Amina Assilmi

Razia Sultan –15 Centuries of Female Scholarship

In this series, Shaykha Tamara Gray narrates the stories of great Muslim women through the centuries, who excelled in fields of Islamic knowledge, science, and philanthropy. This segment features Razia Sultan from the 7th century.

Razia Sultan was the Sultan, or political leader of the Delhi Sultanate, appointed by her father at his deathbed as he saw her as the most capable leader of all his children.

When she ascended the throne, her first project was to  build diplomatic ties with the Abbasid Caliphate, which ruled over the Muslim lands. This was an extremely significant political step, as it legitimised the lands of the Delhi Sultanate as part of the wider Muslim Ummah. She also took great pains to ensure that the non-Muslim civilians under her rule were treated with dignity and honour.

She was a patron of the arts and education. She established various libraries and centres of learning to ensure that literature and knowledge, both religious and secular, were a firm part of the society. She was also deeply concerned for the infrastructure, and took care that roads and bridges were built to serve the people.

Razia Sultan dealt with her fair share of political challenge. There were many people who protested against her leadership, not only because she was a woman, but also because her family came from slave origin and were not from a noble tribe. When rebellions would happen, she would go out herself to fight against them, as she was a talented horsewoman.  Eventually, she and her husband were both ambushed and killed. Her brother, who took over after her death, was not capable of the role and was also removed, proving that their father was right when he said that Razia Sultan had been the only one worthy of the throne.


With gratitude to Shaykha Tamara Gray and Rabata.

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