Religious Conflict in Early Modern India: Akbar and the House of Religious Assembly
Stephen P. Blake
Mughal India (1526-1739) was a land of bewildering cultural diversity. While the followers of the Mughal founder Zahir al-Din Babur (r. 1526-30) were Sunni Muslims, Jalal al-Din Akbar (r. 1556-1605), Babur’s grandson, faced the daunting challenge of trying to fashion an imperial system that would engage the energies and loyalties of the many different religious, ethnic, and tribal groups of early modern India. To institutionalize Mughal rule over a country as rich, populous, and diverse as India, Akbar had to reorganize both the military-administrative and the economic systems. For the imperial soldiers and officials he introduced the mansabdari system, a finely graded hierarchy of ranks and offices. Since the Mughal Empire had a predominately agrarian economy, Akbar began to reorder the land revenue system. By measuring the arable land and establishing a table of crop rates, he was able to dramatically increase imperial income, transforming the new system into a lucrative career for his newly-recruited officeholders. It is within this context of military-administrative and economic reorganization that Akbar’s approach to the problem of religious conflict must be examined. For a variety of reasons -- his own curiosity, the beliefs and practices of his Rajput (Hindu) wives, and the sense of crisis surrounding the end of the first millennium of the Islamic era (in 1592) -- Akbar constructed a House of Religious Assembly (Ibadat Khana) in his new capital city of Fathpur Sikri. During the period 1575-79, the emperor discussed issues of philosophy, belief, and practice with representatives from a wide variety of religious and sectarian persuasions -- Hindus, Jains, Zoroastrians, and Christians, as well as Muslims of both orthodox and heterodox inclinations.
On ascending the throne in 1556, Akbar was a callow, untested thirteen-year old under the thumb of his guardian Abd al-Rahim Khan-i Khanan. In 1560, finally able to assert himself, he began construction on a new palace-fortress in Agra, the capital he had inherited from his father. Over the decade of the 1560s, however, none of his wives was able to provide him with a son and heir. In 1569, therefore, the young emperor sent his pregnant Rajput wife to Sikri, a village twenty-three miles west of Agra, where the leader of the Sufi Chishti order, Shaikh Salim Chishti, had his hermitage. Akbar had been a frequent visitor to the shrine of the Sufi saint, Muin al-Din Chishti, in nearby Ajmir, and he hoped that the Shaikh’s presence would prove auspicious. And so it turned out, when several months later Akbar was presented with a son, Salim, who later ruled as the emperor Jahangir.
In 1571, when Jahangir was two years old, Akbar laid the foundations in Sikri of a new palace -- the center of a new capital city named Fathpur Sikri (or Sikri, place of victory). While the official histories point to the birth of Jahangir and the presence of Shaikh Salim Chishti as the controlling factors in Akbar’s decision, the desire for a new center of rule -- site of his far-reaching military-administrative and economic changes -- must also have played a role. In 1572, Shaikh Salim Chishti died, and in 1573, Akbar finished his conquest of the rich province of Gujarat. The following year, he erected a magnificent congregational mosque near the palace and, in 1575, construction began on the House of Religious Assembly. In 1585, a mere fifteen years after settling in the area, Akbar left his new capital for Lahore and the northwest, to meet the threat of the Uzbeks. For the remaining twenty years of his reign he returned to his new capital but once, for a brief visit.1
Akbar’s decision to build the House of Religious Assembly and to initiate a series of religious discussions was sparked in part by the approaching end of the first millennium of the Islamic era (1000 A.H. was 1592 CE). In late-sixteenth-century India, as in the Safavid (1501-1722) and Ottoman (1299-1922) empires, there was an upsurge in extremist religious activity. The leaders of several heterodox sects challenged the political as well as the religious status quo. Many claimed to be the Mahdi (Guided One); they proclaimed the end of the old political and religious orders and the beginning of something new and completely different. Of this phenomenon Ibn Khaldun, the fourteenth-century world historian, wrote:
It has been well known ... by Muslims in every epoch, that at the end of time a man from the family ... will without fail make his appearance, one who will strengthen the religion and make justice triumph. The Muslims will follow him, and he will gain domination over the Muslim realm. He will be called the Mahdi. Following him, the anti-Christ will appear, together with all the subsequent signs of the hour.2
Echoing this sentiment, the historian Abd al-Qadir Bada’uni, a disappointed officeholder and critic of Akbar, wrote that the emperor, like many of the extremist prophets, believed that the imminent end of the millennium would mark the end of Islam, at least in its traditional form. Reflecting the charged atmosphere of the time, Bada’uni quoted the Ismaili poet, traveler, and religious revolutionary Nasir-i Khusrau (1004-78).
