‘The Khaẓāin’ul Fuṭūḥ naturally falls into six parts—the introduc­tion, administrative reforms and public works, campaigns against the Mongols, the conquest of Hindustan, the campaign of Warangal and the campaign of Ma’bar. The space devoted to the various sections is surprisingly unequal. About two-third of the book is devoted to the Warangal and Ma’bar campaigns, while the other measures of Alāuddīn’s reign are summarized in the remaining third. The reason for this is, perhaps, not impossible to discover. A remark of Barni (Tarikh-i-Firoz-Shahi, page 361) seems to throw light on the real character of the Khaẓāin’ul Fuṭūḥ as well as the Tarikh-i-Feroz-Shahi. “The other great historian of the time (of Sultan Alāuddīn) was Kabīruddīn, son of Tajuddīn Irāqi. In the art of composition, elo­quence and advice, he exceeded his own and Alāuddīn’s contemporaries, and became the Amir-i-dad-i lashkar in place of his revered father. He was held in great honour by Alāuddīn. He has displayed wonders in Arabic and Persian prose. In the Fath-i Nama (Book of Victory) which consists of several volumes, he does honour to the traditions of prose and seems to surpass all writers, ancient and modern. But of all the events of Alāuddīn’s reign, he has confined himself to a narration of the Sultan’s conquests; these he has praised with exaggeration and adorned with figures of speech, and he has departed from the tradition of those historians who relate the good as well as the bad actions of every man. And as he wrote the history of Alāuddīn during that Sultan’s reign and every volume of it was presented to the Sultan, it was impossible for him to refrain from praising that terrible king or to speak of anything but his greatness.”

‘So Amīr Khusrau, though the poet-laureate, was not the court-historian of Alāuddīn Khilji; that honour belonged to Kabīruddīn who was considered to be the greatest prose writer of the day. The official history by which Alāuddīn expected to be remembered by posterity was not the thin volume of Amīr Khusrau but the ponderous Fath-i Nama which was prepared under the Sultan’s personal supervi­sion. The Fath-i Nama has disappeared; its manuscripts may have been intentionally destroyed during Timur’s invasions or under the early Moghul Emperors, for it must have been full of contempt and hatred for the Mongol barbarians;* Ferishta and other later historians do not refer to it and its great length would, in any case, have made its preservation difficult. But Barni and Khusrau had the Fath-i Nama before them and accommodated their histories to it. Barni, who was essentially a man of civil life, allowed Kabīruddīn to speak of Alāuddīn’s conquests, and confined his own history to an account of administrative and political affairs, merely adding a paragraph on the campaigns here and there for the logical completeness of his work. Amīr Khusrau was more ambitious. He pitted himself against Kabīruddīn’s great, if transient, reputation and on Kabīruddīn’s own chosen ground. Hitherto his pen, “like a tire-woman, had generally curled the hair of her maidens in verse,” but it would now bring “pages of prose for the high festival.” Let not critics dismiss him as a mere poet, living in a mock paradise and incapable of describing the affairs of government and war. If he had wings to fly, he had also feet to walk. He would even surpass Kabīruddīn, whom shallow critics considered “the greatest of all prosaists, ancient and modern.” He would excel in all that Kabīruddīn had excelled. The four virtues (or defects) which Barnī deploringly attributes to Kabīruddīn are all painfully present in Khusrau’s work—an artificial style adorned with figures of speech, an exclusive devotion to wars and conquests, the elimination of all facts that were not complimentary to Alāuddīn, and, lastly, an exaggerated flattery of the Sultan. In the Panj Gunj Khusrau had imitated the Khamsah of Nizāmī and walked as far as possible in his predecessor’s foot-steps. It was a mistake, but he repeated it once more in the Khaẓāin’ul Fuṭūḥ. We do not see Khusrau’s prose in its natural dress; it is draped and disfigured into an imitation of Kabīruddīn’s extinct composition. For Amīr Khusrau, if a scholar, was also a courtier, and a courtier is devoted to the fashion of the passing hour. The fashion had been set by Kabīruddīn and his predecessors. Khusrau blindly followed it.

‘The Khaẓāin’ul Fuṭūḥ is not merely a challenge to the Fath-i Nama of Kabīruddīn; it is also a continuation of that work. Barnī seems to imply that Kabīruddīn was a survivor from the preceding age and he may not have lived to complete his voluminous work. If so, the disproportionate length of the Deccan campaigns in the Khaẓāin’ul Fuṭūḥ becomes intelligible. The Khaẓāin’ul Fuṭūḥ is essentially a history of the Deccan invasions. Alāuddīn may have asked Khusrau to continue Kabīruddīn’s work, but Khusrau’s introductory remarks make it probable that he wrote on his own initiative and expected the Sultan to accept it as the official account of the reign. The Fath-i Nama had made a detailed description of the earlier events unneces­sary, and Khusrau merely summarises them to enable his book to stand on its own feet. But the Deccan campaigns are given in detail, probably after the manner of the extinct Fath-i Nama.

