abul-fazal-biography
Image of Abul Fazal

Introduction

Abu’l-Fazl ibn Mubarak, also known as Abul Fazl (1551-1602), was the most famous historian of the medieval period. He was the courtier in the reign of Akbar and one of the Navaratanas of Akbar, ruler of the Mughal Empire.

Abul Fazl contribution in the field of Economics, Political, Social, and Cultural is very crucial.

During the reign of Akbar, he wrote Akbar Nama in Three Volume and the last volume of this book was named Ain-i Akbari the most famous work of Abul Fazl on the comprehensive structure of Society.

His interpretation of History was integrally linked to the Social, Political, Economical, and Religious realities of that period.

His writing gained significant essence due to the predominance of intellectual elements in his work.

In the beginning, the Mughal Empire was divided into the much smaller kingdom and it ended with the victory of Mongol Ruler Babur over Ibrahim Lodi, the Ruler of Delhi Sultanate.

Mughal Empire spread overall across the country and resembled all this unit in a single string. This Mughal Empire had many characteristics:

Hierarchical administrative structure, strong monetary Policies, centralized governing system, and a new method of military organization, and there was an emergence of fresh ideas in the field of cultural and religious beliefs.

These new structures gave rise to new cultural and religious traditions that incorporate and unites both the elements from Hindu and Muslim. That kind of structure can be seen in the practice in the reign of Akbar.

He gives equal importance to every culture prevalent in Society and gave equal respect to their culture and traditional beliefs.

According to Abul Fazl, Akbar was different from others who exist before him and came after it had distinct ideas towards Society and their religious beliefs.

Abul Fazl Finished his massive and definitive work, the Akbarnama and Ain-i-Akbari in the waning years of the Sixteenth Century.

The Akbarnama opens with the praise of Allah, for Sure, and then moves to Adam and traces Akbar’s lineage back to Fifty Three generations of his ancestors.

It dislocates the histographic axis of the Islamic groove. In this Akbar was not the heir of Prophet Muhammad and Caliphs but Adam himself, the first human being and thus the ruler of all humanity.

Akbar Nama and Ain-i-Akbari together constitute a single book. The first part of the Akbar Nama contains an account of Akbar’s ancestors including that of his father Humayun.

The Second Part gives the most complete account of Akbar’s reign up to the 46th year, in chronological order.

The Ain-i-Akbari is the third part of the book. It is a unique compilation of system of administration and control over various departments of government in a great empire.

It also included a wide array of facts illustrating it’s extent, resources, condition, population, industry, and wealth as the abundant material supplied from official sources could Furnish. It also contains an account of the religious and philosophical system of Hindus.

Abul Fazl’s methodology to understand history

He had a rational and secular approach to history. He gave more emphasis to his writing by collecting original facts recorded by legitimate sources.

Here Abul Fazal took facts in his writing after critical evaluation and investigation of facts. That makes History pure in sense.

He widened the scope of History by recording a mass of facts Pertaining to Political, Social, economical, and cultural life.

He worked hard for the collection of facts and material after a critical investigation of the facts.

He incorporating only those facts and material which was written by an eye witness, Reports memoranda, Minutes Prepared

by the offices, Imperial Farmans, and other records were carefully consulted.

Abul Fazl realized and recognized the importance of Original Sources.

Abul Fazl’s Views on Governance and Sovereignty 

Divine Theory of Padshahat (Badshahat) and the concept of Royalty.

According to Abul Fazl, the term PADSHAHAT meant an established owner, where Pad stands for stability, and shah stands for the owner. Padshah, therefore, means a powerful established owner who cannot be eliminated by anyone.

The Badshah had a superior place in the Mughal empire. He was the ultimate authority on all social, economic, political, and judicial power.

According to Abul Fazl, ‘Badshahat is the light ( Farr- i- izadi ) from God which has been sent by God himself. God throws his kindness of Badshah, who works as the agent of God.

A Badshah consIdered himself as the father and his subjects were his children. So it was the duty to make every effort for the welfare of his people.

Sovereignty in Badshahat

The king established his sovereignty by considering himself as an agent of god and used his absolute powers according to the rule of controller and guide of the state.

Abul Fazl considered Badshah as the father of People and therefore it was the duty of the people to obey his order.

According to Abul Fazl, a good king should never discriminate in religious communities and everyone considered equal in the views of humanity.

Humanity is superior and above all religion.

During the Delhi, the sultanate ruler had absolute authority on the economic, political, and social field but when it comes to the religious matter there was no interference to resolve the matters but it was different on Akbar’s reign he actively participated in the religious matter as well.

Toleration and Sulh-I-Kul, Doctrine of Peace

As we already read that Abul Fazl sought to apply a new methodology for his structural concept.

According to Abul Fazl, Akbar was a king who sought every religion equally and never discriminated among their religious Belief and tradition.

He gives equal importance to all religions and gave them the freedom to enjoy their tradition in an unbounded manner.

The policy of Toleration among different religious beliefs makes a universal way to maintain peace and prosperity among different religious communities.

Division of Society

Abul Fazl gave the concept of Sovereignty and state in the context of the needs of Society.

He classified human beings into Four Categories:

  1. The Warriors
  2. Artificers and Merchants
  3. The Learned (The religious class: Brahmans and Ulamma.)
  4. The husband, men, and laborers.

He put the learned class in Third Place.

He downgraded this class based on the existing social reality of his time.

He also classified human beings into three classes based on Greek tradition based on their qualities as nobles, base, and intermediate. Nobles were those who had pure intellect, Capacity of Administration, Composition of Personal courage for military duty.

The base and intermediate sections included various professions. These were the qualities of those who were self-centered and did their activities more for themselves than for any other.

Akbar as an Ideal King

Abul Fazl mentioned in Akbar Nama that Akbar always worked wisely for the welfare of his people.

He had tolerance, broad-mindedness, and a strong sense of justice.

He provided stability to the state and gave good governance to ensure economic prosperity, peace, and safety of his people.

He provided religious freedom to all. His political views were clear and were

intended for the expansion of the state boundaries. Therefore, Abul Fazl justified his policy of imperialism on moral grounds.

Justice

lt was also the duty of the king to provide justice to his people and always punish

the wrongdoers and ensure that justice helped the innocent people.

According to him, a king should be kind and harmonious while dispensing justice and treat his people as his children and himself as their father.

He should keep it in his mind that he was sent by God on earth to ensure peace and justice for all. He is a medium for their welfare. He should always remain indifferent and take care that nobody was hurt by him.

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