The Language of The Taj Mahal: Islam, Prayer, and the Religion of Shah Jahan 9780755637850, 9780755637881, 9780755637867

The Taj Mahal, built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (1592–1666 CE) as a mausoleum for his wife Mumtaz Mahal (1593–1631

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The Language of The Taj Mahal: Islam, Prayer, and the Religion of Shah Jahan
 9780755637850, 9780755637881, 9780755637867

Table of contents :
Cover
Contents
List of Illustrations
Preface and Acknowledgments
Notes on Translation, Transliteration, and Conventions
Part I Historical Background
Chapter 1 The Prince and the Calligrapher
Chapter 2 The Emperor and the Calligrapher
Part II The Texts of the Taj Mahal
Chapter 3 Return to Your Lord: al-Fajr
Chapter 4 The Trumpet Will Sound: Yā Sīn
Chapter 5 Where Are You Going? al-Takwīr
Chapter 6 The Graves Are Shaken: al-Infiṭār
Chapter 7 You Will Meet Your Lord: al-Inshiqāq
Chapter 8 God Is Well Pleased: al-Bayyinah
Chapter 9 Look Again!: al-Mulk
Chapter 10 A Seeds Sends Forth Its Shoot: al-Fatḥ
Chapter 11 A Reward for You: al-Insān
Chapter 12 Turn to Your Lord: al-Zumar (39.53-54)
Chapter 13 The Cenotaphs
Chapter 14 Purify Your Soul: al-Shams and al-Ikhlāṣ
Chapter 15 The Future Will Be Better: al-Ḍuḥā
Chapter 16 With Hardship There Is Comfort: al-Sharḥ
Chapter 17 Why Do You Deny Faith?: al-Tīn
Part III Conclusion
Chapter 18 The Religion of Shah Jahan
Chronology
Glossary
Bibliography
Index

Citation preview

THE LANGUAGE OF THE TAJ MAHAL

Islamic South Asia Series Series Editor Ruby Lal, Emory University Advisory Board Iftikhar Dadi, Cornell University Stephen F. Dale, Ohio State University Rukhsana David, Kinnaird College for Women Michael Fisher, Oberlin College Marcus Fraser, Fitzwilliam Museum Ebba Koch, University of Vienna David Lewis, London School of Economics Francis Robinson, Royal Holloway, University of London Ron Sela, Indiana University Bloomington Willem van Schendel, University of Amsterdam Titles Sexual and Gender Diversity in the Muslim World: History, Law and Vernacular Knowledge, Vanja Hamzic The Architecture of a Deccan Sultanate: Courtly Practice and Royal Authority in Late Medieval India, Pushkar Sohoni Sufi Shrines and the Pakistani State: The End of Religious Pluralism, Umber Bin Ibad The Hindu Sufis of South Asia: Partition, Shrine Culture and the Sindhis in India, Michel Boivin Islamic Sermons and Public Piety in Bangladesh: The Poetics of Popular Preaching, Max Stille The Mosques of Colonial South Asia: A Social and Legal History of Muslim Worship, Sana Haroon The Language of the Taj Mahal: Islam, Prayer and the Religion of Shah Jahan, Michael D. Calabria

The Language of the Taj Mahal

Islam, Prayer, and the Religion of Shah Jahan

Michael D. Calabria

I.B. TAURIS Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP, UK 1385 Broadway, New York, NY 10018, USA 29 Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2, Ireland BLOOMSBURY, I.B. TAURIS and the I.B. Tauris logo are trademarks of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc First published in Great Britain 2022 This edition published 2023 Copyright © Michael D. Calabria, 2022 Michael D. Calabria has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as Author of this work. For legal purposes the Acknowledgments on pp. xii–xvi constitute an extension of this copyright page. Series design by Adriana Brioso Cover image: Arabic script quoting from the Koran on the Taj Mahal, India. (© Eye Ubiquitous/Universal Images Group/Getty Images) All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc does not have any control over, or responsibility for, any third-party websites referred to or in this book. All internet addresses given in this book were correct at the time of going to press. The author and publisher regret any inconvenience caused if addresses have changed or sites have ceased to exist, but can accept no responsibility for any such changes. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress. ISBN: HB: 978-0-7556-3785-0 PB: 978-0-7556-3789-8 ePDF: 978-0-7556-3786-7 eBook: 978-0-7556-3787-4 Typeset by Integra Software Services Pvt. Ltd. Series: Islamic South Asia To find out more about our authors and books visit www.bloomsbury.com and sign up for our newsletters.

O God, if you do not shepherd me, I am lost; If you shepherd me, then I cannot go astray. O God, if I make a mistake out of ignorance, I implore you for forgiveness even before it has vexed anyone. - from The Late Shah Jahan Album

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CONTENTS List of Illustrations Preface and Acknowledgments Notes on Translation, Transliteration, and Conventions

ix xii xvii

Part I HISTORICAL BACKGROUND Chapter 1 THE PRINCE AND THE CALLIGRAPHER Chapter 2 THE EMPEROR AND THE CALLIGRAPHER

3 25

Part II THE TEXTS OF THE TAJ MAHAL Chapter 3 RETURN TO YOUR LORD: AL-FAJR

57

Chapter 4 THE TRUMPET WILL SOUND: YĀ SĪN

77

Chapter 5 WHERE ARE YOU GOING? AL-TAKWĪR

105

Chapter 6 THE GRAVES ARE SHAKEN: AL-INFIṬĀR

115

Chapter 7 YOU WILL MEET YOUR LORD: AL-INSHIQĀQ

123

Chapter 8 GOD IS WELL PLEASED: AL-BAYYINAH

133

Chapter 9 LOOK AGAIN!: AL-MULK

141

Contents

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Chapter 10 A SEEDS SENDS FORTH ITS SHOOT: AL-FATḤ

151

Chapter 11 A REWARD FOR YOU: AL-INSĀN

165

Chapter 12 TURN TO YOUR LORD: AL-ZUMAR (39.53-54)

175

Chapter 13 THE CENOTAPHS

179

Chapter 14 PURIFY YOUR SOUL: AL-SHAMS AND AL-IKHLĀṢ

189

Chapter 15 THE FUTURE WILL BE BETTER: AL-ḌUḤĀ

197

Chapter 16 WITH HARDSHIP THERE IS COMFORT: AL-SHARḤ

203

Chapter 17 WHY DO YOU DENY FAITH?: AL-TĪN

207

Part III CONCLUSION Chapter 18 THE RELIGION OF SHAH JAHAN

215

Chronology228 Glossary231 Bibliography234 Index248

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS Plates 1 Mumtaz Mahal. From the Dara Shukoh Album, attributed to Bishn Das, 1631–3. © British Library Board, London (BL Add.Or.3129, f. 34) 2 Prince Khurram (Shah Jahan) at age twenty-five. Nadir al-Zaman, c. 1615. © Victoria and Albert Museum. (IM. 14–1925) 3 Shah Jahan, c. 1630. Hashim, active 1598–c.1650. 5.4 x 3.7 cm. Cleveland Museum of Art, gift of J.H. Wade 1920.1969. Reproduced by kind permission of the Cleveland Museum of Art 4 The mausoleum of the Taj Mahal. Author’s Photograph 5 Moti Masjid, Agra Fort. 1647–53. Author’s Photograph with permission of the Archaeological Survey of India, Agra Circle 6 Jami’ Masjid, Shahjahanabad, Delhi. 1650–6. Author’s photograph 7 Shah Jahan Receives a Persian Ambassador, c. 1640; attributed to Payag. Courtesy of the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford (MS. Ouseley Add. 173. F. 13v). Detail 8 View of the Taj Mahal complex to the north, with the forecourt (jilaukhana), the Great Gate, Paradise Garden, Mausoleum, mosque and guest house (mihman khana) to the left and right of the mausoleum respectively. Courtesy iStock 9 Taj Mahal mausoleum, north façade. Sūrah Yā Sīn 36.45 ff 10 Taj Mahal mausoleum, central chamber, with inscriptions. Courtesy iStock 11 Taj Mahal Mosque, mihrab. Author’s collection 12 Taj Mahal. Great Gate, north façade. The beginning of surah al-Ḍuḥā. Author’s collection 13 Taj Mahal, Great Gate, north façade. The end of surah al-Tīn and colophon: “Finished with His Help, the Most High, 1057” (1647/48 CE). Author’s collection 14 Mullah Shah and Mian Mir on a Terrace, c. 1630s. Opaque watercolor on paper. Yale University Art Gallery. The Vera M. and John D. MacDonald, B.A. 1927, Collection, Gift of Mrs. John D. MacDonald. 2001.138.59 15 Shah Jahan holding a jeweled sarpesh, c. 1655. 23.4 x 14 cm. © Bodleian Library (MS. Douce Or.a.3, f. 1r)

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16 The Shah Burj at Agra Fort wherever Shah Jahan lived under house arrest from June 1658 until his death in January 1666. The Taj Mahal can be seen in the distance. Author’s photograph

Figures 1 Gateway of Akbar’s funerary complex, Sikandra (1613 CE). Author’s photograph15 2 Colophon of ‘Abd al-Haqq Shirazi, Gateway of Akbar’s Tomb complex, Sikandra. Dated 1022 AH (1613 CE). Author’s photograph 16 3 Burhanpur Fort. Author’s photograph 31 4 The first gravesite for Mumtaz Mahal: the ahukhana (“deer park”) in Burhanpur. Author’s photograph 34 5 The mausoleum of the Taj Mahal, 1632–8/9. Author’s photograph 36 6 The second colophon of ‘Abd al-Haqq in the central chamber of the Taj Mahal mausoleum. It reads: “Finished with His help; written by the humble faqīr Amanat Khan al-Shirazi,in the year one-thousand and forty-eight Hijri (1638/9 CE), and the twelfth of His Majesty’s auspicious accession.” Author’s photograph 38 7 Colophon of “‘Abd al-Haqq, called Amanat Khan,” 1045 AH (1635 CE), Central mihrab, Shahi Madrasa Mosque, Agra. Author’s photograph 39 8 The cenotaph of Jahangir, Lahore (c. 1628–38) 41 9 The mosque of Shah Jahan at the shrine of Mu’inuddin Chishti in Ajmer. Completed in 1636. Author’s photograph 41 10 The Mina Masjid, Shah Jahan’s private mosque in Agra Fort. Author’s photograph. Courtesy of the Archaeological Survey of India, Agra Circle 43 11 Chini ka Rauza, the tomb of Afzal Khan (d. 1639), Agra. Author’s photograph45 12 Chini ka Rauza. Portion of Amanat Khan’s calligraphy of Sūrah Yā Sīn 36.38–39. Author’s photograph 45 13 Serai of Amanat Khan near Amritsar, 1640/1 CE. Author’s photograph 47 14 Calligraphy of Amanat Khan, Amanat Khan serai. Author’s photograph 47 15 The cenotaph of Asaf Khan (Abu’l Hasan, d. 1641) inscribed with the names of God (al-asmā’ al-ḥusnā). Lahore 50 16 The top of Asaf Khan’s cenotaph inscribed with al-Zumar 39.53 and Āl ‘Imrān 3.185. Lahore 51 17 The north end of Asaf Khan’s cenotaph inscribed with al-Hashr 59.22. Lahore52 18 Taj Mahal, Great Gate, south façade. Author’s photograph 59

List of Illustrations

19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

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Taj Mahal, Great Gate, al-Fajr, beginning. Author’s photograph 59 Great Gate, al-Fajr, end. Author’s photograph 75 Taj Mahal Mausoleum, south façade: Yā Sīn. Author’s photograph 77 Yā Sīn, beginning. Author’s photograph 78 Taj Mahal Mausoleum, east façade, showing space intended for a colophon at the end of Yā Sīn. Author’s photograph 79 Taj Mahal Mausoleum, south doorway: al-Takwīr. Courtesy of iStock 105 Taj Mahal Mausoleum, west doorway: al-Infiṭār. Author’s photograph 116 Taj Mahal Mausoleum, north doorway, al-Inshiqaq, beginning. Author’s photograph123 Taj Mahal Mausoleum, east doorway: al-Bayyinah. Author’s photograph 133 Taj Mahal Mosque. Author’s photograph 189 al-Shams, beginning. Author’s photograph 191 Great Gateway, North Façade: al-Ḍuḥā, al-Sharḥ and al-Tīn. Author’s photograph198

PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS In 2009, I made my first trip to India. Fr. Xavier Seubert, OFM, then director of the Art History program at St. Bonaventure University, had asked me to develop an undergraduate course on Islamic Art and Architecture. Although I knew well the Islamic artistic and architectural legacy of the Maghreb and Middle East, I had yet very little knowledge of the Islamic heritage of South Asia. Thus, after obtaining a grant from the Keenan-Martine Foundation at St. Bonaventure University, I set out for New Delhi from Cairo where I had been teaching for the summer. Although I visited and studied the magnificent mosques and mausolea from the period of the Delhi Sultanates (1206–1526), it was India’s Mughal monuments that captivated me, especially the iconic Taj Mahal, built by the emperor Shah Jahan as the funerary complex for his beloved wife, Arjumand Banu Begum, known to history as Mumtaz Mahal, “the Chosen One of the Palace.” As a professor of Arabic as well as Islamic Studies, I had come to think about the Taj Mahal, not only as a work of architecture, but as text. My preliminary research had already revealed that its structures were inscribed with fourteen complete sūrahs (chapters) of the Qur’an, and assorted verses from several other sūrahs—a total of 241 verses (āyāt), making it the most extensive inscriptional program of any Mughal monument, any Islamic monument in South Asia, and indeed in the entire world. The Qur’anic texts are rendered into calligraphy of outstanding beauty, and while the texts are therefore highly decorative, they are not merely decoration. Indeed, on my first visit to the Taj Mahal, with the Qur’anic texts in hand, I began to “read” the monument which has much to say. Before rushing through the Great Gate (darwaza-i rauza) to see the mausoleum as tourists so often do, I stood and recited sūrah al-Fajr inscribed on the outer façade of the gate. I was struck by the power and profundity of its message to humanity, a message that seemed as relevant to contemporary India and the world, as it did in Shah Jahan’s day. Although often overlooked by tourists and scholars alike, these inscriptions did not escape the attention of the Mughal court chronicler ‘Abd al-Hamid Lahori who, on the twelfth anniversary (‘urs) of the queen’s death in 1643, wrote a detailed description of the entire complex, including the following: The inscriptions on the inside and outside of the Illumined Tomb, which comprise Qur’anic sūras and verses of mercy, the beautiful divine names, and traditional prayers, have been [so skillfully] executed in inlay-work as to baffle the residents of the earth—nay, the inmates of the holy places in the land of the heavens. And the narration of the account of the engraved work

Preface and Acknowledgments

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of this edifice of firm foundations and solid base and its terrace would require a separate volume.1

This current volume is a modest response to Lahori’s observations and an attempt to fill a lacuna in the prodigious research that has been done on the architecture of the Taj Mahal, but which has largely overlooked its inscriptions or treated them minimally in a few pages at best. In 1978/9, Wayne Begley published a lengthy article on Amanat Khan, the man responsible for much of the Taj Mahal’s calligraphy. In that piece, Begley wrote that he was preparing a monograph “on the symbolism of the Taj Mahal and its inscriptional program,” but he never wrote that book. Instead, he published an article shortly thereafter titled: “The Myth of the Taj Mahal and a New Theory of Its Symbolic Meaning,”2 in which he only briefly described the content of some sūrahs. Ten years later, he and Z.A. Desai (1925–2002) published a volume: Taj Mahal: The Illumined Tomb (Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, 1989), an invaluable work which provided translations of most Mughal texts pertinent to the monument, as well as ‘Abdullah Yusuf ‘Ali translation of the sūrahs and assorted āyāt used in the complex. The authors did not, however, provide any discussion, commentary, or interpretation of the Qur’anic texts, nor did they consider the selection of the texts. My purpose in this volume, after providing some historical background, is to pick up where Begley and Desai left off, beginning with a fresh translation of the texts and providing a detailed commentary that seeks to address, not only the significance of the sūrahs within the context of their revelation in seventhcentury Arabia, but what they signified within the context of the Mughal Empire in the seventeenth century, especially for Shah Jahan for whom the Taj Mahal was a deeply personal monument. While tour guides in Agra today regale their clients with the Taj Mahal’s tale of love—the love of Shah Jahan for Mumtaz Mahal—this is but part of the story; for in addition to being an elegant expression of Shah Jahan’s love, the Taj Mahal is also an eloquent testimony to his Islamic faith, a faith he approached sincerely but lived imperfectly. The Taj Mahal is, in essence, Shah Jahan’s Qur’an, proclaiming the most salient teachings of Islam in a realm that was religiously and culturally diverse, comprising Muslims—Sunni, Shi’i, and Sufis (Chishti, Naqshabandi, Qadiri, etc.), Hindus (Shaivas, Vaisnavas, Shaktas, etc.), Jains (Digambaras and Śvetambaras), Sikhs, and Parsis, as well as Christians (Eastern and Western) and Jews (European and Asian). By rendering the sūrahs of the Qur’an in monumental form, Shah Jahan and his calligrapher Amanat Khan gave the texts a highly visible presence in the world beyond the page of a handwritten volume. It is true that the artistic arrangement and architectural placement of the texts, both interior and exterior, can make reading them difficult (if not impossible in some cases), although Muslims are often able to identify the sūrahs from the opening verses and then “read” them from memory. The texts, 1. W.E. Begley and Z.A. Desai, Taj Mahal: The Illumined Tomb (Cambridge: Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, 1989), p. 73. 2. The Art Bulletin, v. 61, no. 1 (March 1979), pp. 7–37.

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however, do not have to be read per se to have meaning. The inscriptions serve as a visual representation of God’s eternal word revealed to humanity. Their very presence in this form, in the language of their revelation, makes them true, real, and meaningful—for the living and the dead. This volume is therefore directed particularly to those who wish to gain a deeper understanding of the Taj Mahal, not only as a work of architecture, but as a monument of faith as expressed in the relationship between religious architecture and revealed text. The biographical and historical content in the introductory and concluding chapters, as well as throughout the commentary, contextualizes the Qur’anic inscriptions of the Taj Mahal within the life of Shah Jahan in a way that has not been attempted before. The broad outlines of Shah Jahan’s life have been treated in recent decades in numerous historical surveys, including John Richard’s volume on the Mughal Empire in The New Cambridge History of India (1993) and Michael Fischer’s A Short History of the Mughal Empire (2016), in full-length biographies, most recently in Fergus Nicoll’s Shah Jahan: The Rise and Fall of the Mughal Emperor (2009), and in numerous more specialized monographs and articles cited in this volume. Many of these works, however, view Shah Jahan primarily as a political figure—an ambitious warrior prince who fought his way to the throne and then ruled the Mughal Empire at its height until he was overthrown. My purpose in recounting parts of Shah Jahan’s biography is not only to provide context for the creation of the Taj Mahal, but to explore and document Shah Jahan as a person of faith, as a believing and practicing Muslim within the historical and cultural context of seventeenthcentury South Asia. Political and religious spheres were not completely discreet categories in the early modern world, and thus I intend this material as a complement, if not occasionally a correction, to previous studies of Shah Jahan’s life and character. Students and scholars of the Mughal Period will benefit from my discussion on the selection of the texts used in the inscriptional program, and their significance for the Taj Mahal and the life of Shah Jahan. The texts of the Taj Mahal are an expression not only of Shah Jahan’s faith, however, but of the artistic skill of its calligrapher, Amanat Khan. Therefore, the introductory chapters of this volume also serve to document his life and career. As I have noted, Begley provided the first significant study of Amanat Khan, but remaining questions about his biography and association with Shah Jahan have been left unanswered in subsequent scholarship and are thus addressed here. This volume is also directed to those who wish to gain a deeper understanding of the Qur’an and Islam. In the verses and sūrahs selected for the Taj Mahal inscriptions, translated and discussed in this volume, readers will find the essential teachings of Islamic theology, anthropology, and eschatology, accompanied by an in-depth, line-by-line analysis and commentary (tafsīr) that not only draws from classical and contemporary scholarship, but makes original observations. The chapters on the sūrahs are arranged, not according to their sequence in the Qur’an, but in the order in which I believe they were intended to be “read” or seen as one walks through the structures and gardens of the Taj Mahal complex. Student and scholars of the Arabic Qur’an will also find the commentary useful

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for its analysis of the verses’ grammar, vocabulary, and syntax which reveals new findings and draws connections between the Taj Mahal’s sūrahs that have been overlooked. It is my hope that this volume facilitates a greater understanding and appreciation of the Qur’anic texts, their power and profundity, and their enduring significance, as well as the basis of their selection for the Taj Mahal and their placement on the structures of that complex. Although the Qur’anic inscriptions of the Taj Mahal and commentary comprise the core of this work, it would be inaccurate to assess Shah Jahan’s religious and spiritual character on the basis of the Taj Mahal texts alone since his faith formation began as a child, decades before the Taj Mahal was conceived, and he lived for more than thirty years after the work on the funerary complex began. Thus, throughout this study I also use other works of architecture, paintings, objets d’art, and books that Shah Jahan commissioned, used, collected, and inscribed as well as royal chronicles and decrees (farmans) to support my conclusions. In the concluding chapter on the religion of Shah Jahan, I address his life in the decades after the completion of the Taj Mahal to provide a fuller assessment of his faith in later years. Historians of Mughal art often note a certain stiff remoteness or formal perfection in portraits of Shah Jahan. I believe that a more holistic approach to his life and reign allows us to move confidently and competently beyond the limits of chronology and culture to come to a fuller understanding of the person behind the Taj Mahal for whom his faith as a Muslim was a significance element. From the historical perspective, the Taj Mahal is inextricably linked with the individual for whom it was built: Mumtaz Mahal. From the scholarly perspective, the Taj Mahal is profoundly associated with Ebba Koch, author of The Complete Taj Mahal (2006) and numerous other studies in which she has helped to decipher the language of Shah-Jahani art and architecture. Without such a body of work, my own would not have been possible. *** A number of others have assisted me in this project. I wish especially to acknowledge Rita Reichert who stood by my side the very first time I “read” the Taj Mahal in 2009, and who has always “prayed” Islamic architecture with me whenever we have traveled together; Reverend Amy Walter-Peterson and Hans Walter-Peterson who provided with me with physical and mental space in their home for writing when I needed it; the Keenan-Martine Foundation whose grant made it possible for me to first set eyes on the Taj Mahal; my third-year Arabic students at St. Bonaventure University who studied and translated the Taj Mahal’s sūrahs with me in class during the spring semester 2019: Amina Golden-Arabaty, Jordan Golden-Arabaty, Emily Palmer, Charles Schwenk, and Shazia Siddiqui, MD. Dr. Siddiqui deserves special thanks for carefully reading through much of my manuscript as first drafted, offering numerous suggestions, although any errors are my own. The librarians of the Friedsam Library, St. Bonaventure University, tirelessly procured books and articles throughout during my research and writing. Their assistance became particularly critical with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic which shut down

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libraries and museums worldwide. I wish to acknowledge the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Bodleian Library for the use of images in their collections. Further afield, Kamran Asif graciously and generously photographed Mughal inscriptions in Lahore for me upon request; Fr. Victor Edwin, SJ, Lecturer, Theology and Christian Muslim Relations, Vidyajoti College of Theology, Delhi, continues to provide me with hospitality whenever I am in Delhi, and has offered considerable assistance during my travels to Agra and beyond. Vasant Kumar Swarnkar, the Superintending Archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India, Agra Circle, literally had doors opened for me during my research in Agra, and Aditya Bhushan, Assistant Archaeologist, also aided me in Agra. Sophie Rudland, Senior Commissioning Editor, Middle East Studies and Islamic Studies, I.B. Tauris, provided patience and critical guidance. Above all, I wish my sincerest gratitude to Dr. Ruby Lal, Professor of South Asia Studies, Emory University, whose generosity of mind and spirit helped to make this publication possible.

NOTES ON TRANSLATION, TRANSLITERATION, AND CONVENTIONS Qur’an I have provided my own translations for all of the Qur’anic texts inscribed on the structures of the Taj Mahal. My aim was to render the texts into idiomatic English so that they make sense to the contemporary reader, avoiding archaisms as much as possible, and offering new interpretations in some cases, while remaining as faithful to the original as possible given the vast differences between Qur’anic Arabic and English. This is no easy feat and I have made great use of a number of translations while crafting my own. These include: ‘Ali, ‘Abdullah Yusuf. The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an. New (10th) edition with revised translation. Beltsville, MD: Amana, 1999. Asad, Muhammad. The Message of the Qur’an. Bristol: The Book Foundation, 2003. Bazargan, Abdolali. In the Presence of the Sublime Qur’an: A Commentary on Part 30, Chapters 78–114. Translated by Mohammad Fani and Amir Douraghy. Laguna Hills, CA: Payam, 2016. Reynolds, Gabriel Said. The Qur’an and the Bible: Text and Commentary. Qur’an translation by Ali Quli Qarai. New Haven: Yale, 2018. Sells, Michael. Approaching the Qur’an: The Early Revelations. Ashland, OR: White Cloud, 1999. The Quran: English Translation, Commentary and Parallel Arabic Text. Maulana Wahhiduddin Khan, trans. Noida: Goodword, 2011. The Qur’an. Alan Jones, trans. Gibb Memorial Trust, 2007. The Qur’an: English Translation and Parallel Arabic Text. M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, trans. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. Al-Qur’an: A Contemporary Translation. Ahmed Ali, trans. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1993. The Study Qur’an: A New Translation and Commentary. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, ed. New York: HarperOne, 2015. In translating and interpreting, I have also made frequent use of the following: ‘Abd Al Baqi, Muhammad Fuad. al-Mu’ajam al-mufahras lī al-fāẓ al-Qu’rān alKarīm. Al-Qāhirah: Dār al-Ḥadīth, 1996. The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, ed. J.M. Cowan. 4th ed. Ithaca: Spoken Language Services, 1994. Omar, Abdul Mannan. The Dictionary of the Holy Qur’an. Hockessin, DE: Noor Foundation, 2003.

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In my translation of the sūrahs, I use “God” instead of Allāh so as to convey continuity with other faith traditions while recognizing theological differences. Moreover, for the purpose of this study, I presume God to be the principal speaker of the Qur’an unless the text indicates otherwise. In referencing the Qur’an, I use the Arabic names of the sūrahs followed by the number assigned to the sūrah, and then the number of the āya (verse), for example, al-Fajr 89.29, according to the 1925 Egyptian edition. Translations of other sources in Arabic are also mine unless other indicated. When transliterating Arabic into the Roman alphabet, I have used the forms and conventions most commonly recognized by Arabic scholars such as detailed in: The Study Qur’an: A New Translation and Commentary (2015). I use diacritics when transliterating Qur’anic terms but selectively for more commonly recognized proper names, titles, and terms. Biblical Texts Translations of passages from the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament are my own. The Chronology of Qur’anic Revelation Gleaning tafsīr (commentaries) and sīrah (lives of the Prophet Muhammad), medieval Muslim scholars drew up lists of the sūrahs of the Qur’an, arranging them in the order in which they were traditionally believed to have been revealed. These classical sources provided the basis for the headings in the Egyptian edition of the Qur’an that provide a title for each sūrah, the place where it was revealed (Mecca or Madinah), and the name of the sūrah that was revealed before it. A somewhat different chronology was proposed by Theodor Nöldeke in his Geschichte des Korans (1860) and amended subsequently by his student Friedrich Schwally and others. The issue of Qur’anic chronology is complex and far from resolved; thus, in my commentary, I indicate where sūrahs appear in both the Egyptian and Nöldeke-Schally chronologies to assist in contextualizing the revelation. For more discussion, see: Neal Robinson’s Discovering the Qur’an: A Contemporary Approach to a Veiled Text (2nd ed., 2003). Historical Sources, Names, and Dates As the focus of this study is the Arabic text of the Qur’an, I decided in most cases not to translate anew historical sources when citing them but have utilized modern translations whenever available. As is well known, many of the chronicles and other works of the Mughal period remain unpublished in their original Persian, and even when published, often they are not easily accessible. Many of the most relevant historical sources for this project have already been ably translated by Begley and Desai in their Taj Mahal volume. When referring to the person whom history calls Shah Jahan, I generally use his given name, Khurram, in discussing the period of his youth until 1617 when his

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father Jahangir bestowed upon him the title Shah Jahan (“The King of the World”). Moreover, I refer to Mumtaz Mahal as Arjumand Banu Begum (“Lady Arjumand”) when relating her early life until 1612 when Shah Jahan conferred on her the honorific name Mumtaz Mahal upon their marriage. Likewise, I refer to the man who is credited with the calligraphy of the Taj Mahal by his given name ‘Abd alḤaqq when discussing his courtly career up until 1632 when he was granted the title of: Amanat Khan (“Trustworthy Noble”). Dates are generally given according to the Gregorian calendar and designated CE. Hijri years are designated AH. Where inscriptions use hijri years, I provided the Gregorian equivalent.

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Part I H ISTORICAL B ACKGROUND

2

Chapter 1 T H E P R I N C E A N D T H E C A L L IG R A P H E R

He was born as the grandson of the reigning emperor Akbar (r. 1556–1605), and the son of the heir-apparent Prince Salim, who would later rule the empire as Jahangir (r. 1605–27). At the time of the boy’s birth on January 15, 1592 CE, Akbar had ruled the Mughal Empire for nearly thirty-six years and was fifty years of age. Prince Salim, age twenty-three, already had two sons, Khusrau (1587–1622) and Parvez (1589–1626) by two other wives. This third son was born to his wife Jagat Gosā’īn, known popularly as Jodh Bai, “the Jodhpur princess,” whom he had married in June 1586. Like his two previous wives, she too was a Hindu princess, the daughter of the Hindu Rajput Udai Singh of Marwar (Jodhpur).1 Salim’s mother, called Maryam-uz-Zamani (“Mary of the Ages”), was also a Rajput princess, the daughter of the ruler of Amer (Jaipur); thus, Salim’s newborn son was, like him, a complex mixture of ethnicities, descended from Central Asian Chaghatay Turks, East Asian Mongols, and Rajasthani Hindu Rajputs. According to the Islamic calendar, the newborn prince was born in the month of Rabi’ al-awwal in the year 1000 after the Hijra. The significance of both the month and the millennial year of the boy did not go unnoticed: The date of his regal birth carries with it such glad tidings, for during this month took place the blessed birth of the Prophet [Muhammad]. It is also a sign of auspiciousness and divine guidance that at the beginning of every millennium a world ruler should come into existence to eradicate rebellion and ignorance from the world.2

Salim wrote that Akbar himself named the newborn prince: 1. Shah Jahan remained aware of his Hindu roots as evidenced by a painting of his maternal grandfather, Udai Singh, the Raja of Jodphur (d. c. 1596) made c. 1650–60, that is sometime during the final decade of Shah Jahan’s reign. See: Elaine Wright, Muraqqa’: Imperial Mughal Albums from the Chester Beatty Library Dublin (Alexandria, VA: Art Services International, 2008), cat. 60 (382). For a second possible portrait of Udai Singh, see: Joan Cummins, Indian Painting: From Cave Temple to the Colonial Period (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 2006), p. 51. 2. The Jahangirnama: Memoirs of Jahangir, Emperor of India, Wheeler M. Thackston, trans. (Washington, DC: Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1999), p. 7.

4

The Language of the Taj Mahal On the third day after his birth His Majesty Arsh-Ashyani [Akbar] went to the palace to feast his eyes upon his world-adorning beauty, and such a celebration was held that the eyes of the world were dazzled. Since his auspicious advent delighted his exalted grandfather so, he named him Sultan Khurram by divine inspiration.3

Days after the birth of Prince Khurram, Akbar gave him into the care of Ruqayya Sultan Begum (c. 1542–26), his first wife who had remained childless.4 Jagat Gosā’īn remained in the zenana (women’s quarters) and resumed her maternal role in the boy’s adolescence after Akbar’s death. As emperor, Shah Jahan is most often associated with Agra (Akbarabad) and Delhi (Shahjahanabad), but he spent the first six years of his life in Lahore which served as one of several imperial capitals. Akbar had left his former capital at Fatehpur Sikri for Lahore in late 1585 in order to secure the empire’s northwestern frontier against the Safavid Empire and the Uzbeks. Lahore served as Akbar’s capital for thirteen years during which time his armies took control of Kabul, Kashmir, Thatta (Lower Sind) and finally Qandahar in 1595, thus creating a realm that extended more than 1,000 miles in breadth and in length. Yet, amid the intensive diplomatic activity and military strategizing at court, Akbar found time to dote on his new grandson. A close bond developed between Khurram and Akbar as Jahangir attests: Little by little as the years progressed real potential was noticed in him. He served my exalted father more and better than any of my sons, and my father was very pleased with him and his service. He always commended him to him. Many times he said, ‘There is no comparison between him and your other sons. I consider him my true son.’5

In 1598, when the boy was just six years old, his father wanted to take him on a military campaign, but Akbar refused: “I do not want Khurram to be a warrior; I want him to be a companion in mysticism.”6 Without a doubt, the earliest influence on Khurram’s spirituality, and perhaps the most enduring, was his grandfather, whose unconventional religious policies and practices have been characterized as mystical, tolerant, open-minded, and inclusive at best,7 or evidence of his 3. Jahangirnama, p. 7. 4. Jahangirnama, p. 46. 5. Jahangirnama, p. 30. 6. Muhammad Sharif Mutamid-Khan, Ahwal al-Shahzadagi Shahjahan (“Description of the Princehood of Shah Jahan”), British Library, MS Or. 3271, f. 6, cited by Fergus Nicoll, Shah Jahan: The Rise and Fall of the Mughal Emperor (London: Haus, 2009), p. 36 (my emphasis). 7. Giorgio Milanetto, “Religion and Religions at Akbar’s Court,” in: Akbar: The Great Emperor of India, ed. Gian Carlo Calza (Milano: Skira, 2012), pp. 53–9; Syed Athar Abbas Rizvi, “Dimensions of Sulh-i Kul (Universal Peace), in: Akbar’s Reign and the Sufi Theory of Perfect Man,” in: Akbar and His Age, ed. Iqtidar Alam Khan (New Delhi: Northern Book Centre, 1999), pp. 3–22; Qamar Adamjee and Audrey Truschke, “Reimagining the ‘Idol Temple of Hindustan:’ Textual and Visual Translation of Sanskrit Texts in Mughal India,” in: Pearls on a String: Artists, Patrons and Poets at the Great Islamic Courts, ed. Amy S. Landau, (Baltimore: Walters Art Museum, 2015), pp. 141–65.

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heterodoxy and apostasy at worst.8 Akbar’s interest in Divine Truth as manifested by the various religions of his realm is demonstrated particularly in his creation of the Ibadat Khana (“house of worship”) at Fatehpur Sikri in 1575, a forum to which clerics and scholars of different faiths were invited to discuss theological matters. This is famously illustrated in a painting from a copy of the Akbarnama.9 In 1582, a decade before Khurram’s birth, Akbar promulgated what has been called the Dīn-i-Ilāhī (“divine religion”) or Tawḥīd-i Ilāhī (“divine unity”), a courtly fraternity based on virtues common to all faiths. The foundational principle of imperial rule henceforth would be ṣulḥ-i kul (“universal peace”), signifying that no individual would be treated prejudicially on the basis of their faith, and everyone would live peacefully and comfortably under the protection of the emperor.10 The same year the Dīn-i-Ilāhī was formulated, Akbar commissioned Persian translations of the great Hindu epics, the Mahabharata (in Persian: Razmnama, “Book of Battles”) and the Ramayana, each illustrated with at least 150 paintings.11 Jahangir described his father’s religious policy in this way: Followers of various religions had a place in the broad scope of his peerless empire—unlike other countries of the world, like Iran, where there is room for only Shiites, and Rum, Turan, and Hindustan, where there is room for only Sunnis. Just as all groups and the practitioners of all religions have a place within the spacious circle of God’s mercy … in my father’s realm, which ended at the salty sea, there was room for practitioners of various sects and beliefs, both true and imperfect, and strife and altercation were not allowed … He conversed with the good of every group, every religion, and every sect and gave his attentions to each in accordance with their station and ability to understand.12 8. See especially Abdul Qadir Badauni, Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh, G.S.A Ranking, trans. (Atlantic: Delhi, 1990). For a more current negative assessment of Akbar’s religious views based on Badauni’s remarks, see: André Wink, Akbar (Oxford: Oneworld, 2009), pp. 88–108. 9. Chester Beatty Library, Dublin (Ms. 3, f. 263v.). For Badauni’s description of the activities in the ‘Ibadat Khana, see: Shireen Moosvi, Episodes in the Life of Akbar: Contemporary Records and Reminiscences (New Delhi: National Book Trust, 1994), pp. 60–4. 10. Ghulam Husain Tabatabai, quoted in: Z.U. Malik, “The Eighteenth Century View of Akbar,” in: Akbar and His Age, ed. Iqtidar Alam Khan (New Delhi: Northern Book Centre, 1999), p. 250. See also: Rajeev Kinra, “Handling Diversity with Absolute Civility: The Global Historical Legacy of Mughal Ṣulḥ-i Kull,” The Medieval History Journal, v. 16, no. 2 (2013), p. 261. 11. J.P. Losty and Malini Roy, Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire (London: British Library, 2012), pp. 28, 55–8, 175–6; Akbar: The Great Emperor of India, pp. 214–16, 272– 3 (v. 20–2); Milo Cleveland Beach, The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court, revised and expanded edition (Washington, DC: Freer, 2012), pp. 85–91; Kjeld Von Folsach, Art from the World of Islam in the David Collection (Copenhagen: F. Hendriksens, 2001), pp. 51, 92–3. 12. Jahangirnama, p. 40.

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The Language of the Taj Mahal

Thus, Akbar appointed for Khurram learned teachers who shared such views. Among them was Mulla Qasim Beg Tabrizi (d. 1599) who, according to Akbar’s chronicler Abu’l-Fazl, “had undergone great sufferings in spiritual contemplation, and many delightful Sufic expressions fell from his lips.”13 Another noteworthy person in Khurram’s education was Shaykh Sufi, a member of the Chishti tariqa (see below). He was the author of a commentary on Ibn ‘Arabi’s (1165–1240) Fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam (“The Bezels of Wisdom”) and leading proponent of waḥdat al-wujūd—“the Oneness of Being.” Derived from Ibn ‘Arabi’s thought, the term signifies that there is only one Existence, one wujūd that is God. Thus, although humans perceive multiplicity in the phenomenal world—different peoples, races, cultures, classes, religions, etc.—true existence belongs to God alone. Every person and thing only reflect to a greater or lesser degree the Existence of the One, and thus all is one in the One. In the words of Ibn ‘Arabi: “Certainly, there is nothing in existence except God Most High, His attributes, and His actions. Everything is He, and of Him and from Him and to Him.”14 This doctrine, it was argued, is expressed in the Qur’an: “Everything upon earth is undergoing annihilation (fanā), but there subsists (baqā’) the countenance of your Lord” (al-Raḥmān 55.26–27); and: “Everything will perish except His countenance” (al-Qaṣaṣ 28.88). While waḥdat al-wujūd was a commonly held belief by the adherents of Chishti Sufism, it was rejected by the Naqshbandiyya, who were rebuffed by Akbar, and later Jahangir and Shah Jahan.15 As was his custom, Shaykh Sufi began his lessons with Prince Khurram with a reading from the Maktubat (“Letters”) of Sharfuddin Ahmad ibn Yahya Maneri (c. 1263–1381). Taken together, Maneri’s letters serve as a guidebook for those who endeavor to follow a Sufi path, addressing such topics as repentance, discipleship, holiness, and union with God. The very first of his letters addresses the concept of divine unity, and the stages of belief, culminating in an all-encompassing perception of God alone: “When ‘I’ and the ‘You’ have

13. Abu’l-Fazl, The Akbarnama of Abu-l-Fazl, H. Beveridge, trans. (Delhi: Low Price, 2013 reprint), v. III, pp. 1122–3 (my emphasis). Abu’l-Fazl was himself heavily influenced by Sufi shaykhs including Ibn ‘Arabi. See: Harbans Mukhia, “A Rationality Immersed in Religiosity: Reason and Religiosity in Abu’l-Fazl’s Oeuvre,” The Medieval History Journal, v. 23, no. 1 (2020), pp. 50–73. 14. Ibn ‘Arabi, Journey to the Lord of Power: A Sufi Manual on Retreat, Rabia Terri Harris, trans. (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International, 1989), p. 25. 15. As indicated in my previous study of Shah Jahan’s alleged orthodoxy, there is no reliable evidence that Shah Jahan was a follower or supporter of the Naqshbandi Sufi Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi (1574–1624) or any of his disciples. All the references connecting Shah Jahan to mujaddidi Sufis—i.e., proponents of Sirhindi’s views—come from hagiographical works that endeavor to legitimize the Naqshbandis. See: Michael Calabria, “The Unorthodox Orthodoxy of Shah Jahan: A Reassessment of His Religiosity,” South Asia: Journal of South Asia Studies, v. 41, no. 3 (September 2018), pp. 579–600. See also: Saiyid Athar Abbas Rizvi, Muslim Revivalist Moments in Northern India in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1965; 2014 reprint), pp. 407–10.

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passed away, God alone will remain.”16 For the rest of his life, the prince (and later emperor) would be drawn to holy men who were adherents of waḥdat al-wujūd. In addition to Muslim shaykhs and scholars, Khurram had the opportunity to meet Portuguese Jesuits from Goa whom Akbar had first invited to the court at Fatehpur Sikri (1580–3). A second mission of Jesuits came to Lahore in 1591–2, and then again in 1595. This third mission, led by Fr. Jerome Xavier, a nephew of the missionary saint Francis Xavier (1506–52), was the most influential and established the Jesuit presence at the Mughal court for the next two hundred years. Akbar employed Fr. Antonio Monserrate to tutor his son Murad (1570–99) in the basics of Christianity. When Akbar departed from Lahore in September 1598 for Agra on route to the Deccan, the Jesuit fathers went with him, and when he returned to Agra, they settled there with the emperor’s permission and support. Thus, Jesuits appear in Mughal paintings and drawings, sometimes among the crowds of courtiers or even as the principal subject. The religious artwork they brought with them from Europe as an aid to conversion had an enormous influence on Mughal court painting through the reign of Shah Jahan. While Akbar’s relationship with his grandson Khurram seems to have been quite close, this was not the case with his own sons: Salim, Murad, and Daniyal, all of whom were heavy drinkers and thus often erratic and irresponsible in their behavior, unable perhaps to live up to their father’s expectations. Before leaving Agra for the campaign against the Deccan sultanate of Ahmednagar in spring 1599, Akbar learned that his son Murad, who was in charge of the Deccan campaign, had died as a result of depression and drinking. Daniyal, who was sent to the battlefront in lieu of his brother, also later succumbed to death from alcoholism (d. 1605). Reluctant to leave his oldest son Salim alone in the capital, Akbar sent him back to Ajmer in order to finish the campaign against Rana Amar Singh of Mewar. Salim’s sons—Khusrau, Parvez, and Khurram—did not go with their father, however; instead, Akbar took his grandsons with him to the Deccan. Akbar was perhaps shielding the boys from their father whose “drunkenness and bad companionship did not distinguish between his own good and evil;”17 or he might have sensed that Salim was planning a rebellion—and that is precisely what happened. In summer 1600, Jahangir attempted to take control of Agra, but was unsuccessful and proceeded to Allahabad, about 300 miles to the southeast, where he set up his own court, “adopted the panoply of royalty and regality and gave the liege of men of his court the titles of khan and sultan.”18 Salim went so far as to order the assassination of Abu’l-Fazl, his father’s trusted official and chronicler, in 1602. A final reconciliation between father and son was only achieved when Salim 16. Sharafuddin Maneri: The Hundred Letters, trans. Paul Jackson, S.J. (New York: Paulist, 1980), p. 13. A thorough examination of the contents of these letters and their possible influence on the young Shah Jahan would be useful. See also: Saiyid Athhar Abbas Rizvi, A History of Sufism in India, vol. 2: From Sixteenth Century to Modern Century (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 2002), p. 288. 17. Akbarnama (Beveridge), v. 3, p. 1140. 18. Jahangirnama, p. 10.