‘Amīr Khusrau wished his work to be an official account of Alāuddīn’s reign and the Khaẓāin’ul Fuṭūḥ has, consequently, all the merits and defects of a government publication. It credits Alāuddīn with every variety of virtue and power, and his officers also come in for their due share. All governments live on lies or, at least, a partial suppression of truth. But Amīr Khusrau’s hyperbolic exaggerations are less deceptive and dangerous than the insidious propaganda of modern governments. His flattery neither deceived nor was intended to deceive; it was simply a current fashion and nobody attached any significance to such words. Exaggeration is not a commendable habit, but understand it as a habit and it will no longer veil the true meaning of the author.

‘Ziāuddin Barni complains that Kabīruddīn simply confined himself to those events which were creditable to Alāuddīn. This is certainly true of Khusrau’s work. He will not utter a lie but neither will he speak “the truth and the whole truth”. On the 16th Ramzan, 695 (July 9, 1296 A.D.) Sultan Jalāluddīn was assassinated on the bank of the Ganges by the order of Alāuddīn Khiljī, who was the Governor of Karrā. It was an atrocious murder but Amīr Khusrau simply ignores it. “As Providence had ordained that this Muslim Moses was to seize their powerful swords from all infidel Pharoahs … he mounted the throne on Wednesday, 16th Ramzan, 695 A.H.” What else was there to say. He was not brave enough to defend his murdered patron nor mean enough to blacken his character after his death. He simply turned away his eyes. Similar omissions strike us in the chapter on the Mongols. Nothing is said of the campaigns in which Alāuddīn’s armies were defeated. The Mongols twice besieged Delhi and Alāuddīn’s position was extremely critical.* But Khusrau has not even indirectly alluded to these momentous events. We are able to make up for some of the omissions with the help of Barni and other historians, but it is difficult to be certain that all the gaps have been filled up.

‘In spite of these serious shortcomings, the Khaẓāin’ul Fuṭūḥ is for the critical student, a book of solid worth. Amīr Khusrau exaggerates and we can make allowance for his exaggerations. He leaves blanks which other historians enable us to fill up. But he is too honest and straightforward to speak a lie, and we can safely rely upon his word. He is exact in details and dates and enables us to make a fairly complete chronology of Alāuddīn’s reign.* In spite of the artificiality of his style, his descriptions have vivid touches of an eye-witness. As a soldier he felt quite at home in military affairs, in the construction of siege-engines and the tactics of the battle-field. A careful examination of the Khaẓāin’ul Fuṭūḥ will enable us to obtain a fairly good idea of the art of war in the early middle ages. Even where he tells us nothing new, he serves to confirm the accounts of others. He did not sit and brood in a corner. He mingled with the highest and the greatest in the land, and when he took up his pen, it was to write with a first hand knowledge of affairs. The sections on the Deccan campaigns are a permanent contribution to Indian historical literature. Nor is the element of romance absent, whatever we may think of the motives of the invaders, long and heroic marches across “paths more uneven than a camel’s back,” temples plundered, Rajas subdued and the hoarded wealth of centuries brought at a sweepstake to the terrible Sultan of Delhī. It was a mad dance of rapine, ambition and death. “The Hindu rawats came riding in troops but were laid low before the Turkish horses. A deluge of water and blood flowed forward in order to plead for mercy before the Caliph’s troops. Or, you may have said that owing to the great happiness of the infidel souls, the beverage of blood was so delicious that every time the cloud rained water over it, the ferocious earth drank it up with the greatest pleasure. But in spite of the great intoxicating power of this wine, the saqi poured her clear liquid out of the flagon of the sky to increase its intoxication further. Out of this wine and beverage Death had manufactured her first delicious draught. Next you saw bones on the Earth.”

‘If Amīr Khusrau had been writing in the age of the Puranas, he would have represented Alāuddīn as an incarnation of Vishṇu and described his opponents as malicious demons. That is how the Aryans blackened the character of their enemies and justified their aggression. A modern writer would have to white-wash the same cruelties by talking of liberty, justice, the duty of elevating backward races and, with solemn unconscious humour, advanced the most humane arguments to justify the inhumanities of war. But Amīr Khusrau was not a hypo­crite; he saw life through plain glasses and the traditions of his day made hypocrisy unnecessary. The Deccan expeditions had one clear object—the acquisition of horses, elephants, jewels, gold and silver. Why tell lies? The Mussalmans had not gone there on a religious mission; they had neither the time nor the inclination to enrol converts and they were too good soldiers to let irrelevant considerations disturb their military plans. Of course the name of God was solemnly pro­nounced. The invaders built mosques wherever they went and the call to prayer resounded in many a wilderness and many a desolated town. This was their habit. Of anything like an idealistic, even a fanatic, religious mission the Deccan invasions were completely innocent.

