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Biography of the Moghul ruler Aurangzeb; was he Salafi in his ‘aqeedah?

Question: 174824

May Allah bless you and raise you in status in this world and the Hereafter. I hope that you may do me the favour of answering this question: What is the truth about Aurangzeb (the Moghul emperor who ruled India)? Was he one of the followers of the path of Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa‘ah (the Salaf)? Or was he like the rest of the Moghul emperors?

Praise be to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah and his family.

Sultan Aurangzeb’s full name was Abu’l-Muzaffar Muhiy ad-Deen Muhammad
Alamgir, Sultan of the Moghal kingdom in the Indian subcontinent and
environs. He was one of the descendants of Tamerlane (Timur Lang), the
famous Mongol tyrant. He was born on 15 Dhu’l-Qa‘dah 1028 AH/24 October
1619 CE, and died on 28 Dhu’l-Qa‘dah 1118 AH/20 February 1707 CE. 

The meaning of the name Aurangzeb in Farsi is “adornment of the throne”.
Aurang means “throne” and zeb means “adornment”. The meaning of
the title Alamgir in Farsi is “conqueror of the world”. He was the
son of Sultan Shah Jahan, one of the greatest sultans of the Muslim Moghul
state in India; it is he who built the famous Taj Mahal tomb; which is
considered one of the wonders of the world, in which to bury his wife who is
known as Mumtaz Mahal, the mother of Sultan Abu’l-Muzaffar (Aurangzeb), with
whom he was deeply in love. Because of the severity of his grief for her, he
was no longer fit to rule, so his son, Sultan Abu’l-Muzaffar seized power
whilst his father was still alive, after fighting battles with his

Sultan Aurangzeb was not like the other Moghul sultans; rather what is known
from his biography is that he was a scholar, a devoted worshipper, an
ascetic, pious and a poet. He followed the Hanafi madhhab with regard to
minor issues, so he was not like the other Moghul sultans; rather he was
better than all of them. 

Among his great deeds is that he fought against innovations and myths. He
stopped listening to music and singing – even though he was skilled in both
– and he abolished idolatrous and innovated celebrations. He also abolished
the customs of bowing and kissing the ground, which were done before rulers
and kings before him. He issued orders that people should greet him with the
greeting of Islam, as-salaamu ‘alaykum (peace be upon you), and
perhaps this is what made some writers who hated Islam describe him as a
fanatic. It may be this that made some people regard him as a “salafi” – and
in all these matters he was undoubtedly a “salafi” – but in fact he (may
Allah have mercy on him) was a Hanafi in terms of madhhab, and what is
well-known about the Hanafis in that land is that they are Maturidis in
terms of beliefs (‘aqeedah). Many of those who have written biographies of
him stated that he was a Sufi. Allah knows best about him and his beliefs.
There is nothing that we know about that for certain. What is most
well-known in his biography is his deeds and his qualities such as his
devotion to worship, asceticism and commitment to religion. His biographers
have mentioned many good things in that regard. If we add to that his
fighting innovations and myths, and his putting an end to Raafidi statelets,
and his banning of innovated and idolatrous celebrations, it will become
clear that he was a ruler who is deserving of respect and honour, and of
supplications for good. What he (may Allah have mercy on him) did was a
practical application of the methodology of the salaf in his rule, and he
was what one of the literati – namely Shaykh ‘Ali at-Tantaawi (may Allah
have mercy on him) – called a “remnant of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs.” He
wrote an important biography of him in his book Rijaal min at-Tareekh
(p. 277-237), which he concluded by saying: 

Allah guided him to do two things which none of the Muslim rulers before him
had done: 

Firstly, he did not give any scholar a stipend or salary but he required
him, in return, to do some work, such as writing books or teaching, so that
the scholars would not take the money and become lazy, thus combining two
evils, namely taking money undeservedly and withholding knowledge. 

