A CALIPH OF ISLAM IN DELHI?
AL-MUSTANSAR, MAUTASIM AND SULTAN ILTUTMISH
Sultan Iltutmish became one of the most strong rulers of Muslim India. A son in law of Qutub-ud-din Aibeg (Flaming Star of Lahore). the rule of Iltutmish was phenomenal. And all sought the patronage of the Caliphs of Islam. Different versions are given by different writers, here particularly Minhaj al-Juzjani and Awfi. This is related to 1226, 1227 and 1228 AD. Here Mautasim is touted as the Caliph of Islam but we are told that Mautasim became Caliph in 1242 and his rule ended in 1258. The Caliph at that time was Al-Mustansar, the father of Maustasim.
Awfi tells us:
“One of the manifestations of the grandeur and elegance of Sultan Shams-ud-din Abul Muzaffar Iltutmish, is that costly gifts were sent to the exalted court of the Caliph in Baghdad. NONE OF THE PRECEDING KINGS HAD EVER DISPATCHED SO MANY AND COSTLY GIFTS TO THE CALIPH (AS HE DID). IN RETURN THE CALIPH SENT A STANDARD, RING, VEST, A SPECIAL TURBAN, SADDLED CAMELS, ARABIAN HORSES, AND ROBES OF HONOR FOR THE SULTAN, THE PRINCES, AND THE DIGNITARIES OF THE COURT. ALL THIS MAY BE CONSIDERED A PROUD PRIVILEGE.”
Historians tell us the importance of the arrival of the Caliph of Baghdad himself in Delhi. Magnificent arrangements were made, as a guard of honor was given to the visitors by the Army of Iltutmish. Royal arrangements were plenty, including the making of a special painting of Sultan Iltutmish in the main hall of the reception of the palace, based on the Chinese tradition of painting. Delhi rocked with honor and pleasure in receiving the Caliph of Islam. Various details are given at various places.
The Sultans of Delhi sought patronage of the Caliphs of Islam and volunteered obeisance to them all the time. Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi had received a title from the Caliph of Islam. But the might of the Caliphs were on the verge of decline. In 1258 AD, Halaku Khan wiped out Caliph Maustasim, as well as Baghdad from the face of the Earth. Earlier he had dealt this deadly blow to the might of the Ismaelis, by erasing the old man on the mountain and his assassins too. When change comes to passive people, the change is thorough and complete.
This remains one of the most interesting note in the region of Indo-Pakistan. There are other stories too, but in its entire depth, this story remains phenomenal to this day. And it deserves more research.