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Akbar the Great and His Religious Policies

            Akbar the Great was born on October 15, 1542, in Umarkot in Sindh. He was proclaimed emperor in 1556 under the tutelage of his father's (Humayun) trusted military commander, Bairam Khan. By 1560, Akbar took the complete reign of the empire into his own hands. Akbar's was an apotheosis of rule in the Indo-Pak subcontinent. The British who came few decades later found Akbar's system of administration as their precursor. Of all the aspects of Akbar's life and reign, few have excited more interest than his attitude toward religion. His religious policies, however, is the subject of controversies among the historians of the Mughal rule. Diversity of sects and creeds was the source of strife in his kingdom.
             As a ruler, Akbar needed goodwill of his subjects across the board, in order for him to consolidate the empire. In this regard, he shaped his policies on the principle of religious tolerance known as Sulh-i Kull (Peace with All). This policy of religious tolerance was basically aimed at proper functioning of political and administrative machinery of the Empire. There is every indication that he began his rule as a devout, orthodox Muslim.
             However throughout his reign Akbar adopted a number of measures in the religious sphere that have been termed as liberal. It was the crystallization of these measures that ultimately resulted in the adoption of a new state policy known as "Sulh-i-kul " or universal peace between all religions in the last 25 years of his reign. It was these measures and especially the new state policy that became a major controversial factor with Akbar's critics accusing him of being a heretic. However, one needs to have a better understanding of these measures and the motivating factors behind their adoption before drawing conclusions about their nature. .
             It is important to state at the outset that it is difficult to speak of a "religious policy"" of Akbar, as he did not conceive of it using that term and so it cannot be called his "policy " per se.

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