India has a history that dates back to 2000 BCE, and Delhi was not always an important city. Due to its central location, it became an important city for all of central Asia. India and, therefore, Delhi was home to many different religions. The two major religions were Hinduism and Islam (although there were also Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Parsi) [1]. Islam spread throughout India over 700 years and resulted in the Delhi Sultanate [2].

The Delhi Sultanate began after a slave commander conquered Delhi in 1193 [3]. The leaders of the new Sultanate conquered town after town from Hindu kingdoms. Ross E. Dunn says, “The new kings of Delhi, however, imposed civil order on the conquered areas and created a structure of despotism designed to tax rather than slaughter the native peasantry” [4]. The sultans were coming in to convert people and not to kill them, but not all of the local population wanted to convert to Islam. Due to the important rulers living in Delhi, the economy grew because the royalty needed a large amount of people to cater to them. Throughout the 13th and 14th centuries the Sultanate of Delhi grew to be an enormous part of Islamic history. Dunn also notes that by the time Ibn Battuta visited Delhi, most of the Muslims were Indian born and not immigrants from other Islamic countries [5].

When Ibn Battuta went to Delhi, he met directly with Sultan Muhammed bin Tughluq, who was very generous to Ibn Battuta. However, Ibn Battuta notes that he was a man with a short temper and would not put up with any activity he found unappealing. Soon after his arrival, Ibn Battuta’s daughter died. The sultan and the vizier allowed him to bury her in the hospice that the vizier had built. Throughout his time in Delhi, Ibn Battuta grew very close to the sultan. The sultan even ordered Ibn Battuta to stay in Delhi, and he was made Qadi (Islamic Judge) of Delhi. However, when the Sultan had one of his friends, a sheikh, executed for being against the sultan, Ibn Battuta was next in line to be either tortured for treason or executed. He says that he recited a prayer 33,000 times and fasted for five days, and that they released him without any harm. After this, Ibn Battuta decided to leave Delhi, but the sultan told him to make a voyage on his behalf to China. Ibn Battuta stayed longer in Delhi than in any other location during his travels. He was there for ten years, and six of those years were spent being the Sultan’s Qadi.

New Delhi (formerly Delhi) is the capital of current day India. The population is mostly Hindu, but many are still Muslims due to the widespread conversion to Islam in the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries during the Sultanate. India was under British rule from the early 1600’s until 1950. India became a republic but is still part of the British Commonwealth. India has the second largest population in the world, after China. The economy is rapidly growing, and it is considered one of the economies to watch (along with Brazil, Russia, China, and South Africa or BRICS).


[1] Delhi Tourism, “History of Delhi.” Accessed July 29, 2012.

[2] Delhi Tourism, “History of Delhi.” Accessed July 29, 2012.

[3] Dunn, Ross. The Adventures of Ibn Battuta. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005.

[4] Dunn, Ross. The Adventures of Ibn Battuta. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005.

[5] Dunn, Ross. The Adventures of Ibn Battuta. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005.