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Aurangzeb, A Zealot?


Vinod Kumar

Many historians have called Aurangzeb a fanatic and a zealot because he issued decree to demolish Hindu temples and forbade the practice of any religion other than his own. He imposed Jiziya tax on his Hindu subjects.

Poor Aurangzeb!

Historian have completely misunderstood Aurangzeb. He was one of the most pious Muslim rulers in Islamic history. He is reported to have memorized the entire Koran. Even though he was the Emperor of a vast Empire, he is reported to have lived by the income derived from sewing Muslim Prayer caps. He is also reported to have made copies of the Koran to supplant his income. While Muslim rulers were known for keeping harem of hundreds of women, he did not marry more than what Allah had ordained.

It is not without reason that he is called by the Muslim scholars as "Living Pir". There was not a "zealot" bone in his body and not a "zealot" thought in his mind. It is not without reason that in the Year Book of the Muslim World, in the biography section, Living pir and pious Alamgir Aurangzeb gets 29 lines and apostate Akbar just 5. (Nadir Shah 35, Babar 30, Mahmud of Ghazni 31)

It is true that too much is made of his imposing jiziya on his non-Muslim subjects -- people of the book included. Now, can a sensible and objective historian really blame him for this? If one is a Muslim and doesn't even follow the basic tenets of Islam, what kind of Muslim would one be called? When, on the day of Judgement, one goes in front of Allah, what answers would he give for his transgression of the Allah's laws? Aurangzeb was a good Muslim, he did not want to go to Hell. Why would he exempt the people of the book? Islamic Sharia lays no such exemption. Jiziya was initially imposed on the people of the book, anyway. Aurangzeb cannot change the laws of Allah. No human being ever had such authority and does not now.

And what is wrong with Jiziya, anyway? It is a Holy Tax.

It is simply ridiculous to call Aurangzeb a "Zealot" just because he imposed jiziya. If Hindus shastras called for imposing jiziya on Muslims, would not a good and pious Hindu do the same? Hindus are sore losers. They had lost the wars to the Muslims, why should they have any objections if the Muslim rulers follow Islamic rules and laws. And specially when such laws were made by God Himself.

Aurangzeb is called a Zealot because he ordered demolition of Hindu and Jain temples? It is all because of Hindus ignorance of Islam. They blame poor Aurangzeb for their own ignorance.

Those Hindu temples were abode of idolatry -- an abominable practice which Allah has condemned in harshest terms. Demolition of idols was started by Prophet Abraham and continued by Prophet Muhammad who on the occasion of his victory over Mecca demolished all the idols of the idolaters.

In Islam, "idolatry is worse than carnage". How can a good and pious Muslim ruler let such violation of Allah's dictates prevail in his rule? How can he let this practice prevail and then face Allah on the final day of judgement?

Aurangzeb tried his best to bring "The Only True Faith" to land of infidelity but these infidels do not understand "what is good for them" and instead of thanking Aurangzeb called him a "zealot". What perfidy?

One should be admiring him for following his religion.

Will Durant wrote:
"Aurangzeb cared for nothing for art, destroyed its 'heathen' monuments with coarse bigotry, and fought, through a reign of half a century, to eradicate from India almost all religions but his own. He issued orders to the principal governors, and to his other subordinates, to raze to the ground all the temples of either Hindus or Christians, to smash every idol, and to close every Hindu school. In one year (1679 - 80) sixty-six temples were broken to pieces in Amber alone, sixty-three at Chitor, one hundred and twenty-three at Udaipur; and over the site of a Benares temple especially sacred to the Hindus he built, in deliberate insult, a Mohammedan mosque. He forbade all public worship of the Hindu faith, and laid upon every unconverted Hindu a heavy capitation tax. As a result of his fanaticism, thousands of temples which had represented the art of India through a millennium were laid in ruins. We can never know, from looking at India today, what grandeur and beauty she once possessed."

What was this culture and what was this art and monuments that Aurangzeb is accused of destroying? Why is he called a bigot and a fanatic?

Poor and ignorant Durant does not know that this art and culture represented the pre-Islamic period of jahiliyat of India. How can a "pious and living pir" Muslim let such jahiliyat continue in his rule? Is calling Aurangzeb a bigot and zealot and a fanatic really justifiable?

Many Hindus like to compare Aurangzeb with Akbar. Contrary to Aurangzeb, Akbar did not follow Islam and is regarded by most Islamic scholars as an apostate. He had even removed the Holy Jiziya tax on the non-Muslims. Is it any wonder that when he died his death was celebrated by orthodox Muslim ulema.

Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi in his Maktubat (folios 52-53b) wrote (about Akbar):
"In the previous generation, in the very sight of men, unbelievers turned to the way of domination, the rites of unbelief prevailed in the abode of Islam, and the Muslims were too weak to show forth the mandates of the faith. If they did, they were killed......

"Today, when the good tidings of the downfall of what was prohibiting Islam (i.e. the death of Akbar) and the accession of the king of Islam (i.e. Jahangir) is reaching every corner, the community of the faithful have made it their duty to be the helpers and assistants of the ruler and to take as their guide the spreading of the Sharia and strengthening of the community."

In short, it is wrong to call Aurangzeb a bigot or a Zealot. He was just a good and pious Muslim. A real Living pir. He did his best to impose THE ONLY TRUE FAITH TO THE LAND OF INFIDELITY.




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