Shahabuddin Muhammad Shah Jahan, Shah Jahan ( شاه جہاں); January 1594 – 22 January 1666) was the fifth Mughal Emperor of India. He is also known as Shah Jahan I. He ruled from 1628 until 1658. Born Prince Khurram, he was the son of Emperor Jahangir and his Hindu Rajput wife, Taj Bibi Bilqis Makani (13 May 1573 – 18 April 1619).
He was chosen as successor to the throne after the death of his father in 1627. He was considered one of the greatest Mughals. His rule has been called the Golden Age and one of the most prosperous ages of Indian civilization. Like Akbar, he was eager to expand his vast empire. In 1658, he fell ill and was confined by his son and successor Aurangzeb in Agra Fort until his death in 1666.
Shah Jahan was a more orthodox Muslim than his father and grandfather. His policies towards non-Muslims were less liberal than Jahangir and Akbar.
The period of his reign was considered the golden age of Mughal architecture. Shah Jahan erected many monuments, the most famous of which is the Taj Mahal at Agra, built in 1632–1654 as a tomb for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal.
Born on 6 January 1594, Shah ab-ud-din Muhammad Khurram which was Shah Jahan's birth name, was the third son born to Emperor Jahangir, his mother was a Rajput princess from Marwar called Princess Manmati – her official name in Mughal chronicles being Bilquis Makani. The name "Khurram" was chosen for the young prince by his grandfather, Emperor Akbar, with whom the young prince shared a close relationship.
Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, hunting lions at Burhanpur.
Just prior to Khurram’s birth, a soothsayer had reportedly predicted to childless Empress Ruqaiya Sultan Begum, Akbar's first wife, that the still unborn child was destined for imperial greatness. So, when Khurram was born in 1592 and was only six days old, Akbar ordered that the prince be taken away from his mother and handed him over to Ruqaiya so that he could grow up under her care and Akbar could fulfill his aging wife's wish, to raise a Mughal emperor. Ruqaiya assumed the primary responsibility for Khurram's upbringing and he grew up under her care. Her step-son, Jahangir, noted that Ruqaiya loved Khurram "a thousand times more than if he had been her own son."
Khurram remained with her, until he had turned 13. After the death of Akbar, the young prince was, finally, allowed to return to his father's household, and thus, be closer to his biological mother.
As a child, Prince Khurram received a broad education befitting his status as a Mughal prince, which included martial training and exposure to a wide variety of cultural arts, such as poetry and music, most of which was inculcated, according to court chroniclers, under the watchful gaze of his grandfather and his step-grandmother, Empress Ruqaiya. In 1605, as the Emperor Akbar lay on his deathbed, Prince Khurram, who at this point was 13, remained by his bedside and refused to move even after his mother tried to retrieve him. Given the politically uncertain times immediately preceding Akbar's death, Prince Khurram was in a fair amount of physical danger of harm by political opponents of his father and his conduct at this time can be understood to be a precursor of the bravery that he would later be known for.
In 1605, his father succeeded to the throne, after crushing a rebellion by Prince Khausrau – Prince Khurram remained distant from the court politics and intrigues in the immediate aftermath of that event, which was apparently a conscious decision on Jahangir's part. As the third son, Prince Khurram did not challenge the two major power blocs of the time, his father's and his step-brother's; thus he enjoyed the benefits of Imperial protection and luxury, while being allowed to continue with his education and training. This relatively quiet and stable period of his life allowed Prince Khurram to build his own support base in the Mughal court, which would be useful later on in his life.
Due to the long period of tensions between his father and step-brother, Prince Khurram began to drift closer to his father and over time started to be considered the de facto heir apparent by court chroniclers. This status was given official sanction when Jahangir granted the jagir of Hissar-Feroza, which had traditionally been the fief of the heir apparent, to Prince Khurram in 1607.
In 1608, Prince Khurram was engaged to Arjumand Banu Begum – when they were 15 and 14 years old, respectively. The young girl belonged to an illustrious Persian noble family which had been serving Mughal Emperors since the reign of Akbar, the family's patriarch was Itimad-ud-Daulah, who had been Emperor Jahangir's finance minister and his son; Asaf Khan – Arjumand Banu's father – played an important role in the Mughal court, eventually serving as Chief Minister. Her aunt was the Empress Nur Jahan and is thought to have played the matchmaker in arranging the marriage.
But for some reason, the Prince was not married to Arjumand Banu Begum for five years, which was an unusually long engagement for the time. However, Shah Jahan married the daughter of great-grandson of Shah Ismail of Persia with whom he had a daughter, his first child.
Politically speaking, the betrothal allowed Prince Khurram to be considered as having officially entered manhood, and he was granted several jagirs, including Hissar-Feroze and ennobled to a military rank of 8,000, which allowed him to take on official functions of state, an important step in establishing his own claim to the throne.