‘But it would be a serious mistake to interpret the political move­ments of those days in the light of modern national feeling or the religious enthusiasm of the early Saracens. The fundamental social and political principle of the Middle ages was loyalty to the salt. It overrode all racial, communal and religious considerations. The Raja’s Muslim servants followed him against the Sultan just as the Sultan’s Hindu servants followed him against the Raja; neither felt any inner contradiction between their religion and their life. Loyalty to the salt (namak halālī) was synonymous with patriotism; disloyalty to the salt (namak harāmī) was a crime blacker than treason. Irra­tional as the principle may seem, it prevented communal friction and worked for peace. Conversely, for the ruler all his subjects stood on an equal footing. The Hindu subjects of a neighbouring Raja were the proper and inviting objects of a holy war. But not so the Sultan’s own Hindu subjects. They were under his protection and his pros­perity depended upon their prosperity. Learned writers may call them zimmis (payers of tribute) in books of religious law. But men of practical affairs knew the ground they stood on and the power of the mass of the people. The temples in the Sultan’s dominions were per­fectly safe. “It is not permissible to injure a temple of long standing” was the fatwa (judgment) of a Qazi in the reign of Sikandar Lodi, and it undoubtedly expresses medieval Muslim sentiment on the matter. The Sultan could prohibit the building of a new temple or mosque, though, apart from occasionl vagaries, the right was rarely exercised; but the destruction of a standing temple is seldom, if ever, heard of. It was, however, different with a temple standing in the dominion of another ruler; it had no Imperial guarantee to protect it and could be plundered with impunity, because its devotees were not the Sultan’s subjects and their disloyalty and sufferings could do him no harm. The outlook of the age was essentially secular. Religion was a war cry and nothing more.

‘A superficial reader of the Khaẓāin’ul Fuṭūḥ might be inclined to think it inspired by bigotry and fanaticism. But this would be a serious error. Amīr Khusrau’s religious outlook was singularly tolerant; an examination of his Diwāns can leave no other impression on the critic’s mind. Even in the most bitter expressions of the Khaẓāin’ul Fuṭūḥ, there is a veiled suggestion. Of what? “So the temple of Somnath was made to bow towards the Holy Mecca, and as the temple lowered its head and jumped into the sea, you may say the building first said its prayers and then had a bath. The idols, that had fixed their abode midway to the House of Abraham (Mecca) and way-laid stragglers, were broken to pieces in pursuance of Abraham’s traditions. But one idol, the greatest of them all, was sent by the maliks to the Imperial Court, so that the breaking of their helpless god may be demonstrated to the idol-worshipping Hindus.” “They saw a building (the temple of Barmatpuri) old and strong as the infidelity of Satan, and enchanting like the allurements of worldly life. You might say it was the Paradise of Shadād, which after being lost, those hellites had found, or that it was the golden Lankā of Rām… The foundations of this golden temple, which was the ‘holy-place’ of the Hindus, were dug up with the greatest care. The glorifiers of God broke the infidel building, so that ‘spiritual birds’ descended down like pigeons from the air. The ‘ears’ of the wall opened at the sound of the spade. At its call the sword also raised its head from the scabbard, and the heads of Brahmans and idol-worshippers came dancing to their feet at the flashes of the sword. The golden bricks rolled down and brought with them their plaster of sandal-wood; the yellow gold became red with blood and the white sandal turned scarlet. The sword flashed where the jewels had once been sparkling; where mire used to be created by rose water and musk, there was now a mud of blood and dirt; the saffron-coloured doors and walls assumed the colour of bronze; the stench of blood was emitted by ground once fragrant with musk. And at this smell the men of Faith were intoxicated and the men of Infidelity ruined.”

‘Is this the trumpet-call of an aggressive and bloated fanaticism or the excruciating melody of the tragic muse? Was Amīr Khusrau praising the idol-breakers or bewailing their lack of true faith? It must not be forgotten that a courtier presenting an official history to the Sultan had no freedom either of opinion or speech; and Amīr Khusrau emphatically expresses his willingness to recast his book according to the Sultan’s wishes. But as Mohammed ibn-i Khawend Shah (Mirkhond), the author of Rauzatus Safa, remarks: “the official historian should by hints, insinuations, overpraise and such other devices as may come to hand, never fail to express his true opinion, which, while remaining undetected by his illiterate patron, is sure to be understood by the intelligent and the wise.” Amīr Khusrau had no liking for Malik Naib Kafur-i Sultani whom he abuses in the Dewal Rani, and his keen sense for the religious and poetic elements in life could not but revolt against the senseless vandalism of the Deccan campaigns. Hence the ghastly realism of his sketches. He may, or may not, have wept tears of blood over the fall of an ancient civilization; but his mode of expression leaves little doubt that the greed of gain and not the service of the Lord was the inspiring motive of the invaders. One thing alone was clear after the day of stormy battle: “You saw bones on the Earth.”’

May 27, 1931