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Mughal Religious Views:

Babur was a Sunni Muslim. He had complete faith in God but he was
not a bigot. He had agreed to propagate Shia sect among his subjects
when he had entered into a treaty with Shah Ismail of Persia. Certainly
Babur exhibited intolerance in India on several occasions.

He declared wars against Rana Sanga and Medini Rai as Jihads (holy
wars), assumed the title of Ghazi (slayer of infidels), abolished stamp-
tax on the Muslims and built a mosque in Ayodhya. Yet, his aim was
not religious but political. He took these measures only during the
course of wars in order to inspire his followers.

Dr A.L. Srivastava writes:

“. . . his attitude towards his new subjects in this country was not as
bad as that of most of the rulers of the Sultanate period.”

Humayun was also a Sunni Muslim and followed the principles of his
faith in his personal life. But his policy was also tolerant. He was very
much tolerant towards the Shias. His wife Hamida Banu Begum and
his chief noble, Bairam Khan, were Shias. He was inclined towards
Sufism also. Towards Hindus, of course, he became illiberal during the
course of wars and even destroyed Hindu temples, yet he adopted no
measure against them in times of peace

Sher Shah:
Sher Shah was an Afghan ruler. Historians have differed regarding his
religious policy. Dr K.R. Qanungo says that his treatment of the
Hindus was respectful. Dr A.L. Srivastava writes- “Sher Shah’s
personal feelings and views apart, he was, on the whole, a tolerant
ruler and did think it wise to follow a policy of religious persecution.
He left Hindus undisturbed and allowed them to follow their own
religion without let or hindrance.”
Contrary to these views, Dr S.R. Sharma has expressed:
“Sher Shah was only a product of his own age as far as his religious
policy was concerned. Like Feroz Shah before him, he combined
administrative zeal with religious intolerance. His place in history
does not depend upon his initiating a policy of religious toleration or

Personally Sher Shah practised the principles of Islam and, at times,

tried to raise the prestige of Islam. He declared Jihad against Puran
Mal of Raisin and butchered the Rajputs by treachery. He destroyed
the Hindu temple at Jodhpur and raised a mosque in its place.

But, again, these instances are examples when he was fighting against
the Hindus. In times of peace, he adopted no such measure. Therefore,
mostly it is accepted that he did not engage himself in religious

The religious policy of Akbar was that of complete toleration. His
policy was based on the principle of Suleh-i-kul (universal peace).
Akbar was the first among the emperors of Delhi who pursued such a

Various factors were responsible for the liberal views and policy of
religious toleration of Akbar. His father was Sunni while his mother
and his protector, Bairam Khan were Shias. His tutor, Abdul Latif had
so much liberal religious views that he was regarded a Sunni in Persia
and a Shia in northern India. His career in India began in Punjab
where saints like Guru Nanak had preached equality of Islam and

Therefore, Akbar grew up in liberal surroundings which affected his

personal views. Besides, sixteenth century has been regarded as the
century of religious revival in the world. India also did not remain
behind and saints of Bhakti-cult and the Sufis preached religious

In 1575 A.D., he constructed Ibadat Khana (House of worship) at

Fatehpur Sikri in which regular discussions were held on Thursday
evenings. In the beginning, only Muslim scholars were allowed to
participate in discussions but when Akbar realised that there was no
unanimity even among the Muslims regarding principles of Islam, he
allowed scholars of all other faiths to participate in the discussions.

In 1581 A.D., he prohibited the slaughter of sheep and horses; himself

stopped taking meat for nine months in a year; stopped hunting which
was his favourite pastime; and, in 1587 A.D. prohibited slaughter of
animals for nearly six months in a year.

Dasturji Meharji, scholar of Persia was also invited by him who

developed Akbar’s interest in the Parsi religion. Because of its
influence Akbar started respecting Sun and fire. Fire was kept burning
for twenty-four hours in his palace. He also participated in the
festivals of the Parsis.

To put into practice, he formed the following regulations:

1. People of all faiths i.e., Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Parsis, Jains
were allowed to construct buildings for purpose of their worship, to
propagate their faith peacefully and celebrate their religious fairs and

2. All these people who were forcibly converted to Islam were allowed
to go back to their previous faith.

3. State services were thrown open to people of all faiths on merit.

4. Some religious texts of Hinduism like the Ramayana and the

Mahabharat were translated into Persian.

5. Uniform taxation system was applied to all citizens.

6. No social distinction was to be observed among the people on the
basis of differences of their religion and everybody was allowed to
practise his social traditions and personal values.

