Baqi Tashqandi, also known as Mir Baqi, was a Mughal commander (beg) originally from Tashkent, during the reign of the first Mughal emperor Babur. He is widely believed to have been made the governor of the province of Awadh. In 1528, he is believed to have founded Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, which later became the focal point of the Babri Masjid–Ram Janmabhoomi dispute. However, the historical evidence for these beliefs is scant.
In the Baburnama (Chronicles of Babur), no person of the name Mir Baqi (Baqi, the noble) is mentioned. Rather, Baqi appears with suffixes as Baqi Tashkindi (Baqi of Tashkent), Baqi Shaghawal, Baqi mingbashi (commander of a thousand troops) or Baqi Beg (commander). Scholar Kishore Kunal concludes that all these references are to the same individual, a commander of a thousand troops, and doubts that a nobleman called "Baqi" ever existed.
Baqi served as a comamnder in the Mughal force of Emperor Babur.
In 932 AH (January or February 1526 AD), Baqi Shaghawal was given Dibalpur, near Lahore, as a fief, and sent to help in Balkh, presumably to quell a rebellion. After his return, Baqi appears to have been assigned as a commander in a force of six or sevel thousand troops headed by Chin-Timur Sultan. In 934 AH (1528 AD) the force was sent on an expedition to Chanderi. The enemy fled and the Sultan was ordered to pursue them. The commanders were given instructions "not to go beyond this [Sultan's] word".
In March 1528, the same force headed by Chin-Timur Sultan was sent in pursuit of Bāyazīd and Biban (Afghan nobles formerly in the employ of Ibrahim Lodi) near Oudh (Awadh). The duo however took control of Lucknow by May 1529 (935 AH), signalling a loss for the force. The defeat is attributed to Baqi, who was possibly in charge of the Mughal fort in Lucknow. Babur sent reinforcements under the command of Kuki and others. Bāyazīd and Biban fled at the news of reinforcements. However, Baqi and his team could not catch hold of them. The temporary loss of Lucknow to the rebels as well as Baqi's inability to capture them annoyed Babur. The monsoon had set in and the horses needed rest. Babur called a halt to the pursuit. On 13 June, Baqi called on Babur, who was apparently dissatisifed, and, on 20 June 1529, Babur dismissed (issued rukhsat) Baqi along with the army of Oudh that he was commanding.[a] No more is heard of about Baqi Tashkandi until his mysterious reappearance on a supposed inscription on the Babri Masjid as "Mir Baqi" discovered by the British East India Company's surveyor in 1813.
Francis Buchanan-Hamilton (Buchanan) did a survey of the Gorakhpur Division in 1813–14 on behalf of the British East India Company. His report was never published but partly reused by Montgomery Martin later. Kishore Kunal examined the original report in the British Library archives. It states that the Hindus generally attributed destruction "to the furious zeal of Aurangzabe", but the large mosque at Ayodhya, presently called the Babri Masjid, was ascertained to have been built by Babur by "an inscription on its walls". The said inscription in Persian was said to have been copied by a scribe and translated by a Maulvi friend of Buchanan. The translation however contained two inscriptions. The first inscription said that the mosque was constructed by 'Mir Baqi' in the year 935 AH or 923 AH.[b] The second inscription narrated the genealogy of Aurangzeb.[c][d] The translator had a difficulty with the anagram for the date, because one of the words was missing, which would have resulted in a date of 923 AH rather than 935 AH. These incongruities and mismatches made no impression on Buchanan, who maintained that the mosque was built under the orders of Babur.
The Babri Masjid stands at a location believed by Hindus to be the birthplace of Rama. There are no records of the mosque at the site till 1672 and no known association with Babur or Mir Baqi prior to Buchanan's discovery of these inscriptions in the 19th century. The Baburnama does not mention either the mosque or the destruction of a temple. The Ramcharit Manas of Tulsidas (AD 1574) and Ain-i Akbari of Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak (AD 1598) made no mention of a mosque either. William Finch, the English traveller who visited Ayodhya around 1611, wrote about the "ruins of the Ranichand [Ramachand] castle and houses", but there was no mention of a mosque. Thomas Herbert described in 1634 the "pretty old castle Ranichand" which was an antique monument that was "especially memorable". However, by 1672, Kishore Kunal states that the appearance of a mosque can be inferred because Lal Das's Awadh-Vilasa was completed that year, which describes the location of birthplace without mentioning a temple. In 1717, the Moghul Rajput noble Jai Singh II purchased land surrounding the site and his documents show a mosque.
Writer Kishore Kunal states that all the inscriptions claimed were fake. They were affixed almost 285 years after the supposed construction of the mosque in 1528 AD, and repeatedly replaced. In 1877, Syed Mohammad Asghar the Mutawalli (guardian) of the "Masjid Baburi at Janmasthan" filed a petition with the Commissioner of Faizabad. The only inscription at the time was the word "Allah" above the door. In 1889, archaeologist Anton Führer recorded two inscriptions. One said that the mosque was erected by a noble 'Mir Khan' of Babur.[e] Another said that the mosque was founded in the year 930 AH by a grandee of Babur, who was (comparable to) "another King of Turkey and China".[f] The year 930 AH corresponds 1523 AD, three years before Babur's conquest of Hindustan. Moreover, the texts of these inscriptions were completely different from those documented by Buchanan.
