Nizam-ul-Mulk, Asaf Jah I
Mir Qamar-ud-din Khan Siddiqi Bayafandi (20 August 1671 – 1 June 1748) was a nobleman of Indian and Turkish descent and the founder of the Asaf Jahi dynasty. He established the Hyderabad state, and ruled it from 1724 to 1748. He is also known by his titles Chin Qilich Khan (awarded by emperor Aurangzeb in 1690–91), Nizam-ul-Mulk (awarded by Farrukhsiyar in 1713) and Asaf Jah (awarded by Muhammad Shah in 1725).
Nizam-ul-Mulk is a direct descendant of Abu Bakr, the first Rashidun caliph. Nizam-ul-Mulk's great-grandfather Alam Sheikh was a Sufi saint of Bukhara (in present-day Uzbekistan). His grandfather Kilich Khan hailed from Samarkand in present-day Uzbekistan. In 1654, Khan came to India for the first time while on his way to the Hajj (Islamic pilgrimage) during the reign of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. After completing the pilgrimage, he migrated to India and joined ertswhile Mughal prince Aurangzeb's army in Deccan in 1657. Khan fought in the Battle of Samugarh which ended with the defeat of Aurangzeb's brother Dara Shikoh. Besides being a commander in Aurangzeb's army, he also served as governor of Zafarabad (present-day Bidar). Khan's eldest son and Nizam-ul-Mulk's father was Feroze Jung. Jung migrated to India in 1669, and got employed in Aurangzeb's army.
Nizam-ul-Mulk was born on 11 August 1671 to Feroze Jung and his first wife Safia Khanum. He was named Qamaruddin Khan by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. There exists no record of his birthplace. However, Yousuf Hussain Khan opines that Nizam-ul-Mulk was born in Agra.
At the age of six, Nizam-ul-Mulk was awarded with a mansab. During his youth, he Nizam-ul-Mulk used to accompany his father to military expeditions. After distinguishing himself during an expedition with his father to Pune, Nizam-ul-Mulk received a rank of 400 zat and 100 horses in 1684. In 1688, he took part in the siege of Adoni fort under the leadership of his father. Aurangzeb increased his rank to 2,000 zat and 500 horses for his performance in the siege. Two years later, he was awarded with the title Chin Qilich Khan. The emperor also presented him a she-elephant. In 1693, the Marathas sieged the Panhala Fort. In response, Nizam-ul-Mulk fought and defeated the Marathas at Karad. 30 Marathas were taken as prisoners.
In 1698, Aurangzeb sent Nizam-ul-Mulk to put down a revolt at Nagori, near Bijapur. The emperor was satisfied with his expedition and subsequently sent him to Kotha to restore order. Following his success, he was raised to a rank of 3,000 zat and 500 horses. In 1699 Aurangzeb promoted him to 3,500 zat and 3,000 horses. Nizam-ul-Mulk successfully sieged the fort of Panhala which was occupied by the Marathas. He closed all the roads as a result of which no supply could reach the inhabitants. The fort fell to his forces on 9 June 1700. Satisfied with his services, Aurangzeb made him the faujdar (garrison commander) of Bijapur and increased his rank by 400 horses. Nizam-ul-Mulk became the subahdar (governor) of Bijapur in 1702 and was awarded with a steed. In the same year, he was also given the faujdari of Azamnagar and Belgaum. In 1704, he became the faujdar of Nusratabad and Mudgal.
In 1705, Nizam-ul-Mulk accompanied Aurangzeb in the siege of Wakinkhera. Nizam-ul-Mulk led an assault in the hillock of Lal Tikri. He attacked the Marathas who were attempting to provide supplies to the besieged inhabitants. The Marathas were ultimately defeated. Nizam-ul-Mulk was raised to a rank of 5,000 zat and 5,000 horses for his performance in the siege. He was also awarded with a jewelled sabre and an elephant.
