Al-Zahir Barquq was bought by the Amir Yilbugha in 764 after Hijra, AD 1362. When Sultan al-Ashraf Shaaban sent some of the Mamluks out of Egypt, Barquq was one of them. He was imprisoned in Karak for several years. He was then released and served Manjak, Vice-Regent of Syria in Damascus.
Al-Zahir Barquq returned to Cairo after being pardoned by Sultan al-Ashraf Shaaban. He served the children of Sultan Shaaban, eventually becoming Amir Tablakhana, or military band. In 779 after Hijra, AD 1377, he took control of the affairs of state and in 784 after Hijra (AD 1382) declared himself Sultan. He was ousted from power but returned a year later. Sultan Al-Zahir Barquq's jurisdiction was extensive. The Friday prayers were read out in his name as far as Mardin and Mosul.
He was known to be brave. He was an excellent horseman and he loved horseback riding. His reign was also one of great prosperity and economic revival. He encouraged foreign traders, especially from the east. During his reign prices of eastern goods decreased. It was also a period of cultural and artistic revival.