Moghul emperor of India who established a tolerant policy of cooperation with the Hindu population, and his reign saw the zenith of Moghul power.
When Akbar was only 13 years and 9 months old, Humayoon died and Bairam Khan raised him to the throne in 1556. With Bairam Khan's help he enlarged his kingdom by establishing an integrated state in north India, where he was acknowledged as the undisputed ruler. He retained the running of the central government an army under the direct command of the Sultan. In order to keep his Turk and Afghan chiefs in check, he entrusted Hindu chiefs like Raja of Marwar and Bhagwan Das of Amber - also connected himself and his son with them by marriage, in armies and administration. He set up an efficient bureaucracy and, with the aid of his firearms; the Moghul Empire began to expand.
In Akbar's reign freedom of religious practices extended to each Hindu caste along with other minorities such as Buddhists, Jews, Christians and others. The Sikh religion, founded by Guru Nanak had grown from these circles, insisting on the unity and compatibility of Hinduism and Islam. Universalism was firmly established in India. Akbar was respectful of all faiths.
Akbar abolished the jizyah tax that the Shariah prescribed, became a vegetarian, so as not to offend Hindu sensibilities, gave up hunting, a sports he greatly enjoyed, and built temples for Hindus. In 1575, Akbar set up a 'house of worship' where scholars of all religions could meet for discussion.
Akbar's own bent was towards Sufism and Falsafah and he founded of Din-i-illahi - a universalist vision, a controversial interpretation of religion. He believed that all existence is one, a manifestation of the underlying divine reality, and that love of God and one's brethren was more important than narrow religious ritual.
Taking note of the fabulous diversity of religious beliefs in India, Akbar laid the foundations for the secularism and religious neutrality of the modern Indian state. Indian Muslim rulers presided over an empire whose traditions of religious tolerance and freedom had no counterpart in the West until the end of the 19th century.
Akbar declared that 'no man should be interfered with on account of religion, and anyone is to be allowed to go over to a religion that pleases him' at a time when most of Catholic Europe was given over to the Inquisition. When Akbar built Fatehpur Sikri, in Rome the philosopher Giordano Bruno was being accused of heresy - in 1600 he was burned at the stake in the Campo dei Fiori.
Akbar founded the city of Fatehpur Sikri in honour of Sufi saint Salim Chishti. What is so extraordinary is that the architectural style of the town was an almost perfect expression of Sufis ideals. In Fatehpur Sikri, he translated those ideas into stone by combining Hindu and Muslim elements in a single fusion style. Today, the tomb of Shaikh Salim Chishti is still visited by Hindus and Muslims alike, just as it was in the days of Akbar. Akbar was also a great patron of poets, painters, architects, and musicians and learned persons.
Akbar's full name was Abul Fath Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar, the eldest son of Humayoon, and was born at Amarkot (Sindh).
Compiled by:M. Nauman Khan / Ghulam Mohiuddin