In 1612, aged 20, Prince Khurram married Arjumand Banu Begum on an auspicious date chosen by court astrologers. The marriage was a happy one and Prince Khurram, while married to her, remained devoted to her and she bore him fourteen children, out of whom seven survived into adulthood. In addition, Khurram had two children from his first two wives.
Though there was genuine love between the two, Arjumand Banu Begum was a politically astute woman and served as a crucial advisor and confidante to her husband, she even is said to have implored Prince Khurram not to have children with his other wives, a call he listened. Later on, as Empress, Mumtaz Mahal (Persian: the chosen one of the Palace) wielded immense power, such as being consulted by her husband in state matters and being responsible for the imperial seal, which allowed her to review official documents in their final draft.
Mumtaz Mahal died, aged 40, while giving birth to Gauhara Begum in Burhanpur, the cause of death being Postpartum hemorrhage, which caused considerable blood-loss after a painful labour of thirty hours. Contemporary historians note that Princess Jahanara, aged 17, was so distressed by her mother's pain that she started distributing gems to the poor, hoping for divine intervention and Shah Jahan, himself, was noted as being "paralysed by grief" and weeping fits.
The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan is accompanied by his three sons: Dara Shikoh, Shah Shuja and Aurangzeb, including their maternal grandfather Asaf Khan IV.
Her body was temporarily buried in a walled pleasure garden known as Zainabad, originally constructed by Shah Jahan's uncle Prince Daniyal along the Tapti River. Her death had a profound impact on Shah Jahan's personality and inspired the construction of the Taj Mahal, where she was later reburied.
The intervening years had seen Khurram take two other wives, Kandahari Begum (m. 12 December 1609) and Izz al-Nisa Begum (m. 3 September 1617), the daughters of Muzaffar Husain Mirza Safawi and Shahnawaz Khan, son of Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana, respectively. But according to court chroniclers, his relationship with his other wives was more out of political consideration and they enjoyed only the status of being royal wives.
The first occasion for Prince Khurram to test out his military prowess was during the Mughal campaign against the Rajput state of Mewar, which had been a hostile force to the Mughals since Akbar's reign. In 1614, commanding an army numbering around 200,000, Prince Khurram began the offensive against the Rajput kingdom. After a year of the harsh war of attrition, Maharana Amar Singh II surrendered to the Mughal forces and became a vassal state of the Mughal Empire.
In 1617, Prince Khurram was directed to deal with the Lodi in the Deccan, to secure the Empire's southern borders and to restore imperial control over the region. His successes in these conflicts led to Jahangir granting him the title of Shah Jahan (Persian: King of the World) and raised his military rank and allowed him a special throne in his Durbar, an unprecedented honour for a prince, thus further solidifying his status as crown prince.
Inheritance of power and wealth in the Mughal empire was not determined through primogeniture, but by princely sons competing to achieve military successes and consolidating their power at court. This often led to rebellions and wars of succession. As a result, a complex political climate surrounded the Mughal court in Prince Khurram's formative years. In 1611 his father married Nur Jahan, the widowed daughter of an Afghan Noble. She rapidly became an important member of Emperor Jahangir's court and, together with her brother Asaf Khan, wielded considerable influence. Arjumand was Asaf Khan's daughter and her marriage to Prince Khurram consolidated Nur Jahan and Asaf Khan's positions at court.
Jahangir receives prince Khurram of his returns from deccan
Court intrigues, however, including Nur Jahan's decision to have her daughter from her first marriage wed Shah Jahan's youngest brother Shahzada Shahryar and her support for his claim to the throne led Khurram, supported by Mahabat Khan, into open revolt against his father in 1622.
The rebellion was quelled by Jahangir's forces in 1626 and Khurram was forced to submit unconditionally. Upon the death of Jahangir in 1627, Prince Khurram succeeded to the Mughal throne as Abu ud-Muzaffar Shihab ud-Din Mohammad Sahib ud-Quiran ud-Thani Shah Jahan Padshah Ghazi (Urdu: شهاب الدین محمد خرم), or short Shah Jahan. His regnal name is divided into various parts. Shihab ud-Din mean "Star of the Faith", Sahib al-Quiran ud-Thani means "Second Lord of the Happy Conjunction of Jupiter and Venus". Shah Jahan means "King of the World", alluding to his pride in his Timurid roots and his ambitions. More epithets showed his secular and religious duties. He was also Khalifat Panahi ("Refuge of the Caliphate"), but Zill-i Allahi, or the "Shadow of God on Earth".
His first act as ruler was to execute his chief rivals and imprison his step mother Nur Jahan. This allowed Shah Jahan to rule his empire without contention.
