Din-i Ilahi

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Abu'l-Fazl, one of the disciples of Din-i-Ilahi, presenting Akbarnama to Akbar, Mughal miniature

The Dīn-i Ilāhī (Persian: دین الهی‎‎ lit. "Religion of God")[1][2] was a syncretic religion propounded by the Mughal emperor Akbar the Great in 1582 AD, intending to merge the best elements of the religions of his empire, and thereby reconcile the differences that divided his subjects.[2] The elements were primarily drawn from Islam and Hinduism, but some others were also taken from Christianity, Jainism and Zoroastrianism.

Akbar promoted tolerance of other faiths. In fact, not only did he tolerate them, he encouraged debate on philosophical and religious issues. This led to the creation of the Ibādat Khāna ("House of Worship") at Fatehpur Sikri in 1575. He had already repealed the jizya (tax on non-Muslims) in 1568. A religious experience while hunting in 1578 further increased his interest in the religious traditions of his empire.[3]

From the discussions held at the Ibādat Khāna, Akbar concluded that no single religion could claim the monopoly of truth. This inspired him to create the Dīn-i Ilāhī in 1582. Various pious Muslims, among them the Qadi of Bengal and the seminal Sufi personality Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi, responded by declaring this to be blasphemy to Islam. According to a renowned historian Mubarak Ali Din -I-Elahi is a name not present at Akbar's period at that time it was called Tohid-I-Elahi, as it is written by Abu Al Fazal, a court historian during the reign of Akbar. So it can be said that it was not a religion in proper sense or in comparison with the main stream religions. As there was no compulsion in its acceptance, no reward punishment and no establishment of religious institutions. Furthermore, it can be said that it was a political system to bring unity in plurality rather than a religion.

Dīn-i Ilāhī appears to have survived Akbar according to the Dabestān-e Mazāheb of Mubad Shah (Mohsin Fani). However, the movement never numbered more than 19 adherents.[4]

Din-i-Ilahi prohibits lust, sensuality, slander and pride, considering them sins. Piety, prudence, abstinence and kindness are the core virtues. The soul is encouraged to purify itself through yearning of God.[2] Celibacy is respected and the slaughter of animals is forbidden. There are neither sacred scriptures nor a priestly hierarchy in this religion.[5]


The initiated disciples of Din-i-ilahi during emperor Akbar the Great's time included (p. 186):[2]

  • Birbal
  • Prince Salim
  • Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak
  • Prince Murad
  • Qasim Khan
  • Azam Khan
  • Shaikh Mubarak
  • Abdus Samad
  • Mulla Shah Muhammad Shahadad
  • Sufi Ahmad
  • Mir Sharif Amal
  • Sultan Khwaja
  • Mirza Sadr-ud-Din
  • Taki Shustar
  • Shaikhzada Gosala Benarasi
  • Sadar Jahan
  • Sadar Jahan's first son
  • Sadar Jahan's second son
  • Shaikh Faizi
  • Jafar Beig
  • Vin Krishna

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Din-i Ilahi - Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  2. ^ a b c d Roy Choudhury, Makhan Lal (1997) [First published 1941], The Din-i-Ilahi, or, The religion of Akbar (4th ed.), New Delhi: Oriental Reprint, ISBN 978-81-215-0777-6 
  3. ^ Schimmel,Annemarie (2006) The Empire of the Great Mughals: History, Art and Culture, Reaktion Books, ISBN 1-86189-251-9
  4. ^ Din-i Ilahi - Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  5. ^ Children's Knowledge Bank, Dr. Sunita Gupta, 2004