I see in 992  two conjunctions,
I see the sign of the Mahdi and that of the Antichrist;
Either politics or religion must change,
I clearly see the hidden secret.3
While the general sense of the poem is obvious -- the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn heralding revolutionary change -- Bada’uni probably intended a more specific meaning. For Khusrau, the eleventh-century radical, the revolution foretold for the late sixteenth century was necessarily vague. For Bada’uni, on the other hand, the moment was at hand, and he was quite certain about one of Khusrau’s protagonists. For him Akbar was the Antichrist (not the Mahdi), and it was a religious upheaval that he foresaw and feared.
It was in this turbulent time of political, economic, social, and religious upheaval that Akbar initiated the House of Religious Assembly sessions. In the first three years (1575-77) the participants were primarily mainstream Muslims discussing traditional topics: the beliefs, customs, and practices of orthodox Islam. Scheduled on Friday, the major religious holiday, these discussions often lasted all night and into the next day. Akbar sat in the middle of the assembly and the other participants filled the four surrounding alcoves: the nobles to the east, the descendants of the Prophet to the west, the religious leaders to the north, and the religious specialists to the south.4
For Akbar, however, these early discussions proved unsettling. Driven by curiosity, the troubled tenor of the times, and the need to craft an imperial order hospitable to a wide range of ethnic, cultural, and religious beliefs and practices, the emperor found the petty wrangling, hide-bound conservatism, and parochial outlook of the orthodox extremely repugnant. Because of this experience Akbar decided to increase the number of participants and to expand the range of topics. By 1578, according to Abu al-Fazl, the sessions included “... Sufi, Philosopher, Orator, Jurist, Sunni, Shia, Brahman, Jain ... Nazarene, Jew, Zoroastrian, and others …”5
To get a sense of the atmosphere surrounding the House of Religious Assembly sessions and the challenges Akbar faced in crafting a solution to the problem of religious conflict, following is a brief look at some of the sectarian and religious groups at the Mughal court.
The Mahdaviyya sect was founded in India by Sayyid Muhammad Jaunpuri (1443-1505). A pious Sufi of the Chishti order, Sayyid Muhammad arrived in Ahmadabad in 1497, proclaiming the end of the age. Identifying himself as the Mahdi, he recruited a substantial following from the political and religious elite of western India, initiating a period of political and social upheaval. The sultan of Gujarat expelled Jaunpuri from his state in the early sixteenth century, and he emigrated to Khurasan in eastern Iran, where he died in 1505. Sayyid Muhammad’s followers in Gujarat formed residential communities modeled on Sufi hermitages. Sayyid Khundamir, Sayyid Muhammad’s successor, challenged the legitimacy of the later Gujarati sultans: “It has now become a general religious duty,” he wrote, “for all -- men, women, slaves, and freemen -- to unite and defeat the oppressors so that the faithful might be victorious.”6
