Tarikh-i-Firuzshahi2 a historical text by Ziauddin Barani and named after Sultan firuz shah tughlaq. This is probably the best of all the historical literature produced in Delhi in the sultanate period. According to the author himself this is a work of solid worth, which combines several virtues. As history it contains accounts of kings and maliks, and at the same time it is a treasure of laws, government regulations, administrative affairs, precepts and advice. The author justly claims that everything he wrote is true and correct and it is worthy of credence. The book is not merely a chronicle, as many other histories written in India in the medieval period. In this book one gets accounts of social developments and agrarian matters. Modern scholars hold that Barani's history is very definitely a science - the science of the social order based on observation and experience and not on religion or tradition.

Ziauddin Barani was acquainted with Minhaj's tabaqat-i-nasiri, which he praised eloquently. He did not like to write on subjects that had received attention of Minhaj. So he started his history from the accession of Sultan ghiyasuddin balban to the throne of Delhi. Barani saw all kings of Delhi from Balban to Firuz Shah Tughlaq. He completed his book in 1357 AD ie in the 6th year of the reign of Firuz and named his book Tarikh-i-Firuzshahi after the name of the reigning king. He hoped to receive favours from Firuz Shah Tughlaq but failed. Barani was a mere boy in the reign of Balban, he entered into the court of Sultan muhammad bin tughlaq and remained his nadim (born companion) for seventeen years until the sultan's death. The sultan consulted him very often and recognised his merit as a scholar in history. But when Firuz Shah Tughlaq ascended the throne Barani lost his influence at court and his career abruptly came to an end.

Ziauddin Barani belonged to a high family and moved in the highest administrative and academic circles. His maternal grandfather, Sipah-xalar Husamuddin, was an important officer of Balban holding the rank of a minister; his father Muwayyidul Mulk held the post of naib of Arkali Khan, son of Jalaluddin Firuz Khalji; his uncle Alaul Mulk was the famous confidant of Alauddin in his conspiracy against Jalaluddin Firuz and when Alauddin occupied the throne, he elevated Alaul Mulk to a very high position. So Barani had no difficulty in collecting materials about the events occurring in his early age and from the time of Muhammad bin Tughlaq he was a good friend and close associate of Amir Khusrau and Amir Hasan Sajzi. Amir Khusrau was not only a great poet but also a historian. On the other hand, Amir Hasan was a high ranking officer and an eminent sufi-writer.

Barani, in his Tarikh-i-Firuzshahi, elaborately narrated Balban's suppression of the rebellion of muizzuddin tughral (Barani calls him Mughisuddin but on the discovery of his coins the name has been corrected) and the return of Balban to Delhi after his administrative reorganisation at Lakhnauti. He does not fail to state clearly that Balban established a reign of terror at Lakhnauti and killed brutally many partisans of Tughral. He says that Balban's barbarity even disgusted his own followers who thought that the days of Balban were drawing to an end. After the death of Balban, when Lakhnauti became independent under his son bughra khan, Barani's thread of information was again cut off, he could not give information about Sultan ruknuddin kaikaus and Sultan shamsuddin firuz shah. Again when Sultan ghiyasuddin tughlaq invaded Bengal and reestablished Delhi's authority over Lakhnauti, Barani could give some information. During the reign of Muhammad bin Tughlaq Bengal became independent, so Barani's account of Bengal during this time is extremely short. But again Barani gives a fairly lengthy account of the two invasions of Bengal by Firuz Shah Tughlaq. So although Ziauddin Barani's Tarikh-i-Firuzshahi is a very important and comprehensive history of the Delhi sultanate for the period it covers, it does not give a connected account of the Muslim rule in Bengal, because Bengal was a province and a part of the Delhi sultanate only for brief periods, during the reigns of Balban, Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq and early part of the reign of Muhammad bin Tughlaq.

Ziauddin Barani did never visit Bengal, but he did not fail to give geographical account of some places, for example Jajnagar, sonargaon, lakhnauti and ekdala; he also refers to administrative divisions of Bengal like Diyar-i-Bangalah, Iqlim-i-Bangalah and Arsah-i-Bangalah. As he did not define the terms, Diyar, Iqlim or Arsah, and gave very little indications for identifications of place names, it is difficult to identify some places, like Ekdala or Jajnagar, or explain the terms Diyar, Iqlim or Arsah, but Barani's use of these terms evokes much interest among modern historians to find out the nature and gradual development of Muslim administration in Bengal in its formative period. [Abdul Karim]

Bibliography Zia-ud-din Barani, Tarikh-i-Firuzshahi, Bibliotheca Indica, Calcutta, 1862; RC Majumdar, AD Pusalkar and AK Majumdar (ed.), The Delhi Sultanate, Bombay, 1960; AM Husain, The Tughluq Dynasty, New Delhi, 1976; KA Nizami, On History and Historians of Mediaeval India, New Delhi, 1983.