Jamal ud-Din Yaqut (also Yakut) was an African Siddi slave-turned-nobleman who was a close confidante of Razia Sultana, the first and only female monarch of the Delhi Sultanate in India. Yakub was the puppet of Razia Sultan's stepmother but after sometime he became a trustworthy soldier of Delhi Sultanate. Razia Sultana's patronage made him an influential member of the court, provoking racial antagonism amongst the nobles and clergy, who were both primarily Turkic and already resentful of the rule of a female monarch.
Jamal ud-Din Yaqut lived during the time of the Sultan Iltutmish and then Razia Sultana, sometime from 1200 to 1240 CE, when he was slain in a revolt against Razia Sultana. Yaqut was a habshi - habshis were enslaved Africans of East African descent frequently employed by Muslim monarchs in India for their reputed physical prowess and loyalty and as such were an important part of the armies and administration of the Delhi Sultanate.
Yaqut rose in the ranks of the Delhi court, and found favour with the first female monarch of the Mamluk dynasty, Razia Sultana. Yaqut soon became a close advisor and was widely rumoured in the court and amongst the nobles to be the queen's lover. Contemporary historians were also conflicted in their assessment — many including Ibn Battuta record that their relationship was illicit and too intimate in public, but others assert that Yaqut was just a close advisor and friend. A particular incident that provoked the rumors was when Yaqut was observed sliding his arms under the queen's armpits to hoist her onto a horse, which was seen as a flagrant act of intimacy. This charge too was proven to be false later as historians argued that Razia always rode an elephant in public and not a horse. His power and influence grew through his close relationship with Razia Sultana, who appointed him to the important post of superintendent of the royal stables, giving a loyalist an important post and challenging the power of the Muslim nobles and orthodox leaders. She awarded him the honorific title Amir-al-Khayl (Amir of Horses) and later the much higher Amir al-Umara (Amir of Amirs), much to the consternation and outrage of the Turkish nobility. Already resented for being a woman ruler by the Muslim nobles and clerics, Razia's proximity to an Abyssinian slave (considered racially inferior to the Turkish nobles who ruled the Sultanate) alienated the nobility and clerics and soon provoked open rebellion and conspiracy. It is argued that the rumors spread by the nobles about her affair with Yaqut were false and was done so to bring about her downfall and to provoke her childhood sweetheart, Malik Ikhtiar-ud-din Altunia to lead the rebel against her.
A rebellion led by Malik Ikhtiar-ud-din Altunia, the governor of Bhatinda (Punjab) broke out against Razia and Yaqut; fearing a siege, Razia and Yaqut chose to go out of Delhi to engage the rebels. Forces loyal to Razia and Yaqut were routed by Altunia; Yaqut was killed and Razia was captured and imprisoned. She and Altunia, who were long known lovers, later got married. However, both Razia and Altunia were subsequently killed in battle against Razia's brother Muiz ud din Bahram, who had usurped the throne of Delhi in Razia's absence.
In popular cultureEdit
Dharmendra played the lead role of Yaqut and Hema Malini as Razia Sultan in a Hindi movie of the same name, written and directed by Kamal Amrohi, in 1983 with soulful music composed by Khayyam. Saurabh Pandey played the role of Yaqut in & TV show Razia Sultan
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