At the age of six, Mir Qumaruddin Siddiqi accompanied his father to the Mughal court in 1677. Aurangzeb awarded him a mansab, and said to his father, "The star of destiny shines on the forehead of your son". Mir Qumaruddin Siddiqi displayed considerable skill as a warrior and before he reached his teens began acompanying his father into battle. His first promotion came at the age of 13 after the successful capture of the forts of Poona and Supa, when he received the rank of 400 zat and 100 horse. By the time he was 16, Qamar-ud-din Siddiqi had added the fortresses of Raigarth to his list of conquests and was rewarded with a bejewelled sword, a robe of honour and an elephant.
In 1688 aged 17 he joined his father in the successful assault on the fort of Adoni and was promoted to the rank of 2000 zat and 500 horse and presented with the finest Arab steed with gold trappings and a pastille perfumed with ambergris from the mughal court.
At the age of nineteen, the Emperor bestowed on him the title "Chin Fateh Khan". He was also gifted a female elephant and now aged 20 he was bestowed with the title of "Chin Qilich Khan" (boy swordsman) for surviving an attack that blew off three of his horse's legs during the siege of Wakinhera Fort. For fighting on and capturing the fort he was raised to rank of 5000 horse and awarded 15 million dams, a jewelled sabre and a third elephant. At 26, he was appointed Commander in Chief and Viceroy, first at Bijapur, then Malwa and later of the Deccan.
He inherited his grandfather's piety and his fathers military prowess. Described by one historian as the last representative of the "Aurangzeb school of public duty and integrity". Henry George Briggs (a historian) wrote "If Moosulman were accustomed to perpetuate the memory of their heroes by posthumous ovations, india might have seen a hundred statues of her greatest mohammedan hero of the eighteenth century".
After Aurangzeb's death he was appointed Governor of Oudh, but after Bahadur Shahs death he opted for a private life in Delhi. His sabbatical was cut short when in 1712 the sixth of Aurangzeb's successors, Farrukhsiyar convinced him to take up the post of Viceroy of the Deccan with the title of Nizam ul-Mulk (Regulator of the Realm) Fateh Jung.
Nizam ul-Mulk began building up his own power-base independently of the mughals in Delhi, while continuing to give obeisance to the throne and even remitting money to the centre. He was then called upon by Farrukhsiyar to help fight off the Saiyid brothers. Farrukhsiyar was found and killed but Nizam ul-Mulk was rewarded for defeating the Saiyids with the post of Diwan (Prime minister) in the court of Muhammad Shah, Farrukhsiyar's 18 year old successor.
But all did not work as well as planned. Nizam ul-Mulk's attempts to reform the corrupt Mughal administration with its cliques of concubines and eunuchs created many enemies. According to his biographer, Yusuf Husain, he grew to hate the "harlots and jesters" who were the Emperor's constant companions and greeted all great nobles of the realm with lewd gestures and offensive epithets. Nizam ul-Mulk's desire to restore the etiquette of the Court and the discipline of the State to the standard of Shah Jahan's time earned him few friends. By envious malicious insinuations (the courtiers) poisoned the mind of the Emperor against his devoted servant.
In 1724 Nizam ul-Mulk resigned his post in disgust and set off for the Deccan to resume the Vice-royalty, only to find Mubariz Khan, who had been appointed governor by Emperor Farrukhsiyar nine years earlier, refusing to vocate the post. Mubariz khan had successfully restored law and order in the Deccan and fended off marauding bands of Maratha raiders, rebellious telegu Zamindars, bandit chiefs and renegade Mughal commanders, but he was also paying lip service to the Mughal throne making only token payments and dividing plum administrative posts among his sons, his uncle and his favourite slave eunuchs. Unimpressed by the up-start occupying what he considered to be his rightfull place, Nizam ul-Mulk gathered his forces at Shakarkhelda in Berar for a showdown with Mubariz Khan's impressive army. The encounter was short but decisive. Wrapped in his bloodsoaked shawl, Mubariz Khan drove his war elephant into battle until he died from his wounds. His severed head was then sent to Delhi as proof of Nizam ul-Mulk's determination to annihilate anyone who stood in his way.
