BENEVOLENT SULTAN OF BENGAL, INDIA (d. 1494)
AMONG THE MANY ETHIOPIANS who attained to high power
in eastern India was Malik Andeel, possibly the greatest of their
number. Born a slave, he ultimately became commander-in-chief of the
armies of the rich and potent kingdom of Bengal under the rule of
Sultan Futteh Khan, and was later sultan himself.
In the course of a rebellion in 1473 Futteh Khan was killed. The throne
was seized by Bareek, chief eunuch, who compelled Malik Andeel to
take an oath of allegiance promising that he would never attack him
"whilst he was on the throne."
Malik Andeel, however, cherished plans of becoming sultan. Ingratiating
himself into the favor of Bareek until he had won his complete confidence
and was permitted to come and go in the palace at will, he conspired
with Bareek's attendant, another Negro eunuch.
The plan was to get Bareek thoroughly drunk, and when this was achieved,
Malik Andeel was called. Malik found the intoxicated Bareek lolling
on a chair, not upon the throne, and taking advantage of the occasion
he construed this as a condition not covered by his oath, and stabbed
the sultan. Bareek, however, was large and powerfully built, and in
the rough and tumble fight that followed might have beaten Malik Andeel
had not the latter's attendants come to his rescue. Even then they
did not know where to strike as the room was pitch dark, the lights
having been extinguished in the scuffle, but Malik Andeel:l, who was
underneath and covered by the sultan's huge body, ordered them to
stab. Bareek was hacked to pieces and Malik Andeel emerged unhurt.
Malik Andeel was then elected sultan by the people of Bengal with
the official title of Feroze Shah. He was an able ruler. His Ethiopian
compatriots backed him so effectively that none of the white Turkish
or Afghan chiefs dared to rebel against him.
Malik Andeel was noted for his generosity. On one occasion he ordered
that a sum of money be distributed among the poor, which his ministers
thought to be far too much. To impress this upon him they heaped up
the money in a room through which the sultan was bound to pass. Learning
of the intent, Malik Andeel said when he saw it, "Is that all?
After a peaceful reign of thirteen years Malik Andeel died in 1494.
He was succeeded by his son Mdahrratad. The remains of a mosque, a
minaret, and a reservoir built by Malik Andeel were still in evidence
in 1813, according too Stewart, who commented that Malik Andeel governed
with "strict justice and munificent liberality.
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