Akbar the Great°

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AKBAR THE GREAT ° (Akbar Abū al-Fatḥ Jalāl al-Dīn Muhammad ; 1542–1605), Moghul emperor in India. Akbar's subjects were permitted a remarkable degree of religious tolerance and freedom. The emperor tried to build a bridge of understanding between Hindus and Muslims and to create a new eclectic religion of pure theism ("tauḥīd Ilāhū" or "Dīn Ilāhī"). He collected translations of the holy books of all faiths, and held regular religious disputations in his palace at Fatehpur Sikri, near Agra. The participants also included Jews, probably from Persia, Afghanistan, or Khurasan, as well as Hindus, Jains, Zoroastrians, and Jesuits. The presence of Jews is reliably reported by Moghul court historians, by the Jesuit traveler A. Monserrate, and by the author of the Dabistan. A synagogue (kenisa) also existed in the Moghul realm according to the English traveler, Sir Thomas Roe (1616). Akbar's interest in the translation of holy books brought the famous Florentine traveler and scholar Giambattista Vecchietti to Agra. Vecchietti had collected many ancient *Judeo-Persian biblical translations during his journeys in Persia, and while a guest of Akbar, he transliterated the Judeo-Persian manuscript of the Psalms into Persian script.


Fischel, in: paajr, 17 (1949), 137–77; idem, in: htr, 45 (1952), 3–45. add. bibliography: I. Alam Khan, "The Nobility under Akbar and the Development of his Religious Policy, 1560–1580," in: Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1968), 29–36: J.F. Richards, "The Formation of Imperial Authority under Akbar and Jahangir," in: M. Alam and S. Subrahnayan (eds.), The Mughal State 1526–1750 (1988), 126–167.

[Walter Joseph Fischel /

David Shulman (2nd ed.)]