Juicy excerpts from Badāʾūnī’s account of Emperor Akbar’s apostacy from Islam

[Source  via Shatruntapa.Please feel free to add your relevant (= historical accounts of Akbar’s apostacy) observations in the comments.]

Summary of the factors that led to apostacy

Mullah ʿAbd-ul-Qadir Bada’uni (c. 1540 – 1615) summarizes: “The following are the principal reasons which led His Majesty from the right path.” (I’ve rearranged and bullet-pointed the passages for coherence.) …

  • The principal reason is the large number of learned men of all denominations and sects that came from various countries to court, and received personal interviews. Night and day people did nothing but enquire and investigate; profound points of science, the subtleties of revelation, the curiosities of history, the wonders of nature, of which large volumes could only give a summary abstract, were ever spoken of. His Majesty collected the opinions of every one, especially of such as were not Muhammadans, retaining whatever he approved of, and rejecting everything which was against his disposition, and ran counter to his wishes. …

    • Moreover Sumanīs and Brahmins managed to get frequent private interviews with His Majesty. As they surpass other learned men in their treatises on morals, and on physical and religious sciences, and reach a high degree in their knowledge of the future, in spiritual power and human perfection, they brought proofs, based on reason and testimony, [S. 189] for the truth of their own, and the fallacies of other religions, and inculcated their doctrines so firmly, and so skilfully represented things as quite self-evident which require consideration, that no man, by expressing his doubts, could now raise a doubt in His Majesty, even if mountains were to crumble to dust, or the heavens were to tear asunder.

      • He listened to every abuse which the courtiers heaped on our glorious and pure faith, which can be so easily followed; and eagerly seizing such opportunities, he shewed in words and gestures, his satisfaction at the treatment which his original religion received at their hands.

      • When orders, in opposition to the Islām, were quoted by people of other religions, they were looked upon by His Majesty as convincing, whilst Hinduism is in reality a religion, in which every order is nonsense.

      • The Originator of our belief, the Arabian Saints, all were said to be adulterers, and highway robbers, and all the Muhammadans were declared worthy of reproof, till at length His Majesty belonged to those of whom the Qur’ān says (Sūr. 61, 8:) “They seek to extinguish God’s light with their mouths: but God will perfect his light, though the infidels be averse [S. 194] thereto.”

      • In fact matters went so far, that proofs were no longer required when anything connected with the Islām was to be abolished.

  • From his earliest childhood to his manhood, and from his manhood to old age, His Majesty has passed through the most various phases, and through all sorts of religious practices and sectarian beliefs, and has collected every thing which people can find in books, with a talent of selection peculiar to him, and a spirit of enquiry opposed to every [Islāmitic] principle. …

    • Once the emperor, in Fathu’llāh’s presence, said to Bīr Baṛ, “I really wonder how any one in his senses can believe that a man, whose body has a certain weight, could, in the space of a moment, leave his bed, go up to heaven, there have 90,000 conversations with God, and yet on his return find his bed still warm?” So also was the splitting of the moon ridiculed. “Why,” said His Majesty, lifting up one foot, “it is really impossible for me to lift up the other foot! What silly stories men will believe.” And that wretch (Bīr Baṛ) and some other wretches—whose names be forgotten—said, “Yea, we believe! Yea, we trust!”

    • “In the same manner, every doctrine and command of the Islām, whether special or general, as the prophetship, the harmony of the Islām with reason, the doctrines of Ru’yat, Taklīf, and Takwīn, the details of the day of resurrection and judgment,—all were doubted and ridiculed. [S. 206] And if any one did object to this mode of arguing, his answer was not accepted.

    • the emperor examined people about the creation of the Qur’ān, elicited their belief, or otherwise, in revelation, and raised doubts in them regarding all things connected with the prophet and the imāms. He distinctly denied the existence of Jinns, of angels, and of all other beings of the invisible world, as well as the miracles of the prophet and the saints; he rejected the successive testimony of the witnesses of our faith, the proofs for the truths of the Qur’ān as far as they agree with man’s reason, the existence of the soul after the dissolution of the body, and future rewards and punishments in as far as they differed from metempsychosis.

  • there grew, gradually as the outline on a stone, the conviction in his heart that there were sensible men in all religions, and abstemious thinkers, and men endowed with miraculous powers, among all nations. If some true knowledge was thus everywhere to be found, why should truth be confined to one religion, or to a creed like the Islām, which was comparatively new, and scarcely a thousand years old …

    • But sensible people smiled, and said, it was strange that His Majesty should have such a faith in the Khwājah of Ajmīr, whilst he rejected the foundation of everything, our prophet, from whose ‘skirt’ hundreds of thousands of saints of the highest degree had sprung.

