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Jihad: Islam In India

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The Jihad Movement In The Indian Subcontinent

Introduction - Islam In India

Historical Background

 

Islam was introduced into India by the Arab traders. The Arabs had established trade relations with India long before the advent of Islam. They brought their merchandise in their boats and disembarked on the coasts If Calicut and Surat and while sailing back carried coconut, pepper and other condiments to Arabia. When Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him) called them to Islam, they responded to the call and embraced Islam and then brought the Divine message, to India. Islam had completely transformed them, their piety, righteousness, honesty and humility was manifest in all their dealings. This attracted the people towards them and Islam spread in the coastal areas of India (1).

 

Malabar emerged as the main Islamic region. Zemurin, the king of Malabar, is also said to have embraced Islam. The simple teachings of Islam, equality, Universal brotherhood and congregational (collective) prayers in which all, high and low, stood in the same row, attracted the masses, particularly those called the untouchables (sudras) who had been denied the right of leading a life with dignity, by the Brahminical system. It was during the early years of the eighth century A.C. (first century Hijra) that the Arab army under the command of young Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Sindh (712 A.C.) and Islam stepped in as a ruling power in India.

 

The Arabs of the early Islamic period were full of missionary zeal. Every trader, soldier, scholar and even a layman was a preacher. The Muslim army was a force of disciplined and righteous soldiers. Their behaviour was totally different from an occupying army. They were kind, compassionate, God fearing and dedicated to their mission. Their humane character attracted the local population towards them.

 

The Arabs had brought with them pristine teachings of their religion, a clear and bright concept of monotheism free from all exotic elements.

 

The new rulers treated their subject with compassion. They were tolerant and generous towards them. They did not follow the policy of persecution. No place of worship was demolished; there was no forced conversion to Islam. The priests were allowed to perform their religious rites in their temples. A nominal tax was, however, imposed upon the local population and Brahmins were assigned the duty to collect the same. The Muslim (Arab) rulers gave them all the facilities and privileges meant for the people of the Scripture (Ahle Kitab) under the Islamic Shari’ah.

 

But the Indian territories did not remain under the Arab control for long. The local Muslim chiefs established their own independent rule in Sindh. Then came the Turks, the Ghaznavis, the Ghauris, the Lodhis and the Mughals with their armies. They crossed to India through Khyber-Pass and brought with them a tarnished image of Islam. It was a synthesis of mysticism, sectarian jurisprudence, un-Islamic beliefs and local customs unknown to the Arab Islam.

 

These kings established their dynastic rule in India. They fought battles to expand the borders of their empire, built palaces, forts, Masjids and mausoleums to display their majestic grandeur and imperial might. But they failed to disseminate the message of peace, love and fraternity as preached by Islam.

 

Some of them came to plunder, and carried away the treasures of India to their kingdom. They even destroyed the places of worship. It was absolutely against the Islamic teachings of tolerance. Such reckless adventurism and vandalism was very much detrimental to the Islamic cause. As these despots happened to be the Muslims, many scholars, whose minds were obfuscated by their prejudice against Muslims, raised incriminating fingers at Islam. History bears testimony that the Arabs, the real standard bearer of Islamic teachings, did not destroy any place of worship anywhere. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) had enjoined the Muslim soldiers not to kill old men, women and children, not to disturb priests and ascetics and others taking refuge in a place of worship, not to burn standing crops and not to cut the trees laden with fruits.

 

The enlightened caliphs of Islam invariably reminded the army commanders to abide by the injunctions of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH). The Arabs therefore, never indulged in vandalism (I). When Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Multan, there was a grand ancient temple in the town. No damage was caused to the temple and a Masjid was constructed at some distance from it or a vacant piece of land. In the 10th century A.C. when the Ismailies from Egypt occupied the town, they demolished the temple and closed the Masjid (1).

 

There are historical evidences of the tolerance of Arabs who inherited Islamic values directly from the Messenger of Allah (PBUH). They imbibed them and discharged their seminal obligations in the various regions of the world as preachers, teachers, traders and soldiers But those who received the divine message from their non-Arab mentors who had blurred view of the faith due to their alignment with some mystical order or sectarian jurisprudence, and were themselves unaware of the sublime moral values of Islam. These common people had no direct access to the Qur’an and the Hadith and their mentors did not go beyond the mystical theories and juristic presumptions.

