I have attempted to divide the
sources of information about
Aurangzeb into four parts.
part includes various official
government documentations and
chronicles. The second part deals
with accounts written by the
courtiers or other people who were
associated with Aurangzeb.The third
part deals with the modern day
orientalists and historians who have
written various books on the subject.The fourth part deals with
the great amount of literature
written by Muslim religious scholars
and their assessment on the status
of Islam before and after the advent
of the Mughals.
The series of
events which have probably never
before been discussed and given due
recognition in the non-religious
The Mughal Emperors were voracious guardians
of their legacy whether in arts, culture,
architecture or literature. Various works
on the detailed day to day rule of all the
Mughal emperors can be found intact to this
day in the form of Namas. There were people
appointed by the emperor to scribe daily
accounts in the courts or camps everthing
that was said and done in public. These
were referred to
Another source was the chronicles of the
Waqia-Nigars (Recorder of Events) who
sent periodically to the court reports about
the events in their respective areas/provinces.
This tradition was begun by Emperor Babar.
Later this accumulated mass of accurate,
detailed and absolutely contemporary records
of occurrences were compiled into a magnificent
texts supplemented by courtly prose,
detailed miniatures and calligraphy. Texts like
the Babar Nama, Humayun Nama, Akbar Nama,
Tuzuki Jahangiri, Badshah Nama, Alamgirnama
are manifestations of literary works at their zenith.
During the reign of Aurangzeb the man picked to write
the AlamgirNamah was Mirza Muhammad Kazim Shirazi.
He successfully compiled facts about the first 10 years
of Aurangzeb’s rule. After this Aurangzeb forbade Kazim
Shirazi to continue any further probably because of the
extravagant expenditure involved in this work. After
Aurangzeb’s death his Meer Munshi Inayatullah Khan
Kashmiri urged Saqi Mustad Khan to complete the history
of such an important and model sovereign. In order to
help him in his work the State Archives were thrown
open to him wherefrom he made important extracts he
needed for his work. He completed this work in 1710
three years after the death of Aurangzeb and titled it
Maasir-i-Alamgiri. By far this is the most complete
account of the reign of Aurangzeb Alamgir that we can
refer to. Let us now look at the second part.
Apart from the AlamgirNamah and Maasir-i-Alamgiri we have
the collection of letters belonging to Aurangzeb compiled
by his meer munshi Inayat Ullah Khan Kashmiri known as the
Rukhaat-e- Alamgiri and the Adabe-e-Alamgiri. The mother
of Inayatullah Kashmiri Hafeza Maryam was appointed as the
hifz ustad (teacher appointed to help memorizing the Quran)
for Zebunnisa Begum the eldest daughter of Aurangzeb.
The third source we have is the Ahkaam-e-Alamgiri ascribed
to the pen of Hamiduddin Khan Bahadur who wrote a series of
essays on the life and times of Aurangzeb Alamgir.
Hamiduddin Khan was a very trusted officer of Aurangzeb so
much so that he even entrusted Hamiduddin Khan with his last
will for dividing his empire amongst his sons.
The fourth source we have is the Muntakhab-ul-lubab written by
Khafi Khan. It is said that Khafi Khan did not scribe the
Muntakhab-ul-Lubab with anyone’s permission or knowledge.
The interesting fact attributed towards Muntakhab-ul-Lubab is
that it was brought out after some 30 years from the death of
Aurangzeb. Khafi Khans father was a servant in the service of
Prince Murad Baksh. Muntakhab-ul-lubab provides some critical
analysis on the rule of Aurangzeb from the early Mughal historians.
It is pertinent to mention here that Khafi Khan belonged to the
Fiqh – e – Jafaria who were extremely hostile to scholars of
Fiqh – e- Hanafia who were favored by Aurangzeb.
The fifth source is Miraat-Ul-Khayal by Sher Khan Lodhi.
