Shah Jahan (1627-1658)
The younger son of Jahangir ascended the throne as the fifth Mughal Emperor with the titles of Malik-ul-Saltanat, Ala Hazrat Abul Muzaffar Shahab ud Din Shah Jahan 1, Sahib-e-Qarn-e-Sani, Al-Sultan-al-Azam wal Khaqan-ul-Mukarram, Padhah Ghazi Zillullah, Firdous- Ashiyana, Shehenshah-e- Sultanat-ul- Hindia wal Mughaliya, the Emperor of India. Being the favorite grandson of Akbar and the son of Princess Manmati, he inherited the traits of his ancestors from both sides and ruled India in such a magnificent way that the historians called his age the Golden Age of Mughals. Like his grandfather, Shah Jahan was eager to expand his empire and the capital in his age is said to be the largest in the Mughal history. Also his age is attributed with the height of architectural beauty and plenty.
Shihab-ud-Din Mohammad Khurram (Shah Jahan), the third son of Jahangir was born on January 5, 1592 in Lahore. Being the favorite son of the Emperor, he was not punished when he revolted in 1622 against his father whereas Jahangir, his father had rendered Khusrau Mirza, his eldest son blind for his daring rebellion against him. Akbar named him as Khurram (Delighted). He was taught martial arts and military command and he took an active part in the military moves of his father in Mewar (1615), Deccan (1617), and Cangra (1618). Gifted with architectural talent, he built quarters when he was merely 15 and earned the universal fame for his magnificent architecture. After his accession, he imprisoned his step mother who was involved in an intrigue against Shah Jahan and desired the younger brother of Khurram to be the Emperor.
In 1607, Shah Jahan married Arjumand Bano Begum, the granddaughter of a Persian noble and titled him as Mumtaz Mahal (the Distinguished in the Palace). Mumtaz Mahal proved to be Mumtaz among all the ladies of her age and other wives of Shah Jahan. She accompanied her husband in his military tours even in the hard times of her pregnancies. She died giving birth to her 14th child when Akbar was on a tour of Burhanpur and Balapur and was buried temporarily in a garden of Burhanpur. After the death of Mumtaz Mahal, Shah Jahan married two other ladies Akbarabadi Mahal and Kandahari Mahal but their status was merely of his wives and not cemented with deep love and affection, say the chroniclers.
Shah Jahan had to curb the military uprising of a Muslim community in Ahmadnagar, the Portuguese in Bengal, Bandelkhand amd Mewar in the western part, and Rajput kingdoms of Baglana. He had a strong army with 440,000 infantry and artillery and 185,000 sowars led by Princes but army was centralized under the command of the Emperor. Except some uprisings of minor nature, the Empire ran smoothly under him and his sons. Shah Jahan’s relations with Murad IV, the Ottoman Sultan brought about the arrival of Ismail Effendi and Isa Mohammad Effendi, the two architects who brought the everlasting name and fame for the Shahanshah by building the unparalleled Taj Mahal in Agra. His age shines out due to the great contributions to art, architecture, painters, crafts and writers.
Art and Architecture
Art and architecture saw their zeniths in the age of Shah Jahan who proved himself the real architect mind and rendered universally acknowledged buildings to India. The heritage of the Islamic Architecture in the Mughal Empire was seen at full swings in his hands. Taj Mahal, the topic of love, poets, and romantic tales, a symbol of deep down intimacy was built by him with white marble. Thanks to Mumtaz Mahal whose love created a wonder of the world. The Emperor built Taj Mahal after the death of his beloved wife. Architects from all over the world were called to India to build Taj Mahal. Toil of twenty years brought the palace as homage to the queen. Besides Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan built many other masterpieces in Pakistan and India. Shalimar Garden (Lahore), Masjid Wazir Khan (Lahore), Lal Qila (Red Fort) Delhi, Jamia Masjid (Delhi), Agra Fort, Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) Lahore, parts of the Lahore Fort, Takht-e-Taus (the Peacock Throne), Shah Jahan Mosque Thatta (Pakistan), Sheesh Mahal, Naulakha Pavilion, and Jahangir’s Tomb. He is reported to have built another Taj Mahal in black marble on the same footings of the white Taj Mahal.
Allegations on Shah Jahan
Shah Jahan was alleged by some non-Muslim chroniclers to have his real daughter Jahan Ara Begum molested due to the extra ordinary beauty of the later. The incestuous relation with the daughter is strictly haram (forbidden) in Islam and Shah Jahan was a Muslim ruler who believed in the true spirit of the religion. Johannes De Laet, a Dutch geographer and the Director of Dutch West Indies Company was the first person to pen down the onslaught on the character of the Emperor. Jean Baptiste Tavernier followed the same tale. But the Muslim writers and historians are silent on the question of such accusations. Hostility of Aurangzeb towards Shah Jahan can be traced as the float of such rumor but again there is no proof of it, say the historians.
Shah Jahan fell seriously ill in 1658 following a tussle of accession among his sons. Dara Shikoh, his eldest son from Mumtaz Mahal took the reins of power which infuriated Shuja, the governor of Bengal and Murad, the governor of Gujrat. Aurangzeb, the third son of Shah Jahan grabbed the occasion and defeated Dara in the Battle of Samugarh and claimed the throne. His father recovered from his disease but Aurangzeb imposed a house arrest on him in Agra Fort on the pretext that he was feeble enough and unable to rule over the Empire. During his house arrest, Jahanara Begum took care of him and breathed his last in 1666 in Agra Fort after eight years of his confinement. Aurangzeb buried him in Taj Mahal side by side of the grave of Mumtaz Mahal, the beloved wife of Shah Jahan. Taj Mahal sheltered the lovers to sleep together for ever.