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returned to Agra due to the death of his grandmother, Hamida (Maryam-Makani), the wife of Humayun (c. August–September 1604). Until this time, Khurram and his brothers had been in their grandfather’s custody for nearly five years. In the preface to the Jahangirnama, Muhammad-Hadi noted that Khurram remained close to Akbar through the emperor’s final days, and poignantly describes the prince’s attachment to his grandfather even as he lay dying: Prince Khurram willingly took charge of tending him in his illness … With firm heart and unshakeable resolve, prince Khurram stood his ground in the midst of enemies and malevolents and refused to leave his grandfather. Although his mother sent numerous messages telling him that it was not prudent to remain where he was in such a time of turmoil and unrest, he refused to leave. Finally, at the command of his father and mother, he went to His Highness [Jahangir], but no matter how strenuously he insisted on taking him away, Khurram would not consent to go. In reply he said, ‘As long as there is a breath of life left in my grandfather, there is no possibility of my being separated from him.’19

It was after Akbar’s death in October 1605 when Khurram was thirteen years of age, that he returned to his mother’s care.20 A few years after he ascended the throne as Shah Jahan, he remembered his grandfather by commissioning a portrait (c. 1630) of the deceased emperor. The painting depicts Akbar imbuing peace to the world, symbolized by a recumbent calf and lion, his head encircled by a golden halo, while cherubs fill the heavens with music and bear a crown for the ruler. In his hands he holds prayer beads (misbaḥah/subḥah) that he offers to the viewer—the painting’s patron, Shah Jahan. Shah Jahan himself captioned the portrait: “the work of Govardhan.”21 It is likely that Akbar had first instructed the young prince to pray with misbaḥah, a devotion Shah Jahan would continue to the end of his life. Later in his reign Shah Jahan commissioned a painting of himself (c. 1645) as a young mustachioed prince sitting with his grandfather, his hands outstretched to Akbar, perhaps meant to signify not merely that he received political legitimacy from his grandfather, but spiritual truths as well.22 Another portrait of exceptional quality from the Late Shah Jahan Album (c. 1650) depicts Akbar holding a sarpech.23 Sometime later, Shah Jahan commissioned yet another 19. Jahangirnama, pp. 17–18. 20. Munis D. Faruqui, The Princes of the Mughal Empires (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 2015), p. 71. 21. MMA 55.121.10.22v. Stuart Cary Welch et al., The Emperor’s Album: Images of Mughal India (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987), p. 96, no. 9. 22. Late Shah Jahan Album, Musée des Arts Asiatiques-Guimet, Paris, Inv. MA3543 (App. 3.54). See: Wright, Murraqa’, 125, fig. 25. Cf. Guillaume Metayer, “Pages Indienne du Musée Guimet: Akbar et Shah Jahan,” Florilèges, 11 janvier 2017: (https://florilegeseclou. com/2017/01/11/pages-indiennes-du-musee-guimet-akbar-et-shah-jahan/). Note that Shah Jahan appears as a mature prince rather than an adolescent as he was when Akbar died. 23. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian, S1986.402. See: Beach, The Imperial Image, p. 116 (cat. 21E).

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portrait of Akbar, depicting the emperor on horseback holding a hunting falcon, undoubtedly placed in the album opposite a similar portrait of Shah Jahan.24 These paintings provide compelling evidence for Shah Jahan’s enduring memory of his beloved grandfather and, I would suggest, Akbar’s enduring influence on Shah Jahan’s faith and spirituality. After the death of Akbar, it is more difficult to document the influences on Prince Khurram’s personality and spirituality. Certainly, his father—now emperor Jahangir—also was drawn to Sufism and its shaykhs. This is suggested by several works of art including a painting (c. 1615–18) that depicts Jahangir preferring a Sufi shaykh to kings.25 Ignoring figures of the Ottoman Sultan, King James I of England, and a Hindu, Jahangir instead gives his attention to the Chishti Shakyh Husain, conferring a book upon the holy man. The accompanying inscription says of Jahangir: “Although in form kings stand before him, nonetheless on content he always keeps his regard upon dervishes.” In another painting (1611–12 CE), we see Jahangir bestowing books on several shaykhs, most likely illustrating an event at Ahmadabad in February 1618.26 Immediately to the left of the emperor stands his 26-year-old son, Shah Jahan. Like Akbar, Jahangir was open to expressions of Divine Wisdom beyond Islam, a notion commonly held by Chishti Sufis. On several occasions, he took counsel with a Hindu ascetic named Gosā’īn Jadrup from the city of Ujjain, whom Akbar had previously visited. Jahangir wrote after his first visit with the hermit: “He is not devoid of learning and has studied well the science of the Vedanta, which is the science of Sufism.”27 A painting (c. 1620) depicts one of their meetings outside Jadrup’s cave.28 Several years before meeting Jadrup, Jahangir had commissioned an illustrated edition of Baḥr al-ḥayat (“The Ocean of Life”), a guide to yoga postures (asanas) written by the Sufi Shaykh Muhammad Ghawth Gwaliyari (d. 1563).29 Khurram barely had time to mourn his grandfather’s passing and see his father enthroned as emperor that a new family crisis arose: Khusrau, Khurram’s eldest brother, aged eighteen, openly rebelled against his father. There was a rivalry between Jahangir and his son Khusrau that was certainly exacerbated by the years they had been separated during Jahangir’s rebellion against Akbar. Khusrau found sufficient support among Jahangir’s opponents such that he believed a coup could be successful. Under the pretext of visiting Akbar’s gravesite in Sikandra, just seven miles from Agra, Khusrau fled to Lahore with his supporters in April 1606. The city held out against him, however, and he was 24. CBL In 07B.21. See: Wright, Muraqqa’, p. 366 (no. 55). 25. Freer F1942.15. Beach, The Imperial Image, pp. 126–8 (cat. no. 22C). 26. Freer 1931.20. Beach, Imperial Image, pp. 129–30 (cat. no. 22D). See also: Jahangirnama, pp. 251–2. 27. Jahangirnama, p. 209. 28. Paris, Musée des Arts asiatiques—Guimet (85EE1944). See: Jahangirnama, p. 312. 29. Chester Beatty Library, Dublin. Yoga: The Art of Transformation, Debra Diamond, ed. (Washington, DC: Sakcler Gallery, 2013).

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eventually captured by imperial troops. Brought in chains before his father, he was blinded and imprisoned in the mountain fortress of Gwalior, 120 kilometers south of Agra, but he remained a threat to his father’s rule and Khurram’s succession for years to come. In August 1606, Khurram arrived in Lahore with the rest of the royal household. For the adolescent prince, his return to Lahore was something of a homecoming. The city of his childhood now became the city of his entrance into adult life for shortly thereafter Khurram entered into what was to become the most significant relationship of his life: he was betrothed to Arjumand Banu Begum (1592–1631). She hailed from a Persian immigrant family that had first risen to prominence at the Mughal court. Her paternal grandparents Ghiyas Beg (d. 1622) and Asmat Begum (d. 1621) had emigrated from Safavid Persia during Akbar’s reign, as had her maternal grandfather Ghiyasuddin ‘Ali Qazwini (d. 1581 CE). Ghiyas Beg became an official at court under Akbar and was elevated with the title I’timād ud-daula—“the pillar of the state”—soon after Jahangir ascended the throne. Ghiyasuddin, on the other hand, had entered the military and distinguished himself in the campaign to conquer Gujarat, for which Akbar awarded him the title Asaf Khan, the same designation that Arjumand’s father Abu’l Hasan (son of Ghiyas Beg) was later awarded by Jahangir.30 Tradition has it that the young couple met and fell in love at the Meena Bazaar, an event held during the festivities of Nauroz, the Persian New Year, by which the daughters of nobility could interact less formally with eligible princes. The official account, couched by Shah Jahan’s court historian Qazwini in the most mellifluous words, makes their engagement the expressed desire of both the emperor and the prince: In short, His Majesty Jannat Makani [Jahangir], who, with his illuminating intelligence, possessed clear knowledge of inked letters inscribed [by Destiny] on the foreheads of people, and who accordingly could determine their futures from the pages of their foreheads, since he observed the lustre of happy fortune and worthiness on the shining forehead of that second Maryam, Mumtaz al-Zamani [Arjumand], he found that bright Venus of the sphere of chastity to be worthy of conjunction with that Auspicious Star of the sky of fortune [Shah Jahan]. Therefore, in the Nauroz days of the second year of the auspicious Jahangiri accession, which was the commencement year of the spring of fortune and sovereignty of his Majesty the King [Shah Jahan], he conceived the idea, in the 30. For the story of Ghiyas Beg and Asmat Begum, see: Ruby Lal, Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan (New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2018). For Ghiyasuddin ‘Ali Qazwini, see: Abul-Fazl Allami, The A-in-i-Akbari, trans. H. Blochmann (Delhi: Low Price, 2014), v. 1, pp. 398 and 479 (no. 126); and Nawwāb Ṣamṣāmuddaula Shāh Nawāz Khān, The Maāthir-ul-Umarā, H. Beveridge, trans. 2nd ed. Revised by Baini Prashad (1941; Reprint: Kolkata: Asiatic Society 2003), v. 1, pp. 280–2. (Footnote no. 4 is erroneous, however; see p. 288, footnote no. 1 for correct information.) Ghiyasuddin ‘Ali’s wife is not mentioned in Mughal historical sources, and thus her country of origin is unknown.

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Abode of Sovereignty, Lahore, of grafting that rose of the garden of chastity and perfection with that fresh bush of the orchard of dignity and pomp.31

Whether a chance meeting at the Meena Bazaar or a deliberate match with a young girl from a prominent family, or a combination thereof, there can no doubt that that Arjumand—later designated Mumtaz Mahal—became the prince’s constant companion, stalwart supporter, the great love of his life, and the mother of fourteen of his children. Yet, the young couple would have to wait another five years before the marriage was celebrated for the reputation of Arjumand’s family was suddenly dealt a serious blow. Her paternal uncle, Muhammad Sharif, was implicated in a plot, hatched by Khusrau’s remaining supporters, to assassinate the emperor. He was found guilty and executed while his father I’timad ud-daula also came under suspicion and was temporarily relieved of his post and arrested. I’timad ud-daula’s daughter (and Arjumand’s aunt), Mihr al-Nisa, was married to another suspected conspirator, ‘Ali Quli Beg, a Mughal official who served in Bengal. He was killed resisting arrest, and she was taken along with their daughter to Agra where they became part of the imperial harem once the royal family returned from Lahore in 1608. This was just the beginning of Mihr’s remarkable life at the Mughal court where she would be later called Nur Jahan. After members of Arjumand’s family were accused of conspiring against the emperor in the name of Khusrau, Jahangir thought it best to postpone Khurram’s marriage to the girl, and instead proceeded to arrange a marriage for his son with the daughter of Mirza Muzaffar Hussain, descended from Shah Isma’il I, founder of the Persian Safavid dynasty. Since the Mughals and the Safavids had just recently fought for control Qandahar, the marriage served a diplomatic purpose. The couple were betrothed in December 1609 and married in October 1610. The woman known only in Mughal sources as Qandahari Begum gave birth to a daughter whom Jahangir named Parhez. Jahangir then promoted Khurram in rank to 10,000, and then 2,000 more in the following year. The prince’s star was quickly ascending. Finally, on May 10, 1612 CE (9 Rabi’ I 1021 AH), the marriage between Prince Khurram, now twenty years of age, and Arjumand, age nineteen, was celebrated in Agra. The restoration of her family name had been accomplished the year before when Jahangir married Arjumand’s aunt, Mihr al-Nisa, who henceforth was called Nur Jahan—“Light of the world.” Upon her marriage to Khurram, Arjumand too was given a new title: Mumtaz Mahal—“The Chosen One of the Palace” (pl. 1). A year later, the young couple delighted in the birth of their first of fourteen children—a daughter called Hur al-Nisa. In the same year, Khurram met the man who play a significant role in memorializing Mumtaz some eighteen years later: the calligrapher ‘Abd al-Haqq Shirazi. *** 31. Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 2. Muhammad Amin Qazwini was appointed court historian in January 1636. He chronicled the first ten years of Shah Jahan’s reign in a work titled Padshah Nama before being replaced by ‘Abd al-Hamid Lahori c. 1638.

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Soon after the royal family returned to Agra in March 1608, two new Persian emigrès arrived in Surat on India’s west coast: ‘Allamī Mullā Shukrullah Shirazi (c. 1570–1639) and his brother ‘Abd al-Haqq Shirazi (c. 1572/3?–1644/5). As their toponymic surname indicates, they came from the city of Shiraz. The home of renowned poets Sa’di (c.1210–92) and Hafiz (1315–1390), Shiraz had developed in the fourteenth century into a center renowned for producing ornately illuminated works of poetry, literature, historical chronicles, and Qur’ans, and continued to be so in the Safavid period.32 Celebrated for its intellectual milieu, the city was dubbed “the abode of learning” (Dar al-ilm), and maintained commercial and cultural contacts through the Persian Gulf with India’s western and southern coasts.33 ‘Abd al-Haqq sometimes identifies himself as the “son of Qasim Shirazi,” perhaps the same Qasim, whose name appears as calligrapher (kātib) in a copy of Nizami’s Khamsah made in Shiraz in 992 AH (1584 CE).34 It thus appears likely that ‘Abd al-Haqq was trained in the art of calligraphy by his father, but through his brother Shukrullah’s connections, he also likely had access to the most renowned Safavid calligrapher ‘Ali Reza Abbasi (d. c. 1628?). Shukrullah successfully served powerful nobles in the Safavid Empire including Farhad Khan Qaramanlu, the commander-in-chief of Shah ‘Abbas’ army.35 ‘Ali Reza Abbasi also served Farhad Khan (1591–3), but then entered the Shah’s service in 1593. Among his first major projects were the inscriptions for the Shaykh Lutfallah Mosque in Isfahan (1603– 19).36 As will be demonstrated, ‘Abd al-Haqq’s later designs at the Taj Mahal bear

32. Eaine Wright, The Look of the Book: Manuscript Production in Shiraz, 1303–452 (Washington, DC: Freer Gallery of Art, 2012); Lâle Uluç, “Selling to the Court: LateSixteenth-Century Manuscript Production in Shiraz,” Muqarnas, v. 17 (2000), pp. 73–96; “Shiraz,” in: The Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture, ed. Jonathan Bloom and Sheila Blair (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), v. 3, pp. 206–8; Massumeh Farhad and Simon Rettig, The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts (Washington, DC: Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 2016), pp. 107–10. 33. Ali Anooshahr, “Shirazi Scholars and the Political Culture of the Sixteenth-century Indo-Persian World,” The Indian Economic and Social History Review, v. 51, no. 3 (2014), pp. 331–52. 34. University of Pennsylvania Museum, NEP33.328: https://www.penn.museum/ collections/object_images.php?irn=541440; Wayne E. Begley, “Amanat Khan and the Calligraphy of the Taj Mahal,” Kunst des Orients, v. 12, h. 1/2 (1978/1979), p. 24 and pl. 21; Laurence Binyon, J.V.S. Wilkinson, and Basil Gray, Persian Miniature Painting (New York: Dover, 1971), pl. CII, p. 146 (no. 223). 35. Mollā ‘Abd-al-Bāqī Nehāvandī, Ma’āter-e Raḥīmī, M. Hidayat Husain, ed., 3 vols., (Kolkata: Bibliotheca Indica, 1910–1931), v. 3, pp. 27–30; Maāthir-ul-Umarā, v. 1, pp. 148– 53; Rajeev Kinra, “The Learned Ideal of the Mughal Wazīr: The Life and Intellectual World of Prime Minister Afzal Khan Shirazi (d. 1639),” in: Secretaries and Statecraft in the Early Modern World, ed. Paul Dover (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016), pp. 177–205. 36. Sheila R. Canby, Shah ‘Abbas: The Remaking of Iran (London: British Museum, 2009), 28–7, 42–4, 193–4.

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many elements in common with ‘Ali Reza’s designs at the Lutfallah Mosque, both in terms of calligraphic style and content, such that a connection between the two artists seems likely. For reasons unknown, perhaps connected to Farhad Khan’s fall from power, the Shirazi brothers decided to seek their fortunes in the Mughal Empire, emigrating presumably together c. 1608. At Surat, the Mughal Empire met the mercantile might of the Portuguese Empire that controlled much of the trade and sea travel from the Indian Ocean to the Strait of Hormuz. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, however, the English East India Company began to send its ships to India’s western coast.37 Thus, we have several firsthand descriptions of Surat from Englishmen, including that of Captain William Hawkins. His vessel, the Hector, was the first ship to display the English flag on India’s coast when it landed at Surat’s harbor in August 1608— perhaps the same year that Mulla Shukrullah and ‘Abd al-Haqq arrived in India. William Finch, who also arrived on the Hector, likewise wrote an account of his travels.38 These accounts are particularly useful as the two Englishmen traveled the same roads to the Mughal court as did the Shirazi brothers, met the same officials, and thus likely even crossed paths. While European ships braved the summer monsoon winds in the Indian Ocean so as to be swept northeastward from Africa to the Indian coast, Finch informs us that ships from Hormuz (Ormus)—the route by which the Shirazi brothers would have come—generally arrived in Surat in November, thereby avoiding the rainy season when travel by both sea and land was difficult.39 Like many who disembarked at Surat, the Shirazi brothers would have then traveled eastward by caravan along the Tapti River to Burhanpur, a journey of some 250 miles that took fifteen to seventeen days to complete according to the English accounts. Burhanpur had only recently been conquered by Akbar (1601), but immediately it became the empire’s southern base for military campaigns against the Deccan Sultanates which resisted Mughal rule over them. Burhanpur was also a thriving commercial center, known particularly for textiles that were exported from Surat westward to Persia, Arabia, and Turkey, and eastward to Java and Sumatra.40 Beyond its strategic and commercial importance, the city was an essential link in the caravan route from Surat to the imperial capital at Agra, 37. John Keay, The Honourable Company: A History of the English East India Company (London: HarperCollins, 1991). 38. Early Travels in India, 1583–619, Sir William Foster, ed. (London: Forgotten Books, 2012; Oxford, 1921). 39. Early Travels, p. 135. For a geographical and historical description of Surat, see: Balkrishna Govind Gokhale, Surat in the Seventeenth Century: A Study in Urban History of Pre-Modern India (Scandinavian Institute of Asian Studies Monograph Series, no. 28), (London: Curzon, 1978). See also: Edward A. Alpers, The Indian Ocean in World History (Oxford: University Press, 2014). 40. B.G. Gokhale, “Burhanpur: Notes on the History of an Indian City in the XVIIth Century,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, v. 15, no. 3 (December 1972), pp. 316–23.

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located some 480 miles to the northeast of Burhanpur. Shukrullah, however, did not proceed to Agra for while in Burhanpur he met ‘Abd al-Raḥīm (1556–1627), a royal official who bore the title Khān Khānān,41 and soon entered his service. Emperor Jahangir had dispatched Khan Khanan to the Deccan in November 1608 to deal with the insurgency that followed the death of Akbar.42 William Hawkins had also met Khan Khanan when he was in Burhanpur in February 1609. The viceroy had received the Englishman hospitably, feted him generously, gifted him with two fine cloaks, and furnished him with a letter of introduction to present to the emperor in Agra. Khan Khanan was related by marriage to the Mughal dynasty, and like many at the Mughal court, he combined military prowess with a refined erudition. He wrote Persian, Turkish, Arabic, and Hindi with great fluency,43 and had translated Babur’s memoirs from Turkic to Persian for Emperor Akbar. Moreover, he patronized other promising men of letters including the recent Persian arrival, Mulla Shukrullah Shirazi. Shukrullah’s brother ‘Abd al-Haqq was not to stay at Burhanpur with his brother, however. He apparently continued on to Agra via caravan, a journey that took about a month. Undoubtedly furnished with a letter of introduction from Khan Khanan such as had been provided to William Hawkins, ‘Abd al-Haqq promptly secured a position as Jahangir’s court calligrapher. If the Shirazi brothers did not have contacts at court prior to their arrival in Hindustan, they were certainly in the right places at the right times. In March 1608, perhaps just months before the brothers landed at Surat (assuming they landed in November 1608), Jahangir, having returned to Agra, was finally able to visit his father’s funerary complex, which was under construction in Sikandra near Agra. Upon seeing the structure, however, he was distressed to find that “the builders had constructed it according to their own tastes.” Thus, he ordered significant modifications to be made, “this time in consultation with men of knowledge,” and additions, including a “huge and very tall gateway complete with minarets.”44 Sometime during his stay in Agra (April 1609–November 1611) William Hawkins visited the site, noting that: “the least that work there daily are three thousand people.”45 It seems that ‘Abd al-Haqq Shirazi arrived in Agra as the additions to Akbar’s monument were being planned, and promptly secured the position of calligrapher, a remarkable appointment for a new émigré from Persia, perhaps aided by ‘Ali Reza Abbasi at the Safavid court. It is ‘Abd al-Haqq’s texts that would be carved in raised relief on the white marble panels on the southern and northern façades of the gateway (Figure 1). The inscriptional program on the gateway is quite extensive, especially in comparison to Humayun’s funerary edifice in Delhi that bears no texts whatsoever. Perhaps it was through ‘Abd al-Haqq’s initiative that the decision was made to include a 41. A-in-i Akbari, vol. 1, p. 355. 42. Jahangirnama, 99. Khān Khānān’s arrival in the Deccan provides us with a terminus post quem for the arrival of the Shirazi brothers in India. 43. A-in-i Akbari, vol. 1, p. 360. 44. Jahangirnama, p. 99. 45. Early Travels, p. 120.

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Figure 1  Gateway of Akbar’s funerary complex, Sikandra (1613 CE). Author’s photograph.

lengthy Persian paean of praise to Akbar that he composed and rendered into elegant thuluth calligraphy—henceforth his signature style. Jahangir mentions neither the inscriptions on Akbar’s gateway nor the calligrapher in his memoirs, but he must have been impressed with ‘Abd al-Haqq’s work as the calligrapher was allowed to insert his name in three places in the texts: twice on the left jamb of the gateway’s southern façade, and a third time on the northern façade.46 While one of colophons on the southern façade is small and turned vertically to fit into the line of text, the other two colophons—on the southern and northern facades, respectively—are quite prominent and visually indistinguishable in size and style from the rest of the text (Figure 2). All three colophons bear a distinctive form of the letter fā’ in which the “tail” of the letter is turned backwards and drawn out into a horizontal line running underneath the numerals of the year—a distinctive element later seen in his colophon in the central chamber of the Taj Mahal, perhaps learned from ‘Ali Reza Abbasi who employed the same device at the Lutfallah Mosque and in works on paper.47 The

46. Edmund W. Smith, Akbar’s Tomb, Sikandarah, Near Agra. Archaeological Survey of India, vol. 35 (New Delhi: Archaeological Survey of India, 1909; 1994 reprint), pp. 33–5. 47. Canby, Shah ‘Abbas, pp. 206–7 (cat. no. 99).

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Figure 2  Colophon of ‘Abd al-Haqq Shirazi, Gateway of Akbar’s Tomb complex, Sikandra. Dated 1022 AH (1613 CE). Author’s photograph.

date of the completion of Akbar’s gateway—1022 AH (1613 CE)48—appears along with ‘Abd al-Haqq’s name and indicates that he must have started composing and designing the texts very soon after he arrived at Agra’s court sometime early in 1609. The completion of the work on Akbar’s funerary complex in 1613 perhaps coincided with the commemoration (‘urs) of his death, which fell on July 21 that year. Rather than going to Sikandra for the occasion, Jahangir instead sent Prince Khurram to honor Akbar’s memory with prayer, a repast, and alms for faqirs (itinerant holy men) and those in need.49 As described above, Khurram had a particularly close relationship with his grandfather, and had been greatly affected by his death, so undoubtedly, he would have undertaken the task with the dignity and solemnity that it merited. It seems most likely that the twentyone-year-old prince first met the calligrapher ‘Abd al-Haqq during this gathering, perhaps introduced by his brother Shukrullah who was already in Shah Jahan’s service.50 Thus began the association between the Persian calligrapher and the 48. Smith’s date is incorrect in this instance as photographs prove. See: Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 251, fig. 141. 49. Jahangirnama, pp. 147–8. 50. According to the Maāthir-ul-Umarā, Afzal Khan (i.e., Mulla Shukrullah) was in Shah Jahan’s service for twenty-eight years. If this is accurate, he would have started serving Shah Jahan in 1611, dying twenty-eight years later in 1639.

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prince (later emperor) that culminated in the design of the “illumined tomb” for Mumtaz Mahal, eighteen years later. Strangely, after completing his monumental calligraphy at Sikandra, ‘Abd alHaqq seems to vanish from the historical record for a period of fifteen years, until the ascension of Shah Jahan to the throne. There are no other known signed works by him from the reign of Jahangir, and his whereabouts during this period are unknown. The details of his brother’s activities, which are better documented, allow us to propose some possibilities, however. *** Even as ‘Abd al-Haqq composed the texts and designed the calligraphy for Akbar’s gateway near Agra, his brother Shukrullah continued to move into the inner circle of military and political power. Having already served Khan Khanan in Burhanpur, he become one of Khurram’s most trusted aides as the prince increasingly took to the battlefield on behalf of the emperor. In December 1613, Jahangir sent Khurram to lead a campaign against an old enemy: Rana Amar Singh, the Rajput ruler of Mewar. While still prince, Jahangir had led the campaign against Mewar on his father’s behalf but had left the deed half-done (in his own words), choosing instead to rebel against Akbar. Now it fell to Khurram to complete the task. At age twenty-one, it was his first true command and he succeeded brilliantly. During the campaign, Mulla Shukrullah Shirazi had conveyed dispatches from Khurram to Jahangir, and the terms of surrender to the Rana. It was undoubtedly due to Khurram’s influence that Jahangir awarded Shukrullah the title of Afẓal Khān (“Superior Master”) in 1615.51 His service during the Mewar campaign was remembered decades later (c. 1640) in a painting for an edition of the Padshahnama, now in the collection of the Windsor Castle Royal Library. It depicts the submission of Rana Amar Singh, the Rajput ruler of Mewar, to Prince Khurram in February 1615. Afzal Khan is prominent in the composition, standing close to the throne witnessing the event.52 He also appears with other notable courtiers in two paintings (c. 1635 and 1640) depicting Jahangir receiving Prince Khurram on his return from the campaign,53 as well as in numerous other scenes from the Padshahnama. During the years of the Mewar campaign, Jahangir’s court resided in Ajmer, home of the shrine of Mu’inuddin Chishti. As the name of the order indicates, the Chishti order of Sufis was founded in Chisht—some ninety-five miles east of Herat—in the tenth century CE. In the twelfth century, Mu’inuddin introduced Chishti Sufism to Delhi, and then to Ajmer where he settled and was buried

51. Jahangirnama, p. 164; Maāthir-ul-Umarā, v. 1, p. 149. 52. Milo Cleveland Beach and Ebba Koch, King of the World: The Padshahnama, an Imperial Mughal Manuscript from the Royal Library, Windsor Castle, Wheeler Thackston, trans. (London: Azimuth, 1997), no. 6. 53. Beach and Koch, King of the World, nos. 5 and 38.

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(d. 1236).54 It is said he described true worship as: “To listen to the plight of the oppressed, to help the needy and to fill the stomachs of the hungry,”55 and thus is commonly called Khwaja Gharib Nawaz, “the Master, the Patron of the Poor.” Ajmer became an important shrine visited by India’s Muslim royalty who wished to express their devotion to Khwaja and their charity to the poor and needy. A painting from the Jahangirnama depicts Jahangir approaching the shrine’s entrance in 1613 accompanied by Prince Khurram.56 While in residence at Ajmer, Khurram’s wife Mumtaz Mahal gave birth to a daughter, Jahanara (b. 1614), and a son, Dara Shukoh (b. 1615)—two children who would later embrace Chishti and Qadiri Sufism,57 and to whom Shah Jahan was particularly close—personally and spiritually. Jahanara was devoted to Mu’inuddin Chishti as evidenced by her biography of the Khwaja (and other Chishti saints) titled Mu’nis al-arvāḥ (“The Confidant of Spirits”) completed in 1640,58 and the white marble porch she had built at the main entrance to the saint’s tomb known as the Begumī Dālān.59 Upon her death in 1681, she was buried in a simple grave in Delhi, near the tomb of the renowned Chishti Shaykh Nizamuddin Auilya (1242–1325). Her epitaph describes her as: “Disciple of the Lords of Chisht.”60 Before departing for the Mewar campaign, Khurram had vowed, if victorious, to donate a thousand gold coins to the shrine of Mu’inuddin Chishti. He returned to Ajmer in March 1615 to donate the coins as promised, and then vowed to build a new mosque within the shrine complex. Several things delayed the fulfillment of this vow, however, for more than a decade, particularly military campaigns he led at the request of his father. After Khurram’s success against Mewar, in October 1616 Jahangir gave him command of another campaign underway in the Deccan which, under the command of Prince Parvez, had faltered. Before Khurram departed, Jahangir 54. Babli Parveen, “The Eclectic Spirit of Sufism in India: An Appraisal,” Social Scientist, v. 42, no. 11/12 (November–December 2014), p. 43; Carl Ernst “Chishti Meditation Practices of the Later Mughal Period,” in: The Heritage of Sufism, v. 3: Late Classical Persianate Sufism, 1501–1750 (Oxford: Oneworld, 1999), pp. 344–5. 55. Siyar al-Awliyā, cited in: P.M. Currie, The Shrine and Cult of Mu’īn al-dīn Chishtī of Ajmer (New Delhi: Oxford, 1989), p. 29. 56. Barbara Schmitz and Ziyaud-Din A. Desai, Mughal and Persian Paintings and Illuminated Manuscripts in the Raza Library, Rampur (New Delhi: Indira Gandhi Centre for the Arts, 2006), pp. 15–16 and pl. 2. 57. The Qadiriyya Order was founded in Baghdad by Shaykh ‘Adul-Qadir Jilani (1078– 1166 CE) and was introduced into South Asia in the early fifteenth century. Like the Chistiyya, the Qadiriyya were ardent proponents of waḥdat al-wujūd. 58. Ursula Sims-Wiiliams, “Princess Jahanara’s Biography of a Sufi Saint,” British Library, Asian and African studies blog, February 1, 2013 (http://blogs.bl.uk/asian-andafrican/2013/02/princess-jahanaras-biography-of-a-sufi-saint.html). 59. Currie, Shrine and Cult, p. 109; Dhaul, Sufi Shrine, pp. 64–5. 60. Translation by Carl W. Ernst in: Camille Adams Helminski, Women of Sufism: A Hidden Treasure (Boston: Shambhala, 2003), p. 129.

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honored his son by awarding him the title Shah which was to be added to his name as: Shah Sultan Khurram. Afzal Khan (Shukrullah) again accompanied the prince, serving as the envoy to the Sultanate of Bijapur. Another important figure in Khurram’s military circle was the general Shahnawaz Khan, the son of Khan Khanan (see above). Khurram strengthened his bond with Shahnawaz Khan by marrying his daughter Izz al-Nisa Begum during the campaign.61 This would not have been a surprise for Mumtaz since she was residing at Burhanpur, having just given birth to a daughter, Roshanara, and she would have understood that such marriages served political purposes. Prince Khurram’s triumphant return to the court at Mandu in October 1617 is commemorated in a painting from the Windsor Padshahnama.62 Before the assembled crowd, Jahangir rose from his throne to tenderly embrace his son as gifts were presented to the prince now designated Shah Jahan, “the king of the world.” Although his father gently grasps his son’s bearded face, the painting (c. 1640) portrays a much more mature Shah Jahan than he actually was in 1617. A more accurate depiction of what the prince looked like in his twenty-fifth year comes from a portrait that was perhaps made just after Jahangir conferred the title of Shah Jahan on him. Shah Jahan, holding a sarpech (turban ornament), wears a bright orange jama, strings of pearls with rubies and emeralds, pearl earrings, and a gray turban with a jeweled band. On the lower border, the prince himself wrote: “this is a good likeness of me in my twenty-fifth year”63 (pl. 2). At this age, he was still sporting a droopy mustache such as his father wore. In the Padshahnama painting, Afzal Khan, Shah Jahan’s trusted officer, comes before the jharoka holding a tray with a bejeweled dagger and its scabbard for the prince.64 Several years later, when Afzal Khan brought Jahangir the news of another victory in the Deccan, he himself received gifts of gratitude from the emperor: a robe of honor, an elephant, and a jeweled inkpot and pen.65 *** In April 1619, just a day or so before the royal entourage returned to Agra after an absence of more than five years, Shah Jahan’s mother, Jagat Gosā’īn, died in the capital. We do not know what his relationship with her had been. Her death is only briefly mentioned in ‘Inayat Khan’s Shah Jahan Nama, but Jahangir’s own chronicle suggests that Shah Jahan was deeply affected by her passing: “The next day I went to my son’s quarters to offer all sorts of consolation and sympathy and 61. In June 1619, she gave birth to Shah Jahan’s son whom Jahangir named Sultan Jahan Afroz. He died in March 1621. See: ‘Inayat Khan, The Shah Jahan Nama of ‘Inayat Khan, A.R. Fuller, trans., W.E. Begley and Z.A. Desai, ed. (Delhi: Oxford University, 1990), p. 8. 62. Beach and Koch, King of the World, no. 8. 63. V&A IM 14–1925. See: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O16761/shah-jahanpainting-hasan-abul-nadirul/. 64. Beach and Koch, King of the World, no. 9. 65. Jahangirnama, p. 365.

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take him back with me to the palace.”66 While father and son grieved together, their relationship was already changing—for the worse. By his late twenties, Shah Jahan had every reason to believe that his succession to his father’s throne was assured. His oldest brother Khusrau was still in custody for plotting against the emperor, and his brother Parvez (a heavy drinker like his father) had suffered the humiliation of being replaced by Khurram in the Deccan campaign, and was sent away to Allahabad. Shah Jahan had dutifully and successfully led the campaigns against Mewar and the Deccan for which he had been publicly honored and richly rewarded by both Jahangir and Nur Jahan; he had been promoted in everincreasing military rank—up to 30,000/20,000 in 1617.67 Moreover, his wife was a member of the most powerful family at court: the granddaughter of I’timad ud-daula, the daughter of Asaf Khan, and the niece of the empress Nur Jahan. Among the many children, Mumtaz had borne him at this point were several sons from which he could draw a successor: Dara Shukoh (b. 1615), Shah Shuja (b. 1616), and most recently, Aurangzeb (b. 1618). Yet, by 1619, Shah Jahan began to suspect that Jahangir and Nur Jahan were plotting to designate one his (half-) brothers as heir to the throne. Perhaps they felt that the young prince was becoming too powerful and popular. Thus, in March 1619, Parvez was promoted in rank (mansab) to 20,000/10,000 and in April was invited back to court, receiving gifts in advance of his return to Agra.68 His arrival at court in June 1619 was captured in a painting (c. 1620). Parvez is depicted richly attired in the clothing Jahangir sent to him for the occasion, standing before the emperor’s jharoka, and raising his hand to his head in taslīm. Shah Jahan stands with his young son Shah Shuja next to the emperor, signifying his favored status; yet Jahangir wrote that Parvez “was shown untold favor.”69 Later, that same year, Jahangir pardoned Khusrau and released him from his confinement at Gwalior fort. From Shah Jahan’s perspective, this was a troubling situation since he was soon to depart with an army for a second campaign in the Deccan. If Khusrau made a move against the emperor or with the emperor, Shah Jahan would be unable to respond quickly and could lose everything he was worked to achieve. Carefully assessing his options, Shah Jahan asked his father that Khusrau be placed in his custody and taken to the Deccan. ‘Inayat Khan’s Shah Jahan Nama explains: 66. Jahangirnama, p. 300. The Shah Jahan Nama of ‘Inayat Khan (Muhammad Tahir, c. 1628–70/1) is an abridgment (mulakhkhas) of Lahori’s and Muhammad Waris’ Padshahnama. Mughal royal chronicles do not generally convey a ruler’s emotional state. The death of Jahangir’s mother, Maryam-uzzamani, is likewise only briefly and formally noted in the Jahangirnama p. 397. 67. Rank consists of two numbers: zat (personal rank) and suwar (horseman rank). Zat was an indication of one’s standing at court, whereas suwar indicated the number of horses the officer was expected to field for the emperor. The number of horses determined a proportionate number of soldiers under the officer’s command. See Wheeler Thackston’s discussion in the preface to his translation of the Jahangirnama, p. xx. 68. Jahangirnama, pp. 299–300 and 303. 69. Jahangirnama, p. 304.

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This was to prevent Khusrau from seizing an opportunity to instigate further mischief in his absence, which might require the army to return to eradicate the evil and hence leave the work of the Deccan unfinished. Accordingly, the Emperor [Jahangir] removed Khusrau from the custody of the author’s grandfather Rukn al-Sultanat and handed him over to His Majesty [Shah Jahan].70

There were other and more serious threats at court, however. Shah Jahan’s younger brother Shahriyar was suddenly promoted in rank (80,000/40,000) and then wed to Ladli Begum, Nur Jahan’s daughter from her first marriage. It appeared that Nur Jahan, who by this time exercised considerable political authority, wanted to block Shah Jahan’s path to the throne by supporting Shahriyar as heir-apparent and her daughter as the next empress. Although he was unable to do anything about Shahriyar or Parvez at the moment, Shah Jahan still held Khusrau in custody in Burhanpur. In February 1622, Shah Jahan wrote to his father informing him that Khusrau had suddenly died “after an attack of colic pain.”71 Although Jahangir quietly accepted his son’s explanation, few others did. Francisco Pelsaert, a junior factor in the Dutch East India Company, was in the Mughal realm at the time and wrote of the incident: He was murdered in the fort at Burhanpur, in February [1622], at the instance of his younger brother Sultan Khurram [Shah Jahan] because he was thought to be the next in succession to the throne; the murder was committed by a slave named Raza, who during the night strangled him with a lungi, or cloth, so as to raise the less suspicion of violence, and suggest a natural death.72

Englishman Thomas Roe and other European observers also believed in Shah Jahan’s guilt, as did Muhammad Salih Kanbo, who completed a sympathetic chronicle of Shah Jahan’s reign after his fall from power.73 In the prologue to ‘Inayat Khan’s Shah Jahan Nama, the incident is wryly mentioned: “Prince Khusrau, who was in the custody of His Majesty, also got deliverance from the prison of existence and instead became confined in the prison of non-existence.”74 If Shah Jahan did 70. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 9. ‘Inayat Khan was a loyal supporter of Shah Jahan and thus he provided a chronicle that is sympathetic to the emperor. His father, Zafar Khan, and grandfather had both served the imperial court, and his mother was the niece of Mumtaz Mahal. Given their close, personal ties to Shah Jahan, it is not surprising that they fell out of favor after Aurangzeb seized the throne in 1658. 71. Jahangirnama, p. 376. 72. Francisco Pelsaert, Jahangir’s India: The Remonstrantie of Francisco Pelsaert, W.H. Moreland and P. Geyl, trans. (Cambridge: W. Heffer, 1925; Delhi: Low Price, 2001 reprint), pp. 70–1. 73. Saksena accepts Salih Kambo’s word without question (History of Shahjahan, rev. ed. Delhi: C.P. Gautam, 2013, pp. xxii, 33–4). My issue with Salih is that he was writing during the period of Aurangzeb’s rule. He possibly reported and justified Shah Jahan’s murder of Khusrau so that he could make the same case for Aurangzeb’s execution of Dara Shukoh. 74. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 10.

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indeed have Khusrau killed, as appears likely, it was a desperate move on his part as he clung the hope of succeeding Jahangir on the throne. There would be other family casualties before Shah Jahan was crowned emperor; but what makes the Khusrau incident particularly disturbing is that there was as yet no true war of succession in 1622, although the threat was very real. The balance of power among Shah Jahan and his brothers certainly had begun to shift due particularly to the suspicious actions of Jahangir and Nur Jahan, and Shah Jahan acted preemptively to eliminate one potential threat—but his struggle was just beginning, and it would last many years to come. Soon after the death of Khusrau, in March 1622, the Safavid Shah ‘Abbas had led an army against Qandahar and wrested it from Mughal control while Shah Jahan was still occupied in the Deccan. Jahangir, Nur Jahan, and the court were in Kashmir but without significant forces. Shah Jahan was ordered to head north with all the soldiers, elephants, and artillery he could muster. According to the official version of events provided in the Shah Jahan Nama, the prince advised his father to use restraint as “they would have to confront a vast army and face the great King Shah ‘Abbas who was renowned in the world for his diplomacy and sword.” Moreover: His Majesty argued that a military expedition against Shah ‘Abbas could not be arranged without proper equipment; and since it could be surmised that the king himself would come to participate in the battle, the proposed expedition should not be compared with other expeditions which had been carried out up to this time.75

If Shah Jahan had expressed the need for restraint, caution and preparedness in his communication to his father, that is not the what Jahangir understood. Instead, he wrote of his son’s “audacious effrontery,” and promptly appointed Shariyar as the commander of the Qandahar campaign. Shah Jahan who had traveled as far as Mandu turned back to Burhanpur. In October 1622, he sent his trusted aide Afzal Khan to plead his cause before the emperor and empress, but to no avail. Jahangir wrote: “I didn’t even turn my face to him.”76 In desperation, Shah Jahan sought allies among the empire’s enemies: Malik Ambar, the Abyssinian commander of Ahmednagar’s forces whom he had fought in Deccan, and the Persian Shah ‘Abbas, but both refused to support an upstart prince. For the next four years, Shah Jahan, Mumtaz and their children were political refugees, traversing the breadth of the Mughal Empire with their supporters, and fleeing the pursuit of the imperial army led by his brother Parvez, now called Shah Parvez. Khurram, the once favored prince who had been named Shah Jahan, was now known in his father’s chronicle simply as Bedawlat—“wretch.” While addressing Shah Jahan’s years as a political refugee, historians often neglect to recognize the personal toll it must have taken on him, Mumtaz and their young 75. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 10. 76. Jahangirnama, p. 381.

