The consolidation of the Delhi Sultanate coincided with the Mongol devastation of Transoxiana, Iran and Afghanistan. This paper studies the Persian literature of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries invested as it was in the projection of the court of the Delhi Sultans as the ‘sanctuary of Islam’, where the Muslim community was safe from the marauding infidel Mongols. The binaries on which the qualities of the accursed Mongols and the monolithic Muslim community were framed ignored the fact that a large number of Sultanate elites and monarchs were of Turkish/Mongol ethnicity or had a history of prior service in their armed contingents. While drawing attention to the narrative strategies deployed by Sultanate chroniclers to obscure the humble frontier origins of its lords and masters, my paper also elaborates on steppe traditions and rituals prevalent in early-fourteenth-century Delhi. All of these underlined the heterogeneity of Muslim Sultanate society and politics in the capital, a complexity that the Persian litterateurs were loath to acknowledge in their records.
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