Shaikh Mustafa Gujarati, Sayyid Khundamir’s successor and the Mahdaviyya leader of Akbar’s day, recruited followers from the disaffected Afghan tribal chieftains of Gujarat, but when the Mughals took over the province in 1572-73, his Afghan disciples were defeated and dispersed. Shaikh Mustafa’s father and eight other members of the community were executed, and Mustafa and his sons were imprisoned. In 1574, the Shaikh was brought to Fathpur Sikri, where he stayed for two years, participating in the House of Religious Assembly discussions and talking privately with Akbar. He died in 1576 at the age of 52. A fairly lengthy correspondence between Mustafa and Shaikh Mubarak, the father of Abu al-Fazl (author of The Akbar Nama), suggests that Mubarak was at least a sympathizer and possibly for a time a disciple. Furthermore, Shaikh Faizi, Abu al-Fazl’s brother, commissioned a biography of Sayyid Muhammad Jaunpuri, the Mahdavi founder. It is interesting to note that Bada’uni, in his discussion of the House of Religious Assembly, identified Shaikh Abdallah Niyazi Sirhindi, whose abandoned cell was the central room of the new building, not only as a Chishti disciple but as a Mahdaviyya as well. Thus, it appears that the radical, millennial ideas of the sect were much more popular and widespread and probably had a much greater influence on Akbar and his court than has heretofore been recognized.7
The Nuqtavi sect was founded by an Iranian, Mahmud Pasikhani Gilani (d. 1428). Leading a life of piety and asceticism, Mahmud visited the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. He rebelled against taqlid (simple adherence to Islamic tradition) and, like many of the other messianic leaders, preached the need for tajdid (religious renewal). Mahmud maintained that the traditions and practices of traditional Islam had become outdated, and he preached a queer mixture of philosophical and religious ideas: There would not be a day of judgment, creation was eternal, and the Qur’an was the work of Muhammad. He also believed in transmigration and the spiritual significance of the sun (a Zoroastrian doctrine). His disciples called him the Shaikh-i Wahid (Unique One) and the Insan-i Kamil (Perfect Man) and, because he believed that the life span of Islam was 900 years, he claimed to be the Mahdi, the harbinger of a new age.8
In late-sixteenth-century India, the most important Nuqtavi leader was the Iranian Sharif Amuli. His Iranian followers had proclaimed him the Mujaddid (Renewer) of the Millennium, but he was expelled from the Safavid state in the late 1560s or early 1570s. He spent some time in Balkh, in Central Asia, and then emigrated to one of the Shiʻite states of the Deccan, probably Bijapur. While we don’t know much about his earlier life (either in Iran, Central Asia, or the Deccan), he burst into prominence soon after arriving in Fathpur Sikri in 1576. A skilled astrologer and a compelling speaker, he had no interest in the rituals and beliefs of traditional Islam. All of this made him very influential in the wide-ranging, heterodox discussions in the House of Religious Assembly, and he rose rapidly in the military-administrative hierarchy. In 1586, he was appointed Poet Laureate and Amin (Revenue Chief) and Sadr (Head of Religious Charity) of Kabul, and in 1591, he was sent to Bengal to fill the same two posts. In 1598, he was given the province of Ajmir as his revenue grant and soon after was raised to an exalted rank. Under Jahangir he was given a further promotion.9
At the Mughal court, Amuli and his followers enthusiastically promoted Nuqtavi beliefs and practices. Shaikh Mubarak was thought to be a member of the sect, and Iskandar Munshi, the court chronicler of the Safavid ruler Shah Abbas I, identified Abu al-Fazl as a fellow-traveler.10 Akbar patronized two prominent Nuqtavi poets, Vaqui Nishapuri and Tashbihi Kashani, and espoused (at least according to Bada’uni) several of the heretical Nuqtavi beliefs.11