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children, including Jahanara (age 8 in 1622), Dara Shukoh (age 7), Shah Shuja (age 6), Roshanara (age 5), Aurangzeb (age 4), Surayya (age 1) as they traveled great distances to elude capture by imperial troops. Not long after Afzal Khan was rebuffed by Jahangir and Nur Jahan, Mumtaz gave birth to a son at Mandu, her ninth child, but “he departed to the garden of the Abode of Peace before his name was decided upon.”77 Throughout these difficult years, Afzal Khan remained steadfastly loyal to Shah Jahan in spite of numerous defections to the emperor. Even Afzal Khan’s own son, Mirza Muhammad, decided to leave Shah Jahan’s camp. When Shah Jahan ordered that he brought back—alive, if at all possible—Muhammad resisted and was killed in the exchange of fire.78 Whether Azfal Khan’s loyalty to the prince wavered at this time is unknown. Even though he had lost his son, Afzal Khan poignantly continued to support and serve Shah Jahan for the rest of his life. In time, Shah Jahan, facing the inevitably of defeat by imperial forces, sought reconciliation with his estranged father. Jahangir’s terms were unequivocal: Shah Jahan would remain exiled from court, remaining in the Deccan as the regional governor—and he demanded that Shah Jahan surrender his three young sons— princes Dara Shukoh, Shah Shuja, and Aurangzeb—as proof of Shah Jahan’s sincerity. Asaf Khan, the father of Mumtaz Mahal, escorted the princes to Jahangir in Lahore in April 1626, accompanied by Afzal Khan. Very soon, however, the tide turned back in favor of Shah Jahan: in October 1626, Parvez, age thirty-six, died in Burhanpur. His cause of death was recorded in Jahangir’s chronicle as: “epilepsy as a result of drinking too much wine.” A year later in November 1627, in the northern reaches of the empire, Jahangir himself died, age fifty-eight, while the royal entourage was traveling from Kashmir to Lahore. He had not seen his son Khurram for the last five years of his life. At the time of Jahangir’s death, Bedawlat was in Junnar, some 850 miles from Lahore, and over 700 miles from Agra, far from either center of power. Although his two older half-brothers Khusrau and Parvez were dead, his 23-year-old half-brother Shariyar was alive, and it was Nur Jahan’s intent to place her son-in-law on the throne. Nur’s brother, Asaf Khan, intended to secure the throne for his son-in-law Shah Jahan, however, and sent word to him to proceed to Agra as quickly as possible. To thwart his sister’s plans, Asaf Khan placed her under house arrest in his own residence, while he personally attended to Jahangir’s burial in Lahore. Shahriyar was seized in the citadel, imprisoned and blinded. As a temporary measure, Asaf Khan put Dawar Bakhsh (Bulaqi), Khusrau’s son (age 16), on the throne in Lahore until Shah Jahan reached Agra. On January 29, 1628, the khuṭbah in Lahore was proclaimed in the name of Shah Jahan, and any claimant to the throne was promptly executed: Shah Jahan’s brother Shahriyar, his nephews Dawar Bakhsh and Gurshasp, and cousins Tahmuras and Hoshang, the sons of his uncle Daniyal. Shah Jahan’s order of execution to Asaf Khan echoed the account of Khusrau’s death: 77. Lahori, cited in: Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 23. 78. Jahangirnama, p. 414; Maāthir-ul-Umarā, v. 1, 151.

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The Language of the Taj Mahal [I]t would be well at this time, when the heavens were troubled and the earth was seditious, if Dawar Bakhsh and the other princes were made wanderers in the plains of non-existence.79

After securing the succession with the help of his father-in-law Asaf Khan, Shah Jahan made his way from Burhanpur to Agra. Before entering the capital to claim the throne, he made a detour to Ajmer in January 1628 where he paid a visit to the radiant mausoleum of the venerable saint Shaikh Mu’in alDin Chishti (may God illumine his soul), and was pleased to offer alms and charity and assign salaries for the pious recluses and the devotees of that august shrine … He now fulfilled his earlier vow and ordered a mosque of marble to be constructed to the west of the dome of the mausoleum of His Holiness.80

Afzal Khan returned to Agra from Lahore in February 1628, soon after Shah Jahan ascended the throne, and was followed a few days later by Asaf Khan with the princes. This reunion is illustrated in a painting from a copy of the Padhshahnama now in the collection of Windsor Castle.81 Afzal Khan appears in the foreground of the painting, attired in a pink jama, standing next to Shaysta Khan (Asaf Khan’s eldest son) alongside other courtiers. Shah Jahan promptly appointed the loyal Afzal Khan as Mir Saman, the official in charge of the imperial household, and a year later elevated him to Prime Minister (Diwān-i-A’la).82 Afzal Khan continued in Shah Jahan’s service as one of his closest advisors for another decade until his death in Lahore in January 1639; but what of Afzal Khan’s brother, ‘Abd al-Haqq, the calligrapher? In the next chapter, we examine the historical record for him in the service of the emperor Shah Jahan.

79. Maāthir-ul-Umarā, v. 1, p. 291. ‘Inayat Khan does not gloss over the executions, plainly stating that they were carried out “according to the royal command” (Shah Jahan Nama, p. 14). 80. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 15. 81. Beach and Koch, King of the World, nos. 10–11. 82. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 32.

Chapter 2 T H E E M P E R O R A N D T H E C A L L IG R A P H E R

It had been just over a decade since Jahangir had awarded his son Khurram the title Shah Jahan at age twenty-five, and the prince’s youthful elegance captured in a portrait. He had gone, however, from being the favored son to Bedawlat, “wretch”—a rebel and refugee, and had nearly lost everything in his attempts to secure the succession to his father’s throne. Now at age thirty-six, through the calculated efforts of his father-in-law Asaf Khan and his own determination, Shah Jahan was ruler of the Mughal Empire. Soon after he ascended the throne, a small “jewel” portrait of the emperor was painted, small enough for a loyal courtier to wear as an ornament. Instead of the droopy mustache seen in his earlier portrait, sported by both his father and grandfather, he now wore a full, neatly trimmed beard with mustache and sideburn curls1 (pl. 3). This change in his appearance has led some scholars to conclude that Shah Jahan’s beard is a visual indication of his turn to religious “orthodoxy” in contrast to his grandfather’s and father’s more “liberal” views.2 Yet, the jewel portrait is hardly a picture of an ascetic Islamist zealot as the emperor wears double pearl earrings, a necklace of pearls and emeralds with a pendant, as well as a bejeweled turban ornament (jigha) with a feather. Contrary to claims that he had worn a full beard from his youth,3 art historical evidence demonstrates that the prince sported only a mustache until his late twenties at least.4 While Mughal portraits are not free from formal or propagandistic elements, often they do reflect the general appearance of the emperor at the time the painting was made, as Shah Jahan himself attests in portraits of him done at ages twenty-five 1. E.g., Cleveland Museum of Art, 1920.1969 and Freer F1939.49a. A painting in the Victoria and Albert Museum (c. 1630) depicts Shah Jahan with a “new” beard (IS.182–1955). 2. I argue against this view at length in my: “The Unorthodox ‘Orthodoxy’ of Shah Jahan: A Reassessment of His Religiosity,” South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, v. 41, no. 3 (September 2018), pp. 579–600. 3. Michael H. Fisher, A Short History of the Mughal Empire (London: I.B. Tauris, 2016), p. 167. 4. Cleveland and Koch, King of the World. See paintings depicting events in 1610 CE (no. 30), 1615 (no. 38), 1616 (no. 37), 1617 (no. 39). Several paintings from the Padshahnama depicting events in 1615–17 show Shah Jahan with a full beard, but they were painted much later (c. 1635–40) than the events they narrate and seem to depict a mature Shah Jahan rather than a youthful one.

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and forty.5 We might legitimately ask what happened in Shah Jahan’s early thirties that might account for his change in facial hair? Was it a sign of his turn to religious conservatism or “orthodoxy,” as is so often claimed? The years 1621–6 comprise the years of Shah Jahan’s campaign in the Deccan and the rebellion against his father. He thus might have initially grown the beard as an outward sign of piety along with forswearing alcohol as he began the Deccan campaign (see below), or it could have been simply a matter of convenience during the campaign. Alternatively, he might have grown the beard during his refugee years to visually distinguish himself from his mustached father or present a more mature image to his followers. Finally, it is also possible it was merely a changing fashion. Paintings from the Windsor Padshahnama demonstrate that there was quite a variety in men’s facial hair fashions among Mughal courtiers. While it is true that Salafists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries are seemingly obsessed with untrimmed facial hair so as to be in full compliance with the sunna as they understand it,6 the same cannot necessarily be said of Muslim men in the seventeenth century. Some authors have also claimed that Shah Jahan’s “orthodoxy” is likewise evident in his abstinence from alcohol since wine consumption was otherwise quite common among his family members.7 According to the memoirs of his father Jahangir, it was not until the prince’s twenty-fifth birthday that he first partook of wine, and then only at his father’s insistence.8 Apparently, he continued to partake of wine for the next five years until January 1621 when he made a public declaration of abstaining from alcohol as he set off on military campaign to the Deccan.9 He was perhaps deliberately emulating his ancestor Babur who had forsworn alcohol before setting out on campaign.10 For Shah Jahan, it could have signified an act of piety, or was perhaps meant as an example of discipline for his troops. Court chronicler Qazvini wrote that the emperor prohibited the sale of wine in sixth regnal year (December 1633),11 but Inayat Khan does not repeat this in his Shah Jahan Nama although he provides a possible context for the (presumably temporary) ban on wine. In the same year, Shah Jahan held a particularly festive 5. Susan Stronge, Painting for the Mughal Emperor: The Art of the Book 1560–1660 (London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 2002), p. 127 and plates 93–4. Moreover, as Shah Jahan aged, his portraits depict his graying beard. 6. Muhammad al-Jibaly, “Shaving the Beard—a Modern Effeminacy,” [http:// sunnahonline.com/library/fiqh-and-sunnah/312-shaving-the-beard-a-moderneffeminacy, accessed October 27, 2017]. 7. Sharma, Religious Policy, p. 93; Eraly, The Mughal Throne, p. 314; Richards, The Mughal Empire, p. 167; Farooqui, Islam and the Mughal State, p. 56. 8. Tūzuk-i-Jahāngirī, I, 306; ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 6. 9. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 9. 10. Lisa Balabanlilar, Imperial Identity in the Mughal Empire: Memory and Dynastic Politics (London: I.B. Tauris, 2016), p. 93. 11. Cited in: Sharma, Religious Policy, p. 93. Qazvini’s Padshahnama exists only in manuscript form (BM ms. OR 173, Add. 20734). I was not able to confirm Sharma’s claim for this study. It should be noted, however, that Jahangir had also officially banned the making and sale of wine and other intoxicants (Tūzuk, I, p. 8).

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celebration (mawlid) honoring the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, attended by “various scholars and pious persons” who recited the Qur’an while incense filled the air and a sumptuous banquet was spread before them. Shah Jahan, “out of reverence for this auspicious night,” descended from his throne and sat on a carpet in the midst of the assembled guests, dispensing charity in excess.12 The evening’s festivities were captured in a painting spread over two pages intended to accompany the text.13 If Qazvini’s account of Shah Jahan’s alcohol ban is indeed to be taken literally rather than as a pious contrivance, it is possible that the emperor did so as a temporary measure to set the proper sober and respectful tone for the celebration of the holy day. This does not make Shah Jahan more “orthodox” per se, but perhaps more sensitive to religious decorum.14 Moreover, it is clear that Shah Jahan did not give up alcohol completely as evidenced by two wine cups that bear his name and the years of their manufacture, respectively 1647/8 and 1657.15 From 1640, there was at least a rumor among the English that Shah Jahan was indulging in wine on a regular basis.16 If Shah Jahan was a serial abstainer, his reasons for temperance might have had more to do with family rather than faith. As noted in the previous chapter, his father and his uncles Murad and Daniyal were alcoholics, as was his own brother Parvez who died at age thirty-eight from the effects thereof. Indeed, it is difficult to maintain Shah Jahan’s religious “orthodoxy” in light of his lifelong association with Sufi shaykhs and his devotion to Mu’inuddin Chishti whose shrine he visited in Ajmer just before ascending the throne, as mentioned in the previous chapter, at which time he ordered that the construction of a mosque in fulfillment of his previous vow. Although he was unable to return to Ajmer until December 1636, during the tenth year of his reign, this was not due to disinterest or neglect but rather to the several serious challenges, both personal and political. Not long after the family was reunited by the arrival of the princes from Lahore with Asaf Khan in February 1628, Shah Jahan and Mumtaz experienced the loss of two of their young children. In April Princess Surayya, aged seven, died. A short time later in May, Prince Lutfallah died, aged one. The birth of a new prince, DaulatAfza, in early May, perhaps consoled the couple, but he would die a year later. 12. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 118. 13. Beach, The Imperial Image pp. 131–3. 14. Nicoll, Shah Jahan, (p. 163 f.) believes the celebration of the Milad is further proof of Shah Jahan’s “orthodoxy.” It should be noted that ‘Inayat Khan records only this one celebration of the Milad in his entire chronicle that spans nearly the whole of Shah Jahan’s reign, and that this is the only occasion of the holy day depicted in artwork from his reign. 15. BM 1945,1017.259 and VA IS.12–1962. A painting c. 1625 (BL Johnson Album 64, 13) may provide additional evidence of Shah Jahan’s drinking. It depicts Shah Jahan receiving a cup of wine from a young prince, probably Dara Shukoh. Although the painting could be interpreted metaphorically in a Sufi sense, it lacks the naturalistic (and erotic) elements associated with such representations. See: Losty and Roy, Mughal India, pp. 114–15 (fig. 65). 16. Prasun Chatterjee, “The Lives of Alcohol in Pre-Colonial India”, The Medieval History Journal, v. 8, no. 1 (2005), p. 200.

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As a newly enthroned emperor, Shah Jahan faced several serious threats to his rule from without and within the empire. Emboldened by Jahangir’s death, the Uzbek ruler of Balkh, Nadir Muhammad Khan, attacked and seized control of Kabul in June 1628, the empire’s western gate and bulwark against the Safavid Empire as well as against Uzbek incursions. Responding quickly the threat, Shah Jahan’s army recaptured the city in September the same year. More troubling perhaps were the rebellions from within the Mughal administration itself. Just six months after Shah Jahan ascended the throne, Jujhar Singh Bundela, the Rajput ruler of Bundelkhand, the wealthy and powerful state centered in Gwalior south of Agra, rebelled against the emperor. His father, Bir Singh, had been fervently loyal to Jahangir during Shah Jahan’s rebellion, and Jujhar Singh resisted submitting to the new emperor. He was defeated and reconciled with Shah Jahan;17 nevertheless, he remained an untrustworthy subject and rebelled again in the emperor’s ninth regnal year (1636). Jujhar Singh’s rebellion of 1628 was followed by that of Pir Khan (1585–1631), an Afghani courtier and military commander who had risen to considerable influence and authority during the reign of Jahangir. The emperor regarded him as a “son,” awarded him the title Khan Jahan, and showered him with gifts and honors.18 He served in the campaign to subdue the Deccan sultanates (1610–17), but came under suspicion of colluding with Malik Ambar, the military commander of Ahmednagar and notorious enemy of the Mughal Empire.19 Nevertheless, in spite of the cloud of suspicion, Khan Jahan continued to serve Jahangir as the governor of several states. He remained loyal to Jahangir during the years of Shah Jahan’s rebellion, refusing to support Shah Jahan during the struggle for succession as he had long served Shah Jahan’s older brother and rival Parvez. After Shah Jahan’s ascension to the throne, Khan Jahan became fearful of royal retribution, and in October 1629, he fled from court with his sons and a group of Afghans, first seeking allies in the Deccan, and then with fellow Afghans in Punjab.20 Fleeing south from Agra, he entered the realm of the rebellious Raja Jujhar Singh Bundela. Ironically, Khan Jahan had fought for Shah Jahan against Jujhar in his rebellion. Now himself at odds with the emperor, Khan Jahan requested passage through Bundelkhand. Jujhar’s son Bikramajit granted the request, but subsequently regretted this decision, and joined in the fight against Khan Jahan for which Shah Jahan rewarded him.21 Khan Jahan continued to elude the imperial forces until February 1631 when at last he was killed in battle, near Kalinjar in present-day Uttar Pradesh, along with his son ‘Aziz Khan and many of supporters.22 17. See the painting in the Chester Beatty Library: “Jujhar Singh Kneels in Submission to Shah Jahan” (CBL In 07A.16) in Wright, Muraqqa’, no. 51. 18. Jahangirnama, pp. 87, 179, 343ff. See also: Maāthir-ul-Umarā, v. 1, pp. 795–804. 19. Omar H. Ali, Malik Ambar: Power and Slavery across the Indian Ocean (New York: Oxford, 2016). 20. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, pp. 34 ff. 21. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, pp. 51–2. 22. Beach and Koch, King of the World, no. 16.

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It is precisely at the time of Shah Jahan’s ascension to the throne that ‘Abd alHaqq reappears in the historical record after a gap of fifteen years. This is probably not a coincidence. It is often assumed that after completing his work at Akbar’s mausoleum in 1613, he was appointed to a position in the imperial library based on books bearing his seal (see Begley, for example). As will be seen, however, the earliest of the dated seals come from the first year of Shah Jahan’s reign. In other words, we have no evidence that ‘Abd al-Haqq served in the imperial library during the reign of Jahangir, or in any other capacity for that matter. Certainly, there were building projects in Agra to which he could have lent his calligraphic skills. The mausoleum that Nur Jahan constructed for her parents, the wazir I’timad ud-daula (Ghiyas Beg) and his wife Asmat Begum, bears Qur’anic inscriptions dated 1626/7 and 1627/8; yet ‘Abd al-Haqq was not employed to do the calligraphy, but rather one ‘Abd-un-Nabi al-Qarshi.23 Even if ‘Abd al-Haqq was present at Jahangir’s court, it is likely that his brother’s unshakeable loyalty to Shah Jahan would have made ‘Abd al-Haqq suspect in the eyes of the emperor and empress once the prince had rebelled. The absence of any signed works by ‘Abd al-Haqq during Jahangir’s reign after completing the calligraphy for Akbar’s gateway suggests rather that he left the royal court in Agra. If that is the case, where did he go? We know from later sources that ‘Abd al-Haqq was very close to his brother and was greatly grieved by his death in 1639 (see below). It is possible that after finishing his work for Akbar’s monument in Sikandra, after being separated from his brother for several years, he asked Jahangir’s permission to join Afzal Khan on the Mewar (1613–15) or Deccan campaigns where he could work as a scribe and calligrapher serving his brother as well as the prince. If ‘Abd al-Haqq was with his brother in the Deccan, then it seems likely that he also followed Shah Jahan during his years of rebellion. This would explain his absence in the historical record during this period. Another possible indication that ‘Abd al-Haqq was with his brother during these years is that when Afzal Khan’s son Mirza Muhammad was killed attempting to defect to imperial forces, ‘Abd al-Haqq gave his own son ‘Inayat Allah to his grieving brother to be raised and adopted as his own. Moreover, as Afzal Khan later accompanied Asaf Khan and the royal princes to Lahore in 1626, it is also possible that ‘Abd alHaqq was part of that entourage. The first record we have for ‘Abd al-Haqq after Shah Jahan ascended the throne consists of seal impressions from over forty books that were once part of the imperial library. Although the impressive holdings of the imperial library—already numbering 24,000 at the end of Akbar’s reign—have long been plundered and dispersed, John Seyller has identified 184 manuscripts bearing Mughal inscriptions.24 Of these volumes, more than forty bear the seal of ‘Abd al-Haqq (Amanat Khan). Twentyfour date from 1037 AH (1628 CE), that is, Shah Jahan’s first year on the throne. ‘Abd al-Haqq’s name is given without a title, but simply as “son of Qasim Shirazi,” 23. Koch, The Complete Taj Mahal, p. 52. 24. John Seyller, “The Inspection and Valuation of Manuscripts in the Imperial Mughal Library,” Artibus Asiae, v. 57, no. 3/4 (1997), pp. 243–349.

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or “disciple of Shah Jahan Padshah,” or both. Twelve more volumes bearing ‘Abd al-Haqq’s seal are dated 1042 AH, that is Shah Jahan’s fifth regnal year (1632–3). In all but one of the volumes from this year, ‘Abd al-Haqq is identified solely by means of the title he received in 1632: Amanat Khan—“Trustworthy Noble”—to which is added Shah Jahani, that is, “of Shah Jahan” (see below). In one case he is identified as ‘Abd al-Haqq, son of Qasim Shirazi as well. The remaining six volumes bearing ‘Abd al-Haqq’s name are undated. None of the undated seals bear the designation Amanat Khan, and thus may be assigned to the pre-1632 period. If ‘Abd al-Haqq served in the imperial library during the reign of Jahangir, as Begley and others have claimed,25 no conclusive evidence has come to light. It should be noted that ‘Abd al-Haqq-Amanat Khan does not bear any of the usual titles that designate librarians in imperial service,26 but the sheer number of inspections he made of library volumes nevertheless indicates his responsibility vis-à-vis the imperial collection. The books bearing his seal are indicative of royal Mughal tastes, most of them works by renowned poets of the twelfth-fifteenth centuries (CE) including: ‘Abd al-Rahman Jami, Nizami Ganjavi, Hakim Sanai Ghaznavi, Anvari, Khaqani, Hafiz, Amir Khusrau Dehlavi, and Sa’di. ‘Abd al-Haqq’s seal also appears on two paintings from the imperial library: a portrait of Mukhlis Khan,27 and a portrait of a man in Ottoman dress holding a book, dated 1610.28 Both of these items were originally from the estate of Shah Jahan’s brother Parvez (d. 1626). Although ‘Abd al-Haqq’s work at court primarily concerned books and calligraphy, early in 1631 he was drawn into the world of imperial diplomacy when Shah Jahan asked him to escort the Persian ambassador from Panipat to Burhanpur via Agra, a distance of over seven hundred miles. The court was in residence at Burhanpur at the time so that Shah Jahan could better direct a campaign against the sultanate of Ahmednagar which again had refused to submit to Mughal authority (Figure 3). The visit of the Persian ambassador was not an insignificant matter and had to be handled deftly. As seen above, border disputes between the Mughal and Safavid Empires had occasionally erupted into war over the status of Qandahar. From the Mughal perspective, control of Qandahar was critical for securing the northwestern border, especially given the Safavid alliances with the Deccan Sultanates on the Mughal southern border. It was, of course, Shah Jahan’s refusal to undertake the campaign to recapture Qandahar from a Safavid attack that ultimately led to the rupture with his father. Moreover, Shah Jahan would not have been well disposed toward the Safavids as Shah ‘Abbas had refused to support him against Jahangir. 25. Manjieh Bayani, “Amanat Khan: Master Calligrapher of the Taj Mahal,” in: The Decorated Word: Qur’ans of the 17th to 19th centuries; Manjieh Bayani, Anna Contadini, and Tim Stanley, eds., The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, vol. 4, part. 1 (London: Nur Foundation, 1999), p. 179. 26. Seyller, “Inspection,” p. 248. 27. Seyller, “Inspection,” p. 346. 28. Aga Khan Museum, Toronto AKM00733. See: Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum: Arts of the Book and Calligraphy, Margaret Graves and Benoît Junod, eds. (Istanbul: Aga Khan Trust, 2010), cat. no. 138.

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Figure 3  Burhanpur Fort. Author’s photograph.

Now a new ruler reigned in Persia, Shah Safi (r. 1629–42), and the arrival of his ambassador, Muhammad ‘Ali Beg, at the Mughal court in March 1631 offered an opportunity to improve Mughal-Safavid relations and resolve the Qandahar situation. It seems likely that Afzal Khan recommended his brother ‘Abd al-Haqq to Shah Jahan for the task of escorting the Persian ambassador from Panipat to Agra and thence to Burhanpur. Upon the arrival of Muhammad Ali Beg in Burhanpur, Afzal Khan conveyed him into the imperial presence. The scene is captured in a painting from the Windsor Padshanama.29 Unlike many of the other paintings in the volume, the courtiers in attendance are not identified by name. Afzal Khan is, however, easily recognizable in the scene, near the throne (on the left) wearing a mustard jama with white turban standing at the side (or behind) Asaf Khan, Mumtaz’s father, attired in a lilac jama with a reddish turban. Muhammad ‘Ali Beg, attired in orange, stands at the railing before the throne, lifting his hand to his head in taslīm. Although the painting was made some twenty-five years after the actual event took place, we might expect that the artist included ‘Abd alHaqq in the painting since he is specifically mentioned in ‘Abd al-Hamid Lahori’s 29. Royal Collection Trust: https://www.rct.uk/collection/1005025-r/shah-jahanreceives-the-persian-ambassador-muhammad-ali-beg-26-march-1631. See also: Beach and Koch, King of the World, p. 52 (no. 17). An official portrait of Muhammad ‘Ali Beg, painted by the royal artist Hashim, was also done at the time of the ambassador’s visit (Victoria and Albert Museum Q213322).

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chronicle. With no other identifiable image of him, however, it is impossible to say with certainty if he is one of the faces in the crowd of courtiers, although it may be possible to suggest a candidate. At least some of the courtiers, such as Afzal Khan, may be identified by their images which are labelled in other paintings. Per custom, several officials wear a sword at their side and a dagger (katar) tucked into their sash (patka) since they also served in the military, or they rest upon a staff as a sign of their office. On the left side of the painting, below Afzal Khan stand two figures, one clothed in a yellow jama and the other in crimson. Since the lower body of the man dressed in yellow is hidden by the other figures in the crowds, it is not possible to see if he bears weapons. He holds a red cylindrical object in his hand, which might be a pen or pen case. The older man, standing at this side, clearly bears no weapons, but rather holds a book with a floral cover. Might the pen or the book in the hands of these figures be the artist’s way of identifying one of them as ‘Abd al-Haqq the calligrapher-librarian? The challenge of identifying either one with greater certainty is hindered by the absence of information regarding ‘Abd al-Haqq’s year of birth. Begley posited the year of his birth c. 1572–3. If this is accurate, it would mean that ‘Abd al-Haqq would have been close to sixty in 1631 when the ambassador arrived. The man holding the book fits such a description and could very well be ‘Abd al-Haqq. On the evening of June 16, 1631, while the Persian ambassador was still in Burhanpur, Mumtaz Mahal, empress of the Mughal Empire, went into labor and delivered her fourteenth child, Princess Gauhar Ara Begum. In the early morning hours of 17 June, the empress’ condition declined rapidly. Knowing her end was near, she summoned Shah Jahan to her bedside, and “passed on to the mercy of God.” She was thirty-eight years old and had been married to Shah Jahan for half of those years. Seven children survived her: three girls and four boys ranging in age from seventeen years to hours old. The royal chronicles poignantly describe the profound grief Shah Jahan experienced at his wife’s passing. As Kalim poetically noted: Dignity attempted to retain firmness in his mind, but the goblet of his heart became broken … His heart became disinterested in the task of ruling over the world, It took its residence in the corner of grief and pain.30

For a week he did not show himself to his subjects, and when he did, his beard had whitened “due to the excess of affliction and pain on account of this soulconsuming event.”31 It was said that he wept so profusely that he would thereafter need spectacles to see clearly, and for years after he would involuntarily break 30. Kalim, in: Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, pp. 32–33. Kalim (born Abu Ṭālib Hamadanī) was the Persian-born poet-laureate in Shah Jahan’s court upon whom was bestowed the title: Malik al-Shu’ara, “the king of poets.” 31. Qazwini, in: Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 13.

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into tears. Although still grieving Mumtaz’s death, Shah Jahan had to remain at Burhanpur for the better part of a year in order to direct a military campaign against Bijapur, but departed for Agra as soon as the situation allowed because “a further stay at Burhanpur became distasteful to the royal mind of his Majesty.”32 As many as five years after Mumtaz’s death, he bypassed Burhanpur when traveling through the area “on account of the fact that the inevitable event of Her late Majesty the Empress had taken place there.”33 This might all be taken as poetic hyperbole, but such heart-rending narrative is unparalleled in Mughal royal chronicles. Moreover, there is evidence beyond the textual for Shah Jahan’s grief. In the year following Mumtaz’s death, a jade pendant was made for Shah Jahan in the form of a haldili, an amulet worn to cure heart palpitations caused by excessive grief. It bears verses of the Qur’an including al-Baqarah 2.255, the “throne verse,” and other meant to reassure the wearer of God’s sovereignty in the face of personal loss.34 As Mumtaz’s death had not been anticipated and no funerary monument prepared in advance, Mumtaz was temporarily buried in a walled garden, the ahukhana—“deer park”—across the river from the Burhanpur fortress, her grave marked perhaps by the small pavilion that survives today (Figure 4). Having “poured oceans of pearls of tears on that holy grave” when she was interred, Shah Jahan returned to her grave every Friday, crossing the river under the veil of night, in order to privately recite sūrah al-Fātiḥa on her behalf. In spite of the ongoing military campaign in the Deccan, Shah Jahan must have immediately begun plans for her funerary monument to be built in Agra because six months after her death, he had her body removed from its burial place and taken to Agra—a month-long journey—where the projected site for the “Illumined Tomb” on the bank of the Yamuna was already being prepared to receive the empress’ remains. Undoubtedly, it was during this initial planning process at Burhanpur that ‘Abd al-Haqq was asked to serve as the calligrapher for the monument. As when he was appointed calligrapher for Akbar’s tomb, ‘Abd al-Haqq was again in the right place at the right time. The tomb for Mumtaz Mahal was to be the crowning achievement of his career as calligrapher (pl. 4). In June 1632, as the first ‘urs of Mumtaz’s passing approached, Shah Jahan awarded ‘Abd al-Haqq, son of Qasim al-Shirazi, the title of Amanat Khan—“Lord of Trust.” A year later, he was honored with an increased mansab of one thousand zat and one hundred suwar.35 Whereas his brother Afzal Khan exercised considerable authority at court as Shah Jahan’s prime minister, ‘Abd al-Haqq lent his skills to one of the greatest works of architecture ever produced in South Asia, and indeed in the world. No other 32. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 82. 33. Muhammad Salih Kanbo, in: Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 59. 34. Sabiha al Khemir, From Cordoba to Samarqand: Masterpieces from the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha (Paris: Musée du Louvre, 2006), pp. 92–5. See also Sonia Jabbar’s reflection, “Heart of Empire,” in: Reflections on Islamic Art, ed. Adhaf Soueif (Doha: Qatar Museums Authority, 2011), pp. 168–75. 35. Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, pp. 247–8. For an explanation of rank, see above Chapter 1, n. 67.

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Figure 4  The first gravesite for Mumtaz Mahal: the ahukhana (“deer park”) in Burhanpur. Author’s photograph.

imperial Mughal funerary complex constructed before the Taj Mahal—or after— bore such an extensive and prominent inscriptional program: a total of 241 Qur’anic verses drawn from twenty-five sūrahs. The imposing edifice Akbar built for his father Humayun in Delhi is completely lacking in inscriptions. As noted above, the funerary monument Jahangir built for his father Akbar in Sikandra bears ‘Abd alHaqq’s poetic inscriptions on the gateway (in Persian), along with some Qur’anic sūrahs in the mausoleum’s central chamber. The exterior of the mausoleum, however, although heavily decorated, is devoid of inscriptions. The mausoleum that Nur Jahan built for Jahangir in Lahore is similarly lacking inscriptions, except for his cenotaph. Her parents’ mausoleum in Agra does bear some small panels with Qur’anic verses, but they lack the prominence of the Taj Mahal’s inscriptions. In fact, ‘Abd al-Haqq’s inspiration seems to have come more from Persian mosques, especially Isfahan’s Lutfallah Mosque, rather than Mughal mausolea.36 Designing the calligraphy for the Taj Mahal’s interior central chamber, Mumtaz’s cenotaphs (upper and lower), the frames for each the mausoleum’s exterior pishtaqs and doorways, the mosque’s mihrab, and the monumental gateway’s southern and

36. See above: Canby, Shah ‘Abbas. Cf. Cengiz Tavşan and Niloufar Akbarzadeh, “A Look at the History of Calligraphy in Decoration of Mosques in Iran: 630–1630 AD”, International Journal of Architectural and Environmental Engineering, v. 12, no. 3 (2018), pp. 352–60.

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northern facades, required considerable knowledge, skill, and time—at least the next eight years of his life until his retirement in 1639 (see below). As designs for Mumtaz’s sepulcher and the complex were being discussed and drafted, it was suggested—perhaps by ‘Abd al-Haqq himself—that the monument should include a vast inscriptional program, the likes of which had never been undertaken before. They texts were not to be Persian verses such as ‘Abd al-Haqq had composed and calligraphed for the gateway of Akbar’s funerary complex, however. The texts that would grace the mausoleum inside and out as well the gateway would be the eternal word of God—sūrahs from the Holy Qur’an. The selection of the specific sūras and ayāt will be addressed below as we consider the texts in detail, but once the selection was made, ‘Abd al-Haqq would spend years pouring over the Qur’anic verses rendering them into thuluth calligraphy of the highest quality, the style for which he was particularly known. Perhaps he revisited his work for Akbar’s gateway in Sikandra as he prepared his new designs. He would shape and taper the letters and arrange the words in an artful manner while adhering to rules of form and proportion, ensuring clarity and legibility of the divine texts in spite of the complexity of their arrangement. His designs would have been drafted on a small scale initially, positioning the texts on paper as both inspiration and calligraphic standards would allow, making countless changes and corrections, refining the widths and shapes of the letters, adding the i’jām, the marks that distinguish consonants with the same basic shape from the other; the tashkīl and ḥarakāt, diacritics and short vowel markings that are essential for proper pronunciation and meaning in the Qur’an. Finally, he enhanced the texts with a variety of other strokes and marks that are purely decorative, and which fill in the voids around letters and words. The calligraphy would then have been enlarged to fit the dimensions of the marble panels set into the interior and exterior walls of the mausoleum and great gateway. To accomplish this, ‘Abd al-Haqq or an assistant probably utilized a grid which was drawn over the original calligraphy he had designed on paper. Then a larger grid would have been drawn on the marble panels, allowing a copyist to transfer the original design to the desired scale with precision.37 Once the outlines of the calligraphy had been transferred onto the marble panels, and were corrected and finalized, stone workers chiseled inside the lines to create the cavities into which the letters, diacritics, and decorative elements carved from black slate (sangi-moosa) would be inlaid. We may assume that the transfer of the calligraphy from the original paper design to the marble was done before the stone panels were set into place. Viewing the overall design horizontally during this process would have facilitated making necessary adjustments and corrections. The carving of the calligraphic design into the marble and the inlaying of the black stone were, however, completed after the stone panels were set into the architecture. This is 37. For the use of gridded papers to scale up Ottoman calligraphy, see: Mary McWilliams and David J. Roxburgh, Traces of the Calligrapher: Islamic Calligraphy in Practice, c. 1600– 1900 (Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, 2007), p. 80.

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Figure 5  The mausoleum of the Taj Mahal, 1632–8/9. Author’s photograph.

necessitated by the fact that the black inlay often bridges the seams between the marble panels, sometimes to such a slight degree that it is clear the marble panels were treated as one continuous decorative surface by the carver and inlayer rather than as separate panels. The marble could not have been transported or positioned together with the inlay already in place as any movement between the panels would have broken the inlay that span the joins. One then has to imagine scaffolding covering the facades of the great gateway and mausoleum to an extraordinary height of at least 50 feet (Figure 5). Clearly, this was an intricate, laborious, and lengthy process which required considerable skill from Amanat Khan down to the humble stone cutters. The result was a calligraphic program on an unparalleled scale and extraordinary beauty. According to royal chronicles, Shah Jahan closely supervised the design of the complex, and would have worked closely with Ustad Ahmad Lahori, generally regarded as the principal architect of the Taj Mahal, and with Makramat Khan and Mir ‘Abd al-Karim, who supervised construction.38 Like ‘Abd al-Haqq, Makramat 38. Koch, The Complete Taj Mahal, p. 89.

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Khan—i.e., Mulla Murshid—was a Shirazi scholar who had migrated to the Mughal realm during Jahangir’s reign. As will be demonstrated, the content of the Qur’anic texts inscribed on the structures suggests that Shah Jahan also worked with ‘Abd al-Haqq in the selection of the sūrahs. Moreover, Shah Jahan possessed some expertise in calligraphy, as described by Chandar Bhan Brahman (d. c. 1666– 70), a Hindu poet who served as a state secretary: Celebrated books in Arabic and Persian, often in the author’s own handwriting, were brought in from the royal library and displayed for the hair-splitting and discerning critical gaze of the Emperor of Form and Content, the King of Kings of Aesthetic Appreciation, along with miscellaneous albums of art and calligraphy in a variety of scripts such as sulus, naskh, ta’liq, nasta’liq, and shikasta.39

Chandar Bhan also notes that emperor’s “fine penmanship” and the “boldness of his expressions” both “light up the eyes of expert calligraphers and scribes.”40 Of all the individuals involved in the design and building of the Taj Mahal, it is only ‘Abd al-Haqq who is officially named on the mausoleum. His name appears first in the mausoleum’s central tomb chamber in the horizontal band of inscription that runs above the arches. In the section of surah al-Mulk (67) above the south arch, there are three small cartouches under the lower register of the text, barely visible to the observer below. The inscription reads: “Written by the son of Qasim alShirazi/‘Abd al-Haqq, addressed as Amanat Khan/in the year 1045 Hijri” (1635/6 CE).41 Undoubtedly, Shah Jahan was pleased with the calligraphy Amanat Khan had completed thus far, for in December 1637, he honored him with the gift of an elephant “as a reward for the inscription which he had written inside the sky-high dome of the sky-high tomb of Her Late Majesty Mumtaz al-Zamani.”42 Three years later, Amanat Khan’s named was recorded a second time inside the mausoleum. In contrast to the earlier tiny colophon, this signature is writ large in the band of inscription framing the south arch (bottom left), immediately on the right as one enters the central chamber: “Finished with His help; written by the humble faqīr Amanat Khan al-Shirazi, in the year one-thousand and forty-eight Hijri (1638/9 CE), and the twelfth of His Majesty’s auspicious accession” (Figure 6). ‘Abd al-Haqq uses the Arabic word al-faqīr, literally “the poor one,” poetically with the adjective al-ḥaqīr (“the humble”) in the Sufi sense of spiritual poverty, to express his utter need for God.43 39. Rajeev Kinra, Writing Self, Writing Empire: Chandar Bhan Brahman and the Cultural World of the Indo-Persian State Secretary (Oakland: University of California, 2015), p. 117. As an adolescent, he had already produced his own works of calligraphy. For the “Khurram Album,” see: Wright, Murraqa’, p. 473. 40. Kinra, Writing Self, p. 127. 41. Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, pp. 188–9. 42. Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, pp. 62, 247–8. 43. William C. Chittick, Divine Love: Islamic Literature and the Path to God (New Haven: Yale, 2013), 140–1, 382–96 ff.

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Figure 6  The second colophon of ‘Abd al-Haqq in the central chamber of the Taj Mahal mausoleum. It reads: “Finished with His help; written by the humble faqīr Amanat Khan al-Shirazi,in the year one-thousand and forty-eight Hijri (1638/9 CE), and the twelfth of His Majesty’s auspicious accession.” Author’s photograph.

Even as he continued working on the Taj Mahal inscriptions, ‘Abd al-HaqqAmanat Khan found another, albeit far humbler, project to work on, namely the Madrasa Shahi Mosque, located in Agra.44 This small mosque consists of three arched bays, each with a mihrab. Two of the mihrabs have colophons bearing the calligrapher’s name. The central mihrab has two inscribed bands of Qur’anic texts, each with a colophon: “Written by ‘Abd al-Haqq, called Amanat Khan,” and dated 1045 and 1046, respectively (1635–6 CE; Figure 7). The outer band is inscribed with surah al-Jumu’ah 62.9–11 in raised relief, and the inner band with surah alFatḥ 48.27-29—an interesting choice since Amanat Khan had inscribed the al-Fatḥ in its entirety in the central chamber of the Taj Mahal from the southeast arch (top middle) to the west arch (upper right corner). The three verses (ayāt) of al-Fatḥ in 44. Begley, “Amanat Khan,” 26 ff.; Begley, Monumental Islamic Calligraphy from India (Villa Park, IL: Islamic Foundation, 1985), no. 58 (pp. 103–5).

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Figure 7  Colophon of “‘Abd al-Haqq, called Amanat Khan,” 1045 AH (1635 CE), Central mihrab, Shahi Madrasa Mosque, Agra. Author’s photograph.

the Madrasa Shahi Mosque cannot be compared well to the corresponding verses in the Taj Mahal as the very limited space Amanat Khan had for his calligraphy in the mosque compared to the spacious mausoleum chamber. The south mihrab of the Madrasa Shahi Mosque also bears a colophon that reads simply: “Written by Amanat Khan, al-Shirazi.”45 Nothing is known about the origins of this mosque, and there is no royal name associated with it, but its architecture may provide a clue. Its three-arched façade with a high central pishtaq is similar to the mosque in the caravanserai Amanat Khan later built near Amritsar (see below). It is possible that he built the mosque in Agra as he was intending to be buried within the grounds, across the river from where his brother’s imposing mausoleum was under construction. This would explain his calligraphy and name on an otherwise unattributed mosque. While the construction on the Taj Mahal continued in Agra, another Mughal royal sepulcher was rising in Lahore: the tomb of Shah Jahan’s father Jahangir. After the former emperor’s death in the Kashmiri town of Rajauri in early November 1627, Nur Jahan escorted his body 125 miles south to Lahore where he was interred in a garden of her own design. Once Shah Jahan had secured the throne with the assistance of Asaf Khan, he ordered a mausoleum to be built over his father’s grave. More recently, 45. For photographs, see: Begley, “Amanat Khan,” pls. 22–6.