 

We have very brilliant instances of compassion and administration of justice in the reign of the enlightened Caliphs of Islam particularly among the Caliphate of Hazrat Umar bin Khattab. The second enlightened Caliph, when the Arabs had conquered Syria. Persia, Iraq. Egypt and numerous other states and millions of the non-Muslims had come under the Islamic rule.

 

The Arabs treated them with compassion. The Zimmis (non-Muslims in a Muslim state) enjoyed full freedom of worship and other civil rights.

 

Umar bin Abdul Aziz, the Umayyed Caliph had issued orders that coercion must not be resorted to recover Jizyah tax from the Zimmis. Hajjaj bin Yusuf, the notorious and the most tyrant Umayyed governor of Iraq, had imposed Jizyah on the newly converted Muslims with a view to enhance state revenue. Umar bin Abdul Aziz abolished all such repressive imposts. He issued a decree that all those who had embraced Islam will be exempted from the payment of Jizyah once for all. This order had a very salutary effect and people in large number embraced Islam. Consequently the recovery under the Jizyah dwindled. The governors of the provinces reported to the Caliph that after his orders of exemption from Jizyah, so many people have embraced Islam that revenue recovery under this head is almost nil. Umar bin Abdul Aziz wrote back that Allah had sent his Messenger (PBUH) to guide the people and not for collecting Jizyah. It will never be reimposed in any case (1).

 

However, this digression was just to show that Islam does not allow us to follow a policy of intolerance and persecution against non-Muslims. The despots who deviated from the right path as guided by Islam, had done a great disservice to the cause of their religion. It alienated the people and there was an aversion to Islam. Even some of the renowned and reliable scholars could not suppress their disgust at the reckless military expeditions (1).

 

But to ascribe it to Islam or blame the Islamic teachings is something that cannot be justified. Islam did not come with them holding a sword, nor the monarchs and the commanders, leading their armies, were the representatives of Islam. Islam had come to India many centuries before these incursions.

 

Can anyone say that Christianity came to India along with the canons of East India Company; although there were concerted efforts by the traders and the missionaries to proselytize the Indians? The 1857 uprising was a clear manifestation of the Indian soldiers" apprehension that the white rulers wanted to defile their faith.

 

However, no such efforts were ever made by any Muslim ruler. Unlike the Christian missionaries, no Muslim scholar ever challenged the scholars of the other religions, nor religious literature was compiled and distributed with a view to proselytize the masses.

 

Had the Muslim rulers and scholars made such concerted efforts during their political paramountcy of over seven centuries it would have had changed, the demographic ratio of the sub continent.

 

In view of this historical fact, how can one assert that Islam or the Muslim rulers, barring a few ones, forcibly interfered and upset their (Indian) way of life?

 

If the advent of a mighty wave of a new culture and thoughts is objectionable, then the Aryans will also have to bear the blame of a forcible interference and upsetting the way of life. History confirms the Aryan inclusion on India. They came to India through the mountain of Hindu Kush. They occupied Punjab after defeating the original inhabitants and ultimately conquered the greater part of north India (1).

 

History also bears testimony to the Gauris and the Ghaznavis incursion on India. They also came from Afghanistan. They also occupied Punjab after defeating the inhabitants and ultimately conquered the greater part of north India. These two instances from the Indian history seen in juxtaposition, are almost identical. The plunder and pillage by Mehmud Ghaznavi, was recorded by the historians for the posterity but what the Aryans did, how they treated the defeated Indians aboriginals is not know as men had not yet learned the art of recording the annal: There were no chroniclers to compile the historical event: So the Aryans were saved from being exposed by ruthless historical scrutiny. But one can easily conjecture the with the Aryan victors had behaved. The fact that the origin inhabitants were relegated to the abject status of sudr,(the untouchables) in the Brahminical caste system speaks volumes for their behaviour. Undoubtedly it was a forcible interference with, and upsetting the way of life of the original inhabitants of India. It was because the Aryans had brought the faith and culture to the accompaniment of ruthless military conquest.

 

And what happened to Buddhism in India, Gautam Buddha, revolted against the Brahminical hold on the theories about the origin of the Indian masses. He rejected the theory of varn Ashram (caste system) and preached universal fraternity and equality. His radical concept of human brotherhood awakened the masses, who had been crushed under the Brahminical caste system. Buddhism spread by leaps and bounds in India and Brahminism was now in a defensive position. Under the imperial patronage of Ashoka, the great, Buddhism flourished in and outside Indian subcontinent.