Anecdotes concerning interactions with Brahmana-s, Birbal and other Hindus; also the Zoroastrians:

  • For some time His Majesty called a Brahmin, whose name was Purukhotam author of a commentary on the .., whom he asked to invent particular Sanscrit names for all things in existence.

  • At other times, a Brahmin of the name of Debī was pulled up the wall of the castle, sitting on a chārpāi, till he arrived near a balcony where the emperor used to sleep. Whilst thus suspended, he instructed His Majesty in the secrets and legends of Hinduism, in the manner of worshipping idols, the fire, the sun and stars, and of revering the chief gods of these unbelievers, as Brahma, Mahādev, Bishn, Kishn, Rām, and Mahāmāī, who are supposed to have been men, but very likely never existed, though some, in their idle belief, look upon them as gods, and others as angels. His Majesty, on hearing further how much the people of the country prized their institutions, commenced to look upon them with affection. The doctrine of the transmigration of souls especially took a deep root in his heart, and he approved of the saying, —”There is no religion in which the doctrine of transmigration has not taken firm root.” Insincere flatterers composed treatises, in order to fix the evidence for this doctrine; and as His Majesty relished enquiries into the sects of these infidels (who cannot be counted, so numerous they are, and who have no end of [S. 190] revealed books, but nevertheless, do not belong to the Ahl-i Kitāb (Jews, Christians, and Muhammadans), not a day passed, but a new fruit of this loathsome tree ripened into existence.

  • Here Badāonī mentions the translations from Sanscrit into Persian, which have been alluded to above, p. 104. It is not quite certain whether the translations were made from Sanscrit, or from Hindī translations, or from both. Badāonī clearly states that for some translations, as as the Atharban, Hindus were used as interpreters. For other works as the Mahābhārat, there may have been Hindī translations or extracts, because Akbar himself (vide p. 105, note 1) translated passages to Naqīb Khān. Abū’l-Fazl also states that he was assisted by Paṇḍits when writing the fourth book of the Ā’īn. Compare Sir H. Elliott’s Index to the Historians of India, p. 259.

  • His Majesty had also one thousand and one Sanscrit names of the Sun collected, and read them daily, devoutly turning towards the sun; he then used to get hold of both ears, and turning himself quickly round about, used to strike the lower ends of the ears with his fists. He also adopted several other practices connected with sun-worship. He used to wear the Hindu mark on his forehead, and ordered the band to play at midnight and at break of day.

    • No sooner had His Majesty finished saying the 1001 names of the ‘Greater Luminary’, and stepped out into the balcony, than the whole crowd prostrated themselves.

  • An incarnation of Vishnu (Kalki)?!
    • Cheating, thieving Brahmins collected another set of 1001 [S. 212] names of ‘His Majesty the Sun,’ and told the emperor that he was an incarnation, like Rām, Kishn, and other infidel kings; and though Lord of the world, he had assumed his shape, in order to play with the people of our planet.

    • In order to flatter him, they also brought Sanscrit verses, said to have been taken from the sayings of ancient sages, in which it was predicted that a great conqueror would rise up in India, who would honour Brahmins and cows, and govern the earth with justice.
  • Birbal!
    • Bīr Baṛ also impressed upon the emperor that the sun was the primary origin of every thing. The ripening of the grain on the fields, of fruits and vegetables, the illumination of the universe, and the lives of men, depended upon the Sun. Hence it was but proper to worship and reverence this luminary; and people in praying should face towards the place where he rises, instead of turning to the quarter where he sets.

    • For similar reasons, said Bīr Baṛ, should men pay regard to fire and water, stones, trees, and other forms of existence, even to cows and their dung, to the mark on the forehead and the Brahminical thread.

    • His Majesty also adopted different suits of clothes of seven different colours, [S. 193] each of which was worn on a particular day of the week in honour of the seven colours of the seven planets.

    • when Bīr Bar—that hellish dog— made a sneering remark at our religion, Shahbāz abused him roundly, and said, “You cursed infidel, do you talk in this manner? It would not take me long to settle you.” It got quite uncomfortable, when His Majesty said to Shahbāz in particular, and to the others in general, “Would that a shoefull of excrements were thrown into your faces.”

