Discuss the religious trends among the Muslim elite society of the Mughal Empire

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The Timurid Empire that began being shaped on a grand scale far from a plundering martial conquest of Hindustan into a grandiose empire spanning centuries began to take shape during the reign of Jalaluddin Akbar (1556-1605). Over the reign of the king Akbar much of the elite structure of society changed and crystallized into a structured landholding (jagir) and military (mansab) system. The Timurid Empire was agrarian in its base and every subject of the empire was absorbed into these systems to keep the wheels of the empire turning and fuel aims of expansion and consolidation of empire. In understanding religion within the Mughal court, and in the larger framework of Mughal affairs it is important to distinguish between institutionalized religion and religiosity to understand where the (mis)understood ideas of Akbar stand in its historiographical interpretations. This essay seeks to understand and address the religious trends among the Muslims elite society during the reign of Akbar. In understanding the dynamics of religion this essay places religion as not a driving force of the empire but an element which was intertwined with political expansionist ambition of the monarch. Imperial politics were not removed from religious trends of Muslim (or non-Muslim) elite Mughal society. Freedom in religion was existent as long as subjects were within the larger Mughal imperial system of landholding and military. Emporer Akbars religious project within the court and outside it cannot be studied separate from the larger waves of expansion and consolidation of the Timurid kingdom. This essay will argue that imperial politics played a much more significant role in the larger project to consolidation of empire than religious identities. Tren... ... middle of paper ... ...sight clearly Emporer Akbar adopted multiple strands of ritual and religion from faiths familiar to the court and were incorporated within the Akbari system of ruling. The kingdom of Hindustan was not destitute of religion, but in its geographical expanse and local cultural differences made understanding of a common religion difficult. To a monotheistic Muslim orthodoxy largely confined to a royal court, the idea of Akbars’s religious exercise of assimilation was deeply problematic. It went against the very basis of Sunni Islam, which was the faith Akbar himself was brought up to believe and the ulamah broadly functioned within. The way the heart of the court, the Emporer positioned himself as the savior and the millennial sovereign for the kingdom of Hindustan breaks all tenets of institutionalized religion for a broader Akbari spiritual assimilation exercise.

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