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Cultural Integration Towards A Politics Of Universal Dominion. The Mughals (Approx. 1450–1650)

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Chapter Summary

The founder of the Mughal dynasty, Zahir al-Din Babur (reigned 1494-1530), was the son of a Mirza of Fergana. A renaissance prince of Central Asia, Babur is famous for his autobiographical accounts. The Afghan chieftain Sher Khan alias Sher Shah Suri created some major institutions on which the Mughals were later to build their empire. Translations of Arabic and Sanskrit texts into Persian - the lingua franca of Mughal Empire - not only created more employment for the locals. The policy of cultural integration provided space for pluralist texts such as descriptions of lived and shared religion in Dabistan-e Madhahib most probably written by Kaykhusraw Isfandyar in 1650s49 or the adventures of Amir Hamza, the Hamzanamah, commissioned under Akbar. The execution of Dara Shikoh in 1659 seemed to mark a decisive event in the cultural history of South Asian Islam, and probably gave way to some uncompromising Muslim attitudes towards Hinduism.

Keywords: Akbar; Amir Hamza; Central Asia; cultural integration; Dara Shikoh; Islam; Mughals; Zahir al-Din Babur



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