  • Hindu princesses
    • Beef was interdicted, and to touch beef was considered defiling. The reason of this was that, from his youth, His Majesty had been in company with Hindu libertines, and had thus learnt to look upon a cow—which in their opinion is one of the reasons why the world still exists—as something holy.

    • Besides, the Emperor was subject to the influence of the numerous Hindu princesses of the Harem, who had gained so great an ascendancy over him, as to make him forswear beef, garlic, onions, and the wearing of a beard, which things His Majesty still avoids.

    • He had also introduced, though modified by his peculiar views, Hindu customs and heresies into the court assemblies, and introduces them still, in order to please and win the Hindus and their castes; he abstained from everything which they think repugnant to their nature, and looked upon shaving the beard as the highest sign of friendship and affection for him. Hence this custom has become very general.

  • Fire-worshippers also had come from Nausārī in Gujrāt, and proved to His Majesty the truth of Zoroaster’s doctrines. They called fire-worship ‘the great worship,’ and impressed the emperor so favourably, that he learned from them the religious terms and rites of the old Pārsīs, and ordered Abū’l-Fazl to make arrangements, that sacred fire should be kept burning at court by day and by night, according to the custom of the ancient Persian kings, in whose fire-temples it had been continually burning; for fire was one of the manifestations of God, and ‘a ray of His rays.’

    • His Majesty, from his youth, had also been accustomed to celebrate the Hom (a kind of fire-worship), from his affection towards the Hindu princesses of his Harem.

  • Yogi-s
    • His Majesty also called some of the Jogīs, and gave them at night private interviews, enquiring into abstruse truths; their articles of faith; their occupations; the influence of pensiveness; their several practices and usages; the power of being absent from the body; or into alchemy, physiognomy, and the power of omnipresence of the soul. His Majesty even learned alchemy, and shewed in public some of the gold made by him.

    • Once a year also during a night called Sīvrāt, a great meeting was held of all Jogīs of the empire, when the emperor ate and drank with the principal Jogīs, who promised him that he should live three and four times as long as ordinary men. His Majesty fully believed it, and connecting their promises with other inferences he had drawn, he got quite convinced of it.

    • Thus they said, it was mentioned in some holy books that men used to live up to the age of one thousand years, whilst in Sanscrit books the ages of some men were put down as ten thousand years; and in Thibet, there were even now a class of Lāmās, or Mongolian devotees, and recluses, and hermits, that live two hundred years, and more. For this reason, His Majesty, in imitation of the usages of these Lāmās, limited the time he spent in the Harem, curtailed his food and drink, but especially abstained from meat. He also shaved the hair of the crown of his head, and let the hairs at the sides grow, because he believed that the soul of perfect beings, at the time of death, passes out by the crown (which is the tenth opening of the human body) under a noise resembling thunder …

Encounters with others:

  • But he was soon left behind by Bīr Baṛ—that bastard!—and by Shaykh Abū’l-Fazl, and Hakīm Abu’l-Fath, who successfully turned the emperor from the Islām, and led him to reject inspiration, prophetship, the miracles of the prophet and of the saints, and even the whole law, so that I could no longer bear their company….

  • “His Majesty had also the early history of the Islām read out to him, and soon commenced to think less of the Ṣaḥābah. Soon after, the observance of the five prayers and the fasts, and the belief in every thing connected with the prophet, were put down as taqlīdī, or religious blindness, and man’s reason was acknowledged to be the basis of all religion. …

  • As the Shaykh was not overstrict in acting according to our religious law, he spoke a great deal of the pantheistic presence, which idle Ṣūfīs will talk about, and which generally leads them to denial of the law and open heresy. … The Shaykh is therefore one of the principal culprits, who weakened His Majesty’s faith in the orders of our religion. He also said that infidels would, of course, be kept for ever in hell, but it was not likely, nor could it be proved, that the punishment in hell was eternal.

  • Learned monks also came from Europe, who go by the name of Pādre. They have an infallible head, called Pāpā.He can change any religious ordinances as he may think advisable, and kings have to submit to his authority. … These accursed monks applied the description of cursed Satan, and of his qualities, to Muḥammad, the best of all prophets—God’s blessings rest on him and his whole house!—a thing which even devils would not do.

Influence on others’ apostacy and attempts at effecting the decline of Islam:

  • “They were admitted as disciples in sets of twelve, one set at a time, and declared their willingness to adopt the new principles, and to follow the new religion. Instead of the usual tree, His Majesty gave his likeness, upon which the disciples looked as a symbol of faith and the advancement of virtue and prosperity.

