Malik Andeel


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? Double it!"

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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