In 1582 C.E. (990 A.H.), Sharif Amuli declared that Mahmud Pasikhani’s prediction of 150 years earlier referred to Akbar, and that the Mughal emperor was the Lord of the Age predicted by the Jupiter-Saturn Grand Conjunction of that year. Akbar, Amuli stated, would preside over a social and religious revolution, inaugurating a new era in which all religious differences would be abolished.12
Another millenarian, eschatological figure at Akbar’s court was Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi (1564-1624), the self-styled “Mujaddid (Renewer) of the Second Islamic Millennium.” While some nineteenth- and twentieth-century ideologues portrayed Shaikh Ahmad as an opponent of Akbar’s policy of religious toleration, to many orthodox Muslims of the late sixteenth century, the Shaikh, like the Mandavi and Nuqtavi leaders, was a heretic -- claiming an exalted status for himself. Sirhindi’s principal influence has usually been dated to the reign of Akbar’s son, Jahangir, and the most important of his writings, the Letters (Maktubat), were not begun until after his initiation into the Naqshbandi Sufi order in 1599 and the death of Akbar in 1605. However, recent research suggests that as a young and promising scholar he was invited in the early 1580s to Akbar’s court to assist Abu al-Fazl. At Fathpur Sikri he composed a work in Arabic on Islamic prophecy and, in the preface, described a debate he had with Abu al-Fazl, criticizing Akbar’s tolerant attitude toward Hindu beliefs and practices. Although Sirhindi’s criticism of the emperor may have pleased the orthodox, his later claim to be the “Renewer of the Second Islamic Millennium” did not. One of the famous Sufi leaders of Akbar’s time, ‘Abd al-Haq Dihlawi, wrote that Sirhindi, like the Mahdavi leader Sayyid Muhammad Jaunpuri, claimed to be the Mahdi.13
For the orthodox Sunni scholars, teachers, and mosque officials of late-sixteenth-century India, the Shiʻite emigrants from Safavid Iran were just as heretical as the local Nuqtavi and Mandavi converts. Shah Ismail (r. 1501-24), founder of the Safavid Dynasty, had absorbed the extremist, millenarian atmosphere of the age. In his poetry he proclaimed himself to be the Mahdi, a reincarnation of Ali and a manifestation of God.14 Beginning his career as the charismatic master of the Safaviyya Sufi order, Ismail parlayed his semi-divine status into military and political success. While his claim to be divinely anointed was weakened by his defeat at the hands of the Ottomans in 1514, Ismail’s successors, Tahmasp and Abbas, retained a measure of his sanctity. Abd al-Qadir Bada’uni noted that many of Akbar’s supporters had urged him to follow Ismail’s example,15 and the author of the Maʻasir al-Umara, the mid-eighteenth century biographical dictionary, observed that the members of Akbar’s order compared him, in his role as master, to Shah Ismail.16 Finally, Abu al-Fazl wrote: “At the close of the millennium why didn’t Akbar make use of the sword like Ismail.”17
After the fractious but enlightening discussions in the House of Religious Assembly (1575-79), Akbar decided to develop a new policy to deal with the religious conflicts among the members of his new imperial order. This approach, called “sulh-i kull,” emerged during the period 1579-82 with the help of Abu al-Fazl and his father, Shaikh Mubarak.18 Usually translated “universal peace” or “absolute toleration,” the phrase is better rendered, it seems to me, as “lasting reconciliation” or “definitive treaty.” The secondary meaning of “sulh” -- “reconciliation,” “treaty,” or “truce” -- captures more completely Akbar’s intent, which was not to establish perfect harmony among the competing religious and sectarian groups at the Mughal court, but rather to achieve a kind of modus vivendi.
