Malik Kafur – Allahuddn Khilji’s general

Malik Kafur was the slave cum general of Alahuddin Khilji. In 1298 when Alahuddin Khilji’s general Nustrat Khan attacked Gujarat, he looted the rich Surat city and took with him two prisoners to his master Alahuddin Khilji. Both these people were of great importance in Alahuddin Khilji’s life, one was Queen Kamal Devi, the third wife of Alahuddin Khilji. The second was Malik Kafur, his slave cum army general and close confidant of Khilji. Indeed Malik Kafur became so powerful that he was second in command of Khilji empire and in abscence of Alahuddin Khilji made all decisions on his behalf. Malik Kafur also is said to be Alahuddin Khilji’s lover but historians have no proof of this fact. But it cannot be denied that Malik Kafur was very close to Alahuddin Khilji and Khilji listened to his advice on every matter be it personal or state matters.

Malik Kafur was captured in the port city of Khambhat by Alahuddin’s general Nusrat Khan. Malik Kafur was a hindu and a slave of Khwaja of Khambat, a rich muslim trader. Nusrat Khan converted him to Islam and presented him to Alahuddin Khilji. Malik Kafur was said to be extremely intelligent and quick witted and rose the ranks of the Khilji court fast. Kafur became a chamberlain for Alahuddin Khilji and later Administrator of Khilji’s court and a army commander and finally a governor. He was second most powerful man in Khilji empire. Malik Kafur was called “hazar dinari” meaning his original master had brought him paying 1000 dinars. Kafur led many campaigns in South India against kingdoms like Yadavas(Andhra Pradesh), Hoysalas(Karnataka) and Pandyas(Tamil Nadu). He even defeated Mongols once in war in Punjab.

Malik Kafur was a highly very opportunist and ambitious person who could please his master and used every small opportunity to go up in the court and get into the eyes of Alahuddin Khilji. Abdul Malik Ismail a historian of 14th century wrote that Alahuddin Khilji liked Malik Kafur’s advice and counsel as it poved appropriate on seceral occasions. Ziauddin Bharani states that “In the last 4-5 years when Alahuddin Khilji was losing his memory and senses, in his love for Malik Kafur he had entrusted all government and palace controls to this useless, ungrateful, ingratitude and sodomite”. But Bharani need not be taken in figurative words as he used to hate Malik Kafur who was an Hindu slave who rose to power of position in Khilji Delhi court. Also Alahuddin Khilji had infuriated the rich muslims and hindu traders of India by bringing policies that impacted their business like minimum fair price for all goods etc.

Malik Kafur ensured that all powerful people in Khilji’s family and court would be imprisoned when Alahuddin Khilji was in his last days of life. The governor of Multan and Gujarath, Alp Khan who was brother of Alahuddin Khilji’s second wife Maharu, Maharu and Khizir Khan were accused of trying to kill Alahuddin Khilji. Alahuddijn Khilji ordered the imprisonment of Alp Khan, Khizir Khan and his brother Shadi Khan. But this conspiracy may have been a story planted by Malik Kafur to remove Alp Khan and Khizir Khan from his path of becoming a Sultan. He instead installed 6 year old Shihabuddin, the son of Jhatyapali the Hindu Yadava wife of Alahuddin Khilji. To secure his position he even married Jhatyapalli. He imprisoned Alahuddin Khilji’s first wife Malika-i-Jahan in Gwalior fort and ordered blinding of Khizir Khan and Shadi Khan. Alp Khan was murdered in Gujarath.

On February 1316, three former body gaurds of Alahuddin Khilji decided to kill Malik Kafur and entered his private chambers and killed him and made Mubarak Shah the regent of young Shihabuddin. The tomb of Malik Kafur existed in Delhi in 14-15th century but today its location is unknown.

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