Administration of the Mughal Empire
Evidence from the reign of Shah Jahan in the year 1648, states that the army consisted of 911,400 infantry, musketeers, and artillery men, and 185,000 Sowars commanded by princes and nobles and were maintained out of the revenues of the Mughal Empire which amounted to 120,071,876,840 dams.
During his reign the Marwari horse was introduced becoming Shah Jahan's favorite and various Mughal Cannons were mass-produced in the Jaigarh Fort. Under his rule, the empire became a huge military machine and the nobles and their contingents multiplied almost fourfold, as did the demands for more revenue from the peasantry. But due to his measures in the financial and commercial fields, it was a period of general stability—the administration was centralized and court affairs systematized.
The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan at his Durbar.
The Mughal Empire continued to expand moderately during his reign as his sons commanded large armies on different fronts. Above all it is obligatory to mention here that India became the richest center of the arts, crafts and architecture and some of the best of the architects, artisans, craftsmen, painters and writers of the world resided in his empire, it is believed that the Mughal Empire had the highest gross domestic produce in the world.
In 1634, Shah Jahan's Mughal Army attacked the Sikhs led by Guru Hargobind and ordered the destruction of the Sikh temple in Lahore. Skirmishes were fought at Amritsar, Kartarpur and elsewhere.
Shah Jahan annexed the Rajput confederates of Baglana, Mewar and Bundelkhand. He then chose his 16 year old son Aurangzeb to serve in his place and subdue the rebellion by the Bundela Rajputs led by the renegade Jhujhar Singh.
Khan Dauran, a commander of the Mughal Army subdues the rebel leader Jhujhar Singh and his son Bikramajit.
Relations with the Deccan Sultanates
The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan then chose his son Aurangzeb to become the Subahdar of the Deccan and ordered the annexation of Ahmednagar and the overthrow of the Nizam Shahi dynasty.
Relations with the Safavid dynasty
Shah Jahan and his sons captured the city of Kandahar in 1638 from the Safavids, prompting the retaliation of the Persians led by their powerful ruler Abbas II of Persia, who recaptured it in 1649, the Mughal armies were unable to recapture it despite repeated sieges during the Mughal–Safavid War. Shah Jahan also expanded the Mughal Empire to the west beyond the Khyber Pass to Ghazna and Kandahar.
Relations with the Ottoman Empire
While he was encamped in Baghdad, Sultan Murad IV is known to have met the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan's ambassadors: Mir Zarif and Mir Baraka, who presented 1000 pieces of finely embroidered cloth and even armor. Murad IV presented them with the finest weapons, saddles and Kaftans and ordered his forces to accompany the Mughals to the port of Basra, where they set sail to Thatta and finally Surat.
The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan had exchanged ambassadors and documents with the Ottoman Sultan Murad IV, it was through these exchanges led by the Mughal ambassador Sayyid Muhiuddin and his counterpart the Ottoman ambassador Arsalan Agha, that Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan received Mimar Yusuf, Isa Muhammad Effendi and Ismail Effendi, two Turkish architects and students of the famous Koca Mimar Sinan Agha. Both of them later comprised among the Mughal team that would design and build the Taj Mahal.
Mir Jumla II, who in the 1640s had his own ships and organized merchant fleets that sailed throughout: Surat, Thatta, Arakan, Ayuthya, Balasore, Aceh, Melaka, Johore, Bantam, Makassar, Ceylon, Bandar Abbas, Mecca, Jeddah, Basra, Aden, Masqat, Mocha and the Maldives. His merchant fleet could only be rivaled by Abdul Goffur of Surat although other nobles such as Asaf Khan and Safi Khan owned seaborne vessels.
War with Portuguese
The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan gave orders in 1631 to Qasim Khan, the Mughal viceroy of Bengal, to drive out the Portuguese from their trading post at Port Hoogly, the trading post was heavily armed with cannons, battleships, fortified walls, and other instruments of war. The Portuguese were accused of trafficking by high Mughal officials and due to commercial competition the Mughal-controlled port of Saptagram began to slump. The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan was particularly outraged by the activities of Jesuits in that region particularly when they were accused of abducting peasants. On 25 September 1632 the Mughal Army raised imperial banners and gained control over the Bandel region and the renegade garrison was punished.
Patronage of the arts
The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan also intended to construct his capitol at Agra as an urban center that would rival both Istanbul and Isfahan in all its wealth and cultural opulence.
Shah Jahan's reign saw some of India's most well-known architectural and artistic accomplishments. The land revenue of the Mughal Empire under Shah Jahan was higher than that of any other Mughal ruler. The magnificence of Shah Jahan’s court was commented upon by several European travelers and by ambassadors from other parts of the world, including Francois Bernier and Thomas Roe. His famous Peacock Throne, with its trail blazing in the shifting natural colors of rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, was valued by the jeweler Tavernier at 6½ million pounds sterling.
