Akbar

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The compassionate heart of his majesty finds no pleasure in cruelties or in causing sorrow to others; he is ever sparing of the lives of his subjects, wishing to bestow happiness upon all. - Abul Fazl
This hall [of Akbar's mausoleum] was, by order of the Emperor Jehanguire, the son of Acbar, highly decorated with painting and gilding; but in the lapse of time it was found to be gone greatly to decay; and the Emperor Aurungzebe, either from superstition or avarice, ordered it to be entirely defaced, and the walls whitened. - William Hodges

Abu'l-Fath Jalal ud-din Muhammad Akbar, popularly known as Akbar I (IPA: [əkbər], literally "the great"; 15 October 1542– 27 October 1605), and later Akbar the Great (Urdu: Akbar-e-Azam; literally "Great the Great"), was Mughal Emperor from 1556 until his death. He was the third and one of the greatest rulers of the Mughal Dynasty in India.

Quotes[edit]

  • Akbar's liberalism can be adjudged from another fact, namely that he issued gold and silver coins bearing the figures of Rama and Sita and inscribed with the legend Rama Siya.
    • Lal, B. B. (2008). Rāma, his historicity, mandir, and setu: Evidence of literature, archaeology, and other sciences. New Delhi: Aryan Books International. p.6
  • The compassionate heart of his majesty finds no pleasure in cruelties or in causing sorrow to others; he is ever sparing of the lives of his subjects, wishing to bestow happiness upon all.
    • Ain-i-Akbari by Abul Fazl. quoted from Lal, K. S. (1999). Theory and practice of Muslim state in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 2
  • The king, in his wisdom, understood the spirit of the age, and shaped his plans accordingly.
    • Ain-i-Akbari by Abul Fazl. quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 3
  • Like a good Turk he had no effeminate distaste for human blood; when, at the age of fourteen, he was invited to win the title of Ghazi—Slayer of the Infidel—by killing a Hindu prisoner, he cut off the man’s head at once with one stroke of his scimitar. These were the barbarous beginnings of a man destined to become one of the wisest, most humane and most cultured of all the kings known to history.
    • Will Durant Our Oriental Heritage. Ch. XVI : From Alexander to Aurangzeb, § VII : Akbar the Great
  • Both law and taxation were severe, but far less than before. From one-sixth to one-third of the gross produce of the soil was taken from the peasants, amounting to some $100,000,000 a year in land tax. The Emperor was legislator, executive and judge; as supreme court he spent many hours in giving audience to important litigants. His law forbade child marriage and compulsory suttee, sanctioned the remarriage of widows, abolished the slavery of captives and the slaughter of animals for sacrifice, gave freedom to all religions, opened career to every talent of whatever creed or race, and removed the head-tax that the Afghan rulers had placed upon all Hindus unconverted to Islam.91 At the beginning of his reign the law included such punishments as mutilation; at the end it was probably the most enlightened code of any sixteenth-century government. Every state begins with violence, and (if it becomes secure) mellows into liberty.
    • Will Durant Our Oriental Heritage. Ch. XVI : From Alexander to Aurangzeb, § VII : Akbar the Great
  • While Catholics were murdering Protestants in France, and Protestants, under Elizabeth, were murdering Catholics in England, and the Inquisition was killing and robbing Jews in Spain, and Bruno was being burned at the stake in Italy, Akbar invited the representatives of all the religions in his empire to a conference, pledged them to peace, issued edicts of toleration for every cult and creed, and, as evidence of his own neutrality, married wives from the Brahman, Buddhist, and Mohammedan faiths.
    His greatest pleasure, after the fires of youth had cooled, was in the free discussion of religious beliefs. … The King took no stock in revelations, and would accept nothing that could not justify itself with science and philosophy. It was not unusual for him to gather friends and prelates of various sects together, and discuss religion with them from Thursday evening to Friday noon. When the Moslem mullahs and the Christian priests quarreled he reproved them both, saying that God should be worshiped through the intellect, and not by a blind adherence to supposed revelations. "Each person," he said, in the spirit — and perhaps through the influence — of the Upanishads and Kabir, "according to his condition gives the Supreme Being a name; but in reality to name the Unknowable is vain."
    • Will Durant Our Oriental Heritage. Ch. XVI : From Alexander to Aurangzeb, § VII : Akbar the Great