Secondly, he was the first one to compile shar‘i rulings into a single book,
to be taken as a law. So the fatwas were compiled for him, on his
instructions and under his supervision and care, and were written in that
book. Hence the book was called al-Fataawa al-Alamgiriyyah, after
him, and became well known as al-Fataawa al-Hindiyyah, one of the
most famous books of rulings in Islamic fiqh, and one of the most well
organised of works. 

Rijaal min at-Taareekh
(p. 236) 

One of the Sultan’s biographers who lived closest to his own time – and he
described him as a Sufi – was Abu’l-Fadl Muhammad Khaleel ibn ‘Ali al-Muraadi
(may Allah have mercy on him), who died in 1206 AH. He said in his biography
of him: 

Ruler of India in our time, the ruler and leader of the believers, the
pillar and guardian of the Muslims, the mujaahid who strove in Allah’s
cause, the great scholar, the Sufi who had gnosis of Allah, the king who
supported and defended the faith, who destroyed the disbelievers in his
land, subduing them and demolishing their temples, and weakened their
polytheism, and supported Islam and raised its banner high in India, making
the word of Allah supreme. He collected the jizyah from the disbelievers of
India, whereas previous Muslim rulers had not done so because of the
strength and large numbers of the disbelievers. He carried out great
conquests and did not cease launching campaigns against them; every time he
headed towards a territory he would conquer it, until Allah took his soul
whilst he was engaging in jihad. He spent all his time serving the interests
of the faith and worshipping the Lord of the Worlds, by fasting, praying at
night and doing other acts of worship; most people would not be able to do
even some of what he did. That was by the grace of Allah that He bestows on
whomever He will. He made good use of his time, allocating separate time for
worship, time for teaching, time for military affairs, time for listening to
complaints from people, and time for reading books and reports that came to
him every day and night from across his kingdom. He did not mix one activity
with another. 

sum up, he was one of the shining stars of history; no one equalled him in
administration of his domain, or even came close. Lengthy books were written
about his rule and biography in Farsi and other languages; whoever wishes
may read them. 

Silk ad-Durar fi A‘yaan al-Qarn ath-Thaani ‘Ashar

Then after that he said: 

took power in 1068 AH, and Allah willed good for the people of India. He
abolished wrongdoing and unjust taxes, and his dawn rose from the Indian
horizon as he emerged from among the offspring of Tamerlane; his reign was
magnificent and glorious. He took as prisoners most of the famous kings of
India, and their country submitted to him. Wealth was collected for him and
lands and people came under his domain. He continued striving in jihad and
never returned to the seat of his kingdom after he left it. Every time he
conquered a new territory, he would move on to another. His troops were
innumerable, and his greatness and strength cannot be described in words.
All sovereignty belongs to Allah alone. He established in India a state that
was based on knowledge, and he went to extremes in showing respect to people
of knowledge until people came to him from all directions. 

sum up, he had no equal among Muslim rulers of his time in terms of good
conduct, fear of Allah, may He be glorified, and striving in worship. 

instructed the Hanafi scholars of his land to collect in his name, fatwas
that dealt with shar‘i rulings according to their madhhab, and compile them
in one book, which was called al-Fataawa al-‘Aalamgiriyyah. This book
became famous in the regions of the Hijaz, Egypt, Greater Syria and
Anatolia. The benefit of this book became widespread and it became a
reference book for those who issue fatwas (muftis); it remained so until he
died in Ahmednagar in the sacred month of Dhu’l-Qa‘dah 1118 AH, and was
buried in the graveyard of his forefathers. His reign lasted for fifty
years, may Allah have mercy on him. 

Silk ad-Durar fi A‘yaan al-Qarn ath-Thaani ‘Ashar

For more information on his biography, please see what was written by
Professor ‘Abd al-Mun‘im an-Nimr in his book Tareekh al-Islam fi’l-Hind
(p. 286-288) 

And Allah knows best.


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