Akbar ascends the Mughal throne

On this day, 11 February 1556, Jalal al-Din Muhammad Akbar ascended the Mughal throne after his father Humanyu’s death. He came to the throne at the age of 13. But being too young to rule independently, the country was effectively governed by a regent, Bairam Khan. However, in 1560, at the age of 18, he took control of the government.

Portrait of Akbar | Photo: Wikimedia

The 3rd Mughal Emperor Jalal al-Din Muhammad Akbar was born in Umerkot (now in the Sindh province of Pakistan). Akbar was the son of Humayun and the grandson of Babur who founded the Mughal Empire of India in 1526 CE.

Akbar was descended from the great Mongol military rulers Tamerlane and Genghis Khan. Akbar had a strong personality that helped him grow his power and influence over his empire. He is often considered as the real founder of the Mughal Empire in India. He ruled for 49 years, from 1556 CE to 1605 CE.

Akbar expanded the empire from its original territories, making extensive conquests to the west, east, and south. He successfully won the allegiance of the Rajputs. He demonstrated his shrewdness by marrying two Rajput princesses and giving Rajput princes positions of authority in his government. He established an efficient administration of what was a huge multi-credal empire.

A large number of commentators believe that he was a great man but he also has his trenchant critics too. Right-wing Hindus revile him as just another Muslim invader, responsible for the death of many tens of thousands of their co-religionists, while the Muslims consider him as the traitor of Islam who founded a new faith called Din-e-Ilahi.

There is an interesting account on the relationship between the Mughal Emperor Akbar and the Ottoman Sultans. Dr Roy Ahmad Jackson writes:

“Akbar claimed to be the ‘Imam of Islam and the Muslims’, as well as the ‘lord of the age’ (sahib-i zaman) and hence chosen at this particular time to rid religion of its differences. In terms of the authority of the Caliph, who at this time resided in Istanbul, the seat of the Ottoman Empire, Akbar considered him to be mere ‘Caesar of Rome’ (Qaiser-i Rum), whereas Akbar was Caliph of the Age. He was given the additional title of Emperor of Islam (Badshah-i Islam) and was pronounced an even greater hero than Salah al-Din because he was reconciling the differences between Sunnis and Shi’ites.”

Dirk Collier says, “Be all of that as it may, even his detractors will have to admit that he was one of the most spectacularly successful monarchs the world has ever witnessed; and his eventful, often dramatic life story will remain a source of inspiration to many generations to come.”

Akbar died on October 27, 1605 CE in Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, Mughal Empire (modern-day Uttar Pradesh, India).

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