(r. 1236–15 October 1240), popularly known as Razia Sultana, was a ruler of the Delhi Sultanate in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. She is notable for being the first female ruler of South Asia.
A daughter of Mamluk Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish, Razia administered Delhi during 1231-1232 when her father was busy in the Gwalior campaign. According to a possibly apocryphal legend, impressed by her performance during this period, Iltutmish nominated Razia as his heir apparent after returning to Delhi. Iltutmish was succeeded by Razia’s half-brother Ruknuddin Firuz, whose mother Shah Turkan planned to execute her. During a rebellion against Ruknuddin, Razia instigated the general public against Shah Turkan, and ascended the throne after Ruknuddin was deposed in 1236.
Razia’s ascension was challenged by a section of nobles, some of whom ultimately joined her, while the others were defeated. The Turkic nobles who supported her expected her to be a figurehead, but she increasingly asserted her power. This, combined with her appointments of non-Turkic officers to important posts, led to their resentment against her. She was deposed by a group of nobles in April 1240, after having ruled for less than 4 years. She married one of the rebels – Ikhtiyaruddin Altunia – and attempted to regain the throne, but was defeated by her half-brother and successor Muizuddin Bahram in October that year, and was killed shortly after.