The Habits and Manners of the Emperor Aurangzeb, 1666
Be it known to the readers of this work that this humble slave of the Almighty is going to describe in a correct manner the excellent character, the worthy habits and the refined morals of this most virtuous monarch, Abú-l Muzaffar Muhiu-d dín Muhammad Aurangzeb 'Álamgír, according as he has witnessed them with his own eyes. The Emperor, a great worshipper of God by natural propensity, is remarkable for his rigid attachment to religion. He is a follower of the doctrines of the Imám Abú Hanífa (may God be pleased with him!), and establishes the five fundamental doctrines of the Kanz. Having made his ablutions, he always occupies a great part of his time in adoration of the Deity, and says the usual prayers, first in the masjid and then at home, both in congregation and in private, with the most heartfelt devotion. He keeps the appointed fasts on Fridays and other sacred days, and he reads the Friday prayers in the Jámi' masjid with the common people of the Muhammadan faith. He keeps vigils during the whole of the sacred nights, and with the light of the favour of God illumines the lamps of religion and prosperity. From his great piety, he passes whole nights in the Mosque which is in his palace, and keeps company with men of devotion. In privacy he never sits on a throne. He gave away in alms before his accession a portion of his allowance of lawful food and clothing, and now devotes to the same purpose the income of a few villages in the district of Dehlí, and the proceeds of two or three salt-producing tracts, which are appropriated to his privy purse. The Princes also follow the same example. During the whole month of Ramazán he keeps fast, says the prayers appointed for that month, and reads the holy Kurán in the assembly of religious and learned men, with whom he sits for that purpose during six, and sometimes nine hours of the night. During the last ten days of the month, he performs worship in the mosque, and although, on account of several obstacles, he is unable to proceed on a pilgrimage to Mecca, yet the care which he takes to promote facilities for pilgrims to that holy place may be considered equivalent to the pilgrimage.
From the dawn of his understanding he has always refrained from prohibited meats and practices, and from his great holiness has adopted nothing but that which is pure and lawful. Though he has collected at the foot of his throne those who inspire ravishment in joyous assemblies of pleasure, in the shape of singers who possess lovely voices and clever instrumental performers, and in the commencement of his reign sometimes used to hear them sing and play, and though he himself understands music well, yet now for several years past, on account of his great restraint and self-denial, and observance of the tenets of the great Imám (Sháfi'í), (may God's mercy be on him!), he entirely abstains from this amusement. If any of the singers and musicians becomes ashamed of his calling, he makes an allowance for him or grants him land for his maintenance.
He never puts on the clothes prohibited by religion, nor does he ever use vessels of silver or gold. In his sacred Court no improper conversation, no word of backbiting or falsehood, is allowed. His courtiers, on whom his light is reflected, are cautioned that if they have to say anything which might injure the character of an absent man, they should express themselves in decorous language and at full detail. He appears two or three times every day in his court of audience with a pleasing countenance and mild look, to dispense justice to complainants who come in numbers without any hindrance, and as he listens to them with great attention, they make their representations without any fear or hesitation, and obtain redress from his impartiality. If any person talks too much, or acts in an improper manner, he is never displeased, and he never knits his brows. His courtiers have often desired to prohibit people from showing so much boldness, but he remarks that by hearing their very words, and seeing their gestures, he acquires a habit of forbearance and tolerance. All bad characters are expelled from the city of Dehlí, and the same is ordered to be done in all places throughout the whole empire. The duties of preserving order and regularity among the people are very efficiently attended to, and throughout the empire, notwithstanding its great extent, nothing can be done without meeting with the due punishment enjoined by the Muhammadan law. Under the dictates of anger and passion he never issues orders of death. In consideration of their rank and merit, he shows much honour and respect to the Saiyids, saints and learned men, and through his cordial and liberal exertions, the sublime doctrines of Hanífa and of our pure religion have obtained such prevalence throughout the wide territories of Hindústán as they never had in the reign of any former king.
Hindú writers have been entirely excluded from holding public offices, and all the worshipping places of the infidels and the great temples of these infamous people have been thrown down and destroyed in a manner which excites astonishment at the successful completion of so difficult a task. His Majesty personally teaches the sacred kalima to many infidels with success, and invests them with khil'ats and other favours. Alms and donations are given by this fountain of generosity in such abundance, that the emperors of past ages did not give even a hundredth part of the amount. In the sacred month of Ramazán sixty thousand rupees, and in the other months less than that amount, are distributed among the poor. Several eating houses have been established in the capital and other cities, at which food is served out to the helpless and poor, and in places where there were no caravanserais for the lodging of the travellers, they have been built by the Emperor. All the mosques in the empire are repaired at the public expense. Imáms, criers to the daily prayers, and readers of the khutba, have been appointed to each of them, so that a large sum of money has been and is still laid out in these disbursements. In all the cities and towns of this extensive country pensions and allowances and lands have been given to learned men and professors, and stipends have been fixed for scholars according to their abilities and qualifications.