Dr S.R. Sharma says that “Akbar remained the follower of Islam till his
death.” He argues that when prince Salim revolted against his father
he could not charge him of blasphemy.

Even Badayuni who was very much against Akbar wrote that till 1598
A.D. whosoever disrespected Prophet Mohammad in any way was
punished by death. Thus, Dr Sharma is nearer the truth. Akbar, of
course, did not follow principles of Islam strictly, yet he never felt the
necessity of accepting any other religion. He was a liberal man and
therefore, was tolerant towards every faith. Yet, he remained a
Muslim, rather, a good Muslim throughout his life.

Regarding his religious policy, Jahangir has been placed between his
father, Akbar and his son, Shah Jahan. He had faith in God and
observed principles of Islam in a normal way. But, he was not a
religious man. He did not practise principles of Islam strictly. He came
in contact with people of all faiths which liberalised his views. He
believed in the unity of God.

He mostly pursued the religious policy of Akbar and gave equal

facilities to all his subjects without discriminating between them on
grounds of religion. The Hindus were not burdened by additional
taxation and received services in the state according to merit.
However, there are certain instances which prove that, at times,
Jahangir favoured Islam

Shah Jahan:
As compared to his father, Jahangir, Shah Jahan certainly favoured
Islam. He was a Sunni Muslim, dressed in Muslim fashion, did not
permit the Hindus to wear Muslim dress, kept beard, used alcohol in a
restrained manner and was regular in his prayers and keeping fasts of

During early years of his reign, he exhibited fanaticism also. He

stopped the practice of Sizda (saluting the emperor by lying down on
the earth), disallowed the Hindus to keep Muslim slaves, imposed
pilgrim-tax on the Hindus though removed it afterwards very shortly,
and stopped celebration of Hindu festivals at the court. Temples in
Banaras, Allahabad, Gujarat and Kashmir were broken during his

Prince Aurangzeb destroyed the temples in Orcha, built mosques in

their places and forced the relatives of Jujhar Singh to accept Islam.
When there was a war against the Portuguese, churches at Agra were
destroyed. The Hindus and the Christians were disallowed to get
converts from other faiths. The Hindus of Rajauri and Bhimbar who
had married Muslim girls were forced to leave them and all such girls
were returned to their parents.

In the seventh year of his reign, Shah Jahan had ordered that those
Hindus who would embrace Islam would get their share from the
property of their father immediately. Shah Jahan encouraged
conversion to Islam throughout his reign.

Aurangzeb completely reversed the religious policy of Akbar. He
adopted a policy of persecuting people of other faiths. He was a fanatic
Sunni, Zinda (living) Pir for his Sunni subjects and observed the
principles of Islam strictly. He was very much particular about his
daily prayers and fast of Ramzan. He dressed very simply, never
touched alcohol and did not keep more than four wives at a time.

From religious point of view, no Mughul emperor stands in

comparison with him. But Aurangzeb was a bigot. Having staunch
faith in Islam he refused to think that there could be truth in other
religions as well. He believed that even Muslim Shias did not pursue
true Islam.
Therefore, the theory of kingship of Aurangzeb was Islamic theory of
kingship. He desired to convert this Dar-ul-harb (India) into the realm
of Dar-ul-Islam. He never forgot this aim. Rather, he utilised the
entire machinery of the state to fulfill this aim.

To fulfill this object, he imprisoned his father, killed his brothers,

forced his son Akbar to lead the life of a fugitive and the Rajputs, the
Sikhs, the Jats and the Marathas to revolt, destroyed the Shia states of
Bijapur and Golkunda and imposed all sorts of economic, social, and
religious liabilities on the majority of his subjects, i.e., the Hindus with
a view to force them to accept Islam.

In 1688 A.D., restrictions were imposed on celebrating Hindu fairs

and festivals and the Hindus except the Rajputs were disallowed to use
good horses, palanquins, elephants and arms. Aurangzeb imposed all
these political, social, economic and religious disabilities on the
Hindus with a view to force them to accept Islam.
Foreign Affairs:

Main objectives of the foreign policy of the Mughals:

The foreign policy of the Mughals was guided by the
following objectives and principles:

1. To safeguard India from foreign invasions.

2. To maintain balance of power among the Uzbeks, the Safaids and

the Turks (Ottoman empire).

3. To increase trade and commerce with other countries.

4. To conquer their ancestral land in Central Asia—homeland from

where Babur had been turned out.

