Muhammad Shah


Muhammad Shah was raised to the throne by the Saiyid brothers at an age of 17. He remained on the throne for 30 years. He was an idle and pleasure loving person and the Saiyid brothers continued to rule through this imperial puppet for a few years. Although Muhammad Shah was put on the throne by the Saiyid brothers, he tried to get rid of them. Muhammad Shah, with the help of the Mughal nobles who were disgusted by the supremacy of the Saiyid brothers, was finally able to remove the two in 1722. The nobles, headed by Chin Kilich Khan, or Nizam-ul-Mulk, with the support of the emperor, twice defeated the army of the Saiyid brothers. Huseyn Ali tried to crush the revolt but was assassinated with the aid and participation of the emperor. His brother Abdullah sought to retain his power by setting up another puppet emperor but was defeated and taken prisoner. Thus ended the power of the Saiyid brothers.

The Mughal Empire had begun to break up during the reign of Muhammad Shah. After the disposal of the Saiyid brothers, Muhammad Shah didn’t bother to strengthen the empire but remained busy in seeking pleasures and remained inactive towards the affairs of the state. Muhammad Shah’s reign was long but his lack of interest in the affairs of the state had lethal consequences. Provinces after provinces became independent. In Deccan, Chin Kilich Khan, better known by his titles of Asaf Jah and Nizam-ul-Mulk, established an independent kingdom with Hyderabad as his capital, in 1724. About the same time Sa’adat Khan, the governor of Oudh, and Alivardi Khan, the governor of Bengal, also set up their respective independent kingdoms. Thus the process of disintegration, which had begun after Bahadur Shah’s death, was practically complete by the end of Muhammad Shah’s reign.

It was during Muhammad Shah’s reign that Nadir Shah attacked Delhi in 1739 and defeated the imperial army at

< Karnal, near Lahore. Nadir Shah entered Delhi without opposition on March 20, 1739, and plundered the treasures of the Mughal Empire till they were exhausted. He took away money, jewels, diamonds and gold worth about 700 million rupees, including the famous peacock throne and the Koh-i-Noor diamond. By a treaty with Muhammad Shah, he also obtained rights of all the provinces to the west of Indus. The success of Nadir Shah revealed the internal weakness of the Mughal Empire and thoroughly destroyed its prestige. Muhammad Shah's reign also faced invasion from Ahmad Shah Abdali, who had succeeded Nadir Shah's eastern territories after his death. Ahmad Shah Abdali was unsuccessful and was forced to retreat. Muhammad Shah, however, did not live long after the victory and died on April 26, 1748. This article was last updated on Sunday, June 01, 2003