Concepts of justice and the catalogue of punishments under the Sultans of Delhi (7th–8th/13th–14th centuries)

Blain Auer

in Public Violence in Islamic Societies

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780748637317
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653164 | DOI:
Concepts of justice and the catalogue of punishments under the Sultans of Delhi (7th–8th/13th–14th centuries)

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This chapter discusses the boundaries between religious and political legitimacy during the 7th–8th/13th–14th centuries in Northern India. In an age that saw the Delhi Sultanate expand its rule to the entire Indian subcontinent, the sources for legitimacy were deeply contested in historical writings and were particularly acute in narratives highlighting the justice and punishment of kings. These historical narratives of the sultan demonstrate a structural problem in the legitimacy of the Delhi Sultanate. The question of who has the authority to issue the ultimate form of punishment, the death penalty and in what cases and for which crimes reveal the ambiguity and inherent tension in the structures of power. The accounts of punishment during these periods show that the boundaries of sultanic authority were determined by institutional and theoretical structures but also by the power of the office of sultan. Although the sharī'a was integral to judicial systems necessary for the proper functioning of the Sultanate, it stood in relation to the executive authority of the sultan, who, within loose limit was able to enact laws outside of the sharī 'a, but legitimated on thedavabīt and models of pre-Islamic Persian kings. Among the topics discussed in this chapter are the concepts of punishments (siyāsa) and the outbreak of resistance to the rule of Sultan Muhammad b. Tughluq.

Keywords: religious legitimacy; political legitimacy; Northern India; Delhi Sultanate; punishment; sharī'a; davabīt; siyāsa

Chapter.  7858 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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