The last one is Bakhtawar Khan’s book Mirat-ul-Alam. Bakhtawar Khan
was a favorite officer of Aurangzeb and the guardian of Inayatullah
Kashmiri. Inayatullah assisted Bakhtawar Khan to compose the
Mirat-ul-Alam which Aurangzeb authorized him to make public after
the death of Bakhtawar Khan.
The third part deals with orientalist and modern historians.
Needless to say the writings of the majority of the orientalists
have focused on the communal angle leading us to imagine the past.
It will suffice the readers here to quote imminent historians on this topic.
In the words of A. Athar Ali a national fellow – National Council of
Historic Research, New Delhi, retd Professor Aligarh Muslim University,
author of Mughal Nobility Under Aurangzeb.
“Jagunath Sarkar in his magisterial work A history of Aurangzeb turned
from a sympathetic biographer in one volume to a trenchant critic in
the subsequent volumes saw Aurangzeb’s religious bias and an increasing
lack of balance in its pursuit, generate a ‘Hindu Reaction’ whose baneful
consequences his own undoubted ability and strong will could not stem.
S.R Sharma in his Religious Policy of the Mughal Emperors underlined the
same argument, furnishing substantiation from quantitative data which
suggested a decline of the Hindu component in the Mughal nobility.
Faruki in his Aurangzeb and His Times answered Sarkar essentially
transferring the blame from Aurangzeb to the Sharia. On the other hand
historians like Ishtiaq Hussain Qureshi accepted the Sarkar-Sharma
hypothesis of a decline in the position of the Hindu nobility and acclaimed
this as an achievement rather than a lapse on the part of Aurangzeb”.
In the words of Dr. N.R Farooqi, Professor and HOD Dept of Medieval and Modern
History, Allahabad University author of the Mughal – Ottoman Relations from 1546 to 1748.
“About the British historian James Stuart Mill (1773–1836), whose three-volume
History of British India divided Indian history into three distinct periods of
Hindu, Muslim, and British civilization. Mill’s schematization “sowed the
seeds of a religious divide,” which ultimately led to the Indian subcontinent’s
partition into a Hindu-majority India and a Muslim-majority Pakistan. In his
eight volume work, The History of India as Told by Its Own Historians,
Sir Henry Elliot (1808–1853) compiled passages taken from Persian sources,
with the explicitly stated objective of contrasting the “mildness and equity”
of the British rulers with the “oppressiveness” of the Muslim rulers of India.
In his preface to the work, “Elliot has nothing but condemnation for Muslim historians”.
Thus, following a political agenda of their own, the British made the people of
India believe that they were Muslims and Hindus first and Indians second, thus giving
rise to the religious and communal tensions that have haunted India’s Hindu and Muslim
communities to this day”.
The fourth part deals with the Muslim scholars who wrote a great amount on the history
of Islam in India. Since our subject is focused on Aurangzeb it would be prudent to
look at Muntakhab al Tawarikh by Abdul Qadir Badayuni which informs us of the real
religious tensions existing between the government and the ulema during the
pre-Aurangzeb era. The other set of books throwing light on the actions and strategies
adopted by the ulema is Professor Khaliq Ahmad Nizami’s Hayat-i-Shaik-Abd al Haq and the
other and most important being Maktubat of Shaik Ahmad Sirhindi. Both of these works need
to be studied in detail to gauge the true sense of fear, discrimination, imprisonment and
insecurity existing amongst the Muslim religious scholars of the time.
In the recent times scholars like Professor Khaliq Ahmad Nizami whose book
Tarikh-i-Mashaikh-i-Chasht is worth reading and highlights important aspects on the
spreading of Islam into India, Maulana Shibli Nomani whose work Alamgir Badshah Par Eik
Nazar translated into English by Syed Sabahuddin Abdur Rahman, Maulana Suleiman
Nadvi’s Arab va Hindustan ke Talluqat, and Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi’s
Tarikh-e-Dawat-O-Azeemat deserve a detailed study.