//Skip to content

Women Rulers of the Arab and Muslim World: Radiyya bint Iltutmish

May 18, 2016

By Tom Verde, originally published as ‘Malika II: Radiyya bint Iltutmish’ on AramcoWorld. Artwork by Leonor Solans. From Bangladesh to Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan to Nigeria, Senegal to Turkey, it is not particularly rare in our own times for women in Muslim-majority countries to be appointed and elected to high offices—including heads of state. Nor has it ever been. Stretching back more than 14 centuries to the advent of Islam, women have held positions among many ruling elites, from malikas, or queens, to powerful advisors. Some ascended to rule in their own right; others rose as regents for incapacitated husbands or male successors yet too young for a throne. Some proved insightful administrators, courageous military commanders or both; others differed little from equally flawed, power-seeking male potentates, and they sowed the seeds of their own downfalls. This series presents some of the most notable historical female leaders of Muslim dynasties, empires and caliphates. Our second story takes us to the court of the Sultanate of Delhi. Its founder, Qutbu-ud-din Aibek, a Mamluk slave general from southern Kazakhstan, died from injuries sustained playing polo after only four years of rule. His son Aram Shah held…

Hi guest,

You've read all of your free articles.
Subscribe now to support independent journalism and to enjoy:

Unlimited access to all our articles

Exclusive events and offers

First access to new premium newsletters

Ability to comment on articles

Full user profile