 

But as a western scholar posed the question that what was it that enabled Hinduism to push-away organized Buddhism from India? (1)

 

The answer of the Indian intellectual was that Buddhism died a natural death in India or rather it was a fading out and a transformation into something else.

 

At another place this illustrious historian tells us, "I visited countries where Buddhism is still a living and dominant faith (p-130). Then he himself poses a question, 'Was Buddhism passive or pessimistic?' and then argues...When I think of the Buddhism, no such feeling arise in me, nor can I imagine that a religion based mainly on passivity and pessimism could have had such a powerful hold on vast number of human beings, among them the most gifted of their kind...Under the imperial patronage of Ashoka, it spread rapidly and became the dominant faith in many neighbouring lands."

 

One may ask that how it was that a religion which is still a living and dominant faith in many neighbouring lands and which was not passive and pessimistic and had its hold on the most gifted of their kind, died a natural death in the land of its birth?

 

Had the fusion of a living and dominant Buddhism and the fading Brahminical faith been a smooth process? Did the most gifted ones of their kind meekly submitted to the assumptive wonderful power of Hinduism, or there had been a fierce resistance and violent opposition to the process of assimilation? If Buddhism was not passive and pessimistic, how the aggressive Brahminism was able to devour it so easily? However, it is not purported to rack up a controversy. The digression was just to show that it was not Islam alone that came to the accompaniment of ruthless military conquests, but the Aryans, the Brahminism and then Christianity had also followed the same course.

 

The Muslim rulers:

 

The Turks, Afghans and Mughals came to India and established their dynastical rule. They conquered the land, ruled, died and were buried in this very land. They may have been foreigners but they adopted India as their home. Shared power with their subject and were gradually Indianised (1). The Mughals shaped India into a vast and united country by integrating its various regions under their empire.

 

Mughal dynasty was founded by Babur*, who came from Farghana (Turkistan) in 1526 A.C., defeating Ibrahim Lodhi, he captured Delhi. In 1529 A.C. he defeated the coalition armies of Rajputs and l.odhis under the command of Rana Sanga, and became the first Mughal emperor of India. But he did not live long and died in 1530 A.C'., just four years after his triumphant march to Delhi. His eldest son llumayun succeeded him who was soon defeated by Sher Shah Suri.

 

Sher Shah Suri ruled the country only for five years. But these five years were the golden period of the medieval history of north India. Sher Shah Suri was an ideal ruler, a great administrator. He was a man of extraordinary calibre and has left indelible imprints of his administrative reforms and gave a new and better revenue system. Historians are unanimous in their opinion that he was the ablest and the best ruler of all the Afghan kings. He died in 1545 A.C., while fighting at Kalenger. Humayun, who had fled to Persia, returned with Iranian soldiers and recaptured Delhi in 1555 A.C. But six months later he died. Akbar was born in 1546 A.C., when Humayun was wandering in the desert of Rajputana having been defeated by Sher Shah Suri. When his father died Akbar was a boy of 13. His tutor Beram Khan crowned him in Punjab. His fifty years as the emperor of India were epoch making in the Indian history. He was the third ruler of his dynasty and the first who established a grand and mighty Mughal empire.

 

His early days of life were the period of turmoil. His father Humayun had been desperately trying to regain his lost empire. So Akbar could not receive formal education and was illiterate. But he was very fond of knowledge and had an unsaturating quest for learning. He used to get the famous books on religion, literature, ethics, social and political sciences read out to him. He was a man of a very sharp intellect and a lasting association with the scholars had polished it all the more. In his early days he was a devout Muslim. And even gave the call for the prayers and led congregational prayers. Makhdumul Mulk Abdullah Sultanpuri and Mullah Abdul Nabi Sadrus Sudur were the highest ecclesiastical authorities in the Mughal Empire. Akbar held them in great reverence. Both were erudite scholars but the feuds between the two great theologians ultimately made the emperor weary of them. Their extremist outlook in the religious matters, persecution of the pious and eminent scholars who did not see eye to eye with them and Abdullah's avarice for worldly wealth and power had belittled them in the eyes of the emperor. He wanted to get rid of them. The polemical confrontation among the vociferous scholars at the royal Ibadatkhana gatherings had convinced him that the theologians were narrow minded, intolerant and uncompromising in their approach. So, he distanced himself from them. It was during this time that Akbar came across with a theologian who was liberal in his approach. The emperor confided with him. The scholar who had been persecuted by Makhdumal Mulk Abdullah Sultanpuri for his liberal views and had to flee with his family to save himself from the ecclesiastical wrath, suggested to the emperor that as the commander of the faithful, ha had the power to promulgate or abrogate any religious decree, provided it was not against the commandments of the Qur’an and the enjoins of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH). Akbar had already made up his mind to get rid of both the supreme clergies. So he entrusted the duty of chalking out the scheme to dismiss the theologians from their high position and spiritual authority.

