“He was a Prince every Way qualified for governing. None ever understood Politics better than he. The Balance of distributive Justice he held in an exact Equilibrium. He was brave and cunning in War, and merciful and magnanimous in Peace, temperate in his Diet and Recreations, and modest and grave in his Apparel, courteous in his Behaviour to his Subjects, and affable in his Discourse; He encouraged Virtue, and discountenanced Vice, and he studied the Laws of Humanity, and observed them as well as those of Religion…”
[A description of the Great Indian Emperor, Aurangzeb, by the Scottish merchant, Alexander Hamilton, who resided and travelled in numerous countries in the East, and who did not hesitate in describing a country as being oppressive and repressive if he found it to be so. He resided and travelled in India for many years during the latter part of Aurangzeb’s reign, even fighting for the British East India Company in their short-lived war against the Great Emperor which ended in a crushing, humiliating defeat for the British.]
“In the wake of the glorious succession of the Emperor bravery and success heralded all over there. Blessing, joy and pleasure started to reign and extended patronage to exalt professions and excellence. Act and deed worked together. Seditions and rebellions became like a vain dream. Oppression and exploitation were stopped. The garden of justice was added with new edifice of glory. For the beautification and proper functioning of the garden (country) peace was restored and the desires and wishes of the people were fulfilled. The lap of indigents, poors and deservings were filled with gold and silver. The source of blessings and qualities opened new venues which heralded the banners of fresh successes. Lion became friendly with cow while wolf with sheep and the high flying hawk settled with sparrow in the same nest, and the wolf became guard of sheep. Even if volumes are written in praise of good qualities of the Emperor, it shall not be more than a flower in garden or drop in ocean. Therefore it is better that the reins of pen may be withdrawn from the said valley and come to the real object.”
[Ishwardas, a Hindu Brahman contemporary of Aurangzeb, in the preface to his historical account, employs hyperbole to convey the unparalleled level of security and prosperity experienced in India under Aurangzeb’s just rule, by Muslim and non-Muslim citizens alike]
For now, some random bits of information have been presented below as a preview of what’s to come in future. All the contentious issues regarding Aurangzeb, such as his policy on temple destruction, his treatment of non-muslims, of rebels such as Shivaji and Tegh Bahadur, and of his own kin, the economy of India, the living conditions of the lowest strata of society, etc. will dealt with in thorough detail insha-Allah.
AURANGZEB – A TRULY ISLAMIC RULER
Under the 50-year reign of Hadhrat Aurangzeb (rahmatullahi alayh), India reached its zenith and became the most powerful and richest country in the world. The unprecedented wealth and prosperity (conservative estimates by even anti-mughal “experts” attribute to Aurangzeb’s India more than 25% of world GDP) which India experienced under the rule of Aurangzeb, were enjoyed by all strata of the society, from the commoners to the nobility, both Muslims and non-Muslims, as shall be demonstrated in this blog – a level of prosperity which India, terribly impoverished even today in this so-called age of enlightenment, peace and harmony, has yet to come close to achieving ever since Aurangzeb’s reign, 300 years ago.
There is agreement amongst friend and foe alike that Aurangzeb was the epitome of orthodox Islam and a firm adherent to Islamic teachings in every sphere of life.
According to the enemies of Islam, including many so-called “objective” academics and historians, Islam was spread throughout the world, including India, through tyranny and oppression. Such alleged tyranny and oppression, in the fabricated revisionist history, involve genocide and forced conversions of countless non-muslims (Kuffaar) of all faiths, and the systematic destruction of their places of worship.
Furthermore, since it is alleged that the root of all the tyranny and oppression inflicted by Muslim rulers is Islam itself – in its most pure form i.e. orthodox and conservative Islam, and since all agree that Aurangzeb was an orthodox and conservative practitioner of Islam, Aurangzeb’s life and rule provides an ideal test case to measure the accuracy of this alleged connection between Islam and tyrannical oppression.
The New York Times, for example, attributes to Aurangzeb the Holocaust of 4.6 million civilians. We shall examine all the sources, from the mammoth volume of vernacular accounts of contemporary Hindus that have reached us, on detailed and graphic descriptions (or the absolutely deafening silence thereof) of such Holocausts allegedly perpetrated by Aurangzeb, who is regarded widely as the most fanatical, puritanical and ardent practitioner of Islam amongst the rulers of India, and in the process of which we shall also be able to present an accurate portrayal of his supposedly tyrannical regime, allegedly ruled with an iron-fist, in which non-muslims are supposed to have been systematically subjected to mass-slaughter or mass-conversions, and their places of worship destroyed at every possible opportunity.
The abundant sources and contemporary accounts which shed light on Aurangzeb and his reign, will enable the sincere seeker of truth to determine whether this alleged connection between Islam and tyranny is tenable or not, or whether it is part of a satanic propaganda fabricated by the enemies of truth and Islam.