5. To check the power of the Afghan tribes, that lived in the mountain
region between Punjab and Kabul.
1)Relations of the Mughals with the Uzbeks in Central Asia:

Babur’s homeland was Fargana in Uzbeks. He was defeated by the
Uzbeks and was deprived of Fargana and Samarqand.Babur always
wanted to conquer his homeland but failed. So he couldn’t have good
relations with uzbeks.

Humayun, in his wanderings took shelter with the Shah of Persia who
helped him in regaining India.

The Uzbek ruler wanted that Akbar should have no friendship with
Persia. This proposition was not acceptable to Akbar and he politely

Akbar and the Uzbek ruler entered into a treaty which

included the following terms:
(a) The Mughal ruler not to take any interest in Badakshan and Balkh.

(b) The Uzbek ruler not to interfere in Kabul and Kandhar.

During the reign of Jahangir, Persia snatched Kandhar from the
Mughals and Baghdad from the Turks. Then Jahangir, the Uzbeks and
the Turks collaborated together to start a triangular fight against
Persia. This collaboration was short-lived.

Shah Jahan:
Shah Jahan sent several expeditions to conquer Bukhara from the
Uzbeks but had to suffer heavy losses. In the beginning of the
campaigns prince Aurangzeb had an upper hand and he had even
captured Bukhara. But on his return journey, his victory was turned
into a rout. The Mughal forces suffered grievous losses—in men and
money. It exposed the hollowness of Shah Jahan’s power.
Aurangzeb made no attempt to recapture the areas occupied by the
Uzbeks. He maintained friendly relations with them. There was
frequent exchange of ambassadors and gifts from both sides.

2) The Mughals and Persia:

The relations between the Mughal rulers and Persia hanged on the
superiority over Kandhar which was situated on that passage which
linked India with Persia and countries of Central Asia.

Each party asserted an exclusive claim over it on account of

the following reasons:
1. Kandhar was very rich and had fertile land.

2. For the Mughals from the political point of view the possession of
Kandhar was important as from it they could easily check the foreign
invaders to India.

3. Kandhar occupied a very strategic position from the point of view of

Persia also.

4. With the possession of Kandhar, it was easy to exercise check on the

Afghans, the Baluchis and the hill tribes.

5. The passage of Kandhar had great significance for the pilgrims

going to Mecca.

6. Economically the control over Kandhar was important as it was the

starting point of traders from China and the Mediterranean sea ports.

7. The possession of Kandhar was claimed by both powers for

consideration of prestige and sentiments.

Babur and Persia:

Kandhar had been once ruled by Babur’s cousin. In the beginning of
the 16th century Kandhar was ruled by semi-independent rulers who
according to their convenience sided with the Mughals or Persia.
Babur conquered Kandhar before becoming the ruler of India. He
pacified the ruler of Persia by addressing to him a very conciliatory

Humayun and Persia:

Humayun received great help from the ruler of Persia after his defeat
at the hands of Sher Shah. The Shah of Persia gave him shelter and
help on the condition that after his victories is Hindustan, Humayun
would hand over Kandhar to him. However, Humayun after his
victories did not hand over Kandhar to Persia. After the death of
Humayun, Persia captured Kandhar.

Akbar and Persia:

Akbar made no attempt to capture Kandhar till the Uzbeks posed a
threat to it. An opportunity came when the Uzbeks attacked Kandhar.
The governor of Kandhar failed to get any help from Persia. The
governor of Kandhar surrendered Kandhar to Akbar after getting some
concessions. Nevertheless the relations between Persia and the
Mughals remained cordial.

Jahangir and Persia:

Jahangir and the Persian ruler exchanged ambadassors and valuable
gifts for several years. However the Mughal ruler neglected the
defence of Kandhar and Persia all of sudden captured Kandhar to the
great surprise of Jahangir. The ruler of Persia tried to make out that
Kandhar belonged to Persia and Jahangir himself should have
restored it Persia. On account of the revolt of prince Khurram,
Jahangir lost Kandhar.

Shah Jahan and Persia:

Shah Jahan made several efforts to conquer Kandhar but without any
success. Only for a very short period he could exercise control over
Kandhar. Kandhar remained in the hands of Persia. Kandhar
campaigns caused a great loss to the Imperial Treasury of the
Aurangzeb and Persia:
There was no conflict worth mentioning between the Mughal ruler and
the ruler of Persia. Aurangzeb made no serious attempt to take

North-Western Policy of the Mughal Emperors

Importance of the North-West Defence:

The great mountain wall of the Himalayas protected the country
from the North and acted as natural barriers against foreign invasions
in the north.
The Persian, the Greek, the Kushan, the Hun, the Turk, the Afghan
and the Mughal invaders entered India through these passes.