  • Harassed by the religious divisions in his kingdom, and disturbed by the thought that they might disrupt it after his death, Akbar finally decided to promulgate a new religion, containing in simple form the essentials of the warring faiths... The Council perforce consenting, he issued a decree proclaiming himself the infallible head of the church; this was the chief contribution of Christianity to the new religion. The creed was a pantheistic monotheism in the best Hindu tradition, with a spark of sun and fire worship from the Zoroastrians, and a semi-Jain recommendation to abstain from meat. The slaughter of cows was made a capital offense: nothing could have pleased the Hindus more, or the Moslems less. A later edict made vegetarianism compulsory on the entire population for at least a hundred days in the year; and in further consideration of native ideas, garlic and onions were prohibited. The building of mosques, the fast of Ramadan, the pilgrimage to Mecca, and other Mohammedan customs were banned. Many Moslems who resisted the edicts were exiled.108 In the center of the Peace Court at Fathpur-Sikri a Temple of United Religion was built (and still stands there) as a symbol of the Emperor’s fond hope that now all the inhabitants of India might be brothers, worshiping the same God. As a religion the Din Ilahi never succeeded; Akbar found tradition too strong for his infallibility. A few thousand rallied to the new cult, largely as a means of securing official favor; the vast majority adhered to their inherited gods. Politically the stroke had some beneficent results. The abolition of the head-tax and the pilgrim-tax on the Hindus, the freedom granted to all religions,XV the weakening of racial and religious fanaticism, dogmatism and division, far outweighed the egotism and excesses of Akbar’s novel revelation. And it won him such loyalty from even the Hindus who did not accept his creed that his prime purpose—political unity—was largely achieved.
    • Will Durant Our Oriental Heritage. Ch. XVI : From Alexander to Aurangzeb, § VII : Akbar the Great
  • With his own fellow Moslems, however, the Din Ilahi was a source of bitter resentment, leading at one time to open revolt, and stirring Prince Jehangir into treacherous machinations against his father. The Prince complained that Akbar had reigned forty years, and had so strong a constitution that there was no prospect of his early death. Jehangir organized an army of thirty thousand horsemen, killed Abu-1 Fazl, the King’s court historian and dearest friend, and proclaimed himself emperor. Akbar persuaded the youth to submit, and forgave him after a day; but the disloyalty of his son, added to the death of his mother and his friend, broke his spirit, and left him an easy prey for the Great Enemy. In his last days his children ignored him, and gave their energies to quarreling for his throne. Only a few intimates were with him when he died—presumably of dysentery, perhaps of poisoning by Jehangir. Mullahs came to his deathbed to reconvert him to Islam, but they failed; the King “passed away without the benefit of the prayers of any church or sect.”109 No crowd followed his simple funeral; and the sons and courtiers who had worn mourning for the event discarded it the same evening, and rejoiced that they had inherited his kingdom. It was a bitter death for the justest and wisest ruler that Asia has ever known.
    • Will Durant Our Oriental Heritage. Ch. XVI : From Alexander to Aurangzeb, § VII : Akbar the Great
  • "At the religious discussion meetings held by Akbar, 'at which every one... might say or ask what he liked,' the emperor examined people about the creation of the Quran, elicited their belief, or otherwise, in revelation, and raised doubts in them regarding all things connected with the Prophet and the imams. He distinctly denied the existence of Jins, of angels, and of all other beings of the invisible world, as well as the miracles of the Prophet."
    • Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh by Abdul Qadir Badaoni, vol. II, quoted from Lal, K. S. (1999). Theory and practice of Muslim state in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 2
  • [The people also got busy collecting] "all kinds of exploded errors, and brought them to his Majesty, as if they were so many presents... Every doctrine and command of Islam as the prophetship, the harmony of Islam with reason... the details of the day of resurrection and judgement, all were doubted and ridiculed."
    • Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh by Abdul Qadir Badaoni, vol. II, p. 307. quoted from Lal, K. S. (1999). Theory and practice of Muslim state in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 2
  • [Brahmans] surpass other learned men in their treatises on morals....His Majesty, on hearing… how much the people of the country prized their institutions, commenced to look upon them with affection.
    • Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh by Abdul Qadir Badaoni, vol. II, quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • Akbar was the first emperor to abolish Jizyah with one stroke of pen, along with all its associations and implications, including the distinction of Muslim and Dhimmî into the bargain. His son and grandson followed his example in regard to Jizyah, generally speaking, but reimposed upon the Hindus all the other restrictions and disabilities suffered by them before.
