« PreviousContinue »
was no distinction made between de facto and de jure sovereign. The royalty was wrapped up in a golden haze of sanctity and the king was veritably regarded as the shadow of God. Monarchy being a divinely ordained institution, obedience to the king was a religious as well as a political dogma. When Askari Mirza rebelled against Humayun he is said to have exclaimed one night while he was engaged in drinking wine, "Am not I a king, God's representative on earth?" Every Mughal king regarded himself as the vicegerent of God. His power was unconditioned by any constitutional restraints and he was the sole interpreter of his will. The doctrines of the right of resistance, popular sovereignty, and the merely official character of kingship were meaningless terms.
The position of the monarch was further strengthened by the secular nature of the Mughal state. Though the holy law was theoretically supreme, the ulama, who were the only authoritative exponents of the holy law, were never allowed to become supreme in the state. The dangerous character of their power was easily recognised by the Mughal kings who kept them under strict control and thus prevented the creation of a state within a state. Though theoretically the Quranic law was the only law recognised and all civil law was subordinate to it, the king's wish was the real law in practice. Though the king was expected to make the precepts of the sacred law effective in every department of administration, in actual practice the wheels of the state machinery moved according to the royal will and royal will alone. The secular power claimed and enjoyed complete supremacy. The Mughal kings always considered it dangerous for the state to give the spiritual power a free hand in political matters, as that would have fettered the action of the state in a thousand ways and clogged the wheels of the governmental machinery. It was unsafe to make the ulama the ultimate arbiters of political action The Mughals like their predecessors the Pathans were ever jealous of clericalism. The ecclesiastical organisation was never allowed to be strong enough to put forward an effective claim to 2 Res. J.
control and direct the action of the king. It might be used as a convenient instrument by the king as the court of ecclesiastical commission was used by the Tudors and the Stuarts in England, but it could never act as a check upon the royal authority. The ulama were held in great esteem, but they were never allowed any hand in determining the policy of the state. There was never any danger of an imperium in imperio. No synod of divines or doctors of law was powerful enough to act as a check on the king's will.
The "fakihas" or Muslim legists never became a power in the land. Although they were treated with deference, and the decisions of the courts of justice were as a rule given effect to, they (fakihs) were never allowed to direct the state policy. They might be full of clerical pride, but they never had the courage to denounce the action of the king. Even under Akbar and Jahangir, the orthodox clergy, who must have disliked the heterodox views of those two kings, could never have the temerity to denounce them publicly as irreligious, at any rate their denouncements were never of any avail. They were powerless to fan the flame of discontent or increase the bitterness of the orthodox section of the population. Spain the "fakihs" had instigated many insurrections against the Arab rulers, and as priests of Islam they wielded so great an influence that they succeeded in weakening the Arab empire in that country. But in India they could never raise their voice effectively against the liberal interpretation of the laws and the general tolerance of the Mughal kings.
It is true justice was administered according to the Muhammadan law and the kazis administered that law in conformity with a code the result of accumulated decisions based on the Quran, but the Mughal king was the highest court of appeal, and the decisions of the kazis were liable to be revised
by him. It meant that the intellect of the king became the final interpreter of law just as it was the sole source of legislation. The court of justice consisted of a kazi and a mir-i-adal or lord justice. The kazi conducted the trial and
stated the law. The mir-i-adal passed judgment and may therefore be regarded as a superior authority. The kazi was the organ of the holy law, but the mir-i-adal could introduce modifications according to the will of the king and the customs of the country.
All privileges being in practice granted to the church by the crown were liable to be revoked by the same authority. There was never a serious breach between the supporters of the Sovereign rights of the crown and the upholders of the church. The personal character of allegiance was asserted to the full. The principle of the divine basis of royal authority being accepted, the nation as a whole was profoundly loyal to the monarchy. The royal authority was controlled only by custom. Under these circumstances no person could set up, under any pretence whatsoever, any independent coactive power, either ecclesiastical or popular, for that would have undermined the great royal office. People knew that even oppressive regal authority was better than weak central government which would not have taken long to develop into anarchy. No one ever cared to dwell upon the distinction between a de facto and a de jure sovereign so long as the royal sceptre was wielded by a member of the royal family. Royal power was clothed with mysterious sanctity and separated by a wide gulf from all other forms of power. Ecclesiasticism never became impor tant as a political force. The officers of the church were under the throne and were never allowed to upset the organisation of the state at their pleasure. The Mughal practice never recognised the spiritual subjection of the prince, as a layman, to the officers of the church, though he might be regarded as the minister and executant of the church's decrees. The civil magistrates never became the nurses and the servants of the church who must throw down their crowns before it. The state wielded the sovereign power and the church was not allowed to dictate how it should be wielded.
