The Mughals and the Sufis: Islam and Political Imagination in India 1500–1750
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.