There are three phases in the expansion of Muslim rule in the Sub-continent.
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 Arab Muslims and the Western part of India.
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, as far East as Kanauj and as far South as Somnath in Gujiat, but he consolidated his position only in the north-western area centring round Lahore.
The third phase began with the Battle of Tarain, when Prithviraj Chauhan was defeated by Sultan Muizz-ud-Din Muhamnad ibn Sam, better known in Indian history as Muhammad Ghori. He established his Indian Kingdom with Delhi as capital, where Qutbu'd-Din Aibak was appointed his viceroy. 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 khtyarud-Din-Muhammad ibn Bakhtyar Khalji.
After the conquest of Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khalji, Bengal remained under the Muslim rule for five hundred and fifty four years unto 1757 when it was crushed and ended in the tragic field of Plassey. The Muslim rule in Bengal may be divided into a few divisions:
Periods Rulers in Bengal 1203-1227 A. C. Khalji Rule 1227-1341 A. C. Delhi Rule 1342-1413 A. C. Ilyas Shahi Dynasty 1414-1441 A. C. Raja Gonesh- Jalal Uddin Rule 1442-1487 A. C. Ilyas Shahi Dynasty (Second Term) 1487-1493 A. C. Habshi Rule 1493-1538 A. C. Hussain Shahi Dynasty 1538-1564 A. C. Pathan Rule (Sher Shah & Sur Dynasty 1565-1576 A. C. Karrani Dynasty 1576-1757 A. C. Mughal Rule
Muhamad Bakhtiyar Khalji was an inhabitant of Garamsir or modern Dasht-i'-Margo in Afghanistan, and belonged to the Khalji clan of the Turkish race. He came to Bengal in search of livelihood.
He first came to Ghazni, then to Delhi but failed to get any job there. He then came to Badayun, where the Sipah-Salar Malik Hisbarud-Din appointed him on a cash salary. Being discontent with a meagre salary, he left the place and Malik Husamud-Din, the governor, granted him a jagir of two parganas, in the modern Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh (India). From there he made many raids on surrounding small Hindu principalities which brought him huge booties that he utilized to collect huge armies. The number of troops under him increased day by day. Many people from Ghor, Gazni, Khorasan and other places who left those places because of warfare and shortage of food, flocked in the Sub-continent and joined Bakhtiar’s army.
At that time King Lakshman Sena was ruling in Bengal while staying in the town of Nadia, a sacred place on the bank of the river Ganges (Bhagirathi Channel).
Meanwhile, one day, the Brahmins, the astrologers and the wise men of his court represented to the king saying that in their books of old it was stated that their country would be conquered by the Turks. They gave his description as ‘'When he stands upright on his two feet, and lets down his two hands, his hands will reach beyond the point of his knees in such way that his fingers will touch the calves of his legs,“. The king heard about Bakhtiar and sent people to see whetehr he is that man. They identified him and people left Nadia except the King who fortified his palace but Bakhtiar entered Nadia through a hilly path with only 17/18 people. Hearing this the King also left for Vikrampur (Dacca). After conquering it he went to Lakhnauti (Gaur) and made it his capital. Then he left for Tibet with approximately 10,000 soldiers where he was discomfited totally and the whole army was lost there. In despair he fell ill and died in the early part of 1206 A. C. Some also say that he was killed in his sick-bed by one of his own amirs, Ali Mardan Khalji.
After Bakhtiyar Khalji's death his lieutenants were involved in an internecine warfare. Muhammad Shiran Khalji came to Devkot, imprisoned Ali Mardan Khalji and himself took the leadership of the Muslims.
`Ali Mardan somehow escaped, went to Qutubud-Din Aibak at Delhi and instigated him to occupy Lakhnauti. As a result Muhammad Shiran Khalji was ousted and Husamud-Din Khalji was put in charge of Lakhnauti. But later Husamud -Din Iwaz Khalji was replaced by 'Ali Mardan Khalji as Governor. On the death of Qutbud-Din Aibak in 1210 A.D. Mardan assumed independence and styled himself Sultan. He soon alienated all, and the nobles & soldiers conspired against him and killed him. So Husamud-Din' Iwaz Khalji occupied the throne of Lakhnauti with the title of Sultan Ghyathu'd-Din Iwaz Khalji. Iwaz’s sovereignty was not accepted by Iltutmish, he sent an army against him under his son Nasir Uddin who defeated and killed him. Here is the end of this rule.
