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Bada’uni, Akbar and Religion, 1595

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    Posted: 19-Oct-2018 at 13:22

Bābur, whose original name is Ẓahīr al-Dīn Muḥammad, is a descendant of both the Mongol rulers of Genghis Khan, was born in 1483 in the principality of Fergana. He is mostly notorious for founding the Mughal Empire in 1526 because of his tenancy of North India. Although his reign lasted only four years which was followed by his exile in Persia and where his son Humayun made different treaties with the Safavid empire. This alliance can still be seen through the heavy impact of the Persian culture from clothes to culinary dishes up to architecture. This impact was deeply rooted to the point where the Mughal’s official government language was Persian and it was used amongst the intellectuals. When Babur’s grandson, and humayun’s son, Akbar became the new emperor of the Mughal empire where he ruled between 1556 and 1605. His reign was known to brought about the pinnacle of the Mughal Empire mainly because he inherited a shriveled empire that did not extend beyond Delhi and the Punjab but embarked on multiple military campaigns that extended his geographical boundaries and enabled the Mughals to be one of the most powerful empires of the era in the region. His main tactic was to turn his defeated opponents onto allies by allowing them to retain their powers and privileges as long as they pledge alliance to the Emperor. Moreover, he demonstrated great tolerance to non-Muslims and non-Mughals in his states. His policies deemed to be so successful and were inherited to several generations to come. Despite being illiterate, he was one of the few emperors to open different religious conversations in the Mughal Empire, allowing him to gain the confidence and allegiance of the vast majority of his subjects across the region. (Smith, 1917). However, his open-mindedness got him a lot of criticism.  Bada’uni, was one of Akbar’s Muslim advisors who specialized in Islamic and religious studies as well as linguistics but was also knowledgeable about theology and jurisprudence due to the several years he spent as an apprentice for many famous Muslim scholars. So he was considered to be from the upper-class society. However, Bada’uni was perceived as an extremist because of his complete and utter reject to anything not purely Islamic or any changes concerning the doctrines of the religion. Naturally, he expressed his resentment towards the revolutionary policies of Akbar openly. The primary source we are evaluating today is written by Bada’uni, and was taken from his memoir “Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh” that discussed Akbar’s reign and policies from an Islamic perspective. Bada’uni spent five years writing the memoir from 1590 to 1595 and was divided into three volumes where he talked about the rulers of India, Akbar’s life and the life of the scholars around Akbar respectively. (Sengupta, 52-54)

The source originates from India and despite its pertinence in the country, it did not travel outside of the Mughal Empire. Moreover, the source is a second version that got reprinted in 1988. The writer of the source Bada’uni is a primary and direct contributor of the source because he lived in the era of the ruling of Akbar and witnessed or was directly affected by all the main events he wrote about. The goal of the memoir to cause a public outrage in India among the subjects during the reign of Akbar and fuel the hatred among scholars in the country.The extract we are studying starts by narrating Akbar’s theological studies after reaching his peak wealth and power across different territories. Akbar’s main policies included: opening different religious, philosophical and ideological discussions which led him to leaving Islam after studying it throughouly. This decision came as a shock to the Muslim majority of the Mughal Empire and especially Bada’uni. After that, Akbar carried on to study and analyse many other religions such as hindiusm since it was a prominent religion in the empire. This particular attention made Bada’uni furious. Furthermore, Akbar expressed immense interest in Christianity then he moved on to more ancient religions such as Zoroastrianism. In 1580, Akbar decided to create a new foundation for a religion that cherry picked elements from Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Jainism, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism and he called it “the religion of god” in the hope to create a religion that would unify all his subjects and empower his tolerance theories. 

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