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scholars have pointed to Nur Jahan’s role in supervising the construction of the tomb,46 and indeed much of the interior decoration seems to reflect her aesthetics when compared to the mausoleum she prepared for her parents in Agra. Jahangir’s cenotaph, however, provides evidence that Shah Jahan was involved at some level for it seems certain that the inscriptions on the cenotaph were wrought by the hand of his own trusted calligrapher Amanat Khan. We know Amanat Khan was in Lahore with his brother as construction of the mausoleum finished in 1638. The sides of Jahangir’s cenotaph are inscribed with the divine names enclosed in oval cartouches and are arranged in three rows of sixteen on each side (east and west) just as they are on Mumtaz’s lower cenotaph in the crypt of the Taj Mahal. The forms of the letters in both examples are exactly the same. The phrase bismi Allāh al-Raḥmān al-Raḥīm on the top of the cenotaph is rendered in Amanat Khan’s distinctive style as on Mumtaz’s lower cenotaph: strong verticals are balanced with a strong horizontal, with the ḥā’ of al-Raḥīm placed above the preceding words and elongated so that it crosses the alifs and the lams before connecting to the yā’ and mīm. The Qur’anic verses that follow—from surah al-Zumar (39.53), Al ‘Imrān (3.185) and al-Mu’minūn (23.118)—are the same as those that appear on Mumtaz’s cenotaph (Figure 8).47 In addition, the north end of Jahangir’s cenotaph is inscribed with sūrah al-Ḥashr 59.22 as it is on Mumtaz’s gravestone. The āya also appears on the base of Mumtaz’s upper cenotaph. As Jahangir’s mausoleum took ten years to build (1628–38) and at least half of its construction was contemporary with that of the Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan might have been happy to leave the supervision of the construction of his father’s tomb in Nur Jahan’s capable hands—except for the cenotaph which was assigned to Amanat Khan. At the end of 1636, Shah Jahan returned to Ajmer which he had last visited in 1627 before ascending the throne. The mosque he had then vowed to build had reached completion. As his grandfather had done, Shah Jahan approached the shrine on foot: On the 7th of Rajab 1046 (December 6, 1636), His Majesty reached that revered city and encamped in the palace on the edge of the Anasagar lake. Towards the close of the day. He set out on foot from his pavilion to the sepulcher of the saintly Khwaja (may his tomb be purified). After performing the customary rites and reciting the opening chapter of the Holy Qur’an, he distributed 10,000 rupees among the poor and indigent who resided at the glorious shrine. After concluding the pilgrimage, he paid a visit to the mosque which he had ordered to be built in the precincts of the radiant tomb …48 46. Koch, Complete Taj Mahal, pp. 84 and 88; Lal, Empress, pp. 218–19; Mehreen ChidaRazvi, “Patronage as Power, Power in Appropriation: Constructing Jahangir’s Mausoleum,” in: The Mughal Empire from Jahangir to Shah Jahan, ed. Ebba Koch (Mumbai: Marg Foundation, 2019), pp. 82–105. 47. Because of the larger size of Jahangir’s cenotaph, Amanat Khan added three verses from surah al-Ṣaffāt to the top inscriptions to fill the space. 48. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, pp. 195–6.

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Figure 8  The cenotaph of Jahangir, Lahore (c. 1628–38).

Figure 9  The mosque of Shah Jahan at the shrine of Mu’inuddin Chishti in Ajmer. Completed in 1636. Author’s photograph.

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At this time he issued a farman “endowing the shrine with lands producing Rs 15,723 per annum in rent from seventeen villages, and Rs 10,057 in cash.”49 According to the Siyar al-Aqtāb, a seventeenth-century Sufi biographical work, Shah Jahan had constructed: “such a splendid mosque that no former ruler has ever built a mosque to rival it anywhere on the face of the earth.”50 It is a simple, but elegant structure of gleaming white Makrana marble comprising an open courtyard (156 feet by 53 feet) and elevated prayer hall (148 feet by 25 feet) of two aisles of eleven equal-sized bays of pointed arches resting on slender piers (Figure  9). Instead of Qur’anic sūrahs such as those inscribed on the buildings of the Taj Mahal complex, the Ajmer mosque bears a Persian masnavi above the arches of the façade under the chhajjā (eaves), comprising thirty-three verses in black inlay enclosed in sixty-six horizontal panels, each punctuated by one of the “beautiful names of God” (al-asmā’ al-ḥusnā).51 The panegyric recounts Shah Jahan’s victory over Mewar and his vow to build the mosque, which is likened to Mecca’s Ka’ba: (14) How happy is the dignity of this house that on account of its sanctity is the companion of the Holy Ka‘ba. (15) It is a sacred shrine like the sanctuary of Abraham the tongue is dedicated to honorable mention for its description. (16) It is considered a twin of the Ka’ba; who has beheld a mosque with such splendor and grandeur? …

The mosque is positioned to the west of the shrine such that when the emperor was at prayer, he would be positioned between the mihrab of the mosque and the mausoleum: (21) When the King of the World [Shah-i Jahan] turned the face of supplication towards its niche, at the time of prayer, (22) through divine favor, the niche was honored on both sides; it had its back to one qiblah [the Ka‘ba] and its face towards another [the mausoleum] (23) There are two pupils that sit in the eye of the world; one is the house of Ka‘ba and the other is this [mosque] … 49. Currie, Shrine, p. 174. 50. Cited in: Currie, Shrine, p. 107. For architectural descriptions, see: Ebba Koch, Mughal Architecture: An Outline of Its History and Development (1526–1848), rev. ed. (Delhi: Primus, 2014), p. 121; Catherine B. Asher, Architecture of Mughal India: The New Cambridge History of India I: 4 (Cambridge, 1992), pp. 176–8; George Mitchell and Ait Pasricha, Mughal Architecture and Gardens (Martlesham, Suffolk: Antique Collectors’ Club, 2011), p. 360. For a political perspective, see: Ilyse R. Morgenstein Fuerst, “Space, Power and Stories: Hagiography, Nationalist Discourse, and the Construction of Sacred Space at the Khwaja Sahib in Ajmer, India,” Symposia, v. 3, no. 1 (2011), pp. 55–69. 51. S.A. I. Tirmizi, Ajmer through Inscriptions (New Delhi: Indian Institute of Islamic Studies, 1968), pp. 44–9.

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Figure 10  The Mina Masjid, Shah Jahan’s private mosque in Agra Fort. Author’s photograph. Courtesy of the Archaeological Survey of India, Agra Circle.

These inscriptions, which liken the mosque to the Ka’ba, are of the same type later found decorating other mosques of Shah Jahan’s reign, specifically Shah Jahan’s Moti Masjid (1647–53) in the Agra Fort, the Jama Masjid (1648) in Shahjahanabad (plates 5–6), as well as the Jama Masjid in Agra (1648). Begley has suggested that the symbolism of these inscriptions, including that of a second (celestial) Ka’ba, “reflects a strongly mystical outlook.”52 The inscriptions on the Ajmer mosque record neither the author nor the calligrapher. Amanat Khan was certainly capable of both composing the texts and calligraphy, but if he were responsible, we might have expected a colophon with his name such as Akbar’s tomb at Sikandra, the Taj Mahal, and the Shahi Madrasa Mosque. Moreover, during the years that the Ajmer mosque was being constructed, Amanat Khan was executing the calligraphy for both the Taj Mahal and the tomb of his brother Afzal Khan in Agra, as well as the humbler Shahi Madrasa Mosque. It is hard to imagine, although not impossible, that he was also giving his attention to Shah Jahan’s mosque in Ajmer. 52. See: Wayne E. Begley, “The Symbolic Role of Calligraphy on Three Imperial Mosques of Shah Jahan,” in: Kalādarśana: American Studies in the Art of India, ed. Joanna G. Williams (New Delhi: Oxford, 1981), p. 13. For a discussion of Persian poetry and literature at Shah Jahan’s court, see: Sunil Sharma, Mughal Arcadia: Persian Literature in an Indian Court (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 2017).

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Shah Jahan’s modest private prayer space at Agra Fort, the so-called Mina Masjid “Gem Mosque” (Figure 10), mimics the starkness and simplicity of the Ajmer mosque, albeit on an abbreviated and miniaturized scale, with one aisle of three arched bays.53 The resemblance to the white marble Ajmer mosque, with its unadorned keel-arches and overhanging chhajjā, was perhaps quite intentional so that the emperor might be reminded of the Ajmer shrine and his mosque there while at prayer in Agra. Although the faith of a historical figure is difficult to determine in the absence of written testimony, the architecture of Shah Jahan’s personal prayer space suggests that it is the Chishti spirituality exemplified by Khwaja Mu’inuddin of Ajmer that spoke to him in those quiet moments of prayer and meditation.

After the Taj: Amanat Khan’s Retirement In August 1638, not long after Amanat Khan’s second colophon was added to the interior of the Taj Mahal’s mausoleum, the calligrapher departed Agra with his brother and the court for Lahore. There, in late November, Shah Jahan received the Persian ambassador Yagdar Beg, an event commemorated in a painting (pl. 7). This would be Afzal Khan’s last public appearance as he became ill soon after, dying in January 1639 at the age of seventy.54 The elderly statesman is easily identified in the scene, positioned just above the figure of the ambassador who raises his hand to his head in taslīm. As with the earlier painting from the Windsor Padshahnama depicting a similar scene, we expect to find Amanat Khan somewhere among the crowd with the other officials. As he was likely in his later sixties at the time, he can perhaps be identified with one of the older figures standing near Afzal Khan. Four days after Afzal Khan’s passing, the emperor honored his memory by awarding Amanat Khan and his two sons ‘Inayat Allah and Faiz Allah robes of honor. Amanat Khan was also given a mansab of 1,000 zat and 200 suwar.55 It will be remembered that Afzal Khan had adopted his nephew Inayat Allah after his own son Mirza Muhammad had been killed during Shah Jahan’s rebellion against Jahangir. Thus, ‘Inayat Allah was honored with an appointment as “Reviser of Petitions” (‘Arẓ-i-mukarrir) and subsequently awarded the title Aqil Khan. Afzal Khan’s body was transported to Agra where he was interred in an imposing domed mausoleum constructed for him in a garden on the east bank of the Yamuna, upriver from the Taj Mahal and the Agra fort (Figure 11). The 53. Koch, Mughal Architecture, p. 123. 54. Maāthir-ul-Umarā, 153. A portrait of Afzal Khan, now in the Rietberg Museum, Zurich, dates from this time. It is possible that it was commissioned to memorialize him before his death. Not fully finished, it is possible the painting was halted as Afzal Khan’s condition deteriorated. See: John Seyeller, Mughal and Deccani Painting (Zurich: Museum Rietberg, 2010), no. 13 (pp. 58–60). A portrait of Afzal Khan (c. 1650) was also included in the Late Shah Jahan Album. See: Wright, Muraqqa’, pp. 375–6 (cat. no. 58i). 55. Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 248.

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Figure 11  Chini ka Rauza, the tomb of Afzal Khan (d. 1639), Agra. Author’s photograph.

Figure 12  Chini ka Rauza. Portion of Amanat Khan’s calligraphy of Sūrah Yā Sīn 36.38–39. Author’s photograph.

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structure is known today as the Chini ka Rauza, or “Chinese tomb,” on account of the colorful glazed ceramic mosaics on the exterior, an elaborate floral design in shades of blue, green, yellow, orange, white, and black.56 It is assumed that Amanat Khan was himself responsible for designing the calligraphy—blue on a white ground—of the recessed panels on the four large pishtaqs. Like much of the exterior tile decoration, only a small portion of the inscriptions survives on the northern façade where a few āyāt of surah Yā Sīn can be seen (Figure 12)—the same surah that was inscribed on the four pishtaqs of the Taj Mahal’s mausoleum.57 Although the distribution of the sūrah’s āyāt over the pishtaqs of the tomb differs from the Taj Mahal due to the difference in the size of the monuments, the arrangement of the words is nevertheless quite similar in both versions. Assuming that the Afzal Khan’s mausoleum was designed and built in the years leading up to his death, this would mean that Amanat Khan was designing the calligraphy for brother’s tomb at the same time he was working on the Taj Mahal. Undoubtedly, Amanat Khan and his sons accompanied Afzal Khan’s body to Agra and oversaw its interment. In all likelihood, as he bade his brother a final farewell, he also looked upon the Taj Mahal and his masterful calligraphic designs for the last time. According to Chandar Bhan, when Afzal Khan died, Amanat Khan was so distraught that he “retired from service and gave up his mansab, betaking himself to a secluded corner and becoming a complete renunicant.”58 Chandar Bhan also reports that Amanat Khan built a “charming hostel” one day’s journey from Lahore.59 The hostel of which Chandar Bhan writes is a caravanserai (or simply serai), a rectangular enclosure found throughout Islamic lands that functioned as a guesthouse for caravans. In addition to providing lodging for travelers and merchants, serais were also equipped with a mosque for guests, stables for pack animals and rooms to store goods.60 The serai was intended as an expression of charity, an important component of Muslim practice. The serai is located some twelve miles from Amristar, a day’s journey from Lahore on the old Mughal highway that extended to Agra (Figure 13). It is not explicitly known why Amanat Khan chose this location for his serai. It is possible that he chose to provide for those traveling between Agra and Lahore just as his brother had done so frequently on state business. It is in a much ruined and altered

56. Koch, The Complete Taj Mahal, pp. 43–5; George Michell and Amit Pasricha, Mughal Architecture and Gardens (Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors’ Club, 2011), p. 183. For an older but detailed description, see: Edmund W. Smith, Moghul Colour Decoration of Agra (Allahabad: Archaeological Survey of India, 1901). 57. My thanks to Ms. Amina Golden-Arabaty for noting the word mustaqarr which allowed me to identify the existing passage on the left side as Ya Sin 36.38–39, and on the right side as ayāt 22–24. 58. Kinra, Writing Self, p. 168. 59. Wayne E. Begley, “Four Mughal Caravanserais Built during the Reigns of Jahangir and Shah Jahan,” Muqarnas, v. 1 (1983), pp. 167–79. 60. “Caravanserai,” The Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture, v. 1, pp. 353–5.

2. The Emperor and the Calligrapher

Figure 13  Serai of Amanat Khan near Amritsar, 1640/1 CE. Author’s photograph.

Figure 14  Calligraphy of Amanat Khan, Amanat Khan serai. Author’s photograph.

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state today as modern occupants have pillaged the enclosure walls for bricks to construct homes. In its day, however, it would have been a grand structure comprising an area 250,000 square feet with monumental gateways on the west (Lahore gate) and the east (Delhi gate). Each gateway is a large rectangular structure with octagonal towers at each end topped by a chattri with a large central archway that gives access to the serai proper. Like Afzal Khan’s mausoleum, Amanat Khan’s serai was decorated with glazed mosaic decoration much of which has fallen away along with its plaster base from the brick walls.61 On the east gate, the spandrels of the arch bear a golden arabesque design on blue tile. (The west gate spandrels decoration have entirely vanished.) Framing the gateway arches is a wide recessed band of inscription such as seen at the Taj, here with a decorative border of quatrefoils and elongated quatrefoils. On the adjoining walls on either side of the archway were additional tiled panels with floral designs. The inscriptions on the west façade are better preserved and show blue calligraphy on a yellow field (Figure 14). The texts are not sūrahs from the Qur’an such as at the Taj Mahal and the tomb of Afzal Khan but an effusive outpouring of praise for Shah Jahan: The Shadow of the Exalted Nourisher of the Worlds, the Defender of the code of the best of the Prophets, the Foundation-layer of the basis of sovereignty, Strengthener of the pillars of world conquest, The Merciful and Just, the Generous and Perfect, the Lord of victory and conquest, that religion-cherishing Monarch, that Unique one in imparting dignity to the throne, the Shadow of God, His Majesty, SHIHAB AL-DIN ABU’L-MUZAFFAR MUHAMMAD, SAHIB-IQIRAN-SANI, SHAH JAHAN PADSHAH GHAZI—may God perpetuate his kingdom and sovereignty and make available to the worlds his goodness and generosity!62

That Amanat Khan chose to laud the emperor on the façade of his serai should not come as a surprise since, by the time of his retirement, he had known Shah Jahan for twenty-six years or more, and had served the emperor for more than a decade, utilizing his skills for much of this time to effect the greatest calligraphic program of any Mughal structure in existence. It was, however, philanthropy not sycophancy that moved Amanat Khan to build the serai, as he explained: I have founded this serai in this land for the comfort of God’s creatures, and having completed it on this date, the fourteenth year of the accession of His August Majesty, corresponding to the (Hijri) year one thousand and fifty [1640– 41 CE), I wrote this inscription with my own hand by way of a memorial.63

On the façade of the east gate, we read that the serai is: 61. The decorations and inscriptions have deteriorated considerably since the photographs in Begley and Desai’s 1989 book on the Taj Mahal were taken. 62. Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 255. 63. Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 255.

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A place of safety, an abode of joy and a pleasant spot … This serai was constructed during the reign of that King, for who victory, help and conquest are God-given. That world of generosity and magnanimity, the Emperor Shah Jahan, that victorious King of Kings, endowed with good fortune, wisdom and justice, For the public benefit was this serai founded by Amanat Khan, the façade of whose court remains ever open. And he wrote with his own hand the inscription on its portal, the shadow of which spreads over the spheres. In the fourteenth year of the accession of that King of the World, whose justice and equity from …64

Within the walls of the serai is a small, tripled-arched mosque, not unlike the Shahi Madrasa mosque in Agra where his name was recorded on the mihrabs. Like the serai’s gateways, the mosque’s façade is also decorated with glazed tile mosaic. The pishtaq of the taller central arch bore bands of inscriptions, blue calligraphy on a yellow ground like the gateways, but have deteriorated to the point of being illegible. The surviving bits display the characteristic elements of Amanat Khan’s calligraphic style: alifs and lāms that run vertically through double lines of text, and a fā’ with a “tail” that runs backwards and provides a strong horizontal line. Above each lateral arch was a recessed rectangular panel which bore an inscription, now lost. Inside the mosque, above the central mihrab is a panel containing a ḥadīth in raised relief: “Whoever builds a mosque for God, God will build a mosque for him in Paradise.”65 Early in his retirement, Amanat Khan put his calligraphic skills to a more personal project: he produced a small (13.9 × 9 cm.), single-volume Qur’an in his own hand, dated 1050 AH (1640–1 CE).66 This is his only known surviving work on paper. Undoubtedly made for his own use, the volume’s calligraphy— written in gold, blue, and orange naskh—is more functionally legible than bold or decorative and bears none of the distinctive flourishes of his monumental designs. His signature does, however, appear as it does in his monumental colophons, with the tail of the yā’ (as in al-Shirazī) turning backwards and crossing the alif and lām. On some pages the gold lines of text are beautifully framed with panels of gold arabesques on a blue ground. About the time Amanat Khan was finishing building his serai and copying his Qur’an, Shah Jahan ordered the construction of a funerary monument for his father-in-law Asaf Khan, who had served as his Grand Vizier and stalwart supporter. He had died in Lahore in late November 1641, two years after his wife 64. Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 256. 65. S ̣ah ̣īh ̣ al-Bukhārī 439, S ̣ah ̣īh ̣īh ̣ Muslim 533. 66. Khalili Collection QUR614. See: Manjieh Bayani, Anna Contadini and Tim Stanley, The Decorated Word: Qur’ans of the 17th to 19th Centuries (London: Nour Foundation, 1999), cat. no. 58. Mikhail B. Piotrovsky and John Vrieze, Earthly Beauty, Heavenly Art: The Art of Islam (Amsterdam: De Nieuwe Werk, 1999), p. 119 (no. 63); Arts de l’Islam: chefsd’oeuvre de la collection Khalili (Paris: Institut du Monde Arabe, 2009), p. 219 (no. 258).

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had passed.67 Adjacent to Jahangir’s tomb, the octagonal sepulcher stood at the center of a char bagh. Although now stripped of much of its original decoration, the domed mausoleum was originally faced with red sandstone and marble while the gateways were covered with glazed tiles with floral motifs (kasha kari) much like the tomb of Afzal Khan in Agra and Amanat Khan’s serai outside of Amritsar. Within the mausoleum stood the Khan’s cenotaph on a raised platform. In the nineteenth century, Kanaya Lal, the executive engineer of Lahore Division, charged with maintaining the dilapidated tomb, observed: The sarcophagus was made from a single piece of marble. The Quranic verses and ninety-nine names of Allah are inscribed in a similar manner as found on the tomb of Shah Jahan. It has the same design, form, dimensions, inscriptions and stone.68

Lal’s observations (and my own) allow us to confidently identify the calligrapher of Asaf Khan’s cenotaph as Amanat Khan. As he had designed for the cenotaphs of Jahangir and Mumtaz Mahal, the calligrapher used al-asmā’ al-ḥusnā on the sides of Asaf ’s cenotaph, his distinctive basmala and the same verses from al-Zumar (39.53) and Āl ‘Imrān (3.185) on the top, and al-Ḥashr 59.22 for the north end (Figures 15–17). It seems fitting that, although Amanat Khan had retired from

Figure 15  The cenotaph of Asaf Khan (Abu’l Hasan, d. 1641) inscribed with the names of God (al-asmā’ al-ḥusnā). Lahore. 67. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, pp. 261 and 282. 68. Kamil Khan Mumtaz et al., untitled report on the tomb of Asaf Khan, Global Heritage Fund: http://ghn.globalheritagefund.com/uploads/documents/document_1937.pdf.

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Figure 16  The top of Asaf Khan’s cenotaph inscribed with al-Zumar 39.53 and Āl ‘Imrān 3.185. Lahore.

his position at court, Shah Jahan should call the calligrapher out of retirement to assist with the preparation of Asaf Khan’s funerary monument. Not only had Amanat Khan spent years working on the mausoleum of Asaf Khan’s daughter, but the grand vizier had worked closely with Amanat Khan’s brother Afzal Khan. Their close professional ties are reflected in several paintings of the Windsor Padshahnama where they are often shown side-by-side at official functions. Since the calligraphy for Asaf Khan’s cenotaph repeats what Amanat Khan had already designed for Mumtaz’s monument, it would not have taken him much time to complete the work for her father’s tomb. Shah Jahan resided in Lahore and the northwest from November 1638 until January 1643 when he returned to Agra to commemorate the twelfth ‘urs of Mumtaz’s death which was celebrated on 6 February that year. By this time, the Taj Mahal complex with its subsidiary buildings, gateways, and gardens was nearing completion after more than a decade of work. On this occasion, court chronicler Lahori gave a detailed description of the entire complex, including his praise for Amanat Khan’s calligraphy:

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Figure 17  The north end of Asaf Khan’s cenotaph inscribed with al-Hashr 59.22. Lahore.

The Inscriptions on the inside and outside of the Illumined Tomb, which comprise Qur’anic sūras and verses of mercy, the beautiful divine names, and traditional prayers, have been [so skillfully] executed in inlay-work as to baffle the residents of the surface of the earth—nay, the inmates of the holy places in the land of the heavens. And the narration of the account of the engraved work would require a separate volume.69

There remained, however, the Qur’anic inscriptions on the northern and southern façades of the great gateway: sūrah al-Fajr (89) on the southern arch, and sūrahs al-Ḍuḥā (93), al-Sharḥ (94) and al-Tīn (95) on the northern arch. Following the twelfth ‘urs, it would take another four years of work to complete this work as evidenced by the colophon at the end of al-Tīn: “Finished with His Help, the Most High, the year 1057 AH (1647 CE).” Begley has noted some stylistic differences in the calligraphy of the gateway, observing that “the calligraphy on the gateway seems, on the whole, more attenuated and tightly controlled.” At the same time, however, he admits that the calligrapher “has taken considerable pains to make his designs conform to Amanat’s style,” and that he employed Amanat Khan’s device of lengthening the horizontals if the letters to balance the verticality. 69. Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 73.

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In the end, Begley concludes that Amanat Khan had already completed some of the calligraphy for the gateway before his retirement and death. The subtle differences that Begley notes in the calligraphy perhaps could be attributed to another calligrapher supervising the transfer of the Amanat Khan’s designs from paper to stone, a process in which some of the finer elements of his original designs were lost. Two or three years before the final surah was added to the Taj Mahal’s gateway, in the eighteenth year of Shah Jahan’s reign (1644–5), Amanat Khan died.70 Begley very tentatively placed the year of the calligrapher’s birth c. 1572–73 since we know Afzal Khan, the older Shirazi brother, was born c. 1570–1. If accurate, Amanat Khan would have been in his early seventies at the time of his death. He had risen from obscurity as a Persian immigrant and perhaps political refugee with his brother, served at the Mughal court with distinction, and played an integral role in executing the single greatest edifice of the Mughal period. According to the Mughal historian Bakhtawar Khan (1620?–85), author of Mi’rat al-‘Alam, Amanat Khan “was buried in the garden which he had laid out near his serai.”71 Local tradition identifies the burial place with the small domed tomb situated some four hundred meters south-east of the caravanserai, now on a virtual island in the midst of rice paddies. Like the serai, it was constructed of plastered red brick. It is not well preserved and had undergone much alteration, including the loss of its tower/minaret. The tomb’s central chamber measures thirteen feet six inches square and contains two (rebuilt) cenotaphs, ostensibly belonging to Amanat Khan and his wife.72 We unfortunately know nothing of his wife and the mother of his two sons—neither her name nor land of origin, lifespan, etc. Of his two sons, we have spoken briefly. ‘Inayat Allah (Aqil Khan), whom Afzal Khan adopted as his own son, rose through the military and political ranks, and married well—the adopted daughter of Sati al-Nisa Khanim (d. 1647). The Khānim was a learned woman, had served Mumtaz Mahal, had tutored the princess Jahanara, and after the empress’ death was appointed the “seal bearer” (muhr-dār) of the royal harem by Shah Jahan. Aqil Khan was not to have a long life, however, dying suddenly in 1649 just a few years after Amanat Khan. As Chandar Bhan wrote: “while he was en route to Kabul, still in the prime of his youth, the tender shoot of his future success was cut down by the fierce winds of doom.”73 Of the Shirazi family, Aqil Khan’s brother Faiz Allah alone remained, but he remains a shadowy figure about whom Chandar Bhan cryptically wrote: “he lives according to his own manner.”74 70. According to Lahori. See: Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, 248. Cf. Maāthir-ul-Umarā (v. 1, p. 260), where his death is said to have occurred in Shah Jahan’s sixteenth year. Begley (“Amanat Khan,” n. 37) notes the occasional inaccuracies in Maāthir-ul-Umarā. 71. Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 249. 72. The cenotaphs have been rebuilt and tiled in recent years, so no original decoration is visible. 73. Kinra, Writing the Mughal Self, pp. 168–9. 74. Kinra, Writing the Mughal Self, pp. 168–9.

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In January 1645, soon after commemorating the fourteenth ‘urs of Mumtaz’s passing, Shah Jahan again made plans to make the pilgrimage to Ajmer before heading to Kashmir for the spring and summer. His daughter, the princess Jahanara, was recovering from the burns she had suffered in an accident the previous year, and he had vowed to visit the shrine to give thanks for her return to health. Moreover, the doctors agreed that Kashmir’s cooler climate would aid in her recovery. After leaving Agra, however, Jahanara suffered a temporary setback in her condition, causing the royal party to defer their pilgrimage. Taking to the Yamuna River at Mathura for an easier journey, they traveled north to the new imperial capital of Shahjahanabad (Delhi) by which time her health had greatly improved. Turning toward the northeast, the royal party stopped at Sirhind where they celebrated Jahanara’s recovery and the Nauroz festival. By the end of March 1645, they were within reach of Lahore, but rather than staying in the fort’s royal residence, Shah Jahan instead opted for the entourage to make camp in the vicinity of Amanat Khan’s serai.75 Seven years later, in October 1652, he was back in the area as he was traveling from Kabul toward his new capital at Shahajahanabad. Rather than entering Lahore, he decided to once again camp in the vicinity of Amanat Khan’s serai.76 The decision to stay in the area might have simply been a matter of convenience so as to make a quick departure, but perhaps on these occasions, Shah Jahan took a moment to recite al-Fātiḥa as he remembered ‘Abd al-Haqq, the son of Qasim al-Shirazi, called Amanat Khan—the calligrapher of the Taj Mahal, a monument to his beloved Mumtaz Mahal and a monument to his faith.

75. According to Lahori’s chronicle. See: Begley and Deasi, Taj Mahal, p. 248. 76. While Lahori specifies that Shah Jahan was in the vicinity of Amanat Khan’s serai, Inayat Khan instead identifies the place where the royal entourage camped as: “the pleasant and agreeable gardens of Bagh-i-Faiz Bakhsh and Bagh-i-Farah Bakhsh”—i.e., the Shalimar Gardens in Lahore. (‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, pp. 323 and 475).

Part II T HE T EXTS OF THE T AJ M AHAL The Great Gate (Southern Façade) The Mausoleum Exterior The Mausoleum Interior The Mosque The Great Gate (Northern Façade)

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Chapter 3 R E T U R N T O Y OU R L O R D : A L - F AJ R

The entire Taj Mahal complex is enclosed by a red sandstone wall, punctuated by octagonal towers at the corners of the garden and the riverfront terrace. Three gates in the enclosure wall give access to the Taj complex proper from the south, east, and west. Leaving behind the clamor of the commercial activities of the original market square (chauk), today crammed with houses, hotels, restaurants, and shops (today called Taj Ganj), one enters an expansive rectangular courtyard—the jilaukhana. It is in this courtyard that the first ‘urs, the anniversary of Mumtaz Mahal’s death, was observed in June 1632 as the preparation of the mausoleum’s terrace and platform was still in its preliminary stages. The court chronicles describe the scene: By imperial order, the overseers in charge of the royal household affairs in this august government proceeded to set up tents of heaven-like majesty in the courtyard (sahn) of the Illumined Tomb; and having encircled the area with smaller tent enclosures, they spread out decorated carpets … And having convened various learned scholars, saintly and pious persons, and those who had committed the Qur’an to memory, an assembly was held, the like of which the eye of the revolving heavens had never witnessed in any age. Those in attendance at this august congregation included all the amirs and other grandees and distinguished persons who were members of the royal entourage, as well as the great concourse of people from all parts of the empire.1

At some point during this August, if solemn, gathering, Shah Jahan, still mourning the death of his wife, drew aside, leaving his father-in-law Asaf Khan to attend to his guests: And His Majesty, whose august person is the asylum of the Caliphate, having retired in seclusion and holy privacy, passed that blessed night in keeping awake in practicing devotion and in praying for the absolution of the one who has returned to the abode of divine pardon.2 1. Qazwini in Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 49. 2. Tabataba’i in Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 48. Mirza Jalala Tabataba’i was a Persian scholar who was among the first of Shah Jahan chroniclers.

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In subsequent years, when the ‘urs were celebrated within the complex proper, the jilaukhana served as a gathering place for members of the family, courtiers, and dignitaries to dismount from their horses and elephants when visiting the tomb. It thus serves as a transition zone between the activity and noise of the mundane world and the repose and tranquility of the Garden of Paradise. It is a place of reflection and preparation for what lies ahead. In the center of the jilaukhana’s northern side is the monumental darwaza-i rauza— “the gate of the mausoleum”—through which one passes into the garden and the mausoleum beyond (pl. 7). This is the first significant architectural element of the Taj Mahal complex. Metaphysically, as one scholar has noted, the darwaza “represented the transition point between the outer world of the senses and the inner world of spirit.”3 Thus, between the bustling life of the chauk and the resurrection represented by the Garden, there is the jilaukhana and the darwaza. On the symbolic level, the forecourt and gate could be said to evoke the Islamic concept of barzakh, “the barrier,” that is, the state between bodily death and the resurrection.4 The southern façade of the darwaza bears the first Qur’anic inscription the visitor encounters in the entire complex: al-Fajr—“The Daybreak,” the eightyninth sūrah of the Qur’an, in its entirety (Figure 18). The sūrah contains thirty āya of varying length, each comprising a single phrase or sentence, and therefore quite short. Like the other inscriptions of the complex, the sūrah has been rendered in thuluth calligraphy of black slate inlaid into the white marble panels framing the pishtaq of the archway. The panels of text have a border striped in black imitating “rope molding,” a decorative element borrowed from Persian architecture. The marble panels are additionally framed with alternating bands of white marble, black slate, and red sandstone.5 The sūrah begins on the lower right side of the archway with the basmala: “In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful” (Figure 19). The first twelve āya then rise vertically to the upper right corner of the pishtaq. The last word of āya twelve—al-fasād, “mischief ”—turns direction and is written horizontally in the corner space. The sūrah continues with āya thirteen through twenty running horizontally across the top of the pishtaq to the upper left corner. Then āya twenty-one through thirty descend vertically down the left side of the arch.

3. Som Prakash Verma, Taj Mahal (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), p. 60. 4. Qur’an: al-Mu’minūn 23.100; Mona M. Zaki, “Barzakh,” in: Encyclopedia of the Qur’an, ed. Jane Dammen McAuliffe (Leiden: Brill, 2001), v. 1, pp. 204–7; Jane Idleman Smith and Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, The Islamic Understanding of Death and Resurrection (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), passim; Leor Halevi, Muhammad’s Grave: Death Rites and the Making of Islamic Society (New York: Columbia, 2007), pp. 201–33; Christian Lange, Paradise and Hell in Islamic Traditions (New York: Cambridge, 2016), pp. 122–8. 5. For the color symbolism of the white marble and red sandstone, see: Koch, The Complete Taj Mahal, pp. 215–17.

3. Return to Your Lord: al-Fajr

Figure 18  Taj Mahal, Great Gate, south façade. Author’s photograph.

Figure 19  Taj Mahal, Great Gate, al-Fajr, beginning. Author’s photograph.

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The choice of al-Fajr for the gateway to the Taj Mahal complex proper is an intriguing and multivalent one. Most authors who have written on the Taj Mahal draw attention only to the concluding four verses of the sūrah (27–30) which contain a reference to Jannah, the Garden of Paradise; but the whole sūrah is inscribed on the gateway, not merely the concluding verses. From the beginning, the sūrah is rich in meaning theologically and spiritually. The sūrah takes its name from the word fajr that occurs in the first āya: “By the break of day … ” Fajr is also the name of the first of the five obligatory daily prayers of ṣalāt. It is prayed as dawn begins to break just beneath the horizon but before the sun has risen (shurūq). According to Lahori, Shah Jahan attended regularly to prayer, and began his day with fajr prayer: About four gharis (two hours) before daybreak, while the stars are still visible in the night sky, His Majesty awakes from sleep and occupies himself in performing his ablutions and reciting the superogatory prayers. With the advent of dawn, the prescribed morning prayers (Fajr) are accomplished with all humility and sincerity, whereupon His Majesty begins his regular daily schedule of activities.6

Lahori’s chronicle is corroborated by Chandar Bhan Brahman who likened the emperor to the moon and the rising sun as he would awaken in the earning morning hours for prayer and spend time reading the Qur’an.7 While in residence at Agra Fort, Shah Jahan undoubtedly prayed fajr and the other prayers of the day in the small private mosque (Mina Masjid) he had built in the Fort during the years the Taj Mahal was under construction, conveniently connected by a short stairway to his quarters in the Royal Tower (Shah Burj) and behind the Diwan-i-Khas, the pavilion where he held private audiences during the day. It is a miniature version of the white marble mosque he had built beside the dargah of Mu’inuddin Chishti at Ajmer (1636).8 A mosque was built within the walls of the Taj Mahal complex, west of the mausoleum, which Shah Jahan used during his visits to his wife’s burial place, particularly on the ‘urs commemorations. Later, he added the Moti Masjid, a large mosque within Agra Fort, also completely of white marble, as he did also at the Lahore Fort. For his new capital at Shahjahanabad, he built the sprawling congregational mosque, the Jama Masjid (or: Masjid-i Jahan-Numa) near the Delhi Fort, its courtyard alone capable of accommodating more than 25,000 worshippers. Even before considering the theological content of the sūrah on the gateway, its very name—al-Fajr—suggests that entering the Garden is like the start of a new day and, by extension, new life. The well in the jilaukhana, near the south gate, might have been used, not merely for refreshment, but for the ritual ablutions (wuḍū’) 6. ‘Abd al-Hamid Lahori, Padshahnama, appendix to: ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 567. 7. Kinra, Writing Self, p.109. 8. Michael D. Calabria, “Shah Jahan and Taṣawwūf” in: Lord the Air Smells Good: Felicitation Volume in Honour of Fr. Paul Jackson, SJ, Anand Amaaladass and Victor Edwin, ed. (Bengaluru: ATC, 2018), pp. 116–22.

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performed before prayer—or, in this case, before entering the mausoleum complex proper. Al-Fajr announces the beginning of the new day following the darkness of night and the beginning of new life following death. The word fajr—the dawn or daybreak—comes from the verb fajara, to cleave or split open as the morning light cleaves the darkness. In his commentary on al-Fajr, Abdolali Barzagan remarks: “Those who watch the sun rise can clearly see how it appears to split open the dark night sky with a burst of light.”9 In Islam, the sun’s light is not merely the physical absence of darkness but is the metaphysical symbol of Divine presence: “God is the light of the heavens and the earth … ” (al-Nūr 24.35). Light signifies the revelation of the Qur’an: “Indeed, there has come to you a light, a clear book” (al-Mā’idah 5.15). According to the Qur’an, God sent prophets with signs and Scripture that they might lead humanity out of darkness into light (Ibrāhīm 14.1, 5; al-Ḥadīd 57.9), and the righteous will dwell in the light: “God will save them from the woe of that day (of judgment) and shed upon them light and joy” (al-Insān 76.11).10 Whereas night signifies the silence of the grave, the light of day signifies resurrection: “And He it is who made for you the night as a cloak and sleep as repose, and who made the day as resurrection” (al-Furqān 25.47). The dawn seems to have particular significance for the Taj Mahal for it is not simply that dawn is invoked at the entrance of the funerary complex but also at the exit. As the south side of the gateway is inscribed with sūrah al-Fajr and is visible to visitors as they enter, the north side of the great gateway, facing visitors as they leave, is inscribed with sūrah al-Ḍuḥā (93)—“The Morning Light”—which is discussed in a later chapter. As discussed below in the chapter on sūrah al-Ḍuḥā, the entire Taj Mahal complex was planned in relation to the movement of the sun. Finally, before examining the content of al-Fajr, it is worth noting that the mausoleum of the Taj Mahal itself was likened to the dawn in some of the official chronicles. In his Padshahnama, Kalim wrote: Its color resembles dawn’s bright face, For both inside and out, it is entirely marble.

And By describing this dawn of sunlight, The blackness [i.e. misfortune] of Speech has ended.11

Likewise, Salih wrote of the Taj Mahal’s white marble that “every slab from morn till eve reflects the whiteness of the true dawn … ”12 9. Abdolali Barzagan, In the Presence of the Sublime Qur’an: A Commentary on Part 30, Chapters 78–114, Mohammad Fani and Amir Douraghy, trans, Hamid Mavani, ed. (Payam: Laguna Hills, 2016), p. 195. 10. Cf. al-Ḥadīd 57.19 and 28. 11. Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, pp. 82 and 84 (my emphasis). 12. Begley & Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 145 (my emphasis).

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Al-Fajr (Daybreak) In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30.

By the break of day, By the ten nights, By the even and the odd, By the night when it passes – Is there better evidence than this for the one who is mindful? Have you not seen how your Lord dealt with the ‘Ād people, Iram with its columns The like of which has never been made in the lands? And with the Thamūd people who hewed out rock in the valley, And Pharaoh, lord of monuments, They who transgressed in the lands, And increased wickedness therein? And so your Lord poured upon them a share of punishment For your Lord is surely on the watch. As for humanity, when his Lord puts him to the test and honors him and blesses him, then he says: “My Lord has honored me!” But when He puts him to the test and limits his sustenance, then he says: “My Lord has humiliated me!” But no! On the contrary, you do not honor the orphan! And you do not encourage one another in feeding the poor! And you eat inheritance greedily! And you love wealth excessively! But no! When the earth is pounded to rubble upon rubble And your Lord comes and His angels in row upon row And on that day Hell is brought near. On that day humanity will remember, but how will that remembrance help him then? He will say: “Oh, would that I had done something in advance for my life (to come)!” For on that day, His punishment will be such as no one can inflict! And His fetters will be such as no one can bind! “O you soul at peace! Return to your Lord, well-pleased and well-pleasing!” “Enter among my servants! And enter My Garden!”

Commentary According to many Muslim exegetes (mufassirūn), al-Fajr was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in the early Meccan period. It is traditionally regarded as the tenth surah in order of revelation, although the precise circumstances of

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its revelation (asbāb al-nazūl) are not recorded.13 In his widely read tafsīr, the Persian exegete Jār Allāh al-Zamakhsharī (1075–1144) cites a ḥadīth attributed to Muhammad in which the Prophet assured that: “Whoever recites sūrah al-Fajr on the Ten Nights (see below) God will forgive him (his sins), and whoever recites it on the remaining days, shall have light on the Day of Resurrection.”14 Thus, the sūrah has particular significance within the funerary context of the Taj Mahal. Zamakhsharī’s tafsīr was the most studied of exegetical works in the madrasahs of the Islamic world reaching from the Balkans to Bengal,15 and was found among the works in the Mughal royal library.16 It is therefore likely that Amanat Khan was aware of the ḥadīth and considered it with Shah Jahan as together they selected the sūrahs for the Taj Mahal. The first part of al-Fajr (vv. 1–4) comprises a series of oaths or evidences attesting to the veracity of the Revelation that follows and giving it particular emphasis.17 Such oaths occur in several sūrahs of the Qur’an, particularly in Meccan sūrahs, including those inscribed on the structures of the Taj Mahal complex, specifically, al-Ḍuḥā (93) and al-Tīn (95) on the north side of the gateway, as well as in Yā Sīn (36) on the mausoleum itself. Such oaths often refer to natural phenomena such as the first oath or evidence which lends its name to the sūrah: the breaking of the dawn (al-fajr) which regularly cleaves the darkness of night without fail and is itself a divine sign (al-Baqarah 2.164). As Sayyid Qutb poetically remarked, dawn is “a time when life breathes again with ease, joy, a smile, and friendly, tender companionship, when sleepy existence wakes ever so gradually, with its breath like a prayer and its unfolding a supplication.”18 The second oath is “by the ten nights.” The Qur’an does not clarify to which ten nights the sūrah is referring, and so commentators have differed in their understanding of the phrase. Most exegetes understand them to be the first ten nights of the month of Dhū al-Ḥijjah, the time in the Islamic calendar when the Ḥajj is performed, ending with Eid al-Aḍḥā—the feast that commemorates Abraham’s sacrifice.19 Even before the institution of the Ḥajj as a pillar of Islamic practice, these days were designated by the Arab tribes as a period of pilgrimage to the Ka’ba in Mecca, a time marked by the cessation of hostilities among the Arab 13. The Study Quran, pp. 1509; Yusuf Ali (The Meaning of the Glorious Qur’an, 1643) and Muhammad Asad (The Message of the Qur’an, p. 1084) agree, amongst others. The NoldekeSchwally chronology of revelation places it much later in First Meccan Period—as number thirty-five. Cf. Neal Robinson, Discovering the Qur’an, p. 77; See also: Louay M. Safi, The Qur’anic Narrative: The Journey of Life as Told in the Qur’an (Westport: Praeger, 2008), p. 197. 14. Al-Zamakhsharī, al-Kashshāf ‘an ḥaqā’iq ghawāmiḍ al-tanzīl (Beirut: Dār al-Kitāb al-‘arabī, 2008), v. 4, p. 566. 15. Shahab Ahmed, What Is Islam? The Importance of Being Islamic (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016), pp. 77 and 309. 16. Seyller, “Inspection and Valuation,” p. 321. 17. Stefan Wild, “Oaths,” in: The Qur’an: an Encyclopedia, pp. 473–4. 18. Sayyid Qutb, Fī Ẓilāl al-Qur’an. 19. See, for example, al-Ṭabarī, Ibn Kathīr, Zamakhsharī, Qushayrī, etc.