  • This hall was, by order of the Emperor Jehanguire, the son of Acbar, highly decorated with painting and gilding; but in the lapse of time it was found to be gone greatly to decay; and the Emperor Aurungzebe, either from superstition or avarice, ordered it to be entirely defaced, and the walls whitened.
    • About the defaced tomb of Akbar. William Hodges, [1] Travels in India during the Years 1780, 1781, 1782 and 1783.
  • Akbar had prohibited enslavement and sale of women and children of peasants who had defaulted in payment of revenue. He knew, as Abul Fazl says, that many evil hearted and vicious men either because of ill-founded suspicion or sheer greed, used to proceed to villages and mahals and sack them.
    • Lal, K. S. (2012). Indian muslims: Who are they.
  • The first revolutionary step of Akbar was the abolition of the Jiziyah, the hated discriminatory tax paid by Hindu Zimmis. The Hindus, as Zimmis, had become second class citizens in their own homeland and were suffered to live under certain disabilities.
    • Lal, K. S. (1999). Theory and practice of Muslim state in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 2
  • Akbar’s court was essentially foreign, and even in his later years the Indian element, whether Hindu or Moslem, constituted only a small proportion of the whole.
    • Moreland, India at the Death of Akbar, quoted from Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 10
  • The same spirit of intolerance was shown by the Jesuit fathers in the Moghul court. The Emperor Akbar took great interest in religious discussions and summoned to the court scholarly Jesuit missionaries from Goa. They were received with great courtesy, but the free discussions in the Ibadat Khana (House of Worship), where the debates on religion took place, displeased the Jesuit fathers greatly. Their intolerance of other religions and their arrogant attitude towards the exponents of other faiths were unwelcome also to the Emperor. So the missionaries had to leave the capital greatly disappointed.
    • Panikkar, K. M. (1953). Asia and Western dominance, a survey of the Vasco da Gama epoch of Asian history, 1498-1945, by K.M. Panikkar. London: G. Allen and Unwin.
  • [Akbar is reported to have said:] “My dear child… with all of God’s creatures, I am at peace; why should I permit myself, under any consideration, to be the cause of molestation or aggression to any one? Besides, are not five parts in six of mankind either Hindus or aliens to the faith; and were I to be governed by motives of the kind suggested in your inquiry, what alternative can I have but to put them all to death? I have thought it therefore my wisest plan to let these men alone.”
    • Tarikh-i-Salim Shahi (Calcutta Edition), pp. 21-22. (Some scholars hold that this work is a fabrication and does not comprise the real Memoirs of Jahangir) quoted from Lal, K. S. (1990). Indian muslims: Who are they.
  • Islam, like the other two religions of the Judaic family, is exclusive-minded and intolerant by comparison with the religions and philosophies of Indian origin. Yet the influence of India on Akbar went so deep that he was characteristically Indian in (his) large-hearted catholicity.
    • A. J. Toynbee, One World and India, p. 19. quoted from Lal, K. S. (1999). Theory and practice of Muslim state in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 2
  • With Islamic zeal, Akbar at first persecuted the Hindus.
    • Yogananda, P., (2020). Autobiography of a Yogi. S.I.: Duke Classics. Ch.21
  • It is significant and ironic that the most tolerant of all the Muslim rulers in the history of India was also the one who moved farthest away from orthodox Islam and, in the end, rejected it for an eclectic religion of his own devising... Akbar's driving principle was universal toleration, and all the Hindus, Christians, Jains, and Parsees enjoyed full liberty of conscience and of public worship. He married Hindu princesses, abolished pilgrim dues, and employed Hindus in high office. The Hindu princesses were even allowed to practice their own religious rites inside the palace. "No pressure was put on the princes of Amber, Marwar, or Bikaner to adopt Islam, and they were freely entrusted with the highest military commands and the most responsible administrative offices. That was an entirely new departure, due to Akbar himself."
    • Ibn Warraq, Why I am not a muslim, 1995. p 223
  • To most Hindus Akbar is one of the greatest of the Muslim emperors of India and Aurangzeb one of the worst; to many Muslims the opposite is the case. To an outsider there can be little doubt that Akbar's way was the right one. . . . Akbar disrupted the Muslim community by recognizing that India is not an Islamic country: Aurangzeb disrupted India by behaving as though it were.
    • Gascoigne, Bamber. The Great Moghuls. London, 1976. 227, in Ibn Warraq, Why I am not a muslim, 1995. p 224

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