After Aurangzeb's death he was appointed Governor of Oudh. After Bahadur Shah's (Muazzam Shah i Alam Bahadur Shah the 1st) death he opted for a private life in Delhi. His sabbatical was cut short when in 1712 the sixth of Aurangzeb's successors, Farrukhsiyar son of Azim-ush-Shan convinced him to take up the post of Viceroy of the Deccan with the title of Nizam ul-Mulk (Regulator of the Realm) Fateh Jung.
His enemies accuse Nizam ul-Mulk of building his own power-base independently of the Mughals in Delhi, while continuing to give obeisance to the throne and even remitting money to the centre. He was then called upon by Farrukhsiyar to help fight off the Sayyid Brothers. Farrukhsiyar lost his strife against the Saadaat i Baarha Sayyid Brothers and was killed.
But all did not work as planned. Nizam ul-Mulk's attempts to reform the corrupt Mughal administration with its cliques of concubines and eunuchs created many enemies. According to his biographer, Yusuf Husain, he grew to hate the "harlots and jesters" who were the Emperor's constant companions and greeted all great nobles of the realm with lewd gestures and offensive epithets. Nizam ul-Mulk's desire to restore the etiquette of the Court and the discipline of the State to the standard of Shah Jahan's time earned him few friends. The courtiers poisoned the mind of the Emperor against him.
In 1724 Nizam ul-Mulk resigned his post in disgust and set off for the Deccan to resume the Vice-royalty, only to find Mubariz Khan, who had been appointed governor by Emperor Farrukhsiyar nine years earlier, refusing to vacate the post.
Mubariz Khan had successfully restored law and order in the Deccan but he was also loyal to the Mughal throne making only token payments and dividing plum administrative posts among his sons, his uncle and his favourite slave eunuchs. Unimpressed by the up-start occupying what he considered to be his rightful place, Nizam ul-Mulk gathered his forces at Shakarkhelda in Berar for a showdown with Mubariz Khan's army known as Battle of Shakar Kheda. The encounter was short but decisive. Wrapped in his bloodsoaked shawl, Mubariz Khan drove his war elephant out of the battle until he died from his wounds. His severed head was then sent to Delhi as proof of Nizam ul-Mulk's determination to annihilate anyone who stood in his way.
Now came from the Emperor an elephant, jewels and the title of Asaf Jah, with directions to settle the country, repress the turbulent, punish the rebels and cherish the people. Asaf Jah, or the one equal to Asaf, the Grand Vizier in the court of King Solomon, was the highest title that could be awarded to a subject of the Mughal Empire. There were no lavish ceremonies to mark the establishment of the Asaf Jahi dynasty in 1724. The inauguration of the first Nizam took place behind closed doors in a private ceremony attended by the new ruler's closest advisors. Nizam ul-Mulk never formally declared his independence and insisted that his rule was entirely based on the trust reposed in him by the Mughal Emperor.
As the Viceroy of the Deccan, the Nizam was the head of the executive and judicial departments and the source of all civil and military authority of the Mughal empire in the Deccan. All officials were appointed by him directly or in his name. Later, assisted by a Diwan the Nizam drafted his own laws, raised his own armies, flew his own flag and formed his own government.
Acknowledging Muhammad Shah's farman, Nizam ul-mulk had good reason to be grateful. Alongside his own personal wealth came the spoils of war and status, he was also entitled to the lion's share of gold unearthed in his dominions, the finest diamonds and gems from Golconda mines and the income from his vast personal estates.
He then divided his newly acquired kingdom into three parts. One third became his own private estate known as the Sarf-i-Khas, one third was allotted for the expenses of the government and was known as the Diwans territory, and the remainder was distributed to Muslim nobles (Jagirdar, Zamindars, Deshmukh), who in return paid nazars (gifts) to the Nizam for the privilege of collecting revenue from the villages under their suzerainty. The most important of these were the Paigah estates. The Paigah's doubled up as generals, making it easy to raise an army should the Nizams Dominions come under attack. They were the equivalent to the Barmakids for the Abbasid Caliphate. Only second to the Nizams family, they were very important in the running of the government and even today their legacy lingers on with ruined palaces and tombs dotted around the once very feudal city of Hyderabad. On the sanads (scrolls) granting them their lands, inscribed in Persian were the words "as long as the Sun and the Moon are in rotation". The owners of the estates were mostly absentee landlords who cared little for the condition of the lands under their control. Jagirs were usually split into numerous pieces in order to prevent the most powerful of the nobles from entertaining any thought of carving out an empire for themselves. The system, which continued relatively unchanged until 1950, ensured a steady source of income for the state treasury and the Nizam himself.