Babur and the North-West:

Before invading India, Babur had already captured strategic points of
the Hindukush range. He, therefore, did not face any serious problem
from the North-West Frontier

Humayun was able to capture Kandhar with the assistance of Shah of
Persia. He did not encounter any tribal uprising from this direction.

Akbar followed a systematic frontier policy. He suppressed the wild
tribes by sending strong forces which had to face serious challenge
from the Afghan tribes, especially the Yusufzais. The tribal uprising
convinced Akbar to bring the frontier provinces under his strict
control. He conquered and annexed Sind, Baluchistan, Kashmir and
Kandhar. He secured the empire and brought territorial gains to the
Mughal empire in this direction.

Although the Shah of Persia professed friendship with Jahangir, he
captured Kandhar.

Shah Jahan:
In spite of best efforts, Shah Jahan failed to get foothold.

Aurangzeb followed a ‘forward’ policy on the Northwest Frontier. The
unruly Afghan tribes of the region created lot of trouble for the

There were three important revolts of the Yusufzais (1667), of the

Afridis (1672) and the Kataks (1674).

The Mughal Governor of Kabul took recourse to bribes to solve the

problem of Afghan tribals. Aurangzeb had to pay a very high price.

Rajput Policy of the Mughal Emperors

In this article we will discuss about the various Mughul emperors and
their Rajput policies.

Babur had no planned policy towards the Rajputs. He had to fight
against Rana Sanga of Mewar and Medini Rai of Chanderi because this
was necessary for the establishment and safety of his empire in India.
On both the occasions, he declared Jihad, assumed the title of ghazi
after his success and raised minarets of the heads of the Rajputs. But
he married Humayun with one Rajput princess and employed Rajputs
in the army. Thus, he neither tried to befriend Rajputs nor regarded
them as his permanent enemies.

Humayun continued the policy of his father regarding the Rajputs.
However, he lost one good opportunity to befriend the Rajputs of
Mewar. He did not help Mewar against Bahadur Shah of Gujarat even
when Rani Karnvati of Mewar had offered to become his sister. He
also failed to get support of Maldeo of Marwar against Sher Shah.

Sher Shah:

Sher Shah desired to bring Rajput rulers under his suzerainty. In 1544
A.D., he attacked Marwar and succeeded in capturing larger part of it.
Ranthambhor was also captured by him while the rulers of Mewar and
Jaipur accepted his suzerainty without fighting.

He also captured Kalinjar just before his death. He, thus, succeeded in
his objective. One primary cause of his success was that he did not try
to annex the kingdoms of Rajput rulers. Those who accepted his
suzerainty were left masters of their kingdoms.

Akbar was the first Mughul emperor who pursued a planned policy
towards the Rajputs. Various factors participated in the formation of
his Rajput policy. Akbar was an imperialist. He desired to bring under
his rule as much territory of India as could be possible

We find three following principles which he pursued

regarding Rajput rulers:

(a) He captured strong forts of the Rajputs like the forts of Chittor,
Merta, Ranthambhor, Kalinjar etc. This weakened the power of the
Rajputs to offer him resistance.

(b) Those Rajput rulers who either accepted his sovereignty or

entered into matrimonial relations with him voluntarily were left
masters of their kingdoms. They were given high offices in the state
and there was no interference in their administration. They were,
however, asked to pay annual tribute to the emperor.

(c) Those Rajput rulers who opposed him, were attacked and efforts
were made to force them to accept his sovereignty. The case of Mewar
was the best example of it.

Jahangir continued the policy of his father in the same manner. He
was liberal towards the Rajputs though the number of the Rajputs on
higher posts decreased during his reign. He also attempted to force
Mewar to submission which had refused it so far. He sent several
Mughul forces, one after another, to invade Mewar right from the
beginning of his reign

Shah Jahan:
Shah Jahan also pursued the policy of his father and grandfather. He
gave them all due honour and befriended them though the number of
the Rajputs on higher posts went on decreasing. Yet, the Rajputs
remained loyal to him. While Raja Jaswant Singh of Marwar and Raja
Jai Singh of Jaipur served him loyally, Rana Jagat Singh and Rana Raj
Singh of Mewar respectively maintained good relations with him.

Aurangzeb reversed the policy which was enunciated by Akbar and
pursued by Jahangir and Shah Jahan. He was a bigot and the Rajputs
were the greatest obstacle in persuance of his policy against the
Hindus. Aurangzeb, therefore, attempted to destroy the power of the
Rajputs and annex their kingdoms.