The emperor aimed his new policy of “lasting reconciliation” at two quite different audiences: the one non-Muslim and the other Muslim. In 1578-79, Akbar had become more interested in the non-Muslim religious groups of the subcontinent -- Hindus, Jains, Zoroastrians, and Christians. Because Muslims were a decided minority in Mughal India, Akbar decided early in his career to conciliate the Hindu majority. In 1563, he abolished the pilgrimage tax on Hindus, the next year he eliminated the jiziya (canonical head tax on non-Muslims), and in 1565, he gave a land grant to a Hindu temple. After 1579, Hindu mystics and Brahmin priests began to frequent the discussions in the House of Religious Assembly and to engage in private conversations with the emperor.19 During this period also, Akbar began to appoint high-ranking Rajputs to important state offices: Todar Mal was made prime minister in 1582 and Raja Bhagwant Das was appointed governor of Punjab in 1583. Although Akbar had always allowed his Rajput wives to follow their own customs, in the 1580s he began to participate in their religious ceremonies himself, commemorating the Hindu festivals of Diwali, Dussehra, Vasant, and Holi.20
The other three non-Muslim religions of the day -- Jainism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism -- carried less weight. Although Akbar had met Jain monks as early as 1568, the Gujarat campaign of the early 1570s was his first introduction to Jainism in a serious way. After returning to Fathpur Sikri, he began to include Jains in the religious discussions, his interest peaking in 1583 when he invited the Jain monk Hiravijaya Suri and sixty-seven of his followers to the capital. The order which he issued in the late 1580s prohibiting animal slaughter during the twelve days of the principal Jain festival and, of course, his adherence to the doctrine of ahimsa (non-killing) are the most obvious examples of Jain influence.21
The Portuguese Jesuits of Goa and Surat also came to Akbar’s attention during the Gujarat campaign. The first Jesuit mission arrived in Fathpur Sikri in 1580 and remained for about two years. While the Christians participated in the discussions in the House of Religious Assembly, the conflicting accounts of Father Monserrate, a member of the delegation, on the one hand, and Bada’uni and Abu al-Fazl, on the other, make forming an accurate judgment of their influence difficult. The emperor seems to have been impressed by the piety and simple lifestyle of the priests. Although Akbar had the Gospels, Psalms, and Pentateuch translated into Persian and allowed the priests to build churches in Agra, Fathpur Sikri, and Lahore, they were certainly self-deluded in thinking that he was about to convert.22
Apart from Hinduism, the non-Islamic religion that had the greatest impact on Akbar was Zoroastrianism, partly because of its Iranian origin: the language of the scriptures and priests was Persian, the lingua franca of the Mughal Empire. The Zoroastrian belief in the sacredness of the sun, symbolized by the perpetually burning sacred fire, also reinforced a Hindu doctrine that had attracted Akbar. The emperor first encountered Zoroastrian holy men during the Gujarat campaign, and in 1578, he invited the distinguished scholar Dastur Mehrji Rana to come to Fathpur Sikri and join the newly-expanded religious discussions. Some of Akbar’s innovations in the 1580s also suggest Zoroastrian influence. In 1584, he established a new solar era using the 30-day months of the Zoroastrian calendar. He also decreed that the ancient Iranian festival of Nau Ruz (New Year) on 21 March mark both the first day of the new year and the first day of his reign. In addition, he ordered Abu al-Fazl to maintain a Zoroastrian sacred fire at court, before which the emperor prostrated himself.23
The second part of Akbar’s “lasting reconciliation” policy aimed to mitigate religious conflicts among Muslims, who comprised the overwhelming majority of Mughal officeholders. The first step took place in June 1579, when Abu al-Fazl and his father convinced Akbar to read the khutba (Friday sermon) in the central mosque of Fathpur Sikri. While the accounts of the two principal historians -- Abu al-Fazl and Bada’uni -- differ on Akbar’s performance, this reading marks, it is important to note, the beginning of Akbar’s efforts to impose order on the quarreling Muslims of his court. The second step followed closely: two months later, in August, Abu al-Fazl and his father drafted a mahzar (a document attested by others) that proclaimed Akbar the adjudicator of religious disputes -- both those between Sunnis and Shiʻites and among the representatives of the four schools of law. Since the emperor’s decisions had to follow the broad dictates of Islamic law, the document was signed by the leaders of the religious establishment. As the result of these conditions and the fact that Akbar never actually exercised the authority granted by the mahzar, it is an anachronistic overstatement to call the document, as some have, an “infallibility decree.”24 Rather, it was part of his larger effort to bring order to Indian Islam.
The third and most controversial part of Akbar’s program was the Tauhid-i Ilahi (Divine Monotheism), the sufi-like imperial order that he founded.25 This order has been misunderstood by the earlier generation of scholars -- in particular H. Blochmann, the translator of the Ain, and Vincent Smith -- as Akbar’s attempt to end religious conflict in Mughal India by starting a new religion -- a misinterpretation reflected in their use of Bada’uni’s phrase “Din-i Ilahi” or “Divine Faith” for the new group.26 While I do not want to review the entire literature or to revisit all of the arguments, it seems to me that Akbar’s new order is best understood in the context of his “lasting reconciliation” strategy, as a way of mitigating conflict among the Muslims of his court.