The quotes, citations, eye-witness accounts, and other evidences will initially be gathered below in the form of brief posts. Later, when time permits, the material will be arranged and ordered in a coherent manner as part of a comprehensive article insha-Allah.
Brief Note on Pure, Uncorrupted Islam vs Salafi and Modernist versions of “Islam”
Before proceeding, due to the massive ignorance that prevails currently regarding Islam, it needs to be clarified that Islam in its original form – i.e. orthodox, conservative Islam – is based on the ancient 1400 year-old Shariah (Islamic Law) which is represented today ONLY by the Four Madh-habs – schools of the thought which comprise of all the original rulings of Islam, and which have been accepted by the Islamic empire for over a thousand years. Orthodox Islam has absolutely nothing to do with modernist and salafi versions of the religion which – by the admission of such groups – seek to override or “improve” or “modernise” the Ancient Law represented by the Four Madh-habs, and which today have produced perverted mutations such as ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Pakistani Fake Taliban, etc. and other groups influenced by Salafist and modernist reformist ideologies that demand the abandonment of Rigid Taqleed (tightly binding oneself) to the set of unchangeable and immutable rulings and values which constitute the Four Madh-habs.
Aurangzeb himself and the scholars around him were all orthodox Muslims – staunch followers of the Hanafi school and generally affiliated to one of the authentic Sufi paths.
THE OCEAN OF JUSTICE
We shall begin with Saubhagya Vijaya, a priest of the Jains – who were regarded as Kaafir Hindus by Aurangzeb and other Muslim rulers.
Saubhagya Vijaya relates in his chronicle of Jain saints, “Prachin Tirtha mala”, an occasion on which the Jain priest, Lal Vijaya, visited Aurangzeb whose reputation at the time the chronicle was written (1693), near the end of his 50-year reign, would have been cemented thoroughly far and wide throughout India and even in other nations:
“His [Charitrya Vijaya’s – a Jain saint] disciple, Lal Vijaya Gani, who adorned the title of Pundit, went to Agra and met Aurangzeb, the King of Delhi. The Virtuous King of Delhi gave him monestry [poshala – a grant] extensive in size, for the Tapagachchha sects of the Jains, and he (Aurangzeb) issued a Firman (an imperial order) to that effect, so that he may live there with all comforts.” [Prachin Tirthmala, Saubha Vijaya, Page 99]
Worth noting from the quote above, as will become even more evident from numerous other eye-witness accounts of contemporaries, is the fact that Aurangzeb held an open-door policy in his court, as was the Sunnah (way) of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and the Sunnah of all the pious Muslim rulers in history. In an Empire which Aurangzeb stretched to its greatest limits despite severe limitations – an empire which even exceeded in population the Ottoman Empire – every person, whether Muslim or Kaafir (non-muslim), poor or rich, was able to petition Hadhrat Aurangzeb directly in his court.
Stanley Lane-Poole narrates what Ovington derived from Aurangzeb’s “least partial” critics regarding Aurangzeb’s reputation for justice, which ensured that no government official nor any nobleman nor even a person of royalty, regardless of the position, contacts, powerful friends, etc. he may have had, felt secure from Aurangzeb’s justice being applied upon him:
“Not merely Indian writers but also foreigners bear testimony to the fair administration of justice under Aurangzeb. Ovington, “who derived his opinions and information from Aurangzeb’s ‘least partial critics, the English merchants at Bombay and Surat,’ says that the Great Mogul ‘is the main ocean of justice… He generally determines with exact justice and equity, for there is no pleading of peerage or privilege before the emperor, but the meanest man is as soon heard by Aurangzib as the chief Omrah (noble). Which makes the Omrahs very circumspect of their actions, and punctual in their payments; because all complaints against them are readily adjusted, and they never want jealous rivals at Court who are willing to bring them into disgrace with their King for any fault.”
Aurangzeb’s much-maligned treatment of his sons, brother, father, and other family members lends further support to his justice, impartiality, incorruptibility, and fair application of the Rule of Law on all his subjects – rich or poor, noble or commoner, kin or foreigner. While Aurangzeb’s temperament was characterized by mercy and kindheartedness – as will be shown to be attested to by some of his harshest critics – he did not hesitate to apply the Law whenever it was warranted.
In fact, if there was any impartiality in Aurangzeb’s administration of justice, it was in favour of the weak and poor. As Abraham Eraly, a historian and an unfair critic of the Mughals, put it:
The lowlier the offender the more merciful was Aurangzeb.
Yet he was a man of great humility, soft-spoken, mild-mannered and of equable temper. He was particularly kindly in his treatment of the lowly.
We shall examine both Aurangzeb’s principled treatment of his family, and his mercy and kindheartedness towards the poor and weak, in much more detail later.