 

The scholar, Mullah Mubarak whose two sons Faizi and Abul Fazl were now holding important positions in the imperial court, drafted a Mehzar (charter) declaring that the emperor by virtue of his supreme position as the shadow of God on earth and the commander of the faithful was competent to issue his edict in any disputed religious matter (1).

 

The theologians were forced to sign and put their seal on the memorandum. Makhdumul Mulk Abdullah Sultanpuri and Shaikh Abdul Nabi Sadrus Sudur, had also to endorse it. Then there began the reign of terror and persecution. The theologians who opposed the imperial motives had to pay a heavy price for their temerity. Mullah Muhammad Yazdi, chief Qazi of Jaunpur and Mullah Muhammad Yaqub, chief Qazi of Bangala vehemently opposed the memorandum. They were summoned to the imperial court and were treacherously murdered. The emperor promulgated a new creed named Din-e-Ilahi. Abul Fazl, son of Mullah Mubarak who had drafted the memorandum, was the chief vice reagent of the new cult. Akbar began to initiate his court nobles into it. The converts were called Royal Disciples Muridane-Shahi'

 

Din-e-Ilahi was something eclectical, some of its tenets like obeisance to light, sun and fire, were taken from the Zoroastrian faith, and the ban on animal slaughter from the Jainism. (1)

 

The new creed was in direct collision with Islam. Fire worship, obeisance to light and the sun and similar other beliefs of the cult were absolutely against the teachings of Islam. Islam fiercely teaches monotheism and rejects the doctrine of pantheism, polytheism and fetishism. The promulgation of the Din-e-Ilahi caused serious turmoil in the empire. There was a general opinion among the people that the emperor had started a new religion and had become an apostate. In Bihar and Bengal there was a public uprising. Some court nobles went to the extent that they planned to dethrone him and proclaim his brother Hakim Mirza, Amir of Kabul as the new emperor of India. Akbar, however, managed to crush the uprising.

 

The new creed did not flourish. Even his confident court nobles like Man Singh and Todar Mal did not show any interest in the new cult. Akbar advised Man Singh to get himself initiated as the royal disciple but he respectfully declined it. Only those courtiers, who had been hankering to display their fealty and cringe, and thus win the pleasure of the emperor, came forward to be converted to the new creed. These obsequious converts had to offer reverential prostration to the emperor, and kissed his feet. They greeted one another with the words "Allah-o-Akbar" and reciprocated by "Jalla Jala lahu". The greeting was ostensibly harmless but there was a sophistry in the obviously pious term. The implied reference was to the name of the emperor "Jalaluddin" and his title "Akbar". The casuistic greeting was thus meant to glorify him.

 

The scholars of different faiths, who assembled at the Ibadat Khana, led Akbar astray. Their wrangling, charges, counter charges, rejecting the spiritual philosophy of other religions and their intolerant behaviour had disillusioned the emperor. The scholars while attacking one another eulogized the emperor that he had great spiritual talents (1).

 

Akbar died in 1605 A.C. He ruled the country for about half a century and left behind an empire that was unique in its structure. It was for the first time in Indian history that the non-Muslims were given an equal share in the administration. The Rajputs played a very important role in strengthening the foundations of the Mughal Empire. Akbar, although an illiterate, was politically a sagacious ruler and a man of deep insight and foresight. He conceived the idea of sharing power with his Indian subject. His political acumen had convinced him that no ruler could establish a vast and mighty empire without winning the confidence of the local population, and the best way to win them over was to share power with them. So he established matrimonial relations with the Rajputs, the martial race of the Hindus. Raja Bhagwan Dass, Man Singh, Todarmal and Birbal were among his most confident and senior officials. He also tried to revive literary contacts between the two communities, and ordered Faizi, the poet laureate of his court, to translate the Gita, the scripture of Hindu spiritual philosophy into Persian. Faizi composed the poetic translation with the help of a number of Sanskrit scholars, and thus there was the first intellectual interaction between the Hindu and the Muslim scholars. The Muslim scholars, however, made no efforts to translate Islamic literature into Sanskrit or other regional Indian languages. Akbar also did not think of getting the Qur’an translated into Sanskrit to enlighten the Hindu scholars on the Islamic teachings and its spiritual philosophy. The Muslim scholars were vociferous debaters at the imperial Ibadat Khama, they profusely used Greek philosophy and logic to bring home their points, but most of them were unable to refute the charges levelled against Islam by the Portuguese (Jesuit) priests who had brought with them the Latin translation of the Qur’an and frequently quoted from it. Since Akbar followed the policy of Sulh-e-kul (peace with all) every one was free to speak out his mind. But sometimes when the Muslim scholars were dumb founded, he had to come to their rescue. His intervention often saved them from humiliation.