The submission of the clergy to the Mughal king was as complete as it was in the case of Henry VIII of England.
There are not many fatwas issued by the ulama against the Mughal kings. It is true that the heretical doctrines of Akbar did provoke an adverse criticism, and Mulla Muhammad Yazdi, the kaziul-kuzzat of Jaunpur, issued a fatwa insisting on the duty of taking the field and rebelling against the emperor on this account, the net result was nil. The lay power succeeded in establishing its supremacy, even to the point of persecuting the teachers of all doctrines which it regarded as harmful. When the Mulla Muhammad Yazdi excited a rebellion against Akbar and was joined by Muhammad Magum Kabuli, Muhammad Magum Khan Farankhudi, Mir Muizz-ul-Mulk, Nayabat Khan, Arab Bahadur and others, the whole thing ended in a failure. In vain did the imam condemn the emperor for having made serious encroachments on the grant-lands belonging to the church and to God. The mulla was decoyed and put in a boat. When the boat got in deep waters, as we learn from Badaoni, "the sailors were ordered to swamp the boat of the mulla's life." The mullas of Lahore were banished and all the mullas who were suspected of disaffection by Akbar were sent to "the closet of annihilation."
The moral and religious claims of the state to the allegiance of its subjects were never successfully questioned. In no case was resistance lawful, and the omni-competence of the state was asserted and universally admitted, though the legal omnipotence of the Islamic law always existed in theory. "L'état, c'est moi" was the recognised principle on which the Mughal government was based. Implicit obedience was exacted by the king to all his orders, and no opposition was brooked. During the reign of Bahadur Shah the ulama successfully asserted themselves when the emperor wanted the word "wasi" or heir to be added to the titles of Ali in the recital of Prophet's successors. Haji Yar Muhammad and other ulama objected to it, as the formal attribution of heirship to Ali was naturally offensive to the Sunnis. After discussing the point with the ulama of Lahore it was decided to read the Khutba in the old form, and though there were many honorific titles attached to the name of
Ali, the word "wasi" did not appear. But this success of the ulama was not due to their own power but to the fact that there were thousands of men assembled ready for an outbreak if the emperor had persisted in the innovation. But for this popular backing the ulama would have been worsted in the struggle. We have also to remember that they displayed this strength in a religious and not a political matter. Akbar had wanted to get the legality of mutah marriages recognised. When Kazi Yakub opposed it he was suspended and sent to Gaur as a mere district kazi.
Akbar tried to free the government completely from clerical interference. When the doctrine of infallibility of the king was subscribed to by the ulama in his reign, the secular authority was placed on the highest pedestal and cast its shadow on those below including the members of ecclesiastical organisations. This made Akbar not only the king but also the spiritual guide of his subjects. He came to occupy the same position in Mughal India as was occupied by Henry VIII in Tudor England.
Thus we find the Mughal empire never become a sacerdotal state. The king was certainly God's vicegerent upon earth and the Defender of the Faitha nd Guardian of Islam, but his authority was never dependent upon the verdict of the doctors of Islamic law. Except the holy law which the king was powerful enough to interpret as he liked, there were hardly any written laws in the country which could place limits on that absolute authority which the king exercised over his subjects. It is true the king, like every other Muslim, was obliged to submit to the ordinances of the Shariat, but he demanded and received unhesitating obedience from his subjects. It was an uncompromising doctrine of civic obedience. God being the sole bestower of authority, he to whom that authority was given did not hold himself resposible to any earthly power. Royalty according to Abul Fazl is a light emanating from God, the Divine light, the Sublime halo. It was a sin to rebel against the will and person of the king.