Now there came from the Emperor an elephant, jewels and the title of Asaf Jah, with directions to settle the country, repress the turbulent, punish the rebels and cherish the people. Asaf Jah or the equal to Asaf, the Grand Vazir in the court of the biblical ruler King Solomon, was the highest title that could be awarded to a subject of the Mughal Empire. There were no lavish ceremonies to mark the establishment of the Asaf Jahi dynasty in 1724. The inauguration of the first Nizam took place behind closed doors in a private ceremony attended by the new ruler's closest advisors. Nizam ul-Mulk never formally declared his inpedendence and insisted that his rule was entirley based on the trust reposed in him by the Mughal Emperor to who he swore eternal loyalty.
The Nizams Dominions yielded an income that was almost equal to the rest of the Mughal Empire, yet there was no throne, no crown and no symbol of sovereignty. Coins were still minted with the Emperor's name until 1858. It was in the name of the Mughal ruler and not the Nizam that prayers were read out in the Friday Sermon. Qamaruddin Khan was essentially the servant of the Mughal Emperor.
As the Viceroy of the Deccan, the Nizam was the head of the executive and judicial departments and the source of all civil and militry authority, rulling as an absolute monarch. All officials were appointed by him directly or in his name. Assisted by a Diwan the Nizam drafted his own laws, raised his own armies, flew his own flag and formed his own government. But he refused to adopt the title of King even when it was offered to later nizams by the British in 1810.
Nizam ul-mulk wrote a letter acknowledging Muhammad Shah's farman (royal decree) was couched in the most reverential language. " Even if the pen opens its thousand tongues of gratitude for his majesty it would simply be impossible to recount one out of the innumerable favours and benefits conferred on his servant" he wrote. "As long as the sun shines on firmament, may the altar of the Caliphate and the asylum of the world remain victorious and blest causing envy to the assembly of Jam and the garden of Paradise." Nizam ul-mulk had good reason to be grateful. Alongside his own personal wealth came the spoils of war and status, he was also entitled to the lions share of gold unearthed in his dominions, the finest diamonds and gems from Golconda mines and the income from his vast personal estates.
Nizams first priority was to secure the Deccan from "the abominations of infidelity and tyranny.... the ruffianism of highway robbers and the rapacity of the Marathas and rebellious zamindars". He then divided his newly acquired kingdom into three parts. One third became his own private estate known as the Sarf-i-Khas, one third was alloted for the expenses of the government and was known as the Diwans territory, and the remainder was distributed to muslim nobles (Jagirdar,Zamindars,Deshmukh), who in return paid nazars (gifts) to the Nizam for the privilege of collecting revenue from the villages under their suzerainty. The most important of these were the Paigah estates. The Paigah's doubled up as generals, making it easy to raise an army should the Nizams Dominions come under attack. They were the equivalent to the Barmakids for the Abbasid Caliphate. Only second to the Nizams family, they were very important in the running of the government and even today their legacy lingers on with ruined palaces and tombs doted around the once very feudal city of Hyderabad. Scattered around the country were also numerous Hindu Rajahs and chiefs who were also granted fiefs and allowed to maintain a certain level of autonomy of payment of annual tributes to the Nizam. On the sanads (scrolls) granting them their lands, inscribed in Persian were the words "as long as the Sun and the Moon are in rotation". The owners of the estates were mostly absentee landlords who cared little for the condition of the lands under their control. Jagirs were usually split into numerous pieces in order to prevent the most powerful of the nobles from entertaining any thought of carving out an empire for themselves. The system, which continued relatively unchanged until 1950, ensured a steady source of income for the state treasury and the Nizam himself, plus it also transformed Hyderabad into the most feudal of all princely states to be.
Casting aside his puritanical streak, Nizam ul-mulk answered the Emperors call for help by sending his troops to Karnal, where Muhammed Shah's forces had gathered to turn back the Persian army. but the combined forces were cannon fodder for the Persian cavalry and its superior weaponry and tactics. Up to 150,000 Indian soldiers were said to have died in the three hour battle on February 13 1739. This was to be Nizam ul-mulks only defeat in battle.
Nadir Shah entered Delhi on his horse, where a rumour had spread,saying that Nadir Shah had been assassinated. With this the people of Delhi started a full swing uprising against Nadir Shah, throwing stones and other missiles at the Persian soldiers below. But it was when a bullet killed one of his generals standing next to Nadir shah, that his anger exploded and waving his sword above his head he gave the signal for the ransack of Delhi to begin.