In 1725, the Marathas clashed with the Nizam, who refused to pay Chauth and Sardeshmukhi to the Marathas. The war began in August 1727 and ended in March 1728. Nizam was defeated at Battle of Palkhed near Nashik by Bajirao I, the son of Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath Bhatt.
Nizam ul-Mulk sent his troops to Karnal, where Mughal Emperor Muhammed Shah's forces had gathered to turn back the Persian army. But the combined forces were cannon fodder for the Persian cavalry and its superior weaponry and tactics. Nader Shah defeated the combined armies of Muhammed Shah and Nizam.
Nader Shah entered Delhi and stationed his troops there. Some locals of Delhi had a quarrel and attacked his soldiers. At this, Nader Shah flew into a rage, drew out his sword from the scabbard and ordered the City to be looted and ransacked. Muhammad Shah was unable to prevent Delhi from being destroyed.
When Nader Shah ordered the massacre in Delhi, neither the helpless Mughal Emperor Muhammed Shah nor any of his Ministers had the courage to speak to Nader Shah and negotiate for truce.
Only Asif Jah came forward and risked his life for by going to Nader Shah and asking him to end the bloodbath of the city. Legend has it that Asif Jah said to Nader Shah
"You have taken the lifes of thousands of people of the city, if you still wish to continue the bloodshed, then bring those dead back to life and then kill them again, for there are none left to be killed."
These words had a tremendous impact on Nader Shah – he immediately put his sword inside its scabbard, ended the massacre and returned to Persia.
The Nizam was well suited to rule his own territory. The administration was under control.
In March 1742, the British who were based in Fort St George in Madras sent a modest hamper to Nizam ul-mulk in recognition of his leadership of the most important of the Mughal successor states. Its contents included a gold throne, gold and silver threaded silk from Europe, two pairs of large painted looking glasses, and equipage for coffee cups, 163.75 yards of green and 73.5 yards of crimson velvet, brocades, Persian carpets, a gold ceremonial cloth, two Arab horses, half a dozen ornate rose-water bottles and 39.75 chests of rose water – enough to keep the Nizam and his entire darbar fragrant for the rest of his reign. In return, the Nizam sent one horse, a piece of jewelry and a note warning the British that they had no right to mint their own currency, to which they complied.
It was after Nizam ul-mulk's death that his son and grandson sought help from the British and French in order to win the throne. Just days before he died in 1748, Asaf Jah dictated his last will and testament. The 17 clause document was a blueprint for governance and personal conduct that ranged from advice on how to keep the troops happy and well fed to an apology for neglecting his wife. He then reminded his successors to remain subservient to the Mughal Emperor who had granted them their office and rank. He warned against declaring war unnecessarily, but if forced to do so to seek the help of elders and saints and follow the sayings and practices of the Prophet. Finally, he insisted to his sons that "you must not lend your ears to tittle-tattle of the backbiters and slanderers, nor suffer the riff-raff to approach your presence."
Nizam-ul-Mulk is remembered as laying the foundation for what would become one of the most important Muslim states outside the Middle East by the first half of the twentieth century. Hyderabad state survived right through the period of British rule up to the time of Indian independence 1947, and was indeed the largest – the state covered an extensive 95,337 sq. miles, an area larger than Mysore or Gwalior and the size of Nepal and Kashmir put together (although it was the size of France when the first Nizam held reign) – and one of the most prosperous, among the princely states of the British Raj. The titles of "Nizam Ul Mulk" and "Asaf Jah" that were bestowed on him by the Mughal Emperors, carried his legacy as his descendants ruled under the title of " Nizam of Hyderabad" and the dynasty itself came to be known as the Asaf Jahi Dynasty.