Sunday, July 15, 2007

Aurangzeb -- As he was according to Mughal Records -- Part VIII -- Imposition of Jizyah

Supression of peaceful demonstration against re imposition of Jizyah (April 1679)

In 1564 AD emperor Akbar ignoring the Quranic injunction abolished levying of Jizyah from the non Muslims in pursuance of his view that distinction on the basis of religion was neither rational nor fair. Its reimposition by Aurangzeb after more than 100 years on 2nd April 1679 in all parts of the empire to spread the law of Islam and to put down infidelity created great resentment among the Hindus. For the poor Hindus its burden was very heavy, for the middle and the richer class the humiliation involved in paying it was particulary galling and it provided ample scope to the clerics to harass the people. To a peasant or a common Hindu Jizyah seemed to be a penalty for being a Hindu. To every Hindu right to collect Jizyah from him in his own country appeared a preposterous claim based as it was on the 7th C concepts originating in Arabia about the rights and position of the non Muslims. In brief this vexatious tax was highly unpopular among the Hindus.

The imposition of Jizyah led to perhaps one of the largest non violent demonstration of the Hindus in the capital. On friday, Aurangzeb was to proceed to the Jama Masjid to attend the public prayer. That day the whole road from the gate of the Red Fort to the mosque was swollen by all the shop keepers and craftsmen of the Delhi city and the cantonment bazar out for a demonstraion. Despite warning the Hindus did not disperse. After waiting for some moments the emperor ordered elephants be driven through the mass of men trampling them down and clearing a way for him. (Khafi Khan Mntakhab ul Rubab 255)

The painting captures the above moment of non violent appeal to Aurangzeb for justice and good sense bing violently crushed.

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