 

It is most unfortunate that the theologians betrayed Islam and failed in their duty of disseminating the message of love. Fazl translated the Gita into Persian but did not translate the Qur’an into Sanskrit or Hindi. Faizi and Tulsi Dass were contemporaries. Tulsi Dass compiled Ramcharat Manas or Ramayana in Hindi and made the most valuable contribution to ihc Hindu literature and culture. It was a great spiritual service to the masses and the classes. Bui Faizi wrote commentary on the Qur’an in Arabic, in a unique literary stvle. He compiled his book ___________ Applying the style of writing where not a single word having a dot (Nuqta) on or under it, was used. It was nothing but a pedantic display of his scholarship. It has no place in the literary or religious literature and in fact was an exercise in futility. Had Faizi translated the Qur’an in to Persian it would have served a great purpose and the Hindu scholars who had acquired proficiency in the state language (Persian) could have had a chance to enlighten themselves on Islam. No biography of the messenger of Allah (PBUH) was compiled to make the non-Muslim aware of his revolutionary and ideal character. No doubt Muslim scholars in India compiled books on Greek philosophy, logic grammar sectarian jurisprudence, as these were included in the curricula of the Islamic schools. But these books were mostly in Arabic and of no use in the diffusion of the religion. It was Shah Waliullah (1703-1762 A.C.) the great revolutionary theologian of the post Aurangzeb period who translated the Qur’an in to Persian and the Muslim had, for the first time, a direct access to their scripture and Islam was liberated from the monopolistic hold of unscrupulous theologians, although he had to risk his life for it.

 

However, after Akbar, Jahangir (Nuruddin Muhammad Saleem) succeeded to the throne. He was not an apostate like his father but most of the practices, which were the legacy of Akbar's rule, continued to be in vogue. The revential prostration to the emperor was one of them.

 

There were many eminent theologians who opposed Akbar's creed and suffered torture and humiliation. But it was Shaikh Ahmad Faruqi of Sarhind 1564-1624 A.C. (971-1034 A.H) popularly known as Mujaddid Alf-e-Sami (the reformer of the second millennium). He was a revolutionary theologian and an adherent of pristine teachings of Islam. He was averse to the degenerated teachings of the Sufism. He rejected the theory of Wahdatul Wajud [Pantheism] as it was against the Islamic concept of pristine monotheism. Since pantheism is the bedrock of mysticism, so he had to face the ire of the Sufis.

 

To counter their opposition he expounded the theory of Wahdatush Shahud (Unity of perception which was not in collision with the Islamic concept of monotheism. Shaikh Sarhindi challenged the cult of Din-e-Ilahi. He wrote letters to the eminent court nobles and asked them to rise against the imperial arrogance to save the prestige of Islam. Some of the courtiers complained to Jahangir against him. The Shaikh was summoned to the court. As he did not prostrate to the king, he was imprisoned at the Gwalior fort. The Shaikh was not an ordinary scholar. Most of the court nobles held him in great reverence. Even Prince Khurram, who later became the Emperor of India with the title of 'Shah Jahan', was a devotee of the Shaikh. But he dared not to intercede with his father for the release of the Shaikh. He however, dispatched an emissary, Qazi Abdul Rahman, to the Shaikh in Gwalior prison, to request him to offer prostration to the emperor under duress. This, the prince argued, would enable him to beg for mercy of the emperor. The Qazi had taken many volumes of the great jurists who had justified such an act in order to save one's life. In such a case, they had opined, the oppressed one will not be a sinner and will not incur divine punishment. The Shaikh rejected the plea and said that Islam does not allow to prostrate any one other than Allah, the Almighty. The Qazi had to return empty handed. For three years the Shaikh remained imprisoned. This period of incarceration was a blessing for the inmates of the prison. Shaikh's saintly presence, his preaching and teaching transformed even the hardcore criminals in to devout and righteous individuals. When Jahangir received the report of this metamorphosis in the prison, he realised his folly. The Shaikh was released and was brought to the imperial court. The Emperor treated him kindly and he was ordered to join the imperial army for spiritual and moral regeneration of the soldiers.