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tribes. Other commentators believe that ten nights refer to the last ten nights of the month of Ramaḍān when the Qur’an was first revealed, or the first ten nights of the month of Muḥarram, the first month of the Islamic calendar. All three traditional interpretations—i.e., the ten nights of Dhū al-Ḥijjah, Ramaḍān, or Muḥarram— suggest a beginning of a journey or an era. If the ten nights are understood as those at the beginning of Dhū al-Ḥijah, they evoke the greatest act of worship Muslims can make—the pilgrimage to Mecca. The ten nights at the end of Ramaḍān would signify in the context of the sūrah the beginning of the Islamic era with the revelation of the Qur’an to the Muhammad. Similarly, the first ten nights of Muḥarram would signify the beginning of the Islamic year and also, by extension, the Islamic era. Thus, like the break of dawn itself, the ten nights, however understood, signify a new beginning—the beginning of a pilgrimage, of a journey to God, or a new epoch of Revelation, manifested by the great gate of the Taj Mahal, marking the entrance into the timeless Garden of Paradise, an earthly model of eternal life. The third oath of the sūrah is “By the even and the odd.” Once again, we have a cryptic phrase that goes unexplained, and which has been understood in several ways. In one interpretation, “the even” (al-shaf’) serves as a reference to all that has been created, for according to al-Nabā’ 78.8, everything has been created in pairs. By contrast, “the odd” (al-watr) could be considered as a reference to God who is One. If, however, we assume there is some consistency to the oaths of āya 1–4, then al-shaf’ and al-watr should logically have some connection to day and/or night. I suggest therefore that “the even and the odd” refer to the hours of daytime and nighttime which vary throughout the year and only approach an equal length on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes (though still unequal in terms of minutes). In terms of hours of length, day and night both vary between having an even and odd number of total hours. In the fourth oath of the sūrah, we have another reference to the changing of night into day: “By the night when it passes.” Like the initial reference to al-fajr, we may understand this āya as an expression of reassurance and hope, especially within a funerary context: as the darkness of night yields to the light of day, so too does death give way to new life. This is the essential message of the Taj Mahal as reflected by its Qur’anic inscriptions. The aural rhythm of the first four verses, with each noun preceded simply with wa (and/by), provides a perceptible momentum, moving the reader/listener from darkness to light: Wa’l-fajri / wa layālin ‘ashrin / wa’l-shaf ’i wa’l-watri / wa’l-layli idhā yasri By the dawn / and the ten nights / and the even and the odd / and the night that passes

It is easy to move quickly past these short and mysterious phrases, but the fifth āya serves as a rest in the rhythm. God asks humanity rhetorically: “Is there better evidence than this for the one who is mindful?” The word ḥijr (“mindful”), used only here in the entire Qur’an, is derived from the verb hajara, “to prevent from doing something.” It is used particularly to suggest that humanity’s intellect should prevent them from doing or saying that which does not befit them. In the numerous ḥadīth cited by Ṭabarī for this āya, the verb hajara is equated with verbs such as

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‘aqala, labba, and nuhhā, which connote being rational, sensible, and reasonable.20 Thus, the senses and intellect are not obstacles to faith, but are the foundation for faith and the path to it. By means of simply observing and rationally reflecting on the natural phenomenon of the night breaking into day, people should have confirmation of God’s existence, omnipotence, and omniscience, remain firm in that faith, and find comfort in it. As it is written in al-Baqarah 2.164: Behold! In the creation of the heavens & the earth; in alternation of the Night and Day; in the sailing of the ships through the Ocean for the profit of humanity; in the rain which God sends down from the skies, and the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds, and the clouds which float between heaven & earth, these are signs for a people who use reason.

*** After the four oaths and the rhetorical question of the fifth āya, the sūrah shifts from natural signs to the historical past (āya 6–14). God addresses Muhammad specifically as indicated by the use of both the verb ra’ā (“to see”) and the possessive pronoun (second person masculine singular): “Have you not seen how your Lord dealt with the ‘Ād people … ?” (my emphasis). It is not only the cycles of nature that speak of the triumph of light over darkness but the cycles of human history. By drawing examples from the pre-Islamic past, God reassures Muhammad that the painful rejection he has experienced at the hands of his own people, the Quraysh, will not last—a message that is reiterated in the sūrahs inscribed on the northern façade of the gateway. To make this point, al-Fajr presents three cases: the fates suffered by the ‘Ād and the Thamūd peoples, along with the Pharaoh of Egypt, notorious examples of arrogance and obstinance.21 According to the Qur’an, God sent the prophet Hūd among the ‘Ād people, the descendants of Nūḥ (Noah).22 They were a proud people whose city of Iram boasted many columned structures. He exhorted his people to worship the one true God, but they ridiculed and rejected him. God sent devastating winds against them, destroying the arrogant but saving those who heeded Hūd. After some time, God sent the prophet Ṣāliḥ among the Thamūd people.23 They, too, 20. Ṭabarī, Jāmi’ al-bayān, v. 15, 190–1. Cf. Zamaksharī, Ibn Kathīr, etc. 21. The ‘Ād and Thamūd are mentioned frequently in the Qur’an, with lengthier references in: al-A’rāf 7.65–79; Hūd 11.50–68; al-Shu’arā’ 26.123–159; Fuṣṣilat 41.13–18; alAḥqāf 46.21–26; al-Qamar 54.18–32; and al-Ḥaqqah 69.4–8. 22. Scott Noegel and Brannon M. Wheeler, The A to Z of Prophets in Islam and Judaism (Lanham: Scarecrow, 2010), p. 141. 23. For the Nabatean city of Hegra (al-Hijr) or Mada’in Saleh, traditionally identified with the prophet Ṣāliḥ and the Thamūd, see: Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ali Ibrahim al-Ghabban et al. eds. (Washington, DC: Freer-Sackler, 2012), pp. 287–307.

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were a proud people, and carved structures of out of the rocky terrain. As their predecessors had rejected Hūd, so did the Thamūd refuse to believe Ṣāliḥ. Before exacting punishment upon them, God sent to them a she-camel, as a test of their obedience. Ṣāliḥ instructed them to allow her to wander freely and provide her access to their water at specified times, but they disobeyed and ham-strung the camel. For refusing to believe God’s messenger, for rejecting and disobeying him, the disbelieving Thamūd were destroyed by a deafening blast (or earthquake al-A’rāf 7.78). The third example of obstinance and arrogance cited in al-Fajr is the Pharaoh who rejected the prophet Mūsā (Moses). The story of the Israelites in Egypt and their subsequent Exodus are related by a few lengthy narrative passages in the Qur’an,24 as well as by numerous other shorter passages. The mention of Pharaoh in al-Fajr is among the earliest references to him, after al-Burūj 85.17–18 and alMuzzammil 73.15–16: 85.17–18: Have you not heard the stories of the forces of Pharaoh and Thamūd? 73.15–16: We have sent a messenger to you to be your witness, just as We sent a messenger to Pharaoh, but Pharaoh disobeyed the messenger and so We inflicted a heavy punishment on him.

In al-Fajr (āya 10) Pharaoh is called dhī al-awtād, an appellation that also appears later in sūrah Ṣād 38.12 of the second Meccan period. The phrase is sometimes rendered in modern translations as “Lord of Stakes” (Yusuf Ali), or more loosely as “who impaled his victims upon the stakes” (Dawood), referring to Pharaoh’s reputation as a cruel executioner.25 Pharaoh’s awtād, however, appears in the context of al-Fajr to be analogous to the columns erected by the ‘Ād in Iram and the structures hewed from the mountains by the Thamūd, that is, something of height, size, and durability, and made of stone. The most likely candidates are obelisks, the monolithic shafts of stone erected in pairs at the entrances to temples, scores of which were raised by Egypt’s pharaohs from Aswan to Alexandria to heights of over thirty-two meters and in excess of four-hundred tons.26 If awtād actually refers to obelisks, dhū al-awtād would signify a ruler who commands authority and vast resources, especially human labor, required to raise these monoliths, while lacking the faith and humility to submit to God. This is Pharaoh’s primary character flaw as it was with the ‘Ād and Thamūd. The charge against the ‘Ād, Thamūd, and Pharaoh is made clear in āya 11: they are all guilty of ṭaghā—i.e., of “exceeding limits.” The verb ṭaghā is especially associated with Pharaoh (e.g., Ṭā Hā 20.24, 43, 45; al-Nāzi’āt 79.17) and signifies 24. 7.103–141; 20.39–79; 26.10–68; 28.1–42; and 40.23–50. 25. The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an: The Koran, 4th rev. edn. (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974). 26. Labib Habachi, The Obelisks of Egypt: Skyscrapers of the Past (New York: Scribner’s, 1977); Brian Curran et al., Obelisk: A History (Cambridge: MIT, 2009); Susan Sorek, The Emperors’ Needles: Egyptian Obelisks and Rome (Exeter: Bristol Phoenix, 2010).

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his unbridled arrogance and his refusal to heed one of God’s prophets and submit to God. When the banī ‘Isrāʿīl are delivered from Egypt, God explicitly warns them not to transgress (lā taṭghaw, Ṭā Hā 20.81), but they too fall into error. Pharaoh is thus not alone in exceeding limits; humanity also transgresses when it does not recognize its need for God (al-‘Alaq 96.6–7). Thus, all individuals may exhibit pharaonic traits from time to time. In āya 12, the ‘Ād, Thamūd, and Pharaoh are likewise charged with spreading fasād, a word which connotes chaos, corruption, murderous acts, and wickedness in general.27 It is not merely personal sin but an evil that spreads and poisons society, and as such is considered a ḥadd crime that may be punished capitally or corporally: We decreed to the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person—unless it be on account of a murder or spreading corruption in the land, it would be as if he had killed all people … The recompense for those who make war against God and His messenger, and strive to spread corruption in the land, is that they should be executed, crucified, or have their hands and feet cut off from opposite sides, or be exiled from the land. This is their disgrace in this world, and they will have a terrible punishment in the Hereafter except for those who repent before you overpower them, so know that God is Oft-Forgiving and Most Merciful. (al-Mā’idah 5.32–34)

Humanity’s capacity for fasād is why, according to the Qur’an, that the angels object to God’s creation of the human creature: “Will You place therein (the earth) one who will spread corruption (yufsidu) there and shed blood while we sing Your praise and glorify You?” (al-Baqarah 2.30). Fasād is particularly associated with the wickedness that results when humanity breaks its covenant with God (al-Baqarah 2.27; al-Ra’d 13.25). Thus, it is said: “God does not love the trouble-makers” (mufsidīn, al-Qaṣaṣ 28.77). The ‘Ād, Thamūd, and Pharaoh could not escape God’s punishment for their actions for He is “on the watch” (āya 14). God’s vigilance and omniscience are repeatedly emphasized throughout the Qur’an, including several of the sūrahs of the Taj Mahal, as we shall see, in which He is called al-Baṣīr, “the All-Seeing” (al-Inshiqāq 84.15; al-Mulk 67.19; al-Fath 48.24); and al-Shahīd, “the Witness” (of all things) as in al-Fatḥ 48.28. With āya 15–16, we have a brief transition as the sūrah shifts from addressing Muhammad about the people of the past to speaking about humanity in general. These two verses (15–16) speak of humanity’s capricious faith which erroneously regards good fortune as a sign of God’s favor and bad fortune as a sign of God’s disfavor (cf. al-Ḥajj 22.11), using the contrasting verbs karama, “to honor,” and hāna, “to humilitate.” Both good and bad fortune are better understood, however, as the means by which God puts humanity’s faith to the test (ibtalā-hu), and purges doubt from human hearts (Āl ‘Imrān 3.154). From the very beginning of creation, it was God’s purpose to test humanity that they might reveal their true nature: 27. For more discussion, see: The Study Qur’an, pp. 292–3, n. 33.

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He it is who created the heavens and the earth in six days—and his throne was on the Waters—so as to test which of you acts best. (Hūd 11.7)

As we shall see subsequently in the sūrahs within the Taj Mahal’s mausoleum: (God is) He who created death and life so as to test which of you acts best. (alMulk 67.2) Truly We have created humanity … to test him … (al-Insān 76.2)

According to the Qur’an, God tests humanity by means of the beauty of the Creation: We have made that which is on the earth to adorn it so as to test which of them [humanity] acts best. (al-Kahf 18.7)

God tests humanity through want as well: We will put you to the test with something of fear and hunger, loss of property, lives, or crops; but give glad tidings to those who are patient, who say when afflicted with a calamity: ‘We belong to God and to Him shall we return.’ (al-Baqarah 2.155–156)

On this passage from al-Fajr, Sayyid Qutb comments: Good fortune and want are (both) God’s tests for His servants, to reveal their gratitude for the favor or pride, to reveal their patience in adversity or anger … What someone is given or denied of the world’s comforts is not their reward. The servant’s standing in the sight of God is not reflected by what he has of the world’s comforts. Neither God’s pleasure nor His anger results in bounty or want in this world. He gives to the righteous and the wicked, and He denies the righteous and the wicked … for He gives to put someone to the test and He withholds in order put someone to the test.28

*** Sūrah al-Fajr takes a dramatic turn beginning with āya 17, introduced with kallā—“But no! On the contrary!” God now turns to speak directly to humanity in compelling language. Whereas God addressed Muhammad in the previous āyat as indicated by the use of verbs conjugated for the second person masculine (singular) and by the use of the second person masculine pronoun (singular), now the verbs and pronouns in āya 17–20 reflect the second person plural—i.e., “all of you.” As we have seen above, in āya 15 it is said that God honors humanity (akrama-hu). Now God hurls accusations of apathy and avarice at greedy humanity that neglects and exploits the orphan and the poor. These charges are echoed in sūrah al-Mā’ūn (107) whose title means “Acts of Kindness:” 28. Fī Ẓilāl al-Qur’an.

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Do you see the one who denies the Judgement? This is the one who pushes aside the orphan,

And does not encourage others to feed the poor So woe to those who pray But pay no mind to their prayers Those who want to be seen, But withhold acts of kindness!

The Qur’an emphasizes humanity’s sacred duty to take care of the poor, the needy, and the vulnerable: It is not righteousness that you turn your faces to the East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in God, the Last Day, the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance out of love for Him, for your kin, for the orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves … (al-Baqarah 2.177)29

From the Qur’anic perspective, neglecting the poor, the needy, and the vulnerable demonstrates a lack of faith in God and the Last Day, and is an egregious act that has eternal ramifications for the offender. With frightful images, and with words and phrases that repeat like an ominous drumbeat, al-Fajr describes the Last Day and the fate of the greedy: the earth will be “pounded to rubble upon rubble,” phonically rendered as: dukkati … dakkan dakkan. The Lord will come with His angels “row upon row”—ṣaffan ṣaffan. Three times we hear the portentous phrase “on that day” (yawma’idhin): as Hell draws near, as greedy humanity finally and futilely recalls its duty to the poor, and as punishment looms. Āya 25 and 26 are rendered with the same menacing cadence: Lā yu’adhdhibu ‘adhābahu aḥadun Lā yūthiqu wathāqahu aḥadun His punishment will be such as no one can inflict! His fetters will be such as no one can bind!

Given such graphic images of divine wrath, it is no wonder that charity (sadaqah) has been such an important character of Muslim societies through the ages.30 In addition to the obligatory almsgiving (zakāt), charitable giving has historically 29. Cf. 2.215; al-Nisā’ 4.36; al-Anfāl 8.41; al-Mā’ūn 107.1–3, etc. 30. See: Amy Singer, Charity in Islamic Societies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008); and Poverty and Charity in Middle Eastern Contexts, Michael Bonner et al., eds. (Albany: SUNY, 2003).

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taken many different forms in Muslim realms including the construction of sabils (public water fountains), madrasas, hospitals, hospices, caravanserais, as well as religious institutions such as mosques and khanqahs. There are many passages in the Qur’an that explicitly mention care for the poor and needy, several of which were inscribed on the exterior and interior mausoleum as will be seen in subsequent chapters. It is likely that in these verses Shah Jahan saw tragic relevance to his own time for early in his reign—even as he grieved Mumtaz’s death—the subcontinent suffered what has been described as “probably the most destructive of all recorded calamities in Mughal India:”31 the great famine of 1630–2. Caused by the failure of the monsoon in the central subcontinent, the famine claimed the lives of three million inhabitants of Gujarat in the eight months preceding October 1631, while another million perished in the area of Ahmednagar.32 Dutch merchant Johan van Twist describes the horrific scene, in which people resorted to cannibalism and suicide.33 According to the Shah Jahan Nama, “with most exuberant kindness,” the Emperor decreed that food should be distributed daily among the poor and indigent in Burhanpur, Gujarat, and Surat at his private expense. He further decreed that on the Monday of every week, in commemoration of accession to his to the throne on that particular day, 50,000 rupees should also be bestowed on the deserving. As farmlands had been desolated by the lack of rain, nearly 70 lakhs worth of taxes (=  7,000,000 rupees) were remitted for the purpose of restoring the country.34 Even as the effect of that famine lingered, Punjab was struck with famine in 1636–7. Then in 1642, famine struck again, this time in Kashmir, forcing the poor and indigent to emigrate en masse to Lahore and seek the Emperor’s assistance: On being informed of the state of affairs, His Majesty, with the innate liberality of his charitable disposition which he was ever exercising for the welfare of his people, disbursed one lakh [100,000] of rupees in alms on those wretched victims of fortune—who numbered upwards of 30,000 souls, both men and women, young and old.35

At his own expense, Shah Jahan provided 200 rupees worth of meals per diem for the refugees for as long as they stayed in the capital. In addition, he sent 30,000 rupees to Tarbiyat Khan, the governor of Kashmir, for the benefit of those who had not the means of emigrating. Once again at the Emperor’s expense, 100 rupees worth of meals were provided daily in five different places in Kashmir.36 Later in 1647, as 31. Irfan Habib, The Agrarian System of Mughal India 1556–1707, 3rd edn. (New Delhi: Oxford, 2014), p. 115. 32. Habib, Agrarian System, p. 116. 33. W.H. Moreland, From Akbar to Aurangzeb: A Study in Indian Economic History (New York: AMS, 1975), pp. 211–3. 34. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 62. 35. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 291. 36. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 291.

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hunger continued in Lahore due to the high price of grain, Shah Jahan provided an additional 30,000 rupees “for bestowal in charity on those unfortunates who were still suffering the pangs of hunger and affliction.”37 In addition to the alms and food Shah Jahan distributed during times of famine, he regularly fulfilled his duty for zakat during Ramaḍān. In observance of the holy month in 1650, for example, the Emperor ordered 50,000 rupees to be distributed among the poor and indigent of Medina, in addition to 50,000 rupees for the sharīf of Mecca, and another 50,000 for the sayyids, clerics, and hermits of the city.38 In consultation with religious scholars and muftis, and “in accordance with the glorious ordinances of the Qur’an and by way of fulfilling the commandments of the law,” he decided that in lieu of fasting that year he would give 60,000 rupees to the poor. Moreover: He commanded that every night during this sacred month, all kinds of foodstuffs and sweetmeats were to be laid out in the Forty-Pillared Hall in the court of public audience, so that famishing and destitute people might appease their hunger.39

The most well-documented charitable practice performed by the Mughal emperors was the so-called tuladan (Sanskrit, “balance gift-giving”)40—in which the emperor was weighed on a large, gold- and gem-studded scale against a variety of precious metals, foodstuffs, and valuable items which were then distributed to the poor, needy, and deserving others. The ceremony is recorded in the emperors’ official annals and personal memoirs, and described in the accounts of European diplomats, merchants, missionaries, and others at the Mughal court whose accounts accurately reflect what was rendered by Mughal artists.41 Abu’l-Fazl, chronicler of Akbar’s reign, first mentions the practice in his account of Akbar’s eleventh regnal year (1566).42 The weighing ceremony was held twice annually on 37. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 370–1. 38. It should be noted that the Mughal distribution of alms in Mecca was not always welcome. An Ottoman firman of 1580 sought to halt Akbar’s charity in the sacred precincts perhaps due to fears of Mughal influence, if not aggression. The Ottomans suspected the Mughals had formed an alliance with the Portuguese to seize Yemen. See: N.R. Farooqi, “Six Ottoman Documents on Mughal-Ottoman Relations during the Reign of Akbar,” Journal of Islamic Studies, v. 7, no. 1 (1996), pp. 32–48. 39. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 450. 40. Also called wazn-i muqaddas (Arabic, “holy weighing”) or jashn-i wazn (Persian, “weighing feast”). 41. There are three paintings depicting the tuladan: one in the Akbarnama, Jahangirnama, and Padshahnama. See: Heike Franke, Akbar und Ğahāngīr: Untersuchungen zur politischen und religiösen Legitmation in Text und Bild (Schenefeld: EB-Verlag, 2005), p. 133. 42. Abū al-Faẓl, Akbarnama (Beveridge), v. 2, 412 (¶ 278). Eraly states that Akbar’s father Humayun first adopted the custom but I have found no supporting evidence for this. Both Jahangir and Shah Jahan attribute the custom to Akbar (The Mughal World, p. 71).

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the occasion of the emperor’s solar- and lunar-birthdays. Akbar also instituted the custom of weighing royal sons and grandsons once annually.43 In addition to these occasions, exceptional weighing ceremonies could be celebrated for ailing members of the royal family so that blessings might be bestowed on them. Jahangir, for example, ordered a weighing of Prince Khurram at the beginning of his son’s sixteenth lunar year due to portentous astrological signs and the prince’s ill health: “I ordered him weighed against gold, silver, and other customary metals, and the gold distributed to the poor.”44 In order to hasten the recovery of Shah Jahan’s daughter Jahanara from serious burns, she had suffered in an accident: His Majesty (Shah Jahan) ordered her to be weighed against gold—an observance hitherto limited to the person of the Emperor. And a vast multitude were gratified and enriched by the sums distributed in charity on this occasion.45

The Mughals did not invent the tuladan, but as Jahangir acknowledged, it derived from Hindu custom.46 The mahādāna (“great gift”) ceremony had been the central ritual of the imperial Hindu kingdom from the eighth century CE. The practice continues among Hindus to this day as tulabhara or tulabharam in which a devotee is weighed against offerings which are then made to a deity.47 The “ulamā” of Shah Jahan’s day apparently approved the practice as they found a parallel in the sunna. Shah Jahan’s official biographer Muhammad Salih Kanbo explained: Although this type of alms is not mentioned in the religious law, nonetheless since scholars of this country are all in agreement that such alms are the most perfect type of alms for repelling corporeal and spiritual catastrophes and calamities, therefore this pleasing method was chosen and established by His Majesty Arsh-Ashyani [i.e. Akbar], whose personality was, like the worldilluminating sun, based upon pure effulgence. By this means the poor attained their wishes, and in truth the custom of aqiqa—which is an established custom in the law of the Prophet and his Companions, and in which on the seventh day after birth the equivalent weight of an infant’s shaven hair in silver is given in alms, and a sacrificial animal is divided and distributed among the poor—has opened the way to making this custom permissible.48

Thus, by adopting a Hindu custom, adapting it for use by a Muslim ruler, and justifying it with the sunna, the Mughal emperors demonstrated their legitimacy 43. Abu al-Fazl, Akbarnama (Beveridge), v. 3, pp. 581 (393). 44. Jahangirnama, p. 81. A painting from the Jahangirnama depicts the scene in which the emperor himself assists in the weighing of his son (BM 1948–10-9-069). 45. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 314. 46. Jahangirnama, p. 139. 47. Singer, Charity, p. 115. 48. Quoted in: Beach and Koch, King of the World, p. 39.

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as rulers of both Hindu and Muslim subjects. Shah Jahan would have experienced his first weighing as the grandson of the emperor Akbar, having been born in the thirty-sixth year of Akbar’s reign. Years later when remembering his grandfather’s introduction of the tuladan and apparently echoing his views, Shah Jahan remarked that “alms are beneficial for repelling bodily and psychic harm and for attracting spiritual and corporeal benefits, as all peoples, religions, and nations are agreed.”49 As mentioned previously, the continued convalescence of his daughter Jahanara had prompted Shah Jahan to hold a special tuladan in 1644. Previous to this, however, while the princess was still in critical condition, he had bestowed on her behalf 5,000 gold mohurs (gold coins) and a like quantity of rupees on the indigent. Moreover, he had ordered that 1,000 rupees be distributed in alms every day until the princess recovered.50 At the conclusion of Ramaḍān that year, with Jahanara’s recovery complete, he “lavished 1,000 gold mohurs and 5,000 rupees upon the deserving.”51 As elsewhere in the Islamic world, the death of a loved one presented an opportunity whereby the survivors might offer alms in the name of the deceased, in the words of court chronicler Mirza Jalala Ṭabāṭabā’ī, “to ensure the greater rest and lasting tranquility of those who have taken up residence in the vicinity of divine mercy.”52 Mumtaz Mahal’s death thus presented yet another instance when Shah Jahan conferred alms on the poor and needy. As her body was transported the nearly five hundred miles from Burhanpur to Agra, “it was ordered that all along the way, every day abundant food and innumerable silver and gold coins should be given to the needy and the indigent.”53 Although twelve years would pass before Shah Jahan would formally observe the completion of the tomb complex, every anniversary of Mumtaz’s death (‘urs) presented an opportunity for the Emperor to bestow alms. At the first ‘urs the Emperor distributed 100,000 rupees among poor and deserving men and women of all classes, and generally half that amount in subsequent years.54 When François Bernier visited the Taj Mahal in the early 1660s, Shah Jahan was under house arrest in the Agra Fort having been overthrown by his son Aurangzeb, now the Emperor Alamgir, in June 1658. Bernier described the funerary complex in a letter and wrote of the “pavilion” or gateway (darwaza-i rauza) through which he passed into the garden. Once inside the garden, he noted the gallery on either side of the gateway. “Into this gallery,” he wrote, “the poor are admitted three times a week during the rainy season to receive the alms founded in perpetuity by Chah-Jehan.”55 Bernier is referring to the waqf, or religious endowment created by Shah Jahan which, as court chronicler Lahorī informs us, amounted to 40 lakhs 49. Beach and Koch, King of the World, p. 39. 50. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 312. 51. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 317. 52. Ṭabāṭabāʽī, in: Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 47. 53. Lahorī, in: Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 43. 54. Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, pp. 48–50. 55. François Bernier, Travels in the Mogul Empire, AD 1656–1668, Archibald Constable trans., (Westminster: Constable, 1891; Repr. 2012 Forgotten Books), p. 295.

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(4,000,000) rupees to pay for the monument’s upkeep, salaries, and supplies for its attendants, “as well as for other needy and indigent persons.”56 It was only fitting that a structure whose gateway boldly proclaims the Qur’anic concern for the poor should help provide for them. This endowment continued to provide alms until 1803 when it was abolished by the British following the capture of Agra.57 *** The last four āya of al-Fajr (27–30) are the most often cited in descriptions of the Taj Mahal complex on account of their explicit reference to the Garden of Paradise. As we have seen, the sūrah first presented examples of arrogance and obstinance from the past: the ‘Ād, the Thamūd, and the Pharaoh of Egypt, and spoke of their annihilation at the hand of God. The sūrah then briefly turned its attention to humanity in general for its lack of gratitude and faith when experiencing adversity. The sūrah then reaches its climax in a blistering indictment of greedy humanity for its lack of compassion for the orphaned, the hungry, and needy, with vivid descriptions of the post-mortem fate that awaits the miserly. Now, in the sūrah’s last few verses, the clamor of the Day of Judgment dies down. In āya 27–28, the righteous are greeted tenderly at the gates of Paradise: “O you soul at peace! Return to your Lord, well-pleased and well-pleasing!” The word muṭma’innah (from the verb ṭam’ana) in āya 27, rendered here as “peace,” conveys the complete calm, rest, security, tranquility, ease, and quiet that come to the one who abides with God. These words are generally attributed to God’s angels for elsewhere in the Qur’an they address the righteous similarly: Angels will come to them from very gate (saying): ‘Peace be with you for showing patience, for excellent is the final abode!’ (al-Ra‘d 13.24) To those good souls whom the angels take, they will say to them: ‘Peace be with you! Enter the Garden for (the good) you have done! (al-Naḥl 16.32) And those who were conscious (attaqū) of their Lord will be led into the Garden together until they arrive there and its gates are opened; and its keepers will say: ‘Peace be with you! You have done well! So enter here and abide forever!’ (alZumar 39.73)

As we have seen, in al-Fajr angels are mentioned in āya 22, appearing with God on the Day of Judgment in great numbers. They are ubiquitous in the Qur’an and belief in them is fundamental in Islam (al-Baqarah 2.177, 285). We find additional references to them within the mausoleum itself (al-Mulk 67.8–10) and on Mumtaz’s upper cenotaph (al-Fuṣṣilat 41.30 and al-Ghāfir 40.7–8). Amanat Khan had long been familiar with āya 28 of al-Fajr as some twenty years previously, in 1613, he had incorporated it into the flowery Persian inscription he composed for the south gateway of Akbar’s mausoleum in Sikandra: 56. Quoted in Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 77. 57. Koch, The Complete Taj Mahal, p. 101.

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When the measure of his blessed life had exceeded sixty by two solar stages, on the 4th of the month of Ābān … he turned his attention from this transient and unreliable world … and engaged himself in the contemplation of the grace and glory of the Living who will not die … and received with acceptance the messenger of (the tidings) ‘God calls towards the abode of peace,’ (and) according to the purport of: ‘return to your Lord well pleased and well pleasing,’ he made ready for the journey from this unstable world …58

Āya 28 is also referenced in the account of Mumtaz’s death recorded by Lahori: And having agreeably responded to the call of “Return to Your Lord, well pleased and well pleasing,” she hastened to the highest heaven and vicinity of the mercy of the Lord of the Worlds.59

Finally, after this gentle and reassuring summons comes the most sublime of invitations—and this from God Himself: “Enter among My servants and enter My Garden!” (Figure 20). Passing through the great gate of the Taj Mahal, as if having passed the Final Judgement, one enters the garden—not Paradise itself, but perhaps a glimpse thereof.

Figure 20  Great Gate, al-Fajr, end. Author’s photograph. 58. Smith, Akbar’s Tomb, Sikandarah, pp. 32–3. 59. Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 17 (cf. Salih’s account, p. 25).

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Chapter 4 T H E T RUM P E T W I L L S OU N D : Y Ā S Ī N

In the previous chapter, we have seen how al-Fajr confronts visitors to the Taj Mahal with examples of humanity’s obstinance from the past and chastises them for apathy toward the poor and needy. The sūrah concluded, however, with an angelic greeting and God’s invitation to enter the Garden of Paradise. Now entering the Great Gate, the visitor comes into a central domed chamber, its bronze-clad wooden doors today drawn back into their recesses. Framed by the archway of the gateway’s northern portal, the white marble mausoleum comes into full view in the distance. Although still over one thousand feet away at the end of the Paradise garden, one can see that the structure is not entirely white. In addition to the inlaid polychrome floral arabesques, each of the pishtaqs, the large arched niches on the mausoleum’s four sides, is framed by panels of Qur’anic inscriptions of inlaid black stone. Together the texts comprise all eighty-three āya of sūrah Yā Sīn (Figure 21). The doors on each side of the mausoleum are also framed with Qur’anic sūrahs which are discussed in subsequent chapters in this book.

Figure 21  Taj Mahal Mausoleum, south façade: Yā Sīn. Author’s photograph.

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Figure 22  Yā Sīn, beginning. Author’s photograph.

Sūrah Yā Sīn begins at the bottom right side of the southern arch (Figure 22) and ascends vertically until it turns the corner midway through āya 9. The horizontal panel comprises the remainder of āya 9 to the middle of āya 14, and then descends down the left side of the arch, ending with āya 21. Moving clockwise around the mausoleum, the sūrah resumes on the west side of the mausoleum with āya 22–44, on the north side with āya 45–66 (Plate 9), and concludes on the east side with āya 67–83. At the end of āya 83 is a rectangular space, presumably for a colophon bearing Amanat Khan’s name and the year of completing the exterior work, but it was left blank (Figure 23). Instead, a note for the year 1046 AH (1636/37 CE) was inserted at the end of the inscription framing the west door of the mausoleum (see below). Yā Sīn has long had associations with the dying and the dead. According to a ḥadīth narrated by Ma’qil ibn Ysar, the Prophet Muhammad said: “Recite (Yā Sīn) over your dying men.”1 Zamakhsharī relates a ḥadīth that summarizes many other similar sayings: Everything has a heart, and the heart of the Qur’an is Yā-Sīn. The one who reads Yā-Sīn desiring the face of God, God will forgive him (his sins), and will give him a reward as if he had read the Qur’an twenty-two times; and the Muslim for whom Yā-Sīn is read when the angel of death comes to him, twenty angels will descend with every letter of it, standing before him in rows, praying for him and 1. Sunan Abi Dawud: Kitāb al-Janā’iz: www.sunnah.com. Accessed April 6, 2019.

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Figure 23  Taj Mahal Mausoleum, east façade, showing space intended for a colophon at the end of Yā Sīn. Author’s photograph.

asking forgiveness for him; and they will witness his final washing, follow his funeral procession, pray for him, and witness his burial.2

Parts of the sūrah are found on pre-Mughal funerary monuments in Delhi including: the tombs of Sultan Ghari (1231) and Iltutmish (1235), Bara Gumbad (late fifteenth century), and the tomb of Sikander Lodi (early sixteenth century).3 Fourteen of the sūrah’s āya are also inscribed on the fourteenth-century cenotaph of Zaki al-Din ‘Umar al-Kazaruni, a governor of Gujarat.4 It is highly unlikely, however, that any of these served as the inspiration for the sūrah’s use on the 2. al-Zamakhsharī, al-Kashshāf, v. 4, p. 26. 3. Erica Cruikshank Dodd and Shereen Khairullah, The Image of the Word: A Study of Qur’anic Verses in Islamic Architecture, vol. 2: Indexes (Beirut: American University, 1981), pp. 183, 190, 193. 4. Begley, Monumental Islamic Calligraphy from India, pp. 44–5 (no. 15).

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exterior of the Taj Mahal’s mausoleum. As discussed previously, Amanat Khan also had the entire sūrah rendered in glazed tile mosaic on the four sides of his brother Afẓal Khan’s mausoleum, a short distance upriver from the Taj Mahal, just beyond the mausoleum of I’timad-ud-Daula and his wife, the parents of Nur Jahan. The description of the resurrection of the dead and God’s greeting of “Peace!” to “the companions of the Garden” (āya 51–58) as well as the warnings to sinners (āya 59–67) makes the sūrah particularly suitable for funerary contexts. As seen in the ḥadīth related by Zamakhsharī, sūrah Yā Sīn should not be viewed solely in terms of its benefits to the dead, however, for according to a ḥadīth related by Tirmidhi the sūrah “contains for its reader benefits of this world, it removes from him the dread of the next life” as it “takes away from its reader all afflictions and fulfills his needs.” Its popular designation—“the heart of the Qur’an”—refers to its content which addresses some of the most essential teachings of the Qur’an: the oneness of God, prophethood, and revelation, as well as the Last Judgment, and the Hereafter. The significance of Yā Sīn for Muslims beyond funerary concerns is clearly demonstrated by the use of the sūrah on a structure that rivals the Taj Mahal in its architectural importance and renown: the Dome of the Rock (Qubbah al-Sakhrah) in Jerusalem built by the Caliph ‘Abd al-Malik, completed in 691–2. Although it was not part of that structure’s original Umayyad design, the sūrah was added in its entirety to the octagonal exterior in the form of ceramic tiles by order of the Ottoman emperor Suleyman I c. 1560, some seventy-five years before the sūrah appeared on the exterior of the Taj Mahal’s mausoleum.5 Yā Sīn is generally regarded as a Middle Meccan sūrah, perhaps with some additions from the Medinan period, and is traditionally counted as forty-first in order of revelation, or sixtieth according to the Nödelke-Schwally chronology. Like al-Fajr, the circumstances for the revelation for most of its verses are unknown. Its name is also something of a mystery and is drawn from the two disjointed letters (al-muqaṭṭa’āt)—yā and sīn—with which the sūrah begins. Twenty-nine sūrahs of the Qur’an begin with various disjointed letters, confounding exegetes as to their meaning.6 In the case of Yā Sīn, various traditions have held that the letters invoke a name of God, the Qur’an itself, the Prophet Muhammad (yā Sayyid), or that it means “O Humanity!”—from unaysīn, a diminutive variant of al-Insān.7 Commentators have divided the sūrah into parts based on a particular focus or subject, although such divisions are somewhat arbitrary and authors differ considerably in how they divide the sūrah.8 There is, in fact, considerable cohesion

5. These were replaced with the same text in 1875 and in the mid-twentieth century. Oleg Grabar, The Dome of the Rock (London: Belknap, 2006), p. 198. 6. Afnan H. Fatani, “Letters,” The Qur’an: An Encyclopedia, pp. 373–6. 7. Al-Ṭabarī, Jāmi’ al-banyān, v. 12, p. 159; Zamakhsharī, al-Kashshāf, v. 4, p. 5. 8. See, for example: M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, “The Core of the Qur’an: Surat Yā Sīn (Q. 36),” Journal of Qur’anic Studies, v. 15, no. 2 (2013), pp. 65–82; Walter H. Wagner, Opening the Qur’an: Introducing Islam’s Holy Book (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame, 2008), pp. 218–28; The Study Qur’an, pp. 1069–70. See also: Alan Jones’ comments in his translation of the Qur’an, and other translators and commentators.

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in the text achieved with the use of phrases and words that repeat. That being said, there are discernible “movements” in the sūrah, although the transitions are, I believe, more subtle than sharp. Yā Sīn begins with God confirming Muhammad’s identity as one of His messengers and a “warner” (āya 1–12). God exhorts Muhammad to tell his people a parable about previous messengers describing how they were rejected just as he was, and the consequences suffered by those who refused to believe the messengers. With the conclusion of the parable in āya 27, we hear God speak again, bemoaning humanity’s heedlessness, reminding humanity of His signs (āyāt) in the form of various natural phenomena and examples from the prophetic past. The sūrah reaches its climax with its vivid description of the Last Day, the Resurrection of the dead, and the fates of both the righteous and the sinful (āya 51–67). The concluding āyāt of the sūrah (68–78) then reiterate themes from earlier verses. As Sayyid Qutb has correctly observed, the issue most strongly emphasized in the sūrah is the resurrection of the dead that is introduced in āya 12, and then reiterated consistently thereafter. As such, the text of the sūrah is a fitting complement to the architecture of the mausoleum. Not unlike al-Fajr, Yā Sīn includes a vivid description of the Last Day and an invitation to the righteous enter the Garden of Paradise.

Yā Sīn In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

Yā Sīn By the Wise Qur’an— You are indeed one of the Messengers On a Straight Path, —a Revelation of the Almighty, the Most Merciful So that you may warn people whose fathers had not been warned And are thus unaware. (For although) the Word is proved true against most of them, they do not believe. We have put restraints around their necks right up to their chins so that their heads are pushed up. And We have put a barrier before them; And We have put a barrier behind them; And we have covered them so they do not see. It is the same to them—whether you warn them or do not warn them, they do not believe. But you can warn the one who follows the Reminder And fears the Most Compassionate without seeing (Him). Give that one glad tidings of forgiveness and a generous reward. Truly, We give life to the dead, And We record what they have done and what they have left undone, And We have noted everything in a clear Book.

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13. And tell them a parable of the companions of the town: when messengers came to it, 14. When We sent to them two messengers, they rejected them; so we strengthened them with a third (messenger). They said: “Truly, we were sent as messengers to you.” 15. (The people said:) “You are only men like ourselves! The Most Compassionate has not revealed anything, so you are just lying!” 16. (The messengers) said: “Our Lord knows that we are sent as messengers to you. 17. And our duty is nothing but the clear message.” 18. (The people) said: “We sense an evil omen from you. If you do not stop, we will surely stone you, and a terrible punishment from us will befall you.” 19. (The messengers) said: “Your evil omens are yours! Have you not been reminded? But you are an unreasonable people!” 20. Then a man from the remotest parts of the city came running, saying: “O, my people, obey the messengers! 21. Obey those who do not ask you for a reward and who are rightly guided. 22. How could I not worship the One who created me, and to whom all of you shall be returned? 23. Shall I take other gods than He? If the Most Compassionate wants some adversity to happen, their intercession would not be able to spare me at all nor save me. 24. If I did so, surely I would be in clear error. 25. But as for me, I believe in your Lord, so listen to me!” 26. It was said: “Enter the Garden.” He said: “O, if only my people knew 27. how my Lord has forgiven me and placed me among the honored ones!” 28. And after him We did not send down upon his people heavenly hosts, and We did not send down anything. 29. For there was but a single blast and behold! They were extinguished. 30. What a pity for my servants! For no messenger comes to them without their mocking him. 31. Do they not see how many generations before them We destroyed that will never return to them? 32. For all will be gathered together before Us. 33. And a sign for them is the dead earth which We bring to life. And We bring forth grain of which they eat. 34. And We establish in it gardens of date palms and grape vines. And We cause to gush forth from it springs. 35. that they might eat of its fruit though their hands did not make it. Will they not then give thanks? 36. Glory to the One who created the pairs from which the earth produces everything and from which they themselves (come) as well as all that they do know not.

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37. And a sign for them is the night from which We strip the day, And behold! They are in the ones in darkness. 38. and (a sign for them is) the sun which runs to the place appointed for it according to the decree of the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing. 39. and (a sign for them is) the moon for which We have appointed phases until it returns as an old crescent. 40. The sun is not permitted to overtake the moon, nor the night to move ahead of the day, for each moves in its own orbit. 41. And a sign for them is that We carried their offspring in the loaded Ark. 42. And We have created for them the like of it in which they ride. 43. And if We willed it, We could have drown them and they would have no one to call upon, and they could not saved, 44. except by Our Mercy and temporary reprieve. 45. And when it is said to them: “Be aware of what is before you and what is behind you in order that you might be shown mercy … ” 46. And not a single sign from among the signs of their Lord comes to them without them turning away from it. 47. And when it is said to them: “Spend (on others) from what God has provided you,” those who do not believe say to those who believe: “Shall we feed those, if God had so willed, He could have fed?” You are surely in clear error! 48. And they say: “When will this promise be fulfilled, if you are truthful?” 49. They will not have to wait but for a single blast. It will overtake them while they are still arguing. 50. They will not be able to settle affairs nor return to their people. 51. The trumpet will be blown and behold! From the tombs, they shall rush forth to their Lord. 52. They will say: “Woe to us! Who has awakened us from our resting place?” [It will be said to them:] “This is what the Most Compassionate promised! The messengers were right!” 53. For it will be a single blast, and they will all be brought before Us. 54. On this day not a soul will be treated unjustly in the least. And you shall not be repaid except for what you have done! 55. Surely, the companions of the Garden shall be happily occupied on this day. 56. They and their mates will be in the shade reclining on couches. 57. They shall have fruits therein, and anything they ask for. 58. (and they shall hear:) “Peace!”—a word from a Merciful Lord.

