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Akbar Religious Policy

Akbar Religious Policy

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Published by Faizan Khan

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Published by: Faizan Khan on Feb 20, 2012
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Akbar¶s Religious Policy

1. Introduction The religious innovation of Akbar is a debated issue in the history of Mughal India. With the Akbar¶s accession to the throne, new devices for successful rule over the Muslim and the nonMuslim subjects were adopted. The king manifested a policy of toleration towards his nonMuslim, (against or in favour) subjects and for rooting out discrimination he abolished pilgrimage tax and jizya, formerly imposed upon the Hindus. Some of the historians like Abdul Qadir Badauni, the Jesuits and Mr. Smits have called Akbar and apostate because he initiated the Din-i-Ilahi (The Divine Faith). Thi sis perhaps a harsh juddgement and exaggeration. Many historians (both Muslims and non-Muslims) and scientific investigations have examined the issue and discovered little to confirm this extreme view. 2. Development of Akbar¶s Religion : The analysis of S.M Ikram in his book µHistory of Muslim Civilization in India and Pakistan¶ reeal that µAkbar started as a devoted orthodox Muslim and a God-fearing religious minded individual¶. According to µDhakirat-ul Khawanin (Vol I), Akbar said all the five prayers and occasionally swept the palace mosque with his own hands. He had great veneration for the religious leaders like Mukhdum-ul-Malik and Sheikh Abdul Nabi, and Saints like Khawaja Muin-ud-Din Chishti and Sheikh Salim Chishti. We are even told by the hostile critic Badauni that µhe would sit many a morning along in prayer on a large flat stone of an old building near the Fatehpur palace in a lonely spot with his head bent over his chest and gathering the bliss of early hours.¶ 3. Discussion at the Ibadat Khana (the house of worship) and change of Akbar¶s mind: It is no denying a fact that his Hindu wives and their relatives might have extended a tremendous influence on him, his association with Hindu sages acted in a similar manner, and his bread minded courtiers like Abul Fazl and Faizi were responsible for the Akbar¶s new notion of a state religious policy, but the fundamental tendency which motivated the king was conflict of different religious sects, which shocked his soul and made him skeptic in religious matter. As a matter of fact, in his early days, he was an orthodox Sunni Muslim. A early as 1575 , he built a grant edifice called Ibadat Khana, which was set apart for religious discussions. But when the king noticed that even the two great theologians of his court astrayed themselves into opposition on certain issues, he became disguised with such mutual recrimination. Over and above, when Akbar observed that the jurists and Ulemahs could not guide him in the various perplexing problems, he devoted himself to the evolution of a new religion, which would, he hoped prove to be a synthesis of all the varying creeds and capable of uniting the discordant elements of his vast empire in one harmonious whole. 4. Study of Various Religions and the declaration of Infallibility Decree (1579)

and their supporters. Sheikh Mubarik. high dowries and polygamy were disapproved and discouraged g) Advice was issued for religious tolerance h) Circumcision before the age of twelve was forbidden i) The restriction of personal liberty and the selling of slaves was forbidden and a woman was not to be burnt against her inclination j) The homage paid to sun and the solar lamp was encouraged k) Nauruz was to be celebrated officially . The new innovations envisaged in the same order can be summarized in the light of details given in the Ain-i-Akbari. called by Smith as µInfallibility Decree¶ was announced. Its teachings were queer mixture of ideas and practices selected from different faiths.While Akbar was facing the complex problem of adjudging on certain complicated issues. It was promulgated in an assembly of courtiers in 1581. the father of Abdul Fazl and Faizi. 5. made by Akbar with the assistance and co-operation of a group of courtiers. as under : a) Everybody who approached the king had to keep his turban in his hand and put his head on the feet of king. have caused profound resentment among the Ulemas. the Muslim ruler had the authority to act as a supreme arbitrator and his choice would be decisive. stimulated the king. but Akbar remained fearless. The purpose was to put an end to conceit and selfishness. According to Ain-iAkbari. Din-i-Ilani or Tawhid-i-Illahi (1581) The Divine faith (or Din-i-Ilahi) was a rather novel experiment in the domain of religion. b) The disciples were to endeavour to abstain from flesh c) Each disciple was to give a party on the anniversary of his birthday and to bestow alms d) Dinars customarily given after a man¶s death were to e given by a disciple during his life-time e) The slaughter of animals in general was prohibited f) The marriages among the near relatives. whereby the king could act as the Supreme arbitrator in matters of religion. It was not a purely religious movement and the motive forced behind it was the attainment of certain political objectives. It was under such circumstances that the declaration of 1579. that if there was a difference of opinion between the jurists. The concepts and implications of Din-iIlahi were too revolutionary people. the emperor discouraged people to become his disciples but Badauni expresses that he discouraged the Muslim only. a liberal minded person. Thus Akbar assumed the role of a Mujtahid.

however. one would say µAllah-o-Akbar¶ and the other responded with µJalli-Jallaluhu¶. For his policy of religious toleration and giving adequate share in administration to all classes of people. but no pious Muslim would approve that he did not transgress the Islamic confinements. his entire outlook and mentality towards the state¶s relgion changed. On his close relations with the Hinduism and the services rendered to him by Sheikh Mubarik and his sons ± Abu Fazl and Faizi. His adherence to the Quranic injunctions is beyond doubt. So the rigidity of he being a conservative Muslim ceased to exist. Akbar assumed the task of a Mujtahid. pious it might be. but in the pursuit of personal hobby. A firm believer in the policy of universal toleration. there can be nothing but praise. 6. however. Having supported by the verses from the holy Quran. for which history cannot forgive him. but appealed to the inner feelings of men. was nothing but a mistake and misfortune. Akbar made no attempt to force his religion on others with the zeal of a convert or a religious fanatic. It only remains to adjudge Akbar¶s policy in general. When the disciples met each other. and he introduced new innovations in the shape of Din-i-Ilahi. because it was done not in the interest of state. Conclusion: Akbar began as a staunch Sunni Muslim and during the first few years of his reign he manifested himself to be an orthodox Muslim having great veneration for the theologians and saints. . he did not dare to impose his religious policy forcibly upon his Muslims and non-Muslim subjects. Although. But slowly and gradually when he experienced that the great Ulemahs of his kingdom had neither any conformity on giving verdict over certain complicated religions issues and nor could they proceed sincerely to avoid mutual allegations.l) A Governor was expected to pass the dawn and evening in mediation and pray at noon and mid-night m) The king symbolic motto was practiced. to set himself up as the spiritual leader of the people. Yet the result of it was quite different from what he wished to achieve. He did injustice to Islam and un-necessarily humiliated her.

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