This book examines the complex evolution of relationships between the Mughal court and two dominant modes of Islamic mysticism in early-modern India: one centred around conservative orthodoxy, the other around a more accommodating and eclectic approach to spirituality.
Based on Persian texts, court chronicles, epistolary collections, and biographies of Sufi mystics, this book outlines and analyses Islamic religious and theological worldviews. It does so in order to show their influence on – and differences with – Mughal political culture and imagination.
The relationship between Mughal power and Islam’s Indian variants has long been oversimplified. The Mughals and the Sufis complicates and nuances the connections and disconnections between thrones and theocracies. Muzaffar Alam’s penetrating reflections reveal an intricate and intimate picture of the calculated strategies of mystics and rulers, their negotiations, conflicts, and reconciliations. They show also a shifting terrain – from the relatively liberal outlook of Akbar (r. 1556–1605) to the greater rigidities of Aurangzeb (r. 1658–1707).
Offering yet more evidence of Alam’s vast and sustained scholarship, this book provides possibly the most cogent and comprehensive modern account of Indian Islam under the Mughal Empire.
Muzaffar Alam is the George V. Bobrinskoy Professor in South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. His several books include The Languages of Political Islam in India, c. 1200–1800 (Permanent Black and the University of Chicago Press, 2004); Writing the Mughal World: Studies in Political Culture (coauthored with Sanjay Subrahmanyam; Permanent Black and Columbia University Press, 2011); and The Crisis of Empire in Mughal North India 1707–1748 (Oxford University Press, 1986).