Most of the early, high-ranking members of the new order were Muslim (eighteen of the nineteen named in the Ain.) While some later members were Hindu, the Tauhid-i Ilahi in its organization and ceremony was primarily modeled after the Sufi mystical orders of northern India. In the Ain-i Akbari, Abu al-Fazl discussed Akbar’s new order under the rubric “rules for the disciples (ain-i iradat-i guzinan).”27 “Iradat” was the Sufi term for discipleship and in the contemporary sources the members of the new order were referred to as “disciples” (“murids”) and their relationship with Akbar as “discipleship” (“muridi”).28 In early modern India, initiates into a Sufi order had to meet four conditions: acceptance by the master, shaving the beard, investment with a cloak or hat, and swearing an oath.29 Akbar’s Tauhid-i Ilahi seems to have been based on this model. Akbar himself and many of his followers shaved their faces and, like Sufi novices, the Mughal candidates placed their heads at Akbar’s feet, receiving a picture of the emperor (instead of the usual cloak), and agreeing to abide by certain rules of conduct. Akbar touched the candidate’s turban and then replaced it on his head.
Akbar expected his disciples to be in the vanguard of his “lasting reconciliation” movement. The author of the Maʻasir al-Umara wrote that “The dictum of sulh-i kull was honored at the court ... .”30 And Jahangir, Akbar’s son and successor, singled out one Shaikh Ahmad Lahauri “who from my princehood had filled the relationship of service and discipleship (muridi) ... .” For Jahangir, such a disciple (murid) “must not confuse or darken his time with sectarian quarrels, but must follow the rule of sulh-i kull in his relations with men of different faiths.”31
The emperor Akbar faced a tremendous challenge in his effort to create a new imperial system in Mughal India. While the opposition to his reorganization of the land revenue and military-administrative systems was wide-spread, the sectarian and religious conflicts among the members of his new state were even more intense and divisive. The majority of his followers were orthodox Muslims and their certainties had been shaken by the millenarian movements of the time as well as by the emperor’s tolerance of the local non-Islamic groups. The sessions in the House of Religious Assembly seem to have been intended, at least in part, as a way for Akbar to gauge the breadth and intensity of the religious and sectarian divide. After five full years of inquiry and debate Akbar was spurred to action, developing a wide-ranging and broad-minded policy that required, at least among the higher-ranking officeholders, an unusual degree of religious and sectarian tolerance. While the emperor’s strategy of “lasting reconciliation” didn’t fully outlive the reign of his successor, it is a fascinating example of an unusually open-minded approach to the problem of religious conflict in an extraordinarily crowded and explosive religious and sectarian milieu.
For a discussion of Akbar and the founding of the Mughal Empire see John F. Richards, “The Mughal Empire,” The New Cambridge History of India (Cambridge, 1996).
Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History, trans. Franz Rosenthal, 3 vols. (New York, 1958), II: 156.
‘Abd al-Qadir ibn Muluk Shah (Bada’uni), Muntakhab-ut-tawarikh, 3 vols., trans. George S. A. Ranking, W. H. Lowe, and T. Wolsely Haig (1884-1925; reprint Delhi, 1973), II: 323 [hereafter Bada’uni]. The verse is, however, garbled in this edition: the name of the poet is omitted and the date incorrectly reads 990 A.H. instead of 992. ‘Abd al-Qadir ibn Muluk Shah (Bada’uni), Muntakhab-ut-tawarikh, 3 vols., trans. George S. A. Ranking, W. H. Lowe, and T. Wolsely Haig (1884-1925; reprint Karachi, 1976-78), II: 331.
Bada’uni, II: 204-05; Abu al-Fazl, The Akbar Namah, trans. H. Beveridge, 3 vols. (Calcutta, 1902; rprt. Delhi: Rare Books, 1972), III: 158-59.
