ZIAUDDIN BARANI
Barani was 74 years old when he completed his work. Son of a
government officer, he was employed at the headquarters for 17 years in
the reign of Muhammad Tughluq. Barani’s Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi, named
after Firuz Shah Tughluq, is the most valuable historical work written
during the period of the Sultanate. It begins with the first year of Balban’s
reign (1266), leaving a clear gap of six years after the close of the
Tabaqat-i-Nasiri, and ends with the sixth year of Firuz Shah Tugluq’s
reign (1357). Barani wrote another book, Fatawa-i-Jahandari, which is a
compendium of instructions on state affairs emphasising the Islamic ideal
of government. It can claim no philosophical depth or even practical
A historian’s duty, says Barani, is to be truthful, honest and fearless; if it
becomes difficult for any reason to put the facts openly, he should convey
them indirectly through implications and suggestions.
He claims on several occasions that whatever he wrote was true, but
Ferishta (a seventeenth century historian) blames him for withholding the
truth. One of Barani’s serious defects is indifference towards chronology.
He does not always arrange events in chronological order.
Again, his treatment is not systematic and it is incomplete in certain cases.
For example, his account of the Deccan expeditions of Malik Kafur is very
brief and unsatisfactory. He collected information from different sources,
particularly from leading persons connected with the court; but he had
little coordination.
One special method used by Barani is to record ‘dialogues’ or ‘discourse’.
The authenticity of these portions of his narrative is open to grave doubt. It
was, however, not an unusual practice for historical writers of those days;
instances are available in the compositions of Amir Khusrau, Isami and
Ibn Batuta.
The most important feature of Barani’s Tarikh is his interest in
administrative matters, particularly those relating to revenue and prices of
commodities. Here, he breaks       new ground; instead of confining his