As it is a great object with this Emperor that all Muham-madans should follow the principles of the religion as expounded by the most competent law officers and the followers of the Hanífí persuasion, and as these principles, in consequence of the different opinions of the kázis and muftís which have been delivered without any authority, could not be distinctly and clearly learnt, and as there was no book which embodied them all, and as until many books had been collected and a man had obtained sufficient leisure, means and knowledge of theological subjects, he could not satisfy his inquiries on any disputed point, therefore His Majesty, the protector of the faith, determined that a body of eminently learned and able men of Hindústán should take up the voluminous and most trustworthy works which were collected in the royal library, and having made a digest of them, compose a book which might form a standard canon of the law, and afford to all an easy and available means of ascertaining the proper and authoritative interpretation. The chief conductor of this difficult undertaking was the most learned man of the time, Shaikh Nizám, and all the members of the society were very handsomely and liberally paid, so that up to the present time a sum of about two hundred thousand rupees has been expended in this valuable compilation, which contains more than one hundred thousand lines. When the work, with God's pleasure, is completed, it will be for all the world the standard exposition of the law, and render every one independent of Muhammadan doctors. Another excellence attending this design is, that, with a view to afford facility to all, the possessor of perfections, Chulpí 'Abdu-llah, son of the great and the most celebrated Mauláná 'Abdu-l Hakím of Síalkot, and his several pupils have been ordered to translate the work into Persian.
Among the greatest liberalities of this king of the faithful is this, that he has ordered a remission of the transit duties upon all sorts of grain, cloth, and other goods, as well as on tobacco, the duties on which alone amounted to an immense sum, and to prevent the smuggling of which the Government officers committed many outrages, especially in regard to the exposure of females. He exempted the Muhammadans from taxes, and all people from certain public demands, the income of which exceeded thirty lacs of rupees every year. He relinquished the Government claims against the ancestors of the officers of the State, which used to be paid by deductions from their salaries. This money every year formed a very large income paid into the public treasury. He also abolished the practice of confiscating the estates of deceased persons against whom there was no Government claim, which was very strictly observed by the accountants of his predecessors, and which was felt as a very grievous oppression by their sorrowful heirs. The Royal orders were also issued to collect the revenues of each province according to the Muhammadan law.
Some account of the battles which the Emperor fought before his accession, as well as after that period, has been given above, and we shall now write a few instances of his fortitude. At the time when the Royal army arrived at Balkh, 'Abdu-l 'Azíz Khán, with a large force which equalled the swarms of locusts and ants, came and arranged his men in order of battle, and surrounded the Royal camp. While the conflict was being carried on with great fury, the time of reading the evening prayers came on, when His Majesty, though dissuaded by some worldly officers, alighted from his horse and said the prayers, etc., in a congregation, with the utmost indifference and presence of mind. 'Abdu-l 'Azíz, on hearing of this, was much astonished at the intrepidity of the Emperor, who was assisted by God, and put an end to the battle, saying that to fight with such a man is to destroy oneself.
The Emperor is perfectly acquainted with the commentaries, traditions and law. He always studies the compilations of the great Imám Muhammad Ghizálí (may God's mercy be on him!), the extracts from the writings of Shaikh Sharaf Yahyá Munírí (may his tomb be sanctified!), and the works of Muhí Shírazí, and other similar books. One of the greatest excellences of this virtuous monarch is, that he has learnt the Kurán by heart. Though in his early youth he had committed to memory some chapters of that sacred book, yet he learnt the whole by heart after ascending the throne. He took great pains and showed much perseverance in impressing it upon his mind. He writes a very elegant Naskh hand, and has acquired perfection in this art. He has written two copies of the holy book with his own hand, and having finished and adorned them with ornaments and marginal lines, at the expense of seven thousand rupees, he sent them to the holy cities of Mecca and Medína. He also wrote an excellent Nasta'lík and Shikastah hand. He is a very elegant writer in prose, and has acquired proficiency in versification, but agreeably to the words of God, “Poets deal in falsehoods,” he abstains from practising it. He does not like to hear verses except those which contain a moral. “To please Almighty God he never turned his eye towards a flatterer, nor gave his ear to a poet.”
The Emperor has given a very liberal education to his fortunate and noble children, who, by virtue of his attention and care, have reached to the summit of perfection, and made great advances in rectitude, devotion, and piety, and in learning the manners and customs of princes and great men. Through his instruction they have learnt the Book of God by heart, obtained proficiency in the sciences and polite literature, writing the various hands, and in learning the Turkí and the Persian languages.
In like manner, the ladies of the household also, according to his orders, have learnt the fundamental and necessary tenets of religion, and all devote their time to the adoration and worship of the Deity, to reading the sacred Kurán, and performing virtuous and pious acts. The excellence of character and the purity of morals of this holy monarch are beyond all expression. As long as nature nourishes the tree of existence, and keeps the garden of the world fresh, may the plant of the prosperity of this preserver of the garden of dignity and honour continue fruitful!