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59. “But you sinners, go away this day! 60. Did I not tell you, O children of Adam, that you must not serve Satan for he is a real enemy to you 61. and that you should serve me for this is a straight path? 62. And surely, he led astray great numbers of you. Did you not understand? 63. This is the Hell that you were warned of! 64. Burn in it this day because you disbelieved!” 65. That day We shall put a seal on their mouths And their hands will speak to Us and their feet testify as to what they have earned! 66. And if We had willed it We could have put out their eyes! Then they would have tried to find the way, but how could they have seen? 67. And if it We had willed it We could have punished them in their places, so that they would not have been able to move about or return (to God). 68. And the one to whom We grant long life We weaken his condition, Do they not understand? 69. We have not taught him (Muhammad) poetry, nor would it befit it (the Qur’an), for it is but a Reminder and a clear Recitation, 70. that it might warn the living and prove the truth of the Word against those who reject it. 71. Have they not seen that it is We who created for them, from what Our hands have made, herds of animals of which they are masters? 72. and We subjected them (the animals) to them, for some they ride and some they eat. 73. and they (the animals) are useful for them and (a source) of drink. Will they not then give thanks? 74. And they take gods besides God with the hope that they will be helped. 75. But they are not able to help them; though they be like an assembled army. 76. Do not let their speech grieve you (Muhammad), for We know what they conceal and what they reveal. 77. Does humanity not see that We created him from seed? And yet he is really contentious! 78. And he even draws comparisons to Us, forgets his own creation, and says: “Who can give life to decayed bones?” 79. Then say: “The One who created them the first time will give them life again for He knows every kind of creation, 80. the One who created fire for you from the green tree and behold! Now you kindle fire from it! 81. Is not He, the One who created the heavens and the earth, not able to create the like thereof? For indeed He is the All-knowing Creator. 82. Truly, when He wills something, He says to it: ‘Be!’ and it is. 83. So glory to Him in whose hands is the dominion of all things; and to Him will all of you will be returned!”

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Commentary Like al-Fajr, sūrah Yā Sīn begins with an oath; but whereas al-Fajr begins with a sign of nature (i.e., daybreak), Yā Sīn begins with a sign of a scriptural revelation, specifically the Qur’an, described here as “the wise Qur’an” (al-Qur’ān al-ḥakīm). Although God is most properly and frequently called the (Most) Wise, His Word as revealed in the Qur’an reflects His wisdom. Sūrah Yūnus 10 begins similarly: “These are the signs (or verses) of the Wise Book” (al-kitāb al-ḥakīm—cf. Luqmān 31.2). Yā Sīn 36.5 describes the Qur’an as: “a revelation of the Almighty, the Most Merciful” (al-‘Azīz al-Raḥīm), two divine epithets used frequently in combination in the Qur’an. Al-‘Azīz and al-Raḥīm represent the two “poles” of the Divine Nature, for whereas al-‘Azīz evokes the incomparable transcendent power of God, al-Raḥīm connotes God’s tender imminent mercy—and both are principle themes of the Qur’an. The message of the Qur’an is inseparable from the messenger to whom it was revealed, and Muhammad’s identity as one of God’s messengers (mursalīn) is affirmed in Yā Sīn’s opening verses. The Prophet is described as being “on a straight path” (ṣirāṭ mustaqīm), a phrase well-known to Muslims from sūrah alFatiḥah (1.6) as well as numerous other āya.9 The phrase returns later in Yā Sīn (āya 61) where it signifies the worship of (the one) God. “The Straight Path” is an expression that appears similarly in the Hebrew scriptures, in Psalm 5.8, for example, where it is equated with righteousness: O LORD, lead me in your righteousness because of my enemies; make straight your path before me.

In Proverbs 4.11, it symbolizes the way of wisdom: In the way of wisdom I teach you, I lead you on straight paths.

In the book of the prophet Hosea (14.9) and other prophets, it signifies the way of the just: Straight are the paths of the Lord, the righteous walk on them, but the sinners stumble on them.

An essential aspect of Muhammad’s mission—and indeed all of God’s messengers—was to warn humanity about the consequences of ignoring God’s signs—i.e., natural phenomena, human history, the prophets, and divine revelation by which God instructs and guides humanity. Thus, the verb nadhara, “to warn,” 9. 2. 142, 213; 3.51, 101; 5.16, 6.39, 87, 161, etc.

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and derivations thereof appear frequently in the Qur’an. In Yā Sīn, it occurs in the opening verses: twice in āya 6, twice in āya 10, in āya 11—and is then reprised in āya 70: 6. So that you may warn people whose fathers had not been warned And are thus ignorant … 10. It is the same to them—whether you warn them or do not warn them, they do not believe. 11. But you can warn the one who follows the Reminder (i.e. the Qur’an) and fears the Most Compassionate unseen. Give that one glad tidings of forgiveness and a generous reward. 70. … that it (the Qur’an) might warn the living and prove the truth of the Word against those who reject it.

According to the Qur’an, God has “sent to every people a messenger” (al-Naḥl 16.36), but the Quraysh of Mecca lacked such a messenger until Muhammad came to warn the people (Yā Sīn 36.6). Yet, in spite of the messenger’s warning, still “they do not believe,” a charge made first in Yā Sīn 36.7 and then again in āya 10. This is one of the most commonly repeated phrases in the Qur’an. It is not those who merely lack faith that the Qur’an condemns; it is those who stubbornly persist in their unbelief of God’s Word, in spite of God’s signs— natural, prophetic, or scriptural. Yā Sīn describes the fate of those who remain willfully ignorant: 8. We have put restraints around their necks right up to their chins so that their heads are pushed up. 9. And We have put a barrier before them; and We have put a barrier behind them; and we have covered them so they do not see.

Sūrah Ghafīr 40.70–72 mirrors the grim scene: Those who reject the Book (of the Qur’an) and that which We sent Our Messengers, they will understand when the restraints are around their necks with chains, they are dragged into the boiling water and then in the fire will they be burned.

In typical style, the Qur’an does not merely warn the unheedful of their fate, but in a consistently balanced fashion, it also offers the faithful a vision of their final reward in Paradise. Yā Sīn says of the believers: But you can warn the one who follows the Reminder (of the Qur’an) and fears the Most Merciful unseen. Give that one glad tidings of forgiveness and a generous reward. (Yā Sīn 36.11)

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Whether it was planned precisely by Amanat Khan or is an artful coincidence, this sublime promise of a generous reward to the righteous dead is positioned in the middle of the horizontal text over the south arch of the Taj Mahal mausoleum, directly above the point of the arch. In other words, it is relatively easy to locate amid the intricate calligraphic design, particularly for those who know the sūrah from memory. Then, in the left portion of the panel, the text continues with āya 12: Truly, We give life to the dead; and We record what they have done and what they have left undone, and We have noted everything in a clear Book.

It is such a passage that has fostered the association between Yā Sīn and funerary rites and monuments including the Taj Mahal. The Qur’an often speaks of God as the One who brings forth life from the dead. In sūrah al-Rūm 30, this is affirmed repeatedly: He brings the living from the dead, and brings the dead from the living, and He gives life to the earth after its death, and so shall you be brought forth. (19) And among His signs He shows you lightning for fear and hope, and sends down rain from the sky and, by means of it, gives life to the earth after its death. Truly in these are signs for a people who are wise. (24) So look at the evidence of God’s mercy, how He gives life to earth after its death, so too the One who gives life to the dead for He has power over everything. (50)

Among the (99) “Beautiful Names of God” (al-asmā’ al-ḥusnā) that are inscribed on Mumtaz’s lower cenotaph in the mausoleum’s crypt (see Chapter 11) are alMuḥyi (the One who gives life) and al-Mumit (the One who brings death). In Yā Sīn, the assertion that God gives life to the dead is reiterated toward the end of the sūrah (Yā Sīn 36.78–79) lest the hearer/listener forgets. We have already seen in al-Fajr 89.24 how, when faced with the specter of Hell in the afterlife, the sinful dead exclaimed: “Oh, would that I had done (or prepared) something in advance (qaddama) for my life to come!” The verb qaddama (form II of the verb qadama) provides an interesting and perhaps intentional link between the texts on the face of the gateway and on the mausoleum since qaddama also appears in Yā Sīn 36.12: “We record what they have done (qaddamū) and, what they have left undone … ” “Be prepared!” is an essential message conveyed on both the Great Gate and the Mausoleum. With āya 13, the sūrah transitions to a parable that Muhammad is to use as means of instructing and warning his people. It tells of two of God’s messengers— not identified by name—who are sent to an unidentified town, but they are rejected by its inhabitants. The scenario reflects, of course, Muhammad’s experience with the Quraysh as well as the experiences of many other prophets named in the Qur’an. The rejection of God’s messengers is a frequent theme in the Qur’an and is common to the Abrahamic traditions. The people in the parable justify their rejection of God’s messengers based on an omen of some kind and threaten to

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stone them (āya 18).10 Exasperated with the people, the messengers exclaim: “But you are an unreasonable people!” The word musrifūn/īn (“unreasonable”) is used in the Qur’an specifically to characterize those who reject God’s revelation and mock His messengers (cf. al-Zukhruf 43.5–7). At this point in the parable, a new character appears: “Then a man from the remotest parts of the city came running … ” (36.20) in order to testify on behalf of God’s messengers and his own faith in the one God. A man of the same description appears in the Exodus story as recounted in al-Qaṣas 28.20: “And a man came running from the farthest part of the city. He said: ‘O Mūsā, the ministers (of Pharaoh) are planning to kill you, so flee, for I am one of those who wish you well!” Since Yā Sīn was revealed earlier than al-Qaṣas, it would appear that the more generic parable of Yā Sīn became more firmly identified with the Exodus story in the third Meccan period.11 The parable continues onto the west face of the mausoleum (āyāt 22 ff.) and concludes with āya 26–27: It was said: “Enter the Garden.” He said: “O, if only my people knew how my Lord has forgiven me and placed me among the honored ones!”

On the basis of these verses, some commentators have assumed that the unnamed man who had advocated for God’s messengers met an untimely death at the hands of his own people, and then speaks from the afterlife. The invitation Yā Sīn 36.26—“Enter the Garden”—poignantly echoes the final āya of sūrah al-Fajr on the great gate (“Enter My Garden”). This again suggests the careful process by which Amanat Khan and Shah Jahan selected the sūrahs for the Taj Mahal’s gateway and the exterior of the mausoleum. As will be demonstrated below, there are other words and themes that connect al-Fajr and Yā Sīn.12 With the entrance of the faithful man into Paradise at the conclusion of the parable, God again speaks to remind the reader/listener of the fate of those who did not heed His messengers in the past: And after him, We did not send down upon his people heavenly hosts, and We did not send down anything. For there was but a single blast and behold!—they were extinguished. What a pity for my servants! For no messenger comes to them without their mocking him. Do they not see how many generations before 10. According to Muslim accounts, Muhammad himself faced a similar threat in the town of Ṭā’if where he urged the Thaqīf tribe to accept Islam and protect him against his enemies. Like the Messengers in the parable, he was mocked and nearly stoned to death, but managed to escape with Zayd ibn Ḥārithah his servant and adopted son. 11. Some Muslim commentators identify the unnamed “runner” of Yā Sīn as “Habīb the Carpenter.” 12. The words “Enter the Garden” (udkhul al-jannah) appear midway in the inscription on the right side of the west arch which, like the location of āya 12 of the south arch (“Truly, We give life to the dead … ”), is either a coincidence or reflects great attentiveness to the arrangement of the texts on the exterior of the mausoleum for purposes of legibility.

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them We destroyed that will never return to them? For all will be gathered together before Us.

The text of Yā Sīn 36.30—“For no messenger comes to them without their mocking him”—appears likewise in al-Hijr 15.11 and al-Zukhruf 43.7, and similarly in alAnbiyā’ 21.41 and al-An’ām 6.10. Yet, even when humanity mocks and rejects God’s messengers, God continues to provide other means, other signs for understanding. In Yā Sīn, God reminds His creatures of His signs in the Creation from which they draw sustenance: And a sign for them is the dead earth which We bring to life. And We bring forth grain of which they eat. And We establish in it gardens of date palms and grape vines. And We cause to gush forth from it springs that they might eat of its fruit though their hands did not make it. Will they not then give thanks? (33–35) In spite of the devastating famine of 1630–2 and others as detailed in the previous chapter, Shah Jahan and his subjects had much to be thankful for they lived in a generally fertile land which, when watered by the monsoon rains, produced food in great quantity and diversity. During Akbar’s reign, Abu’l-Fazl commented: His Majesty looks upon fruits as one of the greatest gifts of the Creator, and pays much attention to them. The horticulturalists of Iran and Turan have, therefore, settled here, and the cultivation of trees is in a flourishing state.13

Yet, in spite of God’s munificence as manifested by the earth’s fecundity and the diversity of its life-sustaining foods, humanity remains largely ungrateful, according to the Qur’an. The question God poses in Yā Sīn 36.35—“Will they not then give thanks?”—is repeated in āya 73. Ingratitude is, in fact, the accusation that Iblīs (Satan) makes against humanity to prove their unworthiness before God: “You will not find most of them grateful” (al-A’rāf 7.17). Indeed, repeatedly the Qur’an says to humanity: “Little do you give thanks!” and: “But most people do not give thanks.”14 Thus, after noting humanity’s lack of gratitude for the sustenance that they draw the Creator’s hands, āya 36 of Yā Sīn breaks out in praise to God: Glory to the One who created the pairs from which the earth produces everything and from which they themselves come as well as all that they do know not.15

13. A-in-Akbari, v. 1, p. 68. 14. 7.10; 23.78; 32.9; 67.23; 2.243; 10.60; 12.38; 27.73; 40.61. 15. Cf. 43.12: “who has created pairs in all things … ;” 20.53: “(God) sent down rain from the sky, and by means of it, We brought forth pairs of diverse plants.”

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Even as people enjoy the fruits of the earth, however, they may remain unheedful of the One who created it, His Word and His messengers, and so the sūrah describes still more signs of God in āya 37–40: the coming of the night after the day when all are plunged into darkness, the sun which journeys across the sky, the moon which waxes and wanes, and the orderly orbits of the heavenly spheres. The alternation of night and day is frequently mentioned in the Qur’an as a manifestation of divine power and presence and is ubiquitous in the sūrahs of the Taj Mahal. As we have seen in the previous chapter, al-Fajr begins with references to the day and night, as does al-Ḍuḥā on the north face of the great gateway, as we will see. References to sun and moon/day and night are likewise mentioned in al-Takwīr 81.17–18 and alInshiqaq 84.16–17, as discussed in the chapters that follow. In Yā Sīn, as in the other sūrahs, the movement of the sun and the moon, and the alternation of the day and the night exemplify Divine Order in the world which does not countenance chaos, but decrees that earthly life give way to death, and that death give way to eternal life—a poignant point to be made in a funerary complex. Since the inception of Islam, Muslims have marked the movement of the celestial bodies to determine the time and direction of prayer and the orientation of mosques, to fix the months of the (lunar) calendar, and establish days of fasting, pilgrimage, feasts, and commemorations. On a practical level, charting the movement of the stars facilitated navigation on land and sea for the purposes of trade and travel. In spite of early objections to the magic and divination associated with ancient astrology, Islamic societies have historically encouraged the study of both astronomy and astrology which were considered to be two aspects of the same science.16 Like their Timurid ancestors, the Mughals were keenly interested in astronomy/ astrology. It is said that Shah Jahan’s great-grandfather Humayun “knew the minutiae of the astrolabe and astronomical charts and observations better than any ruler or king …, ”17 and that “his interest in astrolabes, globes, and other astronomical instruments was intense.”18 The time of the birth of Humayun’s son Akbar was analyzed in depth, and a horoscope produced by astrologer Mulla Chand “who had great skill in and knowledge of the astrolabe and the details of star catalogues and casting horoscopes.”19 Ironically, Humayun fell to his death descending the stairway from the rooftop of his library where he was awaiting the appearance of Venus. When Akbar ascended the throne, additional horoscopes were prepared for him by a Hindu astrologer according to Indian star charts, as well as by the Persian astrologer Amir Fathullah Shirazi.20 In the Shah Jahan 16. For a discussion of the historical debate about astrology among Muslims, see: Robert G. Morrison, “Discussions of Astrology in Early Tafsīr,” Journal of Qur’anic Studies, v. 11, no. 2 (2009), pp. 49–71. 17. Abu’l-Fazl, The History of Akbar, Wheeler M. Thackston, trans. and ed. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 2015), v. 1, p. 141 (§ 105). 18. Abu’l-Fazl, The History of Akbar, vol. 2, p. 91 (§ 58). 19. Abu’l-Fazl, The History of Akbar, vol. 1, p. 81. 20. Abu’l-Fazl, The History of Akbar, vol. 1, pp. 81–145.

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Nama, Shah Jahan’s official chronicle, his birth was carefully noted with lunar and astrological details: His Majesty’s auspicious birth took place in the capital of Lahore, on the expiry of five hours and ten minutes on the night of Thursday, the last day the month of Rabi’ I 1000 (January 15, 1592); but in accordance with the sighting of the moon, the first day of the month of Rabi’ II. According to the astronomers, the date corresponded to the 25th of the solar Ilahi month of Dai, in the thirty-sixth year of the accession to the throne of the late Emperor Akbar. The zodiac sign was Libra according to Iranian rule, and Virgo according to the Indians.21

After Shah Jahan had secured his succession as emperor, royal astrologers, among them a Hindu astrologer named Muīśvara, calculated the exact day that he should enter the capital at Agra and ascend the throne: 8th of Jumada II 1037 (February 14, 1628).22 A second coronation was held on the 15th of Zi’l-Hijja 1037 (August 16, 1628) because according to “the clear-sighted astrologers, no more auspicious hour than this existed in the cycle of the calendar.”23 Early in Shah Jahan’s reign, new astronomical tables known as Zij-i-Shah Jahani were completed by Mulla Farid Ibrahim Dihlavi (d. 1631) who had been trained by Akbar’s astrologer Fathullah Shirazi,24 and “orders were given for the benefit of the common people, the tables should be translated into the language of Hindustan by Indian astrologers.”25 Throughout Shah Jahan’s reign astrologers determined the most auspicious days for the emperor to set out on journeys. The interest of Shah Jahan and his court in astronomy/astrology is evidenced by the numerous astrolabes produced during his reign by the Allāhdād family of Lahore—at least thirty-one which can be firmly dated to the period of his rule, as well as thirteen celestial globes.26 The importance of the astrolabe in Shah Jahan’s time is evident from two Mughal paintings depicting Noah’s ark in which one of the survivors of the flood uses an astrolabe to navigate the ark through the waters.27 The deliverance of Noah and his family from the flood is another of God’s sign evoked in Yā Sīn. The reference is brief—a single āya (41): “And a sign for them is that We carried their offspring 21. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, pp. 4–5. 22. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 17; Christopher Minlowski, “Learned Brahmins and the Mughal Court: The Jyotiṣas,” in: Religious Interactions in Mughal India, ed. Vasudha Dalmia and Munis D. Faruqui (New Delhi: Oxford University, 2014), p. 124. 23. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 26. 24. Like Amanat Khan’s brother, Afzal Khan, Mulla Farid had been in the service of ‘Abd al-Rahim (Khān Khānān) before becoming part of Shah Jahan’s court. He died soon after the completion of the astronomical tables for Shah Jahan. 25. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 35. 26. Sreeramula Rajeswara Sarma, A Descriptive Catalogue of Indian Astronomical Instruments, Abridged Version (Hamburg: GmbH, 2019). 27. Freer Gallery, Washington (F1948.8), c. 1590; and National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2010.21), ca. 1600.

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in the loaded Ark”—but the story is told at length in sūrah Nūḥ (71), and in Hūd 11.25–48, al-Mu’minūn 23.23–30, and al-Shu’arā 26.105–121, and mentioned more briefly in several other sūras. It follows the Qur’anic paradigm for stories of the prophets such as we have already seen in the parable of the messenger (āya 13–32): God sends messengers who are largely mocked and rejected. Those who persist in their unbelief are destroyed while the believers prevail. *** Yā Sīn continues with āya 45 on the northern face of the mausoleum facing the Yamuna River. It is a fortuitous break in the text, if not precisely planned, for it allows the viewer to see clearly in the lower right corner of the inscription panel a verb of considerable significance in the Qur’an: ittaqū—“be aware” (pl. 9): And when it said to them: ‘Be aware of what is before you and what is behind you, in order that you might be shown mercy.’

The verb ittaqū and its related forms, derived from the root waqā, are some of the most frequently used in the entire Qur’an. Most often, the object of the verb is Allāh, such as in the phrase ittaqū Allāh—“Be aware of God” (or: rabbukum, “your Lord”) which appears more fifty times alone, with many instances of the verb occurring in sūrahs al-Baqarah, al-Mā’idah, and al-Shu’arā’. Although ittaqū is often translated as “fear,” it is better understood as being aware or conscious of something (or someone—i.e., God). Here, in āya 45, humanity is instructed to “be aware of what is before you and what is behind you,” signifying the consequences that will come on the Day of Judgment and the deeds that one has left behind. With this awareness and with sincere repentance, one may experience the lifegiving mercy of God—mentioned in āya 44 and here again in 45. Ittaqū comes from the same root as the noun taqwā, a word translated variously as “piety,” “righteousness,” or “fear of God,” but more precisely connotes an awareness, mindfulness, or consciousness of God’s omnipresence, “an all-encompassing awareness of the Divine Reality.”28 Fazlur Rahman has called taqwā “perhaps the most important single term in the Qur’an.”29 All the signs that God has provided humanity—the signs of natural phenomena, of the prophets and sacred scripture— are intended to make people muttaqūn—i.e., those imbued with taqwā; but, as āya 46 indicates: “Not a single sign from among the signs of their Lord comes to them without them turning away from it.” All of the observances of Islam, including the “Five Pillars”—the profession of faith (shahādah), prayer (ṣalat), alms-giving (zakat), fasting (ṣawm), and the pilgrimage to Mecca (ḥajj), as well as devotional practices such as dhikr (remembrance), du’ā’ (supplication) recitation 28. Joseph Lumbard, “The Qur’anic View of Sacred History and Other Religions,” The Study Qur’an, p. 1768. 29. Fazlur Rahman, Major Themes of the Qur’an, 2nd ed. (Minneapolis: Bibliotheca Islamic, 1994), p. 28.

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of the Qur’an, praying with misbaḥah (prayer beads), reciting al-asmā’ al-ḥusnā (the Ninety-nine “beautiful names of God”), making ziyārah (“visit”) to shrines and holy places—all of these are meant to inculcate taqwā in the worshipper, to bring into one’s consciousness the presence of God everywhere and at all times. It is this complete awareness of the Divine, this understanding and experience of God’s omnipresence that protects an individual from falling into sin—hence the meaning of the root waqā, “to safeguard, shield, and protect.” It is on the basis of one’s taqwā that God assesses character and purity of heart: O humanity, surely We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in God’s eyes is whoever is who become most conscious of God (atqā-kum). Surely, God is Knowing & Aware.” (al-Ḥujurāt 49.13)

It is thus those who cultivated and embodied this consciousness of God in earthly life who are granted admittance to eternal life: And those who were conscious (attaqaw) of their Lord will be led into the Garden together, until they arrive there and its gates are opened; and its keepers will say: ‘Peace be with you! You have done well, so enter here and abide forever.’ (al-Zumar 39.73)

Becoming muttaqūn, that is, more conscious of God (< taqwā), means that people will become consequently more conscious of the needy, the hungry, the orphaned, and the vulnerable. We have already noted in al-Fajr the strong emphasis that the Qur’an places on caring for the poor and discussed Shah Jahan’s efforts to alleviate the famines that occurred during his reign. Now in Yā Sīn (āya 47), humanity is again reminded of its responsibility to the hungry, to move humanity to compassionate action rather than remaining in apathetic indifference. The acknowledgment of and submission to God’s will do not absolve humanity from alleviating the suffering the others. Rather, it demands action: And when it is said to them: “Spend (on others) from what God has provided you,” Those who do not believe say to those who believe: “Shall we feed those, if God had so willed He could have fed?” You are surely in clear error!

The phrase “clear error” (ḍalāl mubīn) was used earlier in the sūrah (āya 24) in reference to turning away from God. Thus, it may be said that failing to feed the hungry is tantamount to betraying God. Āya 49 reintroduces a word encountered previously in āya 29: ṣayḥah—an annihilating blast of sound. In the earlier āya, it referred to the means by which God destroyed peoples in the past who refused to heed His prophets. In āya 49, the ṣayḥah is a sign of a day to come, the Day of Judgment (yawm al-dīn), known

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also as the Day of Reckoning (yawm al-ḥisāb), the Day of Distress (yawm ‘asīr), and the Day of Sorting Out (yawm al-faṣl). It is vividly described in al-Fajr 89.21 ff. and in this section of Yā Sīn: They will not to wait have for but a single blast. It will overtake them while they are still arguing. They will not be able to settle affairs nor return to their people. The trumpet will be blown and behold! From the tombs, they shall come forth to their Lord. (āya 49–51).

In Islamic tradition, the angel who blows the trumpet on the Last Day is called Isrāfīl: No angel is nearer to the throne (of God) than Isrāfīl … He awaits the command of God, and when He commands, he will blow. And when the period of the world is completed, the trumpet will be brought near the face of Isrāfīl and he will fold his four wings and blow the trumpet.30

Illuminated manuscripts from the fourteenth century and later depict Isrāfīl blowing his trumpet.31 It is widely held that he will herald the resurrection of the dead from the rock on al-ḥaram al-sharīf in Jerusalem, enshrined by ‘Abd al-Malik in the Dome of the Rock.32 As described in Yā Sīn, the sonic blast from Isrāfīl’s trumpet rouses the startled dead from their sleep to face the fate foretold by God’s prophets: They will say: “Woe to us! Who has awakened us from our resting place?” [It will be said to them:] “This is what the Most Merciful had promised! The messengers were right!” (Yā Sīn 36.52)

With that blast of the trumpet, graves are emptied, and all people are brought before God for the final judgment, assessed on the basis of their earthly demeanor and deeds. As with al-Fajr, the judgment and the fate of the deceased are presented in Yā Sīn in a balanced fashion. The righteous dead, “the companions of the Garden” (aṣḥāb al-jannah), are happily occupied, reclining with their mates in the shade of heavy-laden fruit trees without want. Their greatest reward is, perhaps, the greeting they receive from their Merciful Lord—the word salām: “Peace!” As seen 30. Kitāb aḥwāl al-qiyāma (anon.) quoted in: Smith and Hadad, Islamic Understanding, pp. 70–1. 31. See especially illustrated copies of: Aja’ib al-makhluqat wa-ghara’ib al-mawjudat (“Wonders of creation and oddities of existence”), al-Qazvini (d. 1283); Jerusalem, 1000– 1400: Every People under Heaven, Barbara Drake Boehm and Melanie Holcomb, eds. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2016), cat. no. 148. 32. Oleg Grabar, The Dome of the Rock, p. 56.

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in the previous chapter on al-Fajr, salām is a consistent element in the greeting extended by God or His angels to the righteous.33 Salām is no mere “hello” coming from the mouth of God or His Angels. Like the word Islām, salām is derived from the verb salima which means “to be safe, intact, unharmed, and secure.” Salām is the peace to which God had called humanity throughout earthly life, the peace achieved through submission to His Will (Islām), the peace with which He greets the righteous and bestows upon them for eternity, signifying the end of all strife, a state of original wholeness, serenity, and integrity, and of eternal existence in God who is Peace—al-Salām. Whereas the righteous will hear God welcome them into Paradise with the word of salām, the wicked hear the most damning of rebukes beginning in āya 59: “Go away you sinners this day!” God addresses them as “children of Adam,” poignantly and pointedly reminding them of their descent from the noble first human to whom the angels bowed down at God’s command (al-A’rāf 7.11), and reminding them of His warning about Satan: Did I not tell you, O children of Adam, that you must not serve Satan for he is a real enemy to you, and that you should serve me for this is a straight path? And surely, he led astray great numbers of you. Did you not understand? (Yā Sīn 36.60–62)

Thus, whereas the righteous happily dwell in shaded gardens, the wicked are ushered into hellfire because they stubbornly refused to believe and heed the numerous signs God provided. Their faithless and deceitful lips are now sealed, unable to defend themselves, with their hands revealing the sinful acts they committed, and their feet marked with the sinful ways they trod. Twice we are reminded that if God had willed, He could have punished the sinful on earth (āya 66–67) had He so chosen. God could have put out their eyes, but that would have deprived them of the chance to repent and find their way to the path of righteous. He could have deprived them of their ability to move about but that would have prevented them from the opportunity to submit and return to Him in faith. The use of the phrase wa law nashā’—“and if We had willed … ” in āya 66–67 recalls āya 43 where God says that had He willed, He could have drowned all of humanity in the Flood; but in His Mercy, He instead chose to save a remnant of humanity and all life that the Creation might be born anew. In Yā Sīn, God is referred to as alRaḥmān four times (āya 11, 15, 23, and 52), clearly emphasizing His Mercy in spite of humanity’s repeated recalcitrance. As related in a famous ḥadīth: “When God decreed the Creation, He pledged Himself by writing in His book which is laid down with Him: My mercy prevails over my wrath.”34 Indeed, the foundational belief in God as al-Raḥmān al-Raḥīm led some classical Muslims theologians to 33. Cf.: Yūnus 10.10; Ibrāhīm 14.23; al-Naḥl 16.32; Maryam 19.62; al-Furqān 25.75; alAḥzāb 33.44; etc. 34. Ḥadīth Qudsī: www.sunnah.com.

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view hellfire more as temporary purgation rather than as eternal punishment.35 Ibn ‘Arabi, whose influence was pervasive among the shaykhs with whom Shah Jahan associated, wrote: Although one does as one lives, and sin is the messenger of disbelief, if I am fortunate and give my last breath as a believer, then He will purify me in hellfire and take me out and give me peace in His mercy.36

Likening souls to jewels that become tarnished, Sharafuddin Maneri, whom Shah Jahan studied in his youth, wrote that some are still capable of being cleaned and polished after death: “They are placed over the fire until they are cleansed of all dross and rust.” Even in Hell one is not to desist from seeking God: “Say to Malik (the keeper of Hell): ‘Rain the blows of torture upon my head, while I pursue the path of seeking Him. The work must go on!’”37 In his now classic book, The Religion of Islam, Maulana Muhammad ‘Ali (1874–1951) wrote: Hell, therefore only represents the evil consequences of evil deeds, but still it is not a place merely for undergoing the consequences of what has been done; it is also a remedial plan. In other words, its chastisement is not for the purpose of torture but for purification; so that man, rid of the evil consequences which he has brought about with his own hands, may be made fit for spiritual advancement.38

*** With āya 67, the text of the sūrah continues onto the east face of the mausoleum. God’s power over humanity’s physical abilities is reiterated in āya 68, punctuated with a phrase commonly used in the Qur’an: “Do they not understand?”, echoing āya 62: “Did you not understand?” In fact, in this final part of Yā Sīn, words and phrases that appear in earlier in the sūrah recur, and thus provide reminders of 35. Muhammad Hassan Khalil, “Is Hell Truly Everlasting? An Introduction to Medieval Islamic Universalism,” in: Locating Hell in Islamic Traditions, ed. Christian Lange (Leiden: Brill, 2016), pp. 165–74; and Samuela Pagani, “Ibn ‘Arabi, Ibn Qayyimal-Jawziyya, and the Political Functions of Punishment in the Islamic Hell,” in: Locating Hell in Islamic Traditions, ed. Christian Lange (Leiden: Brill, 2015) pp. 175–207. See also: Gabriel Said Reynolds, Allah: God in the Qur’an (New Haven: Yale, 2020), pp. 144–54. 36. Ibn ‘Arabi, What the Seeker Needs: Essays on Spiritual Practice, Oneness, Majesty and Beauty, Shaikh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi and Rabia Terri Harris al-Jerrahi, trans. (Chestnut Ridge, NJ: Threshold, 1992), p. 19. 37. Maneri, The Hundred Letters, pp. 200 and 420. 38. Maulana Muhammad Ali, The Religion of Islām: A Comprehensive Discussion of the Sources, Prinicples and Practices of Islam, 5th ed. (Dublin, OH: Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha’at Islam, 2012), p. 217. Maulana’s book was endorsed by Muhammed Tantawi, Grand Imam, and Shaykh of al-Azhar, in 2006.

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the sūrah’s essential content. Āya 69 reintroduces two foundational subjects of the sūrah: the Prophet Muhammad and the Qur’an: We have not taught him (Muhammad) poetry, nor would it befit it (the Qur’an), for it is but a Reminder and a clear Recitation.

We recall that Yā Sīn began with the same subjects: “By the Wise Qur’an—You are indeed one of the Messengers” (āya 2–3). Āya 70 reminds the reader/listener that the purpose of the Qur’an is to “warn the living and prove the truth of the Word against those who reject it.” We have already seen the frequency with which forms of the verb nadhara (“warn”) are used in āya 6, 10, and 11. Āya 70 uses the verb ḥaqqa—“to prove true”—first seen in āya 7: “(For although) the Word is proved true against most of them, they do not believe.” Āya 71 reminds the reader/listener of the munificence God’s creation: “Have they not seen that is We who created for them … ” Here, the verb khalaqa (“to create”) appears again, having been used previously in āya 36: “Glory to God who created the pairs from which the earth produces everything … ;” in 42: “And We have created for them the like of it (the ark of Noah) in which they ride,” and will recur in āyāt 77–79 and 81 as well. Specifically, humanity is reminded in āya 71–73 of the animals (an’ām) that God has created for their use: Have they not seen that it is We who created for them, (or) what Our hands have made, herds of animals which you possess? And We subjected them (the animals) to them, for some they ride and some they eat, and they (the animals) are useful for them and (a source) of drink. Will they not then give thanks?

Although often translated simply as “cattle,” the word an’ām refers to herded animals, specifically sheep, goats, cattle, and camels (cf. al-An’ām 6.143–4).39 As Yā Sīn reminds humanity once again of its duty to give thanks to God for the benefits that animals offer, sūrah al-Naḥl likewise sees the connection between humans and animals as a sign of God’s mercy: And there is beauty in them for you as you bring them home in the evening, and as you send them out to pasture. And they carry your heavy loads to lands that you could not reach except with great difficulty, for truly your Lord is Kind and Merciful. (al-Naḥl 16.6–7)

Although as Muslims the Mughals were not bound by Hindu, Buddhist, or Jain dietary restrictions, they nevertheless showed considerable sensitivity to them, and were motivated in some cases to limit the slaughter of animals by their own 39. As with Judaism, Islam forbids the consumption of pork. See: al-Baqarah 2.173.

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spiritual concerns, even as they enjoyed the hunting of wild animals as a diversion. According to Akbar’s chronicler Abu’l-Fazl: His Majesty cares very little for meat, and often expresses himself to that effect. It is indeed from ignorance and cruelty that, although various kinds of food are obtainable, men are bent upon injuring creatures, and lending a ready hand in killing and eating them; none seems to have an eye for the beauty inherent in the prevention of cruelty, but makes himself a tomb for animals. If His Majesty had not the burden of the world on his shoulders, he would at once totally abstain from meat; and now it is his intention to quit it by degrees, conforming, however, a little to the spirit of the age. His Majesty abstained from meat for some time on Fridays, and then on Sundays; now on the first day of every solar month, on Sundays, on solar and lunar eclipses, on days between two fasts, on the Mondays of the month of Rajab on the feast-day of every solar month, during the whole month of Farwardīn, and during the month in which His Majesty was born, viz. the month of Ābān.40

Through his association with Hiravijay Suri (1526–95), the leader of the Śvetambara Jains, Akbar became interested in Jain philosophy such that he issued a farman in 1584 prohibiting the slaughter of animals for twelve days during the paryusana festival during which Jains fast. Under the influence of Suri’s disciple Santichandra, in 1592 Akbar again issued farmans with stringent prohibitions on the slaughter of animals.41 ‘Abd al-Qadir Bad’uni (1540–1605), Akbar’s most strident critic, lamented that the emperor “prohibited the slaughter of cows, and the eating of their flesh, because the Hindus devoutly worship them.”42 Jahangir followed his father’s example as he himself demonstrated at the beginning of his reign with a decree concerning livestock: In accordance with my exalted father’s custom, I commanded that every year, commencing on the eighteenth of Rabi’ I, my birthday, there would be no slaughter of animals in the realm for one day for every year [of my life]. Also, slaughter was forbidden on two days of every week, one being Thursday, the day of my accession to the throne, and the other Sunday, my father’s birthday, for which reason he considered this day sacred and venerated it greatly, and also because it was the day attributed to the sun and the day on which the creation of the world was begun.43

40. A-in-i-Akbari, vol. 1, pp. 64–65. 41. Shirin Mehta, “Akbar as Reflected in the Contemporary Jain Literature in Gujarat,” in: Akbar and His Age, ed. Iqtidar Alam Khan, (New Delhi: Northern Book Centre, 1999), pp. 224–5. 42. Muntakhab al-tawarikh, W.H. Lowe, trans (Kolkata: Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1884), v. 2, p. 268. 43. Jahangirnama, p. 26.

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European travelers in the Mughal Empire during Jahangir’s reign noted the laws concerning cows and other animals: Oxen and cows are not slaughtered … their slaughter is strictly forbidden by the King on pain of death, though buffaloes may be freely killed. The King maintains this rule to please the Hindu rajas and banians, who regard the cow as one of the most veritable gods or sacred things … and, occasionally, that some days no meat of any description, whether goat, sheep, or buffalo, shall be sold in the market.”44

According to the testimony of Surat Singh, a Hindu who served in the Mughal administration, the prohibition of cow slaughter in certain parts of his empire continued to be enforced down to the early years of Shah Jahan’s reign.45 It has been assumed that Shah Jahan changed existing practice due to his alleged antagonism toward Hindus, born out of an adherence to Islamic “orthodoxy,” a characterization which can no longer be supported.46 In fact, Surat Singh praised Shah Jahan for his justice and his protection of Hindus and Muslims alike, as did Chandar Bhan, a Hindu who served Shah Jahan closely as state secretary (munshi).47 Thus, if indeed Shah Jahan did rescind some cow protections early in his reign, specifically in Punjab where Surat Singh was serving, the emperor’s reason for doing so must be explained on grounds other than religious. The explanation is to be found, I believe, in the famines that plagued the Mughal Empire particularly in the first decade of Shah Jahan’s reign, as mentioned in the previous chapter. The horrific suffering that resulted from the famine of 1630–2 was vividly described in the Shah Jahan Nama: The cravings of famine compelled parents to devour their offspring, and high and low were clamoring for bread and dying from sheer exhaustion. Dead men’s bones were ground up and mixed with flour, and then sold in the markets; and dog’s flesh was substituted for that of goats.48

44. Pelsaert, Jahangir’s India, p. 49. See also: Ellison B. Findly, “Jahāngīr’s Vow of NonViolence,” Journal of the American Oriental Society, v. 107, no. 2 (April–June 1987), p. 253; Awis Akhtar et al., “Emperor Jahangir’s Policy on Religious Tolerance (1605–1627),” Journal of Indian Studies, v. 4, no. 1 (January–June 2018), p. 24; Shalin Jain, The Jains under the Mughals: Identity, Community and State (Delhi: Primus, 2017), pp. 236–7. 45. Iqtidar Alam Khan, “State in the Mughal India: Re-Examining the Myths of a Counter-Vision,” Social Scientist, v. 29, no. 1/2 (January–February 2001), p. 21; M. Athar Ali, Mughal India: Studies in Polity, Ideas, Society and Culture (New Delhi: Oxford, 2006), p. 193. 46. Calabria, “The Unorthodox Orthodoxy of Shah Jahan.” 47. Ali, Mughal India, p. 212; Kinra, Writing Self. 48. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 62.

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Surat Singh was serving in Lahore in 1642 when 30,000 men, women, and children poured into the city seeking relief from famine in Kashmir.49 As I have demonstrated above and elsewhere,50 Shah Jahan responded to such crises by mustering considerable resources in order to feed the hungry, some at his own expense. It is thus likely that if Shah Jahan permitted the slaughter of cows during these years, it was not done as an affront to Hindus, but so that the starving might be fed, a duty that his Muslim faith demanded of him. *** After reminding humanity of the benefits reaped from the animals that God created, Yā Sīn 36.73 again asks: “Will they not then give thanks?” as it had previously in āya 35. From a Qur’anic perspective, ingratitude is not simply a lack of giving thanks, but more seriously it is shown by giving one’s devotion to something or someone other than God, and putting one’s trust in some other entity: And they take gods besides God with the hope that they will be helped. But they are not able to help them; though they be like an assembled army. (Yā Sīn 36.74–75)

This concern too was raised earlier in the sūrah, expressed by the unnamed man in the parable: How could I not worship the One who created me, and to whom all of you shall be returned? Shall I take other gods than He? If the Most Merciful wants some adversity to happen, their intercession would not be able to spare me at all nor save me. If I did so, I would be in clear error. (Yā Sīn 36.22–24)

The Qur’an clearly takes a very negative view of the polytheism practiced by the Arabs, their neighbors, and their predecessors. One of the essential missions of any prophet was to exhort his people to worship only God: “We did not send before you a messenger except with what we revealed to him: that there is no god but I, so worship Me” (al-Anbiyā’ 21.25). That being said, as Islam spread beyond Arabia and Muslims came into closer contact with other cultures, some scholars discerned an underlying monotheism in the polytheistic religions of the past and present. The anonymous author of a text titled Akhbār al-Zamān (“The Chronicles of Time”), dated between the tenth- and twelfth centuries CE,

49. Irfan Habib, Agrarian System, pp. 116 ff. 50. Michael Calabria, “Mughal Munificence,” pp. 31–53.

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asserted that even though the ancient Egyptians worshipped many gods, they nevertheless: believe in the Oneness of God, and their praise of functionary mediums (like stars), does not affect their Creator for they glorify these mediums to worship God and get nearer to him as do the Indians, the Arabs and many other nations.51

Al-Biruni, an eleventh-century scholar of mathematics and science, as well as comparative religion, similarly assessed the faith of educated Hindus (c. 1030 CE): The Hindus believe with regard to God that he is one, eternal, without beginning and end, acting by free-will, almighty, all-wise, living, giving life, ruling preserving; one who in his sovereignty is unique, beyond all likeness and unlikeness, and that he does not resemble anything nor does anything resemble him.52

Abu’l-Fazl. included a lengthy discussion of Hinduism in his Ā-īn-i Akbarī and observed: It then became clear that the commonly received opinion that Hindus associate a plurality of gods with the One Supreme Being has not the full illumination of truth, for although with regard to some points and certain conclusions, there is room for controversy, yet the worship of one God and the profession of His Unity among this people appeared facts convincingly attested.53

Shah Jahan apparently shared this perspective as evidenced by a farman (December 5, 1634), allowing Hindus to sound the gharial (ritual gong).54 In the decree he refers to Hindu religious practice as Ibadat i Ilahi (Divine worship) and Hindus as “God-worshippers” (khuda parast). In his Maktubat-i Sadi, Sharafuddin Maneri considered the issue of idolatry and polytheism from within Islam. He believed true idolatry was “coveting something other than God … fearing something other than God, or relying on something

51. Quoted in: Okasha El-Daly, Egyptology: The Missing Millennium—Ancient Egypt in the Medieval Arabic Writings (Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast, 2005), p. 83. Akhbār al-Zamān was translated into French by the orientalist Baron Carra de Vaux under the title L’Abrégé des Merveilles Traduit de l’Arabe d’après les Manuscrits de la Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris (Paris: Klincksieck, 1898). For theories regarding the possible identity of the author of the Akhbār, see: el Daly, pp. 170–1. 52. Albêrnûnî’s India, Edward C. Sachau, trans. (New Delhi: Rupa, 2002), p. 11. 53. Abu’l-Fazl, Ā-īn-i Akbarī, v. 3, p. 2. 54. Tirmizi, Mughal Documents (A.D. 1628–59), vol. 2, no. 63.

