Medieval Arab History

India owes a great debt to Sultan Alauddin Khilji

During Sultan Alauddin Khilji rule, the Mongols of the Chagatai Khanate invaded India. Khilji, by his military brilliance, managed to defeat.

In India, the recently released a Bollywood Movie “Padmaavat” has portrayed the Sultan Alauddin Khilji as a villain. Therefore, “Malaysia banned controversial Bollywood film ‘Padmaavat‘ from being screened in its theatres over the negative portrayal of Sultan Alauddin Khilji, “He is portrayed as a Sultan who is arrogant, cruel, inhumane, devious with all kinds of trickery, unreliable and who does not fully practice Islamic teachings,” the ministry said in a statement.” the Times of India reported.

The portrayal of the Sultan in this film is in the negative lens. In fact, he had defended the Indian Subcontinent from the invasion of Mongols – the cruelest force of that time. If the Mongols had entered the Indian Subcontinent, the Indian history and ethnicity would have been changed, Indian civilization would have been exterminated from the Indian Subcontinent. As Mongols’ behaviors, wherever they entered they exterminated civilizations – the women left behind were forced to physical relationships with Mongols, it means the shape of future generation in India would have a different look. Therefore, you have your culture, your history – because of Alauddin Khilji.

In India, nowadays he is blamed for merely defending his Delhi Sultanate, not India as a nation or its cultures. In fact, it was the age when the concept of national boundaries was nonexistent; the whole world was governed by the Kingdoms – the boundary governed by each kingdom was itself a state and every King or Sultan had to defend his boundary from the invaders and also at the same time every King or Sultan did love the land he governed. The Siasat newspaper reports that people who do not know about the Mongols may ask at this point: “so what’s the big deal? A Muslim ruler whose ancestors were foreign invaders defeats another foreign invader!”

The Mongols were not like any other invader. If Khilji had lost to the Mongols, it would not have been as benign as when Ibrahim Lodi lost to Babur. In that case, one Muslim ruler was replaced by another, but India itself did not suffer greatly. The Mongols did not just invade and conquer; they exterminated civilizations. They used to leave nothing in that place – no trace of the civilization that existed there. They would take away women as slaves and kill the men, except those with special skills that they did not have and could use; and they would leave a wasteland behind. [As Curtin describes, “The Mongols destroyed every living thing; even the cats and dogs in the city were killed by them.”] Therefore, if the Mongols had won against Khilji, they would have wiped Indian civilization off the map of the world. You would not be arguing today about who built a mosque on top of a temple – nothing would have remained to tell a tale. If we have a Hindu culture that survives in India, a large credit for that has to go to Alauddin Khilji, one of history’s greatest warriors and kings. He may have been the bane of Hindus when he ruled, but he saved India from the Mongols. And thus, in a strange way, he saved Hinduism.

According to the Times of India‘Khilji wasn’t a barbarian, stubborn ruler. He was a strategic administrator’ While Bhansali’s Khilji (Film Role) might remind you of Khal Drogo from Game Of Thrones – a barbaric ruler who wears furry overcoats and gets an ostrich when asked for just a feather – historians insist that’s how the ruler is described by popular culture, but that isn’t who Khilji was. He was a ruler who used to spend 16-18 hours discussing ways to expand his kingdom to bring economic stability and devise strategies to strengthen his army. Ajeet said, “If true history is shown in any movie, it will turn out to be a flop. I think we need to keep movies separate from history, so if Ranveer Singh looks like a Khilji who was a barbaric ruler, then that’s not surprising.” Archana added, “In movies, they show that the lives of the rulers were grand, but the reality is that most of their time was spent in fighting wars and working long hours.” quotes: “What the Mongol invaders inflicted on Persia, the Caliphate of Baghdad, Russia, and elsewhere is well documented – genocide, the destruction of infrastructure, and the destruction of native culture, literature, and religious institutions. Their habit of leaving conquered countries as wastelands that would not spring back for at least a hundred years, and their tendency to rule even the regions they settled in, such as Russia, in an exploitative and backward way, are well-known to historians and laypersons alike.”

“The Mongols did not just invade and conquer; they exterminated civilizations. To give just an idea, during Genghis’s invasion of the Persian Empire, these were the number of people put to death in some of the cities overcome by the Mongols in 1222 CE: Urgench, 1 million; Merv, 700,000; Nishapur, 1.7 million; Rey, 500,000 (an estimate based on the order that every male should be killed in a city of approximately a million people); and Herat, 1.6 million. That’s nearly 6 million people just from these cities, at a time when the world population is estimated at 400 million. In other words, the Mongols are said to have killed 1.5% of the world population in a single campaign.”

“When Hulagu Khan – known in the Indian subcontinent as ‘Halaku’ – sacked Baghdad in 1258, he is believed to have killed several hundred thousand people. His own estimate of the death toll was 200,000. He single-handedly ended what is known as the Islamic Golden Age. Ibn Iftikhar, quoting Islamic scholars, writes, “the Mongols stormed the country and killed everyone they were able to find, including men, women, children, old, young, sick, and healthy. People would try to hide inside wells, gardens, and they even fled towards the hills and mountains. However, the Mongols would continue on, finding even people on the rooftops of their homes and inside the mosques. The streets ran blood ‘like rainwater in a valley.’”

“He also reports, “The Mongols destroyed mosques, palaces, grand buildings, hospitals, and libraries. The Mongols raided the House of Wisdom itself. The Tigris river ran black from the ink of the books that were thrown into the river, mixed with the blood of the slain.” The destruction the Mongols wreaked on the Muslim world was so great – it came close to wiping out Islamic civilization – that most Muslims of the time viewed it as a form of divine retribution for the sins they had committed.” (Dr. Sheshadri Kumar,

Sultan Alauddin Khilji: Wikimedia

The Siasat says: “India owes a great debt to Alauddin Khilji. This is because, during his rule, the Mongols of the Chagatai Khanate invaded India. Khilji, by his military brilliance, managed to defeat the Mongols not once, but *five* times: in 1298 AD (led by Ulugh Khan, and inflicting 20,000 casualties on the Mongols), 1299 AD in Sindh (led by Zafar Khan), 1299 AD in Delhi (leading the army himself against the Mongols), 1305 AD (led by Malik Nayak, and inflicting 8000 casualties on the Mongols), and 1306 AD (led by Malik Kafur); and a “draw” in the sixth Mongol invasion of 1303 AD (again personally leading the army), where the Mongols were unable to defeat Khilji, but were able to sack Delhi. This was a military feat unprecedented in those days because the Mongols were an unstoppable force wherever else they went. No one in the rest of the world – whether the Russian Empire or the mighty Persian empire or the Baghdad Caliphate – could stand up to the dreaded Mongols. Khilji defeated them 5 times and had a draw in a 6th confrontation. The armies of the Delhi Sultanate under Khilji were some of the most disciplined and well-trained in the world, and that is why they could defeat the Mongols time and again.”

In short, India owes a great debt to Sultan Alauddin Khilji – there’s no doubt about his defense of the Indian subcontinent from Mongols. But today, the history is distorted by Hindutva influences in textbooks, the sultan is portrayed as a foreign invader in India, hence, cruel to Indians (particularly to non-Muslims) by people with a black & white worldview. That is, there’s the only way “we vs. them for interpreting the history, in other words, either you are an Indian Hindu or else you are an enemy. Therefore, he is projected in the negative lens.


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Arif Mohammad

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