Beginning of Muslim Rule in Bengal

Islam (in Bengal)  came to Bengal comparatively late. Within about one hundred years of its advent, Islam penetrated into northwestern India, and Arabian traders came into contact with the coastal regions of India, including Bengal. But it took about five hundred years for Muslim political power to reach Bengal. According to unconfirmed traditions, some Muslim sufi-saints came to Bengal even before the political conquest, but Islam actually entered in full force with the Turkish conquest towards the beginning of the 13th century. Bangladesh is today a Muslim majority country; about 90% of her population belongs to the Islamic faith.


The objective of this article is to be rediscover the rich history of our medieval Muslim period in Bengal. This presentation will include how the Muslim rule started, how it had followed and how far it has reached to lay it’s significance in our lives, our culture and in our religious harmony.


Early Bengal

Early Bengal during Beginning of Muslim Rule in Bengal

It is the picture of ancient geographical divisions of medieval Bengal. It gives an idea about how with days and distance, Muslim rule had spread in this soil and formed a dynasty which is still being reminisced till this day.


Advent of Muslim Rule

There are three phases in the ascendancy of Muslim rule in the sub-continent.

1. The first phase is the conquest of Sind and Multan by Muhammad ibn Qasim, a lieutenant of Hijjaj ibn Yusuf, which resulted in a lasting cultural contact between the arabs and the Western part of India.

2. The second phase saw the repeated invasions of the Sub-continent by Amir Sabuktagin and his son Sultan Mahmud. The latter penetrated deep into the sub-continent conquering the north-western area centring around Lahor.

3. The third phase began with the Battle of Tarain, led by Sultan Muizz-ud-Din or better known in Indian history as Muhammad Ghori. The conquest of Bengal is a continuation of this third phase of Muslim penetration into the Sub-continent and the leader of this conquest was Malik ibn Bakhtyar Khalji.


Pioneers of Bengali Muslim Rule

The Muslim conquest of this land began in the thirteenth century. A large army of Muslim Turks accompanied by Ikhtiyaruddin Muhammad ibn Bakhtiyar Khalji in his conquest of Bengal from the hands of the powerful Hindu King Lakhshmanasena.

During the first three hundred years or so of Muslim rule, the Turks of one or the other group- the Khaljis, the Ilbaris and the Qaraunahs, ruled Bengal. The Abyssinian slaves occupied the throne for a few years in the late 15th century and then came successively the Sayyids, the Afghans and the Mughals. So broadly speaking, the Muslim rulers of Bengal belonged to three racial groups-
1. The Turkish
2. The Afghans
3. The Mughal

Bengal remained under the Muslim rule for five hundred and fifty four years up to 1757. So in a summary, the Muslim rule in Bengal may be divided into a few divisions: 

Rulers in Bengal


Khalji Rule

1203 – 1227 A.C.

Delhi Rule

1227 – 1341 A. C.

Ilyas Shahi Dynasty

1342 – 1413 A. C.

Raja Gonesh – Jalal Uddin Rule

1414 – 1441 A. C.

Ilyas Shahi Dynasty (Second Term)

1442 – 1487 A. C.

Habshi Rule

1487 – 1493 A. C.

Hussain Shahi Dynasty

1493 – 1538 A. C.

Pathan Rule (Sher Shah & Sur Dynasty)

1538 – 1564 A. C.

Karrani Dynasty

1565 – 1576 A. C.

Mughal Rule

1576 – 1757 A. C.


Stages of Muslim Rule

In 1206, Delhi Sultanate general Ikhtiyaruddin Muhammad ibn Bakhtiyar Khalji defeated the then last king of Sena dynasty Lakhshmanasena and took Bengal under the control of Delhi Sultanate.

As the influence of Delhi Sultanate decreased, In 1342 Sultan Shams-Uddin Shah established first sovereign Bengali Sultanate in this region.

Then by consequently Saifullah Shah, Shihabuddin Shah, Ala-Uddin Firoz shah rule Bengal sultanate.

In 1414, Hindu Jamidar Raja Gonesh killed the last Shahi Sultan Ala-Uddin Firoz shah due to a palace conspiracy.

After then, his son Jadu converted to Islam and named himself Jalal-Uddin Muhammed Shah, again continued and ruled Muslim Sultanate in Bengal.

In 1435, Illius Shahi dynasty again re-established and continued to rule for about 1487.

Then Sultan Jalal-Uddin Fateh Shah (1481-1487) was killed by his own servant and then Mamluk or Slave rule was initiated in this region.

Then followed one by one Mamluk dynasty (1487-1495)
Hussain Shahi dynasty ( 1495-1538)
Suri dynasty ( 1539-1558)
Muhammed Shah dynasty ( 1558-1568) and then famous Karrani dynasty ruled Bengal in this region for about 1568 to 1576.

In 1576 Mughal Emperor Akbar won against the then ruler Dauyd Khan Karrani in “Battle of Palace” and then he first established Mughal dynasty in the very soil of Bengal.

In 1717 a relatively independent group of Nawabs emerged under the Mughals

In 1757, Nawab Sirajudullah faced the British ruers at Palashi Maidan. He was defeated and killed by the betrayal of his own generals.

The sun of Bengal’s independence set forever in the campaign by deception of Mir Jafar and Jagathsheth. Then gegan the British rule of tyranny until the year 1947.


Significance of Muslim rule

This Muslim rulers had a great influence and contributed a lot in many aspects in our country. The note worthy mentions are:
1. Spreading Islam in the Bengal region
2. Political development in the Bengal region
3. Economical development during the muslim rule
4. Agricultural development during the muslim rule
5. Development of Bengali Literature
6. Architectural development during muslim period



This is no less true of Islam and the Bengali frontier. In the “success stories” of world religions, and the story of Islam in Bengal is among these, the norms of religion and the realities of local sociocultural systems ultimately accommodate one another.
What made Islam in Bengal not only historically successful but a continuing vital social reality which has been it’s capacity to adapt to the land and the culture of it’s people, even while transforming both.
Finally we can say that, the history, the significance and the influence of muslim rule in Bengal was memorable. It was indeed the base of the history of Bengal.

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