Abu al-Fazl, The Akbar Namah, III: 114.
Derryl N. MacLean, “Real Men and False Men at the Court of Akbar,” in Beyond Turk and Hindu: Rethinking Religious Identities in Islamicate South Asia, ed. David Gilmartin and Bruce Lawrence (Gainesville, FL, 2000), 201.
MacLean, “Real Men and False Men,” 199-215.
Kathryn Babayan, Mystics, Monarchs, and Messiahs: Cultural Landscapes of Early Modern Iran (Cambridge, MA, 2002), xxxiv-liii, 3-4, 10-35.
Iqtidar Husain Siddiqui, “Nuqtavi Thinkers at the Mughal Court: A Study of their Impact on Akbar’s Religious and Political Ideas,” Islamic Culture 62 (1998): 65-82.
Eskandar Beg Munshi, The History of Shah Abbas the Great, trans. Roger M. Savory, 2 vols. (Boulder, CO, 1978), II: 650.
Fauzia Zareen Abbas, Abdul Qadir Bada’uni, As a Man and Historiographer (Delhi, 1987), 15-18.
Bada’uni, II: 294-95
David Damrel, “The ‘Naqshbandi Reaction’ Reconsidered,” in Beyond Turk and Hindu, ed. Gilmartin and Lawrence, 176-98; Yohanan Friedmann, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi: An Outline of His Thought and a Study of His Image in the Eyes of Posterity (Montreal, 1971), xiv-xv, 2-6, 14-20, 33-34.
Babayan, Mystics, 263; Said Amir Arjomand, “Religious Extremism (Ghuluww): Sufism and Sunnism in Safavid Iran,” Journal of Asian History 15 (1981): 5.
Bada’uni, II: 323.
Shāhnavāz Khān Awrangābādi, ‘Abd al-Hayy ibn Shāhnavāz, Maathir-ul-Umara, trans. H. Beveridge and Baini Prasad, 3 vols. (Calcutta, 1941-64), II: 903.
Abu al-Fazl, The A’in-i Akbari, ed. H. Blochmann, 2 vols. (Calcutta, 1872-77), I: 207-08 (hereafter Ain).
Abu al-Fazl, Akbar Namah, III: 400.
Khaliq Ahmad Nizami, Akbar and Religion (Delhi, 1989), 31-36.
Ashirbadi Lal Srivastava, Akbar the Great, 2 vols. (Agra, 1962), II: 316-18.
Nizami, Akbar and Religion, 197-98; Saiyid Athar Abbas Rizvi, Religious and Intellectual History of the Muslims in Akbar’s Reign (New Delhi, 1975), 137.
Nizami, Akbar and Religion, 99-202. The Commentary of Father Monserrate, S. J., on His Journey to the Court of Akbar (1580-81), trans. J. S. Hoyland and S. N. Banerjee (London, 1922).
Nizami, Akbar and Religion, 204-07; Rizvi, Religious and Intellectual History, 129-31; Srivastava, Akbar the Great, I: 248-51.
Rizvi, Religious and Intellectual History, 141-61.
Ain, I: 211; Nizami, Akbar and Religion, 132-33.
For a discussion of different views see Srivastava, Akbar the Great, I: 310-11.
Ain, I: 7, 175.
In 1588, for example, a high-ranking mansabdar stamped his Farman (order) with a seal reading “the disciple [murid] of Akbar Shah ... .” Rizvi, Religious and Intellectual History, 406. Abu al-Fazl described one of the nobles as donning the “chain of discipleship [muridi].” Ibid., 399. For Azam Khan and Mirza Aziz Koka joining the order and becoming murids, see ibid., 427-28.
Carl Ernst, Eternal Garden: Mysticism, History, and Politics at a South Asian Sufi Center (Albany, NY, 1992), 127-28, 133.
Khan, Maathir-ul-Umara, II: 908
Rizvi, Religious and Intellectual History, 400.