This Day in History (15-Mar-1564) – Akbar removed ‘jizya’ or toll-tax for his non-Muslim subjects

Akbar succeeded his father Humayun at the age of 14 years. The kingdom Akbar inherited was little more than a collection of frail fiefs.  Akbar continued his military expansion throughout his reign. Known as much for his inclusive leadership style as for his war mongering, Akbar ushered in an era of religious tolerance and appreciation for the arts.  By the time he died, his empire extended to Afghanistan in the north, Sindh in the west, Bengal in the east, and the Godavari River in the south.  Akbar’s success in creating his empire was as much a result of his ability to earn the loyalty of his conquered people as it was of his ability to conquer them. He allied himself with the defeated Rajput rulers, and rather than demanding a high “tribute tax” and leaving them to rule their territories unsupervised, he created a system of central government, integrating them into his administration.

Akbar was known for rewarding talent, loyalty, and intellect, regardless of ethnic background or religious practice. In addition to compiling an able administration, this practice brought stability to his dynasty by establishing a base of loyalty to Akbar that was greater than that of any one religion. He did not force India’s majority Hindu population to convert to Islam; he accommodated them instead, translating Hindu literature and participating in Hindu festivals. Akbar in 1563 repealed a special tax placed on Hindu pilgrims who visited sacred sites, and in 1564 completely repealed the jizya, or yearly tax on non-Muslims. What he lost in revenue by these acts, he more than regained in good-will from the Hindu majority of his subjects.

Akbar also formed powerful matrimonial alliances. When he married Hindu princesses—including Jodha Bai, the eldest daughter of the house of Jaipur, as well princesses of Bikaner and Jaisalmer—their fathers and brothers became members of his court and were elevated to the same status as his Muslim fathers- and brothers-in-law. While marrying off the daughters of conquered Hindu leaders to Muslim royalty was not a new practice, it had always been viewed as a humiliation. By elevating the status of the princesses’ families, Akbar removed this stigma among all but the most orthodox Hindu sects.

Reference:

http://www.indianage.com/eventdate.php/Religion/15-March-1564

http://www.biography.com/people/akbar-the-great-9178163

http://asianhistory.about.com/od/india/p/akbarthegreatbio.htm

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