Rulers in Bengal Periods Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khalji 1203- 1206 A. C. Malik Muhammad Shirin Khalji 1206- 1208 A. C. Husamud Din Iwaz Khalji 1208-1210 A. C. Ali Mardan Khalji 1210- 1213 A. C. Sultan Ghiyathud Din Iwaz Khalji 1213-1227 A. C.
Delhi Rule: (Bengal under the Mamluks and the Balbans)
Lakhnauti now passed to the hands of Delhi and continued for about 60 years. Governors were sent from Delhi, but when Iltutmish died in 1236 the Delhi Sultans became weak, the governors at Lakhnauti exercised more powers.
The governors sometimes acted as virtual independent rulers assuming lofty titles like Malik–us-Sharq (Lord of the East). Two of the governors actually assumed independence. The first of them was Mughi-thu'd-Din Yuzbak, who assumed sovereignty in 1255 A.D. for a short period and lost his life in his Kamrup expedition. The second governor assuming independence was 'Mughithu'd-Din Tughral in the reign of Sultan Ghyathud-Din Balban.
Balban did not accept the independence of Tughral rather when his two expeditions against Tughral failed, Balban personally marched to Lakhnauti in 1280 A.D. Tughral was searched out from his jungle hide out and was brutally killed along with his family relations and adherents.
He then put his second son Bughra Khan on the governorship of Lakhnauti. Bughra Khan soon abdicated in favour of his son who ruled unto 1300 A. D. when he died he left no heir except a few nobles one of whom named Shamsuddin Firoz Shah ruled unto 1332, and Delhi’s rule remained there until 1341 during Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq.
Ilyas Shah established his rule in Bengal as an independent state which retained nearly for four hundred years uninterrupted. This long period of independence helped the rulers to forge national unity, solidarity and homogeneity in Bengal’s body-politic. The rulers could also take many sustainable developmental policies and it gave an increase in the Muslim population and their power. In this era, Bengali literature and culture developed tremendously under their patronage.
Ilyas Shah was the first Muslim Sultan to appoint Hindu generals in his army. He extended the empire beyond imagination and when he died in 1357 A. D. he left for his son and successor a large kingdom comprising almost the whole Bengal.
Rulers in Bengal Periods Sikander Shah 1358- 1391 A. C. Ghiyathuddin Azam Shah 1391- 1396 A. C. Sifuddin Hamza Shah 1396- 1406 A. C. Shamsuddin (Son of Hamza Shah) 1406- 1409 A. C. Shahabuddin Bayezid Shah (2nd son of H Shah) 1409- 1414 A. C.
In the time of Azam Shah one Raja Ganesh, a Hindu Zamindar was appointed to the high post in the military department. Ganesh became ambitious and secretly plotted to overthrow the Sultan and to occupy the throne himself. Through machinations, Ganesh killed Ghiyathu'd-Din 'Azam Shah and placed Saifu'd-Din Hamzah Shah, Azam Shah's son on the throne. But soon Hamzah Shah was also overthrown, and one of his slaves Shihabu'd-Din Bayazid Shah was put on the throne. Soon Bayazid Shah was also dethroned and his son Alau'd-Din Firoz Shah was placed on the throne, and within a few months he was also ousted by Raja Ganesh. Within 4 years from 1410 to 1414' A. D. three kings were chosen by Ganesh, but as none of them served his purpose, he ousted them all. And now with the supplanting of the Ilyas Shahi dynasty, Ganesh himself occupied the throne of Bengal. The 'Muslim kingdom of Bengal now passed to the hands of a Hindu king.
This was not tolerated by the Muslim leaders and especially the saints. Shaikh Nur Qutbul 'Alam, the guardian saint of the capital city of Pandua (Ferozabad) invited Sultan Ibrahim Sharqi of Jaunpur to invade Bengal and to free the country from the oppression of Raja Ganesh. Sultari Ibrahim Sharqi accepted the invitation and marched with a large army. Raja Ganesh got alarmed and requested him to ask Sultan Ibrahim Sharqi to go back.
But the Shaikh agreed on condition of his accepting Islam. Ganesh agreed but his wife did not allow him to do so. So Ganesh brought his 12 years old son Jadu to the saint and represented saying, "I have grown old .and I am thinking of renouncing the world. Please accept my son, and place him on the throne after converting him to Islam".
Sultan Ibrahim Sharqi of Jaunpur went back disgruntled. Soon Ganesh dethroned Jalalu'd--Din, reconverted him to his former religion, performed religious rites for such conversion, acceptable to the Brahmins, and himself re-occupied the throne. Ganesh soon died, and after his death Jalalu'd-Din re-occupied the throne. He chose to remain in the fold of his new faith i. e. Islam and ruled the country according to the tenets of Islam.