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other than God.”55 He wrote about the “hidden polytheism” among Muslims which he defined as: “to see either loss or profit coming from anything besides God, or to be afraid or hopeful on account of anything other than God.”56 Contrasting this to the concept of the Oneness of Being (waḥdat al-wujūd) which Sufi teachers had taught the young Shah Jahan, Maneri continued: “In the entire ambit of faith one should see only God; there should be none but God! Whoever sees anything else besides Him in either world is guilty of polytheism.”57 *** As āya 71 of Yā Sīn drew the listener/reader’s attention to what God had created for humanity’s benefit, āya 77 now reminds humanity of its own creation: “Does humanity not see that We created him from seed? And yet he is really contentious!,” and “he forgets his own creation” (āya 78). Humanity’s forgetfulness is at the root of most of its problems, according to the Qur’an. Thus, the verb dhakara (“to remember”) is used nearly three hundred times in the text. The purpose in āya 77 of reminding humanity about their origins in God’s creative act is so that they will believe that He can raise their dead bodies to new life: He says: “Who can give life to decayed bones?” Say: ‘The One who willed it the first time will give them life again for He knows every kind of creation. (āyāt 78–79)

This reiterates what was declared earlier in āya 12: “Truly, We give life to the dead.” The power of God’s creative force to bring life from dead bones is conversely demonstrated in His ability to produce fire from green wood (al-shajar al-akhḍar), something which is counter-intuitive as fire is produced from dry and dead wood rather than living trees. God’s omnipotence is powerfully articulated in āya 81 using three forms of khalaqa (“to create”): Is not He, the One who created the heavens and the earth, not able to create the like thereof? For indeed He is the All-knowing Creator.

The final two āyāt of Yā Sīn are particularly profound and powerful. Āya 82 uses a phrase that represents God’s creative utterance, the very words by which He brings things into being: “Truly, when He wills something, He says to it: ‘Be!’ and it is,” rendered in Arabic as kun (“Be!”) fa-yakūn (“and it is”). In several āyāt of the Qur’an, this phrase is used in the context of God’s creative acts, not only regarding the creation of the heavens and the earth (al-Baqarah 2.117; Al-An’am 6.73) but also with the extraordinary creation of Jesus in the womb of Maryam

55. Maneri, The Hundred Letters, p. 85. 56. Maneri, The Hundred Letters, p. 170. 57. Maneri, The Hundred Letters, p. 171.

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without benefit of a human father. Sūrah Āl ‘Imrān provides an account of the annunciation to Maryam, who receives the news that she will bear Christ Jesus: She said: ‘O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me?’ He (the angel) said: ‘Even so, God creates what He will. When He utters a command, He but says: ‘Be!’ and it is. (Āl ‘Imrān 3.47)

The phrase is repeated in Āl ‘Imrān 3.59 where Jesus’ birth is likened to the creation of Adam: The similitude of Jesus before God is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, ‘Be!’—and he was.

The appearance of kun fa-yakūn in Yā Sīn 36.82, however, is not to evoke Jesus’ creation in this context but to demonstrate that just as God can create something or someone simply by uttering “Be,” so can He bring new life to that which was dead. Kun fa-yakūn is thus a powerful statement for the penultimate āya of the sūrah that envelops the mausoleum of the Taj Mahal. The final āya of Yā Sīn (83) is an exultant assertion of faith in God who is the source of all life and the destination of all life: “So glory to Him in whose hands is the dominion of all things; and to Him all of you will be returned!” This reprises āya 36 which also begins: “Glory to Him … ” (subḥāna alladhī). The āya uses the verb raja’ (“to return”) in its passive form—turja’ūn—“you will be returned,” a verb that we have seen at the end of al-Fajr 89.28: “Return to your Lord ….” The presence of raja’ in both al-Fajr and Yā Sīn helps to create an eschatological connection between the Great Gate and the mausoleum, both structures assuring the faithful of their return to God.

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Chapter 5 W H E R E A R E Y OU G O I N G ? A L - T A K W Ī R

Each of the mausoleum’s four large pishtaqs has an arched doorway that gives access to the interior of the mausoleum. These doorways are also framed by sūrahs of the Qur’an. The south doorway, through which visitors to the Taj Mahal now enter, is inscribed with al-Takwīr, the eighty-first sūrah of the Qur’an (Figure 24). The text begins on the right side of the door above the dado bearing flowering plants exquisitely carved in raised relief with borders of inlaid flowery scrolls. As most of the sūrah’s twenty-nine āyāt are roughly equal in length, they are distributed more or less equally among the inscription panels. The panel to the right of the door bears āya 1–8 and part of āya 9 which then turns the corner for the horizontal section above the door and continues to the first half of āya 20. The āya turns the corner into the left panel which contains the final nine āyāt. In order to distribute

Figure 24  Taj Mahal Mausoleum, south doorway: al-Takwīr. Courtesy of iStock.

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the remaining text equally into the available space, the letter nūn in the final world al-‘ālamīn (āya 29) is shortened so that only the beginning of the letter is shown with its single dot. Sūrah al-Takwīr is traditionally regarded as a very early Meccan sūrah, the seventh to be revealed according to the Egyptian edition.1 The title of the sūrah is the noun (maṣdar) derived from the verb kawwara (“to roll up”) which appears in the first āya and is discussed below. With repeated references to the cosmic upheavals on the Day of Judgment in the first part of the sūrah (āya 1–14), the regular recitation of the sūrah in prayer is said to convey benefits at the final reckoning. According to a ḥadīth: Whoever recites the surah ‘When the sun is rolled up,’ God will protect him from being exposed to shame when his ledger (of deeds) is opened.2

The association of al-Takwīr with the afterlife is even greater when considered along with sūrahs al-Infiṭār (82) and al-Inshiqāq (84) which are inscribed around the west and north doors of the mausoleum; for according to another ḥadīth: Whoever wishes to look upon the Day of Resurrection with his own eyes, then let him read: ‘When the sun is rolled up’ (al-Takwīr 81.1), ‘When the sky is split open’ (al-‘Infiṭār 82.1), and ‘When the sky is split open’. (al-Inshiqāq 84.1)3

The choice of these sūrahs for three of the mausoleum’s four doors was thus clearly based on this ḥadīth, a connection which has hitherto gone unnoticed in scholarship on the Taj Mahal. Following the apocalyptic images in the first fourteen āya, the second part of the sūrah concerns the veracity of the revelation of the Qur’an through the angel Jibrīl (Gabriel) to the prophet Muhammad.

Al-Takwīr (The Rolling Up) In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

When the sun is rolled up And when the stars fall And when the mountains are set in motion And when the she-camels are abandoned And when the wild animals are gathered together And when the seas boil over And when the souls are joined

1. Nöldeke-Schwally places it much later in the first Meccan period as number twentyseven. 2. Zamakhsharī, al-Kashshāf, v. 4, p. 535. 3. Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīr, 4, p. 430.

5. Where Are You Going? al-Takwīr

8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29.

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And when the female child who is buried alive is asked For what crime was she killed And when the pages [of Deeds] are laid out And when the sky is peeled back And when Hell is set ablaze And when Paradise is brought near Then each soul will know what it has done. Indeed, I swear by the planets that recede, Or move forward and disappear And by the night when it fades And by the morning when its breaths into being Indeed, this a word of a noble messenger Endowed with power and honored by the Lord of the Throne Obeyed and trustworthy: And your companion [Muhammad] is not possessed! And surely, he [Muhammad] saw him [Gabriel] on the clear horizon. And he is not withholding (knowledge) of the Unseen. And it is not the word of Satan, the accursed. So where are you going? For it is but a reminder to the (whole) world4 For those among you who wish to take the straight path And who do will anything except what God wills, the Lord of the Worlds.

Commentary The first half of the sūrah (āyāt 1–14) comprises twelve phrases each describing a sign that shows the Judgment is at hand. Each phrase begins with: (wa) idha— “(And) when … ”—followed by a feminine noun (ending in ḍamma), and then a verb in the perfect tense (third person feminine ending in -at). There is thus a discernible style and repetitive aural rhythm to these apocalyptic verses in Arabic, which is lost in translation, but which can be conveyed in transliteration: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 10. 11.

Idha al-shamsu kuwwirat Wa idha al-nujūmu ankadarat Wa idha al-jibālu suyyirat Wa idha al-‘ishāru ‘uṭṭilat Wa idha al-wuḥūshu ḥushirat Wa idha al-biḥāru sujjirat Wa idha al-nufūsu zuwwijat Wa idha al-maw’ūdatu su’ilat (continues into āya 9) Wa idha al-ṣuḥufu nushirat Wa idha al-samā’u kushiṭat

4. Literally, “to the worlds.”

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12. Wa idha al-jaḥīmu su‘irat 13. Wa idha al-jannatu uzlifat (continues into āya 14) As indicated above, the title given to this sūrah is derived from the verb kawwara (form II of kār) which appears in the first āya (as kuwwirat) in reference to the action of the sun, and rendered variously as “The Folding Up” (Yusuf Ali and Ahmed Ali), “The Rolling Up” (Abdel Haleem), “The Darkening” (Arberry and Salahi), “Shrouding in Darkness” (Asad), “The Enveloping” (Jones), “The Enfolding” (Study Qur’an), “Ceasing to Shine” (Wahiduddin Khan), and “The Cessation” (Dawood). The verb kār is used in the imperfect tense (yukawwiru) twice in al-Zumar 39.5 where it signifies the merging of night into day, and day into night. In its original meaning, kawwara connotes winding up like the twisting of a turban, or rolling yarn into a ball (hence, kūrah, “ball”). Thus, within the context of this sūrah, it seems to describe the motion of the sun that will suddenly cease to advance across the sky and then spiral in its path to a standstill. This understanding concurs with the descriptions of the Day of Resurrection in alQiyāmah 75.9 where it is said that: “the sun and the moon are brought together,” as in a complete solar eclipse. Thus, I translate the first āya as: “When the sun is rolled up …”—the first sign of that the Day of Resurrection has come. The second sign given in the sūrah concerns the fate of the stars and is also open to interpretation. The verb kadara (here in its seventh form derived from inkadarat) means to become dim or dull; thus, we may translate “And when the stars are dimmed ….” The verb can also mean to fall down, as some interpreters have noted. In whatever way we interpret these first two āyāt, we may conclude that the Day of Resurrection is heralded by cosmic convulsions that fatally effect the heavenly bodies and darken the firmament. With the third āya, the upheavals of the End Time come to the earth: “And when the mountains are set in motion … ” If the sun and the stars signify heavenly stability by their regular movement and appearance, mountains on earth represent what is most enduring and unchanging—i.e., until the Day of Resurrection when even they are shaken to their bases, reduced to rubble, and are scattered like sand (cf. al-Muzzammil 73.14 and al-Mursalāt 77.10). In the fourth āya, human concerns for property and wealth are rendered meaningless by the cosmic upheavals and the gravity of the impending Judgment. The She-camel, who is about to give birth, and thereby increase her owner’s herds, wealth, and resources, is left unattended. This reference would have been especially meaningful for Arabs in the seventh century in a land where resources in general were so limited, but the reference would not have been lost on the Mughals whose empire depended on fields of crops and flocks of animals as discussed within the context of Yā Sīn 36.71–73. The fifth āya presents another reversal from the natural world as a sign of the impending Judgment: animals of all kinds, predators and prey, will be gathered together as the cosmos convulses, struggling to survive the destruction around them. The apocalypse continues with āya 6: “When the seas boil over … ” (cf. al-Ṭūr 52.6). The verb sajara (here in its second form sujjirat) combines the sense of heating up and overflowing like a boiling pot.

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The next sign of the Day of Judgment given is “When the souls are joined … ” Because of the brevity of this āya (7), we cannot determine with absolute certainty as to what or to whom the souls are joined or paired (zuwwijat). Given the context of the Day of Resurrection, many exegetes understand this āya as a reference to the (re)joining of the soul with the body which death had separated (cf. al-Zumar 39.42). As we have already seen in Yā Sīn (36.51 ff.), the Qur’an maintains a resurrection of the body. Other commentators (e.g., Yusuf Ali, Abdel Haleem, and Wahiduddin Khan) believe that the verb refers to the sorting of souls into “classes” based on their earthly conduct, such as is described in al-Wāqi’ah 56.7: “And you will be sorted out (azwājan) into three (classes): the companions of the right, the left, and the foremost” who are nearest to God. In Asad’s translation, however, he adopts a third option offered by classical exegetes such as Zamakhsharī,5 understanding zuwwijat to mean that the soul is joined to its earthly deeds in preparation for the Judgment.6 Within the context of al-Takwīr, all three interpretations are possible, but the joining of the soul to its deeds is most consistent with the content of āyāt 8–10 which follow. As Judgment unfolds on the Day of Reckoning, an innocent victim receives justice against the one who ended her life: “When the female child who is buried alive is asked for what crime was she killed … ” These āyāt refer to the practice of female infanticide. The exposure of unwanted children, male and female, abandoned to the elements, was legally practiced in the Greco-Roman world particularly in the case of sickly, deformed, or illegitimate children, to limit family size, or in times of economic distress. Although the extent of the custom is hotly debated by scholars, it is clear that in the patriarchal cultures of Greece and Rome there was a preference for male children, and thus female newborns were more often discarded.7 This is illustrated by a letter from the first century BCE written by a Greek man on business in Alexandria to his pregnant wife: “If you are delivered of child [before I get home], if it is a boy keep it, if a girl discard it.”8 Exposure/infanticide was also clearly practiced in pre-Islamic Arabia as the Qur’an refers to it in several instances. As in the classical world, there were various reasons for this practice. In sūrah al-An’ām 6.137, infanticide is associated with the practices of the polytheists (mushrikūn/īn), as it is in the Hebrew Scriptures (Lev. 18.21, 20.3; Deut. 12.31, 18.10). In other cases, infants were killed due to a family’s inability to provide for them: Say: ‘Come and I will tell you what your Lord has forbidden you. Do not identify Him with anything. Be good to your parents, and do not kill your children out of fear of poverty. We will provide for you and for them. Do not come close to 5. Zamakhsharī, al-Kashshāf, v. 4, p. 532. 6. Bazargan mentions this was also the opinion of the late Ayatollah Mahmoud Tāleghānī (1911–79). See: In the Sublime Presence, p. 77. 7. Judith Evans Grubbs, “Infant Exposure and Infanticide,” The Oxford Handbook of Childhood and Education in the Classical World (Oxford Handbooks Online), December. 2013: DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199781546.013.004. 8. Naphtali Lewis, Life in Egypt under Roman Rule (Oxford: Clarendon, 1983), p. 54.

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doing anything shameful, whether seen or unseen, and do not take the life that God has sanctified, except by right. This is what He has commanded you that may understand. (al-An‘ām 6.151; cf. al-Isrā’ 17.31)

Although these references refer to the killing of both male and female children, like al-Takwīr, sūrah al-Naḥl 16.59 speaks of female infanticide explicitly: When one of them (a non-Muslim Arab) is given news (of the birth of) a female, his face darkens, and he is filled with gloom. He hides himself from his people due to the bad news he received. Should he accept it in shame or bury it in the dust? How bad is whatever they decide!

In spite of the Qur’anic prohibitions, the practice of female infanticide or exposure persisted in some Muslim societies in the early modern period as evidenced by Khafi Khan’s posthumous account of the birth of Nur Jahan. According to his version of events, the future empress was born as her parents were traveling by caravan from Safavid Persia to the Mughal realm. Shortly after her birth outside of Qandahar, her parents abandoned her, fearing that they would not be able to provide for her as they had been robbed en route. The caravan leader, however, discovered the newborn and returned her to her parents.9 Although the veracity of the account is disputed, nevertheless it does indicate that exposing a (girl) child was still a possibility when Khafi Khan wrote his work in the seventeenth century. At the Mughal court, in which Nūr Jahan and her family would become prominent players, daughters were, however, treasured children and grandchildren. When the first child born to Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan, the Princess Hur alNisa’, died of smallpox in June 1616 at the age of three, Jahangir was so depressed that he could not bring himself to record his granddaughter’s death in the chronicle of his reign. Instead, he asked I’timad ud-daula to write it for him: What am I to write of the grief that afflicted His Majesty the Shadow of God from this tragic and sad event? … For two days servants were not received, and it was ordered that the room where that bird from paradise had lived should be walled up, never to be seen again … On the third day, unable to bear it any longer, he went to the house of the prince [Shah Jahan] … Along the way, no matter how much he desired to control himself, involuntary tears poured from his blessed eyes, and for a long time at the mere mention of a word that reminded him of her, he broke down.10

Jahangir expressed great concern for the fate of female children is explicitly mentioned when the royal entourage was returning from Kashmir in October 9. Ruby Lal, Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2018), pp. 26–8. 10. Jahangirnama, pp. 194–5.

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1620 and had encamped at Rajaor. Commenting on the local population, the emperor noted: People without means kill daughters by strangulation when they are born … It was commanded that henceforth such customs would not be allowed, and anyone who committed such practices would be executed.11

In Lahori’s account of Mumtaz’ death, he provides information on all of the empress’ children, daughters as well as sons, and even ‘Inayat Khan’s abridged chronicle does not fail to mention a “heavenly infant,” a daughter named Husnara who died shortly after birth in April 1630. *** As the apocalyptic scene continues in al-Takwīr’s tenth āya, pages (ṣuḥuf) are laid out for examination. It is generally understood that upon these pages are recorded the deeds (al-a’māl), good and bad, for each individual. As will be seen below, this is also alluded to in the sūrah inscribed around the west door, al-Infiṭār (82.11), as well as in other sūrahs: And the Book (of deeds) will be laid down, and you will see the guilty fearing what is in it. They will say: ‘Woe to us! What a Book this is! It omits nothing, small or great, but takes accounts of it all.’ And they will find all they have done revealed and your Lord will not be unjust to anyone. (al-Kahf 18.49)

The verb nashara (“to lay or spread out”), used in the tenth āya, is a particularly potent one within this context of the Day of Judgment. When used elsewhere in the Qur’an, it is associated with God’s Mercy: Your Lord will spread His Mercy upon you … (al-Kahf 18.16) He is the One who sends down rain after they have lost hope, and spreads His Mercy … (al-Shūrā 42:28).

Thus, while facing the record of one’s deeds may be a frightening prospect for most, the use of nashara implies that the spreading out of the pages of deeds on Judgment Day is above all a manifestation of God’s mercy and justice. As stated in al-Kahf 18.49: “and your Lord will not be unjust to anyone.” The apocalyptic first section of the sūrah comes to a climax with āyāt 11–14: When the sky is peeled back, when Hell is set ablaze, when Paradise is brought near, then each soul will know what it has done. 11. Jahangirnama, pp. 349–50.

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As already seen in al-Fajr and Yā Sīn, the Qur’an presents the Day of Judgment in a most graphic yet balanced way: both Paradise and Hell come into view that day. The righteous are awarded with Paradise, and the willfully wicked with hellfire. Judgment is not an arbitrary decision on God’s part for on the Day of Reckoning (or: “Day of Accounting,” yawm al-ḥisāb), the outcome is dependent on what someone invested during their lifetime, a mathematical calculation (ḥisāb) of righteous deeds versus wrongful action. Moreover, from the Qur’anic perspective, one’s fate on the Day of Judgment is not a matter of religious identity, but one of faith in God and righteous action: Those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who are Jews and Christians and Sabians, whoever believes in God and the Last Day, and do righteous deeds, they shall have their reward with their Lord; no fear will come upon them, nor shall they grieve. (al-Baqarah 2.62)

With the fifteenth āya, the sūrah makes a discernible shift as God uses three oath statements, attesting to Muhammad’s role as prophet who received the revelation of the Qur’an through the angel Gabriel. As we have seen similarly in al-Fajr and Yā Sīn, the oaths call attention to the movement of heavenly bodies and the alternation of night and day: Indeed, I swear by the planets that recede Or move forward or disappear And by the night when it fades And by the morning when its breaths into being … (al-Takwīr 81.15–19) This cosmic order declares emphatically that the revelation borne by the angel Jibrīl (Gabriel), “the noble messenger,” to the Prophet Muhammad, is indeed authentic. Jibrīl’s proximity to God is here described in the loftiest of terms. He is “endowed with power and honored in presence of the Lord of the Throne, obeyed and trustworthy” (20–21). The angel plays a major role in the story of Islam and Muhammad for it was he who first appeared to the prophet in the cave on Mount Ḥirā’ commanding him ‘Iqrā—“Recite!” thus beginning the revelation of the Qur’an. This first encounter is described in sūrah al-Najm 53.1–11 which also begins with an oath: By the star when it sets – Your companion (Muhammad) has not strayed, nor is he deluded, Nor does he speak from his own desire, For it is nothing less than a Revelation revealed to him. One Mighty in Power (Jibrīl) taught him, Possessor of strength unmatched, He was in the highest part of the horizon,

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But then approached and descended Until he was at a distance of two bow-lengths or closer, And he revealed to His (God’s) servant what he was to reveal. And the heart (of Muhammad) did not belie what he saw. As in al-Najm, Jibrīl’s role in revealing the Qur’an to Muhammad is mentioned explicitly in al-Takwīr so that people would not consider Muhammad mad, a persistent accusation made against him as it was against other prophets such as Moses and Noah:12 Your companion [Muhammad] is not possessed! Surely, he saw him [Gabriel] on the clear horizon. And he is not withholding knowledge of the Unseen. And it is not the word of Satan, the accursed. (22–25) Halfway down the inscription panel, on the left side of the south door, is one of the most direct, personal, and poignant questions asked in the entire Qur’an: “So where are you going?” (āya 2). It is not asked of one specific person for the verb is conjugated for the plural (second person)—i.e., “you all” (tadhabūna)—and is apparently directed to all of humankind as suggested by the verses that follow. It asks a fundamental existential question about one’s path, values, actions, and goals. The question is a profound one, particularly within the context of a tomb, for in reality all are heading toward the grave—not merely toward the graves of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan within the Mausoleum, but each to his or her own grave. Within the context of the Taj Mahal’s mausoleum, this āya exhorts the reader/listener to reflect on one’s life journey and to heed God’s message and messengers before reaching death and the grave. In its final verses, al-Takwīr assures all people that the Qur’an is nothing less than “a message to the whole world,”13 revealed for all who wish to follow the straight path (cf. Yā Sīn 36.61). It is a message that the Taj Mahal, as a monumental Qur’an, continues to announce to the world.

12. See: 15.6; 37.36; 44.14; 51.52; 52.29; 68.2, 51. For accusations against Moses and Noah, see: 26.27; 51.39; and 54.9. 13. Literally, “to the worlds.” Cf. Yūsuf 12.104 and al-Qalam 68.52.

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The west doorway of the mausoleum, facing the mosque, is framed with sūrah alInfiṭār, the eighty-second sūrah of the Qur’an (Figure 25). As with al-Takwīr, the nineteen āyāt are distributed more or less equally among the inscription panels. The right panel bears āyāt 1–6 and part of 7 which then turns the corner for the horizontal section above the door and continues to the first half of āya 14. The left panel contains the remaining portion of āya 14 and the last five āyāt. At the end of the sūrah is a colophon that reads “in the year 1046 (AH),” that is, 1636/7 CE. In this instance, Amanat Khan’s name is not included in this case as it was in the colophons inside the mausoleum. Although all of the four doorways appear identical with the same inlaid arabesque design in the spandrels of the doorway arch, Amanat Khan’s calligraphy is anything but repetitive. As in the other sūrahs, he varies the design by using elongated letters such as the letter yā in the inscriptions to distinguish the two levels of text. This is particularly pronounced in his calligraphy for al-Inṭifār, such that yā of the word alladhī (“the One who … ”) in āya seven extends the entire length of the inscription on the doorway’s right. Similarly, in the inscription band above the door, he elongated the yā of laqī (“will be …”) in āya 13 so that it runs the entire length of the horizontal panel. As indicated in the historical background, this was a device that ‘Ali Reza ‘Abbasi employed frequently in the calligraphy for the Lutfallah Mosque in Isfahan. Al-Infiṭār also appears in the Lutfallah Mosque—in the border of the arch to the right of the mihrab—allowing us to see that strong stylistic similarities between the two designs. Sūrah al-Infiṭār is traditionally regarded as a late Meccan sūrah, the eightysecond to be revealed according to the Egyptian edition.1 Like al-Takwīr, its title is a noun (maṣdar) derived from a verb in the first āya—infiṭarat—“split open” (from faṭara). It likewise begins with descriptions of the cosmic upheavals on the Day of Judgment (āya 1–4), each starting with (wa) idhā, as in al-Takwīr. The sūrah addresses particularly those who have turned away from God (āyāt 6–12), 1. Noting the similarities to al-Takwīr, however, Nöldeke-Schwally deemed it an early Meccan sūrah, that is, twenty-sixth in order of revelation (with al-Takwīr as twentyseventh).

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Figure 25  Taj Mahal Mausoleum, west doorway: al-Infiṭār. Author’s photograph.

and the respective fates of the righteous and the wicked on the Day of Judgment (āyāt 13–19). As suggested in the previous chapter, the choice of al-Infiṭār for the mausoleum is likely based on the ḥadīth: Whoever wishes to look upon the Day of Resurrection with his own eyes, then let him read: ‘When the sun is rolled up’ (al-Takwīr 81.1), ‘When the sky is split open’ (al-Infiṭār 82.1), and ‘When the sky is split open’ (al-Inshiqāq 84.1).”2

2. Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīr, 4, p. 430.

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Al-Infiṭār (The Splitting Open) In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19.

When the sky is split open, When the stars are scattered, When the seas are poured forth, When the graves are shaken open, Then each soul will know what it has done, and it has left undone. O humanity! What has lured you away from your Lord, the Most Munificent, The One who created you, fashioned you and made you well proportioned? In whatever form He willed, he made you! But no! You deny the Judgement. Truly for you there are observers, Honorable ones who record (deeds). They know what you do. As for the righteous, they will be bliss. And as for the wicked, they will be in Hellfire, Which they shall enter on the Day of Judgment. and they will not be able to depart therefrom. And what can tell you what the Day of Judgment is? Again, what can tell what the Day of Judgment is? It will be a day on which no soul shall have the power to do anything for another, for on the day, the (only) command will be with God.

Commentary As in al-Takwīr, the first part of the sūrah (āyāt 1–4) comprises phrases describing the cosmic convulsions signaling that Judgment Day is at hand. The phrases unfold rhythmically, such that each begins with: (wa) idhā—“(And) when … ”—followed by a feminine noun (ending in ḍamma), and then a verb in the perfect tense (third person feminine ending in -at). The rhythm that is most apparent is recitation of the sūrah, but transliteration also reveals the aural quality lost in translation: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Wa Wa Wa

Idhā  idhā  idhā  idhā 

al-samā’u   al-kawākibu  al-biḥāru al-qubūru

‘infaṭarat intatharat fujjirat bu’thirat

As in al-Takwīr, cataclysmic changes to the sky, the stars and the waters of the earth herald the Resurrection and Judgment. Al-Infiṭār does not merely repeat alTakwīr, however, but varies the language to evoke images of the end of days. In this sūrah, the sky is cleaved or split open (‘infaṭarat), rather than “peeled back”

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(al-Takwīr 81.11). In al-Infiṭār, the stars are not only dimmed or fall as in al-Takwīr 81.2) but are scattered (intatharat). The seas burst their bounds (fujjirat), not unlike the boiling seas (sujirat) of al-Takwīr 81.6. Al-Infiṭār introduces another element into this apocalyptic scene: graves are shaken open (bu’thirat), releasing the dead for the Last Judgment (cf. al-‘Ādīyāt 100.9). After all these signs appear, then people will know what they have done (qaddamat) and what they have left undone (akhkharat), similarly expressed in Yā Sīn 36.12. There is shift with āya 6 as the text turns more directly to address the reader/ listener—emphasized by the use of second person pronouns (masculine singular, -ka) in āyāt 6–8 and then plural forms in āyāt 9–10. The text pointedly asks each individual: “What has lured you away (gharra) from your Lord, the Most Munificent?” It is something of a rhetorical question for in other sūrahs the Qur’an repeatedly warns humanity that “worldly life” (al-ḥayā al-dunyā) lures us away from God: Leave alone those who take their faith as mere play and diversion, and were lured by worldly life. (al-An‘ām 6.70) O company of jinn and humanity! Did not messengers from among you come to you to relate to you My signs and to warn you of meeting on this your Day [of Judgement]? They will say: ‘We bear witness against ourselves.’ Worldly life lured them, and they will bear witness against themselves that they were unbelievers. (al-An‘ām 6.130) [They are] those who take their faith as a mere play and diversion, and were lured by worldly life. So on that Day [of Judgement] We shall forget them as they forgot the meeting on this their Day. And they rejected Our signs. (al-A‘rāf 7.51)

This worldly life is, as the Qur’an explains, nothing but the unrestrained pleasure of material things (al-imtā’—Āl ‘Imrān 3.185 and al-Ḥadīd 57.20). The Qur’an warns that for “those who buy worldly life at the price of the Hereafter, their punishment will not be lightened, nor will they be helped (al-Baqarah 2.86).” Luring and deception are closely associated with Shayṭān (Iblīs) who is called al-gharūr—“the Lurer” or “Deceiver” (al-Ḥadīd 57.14). He lured Adam and Eve: “Indeed, by luring (ghurūr), he led them astray when they tasted of the tree” (al-A‘rāf 7.22), resulting in their expulsion from the Garden. Even now he continues his nefarious activity among humanity as the Qur’an warns: “Do not let worldly life lure you, and do not allow the Lurer to lure you away from God” (al-Luqmān 31.33 and Fāṭir 35.5). In Islam, advocates of the ascetic and mystic paths collectively referred to as Sufis have long expressed their concerns about the allurements of “worldly life.” In his primer for those on the spiritual path, Ibn ‘Arabi wrote: Teach God’s words in His divine book and the good behavior of Islam to your children … Do not place in their heart the love of the world. Teach them to dislike the things of this world that render them proud—luxuries, beautiful

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clothes, delicacies, excess of ambition—because all these, if obtained, will be subtracted from the good dues them in the Hereafter.3

Although Mughal emperors were among the wealthiest men of the early modern world, Akbar, Jahangir, and Shah Jahan, as well as other members of the royal family, sought spiritual wisdom from Hindu ascetics and Sufi dervishes, and such holy men are common in Mughal paintings from this period.4 Al-Infiṭār 82.6 expresses astonishment that humanity could be lured away from God who is called here al-Karīm, “the Most Munificent,” for it is God who, in His munificence, created humanity in all its physical, mental, and spiritual complexity and beauty. Indeed, the very first verses of the Qur’an revealed to the Prophet Muhammad identified God simply as the One who created humanity and taught humanity: Recite! In the name of your Lord who created, created humanity from a clot. Recite! And your Lord is Most Munificent, who taught by the pen, taught humanity what it knew not. (al-‘Alaq 96.1–5)

Al-Infiṭār 82.7 uses three different verbs to convey God’s creation of humanity: khalaqa, sawwā, and ‘adala. Khalaqa is frequently used in the Qur’an to denote the creation of animate creatures and inanimate objects in general. Sawwā (form II of sawiya), “to fashion,” is sometimes used in conjunction with khalaqa, and suggests a further stage in the creation of humanity: Do you disbelieve in the One who created you from dust, then from a drop of fluid, and then fashioned you into a man? (al-Kahf 18.37) [God] who made beautiful everything that He created; and began the creation of human from clay … then He fashioned him and breathed into him of His spirit … (al-Sajdah 32.7, 9) Behold, your Lord said to the angels: ‘I am creating a human being out of clay. When I fashioned him and breathed into him of My spirit, bow down to him. (Ṣād 38.71–72) Then he became a clot, and He created (him) and fashioned (him). (al-Qiyāmah 75.38)

Thus, “creating” is followed by “fashioning,” and in two of the examples cited above, God imparts His spirit to humanity only after fashioning (sawwā) the human. 3. Muhyiddin Ibn’Arabi, What the Seeker Needs: Essays on Spiritual Practice, Oneness, Majesty and Beauty, Shaikh Tosun Bayrak Al-Jerrahi and Rabia Terri Harris Al-Jerrahi, trans. (Putney, VT: Threshold, 1992), pp. 10–11. 4. Rochelle L. Kessler, “In the Company of the Enlightened: Portraits of Mughal Rulers and Holy Men,” in: Studies in Islamic and Later Indian Art: From the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University Museums (Cambridge: Harvard University Museums, 2002), pp. 17–41.

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Uniquely, al-Infiṭār 82.7 adds a third verb -‘adala—which is generally understood to mean “to make upright or proportioned.” Although often understood in a physical sense, the verb also conveys the sense of making people upright, balanced, and righteous in a moral or ethical sense. Thus, the astonishment God expresses in āya 6 is understandable when we realize that His creation of the human person not only in physical terms—a miraculous process in and of itself—but a process in which God imparts His Spirit to the human and instills a balanced moral and ethical character. Among the Beautiful Names of God inscribed on Mumtaz’s lower cenotaph (see below) is al-Muṣawwir—“the One who Forms” (al-Ḥashr 59.24). In āya eight, al-Intifār tells us that “in whatever form (ṣūrah) He willed, He made you”—and all of those forms, the Qur’an teaches, are beautiful: “He formed you (ṣawwarkum) and made beautiful your forms” (Ghāfir 40.64—cf. al-Taghābun 64.3). Beauty (or goodness) is thus an essential component of God’s creative acts, and is particularly true of humanity’s form, in spite of its humble origins: “It is He who made good everything that He created, and He began the creation of humanity from clay” (al-Sajdah 32.7). As noted, in al-Infiṭār 82.6–8, the use of the singular pronouns directs the text to each individual. Beginning with āya 9, however, plural forms are used for verbs and pronouns as the intensity of the tone increases: “But no! You (pl.) deny the Judgement (al-dīn).”5 Humanity as a whole is charged with infidelity and then reminded that God has assigned angels—here referred to as ḥāfiẓīn, “observers”— who are positioned before and behind (al-Ra’d 13.11), or to the right and to the left of each individual (Qāf 50.17), in order to record one’s deeds for “they know what you do.” Their record then becomes the basis for assessing one’s righteousness on the Day of Judgment. According to a ḥadīth reported by Bukhari (from Abu Hurairah): Angels take turns around you, some at night and some by day, and all of them assemble together at the time of the Fajr and ‘Asr prayers. Then those who have stayed with you throughout the night, ascend to God, who asks them, though he knows the answer better than they about you, ‘How have you left my servants?’ They reply, ‘As we have found them praying, we have left them praying.’ (Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī, Book of Tawḥīd, 7429)

From such references comes the practice of completing prayer (ṣalāt) by turning one’s head to the right and to the left, uttering “The peace and mercy of God be with you,” addressing the observing angels that they might record the act of prayer. 5. Although al-dīn more generally refers to “faith” or “religion”—and could be translated as such—the remaining āyāt of the sūrah concern the Day Judgement (yawm al-dīn), hence my rendering of al-dīn as “Judgement,” as other translators have done likewise. See also: alMuṭaffifīn 83.11: “those who deny the Day of Judgement.”

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As we have already seen with al-Fajr and Yā Sīn, al-Infiṭār contrasts the fate of the righteous with that of the wicked: “As for the righteous, they will be in bliss. And as for the wicked, they will be in Hell” (āyāt 13–14). The word al-abrār, used here to designate “the righteous,” is derived from the verb barra, “to be reverent, dutiful or devoted.” It is also found in sūrah al-Muṭaffifīn 83.22 which repeats al-Infiṭār 82.13 exactly, and in sūrah al-Insān 76.5 which is inscribed in the mausoleum’s interior. “The wicked” is expressed by the word al-fujjār, derived from the verb fajara as in al-Fajr, “the Daybreak.” In its second form, the verb fajjara (from which fujjār comes) has a more intensive meaning: to break open or to split apart. Thus, “the wicked” are literally those who intentionally and forcibly separate people by sowing seeds of dissent and rancor, fracturing the human family. In the remaining five āyāt of the sūrah, the Day of Judgment (yawm al-dīn) is mentioned three times: in āya 15, 17, and 18. The central theme of the sūrah is posed as a question in āya 17 and then repeated in āya 18 for emphasis: “And what can tell you what the Day of Judgement is?” It is not a rhetorical question such as we have seen in āya 6. The answer to the question is succinctly provided in the last āya: the Day of Judgement is a day on which one is totally alone and powerless, unable to turn to anyone for assistance other than God.

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The north doorway of the mausoleum, facing the Yamuna River, is framed with sūrah al-Inshiqāq, the eighty-fourth sūrah of the Qur’an (Figure 26). The omission of sūrah al-Muṭaffifīn in the sequence of inscriptions around the mausoleum doorways is almost certainly due to the ḥadīth noted above which regards the recitation al-Takwīr, al-Infiṭār, and al-Inshiqāq together as efficacious for the one who “wishes to look upon the Day of Resurrection.” As with al-Takwīr and alInfiṭār, the surah’s twenty-five āyāt are distributed more or less equally among the inscription panels. The right panel bears āya 1–7; the horizontal section above the door continues to the beginning of āya 15, which then turns the corner into

Figure 26  Taj Mahal Mausoleum, north doorway, al-Inshiqaq, beginning. Author’s photograph.

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the left panel for the remaining ten āyāt. Amanat Khan uses the elongated yā or alif maqṣūra here once again—from balā in āya 15; and, as in the west doorway inscriptions, the tail of the letter extends the entire length of the horizontal panel above the door. Like al-Infiṭār, al-Inshiqāq is traditionally regarded as a late Meccan sūrah, immediately following al-Infiṭār as the eighty-third sūrah to be revealed, according to the Egyptian edition.1 Like al-Takwīr and al-Infiṭār, the title of the eighty-fourth sūrah is a noun (maṣdar) derived from a verb in the first āya—inshaqqat—“cracked open,” virtually synonymous with infiṭarat from al-Infiṭār 82.1, referring to the rending of the heavens in the End Time. As with al-Takwīr and al-Infiṭār, al-Inshiqāq opens with statements beginning with idhā—“When … ” The first five āya certainly comprise a distinct section distinguished by the two “when” (idhā) phrases and by the verbs that end each of the five āyāt—inshaqqat, ḥuqqat, muddat, takhallat, and ḥuqqat—conjugated in the perfect tense (third person feminine). As with other sūrahs we have examined thus far, the division of al-Inshiqāq is open to debate. Bazargan believes the sūrah comprises three distinct parts, “to address the change, transformation, gradual maturation, and realization or fulfillment of three separate entities: the sky, humans, and nature.”2 In his view, āya 1–5 concern the sky (or galaxy), āya 6–15 the transition and metamorphosis of humanity, and āya 16–25 the transformation of nature. These divisions are theoretically applicable but should not be considered absolute. It is also possible to see āya 16–19 as a discreet section comprising oaths that refer to natural phenomena, and āya 20–25 a fourth section that contrasts the fates of righteous with that of the unrighteous.

al-Inshiqāq (The Cracking Open) In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

When the sky is cracked open And hearkens to its Lord, as has been determined. When the earth is pulled apart And casts out what was in it and empties itself And hearkens to its Lord, as has been determined. O humanity! You are laboring on towards your Lord laboriously and you will meet Him!

1. The Nöldeke-Schwally chronology does not maintain this sequence and places alInshiqāq earlier in the first Meccan period, twenty-ninth in order of revelation (along with al-Infiṭār and al-Takwīr as twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh, respectively), with the possible exception of al-Inshiqāq’s final āya which Nöldeke-Schwally maintains was a later insertion. 2. Bazargan, In the Presence of the Sublime Qur’an, p. 121.

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7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25.

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As for the one who is given his book (of deeds) in his right hand He will be reckoned/assessed with an easy reckoning/assessment And he will (re) turn to his people joyfully! And as for the one who is given his book (of deeds) behind his back He will cry out wailing And he will burn in a blazing fire. Indeed, he was joyful among his people (on earth). He thought he would not have to return (to Us). But on the contrary! His Lord was watching him! So I swear by the twilight And the night and what it envelops And the Moon when it is full You will surely ascend from one stage to another So what is wrong with those who do not believe? And when the Qur’an is read to them, they do not prostrate. But on the contrary, those who disbelieve reject it. God knows well what they conceal within. So bring to them the news of a painful punishment. Except to those who believe and perform righteous deeds for whom is a reward without end.

Commentary The first āya of al-Inshaqāq echoes al-Infiṭār 82.1 and al-Takwīr 81.11: as the hour of Judgement approaches, the cosmos is shaken to its foundations and the heavens are rent, torn, split, and cracked open. It is a terrifying description for the vault of the sky that appears seamless and sturdy to the earthly observer is torn apart. The verb inshaqqat (form VII of shaqqa in the perfect tense) is used similarly elsewhere in the Qur’an to evoke apocalyptic visions: When the sky is cracked open and becomes rose-red like ointment, then which of your Lord’s blessings will you deny? (al-Raḥmān 55.37) On that day the Great Event will come to pass, and the sky will be cracked open, for on that day it will be fragile. (al-Ḥāqqah 69.15–16)

The rending of the sky is not some arbitrary phenomenon but occurs according to the will of God as the sky “hearkens to its Lord, as has been determined (āya 2).” The verb translated here as “hearkens” is adhina from which comes adhān—the Islamic call to prayer: God is the Most Great! I testify that there is no god but God. I testify that that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.

