoz Shah was determined to forgive Khawaja Jahan and wanted to reinstate him as wazir. However, the courtiers disagreed, arguing that rebellion against authority is a serious crime that must be punished. They believed that it was not desirable to condone the misdeeds of someone like Khwaja Jahan, who had raised a child to the throne and distributed vast amounts of wealth among the people. When the treasury ran dry, he even distributed diamonds and precious pearls. It was only when Khwaja Jahan realized that the people were in favor of the Sultan that he decided to act in a submissive manner.

Firoz Shah left the decision regarding Khwaja Jahan to the charge of the amirs, allowing them to do as they pleased. The amirs informed Khwaja, on behalf of the Sultan, that due to his old age, he had been assigned the province of Samana. They also sent one of the most senior officers, Sher Khan, in the same direction. Khwaja Jahan sensed Sher Khan's intentions. He performed the ablutions and asked Sher Khan to do the same. Khwaja Jahan kept on reciting the kalima when he was beheaded.

Contrary to Afif's account, other contemporary and later historians state that Firoz Shah handed over Khwaja Jahan to the kotwal of Hansi. The boy he proclaimed as the royal heir was banished to Bathinda.

Did Muhammad Tughlaq have a Son?


According to Ferishta, the only historian who supports this claim, the young individual established in Delhi was indeed a son of Muhammad Bin Tughlaq. However, during that time, it was considered wise by the nobles to not acknowledge him. The child was described by Badauni, as "an obscure child"; Nizamuddin Ahmad, as "a boy of unknown birth"; Muhammad Bihamid Khani, as "someone" and Yahya, as "a youth of obscure origin".

The anonymous author of Sirat-i-Firuz Shahi does not mention any child, but instead notes that Ahmad Ayaz threw open the door of insurrection in Delhi.

Ziauddin Barani recounts an intriguing conversation where Muhammad confided in him regarding the dire state of his kingdom. Muhammad expressed his frustration, stating that his kingdom was plagued by various diseases that seemed incurable. He lamented, "Various maladies have beset my domain simultaneously. As soon as one problem seemed resolved, new disturbances would arise elsewhere." He wondered what the kings of the past had done to address such ailments.

In response, Barani shared that some sultans, upon realizing that the people had lost faith in them and harbored resentment, chose to abdicate their throne and pass it on to a deserving son during their lifetime. Others, however, chose to indulge in hunting, music and wine, leaving the affairs of the state in the hands of their trusted wazirs, high-ranking officials, and loyal supporters.

Reflecting on these suggestions, Muhammad revealed his own desires. If he had the opportunity to shape the kingdom according to his wishes, he would have journeyed to the sacred Kaba and entrusted the affairs of the empire to three individuals: Firoz Shah, Malik Kabir (who had unfortunately passed away before Muhammad Bin Tughlaq), and Khwaja Jahan Ahmad Ayaz.

Muhammad Bin Tughlaq had no sons which is further proved by the following two facts:

Soon after the death of Muhammad Bin Tughlaq, his sister Khudawandzada laid claims for her son Dawar Malik, as her brother had no male heirs.

The Bahmani historian, Isami, states thus: "Verily a king who has had no issue desires to make the world barren like himself."