Certain important facets of the Mughal polity during Akbar’s reign are the subject of this book. Professor Iqtidar Alam Khan traces the rise of the Mughal empire, focusing on the orientation given to it by Akbar. His Introduction highlights political and economic processes of the first quarter of the sixteenth century, in particular those that testify to a sharing of political authority and the social surplus among culturally diverse ruling groups.
He then investigates the nature of Mughal assignments prior to the introduction of the mansab system in 1575. Looking next at Bairam Khan’s ‘regency’, he suggests that this nobleman’s ouster in 1560 was basically a victory of forces within the system resisting centralization.
Iqtidar Alam Khan then focuses on the changing composition of the nobility during this early phase, and accompanying shifts in Akbar’s religious policy. Hitherto unnoticed information regarding Akbar’s person, and happenings in the early part of his reign, furnished by one of his contemporaries, is the next subject of analysis, followed by a careful tracing of Akbar’s changing worldview with reference to hitherto unpublished source material.
Finally, we are shown how Akbar promoted Iranian emigrants, most of whom were Shiites. Iqtidar Alam Khan’s argument here is that a commitment to the principle of sulh-i kul freed Akbar from the constraints of orthodoxy, enabling him to appoint those professing the asna-i ‘ashari doctrines to high positions in the state.
Iqtidar Alam Khan retired as Professor of History, Aligarh Muslim University, in 1994, and was President of the Indian History Congress’ 59th session in Bangalore, in 1997. He has authored several books on medieval India, including Mirza Kamran: A Biographical Study (1964); The Political Biography of a Mughal Noble: Muni‘m Khan Khan-i Khanan, 1497–1575 (1973); Gunpowder and Firearms: Warfare in Medieval India (2004); and Historical Dictionary of Medieval India. He is the editor of Akbar and His Age (1999).