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Abu'l-Fazl, one of the disciples of Din-i-Ilahi, presenting Akbarnama to Akbar

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December 31, 1574
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Mirza Firuz Shah
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People
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Akbar 1556–1605

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The Din-i-Ilahī (Persian: دین الهی‎, lit. 'Religion of God'), known during its time as Tawḥīd-i-Ilāhī ("Divine Monotheism", lit. 'Oneness of God') or Divine Faith, was a syncretic religion or spiritual leadership program propounded by the Mughal emperor Akbar in 1582, intending to merge some of the elements of the religions of his empire, and thereby reconcile the differences that divided his subjects. The elements were primarily drawn from Islam, Hinduism, and Zoroastrianism, but some others were also taken from Christianity, Jainism, and Buddhism. Akbar promoted tolerance of other faiths and even encouraged debate on philosophical and religious issues. This led to the creation of the Ibādat Khāna ("House of Worship") at Fatehpur Sikri in 1575, which invited theologians, poets, scholars, and philosophers from all religious denominations, including Christians, Hindus, Jains, and Zoroastrians. Since Akbar suffered from severe dyslexia, rendering him totally unable to read or write, such dialogues in the House of Worship became his primary means of exploring questions of faith. Despite his aforementioned illiteracy, Akbar would eventually amass a library full of more than 24,000 volumes of texts in Hindi, Persian, Greek, Latin, Arabic and Kashmiri. The later Mughal Emperor and son of Akbar, Jahangir, stated that his father was "always associated with the learned of every creed and religion." In a letter to King Philip II of Spain, Akbar laments that so many people do not inquire into issues within their own religion, stating that most people will instead "follow the religion in which [they] were born and educated, thus excluding [themselves] from the possibility of ascertaining the truth, which the noblest aim of the human intellect." By the time Akbar established the Dīn-i Ilāhī, he had already repealed the jizya (tax on non-Muslims) over a decade earlier in 1568. A religious experience while he was hunting in 1578 further increased his interest in the religious traditions of his empire. From the discussions held at the Ibādat Khāna, Akbar concluded that no single religion could claim the monopoly of truth. This revelation inspired him to create the Dīn-i Ilāhī in 1582. Various pious Muslims, among them the Qadi of Bengal Subah and Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi, responded by declaring it to be blasphemy to Islam. Some modern scholars have argued that the Din-i Ilahi was a spiritual discipleship program, rather than a new religion. After Akbar Dīn-i Ilāhī appears to have survived Akbar according to the Dabestān-e Mazāheb of Mohsin Fani. However, the movement never numbered more than 18 adherents. In the 17th century, an attempt to re-establish the Dīn-i-Ilāhī was made by Shah Jahan's eldest son, Dara Shikoh, but any prospects of an official revival were halted by his brother, Aurangzeb, who executed him on grounds of apostasy. Aurangzeb later compiled the Fatawa-e-Alamgiri, reimposed the jizya, and established Islamic Sharia law across the Indian Subcontinent, spreading Islamic orthodoxy and extinguishing any chance of religious reform for generations.


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Ismail Mazari

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Very good information.

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