 

Jahangir died in 1627 A.C. and Shah Jahan was proclaimed the new emperor. He was a pious and righteous man. The practice of offering prostration to the emperor was abrogated and the remnant practices of Din-e-Ilahi were also discarded. Thus Akbar’s cult died a natural death. When Shah Jahan shifted his capita] from Agra to Delhi, he celebrated the occasion on a grand scale. Pea#### throne was placed in Diwan-e-Khas of the Red Fort. All the nobles, princes, courtiers, military commanders, theologians, scholars and court poets were present. The Emperor adorned the Pea#### throne. After a while, he descended the throne and fell on the floor prostrating to Allah Almighty. Then, rising from the prostration, he addressed the courtiers in a voice quivering with emotions, humility and submission writ large on his face, "Bear witness, O my courtiers that I profess that I am a humble slave of Allah Almighty". This was the result of the untiring efforts of the theologians particularly Shaikh Ahmad Faruqi Sarhindi that the Mughal dynasty again came in the fold of Islam. The Shaikh died in 1624 A.C. He left bright and indelible imprints of his boldness, steadfastness and adherence to the pristine teachings of the religion. He was undoubtedly the greatest reformer of his time, the renovator of the second millennium. Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of Shah Jahan, was the crown prince. He was a learned young prince and had close contacts with the Sufis, Sanyasis and scholars, both the Hindus and the Muslims. He was greatly influenced by the Hindu spiritual philosophy. He compiled a book 'Majmaul Bahrain' (The Confluence), wherein he had tried to bring out the proximity between the Hindu (Vedant) and the Muslim (Mystic) spiritual philosophy. He also translated the Upanishads into Persian under the title 'Sirr-e-Akbar (the Supreme Secret). He was more of a scholar than a ruler. Had he not been a prince who had to scramble for the throne, he would have been a great exponent of the common spiritual heritage of India.

 

Shah Jahan was a devotee of Mian Mir, the renowned Sufi of that time. He took Dara Shikoh to him and the saint blessed the young prince (1).

 

Aurangzeb was the most capable and shrewd of all his brothers. He was also a scholar and had a highly refined literary taste. His letters bear testimony to his scholarship. The embellished style of his writing makes him a distinguished writer of his time. But he was intolerant and harsh towards the other communities. He was shrewd but not politically sagacious. He reversed the policy followed by his forefathers. Persecutions of the non-Muslims, demolition of their places of worship, imposition of Jizyah, were the steps that heralded the fall of the mighty Mughal Empire (2).

 

As a matter of fact Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb represented the two extremes in the Mughal dynasty. Dara Shikoh symbolized liberalism while Aurangzeb signified conservatism and orthodoxy. These two opposite forces were fiercely active ever since Akbar promulgated his cult of Din-e-Ilahi. Jahangir and Shah Jahan did not favour or patronise that cult and it died a natural death. But with the emergence of Dara Shikoh and his close proximity with the Sanyasis and Sufis, the liberalism was again poised to register a comeback. Had Dara Shikoh succeeded to the Mughal throne, he was sure to follow the Sulh-e-Kul (peace with all) policy of his great grand father.

 

Aurangzeb on the other hand was the ideal of those who had opposed Akbars extreme liberalism. They had inherited this aversion from their fore fathers who had seen the devastation caused by the imposition of that cult. Mujaddid Alf-e-Sani's disciples were active to foil the re-emergence of that liberalism. Aurangzeb was the disciple of Shaikh Muhammad Masum (the son of Mujaddid Alf-e-Sani).

 

However a shrewd politician and seasoned military commander as he was, he manoeuvred with alacrity and defeated Dara Shikoh, his elder brother and crown prince. After capturing the throne he treacherously killed his brothers who had aligned with him in the war of succession. He had already imprisoned his father at Agra.

