1) Dar al-Islam, South Asia, and the Mongol Invasion of Central Asia:
“Notwithstanding that, by the will of the Almighty, and the decrees of Destiny, the turn of sovereignty passed unto the Chingiz Khan, the Accursed, and his descendants, after the kings of Iran and Turan, that the whole of the land of Turan and the East fell under the sway of the Mughals and that the authority of the Muḥammadan religion departed from those regions, which became the seat of paganism, the kingdom of Hindustan, by the grace of Almighty God, and the favor of fortune, under the shadow of the guardianship of the Shamsi race, and the shade of the protection of the Iltutmish Dynasty, became focus of the people of Islam, and the orbit of the possessors of faith. And, from the extremity of the territories of Chin, Turkistan, Mawar un-Nahr, Tukharistan, Zawul, Ghur, Kabul, Ghaznin, Iraq, Tabaristan, Aran, Azerbaijan, the Jazirah, Anbar, Sijistan, Mukran, Kirman, Fars, Khuzistan, the Diyar-i Bakr, and Mosul, as far as the boundaries of Rum and Sham, fell into the hands of the infidel Mughals, and not a trace of the Muhammadan Maliks and Sultans of Islam remained in these countries
Using the above passage from Minhāj-i Sirāj’s Ṭabaqāt-i Nāsirī, discuss how Minhāj-i Sirāj sees the rise of Chingiz Khan, was his rise divinely ordained?; discuss how the rise of Chingis Khan impacts the former lands of Islam and what it means for Islam in Al-Hind.
2) Read the following passage about Humayun, written years after his death by his son Akbar’s court chronicler, Abu al-Fazl:
“From his birth until his accession, when he was twenty-four years old, traces of fortune were obvious on his forehead and lights of leadership were clear on his magnificent brow. How can the brilliance of greatness not be obvious when one carries the imperial light and harbors the treasury of divine knowledge? It was this very light that appeared in Babur’s victories; it was this very light that was manifest in Sahib Qiran’s (Timur) conquests; it was the same light that shone from the “oyster shell of the sea of purity,” Alanqoa, through the veils of the births of the pearls of her children. 1 It was this very light by the brilliance of which Oghuz Khan attained prominence. It was this very light that shone from Adam to Noah in proportion to their talents. The shining rays of this light and marvelous traces of its appearance are beyond reckoning… In brief, since the aura of material and spiritual greatness appeared on his luminous forehead, and perfect modesty and extreme bravery were combined in his character, Humayun––through the power of this divine light, which has illuminated the world in various garbs over the ages, and which is about to appear in its greatest splendor–––endeavored his utmost to please his exalted father.” (Akbarnāmeh, v.1, pp.392-393, trans. W. Thackston)
Discuss the importance of the connection that Abu al-Fazl is establishing between Humayun and other prophetic and historical figures. What does this do for Humayun’s claim to kingship? What implications does it have for Humayun and his descendants?
3) read the following short poem on Akbar:
A portion of the supreme being descended to earth to destroy the suffering of others
He is the rightful universal emperor (chakravartin) of the Chaghatay clan a protector of the entire earth
1 Alanqoa is a fabled ancient female ancestor of Chinghis Khan and Timur. she is thought to have possessed a divine light that continued, hidden, in the bloodline of the Chinghis Khan and Timur. The light Alanqoa is thought to have reached perfection with Akbar.
Long live Shah Jalal al-Din (Akbar), the world-conqueror, the jewel of the world!
His Measureless power adorns the three worlds
The emperor upholds dharma. His rule stabilizes the earth…
From which community is Akbar being lauded? Highlight some of the cultural terms through which the poet is praising Akbar. What do you think the significance of the last three lines are for thinking about inter-religious interactions and exchange in early-modern India?
4) Using specific historical detail discuss two different possible outcomes for Rajput communities and their relationship with the expanding Mughal state under Akbar:
5) Read the following excerpt from Abu al-Fazl’s Akbarnameh:
“In good conscience a ruler considers it obligatory to be constantly informed of his realm and the nobles of his state, particularly of the headstrong of limited competence who enjoy fortune but have drifted away from the immediate vicinity of the throne, so that they can be dealt with before they cause trouble. Thank God this characteristic exists in Akbar to such perfection that even the wisest are incapable of comprehending it. He constantly seeks information on the hidden things of the kingdom, and while outwardly he engages in hunts and such activities, he merely uses them as pretexts and does not neglect the important affairs of religion and state for even an instant, for he always has his attention focused on the worship of God and taking care of his subjects.
Therefore when at this point it reached the imperial hearing that Abdulla Khan Uzbek, who had partaken of the imperial table of fortune, had reared his head in insurrection in Malwa and was so incompetent that he was about to throw off the mantle of imperial favor in ingratitude, the emperor set out for an elephant hunt on an expedition to Malwa.”
Discuss how hunting and statecraft were related for Abu al-Fazl. Was this attitude towards hunting specific to Mughal India? Or did it have historical precedence elsewhere? If so, where?
2 Fisher, p.88