    • wretches like Mīrzā Jānī, chief of Tattah, and other apostates, wrote their confessions on paper as follows:—’I, such a one, son of such a one, have willingly and cheerfully renounced and rejected the Islām in all its phases, whether low or high, as I have witnessed it in my ancestors, and have joined the Divine Faith of Shāh Akbar, and declare myself willing to sacrifice to him my property and life, my honour and religion.’ And these papers—there could be no more effective letters of damnation—were handed over to the Mujtahid (Abū’l-Fazl) of the new Creed, and were considered a source of confidence or promotion.

    • During the Muharram of 1004, Ṣadr Jahān, muftī of the empire, who had been promoted to a commandership of One Thousand, joined the Divine Faith, as also his two over-ambitious sons; and having taken the Shaṣt of the new religion, he ran into the net like a fish, and got his Hazārīship. He even asked His Majesty what he was to do with his beard, when he was told to let it be. On the same day, Mullā Taqī of Shushtar joined, who looks upon himself as the learned of all learned, and is just now engaged in rendering the Shāhnāmah into prose, according to the wishes of the emperor, using the phrase jallatazmatu-hu waazza shānu-hu, wherever the word Sun occurs. Among others that joined were Shaykhzāda Gosāla Khān of Banāras; Mullā Shāh Muḥammad of Shāhābād; and Ṣūfī Aḥmad, who claimed to belong to the progeny of the famous Muḥammad Ghaws. They all accepted the four degrees of faith, and received appointments as Commanders from One Hundred to Five Hundred, gave up their beards agreeably to the rules, and thus looked like the youths in Paradise.

  • Relief for heathens!
    • Hindus who, when young, had from pressure become Musalmāns, were allowed to go back to the faith of their fathers.

    • No man should be interfered with on account of his religion, and every one should be allowed to change his religion, if he liked.

    • If a Hindu woman fall in love with a Muhammadan, and change her religion, she should be taken from him by force, and be given back to her family. People should not be molested, if they wished to build churches and prayer rooms, or idol temples, or fire temples.”

  • In opposition to the Islām, pigs and dogs were no longer looked upon as unclean. A large number of these animals was kept in the Harem, and in the vaults of the castle, and to inspect them daily, was considered a religious exercise. The Hindus, who believe in incarnations, said that the boar belonged to the ten forms which God Almighty had once assumed.

  • Circumcision was [S. 217] forbidden before the age of twelve, and was then to be left to the will of the boys.

  • It was also forbidden to marry one’s cousins or near relations, because such marriages are destructive of mutual love. Boys were not to marry before the age of 16, nor girls before 14, because the offspring of early marriages was weakly.

    • the story of the marriage night of the Prophet with Ṣiddīqa was totally disapproved of.

    • “No one was to marry more than one wife, except in cases of barrenness; but in all other cases the rule was, ‘One God, and one wife.’

    • A Hindu girl, whose husband had died before the marriage was consummated, should not be burnt. If, however, the Hindus thought this a hardship, they should not be prevented (from burning the girl); but then a Hindu widow should take the girl

      • If a Hindu woman wished to be burnt with her husband, they should not prevent her; but she should not be forced.

  • The prayers of the Islām, the fast, nay even the pilgrimage, were henceforth forbidden. Some bastards, as the son of Mullā Mubārak, a worthy disciple of Shaykh Abū’l-Fazl, wrote treatises, in order to revile and ridicule our religious practices, of course with proofs. His Majesty liked such productions, and promoted the authors.

    • Fourteen festivals also were [S. 205] introduced corresponding to the feasts of the Zoroastrians; but the feasts of the Musalmāns and their glory were trodden down, the Friday prayer alone being retained, because some old, decrepit, silly people used to go to it.

    • Mosques and prayer-rooms were changed into store rooms, or given to Hindu Chaukīdārs. For the word jamāat (public prayer), His Majesty used the term jimā‘ (copulation), and forhayya ala, he said yalalā talalā.

  • The killing of animals on certain days was forbidden, as on Sundays, because this day is sacred to the Sun; during the first eighteen days of the month of Farwardīn; the whole month of Ābān (the month in which His Majesty was born); and on several other days, to please the Hindus. This order was extended over the whole realm, and capital punishment was inflicted on every one [S. 210] who acted against the command. Many a family was ruined. During the time of these fasts, His Majesty abstained altogether from meat, as a religious penance, gradually extending the several fasts during a year over six months and even more, with the view of eventually discontinuing the use of meat altogether.

