|Portrait of the emperor Shajahan, enthroned|
|Reign||19 January 1628 – 31 July 1658 (30 years 193 days)|
|Coronation||14 February 1628, Agra|
|A'la Azad Abul Muzaffar Shahab ud-Din Mohammad Khurram|
|House||House of Timur|
|Mother||Taj Bibi Bilqis Makani|
4 March 1592|
|Died||1 February 1666
Agra Fort, Agra, India
A'la Azad Abul Muzaffar Shahab ud-Din Mohammad Khurram (Persian: شهاب الدین محمد خرم) (March 4, 1592 – February 1, 1666) better known by his imperial name Shah Jahan (Persian: شاه جهان), was the son of Emperor Jahangir and his Hindu Rajput wife, Taj Bibi Bilqis Makani (13 May 1573 – 18 April 1619). He was the fifth Mughal Emperor who reigned from 1628 until 1658. While young, Khurram was the favourite of his legendary grandfather, the third Mughal emperor Akbar the Great.
At a young age, he was chosen as successor to the Mughal throne after the death of his father, Emperor Jahangir, in 1627. He is considered one of the greatest Mughals. His reign has been called the Golden Age of the Mughals 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 Emperor Aurangzeb in Agra Fort until his death in 1666.
Unlike his father and his grandfather, Shah Jahan was an orthodox and pious Muslim. 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.
The period of his reign was the golden age of Mughal architecture. Shah Jahan erected many splendid monuments, the most famous of which is the Taj Mahal at Agra, built in 1632–1648 as a tomb for his beloved wife, Empress Mumtaz Mahal.
The Moti Masjid, Agra and many other buildings in Agra, the Red Fort and the Jama Masjid in Delhi, mosques in Lahore, extensions to Lahore Fort and a mosque in Thatta also commemorate him. The famous Takht-e-Taus or the Peacock Throne, said to be worth millions of dollars by modern estimates, also dates from his reign. He was also the founder of the new imperial capital called Shahjahanabad, now known as Old Delhi. Other important buildings of Shah Jahan's rule were the Diwan-i-Am and Diwan-i-Khas in the Red Fort Complex in Delhi and the Moti Masjid in the Lahore Fort. Shah Jahan is also believed to have had a very refined taste in the arts and architecture, and is credited with having commissioned about 999 gardens in Kashmir, his favorite summer residence. A few of these gardens survive, attracting millions of tourists every year.
Born on 4 March 1592, 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. When Khurram was only six days old, Akbar, ordered that the prince be taken away from his Rajput mother and handed him over to his first wife Empress Ruqaiya Sultan Begum, who was childless. 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."
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 1607, 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 a Hindu princess of marwar - Amber - daughter of Maharana Amar Singh during this time, with whom he had his first child - a daughter – who died in infancy.
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 the 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 post-partum haemorrhage, which caused considerable blood-loss and 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.
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 Khurrum take two other wives known as Akbarabadi Mahal (d.1677), and Kandahari Mahal (b. c1594), (m.1609). 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: Glory 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.
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 Shah Jahan, King of the World, the latter title alluding to his pride in his Timurid roots and his ambitions. Shahanshah Shah Jahan's first act as ruler was to execute his chief rivals and imprison his step mother Nur Jahan. This allowed Shan Jahan to rule without contention.
Administration of the Mughal Empire
Although his father's rule was generally peaceful, the empire was experiencing challenges by the end of his reign. In 1634, Shah Jahan's forces attacked the Sikhs over a matter of royal hawk, and faced stiff resistance from them even though the Mughal forces being in large number. The commander of the Mughal army, Mukhlis Khan, got killed in the battle, led by Guru Hargobind. Shah Jahan repulsed the Portuguese in Bengal, capturing the Rajput kingdoms of Baglana, Mewar and Bundelkhand to the west and the northwest beyond the Khyber Pass. 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. The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan then chose his son Aurangzeb to become the Subedar of the deccan and ordered the annexation of Ahmednagar and the overthrow of the Nizam Shahi 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.
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 centralised and court affairs systematized.
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 centre of the arts, crafts and architecture and some of the best of the architects, artisians, craftsmens, 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.
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.
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 gifted 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.
Patronage of the arts
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 jeweller Tavernier at 6½ million pounds sterling.
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.
Legend has it that Shah Jahan wanted to build a black Taj Mahal for himself.to
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 in chief commander, he faced his elder brother and heir apparent Dara's army close to Agra and completely 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.
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 Islamic declaration of faith (Laa ilaaha illa l-laah) and verses from the Quran, one of the greatest of the Mughal Emperors died, aged 74.
Princess Jahanara 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 and the body was washed in accordance with Islamic rites, taken by river in a sandalwood coffin 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 Islamic 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.
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.
Contribution to the arts
All the inscriptions on the Taj Mahal tombs of Shah Jahan and his wife are in Persian Calligraphy on the tombs and on the Agra Fort in quranic calligraphy and a Persian poem in Nastaʿlīq. Shah Jahan's cenotaph is bigger than that of his wife, but reflects the same elements: a larger casket on a slightly taller base, again decorated with astonishing precision with lapidary and calligraphy that identifies him.
The pen box and writing tablet were traditional Persian funerary icons decorating the caskets of men and women respectively. The Ninety Nine Names of God are found as calligraphic inscriptions in Persian nast Nastaʿlīq inscription style of calligraphy on the sides of the actual tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, in the crypt including "O Noble, O Magnificent, O Majestic, O Unique, O Eternal, O Glorious... ". The tomb of Shah Jahan bears a calligraphic inscription that reads: "He traveled from this world to the banquet-hall of Eternity on the night of the twenty-sixth of the month of Rajab, in the year 1076 Hijri."
Shah Jahan was very interested in Persian inscription and a Persian poet who requested a famous Persian calligrapher to decorate his palace and castles.
In 1629 Shah Jahan made a new currency. The coins was made from silver, gold and bronze, and had his initials stamped on them.
|Monarchical styles of
|Spoken style||His Imperial Majesty|
|Alternative style||Alam Panah
Zillelahi Din - al Hasaan-i-Kurubudjan
His full title as Emperor of the Mughal Empire was:
Shahanshah Al-Sultan al-'Azam wal Khaqan al-Mukarram, Malik-ul-Sultanat, Ala Hazrat Abu'l-Muzaffar Shahab ud-din Muhammad Shah Jahan I, Sahib-i-Qiran-i-Sani, Padshah Ghazi Zillu'llah, Firdaus-Ashiyani, Shahanshah—E—Sultanant Ul Hindiya Wal Mughaliya
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Shah Jahan.|
- Shah Jehan in Christian Art
- Shah Jahan's 353rd death anniversary observed at Taj Mahal at TwoCircles.net
- History of Islam in India at IndiaNest.com
- A Handbook to Agra and the Taj – Sikandra, Fatehpur-Sikri and the Neighbourhood by E. B. Havel (Project Gutenberg)
- Indian & Mughal History Discussions at History Forum
- 'The Man Of Marble' – Outlook India
Shah JahanBorn: 5 January 1592 Died: 31 January 1666