The Rule Of Emperor Aurangzeb

As far as Mughal rule is concerned, many of the Mughal historical characters are seen as enlightened and great leaders while some of them have been considered as tyrants who were rather ruthless. One controversial Mughal ruler is the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir. He ruled the empire for 49 years from 1658 to 1707. He is seen as a ruthless and cruel emperor by the Sikhs and Hindus. This was because he imposed a regime that was religiously intolerant and he also restricted their freedom. As far as the Muslims are concerned, he is considered to be a sultan who was religious minded and extremely devoted. In a country dominated by Hindus, Aurangzeb has one of the Muslim leaders.

Aurangzeb’s Early Life And Background

In the 1500s during Babur’s reign, power in India was taken up by the Mughals. Later on after 150 years, Aurangzeb took over power when the Mughal Empire in India was at its pinnacle. Major part of the Indian subcontinent was controlled by the Mughals. All across the world, it was one of the wealthiest of empires.

It was in 1618 that Aurangzeb was born with in a cosmopolitan and powerful state. Shah Jahan, was his father was a legend who had constructed the beautiful Taj Mahal for his wife in Agra. Right from a young age, Aurangzeb was taught by the best of teachers and scholars. He was well versed with a number of aspects of sciences related to Islam, Hadith and the Quran. He read books with great enthusiasm and wrote in the language of his ancestors in Chagatai Turkic, Persian and Arabic. Aurangzeb was well trained in calligraphy and many of his works are still seen today.

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Islamic Governance

Bringing true Islamic governance to the Mughal Empire was one of the main goals for Aurangzeb. All the previous Muslim emperors did not rule as per the laws of Islam. Many religious practices and beliefs that were non Islamic were practiced by Akbar, his great grandfather, while ruling the Mughal Empire and in his own personal life. However with Aurangzeb, the Islamic rule was on the basis of his strong religious convictions as well as his previous education.

He compiled the Islamic law book, called the Al-Fatawa al-Hindiya. Much before his father, Shah Jahan had died, he took over power. Aurangzeb considered many of his father’s actions as extravagant and wasteful and disregarded many of them, despite the fact he respected his father. He even criticized construction of the Taj Mahal by his father in his mother’s memory as he thought that building of a structure on any grave was against Islamic laws. He also opposed the veneration of the Sufi graves publicly as he was of the belief that a cult like practice was being gradually developed which was away from Islamic practices and beliefs.

Aurangzeb kept on insisting on having the Islamic law compiled into a book with codes so that people could follow it easily. Accordingly, to have such laws organized many scholars of Islam from the world of Muslims were brought together. A fiqh or a landmark text came into existence in the Hanafi School. In the rest of the Muslim world it was known at the Fatawa al-Hindiya, a guidebook and of the Hanafi law it is a compendium that is much respected. He enacted the Islamic law by using this guidebook and in the process ended corrupt practices in society like prostitution, gambling and alcoholism. He abolished taxes that did not fall in line with the Islamic law. Losses incurred in tax revenue were made up by living a simple life and avoiding all extravagant practices including festivities and music in the court on the birthday of the emperor.

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Aurangzeb’s Relations With The Sikhs And The Hindus

It is argued by a number of academicians and historians that oppression and intolerance was Aurangzeb’s lasting legacy. He has been cited as a person who wanted to eliminate those who were non Muslims in the Mughal Empire and was also a destroyer of temples. Some of the temples were certainly destroyed but for political reasons rather than religious ones. Whatever had been his attitude towards the Sikhs and the Hindus, he was not discriminatory or prejudiced. In his court he had a lot of Hindus working as advisors and officials as compared to Akbar’s court. A lot of Sikhs and Hindus occupied positions in the military and the government. Aurangzeb was aware of the fact that desecration of temples was not permissible.

Places of worship like temples also had political significance and acted a property of the state and offices for political work. In other words the temple was more than just a place for religious purposes. This provides an explanation of why Aurangzeb had destroyed some of the temples but he did not follow any kind of indiscriminate policy for destroying Indian temples. He did this as part of an act that was motivated by politics only. Some of the Hindu officials were disloyal and as part of a political punishment, Aurangzeb took the decision of getting the temples desecrated. This act did not indicate any intolerance towards religion of the Hindus. Also he was not bigoted religiously to Islam as he took no efforts to double the number of mosques as well. His main effort was to be religious minded and strive hard towards ensuring an Islamic character which permeated through his various actions as a Mughal leader.

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Fall Of The Mughal Empire During Aurangzeb’s Reign

He had a violent struggle for power while emerging as a successor. He got his father Shah Jahan imprisoned and also killed his brothers. The Mughal Empire started declining during his reign. He could not prevent the fall of the Empire even if he remained extremely devoted to his duties. Major section of the public opposed his policies. There was rebellion in large parts of the Mughal Empire. He did not prove to be a successful ruler even if he maintained high moral standards.

It was just on the basis of rule and religious tolerance that the Mughal Empire was built by him. The fatal mistake he did was to impose his beliefs and ideas on people with force which damaged the empire to an irreparable extent. He saw the empire getting destroyed before him. Even after urging his sons to undo the mistakes he had done, he was ignored and the Mughal Empire could not be restored. When he died in 1707 he was buried in Daulatabad in a simple tomb.