A Shamsa (literally: "Sun") Rosette bearing the inscription: "His majesty Shahabuddin Muhammad Shah Jahan, the Emperor, Warrior of the Faith (Islam), may Allah perpetuate his Empire and Sovereignty."
Under Shah Jahan's rule, Mughal artistic and architectural achievements reached their zenith. Shah Jahan was a prolific builder with a highly refined aesthetic sense. Among his surviving buildings are the Red Fort and Jama Masjid in Delhi, the Shalimar Gardens of Lahore, sections of the Lahore Fort(such as Sheesh Mahal, and Naulakha pavilion), and his Tomb of Jahangir.
Shah Jahan was a more orthodox Muslim than his father and grandfather. Upon his accession, he adopted new policies which steadfastly reversed Akbar's generally liberal treatment of non-Muslims. In 1633, his sixth regnal year, Shah Jahan began to impose Sharia provisions against construction or repair of churches and temples and subsequently ordered the demolitions of newly built Hindu temples. He celebrated Islamic festivals with great pomp and grandeur and with an enthusiasm unfamiliar to his predecessors. Long-dormant royal interest in the Holy Cities also revived during his reign. However, during the reign of Shah Jahan, the “Annual Car Festival” of the Jagannath Temple of Puri was specially patronized.
When Shah Jahan became ill in 1658, Dara Shikoh (Mumtaz Mahal's eldest son) assumed the role of regent in his father's stead, which swiftly incurred the animosity of his brothers. Upon learning of his assumption of the regency, his younger brothers, Shuja, Viceroy of Bengal, and Murad Baksh, Viceroy of Gujarat, declared their independence, and marched upon Agra in order to claim their riches. Aurangzeb, the third son, and ablest of the brothers, gathered a well trained army and became its chief commander. He faced Dara's army near Agra and defeated him during the Battle of Samugarh. Although Shah Jahan fully recovered from his illness, Aurangzeb declared him incompetent to rule and put him under house arrest in Agra Fort.
The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and his eldest son Dara Shikoh.
Jahanara Begum Sahib, Jahan's first daughter, voluntarily shared his 8-year confinement and nursed him in his dotage. In January 1666, Shah Jahan fell ill with strangury and dysentery. Confined to bed, he became progressively weaker until, on 22 January, he commended the ladies of the imperial court, particularly his consort of later years Akbarabadi Mahal, to the care of Jahanara. After reciting the Kal'ma (Laa ilaaha ill allah) and verses from the Quran, one of the greatest of the Mughal Emperors died, aged 72.
Shah Jahan's chaplain Sayyid Muhammad Qanauji and Kazi Qurban of Agra came to the fort, moved his body to a nearby hall, washed it, enshrouded it and put it in a coffin of sandalwood. Princess Jahanara had planned a state funeral which was to include a procession with Shah Jahan's body carried by eminent nobles followed by the notable citizens of Agra and officials scattering coins for the poor and needy. Aurangzeb refused to accommodate such ostentation. The body was taken by river to the Taj Mahal and was interred there next to the body of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal.
Contributions to architecture
Shah Jahan left behind a grand legacy of structures constructed during his reign. He was one of the greatest patrons of Mughal architecture. His most famous building was the Taj Mahal, now a wonder of the world, which he built out of love for his wife the empress Mumtaz Mahal.
Its structure was drawn with great care and architects from all over the world were called for this purpose. The building took twenty years to complete and was constructed from white marble underlaid with brick. Upon his death, his son Aurangazeb had him interred in it next to Mumtaz Mahal. Among his other constructions are the Red Fort also called the Delhi Fort or Lal Qila in Urdu, large sections of Agra Fort, the Jama Masjid, the Wazir Khan Mosque, the Moti Masjid, the Shalimar Gardens, sections of the Lahore Fort, the Jahangir mausoleum—his father's tomb, the construction of which was overseen by his stepmother Nur Jahan and the Shahjahan Mosque. He also had the Peacock Throne, Takht e Taus, made to celebrate his rule. Shah Jahan also placed profound verses of the Quran on his masterpieces of architecture.
Shah Jahan and the Mughal Army return after attending a congregation in the Jama Masjid, Delhi.
A famous seamless celestial globe was produced in 1659–1660, by the Sindhi astronomer Muhammad Salih Tahtawi of Thatta with Arabic and Persian inscriptions.
The Shah Jahan Mosque in Thatta, Sindh province of Pakistan (100 km / 60 miles from Karachi) was built in the reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1647. The mosque is built with red bricks with blue coloured glaze tiles probably imported from another Sindh's town of Hala. The mosque has overall 93 domes and it is world's largest mosque having such number of domes. It has been built keeping acoustics in mind. A person speaking inside one end of the dome can be heard at the other end when the speech exceeds 100 decibels. It has been on the tentative UNESCO World Heritage list since 1993.