 

No doubt there are historical evidences that he endowed jagirs to the temples, donated generously lo the high priests of the temples and requested them to pray for his long life and prosperity and perpetuation of his empire. He valued merits in the appointments to the senior administrative positions. But he was intolerant and harsh towards his opponents. He was inflexible in his outlook. However, he was after all, a despot an autocrat like the other rulers. Like other emperors he was also a captive of imperial arrogance, an obdurate wayward, tolerating no dissent.

 

He got the Sikh guru Teg Bahadur beheaded because he was close to Dara Shikoh and had supported him in the war of succession. This reckless action had devastating consequences. A sect of mystics and mendicants converted itself in to a belligerent community who inflicted mortal blows on the Mughals in Punjab.

 

When he made up his mind to invade Bijapur and Golkunda, he sought a fatwa from the Qazi of the imperial court. Qazi Shaikhul Islam, a pious and righteous theologian, bluntly told the emperor that it was not permissible to wage a war against a Muslim state. Aurangzeb ignored the edict and got a new fatwa from another scholar who submissively issued one to suit the ambitions of the Emperor. This shows how unscrupulous he was, and how the pious theologians had performed supreme jihad by declaring the truth in the face of the tyrant ruler. Aurangzeb's expedition to Deccan was a great folly. He spent 25 years there, far away from his capital and even died there. This long absence from Delhi sapped the roots of the empire (1). However in his personal life, Aurangzeb was an ideal person. He was an ascetic. Took nothing from the state treasury for his personal expenditures. He was an expert calligrapher and earned his livelihood by copying the text of the Qur’an and stitching caps. No doubt he maintained the pomp and splendour of the imperial court but discarded many wasteful ceremonies where money was spent lavishly just to display imperial grandeur. He also tried to reform the degenerate Indian society. He put a ban on Sati (burning of the Hindu widows on the pyre of their husbands). The unscrupulous persons donning the mantle of godmen attracted the masses. Aurangzeb punished such persons. Sarmad is the instance of his action; he was beheaded near the gate of the Jama Masjid. He also put a ban on the cultivation of bhang (Cannabis or Hashish). Consumption of wine and gambling was prohibited. The prostitutes were ordered to get married or leave the country. He appointed vigilance officers to ensure that the prohibitory laws were enforced effectively. He was a devout Muslim and offered his prayer? --,ularly and on scheduled time. Once during a battle when it was the prayer time, he got down from his horse and stood up to offer the prayer in the battlefield amidst the shower of bullets. When Abdul Aziz, chief of Bulkh army, saw him offering prayer in the battlefield, he cried out that it would be disastrous to fight such a saintly person and requested for peace. Aurangzeb was a connoisseur of music but he removed all the musicians of the imperial court. When he died in 1707 A.C., at the age of 90, he left four rupees and two annas for his funeral, which he had saved out of his earnings from stitching caps. A saving of rupees three hundred and five that was a part of his earning from calligraphy, were given as per his will, to the poor.

 

Aurangzeb's death was the end of the glory of Mughal dynasty. He was the sixth and the last of the great Mughal emperors. His successors were incompetent and bereft of political sagacity. The alienation of Rajputs had deprived the empire of its martial arm. It was indeed a great loss. Aurangzeb's weak successors had to pay dearly for his inexpediencies. The erosion of power that had begun to manifest itself in the lifetime of the last great Mughal was now threatening the very existence of the grand empire.

 

With the emergence of hostile regional powers like the Sikhs, Jats, Marathas, Rohilas and above all the British Last India Company, the traders turned rulers, India was slowly moving into the colonial trap. The defeat of Siraj-ud-Daula at Pillasy (1757), the defeat of the combined Indian forces at Buxur (1769) and the fall of Tipu Sultan (1799) sealed the fate of the Indian sub-continent. In 1803 A.C., Lord Lake entered Delhi, the capital of Mughal India. And, now the British were the virtual rulers of the country. Mughal King's rule was now confined within the four walls of Red Fort. He was a pensioner of the East India Company and petitioned to the Company officials to enhance his pension. When there was no positive response from the haughty and self-conceited white bureaucrats, the emperor of India, the successor to Akbar and Aurangzeb, had to send Raja Ram Mohan Roy of Bengal, to London as his attorney to plead his case before the Company directors. But an utter despair was his fate.

 

The Indian Muslims, who had been under a spell of being the ruling community of India, were in a state of extreme despondency. The 18th and the 19lh centuries were the years of turmoil and torment for them.

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