The views of Aurangzeb’s “least partial critics” as narrated by Ovington regarding his “fair administration of justice” corroborates the following picture depicted of Aurangzeb as a judge, quoted by Stanley Lane-Poole from Bakhtawar Khan, an officer of Aurangzeb’s:
“In his sacred Court no improper conversation, no word of backbiting or falsehood, is allowed. His courtiers, on whom his light is reflected, are cautioned that if they have to say anything which might injure the character of an absent man, they should express themselves in decorous language and at full detail..He appears two or three times every day in his court of audience with a pleasing countenance and mild look, to dispense justice to complainants who come in numbers without any hindrance, and as he listens to them with great attention, they make their representations without any fear or hesitation, and obtain redress from his impartiality..If any person talks too much, or acts in an improper manner, he is never displeased, and he never knits his brows. His courtiers have often desired to prohibit people from showing so much boldness, but he remarks that by hearing their very words, and seeing their gestures, he acquires a habit of forbearance and tolerance..All bad characters are expelled from the city of Dehlí, and the same is ordered to be done in all places throughout the whole empire. The duties of preserving order and regularity among the people are very efficiently attended to, and throughout the empire, notwithstanding its great extent, nothing can be done without meeting with the due punishment enjoined by the Muhammadan law. Under the dictates of anger and passion he never issues orders of death.“‘.
The contemporary Scottish merchant, Alexander Hamilton was so impressed by the manner in which Aurangzeb acquitted himself in a particular case that he felt it embodied the “Christian principles of morality and forgiveness”, and he contrasted Aurangzeb’s behaviour with that of the English merchants at the time. Robert Markley quotes Alexander Hamilton from his travelogue, “A New Account of the East Indies” (1727), as follows:
“Hamilton represents the emperor’s court as a model of civil and well- orchestrated governance in contrast to the tyrannical, corrupt, and uncivil behavior of Child and his henchmen. His narrative turns Aurangzeb into an embodiment of Western — indeed universal — morality. To this end, Hamilton includes a translation of Aurangzeb’s letter to the ambassadors, and it functions as a model of how a just and even merciful monarch exercises his power. The emperor, according to Hamilton (1727, 1:229), was not “desirous to use Severity in punishing Offences and Affronts; but, like an indulgent Prince, only told [the English] their Faults, and prudently admonished them not to be guilty of falling into such like Errors, and, in a majestick Stile, advised them to receive his Favours and Graces with great Respect, and that they ought to make the Law the Standard of Justice, and in all his Words and Actions, used a Christian Moderation.” By using “Christian” as an adjectival marker of civilized behavior, Hamilton makes explicit what Ovington only backhandedly acknowledges: the Mughals — in this case the emperor himself — embody the very principles that define Christian morality and forgiveness.”
In another part of the same book, Alexander Hamilton, who witnessed Indian society during the later part of Aurangzeb’s reign, stated that the Hindus enjoyed “full toleration for their religion”:
“The Gentows [i.e. Hindus] have full Toleration for their Religion, and keep their Fasts and Feasts as in former Times, when the Sovereignty was in Pagan [i.e. Hindu] Princes Hands. They burn their Dead, but the Wives are restrained from burning with the Corps of their Husbands [Aurangzeb issued an order prohibiting Sati – a Hindu practice in which the wife is compelled to burn herself at the funeral of her husband]. There is a very great Consumption of Elephants Teeth, for ’tis the Fashion for Ladies to wear Rings of Ivory from their Arm-pits to their Elbows, and from their Elbows to their wrists, of both Arms ; and when they die, all those Ornaments are burnt along with them. They had several Feasts when I was there, but one they kept on Sight of a New-moon in February , exceeded the rest in ridiculous Actions and Expence ; and this is called the Feast of Wooly…
The Religion, by Law established, is Mahometan [Islam] but there are ten Gentows [Hindus] or Pagans for one Musulman [Muslim]. But the City of Tatta is famous for Learning in Theology, Philology and Politicks, and they have above four Hundred Colleges for training up Youth in those Parts of Learning. I was very intimate with a Seid who was a Professor in Theology, and was reckoned to be a good Historian…”
[A New Account of the East Indies, Vol 1, pp 159]
He mentions that everyone was free to practice their own religion and that persecution for the sake of religion was unknown:
“There are above an hundred different sects [i.e. of various religions] in this city (Surat); but they never have hot disputes about their doctrine or way of worship. Every one is free to serve and worship God their own way. And persecutions for religion’s sake are not known among them.”
Although Alexander Hamilton resided and travelled throughout India and many other countries in the East over a period of many decades, interacting with countless Hindus, and although he documented so much of what he experienced in the minutest detail, there is no mention of any outrage felt by the Hindus under this supposedly brutal, repressive regime in which Hindus were allegedly subject to severe oppression, mass-genocide and forced conversions – as alleged by many revisionist historians.