Rulers in Bengal Periods Ganesh (Virtually he instead ruled) 1409- 1414 A. C. i) Jadu Sen, Jalaluddin ii) Mohebdra 1414- 1431 A. C. Shamsuddin Ahmad Shah 1431- 1442 A. C.
Ilyas Shahi Dynasty Restored: The following people of the Ilyas Shahi dynasty ruled Bengal for the second term according to the following chart: Nasir Uddin Mahmud Shah was a just and sagacious ruler and his son Rukunuddin Barrak Shah are praised ‘to be a sagacious and law-abiding sovereign in whose kingdom the soldiers and citizens alike enjoyed contentment and security.’ But he imported a huge number of Habshi slaves, some say 8,000 in number and appointed them in the army: their leaders were appointed to the higher state services. Rulers in Bengal Periods Nasir Uddin Mahmud Shah 1442- 1459 A. C. Rukunuddin Barrak Shah 1459- 1474 A. C. Shamsuddin Yusuf Shah 1474- 1482 A. C. Sikandar Shah (Second) 1482 Jalaluddin Fateh Shah 1482- 1486 A. C.
Habshi Rule: The next seven years in the history of Bengal is known as the period of Habshis in which four/five rulers reigned one after another. But unfortunately all of these Habshi kings were killed by the next one. Of them Firoz Shah Maliki was decidedly the best and he reigned for three years. Rulers in Bengal Periods Sultan Shahjada Barrak 1486- 1487 A. C. Syfuddin Firoz Shah 1487- 1490 A. C. Nasir Uddin Mahmud Shah 1490- 1491 A. C. Shamsuddin Muzaffar Shah 1491- 1493 A. C. Ala Uddin Hossain Shah 1493- 1519 A. C.
Hossain Shahi Dynasty: During the Habshi reign of Shamsuddin Muzaffar Shah, a man named Hussain Shah came to the prominence through many accomplishments. After the death of the last Habshi ruler, he became the ruler of Bengal. He is both famous and notorious by the critics. He ruled for 26 years and the next rulers from his family including Nusrat Shah, Aluddin Shah, Firoz Shah, and Ghyathuddin Mahmud Shah, who ruled, in all, for forty five years, were able and fit rulers. Rulers in Bengal Periods Ala Uddin Hossain Shah 1493- 1519 A. C. Nasiruddin Nusrat Shah 1519- 1532 A. C. Ghyathuddin Mahmud Shah 1532- 1538 A. C. Alauddin Firoz Shah 1532 A. C.
The Afghans broke through and sacked the capital in 1538 where they remained for several decades until the arrival of the Mughals. Sher Shah Suri established the Sur dynasty in Bengal. After the battle of Chausa he declared himself independent Sultan of Bengal and Bihar. Sher Shah was the only Muslim Sultan of Bengal to establish an empire in northern India. The Afghan rule in Bengal remained for 44 years.
The Sur dynasty was followed by the Karrani dynasty. Sulaiman Karrani annexed Orissa to the Muslim sultanate permanently. Daud Shah Karrani declared independence from Akbar leading to four years of bloody war between the Mughals and the Afghans. The Mughal onslaught against the Afghan Sultan ended with the battle of Rajmahal in 1576, led by Khan Jahan.
Bengal came once more under the suzerainty of Delhi as the Mughals conquered it in 1576. Not far from Sonargaon, Dhaka rose from the mists of obscurity as a Mughal provincial capital.
In 1612, during Emperor Jahangir's reign, the defeat of Sylhet completed the Mughal conquest of Bengal, except for Chittagong. At this time the capital was established at Dhaka. Chittagong was later annexed in order to stifle Arakanese raids from the east. A well-known Dhaka landmark, Lalbagh Fort, was built during Aurangzeb's sovereignty.
History repeated itself as the frontier Bengal province broke off from a Delhi-based empire around the time Aurangzeb's death in 1707. Murshid Quli Khan ended Dhaka's century of grandeur as he shifted the capital to Murshidabad ushering in a series of independent Bengal Nawabs. Nawab Alivardi Khan showed military skill during his wars with the Marathas. He completely routed the Marathas, from Bengal. He crushed an uprising of the Afghans in Bihar and made the British pay 150,000 Tk for blocking Mughal and Armenian trade ships.