Sunday, November 29, 2009



The religious policy of the Mughal emperors was, on the whole, a tolerant one. Though staunch Sunnis personally, Babur and Humayun were tolerant. Akbar's policy was positively motivated towards achieving the cultural unity of India. Akbar's was a liberal and enlightened policy. He abolished pilgrim tax and jaziya in 1563 and 1564 respec­tively.

Akbar's religious views undKrwent a process of evo­lution. Though brought up as an orthodox Sunni Muslim he was greatly influenced by the mysticism of the Sufi doctrines, especially when he came in contact with the two brilliant brothers, Faizi and Abdul Fazal, who were Sufis. He invited learned professors of various religions to his Ibadat KJuzna, the hall of worship he built at Fatehpur Sikri
in 1575. Here he gave impartial hearing to all religious experts-Hindu, Muslim, Jain, Christian and Zoroastrian.

He was against rigid orthodoxy and narrow sectarianism of the Sunnis, who were bitterly opposed to his tolerant policy. Hence at the suggestion of Shaikh Mubarak, father of Abdul Fazal and Faizi, Akbar assumed the role of the spiritual leader of Islam. In 1579, he issued the so-called Infallibility Decree (Mahzar) in this regard. This decree made him the 'Pope as well as king', by which he appropriated to himself the right to choose any interpretation of the Quran in the interest of public good. This ended the dominance of bigots. In 1582, he promulgated Din-i-Ilahi, a new religion. The underlying principle .was Suleh-i-Kul (universal toleration). There was belief in unity of God, with the mingling of some Hindu, Jain and Persian doctrines. The new system was called Tawahid-i-Ilahi or Divine Monotheism. Among the principle members there was only one Hindu, Raja Birbal. Din-i-Ilahi did not swvive after Akbar's death.

1 comment:

  1. akbars religious policy has attracted much of scholarly attention with varying approches to it .there are some who credit him for having himself a personal tolerant attitude which led to the promulgation of din -i -ilahi while there are some who regard his religious policy instigated by the need of the hour ,to induct in his nobility wide variety of nobles so that no one group can its monopoly and therefore he carries out his political ambition through his religious policies . there are some who have worked upon the personal world outlook of akbar which assisted him in adopting a policy which was yet to become a theme dominant in modern india .in this way we can surely give the credit to akbar for being the architect of a dominant theme in modern india which is secularism .howeever i consider a mixture of both that his his personal beliefs as well as the political urgency which shaped akbars religious ideas .from the very beginning akbar was brought up in a very conducive environment towards secularism he was accompanied from his very chilhood with people who did not posses sectarian attitude among them one must count his regent bairam khan who was a shia and sheikh abdal latif who again had no sectarian prejudices .it is to these two people who must have influenced the uninformed mind of young akbar .in the 1560s he also married daughters and nieces of rajput chiefs and he is supposed to have a very tolerant attitude towards the religious leanings of his rajput wives ,so it must have become imperative in a sense that since hindu practices were prevalent in the royal household then why not make it prevalent in his kingdom therefore he freely allowed people to practice and preach their own faith .however badauni asserts that akbar was as much an orthodox as was to be expected of a sunni ruler and till 1582 he is supposed to have supressed all heretical practices it was only after 1582 with the working of the empire on the principle of sulh-i-kul that akbar ceased to be muslim.jesuit accounts of monserrate also regard akbar as an apostate who deluged from he normal practices of islam. akbar was highly influenced by the current environment of devotion and bhakti .he was largely influenced by sufi traditions .he is said to have been influenced by the doctrines of wahadat ul wujud and fana ad this was the time when he strongly moved away from the orthodox principles of theology and jurisprudence .he had a very inqusitive and questioning temperament which had its bearing in the discussions in the ibadat khana or the house of religion where discussions were held not only related to islamic theology and jurisprudence but also of other religions which included christians,jews,parsis and hindus .these discussions soon culminated in the declaration of mahzarnama(1578)or as it termed by vincent smith the infallibility decree according to which there arises any issue of difference then the king was supposed to hold his interpretation above that of mujtahid .from 1770s he was also supposed to make regular visits to ajmer dargah and has considered chisthi as his preceptor which was again a shift from orthodoxy towards heterogenity .in 1782 he declared the principle of sulh i kul or absolute peace whereby one can practice his own faith without the fear of any persecution .