The supposedly brutal Jizyah tax and discriminatory custom rates are only mentioned in passing without a hint of any feeling of oppression felt by the Hindus or Christians. Below is one such mention of the discriminatory custom rates in a particular city in which many Indians, both Muslims and Hindus, were extremely wealthy:
“The Inhabitants are computed at 200000 Souls, and amongst them are many very rich, both Mahometans [Muslims] and Gentiles [Hindus]. Abdul Gafour, a Mahometan that I was acquainted with, drove a Trade equal to the English East-India Company…The Trade of Surat was, and still is very considerable, for, from Anno 1690. to 1705. the Revenues arising from the Customhouse, Land Rents and Poll Money, communibus annis, came to 1300000 Rupees, which is Sterl. 162500 L. And the Revenue of Amadabant is generally reckoned ten Times as much as Surat. The Customs in the King’s Books, are but 2 per cent, for Mahometans, and 5 per cent, for Gentiles..”
On the contrary, Hamilton found the generality of the population, including the Hindus, to be far more content with the taxes under the rule of Aurangzeb, a truly Islamic ruler, who had abolished over 80 different taxes that used to be extorted from the masses by unIslamic rulers in the past i.e. by both Hindu rulers and also Muslim rulers who paid no regard to the Shariah (Islamic Law) which demands the absolute prohibition of all taxes besides the Jizyah tax that is levied from non-Muslims and the Zakaat tax that is levied from Muslims:
“The Gentiles [Hindus] are better contented to live under the Mogul’s Laws than under Pagan [Hindu] Princes, for the Mogul taxes them gently, and every one knows what he must pay, but the Pagan Kings or Princes tax at Discretion, making their own Avarice the Standard of Equity; besides there were formerly many small Rajahs, that used, upon frivolous Occasions, to pick Quarrels with one another, and before they could be made Friends again, their Subjects were forced to open both their Veins and Purses to gratifie Ambition or Folly.”
While speaking about the custom rates in another Muslim country, Alexander Hamilton expresses how such low rates of custom were “very easy”:
“The King’s Customs are very easy, being but 3 per cent, from Europeans, and 5 on Gentiles (Hindus and other Pagans) and the Custom-house is easy.”
We shall later compare and contrast such “oppressive” rates of customs and taxes with those found in India today and also with those found in countries regarded as the leaders of modern “civilisation” today.
Furthermore, it was the case in many cities throughout India that unprecedented wealth and prosperity were enjoyed by both Muslims and Hindus, as explicitly witnessed and testified by Hamilton in that particular city.
Much more will also be posted regarding the dreaded Jizyah tax.
Although the accounts of European travellers do contain myths, fables, gossip and tales from the bazaar, they have some value when they narrate personal experiences and direct eye-witness accounts.
For example, William Norris, an English Ambassador sent by the King of England to seek an audience with Hadhrat Aurangzeb, described his first-hand observation of there being no disputes with regards to religion between the Muslims and the Hindus, and also the complete absence of any “drunkennese disorder”, both of which the Christian Europeans could learn a lesson from:
“I think it hard to judge whether the Moores [i.e. Muslims] or Rashbootes [i.e. Hindus] are more ridiculous in their ceremonies; the Moores favour more of the papistes & this ceremony is like their exposing the Relics of some saint..This I think is observable that there is not the least clashing or falling out amongst so many different sects & castes as there are in this Town. They live quietly and contented amongst one another, each sect & cast enjoying his superstition & performing their idolatrous worship without any disputes or molestation..I heartily pity them for their ignorance & mistaken devotion, but really they might teach Christians this one Lesson who are of different opinions in some points to live quietly & peacably amongst themselves & not tear one another in pieces.”
“In these 3 months that I have been here I have neither seen nor heard of any drunkenesse disorder, riott or quarelling in the Town. It would be well if European City’s would take example.” [Das, The Norris Embassy].
“There may be many more such instances of Aurangzib’s favour towards Jain religion and its institutions, that created esteemed opinion about him in the minds of its followers.”.
“Here rules the King Aurangzib, whose orders are obeyed everywhere. Such is the grace of the King that no one has any kind of fear.” [Bhagvti Das in his Brahma-Vilas written in 1698].
Similarly, the Jain poet, Ramchandra, mentions the joy and peace experienced during Aurangzib’s reign:
“King Aurangzib is gallant and valiant. During his reign I composed this book with all joy and peace.” [The Jain poet, Ramchandra, in his Ram Vinod]
And we will quote one more example for now, demonstrating the fact that people of other faiths had nothing to fear in adhering to their faith:
“In his [Aurangzeb’s] reign there is nothing for any religious-minded people to fear about their studies.” [Jagatrai Rai in his Padmanandi Panchvisika]
Much more to come when time permits…….