Unable to prevent his capital being destroyed, Muhammed Shah again summoned Nizam ul-mulk for help. Once again the ageing monarch obliged. A master of tact and diplomacy, he presented himself before the Persian King bare headed and with his sword hanging around his neck. Appealing to Nadir Shah's sense and pity and pleading for the massacre to end. Nizam recited a couplet by the Persian poet Hafiz
oh King your anger has killed so many men, If you want to kill some more, bring them back to life again
Moved by the couplet and sickened by the slaughter taking place outside, Nadir Shah complied. Saying to the Nizam, "I pardon in consideration of thy grey beard", he ordered the massacre to stop.
Some historians go even further to say that Nadir Shah was so impressed with the Nizam, that he offered him the chance to become sultan of India, but the Nizam refused saying that he was but a servant of the Mughal Emperor and nothing more.
The Nizam although a great military commander was not so well suited to ruling his own territory. The Feudal Lords had the power of life and death and exercised a kind of "imperium-in-imperio". His territory was almost depopulated in some areas and chaos reigned almost everywhere.
Despite the unrest that began to spread through his dominions in the final years of his life, he was still the most powerful man in India. His son was the guardian of the young Mughal Emperor at the time, therefore the de-facto ruler and Nizam himself controlled the entire Deccan. The future of India was in his families hands and this was very apparent looking at the success of the British. Even after Aurangzebs death the British and French made little progress but it was when Nizam ul-mulk died that they were given a chance to take India, and they used the Nizams as a back gate into Mughal India.
In March 1742, the British who were based in Fort St George in Madras sent a modest hamper to Nizam ul-mulk in recognition of his leadership of the most important of the Mughal successor states. Its contents included a gold throne, gold and silver threaded silk from Europe, two pairs of large painted looking glasses, and equipage for coffee cups, 163.75 yards of green and 73.5 yards of crimson velvet, brocades, Persian carpets, a gold ceremonial cloth, two Arab horses, half a dozen ornate rose-water bottles and 39.75 chests of rose water - enough to keep the Nizam and his entire darbar fragrant for the rest of his reign. Careful to maintain his distance, the Nizam sent in return just one horse, a piece of jewellery and a note warning the British they had no right to mint their own currency, to which they meekly complied.
It was after Nizam ul-mulks death that his son and grandson sought help from the British and French in order to win the throne. It was through this mistake that the foreigners found their foothold in India.
Just days before he died in 1748, Asaf Jah dictated his last will and testament. The 17 clause document was a blueprint for governance and personal conduct that ranged from advice on how to keep the troops happy and well fed to an apology for neglecting his wife. He began by calling on his successors to defend the dignity of the Deccan from the Marathas, whom he referred to as "armies of freebooters". He warned them to be on guard against the Marathas, Pathans, Gujaratis and Kashmiris. As for Hindu Brahmins, they were "fit only to be hanged and quartered". He then reminded his successors to remain subservient to the Mughal Emperor who had granted them their office and rank. He warned against declaring war unnecessarily, but if forced to do so to seek the help of elders and saints and follow the sayings and practices of the Prophet. Nizam cautioned against senseless killing, saying that "mankind should not be likened to so many ears of barley, wheat and maize which grow anew every year". Finally, he insisted to his sons that "you must not lend your ears to tittle-tattle of the backbiters and slanderers, nor suffer the riff-raff to approach your presence.
Nizam-ul-Mulk is remembered as laying the foundation for what would become the most important Muslim state outside the Middle East by the first half of the twentieth century. He attained his object by waging a struggle against the Marathas and by the policy of non-involvement in the rivalry for power between the British and the French. His policy has been justified by later events as Hyderabad state survived right through the period of British rule up to the time of Indian independence 1947, and was indeed the largest - the state covered an extensive 95,337 sq. miles, An area larger than Mysore or Gwalior and the size of Nepal and Kashmir put together (although it was the size of France when the first Nizam held reign) - and one of the most prosperous, among the princely states of the British Raj.
Nizam ul-mulk outlived eight Mughal Emperors and achieved victory in all but one of the 87 battles he fought in his lifetime. "he was not only in command of armies, but was indeed a leader of men. He not only founded a State, but also organised and established it"
Nizam ul-mulk summoned his second son Nasir Jung, his wives and chief nobles to his bedside, said his prayers and died aged 76. He had four sons and a daughter, Mir Ahmed Ali Khan Nasir Jung, Mir Ghazi uddin Khan Bahadur Firuz jung, Nawab Syed Mohammed Khan Salabath Jung, Nawab Mir Nizam Ali Khan Bahadur Nizam Ul Mulk Azaf Jah II, Sahibzadi Khair unisa Begum.