- Beveridge's translation of the Baburnama states that Babur gave leave to Baqi. Thankston transalted it as "that afternoon Baqi Shigavul and the Oudh aramy were dismissed". Erskine translated it as, "I gave Baqi Sheghawel and his party leave to go home".
- Kunal, Ayodhya Revisited 2016, Chapter 5: "By order of King Babur whose justice is a building reaching to the mansions of heaven, this alighting place of the angels was erected by Meer Baquee a nobleman impressed with the seal of happiness. This is lasting Charity in the year of its construction what declares in manifest "that good works are lasting." (The anagram "good works are lasting" represented the year 935. "From the Tughra: There is no God but God, and Mohammad is the Prophet of God. Say, O'Mohammad, that God is one, that God is holy, unbegetting and unbegotten, and that he hath no equal."
- Kunal, Ayodhya Revisited 2016, Chapter 5: "The victorious lord, Mooheyoo Din, Aulumgir, Badshah, the destroyer of infidels, the son of Shah Juhan, the son of Juhangeer Shah; the son of Ukbar Shah; the son of Humayoon Shah, the son of Babur Shah; the son Oomer Sheikh Shah; the son of Soolatan Uboo Saeed; the son of Soolatan Moohammad Shah; the son of Meeran Shah, the son of Shaib-i-Qiran Meer Tymoor." "From the Tughra: In the name of God, most merciful I testify that there is no God but God. He is one, and without equal. I also testify that Mohammad is his Servant and Prophet." "Upon the propitious date of this noble erection, by this weak slave Moohummud Funa Ullah."
- In addition to the two inscriptions and their monograms (turghas), a fable concerning a dervish called Musha Ashiqan was also included. The translator doubted that the fable was part of the inscription but recorded that the scribe "positively says that the inscription was executed at the erection of this building".
- Kunal, Ayodhya Revisited 2016, p. 168:
- By the order of Babur, the king of the world;
- This firmament-like, lofty;
- Strong building was erected;
- By the auspicious noble Mir Khan;
- May ever remain such a foundation;
- And such a king of the world.
- Kunal, Ayodhya Revisited 2016, p. 169:
- In the name of God, the merciful, the clement.
- In the name of him who...; may God perpetually keep him in the world.
- Such a sovereign who is famous in the world and in person of delight for the world.
- In his presence one of the grandees who is another King of Turkey and China.
- Laid this religious foundation in the auspicious Hijra 930.
- O God! May always remain the crown, throne and life with the king.
- May Babar always pour the flowers of happiness; may remain successful.
- His counsellor and minister who is the founder of this fort masjid.
- This poetry, giving the date and eulogy, was written by the lazy writer and poor servant Fath-allah-Ghori, composer.
- Abdul Gafoor Abdul Majeed Noorani (2003), The Babri Masjid question, 1528-2003: a matter of national honour, Tulika Books, ISBN 81-85229-78-3,
... the Mughal Emperor Babar's Governor at Awadh, Mir Baqi Tashqandi, built the Babri Masjid (mosque) at Ayodhya ... The mosque was built in 1528 ...
- Kunal, Ayodhya Revisited 2016, Chapter 6.
- Kunal, Ayodhya Revisited 2016, p. 199.
- Kunal, Ayodhya Revisited 2016, Chapter 5.
- K. Elst (1995). "The Ayodhya Debate". In Gilbert Pollet. Indian Epic Values: Rāmāyaṇa and Its Impact. Peeters Publishers. pp. 28–29. ISBN 9789068317015.
- Narain, The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute 1993, p. 17.
- Jain, Rama and Ayodhya 2013, pp. 165-166.
- Jain, Rama and Ayodhya 2013, p. 9, 120, 164.
- Kunal, Ayodhya Revisited 2016, p. xv.
- Kunal, Ayodhya Revisited 2016, p. xxvii.
- Jain, Rama and Ayodhya 2013, pp. 112-115.
- Kunal, Ayodhya Revisited 2016, p. 143.
- Jain, Meenakshi (2013). Rama and Ayodhya. New Delhi: Aryan Books. ISBN 8173054517.
- Kunal, Kishore (2016), Ayodhya Revisited, Prabhat Prakashan, pp. 335–, ISBN 978-81-8430-357-5
- Narain, Harsh (1993). The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on Muslim Sources. Delhi: Penman Publishers.
- Agnihotri, Ranjana (2017), SriRam Janmbhoomi Ayodhya Unpunished Conspiracy: Brutal Killing, Mischief and Interpolation, Notion Press, pp. 99–, ISBN 978-1-946641-40-3