    • In 999, the flesh of oxen, buffaloes, goats, horses, and camels, was forbidden.

  • Playing with dice, and taking interest, were allowed, and so in fact was every thing else admitted which is forbidden in the Islām.

  • “A second order was given that the Sun should be worshipped four times a day, in the morning and evening, and at noon and midnight.

  • “People should be buried with their heads towards the east, and their feet towards the west. His Majesty even commenced to sleep in this position.”

  • Reading and learning Arabic was looked upon as a crime; and Muhammedan law, the exegesis of the Qur’ān, and the Tradition, as also those who studied them, were considered bad and deserving of disapproval.

    • Common people should no longer learn Arabic, because such people were generally the cause of much mischief.

    • In the same year the prohibition of the study of Arabic was extended to all. People should learn Astronomy, Mathematics, Medicine, and Philosophy. The Tārīkh of this order is Fasād-i fazl (995).

    • Even the letters which are peculiar to the Arabic language, as the ض ص ح ع ث, and ظ, were avoided.
  • Astronomy, philosophy, medicine, mathematics, poetry, history, and novels, were cultivated and thought necessary
  • Names like Amad, Muḥammad, Muṣṭafa, &c., became offensive to His Majesty, who thereby wished to please the infidels outside, and the princesses inside, the Harem, till, after some time, those courtiers who had such names, changed them; and names as Yār Muḥammad, Muḥammad Khān, were altered to Ramat.

  • Two verses from the Shāhnāma, which Firdausī gives as part of a story, were frequently quoted at court—
    • From eating the flesh of camels and lizards
      The Arabs have made such progress,
      That they now wish to get hold of the kingdom of Persia.
      Fie upon Fate! Fie upon Fate!

    • Similarly other verses were eagerly seized, if they conveyed a calumny, as the verses from the ……, in which the falling out of the teeth of our prophet is alluded to.
  • Cases between Hindus should be decided by learned Brahmins, and not by Musalmān Qāzīs.


3 thoughts on “Juicy excerpts from Badāʾūnī’s account of Emperor Akbar’s apostacy from Islam

  1. “1) Akbar’s conquests only facilitated further Islamization of India: Akbar need not have committed any extreme atrocities on Hindus. He was an alien ruler who, more than any other alien conqueror, succeeded in subduing overpowering the native inhabitants rulers of India… There is no known record of Akbar stopping other Muslim proselytizers from entering India converting Hindus. It stands to reason that his conquest of India would inevitably have facilitated their further inroads into India. Also Akbar’s rule always promoted itself in Islamic forms norms at the expense of native cultural traditions.
    “2) Akbar’s tolerance was no more than a political necessity imposed on him by geography local political factors: Akbar was a conqueror like most conquerors his primary pre-occupation was expansion of his domain consolidation of his gains. His policy of tolerating Hindus was based solely on this simple calculation not on any in-depth familiarity with the fundamentals of Hinduism or an admiration of its inherent beauty…. His apparent syncretism arose from the basic need of a ruler to have a strong base free from disturbance flooding his treasury with gold. If Akbar had a strong base outside of India, like Mahmud of Ghazni for eg. there is no doubt his approach would have been completely different.
    “3) Akbar laid the foundations for a permanent Islamic political power in India: The most important point that over-eager Hindus miss is that Akbar was the one who laid the foundations for a permanent Islamic political power in India. Both Aurangzeb Pakistan were made possible only because Akbar laid this foundation. If Hemu had not been murdered by Akbar history would not have seen either genocidal curse befall India… Even the Islamization of Bengal, for e.g. got its major boost from Akbar’s Mughal progeny the imperial machinery he imposed on India.”
    Thanks, Govind

    • This is a copy of a FaceBook comment. My response:

      1. Who is Govind?
      2. It is well known that Akbar started off as a proper Islamic Ghazi (ie Jihadi), but later transformed into a most ferocious Kafir. It is the apostate Akbar Badauni describes above.
      3. “Also Akbar’s rule always promoted itself in Islamic forms norms at the expense of native cultural traditions.” is obviously false, given historical records such as Badauni’s account above.
      4. ” Akbar laid the foundations for a permanent Islamic political power in India” – True, but we should give credit for his attempt at making his political power (and India) Islam-free.

एक उत्तर दें

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