1961

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Question: Discuss the religious trends among the Muslim elite society of the Mughal Empire. The most creative development or assimilation of ideas put forth by Akbar was that of Sul-i-Kul in 1578. It literally meant Peace with All. It was a concept elevated from the state of ‘fana’ derived from the Sufi tradition meaning to destroy or annihilate. It was elevated to a concept denoting peace and amity between heterogeneous people. In the view of I.A.Khan Akbar was supposed to have experiences a ‘melancholy’ up until Sul-i-Kul was established. Sul-e-kul was an idea which was contested by the ulemah of the court and thus at its very beginning not embodying the peace with all it claimed to. Further, the incorporation of non –Muslim elites within the Ibadat Kana was not to strengthen either any Islamic or non-Islamic faith but create a new way of thinking which was Akbari in its character and not completely in line with any orthodox faith being discussed in the Ibadat Kana. Thus, to begin with Sul-i-kul was a break from all kinds of orthodoxy and very much the take of one man’s ideas of faith and applying it upon an empire which was diverse and complex in its multiple religious identities. Thus, institutionalized religion serving the needs of an expanding empire were one aspect in which Sul-i-kul can be seen as it worked in bringing all factions under the Akbari umbrella of security within a structures system with a Divine Monarch at its helm. However, it is not possibly to cloud the existence of a high degree of very real spirituality and religiosity in the King. Despite views of historians such as I.A.Khan which look at Akbars religious policy as not being born out of only an exposure to philosophical discourse but the development... ... middle of paper ... ...the focus of all loyalties. Studying the relations of the Emperor with elites in the court of all factions, between institutionalized religion and freedom in religious practice and the image drawn of the Emperor in literary texts meant for a global literate elite audience and his actions within his Empire it is understood that Akbar wanted and expected a reciprocity in loyalty for the freedoms he bestowed upon his subjects. Akbar’s image as a monarch is drawn as loving towards the citizens of his Empire, despite their faith and imperial politics do affect Akbar’s ideas of religion. This essay sought to argue that imperial politics does overshadow religious identities in the Mughal hierarchy without discounting at any rate the very real connection the Emperor Akbar had to a spirituality which comprised of supreme benevolence, which was given in exchange for loyalty.
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