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Come to prayer! Come to success! God is the Most Great! There is no god but God. Thus, when God calls to the sky, commanding it even to the point of rending itself, it does so, submitting to God’s will as if in an act of worship. Indeed, according to the Qur’an, all of nature submits to God naturally. It is only humanity that must learn obedience to God’s will: Do you not see that everything in the heavens and on the earth bows down to God, the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the trees, the animals, and many among humanity? And many are also fit for punishment. (al-Ḥajj 22.18)

And: The seven heavens and the earth and everything in them give Him praise. There is nothing that does not give Him praise; but though you do you understand their praise He is Forbearing and Forgiving. (al-Isrā’ 17.44)

Another cataclysmic sign of the End Time is when “the earth is pulled apart (āya 3).” The verb madda means essentially “to spread or stretch out.” When applied to the surface of the earth, it suggests the quaking and cracking with fissures so that the land “casts out what was in it and empties itself ” of what was buried in it—i.e., the dead. In al-Infiṭār 82.4 and Yā Sīn 36.51–52, we encountered the image of the dead emerging from their graves on the Day of Judgement, shaken by the cataclysm. Likewise, in sūrah al-Zalzalah 99.1–2 we read: “When the earth is shaken to its limit, and the earth casts forth its burdens … ” Like the sky, the earth hears God’s call, and obeys Him, pulling itself apart according to His command. Āya 5 asserts that the earth “hearkens to its Lord, as has been determined,” repeating what was said of the sky in āya 2. Thus, the obedience of the sky and the earth to divine commands stands in stark and emphatic contrast to the recalcitrance of humanity which must be constantly reminded of its origins in God and its return to its Maker. As discussed in the chapter on al-Takwīr, that sūrah posed a simple but poignant question to humanity: “Where are you going?” In the sixth āya of al-Inshiqāq, on the opposite side of the mausoleum, the sūrah seems to offer a profound answer, rendered poetically by the verb kadaḥa used in two forms—as an active participle and as an adverb: “O humanity! You are laboring (kādiḥ) on towards your Lord laboriously (kadḥan), and you will meet Him!” Here is the essence of the Taj Mahal, expressed in architecture and text: a sublime reminder that every individual is on a journey back to God. References to the final judgment that follow in āya 7 ff. suggest that this encounter with the Divine occurs in the afterlife, and

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thus may connote what Christians call the beatific vision—an immediate, intuitive knowledge of God.3 In several places, the Qur’an affirms that the faithful shall meet God: Seek (God’s) help with patience and prayer; but this indeed hard except for those who are humble, who know that they will meet their Lord, and that to Him they will return. (Al-Baqarah 2.45–46) Be conscious of God (attaqū), and know that you will meet Him, and give news to the believers (al-Baqarah 2.223) (Noah said:) I will not drive away those who believe for they will surely meet their Lord (Hūd 11.29)

Some Muslim commentators believe, however, that the reference to meeting God is not necessarily a reference to the Afterlife but connotes an unfolding of the Divine potential within each individual during one’s lifetime. Thus, Bazargan comments: [W]e can never see and meet God at some “location” because God is not an object that can be physically perceived. One can only see and understand His creative power or realize His mercy, generosity, and grace. Furthermore, the verse does not say that we will meet God later on; rather, we “meet Him by actualizing our “godly” aspect with every step that we take … Some might be under the illusion that this “meeting” will happen in the Hereafter; however, the truth is that we meet with God with every moment.

In typical Qur’anic style, the two possible outcomes for humanity’s ultimate encounter with God are described in the next verses—first the positive, and then the negative. The righteous receive the book of their deeds in the right hand, a sign that all is in order, and then promptly proceed to Paradise where they reunite with their righteous loved ones. By contrast, the unrighteous receive the book of their deeds in their hand behind their backs. This is an unusual description and suggests an awkward position quite literally. It is an unnatural stance, or as Barzagan describes it: “a backward and retrogressive lifestyle that is out of sync with human nature.”4 Who receives something behind their back unless they wish to conceal it? It is as if the unrighteous wish to hide the account of their deeds as they face their Maker. The scene is indeed a frightening one: those who ignored God in their lifetime now cry out to Him (yad’ū) in anguish for their destination has finally come into view: the fires of Hell. Sūrah Al-Furqān 25.13–14 evokes a similar scene: But they deny the hour (of judgement). We have prepared a blazing fire for those who deny the hour. And when it sees them from afar, they will hear its raging 3. Zachary Hayes, “Beatific Vision,” in: The New Dictionary of Theology, ed. Joseph A. Komonchak et al. (Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, 1987), p. 83. 4. Bazargan, In the Presence, p. 127.

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and roaring. And when they are cast into a constricted place, bound together, there they will cry out wailing (and will be told): ‘Do not cry out wailing once that day, but cry out wailing many times!’

The verb da’ā (or du’ā)—“to call to or upon”—used in āya 11, is a significant word in the Qur’an and Islamic practice. Humanity is commanded to call upon God alone: “Do not call upon another god beside God. There is no god but He” (alQaṣaṣ 28.88). In Islamic practice, du’ā’ refers to the personal intercessory prayers outside of ṣalāt in which one asks God for assistance for oneself and others. The faithful therefore call upon God throughout their lives, whereas the unfaithful only call upon God at the Judgment when they are faced with the dire consequences of their sins. The same verb is used when God calls the righteous to an eternal abode of peace: “God calls (us) to the Abode of Peace, and He guides whoever He will to a straight path” (Yūnus 10.25). Satan also calls to humanity, however: “I had no power over you except to call you, and you answered me” (Ibrāhīm 14.22); hence, the prayer uttered by Muslims before reciting the Qur’an: “I seek refuge in God from Satan, the accursed one.” Although all are under the watchful eye of God during their lifetime, some lead a carefree existence without any thought of the eternal consequences for their behavior and their ultimate destiny: Indeed, he was joyful among his people (on earth). He thought he would not have to return (to Us). But on the contrary! His Lord was watching him! (al-Inshiqāq 84.13–15)

God addresses humanity directly in āya 16–18, urging them to hearken to His words by calling their attention to twilight, the night, and the full moon which serve as metaphors for transition and transformation: “So I swear by the twilight, the night and what it envelops, and the Moon when it is full, you shall surely travel from stage to stage.” Just as the breaking of dawn connotes new life and rebirth (see commentary on al-Fajr), the setting of the sun and the transition from day to night suggest death. Bazargan remarks: The Qur’an tells us to pay attention to these ongoing transitions in our surrounding environment and realize that this world is constantly moving. Humans should reflect upon this fact and understand that they are also moving toward their Lord.5

While commentators generally understand the “stages” (ṭibāqa; sing., ṭabiq in āya 19) to refer to the different states of existence (physical/spiritual; alive/deceased), or perhaps to the different levels of heaven (cf. al-Mulk 67.3), the explicit reference to the full moon has been overlooked. Within the context of al-Inshiqāq, it appears 5. Bazargan, In the Presence, p. 131.

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that the human life cycle is likened to that of the day, which ends with twilight, moving from light (life) to darkness (death). The moon is therefore a potent symbol as its slender crescent emerges from the darkness of the night sky as if newly born. It waxes to its luminous fullness as if growing to maturity, and then wanes as if aging, until it again disappears into the darkness of night as life vanishes in death. ‘Abdullah Yusuf ‘Ali comments: The astronomical Full Moon does not last a moment. The moment the moon is full, she begins to decline … So is man’s life here below. It is not fixed or permanent, either in its physical phases, or even more strikingly, in its finer phases, intellectual, emotional, or spiritual.6

Elsewhere in the Qur’an, the creation of the heavenly bodies and their cycles are likened to the creation of humanity and the course of human life, death, and resurrection: It is He who created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon, each moving in its course. We have not granted a permanent state to any human before you … every soul shall taste death. (al-Anbiyā’ 21.33–34) The creation of all of you and the resurrection of all of you is but as a single soul for God is All-Hearing and All-Seeing. Do you not see that God causes night to pass into day, and He causes day to pass into night, and He has subjected the sun and the moon, each running for a fixed term; and that He is All-Aware. (alLuqmān 31.28–29) What is wrong with you that you do not fear God’s Majesty, when He has created you in stages? Do you not see how God created seven heavens in levels, and made the moon a light within them, and created the sun as a lamp, how God made you sprout from the earth like a plant, and then will return you to it, and bring you forth again? (Nūḥ 71.13–18)

In the ancient Near East, the daily movement of the sun and the monthly phases of the moon were both considered analogous to the human life cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Mircea Eliade describes the moon as: a body which waxes, wanes and disappears, a body whose existence is subject to the universal law of becoming, of birth and death. The moon, like man, has a career involving tragedy, for its failing, like man’s, ends in death. For three nights the starry sky is without a moon. But this ‘death’ is followed by a rebirth: the ‘new moon.’ The moon’s going out, in ‘death,’ is never final … This perpetual return to its beginnings, and this ever-recurring cycle make the moon the heavenly body above all others concerned with the rhythms of life … Man saw himself reflected in the ‘life’ of the moon; not simply because his own life came to an end, like 6. The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an, 10th ed. (Beltsville, MD: Amana, 2001), n. 6046.

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that of all organisms, but because his own thirst for regeneration, his hopes of a ‘rebirth,’ gained confirmation from the fact of there being a new moon.7

*** The final section of the sūrah begins with a pointed question such as we have seen in previous sūrahs. Here al-Inshiqāq asks rhetorically: “So what is wrong with those who do not believe?” (āya 20). From the Qur’anic perspective, God has repeatedly taught humanity: by means of the created world and natural phenomena, by means of prophets and revealed books conveyed by angels; yet still humanity remains stubbornly defiant and disbelieving. This is particularly evident in the rejection of the Prophet Muhammad and the Qur’an revealed to him: “And when the Qur’an is read to them, they do not prostrate. But on the contrary, those who disbelieve reject it” (āya 21–22). The acceptance of the Qur’an as revelation is not a sectarian issue, according to the text itself, but one of common sense, intellect, and humility. Sūrah al-Mā’idah describes the humble Christian priests and monks, who are closest to the believers in love, because: when they listen to what has revealed to the Messenger, you will see their eyes overflowing with tears because they recognize the truth. They say: ‘Our Lord! We believe, so count us among the witnesses. How could we not believe in God and in the truth that has come to us, when we hope that our Lord will admit us with the righteous.’ (al-Mā’idah 5.83–84)

Elsewhere it is written that some of the People of Book (i.e., Jews and Christians) “recite the verses (or signs) of God all night long and they prostrate” (Āl ‘Imrān 3.113). Indeed, tears and prostration (āya 21) are considered the most authentic and appropriate responses to hearing God’s Revelation: And in truth We revealed it (the Qur’an) and in truth was it revealed; and We did not send you (Muhammad) but as a bearer of good news and as a warner; (with) a Qur’an which is divided into parts, that you may recite to the people in intervals, for We revealed it in stages. Say: ‘Whether you believe it or not, those who were given knowledge before it (was revealed to them), when it is recited to them, they fall on their faces in prostration, saying: ‘Glory to our Lord for the promise of Our Lord has been fulfilled!’ They fall on their faces weeping, and they grow in humility. (al-Isrā’ 17.105–109)

On account of the reference to prostration in āya 21, it is considered one of the “prostration verses” (āyāt al-sajdah), that is, one of the fourteen designated verses 7. Mircea Eliade, Patterns in Comparative Religion (New York: New American Library, 1974), pp. 154–8.

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of the Qur’an which contain a form of the verb sajada (“to prostrate”). It is therefore customary for the reciter or hearer of the verse to perform a prostration (sajdah al-tilāwa) at this point. Since at least the early fourteenth century,8 it became the practice to indicate the āyāt al-sajdah in Qur’ans by writing the word sajdah above or near the verse, or by inserting a symbol of some kind in the text or margins. No such marker is inserted into the calligraphy of al-Inshiqāq on the Taj Mahal, however. Prostration is, of course, also an essential part of Islamic prayer (ṣalāt), and is performed twice in each rak’a (unit of prayer). In a gesture of profound humility, as one touches one’s head to the ground, a Muslim prays: “Glory be to my Lord, the Most High.” Prostration during prayer is commonly practiced by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains, and to some degree by Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Christians. In the Mughal period, it was court custom when coming before the emperor to perform taslīm which consists of placing the back of the right hand on the ground, raising it until the person stands erect, and then placing the palm of his hand on the crown of his head. Since “royalty is an emblem of God,” the emperor Akbar instituted prostration (sajdah) for his subjects. When objections were raised on religious grounds—i.e., one should prostrate to God alone—Akbar rescinded the order for those who approached the throne in court of the people (darbar-i ‘amm), although he retained the practice for private audiences (darbar-i khass).9 Jahangir likewise retained the practice, but exempted some clerics.10 Shah Jahan ended the practice for everyone, and instead required the zamīnbūs, an equally humble gesture and quite similar to the sajdah except the head was rested on the back of the hands rather than on the ground. Ten years later, the zamīnbūs was replaced with the taslīm performed four times.11 Chroniclers and contemporary authors have seen these changes as evidence of Shah Jahan’s embrace of religious “orthodoxy” in contrast to his grandfather; but as I have argued elsewhere, this perspective is contradicted by paintings which depict Shah Jahan as a quasi-divine ruler.12 The explanation for the change in salutation may be explained more by personal piety than an embrace of “orthodoxy.” The court chronicles indicate that the practice of sajdah was revoked soon after Shah Jahan ascended the throne on February 14, 1628.13 As already discussed, the prince had secured his exclusive claim to the throne by eliminating his brother Shariyar, his nephews Dawar Bakhsh (Bulaqi) and Garhasp, the sons of Khusrau who had already been killed in 1622, 8. Massumeh Farhad and Simon Rettig, The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts (Washington, DC: Sackler Gallery, 2016), no. 22. 9. Abu’l-Fazl, The Ā’īn-i Akbarī, v. 1, pp. 166–8. See also: A. Azfar Moin, The Millenial Sovereign, p. 184. 10. Jahangirnama, p. 126. 11. Harit Joshi, “The Politics of Ceremonial in Shah Jahan’s Court,” in: The Mughal Empire from Jahangir to Shah Jahan, ed. Ebba Koch (Mumbai: Marg Foundation, 2019), p. 118; Begley and Desai, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 18. 12. Michael D. Calabria, “The Unorthodox Orthodoxy of Shah Jahan,” pp. 586–8. 13. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 18.

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as well as cousins Tahmuras and Hoshang, the sons of Shah Jahan’s uncle Daniyal. On the day he ascended the throne in Agra, he must have felt a great sense of relief that his years of fighting and fleeing were over, but it is also possible he experienced guilt and remorse for the members of his family who had died at his command just twelve days before his coronation. Within this context of familicide, he perhaps felt unworthy of the sajdah, and thus rescinded the practice. *** As al-Inshiqāq concludes, a final contrast is drawn—between those who have refused to believe and receive the news of a painful punishment in the Hereafter, and those who have believed and done righteous deeds. They will receive a reward without end. Al-Bayyinah, the final surah on the mausoleum’s exterior, reiterates this similarly.

Chapter 8 G O D I S W E L L P L E A SE D : A L - B AY Y I NA H

The east doorway of the mausoleum, facing the Mihman Khana, is framed with al-Bayyinah, the ninety-eighth sūrah of the Qur’an (Figure 27). It consists of just eight āyāt, but several are longer than the preceding twenty-five āya of al-Inshiqāq, making the sūrahs comparable in length and the calligraphy comparable in size. The inscription panel to the right of the door comprises most of the first four āyāt, with the exception of the final word of the fourth āya—al-Bayyinah—“the clear evidence,” as it is commonly translated. Thus, the calligraphy has been neatly distributed so that the word that lends itself to the sūrah’s title appears clearly in the upper right corner. Above the door, the sūrah continues with the fifth āya and much of the sixth, and the remainder of the sūrah (āyāt 6–8) in the left panel.

Figure 27  Taj Mahal Mausoleum, east doorway: al-Bayyinah. Author’s photograph.

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Although the calligraphy is for the most part characteristically densely arranged with words stacked into two registers with vertical strokes and decorative marks, there is an unusual “thinning” in the arrangement of the text near the beginning of the sixth āya in the panel above the doorway (left half), where the text reads: alladhīn kafarū—“those who disbelieve … ” This sparser arrangement hardly seems coincidental since much of the sūrah concerns “those who disbelieve among the People of the Book,” and thus it appears to be a deliberate and singular attempt by Amanat Khan to draw the viewer’s attention to this phrase. According to the Egyptian edition, al-Bayyinah is a Medinan sūrah, the hundredth in order of revelation.1 Although others have regarded it as a late Meccan sūrah, the references to religious tensions with “the People of the Book” as well as with the Arab polytheists (mushrikūn/īn) seem more consistent with the Medinan period when contention between the Muslim muhājirūn and the other groups became a more significant issue. The title of the sūrah is drawn from the word alBayyinah—“the clear evidence”—which occurs at the end of the first āya and again at the end of the fourth āya, as indicated above. al-Bayyinah also appears in the domed prayer chamber of Shah ‘Abbas I’s Lutfallah Mosque in Isfahan, as does al-‘Inṭifār (see Chapter 6) and other sūrahs discussed below, suggesting a possible connection between the inscriptional programs of these two structures. In the case of the Taj Mahal, the reference in the final āya to “the Gardens of Eden” as the eternal reward for the righteous makes the sūrah especially appropriate for a funerary monument.

al-Bayyinah (The Clear Evidence) In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful: 1. Those who disbelieve among the People of the Book and the polytheists did not cease (disbelieving) until clear evidence came to them: 2. a messenger from God, reciting pure texts 3. in which are true writings. 4. Those to whom the Scriptures were given did not become divided until after clear evidence came to them. 5. Though they had not been commanded to do anything but worship God, devoted to Him in faith as hunafā, perform prayer, and give alms, for this is the true faith. 6. Indeed, those who disbelieve among the People of the Book and the polytheists will be in Hellfire, dwellers therein. It is they who are the worst of creatures! 7. Indeed, for those who believe and perform works of righteous, it is they who are the best of creatures! 1. The Nödelke-Schwally chronology places it earlier, at the beginning of the Medinan period, ninety-second in order.

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8. Their reward is with their Lord: the Gardens of Eden through which rivers flow, dwellers therein forever. God is well pleased with them, and they are well pleased with Him. This is for the one who fears his Lord!

Commentary Aside from al-Bayyinah’s paradisiacal ending, the main subject of al-Bayyinah is stated at the opening: “those who disbelieve among the People of the Book, and the polytheists,” and then reiterated in the sixth āya. The ahl al-kitāb—“People of the Book”—is a Qur’anic term that within the context of seventh-century Arabia generally denotes Jews and Christians (and other monotheists such as the Sabians2), signifying that they have received true Revelation in the form of Scripture, that is, the Torah (Tawrah) and the Gospel (Injīl). The People of the Book are therefore distinguished from the polytheistic Arabs (mushrikūn) who did not receive true revelation, but here the two are grouped together (cf. al-Baqarah 2.105) for their persistent refusal to accept the “clear evidence”—bayyinah—a term that designates the message of God’s Prophets in general (cf. Hūd 11.17, 28, 53, 63, and 88). Here, the “clear evidence” specifically refers to Muhammad and the “pure texts” of the Qur’an that he preached (āya 2). The sūrah describes the contents of the Qur’an as “true” (qayyimah in āya 3), a word used again in āya 5 to describe faith that comprises worship of God in prayer and care for the poor. Qayyimah essentially means “straight,” and thus the Qur’an represents a “Straight Path” (ṣirāṭ mustaqīm), as discussed in the context of Yā Sīn and other sūrahs above. Yet, when Muhammad preached the Qur’an in Medina following the hijra, Jews and Christians—already separated by the Scriptures and Prophets they accepted—became increasingly divided (tafaraqqa) over the prophethood of Muhammad and the veracity of the Qur’an (āya 4). Hence the Qur’an, like previous revelation (al-Anbiyā’ 21.48), is sometimes referred to alFurqān, “The Divider” as it becomes the criterion for distinguishing non-believers from believers. Other Jews and Christians, however, heard in the Qur’an what they knew from their own Scriptures: the sincere worship of the one God, the practice of prayer at regular intervals during the day, and the divine commandment to care for the poor and vulnerable (āya 5). Al-Bayyinah therefore reminds the People of the Book that belief and righteous action are equally foundational for all believers. The Qur’an itself mentions that prayer (ṣalat) and almsgiving (zakāt) were components of the covenant God established with the Israelites: And (remember) We made a covenant with the Children of Israel: ‘Do not worship anything but God; be good to your parents, and to relatives, orphans and the poor. Speak to people in a goodly way; attend to prayer and give alms.’ (al-Baqarah 2.83) 2. For the Sabians, see Yusuf Ali, The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an, n. 76; and The Study Quran, p. 31, n. 62.

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Jesus (‘Īsā), too, spoke of these virtues, according to the Qur’an: He said: ‘I am indeed a servant of God, and He has given me the Book and made me prophet. And He made me blessed wheresoever I am and has enjoined upon me prayer and almsgiving as long as I live.’ (Maryam 19.31–32)

Prayer and almsgiving were likewise enjoined upon the descendants of Isma’il: And recall Isma’il in the Book. He was true to the promise and was a messenger and prophet. He exhorted his people to prayer and almsgiving, and he was pleasing to his Lord. (Maryam 19.54–55)

As already seen in sūrah al-Fajr, prayer is considered an empty gesture if it does not find expression in caring for the poor and needy. Throughout the Qur’an, prayer is frequently paired with almsgiving: Attend to prayer, give alms, and bow down in prayer with those who bow down. (al-Baqarah 2.43) For those who believe and do righteous deeds, who attend to prayer and give alms, their rewards shall be with their Lord. They shall not fear (one the day of Judgement), nor will they grieve. (al-Baqarah 2.277)

The use of the term ḥunafā (sing.: ḥanīf) is especially noteworthy in this context (āya 5). In the Qur’an, Ibrāhīm (Abraham) is repeatedly referred to as ḥanīf, signifying that he worshipped the one God but without a specific religious affiliation: “Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was a ḥanīf who submitted (to God) and was not one of the polytheists” (Āl Imrān 3.67). Thus, alBayyinah specifically calls Jews and Christians back to their common prophetic foundation, one that they share with Muslims, to be ḥunafā as the (spiritual) descendants of Abraham (cf. Yūnus 10.105; al-Rūm 30.30). Nevad Kahteran comments: Why, though, does the Qur’an lay such emphasis on Ibrahim/Abraham’s example of this pristine, unadulterated worship of God? The reason is that Ibrahim/ Abraham is the common denominator of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition, and as such the true model to follow and emulate for all the scions sprung from the Ibrahimic/Abrahamic stock … The Prophet of Islam himself brought no new message from some new God, but called on people to return to faith in the one true God of Ibrahim/Abraham and a way of life that they had forgotten or from which they had strayed.3 3. Nevad Kahteran, “Hanif,” in: The Qur’an: an Encyclopedia, ed. Oliver Leaman (London: Routledge, 2006), pp. 242–3.

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For those among the People of the Book who persist in their unbelief like the polytheists, and whose faith and worship do not find expression in care for the poor, the punishment of hell awaits. Clearly this is not a general condemnation of all the People of the Book for, as noted in the previous chapter, the Qur’an recognizes that among the People of Book are those who “recite the verses (or signs) of God all night long,” who believe in God and the Last Day, who prostrate in prayer and perform good works, and are therefore counted among the righteous (Āl ‘Imrān 3.113–114; cf. 3.199). Moreover, God exhorts Muslims: Do not argue with the People of the Book save in a most virtuous manner, except with those among them who act unjustly; but say: ‘We believe in what has been revealed to us and to you, and your God and our God are one, and to Him do we submit. (al-‘Ankabūt 29.46)

As with other sūrahs, al-Bayyinah draws a sharp contrast between those who disbelieve among the People of the Book, referred to as “the worst of creatures” (āya 6), and those who believe and perform works of righteous—“the best of creatures” (āya 7). As already seen in āya 5 (and in al-Fajr), true faith demands not only belief as expressed in prayer, but performing righteous deeds (ṣāliḥāt), especially almsgiving (zakāt). For the faithful, God promises an eternity in “the Gardens of Eden through which rivers flow” (āya 8), a heavenly version of the well-watered garden in which Mumtaz Mahal was laid to rest, and later Shah Jahan alongside her.4 Indeed, the garden of the Taj Mahal is described by the court chroniclers as: bagh Firdaus-a’in, “Paradise-like garden.”5 Al-Bayyinah concludes with reassurances to the righteous dead: “God is well pleased (raḍī) with them, and they are well pleased (raḍū) with Him. This is for the one who fears his Lord!” The use of the verb raḍiya, “to be pleased,” at the end of the sūrah—the last of the sūrahs on the mausoleum’s exterior—provides a profound connection to the conclusion of al-Fajr on the great gateway where the verb is similarly used in the twenty-eighth āya: “Return to your Lord, wellpleased and well-pleasing!” This verbal link between the two sūrahs supports the sequence of “reading” the Taj Mahal as we have thus far: beginning with al-Fajr on the southern face of the great gate, then proceeding to the mausoleum’s four 4. Most translators render this phrase (and other instances of it) literally as: “the Garden of Eden under which rivers flow.” Some authors have connected Qur’anic references to subterranean rivers to Late Antique Christian sources (Lange, Paradise and Hell in Islamic Traditions, 58). I think it is more likely that, in spite of the common use of taḥt to mean “under,” in this context it connotes “through.” Water channels in Mughal gardens are usually below the ground level, and this design may better reflect the meaning of taḥt in the Qur’anic text. Maulana Wahiduddin Khan also renders the phrase in this way in his English translation of the Qur’an (Goodword, 2011), as do Murata and Chittick in The Vision of Islam (Paragon, 1994), p. 212. 5. See Lahori and Salih, for example, in: Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, pp. 74 and 80.

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façades to read Ya Sīn, followed by the sūrahs around the four doors: al-Takwīr, al-Infiṭār, al-Inshiqāq, and al-Bayyinah. The references to the essential practices of prayer and almsgiving, to the Garden of Eden and the use of the verb raḍiya, establishing a connection with al-Fajr on the great gateway, provided sufficient reasons for including al-Bayyinah in the Taj Mahal’s inscriptional program. As mentioned above, it is also found among the sūrahs inscribed in Shah ‘Abbas I’s Lutfullah Mosque in Isfahan, the private worship space for the royal family and court. Sheila Canby has suggested that Lutfallah’s inscriptional program in part reflected Shah ‘Abbas concern over the influx of Armenian Christians from the Caucasus to Isfahan in 1605 due to the Ottoman advance, and “the need to define Twelver Shiism in contrast to the beliefs of the infidels.”6 Similarly, it is possible that the selection of al-Bayyinah for the Taj Mahal reflected Shah Jahan’s own concerns about Christians in his empire, particularly the Portuguese, in addition to its promises of paradise for the righteous. During his father’s reign, the Portuguese had become increasingly aggressive in their control of the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal, and had even seized a ship that was owned by Jahangir’s mother, Maryam-uz-Zamani, along with its cargo and some seven hundred passengers.7 When Shah Jahan came to power, he suffered the same humiliation when, in March 1630, the Portuguese seized two Mughal ships at Surat, one of which belonged to Shah Jahan himself. Shah Jahan retaliated by ordering the imprisonment of all the Portuguese in Surat, including three Jesuit missionaries. When the viceroy of Goa in turn arrested all Gujarati merchants in Goa, war with the Mughal Empire seemed imminent. The conflict was resolved, however, by the signing of an agreement between the two powers in September 1630. Just days later after the agreement had been signed, however, the Portuguese seized another ship bound for Surat, prompting a quick move by the viceroy to avert war with a new treaty.8 Given this background, it is perhaps not surprising that Shah Jahan, while still grieving the death of Mumtaz, ordered Qasim Khan, the governor of Bengal, to begin preparations for an attack on the Portuguese port at Hughli. The attack, which commenced on June 20, 1632, is vividly depicted in a painting from the Windsor Padshahnama. Lahori claims that the Portuguese of Hughli had not only converted the trading post into a well-armed fortress, but they had “converted some [of the local inhabitants] to Christianity by force and others through greed and sent them off to Europe in their ships.”9 The Augustinian friar Sebastien

6. Canby, Shah ‘Abbas, 28. Cf. Abbas Armant, Iran: A Modern History (New Haven: Yale, 2017), p. 94 f.; and David Blow, Shah Abbas: The Ruthless King Who Became an Iranian Legend (London: I.B. Tauris, 2009), p. 79 ff. 7. Ellison B. Findly, “The Capture of Maryam-uz-Zamani’s Ship: Mughal Women and European Traders”, Journal of the American Oriental Society, v. 108, no. 2 (April–June 1988), pp. 227–38. 8. Flores, Unwanted Neighbors, pp. 140–7. 9. Beach and Koch, King of the World, p. 59.

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Manrique (c.1590–1669) confirms the involvement of the Portuguese at Hughli in the local slave trade, in defiance of the orders of the Portuguese Viceroy in Goa.10 At about the same time the Mughal forces began their siege of Hughli in June 1632, the first ‘urs of Mumtaz was observed at her new grave site in Agra on the banks of the Yamuna even before any structure had been built. The selection of Qur’anic sūrahs for the mausoleum’s interior and exterior surfaces was certainly already in progress. In the context of the Taj Mahal, the stern warning to the “People of the Book” in al-Bayyinah possibly reflected Shah Jahan’s difficulties with the Portuguese as well as assuring him of Mumtaz’s eternal reward in the Garden of Paradise.

10. Travels of Fray Sebastien Manrique, 1629–1643, Vol. II: China, India, etc. (Oxford: Hakluyt Society, 1927), p. 316.

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Chapter 9 LOOK AGAIN!: AL-MULK

The sūrahs on the southern face of the great gate and on the exterior of the mausoleum serve to prepare the visitor for the ultimate destination: the mausoleum’s central domed chamber. Entering the mausoleum through the south door, visitors pass by the stairway that leads down to the lower tomb chamber before coming into the central octagonal chamber formed by two stories of pointed archways supporting the dome. The white marble screen (mahjr-i-mushabbak),1 enclosing the upper cenotaphs of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan, forms another octagon within the chamber. As in other religious traditions, the number eight and the octagon have eschatological significance in Islam. A passage in sūrah alḤaqqah (69.17) says that on the Day of Judgment eight angels will bear the throne of God which is thus imagined to be octagonal in shape. With its connotations of resurrection and paradise, the octagon is used often in the design of funerary monuments throughout Islamic lands, including South Asia, and is seen frequently in the Mughal period.2 Although Mumtaz and Shah Jahan are interred below the floor of the lower burial chamber, this upper chamber is given particular prominence as evidenced by its inscriptions: three complete sūrahs: al-Mulk (67), al-Fatḥ (48), and al-Insan (76), as well as two verses of al-Zumar (39). Most of al-Mulk (āyāt 1–24) is inscribed in a horizontal band above the eight arches that form the chamber’s octagon, beginning above the southeast arch (pl. 10). This is the first sūrah inscribed in the entire complex as attested by the small colophon inserted just beneath āyāt

1. The original screen, installed at the second ‘urs (1633), was of gold (mahjar zarini) with enamel floral designs. It was replaced by the present screen by the time of the twelfth ‘urs in 1643. See: Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, pp. 51 and 67. 2. For example, the tombs of ‘Isa Khan Niyazi and Adham Khan, as well as the central chamber of Humayun’s mausoleum. See: Koch, Mughal Architecture, pp. 43–52. Also: M. Anwarul Islam and Zaid F. Hamd, “The Dome of the Rock: Origin of Its Octagonal Plan,” Palestine Exploration Quarterly, v. 139, no. 2 (2007), pp. 109–28. For the significance of the number eight across religious traditions, see: Annemarie Schimmel, The Mystery of Numbers (New York: Oxford, 1993), pp. 156–63.

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23–24 in the inscription band above the south arch.3 Divided into three discreet cartouches, the colophon reads: “Written by the son of Qasim al-Shirazi—‘Abd al-Haqq, called Amanat Khan—in the year 1045 Hijri,” that is, 1635–6 CE. As the sūrah is longer than the inscription band could accommodate without reducing the size of the calligraphy to an illegible degree, the final five āyāt of al-Mulk are inscribed in the panels framing the southeast arch, beginning on the lower right and continuing until the middle of the panel just above the point of the arch. Sūrah al-Fatḥ begins thereafter. Al-Mulk, “The Sovereignty,” is considered a Middle Meccan sūrah, numbered seventy-seven in the Egyptian edition.4 The sūrah cannot be divided easily into distinct sections but, as with other sūrahs, there are thematic and linguistic transitions. The first five āyāt focus on the sovereignty of God as evidenced by the creation. Āyāt 6–14 contrast “those who disbelieve in their Lord” with “those who fear their Lord.” Āyāt 15–22 return to the theme of God’s sovereignty. This section of the sūrah is distinguished by several āyāt that end in rhyming words. There are likewise repetitions of words and phrases. Such elements add cohesion, rhythm, and emphasis to the text. The last eight āyāt comprise the most distinct section of the sūrah since most of them begin with the divine imperative to Muhammad: “Say!” (qul). A ḥadīth describes the benefit of reciting the sūrah, and helps to explain its inclusion in the mausoleum’s inscriptional program: “There is a sūrah in the Qur’an of thirty verses that will intercede on behalf of its reciter until he is forgiven,” or, according to another version: “will argue on behalf of its reciter until he is admitted into the Garden.” Moreover, it is reported that Muhammad said: “I would love for it to be in the heart of every person in my community.”5 Zamakhsharī writes that the sūrah is also called al-Wāqiyah (“The Preserving One”) and al-Munjiyah (“The Saving One”) because it preserves and saves the one who recites it from the torment of the grave.6 The choice of al-Mulk for the upper burial chamber may also have been inspired by its use in the mausoleum of Emperor Akbar, built by Jahangir.7 In the antechamber that leads to Akbar’s crypt, al-Mulk is rendered in raised stucco calligraphy painted gold in a dark blue band that follows the perimeter of the chamber and continues on the soffit of the entrance arch—similar to the way the sūrah appears in the mausoleum of the Taj Mahal. Amanat Khan would have known this since, as discussed in the introduction, he had designed the calligraphy for the great gateway of Akbar’s complex. There is no colophon that identifies as the calligrapher of the sūrah in Akbar’s tomb, and stylistically the calligraphy does not appear to be Amanat Khan’s work. The decoration of this chamber was probably 3. For photographs, see: Begley and Desai, pp. 188–9. 4. It is numbered sixty-three (“second Meccan”) in the Nöldeke-Schwally chronology. 5. Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīr, 4, p. 356. 6. Al-Kashshāf, 4, p. 436. Also al-Māni’ah (Ibn Kathīr). 7. Edmund Smith, Akbar’s Tomb, Sikandrah, p. 10. Al-Mulk also appears in its entirety on exterior arches of the tomb of Atgah Khan (d. 1562) in Delhi. See: Dodd and Shereen, The Image of the Word, II: p. 191.

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completed before he came on site to design the inscriptions on the gateway that Jahangir had requested. It is also quite possible that Shah Jahan selected al-Mulk for Mumtaz’s mausoleum having seen it inscribed in his grandfather’s tomb. As discussed below, there are themes, ayāt, phrases, and words in al-Mulk that also appear in Yā Sīn, thus forming a connection between the mausoleum’s interior and exterior inscriptions.

Al-Mulk (The Sovereignty) In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful: 1. Blessed is the One in whose hand is Sovereignty, and He is powerful over everything, 2. The One who created death and life that He might try you as to which of you is best in deed, and He is the All-Mighty and Ever-Forgiving 3. The One who created seven heavens one above the other. You do not see any imperfection in the creation of the Most Compassionate! Look again! Do you see any flaw? 4. Then, look again and again! (Your) sight will return to you weak and tired. 5. And indeed, We have adorned the lowest heaven with lamps and We have made them as projectiles against the satans, and We have prepared for them a torment of blazing fire. 6. And for those who defy their Lord is the torment of Hell, a miserable destination! 7. When they are thrown into it, they will hear its roaring as it blazes, 8. nearly bursting with rage. Every time a group is thrown into it, its guards will ask them: “Did not a warner come to you?” 9. They will say: “Indeed a warner did come to us, but we rejected (him) saying: ‘God did not reveal anything, so you are in nothing but great error’.” 10. And they say: “If we had only listened or understood, we would not be among the companions of the blazing fire!” 11. Then they will confess their sins; but away with the companions of the blazing fire! 12. As for those fear their Lord unseen, for them is forgiveness and a great reward. 13. Whether you conceal your speech or speak aloud, He surely is aware of what is in (your) hearts. 14. How could the One who Created (you) not know? And He is the Benevolent, the Aware. 15. He is the One who made for you the earth that yields. So walk its ways and eat of His sustenance, and unto Him is the Resurrection. 16. Are you sure that that the One who is Heaven will not cause you to sink into the Earth when it shakes?

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17. Or are you sure that the One who is Heaven will not rain down stones upon you, for then you will know how My warning is. 18. For indeed those who came before them also rejected (the warning); but how great was My reproach! 19. Do they not look at the birds above them spreading their wings and folding them in? None upholds them other than the Most Compassionate for truly He watches over everything. 20. Who is it that can be as a force for you to help you other than the Most Compassionate? For those who disbelieve are in nothing but delusion. 21. Who is it that can provide for you if He withholds His provisions? No, they persist in insolence and disobedience. 22. Is the one who walks with his face downcast better guided, or the one who walks upright on a straight path? 23. Say: “He is the One who brought you into being and endowed you with hearing, sight and hearts. Little do you give thanks!” 24. Say: “He is the One who scattered you throughout the earth and to Him you shall be gathered together.” 25. And they say: “When will this promise (come to pass), if you are truthful?” 26. Say: “Knowledge (of this) is with God, and I am but a clear warner.” 27. For when they see it approaching, the faces of those who disbelieve will be distressed, and it will be said: “This is what you asked for!” 28. Say: “Have you seen God destroying me and those with me, or showing us mercy? But who can protect the disbelievers from a painful punishment?” 29. Say: “He is the Most Compassionate. We believe in Him and in Him do we trust, and you will come to know who is in clear error.” 30. Say: “Have you seen this: if your water dries up, who could bring you flowing water?”

Commentary The sovereignty of God and His power over all things is repeatedly and emphatically asserted in the Qur’an. Indeed, there are many sūrahs that might have been titled al-Mulk based on their frequent use of the word. In a single āya of Āl ‘Imrān (3.26), for example, the word is used three times: “Say: ‘O God, the Master of sovereignty! You give sovereignty to whom You will, and You strip away sovereignty from whom You will … for You have power over everything.’” Four times sūrah al-Mā’idah declares: “To God belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth” (5.17, 18, 40, and 120). Statements of God’s sovereignty in the Qur’an are frequently followed by the phrase “for God is powerful (qadīr) over everything,” as in al-Mulk 57.1. God’s sovereignty includes His power over life and death which He created (āya 2). Rather than being a defect of the creation or a consequence of the sin of Adam, death is seen as part of the divine plan, according to the Qur’an: “How can you disbelieve in God?—for you were dead and He brought you to life. Then He brings you to death, then He brings you

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to life, and then to Him shall you be returned” (al-Baqarah 2.28). Death thus becomes the means for returning to God whence we came, signifying the end of limited life on earth and the promise of eternal existence in Paradise. This theological assertion of God’s sovereignty over life and death, however, did not stem Shah Jahan’s outpouring of grief at the unexpected death of Mumtaz, as documented above. In a more sedate fashion, however, the court chronicles describe Mumtaz’s departure from this life, not as arbitrary, but as her response to God’s call, citing the Qur’an. Thus, Qazwini wrote: And having recommended her worthy children, honorable mother and relations and kinsmen, when three watches of the night still remained, she responded to the comfort-giving call of “And God calls you to the Abode of Peace.” (Yūnus 10.25)

Lahori describes the scene similarly but cites al-Fajr 89.28, the sūrah that would be inscribed on the gateway of Mumtaz’s mausoleum (see above, chapter 3) As evidence of God’s omnipotence, al-Mulk directs humanity’s attention skywards, to the sevenfold heavens. This view of the cosmos is rooted in ancient Near Eastern thought based on the seven celestial bodies that could be seen with the naked eye: the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. A sevenfold structure to the firmament became the prevailing cosmology in ancient Judaism and was adopted by Christianity and then Islam, as well.8 The “layered” (ṭibāqan) firmament to which al-Mulk thus signifies the distinct orbits of the seven “planets,” a sign of God’s unfailing sovereignty (cf. Yā Sīn 36.40) if only humanity would look upon it. A recurring verb in al-Mulk is ra’ā, “to see.” It is used twice in āya 3: “You do not see any imperfection in the creation of the Most Compassionate! Look again! Do you see any flaw?”— and in subsequent verses (see below). From the Qur’anic perspective, seeing the signs of the natural world is believing. Sūrah al-Nūḥ asks similarly: “Do you not see how God has created the seven heavens one above the other, and made the moon a light in their midst and made the sun as a lamp?” (71.15). Even if we have failed to see the signs of the heavens, al-Mulk 67.4 urges us to look again and again until our vision is exhausted because the proof of God’s sovereignty is visible on a truly cosmic scale. Looking to the heavens, we see the stars (“lamps”) which not only beautify the sky but, when shooting across the sky, are blazing projectiles hurled against evil forces—shayāṭīn—literally the “satans” (al-Mulk 67.5; cf. al-Ḥijr 15.16–17). In the Qur’an, the shayāṭīn signify malevolent influences that descend upon people and lead them astray (cf. alMu’minūn 23.97–98; al-Shu’arā 26.221–223). The “satans” above and the willful disbelievers below, all who act contrary to God, His Revelation, angles, and

8. Annemarie Schimmel, The Mystery of Numbers (New York: Oxford University, 1993), p. 129ff. For other Qur’anic references to the seven heavens, see: 2.29; 65.12; 17.44; 23.17, 86; 41.1265,12; and 71.15.

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prophets, will share a common, infernal fate; they will become “companions of the blazing fire” in contrast to the “companions of the garden” (cf. Yā Sīn 36.55). Fiery punishment is reserved for those who willfully rejected God’s “warner” (nadhīr)—i.e., His prophet. In al-Mulk, “those who disbelieved their Lord” are distinguished from “those who feared their Lord unseen” who receive forgiveness and a great reward (āya 12), similar to what we have seen in alBayyinah 98.6–8. The sovereignty of God cannot be understood simply in terms of His omnipotence as Creator; al-Mulk now explains divine sovereignty in terms of God’s omniscience: “Whether you conceal your speech or speak aloud, He surely is aware of what is in (your) hearts. How could the One who Created (you) not know?” (āya 13–14). *** The first part of al-Mulk draws one’s gaze heavenwards to witness God’s sovereignty in the amid the planets and stars of His creation. In subsequent verses, Humanity’s attention is directed toward the earth where God is equally active and powerful. For the benefit of humankind, He made the earth dhalūlan (āya 15), a word which essentially means “humble or submissive,” but, in this context, connotes a world that “yields” to humanity’s movements and activities so that people may travel over it, cultivate it, and draw sustenance from it. At the same time, we are reminded that this wide and bountiful earth is not humanity’s eternal abode for the āya concludes: “unto Him is the Resurrection.” The Qur’an frequently reminds humanity of the transience of this world. Sūrah al-An’ām 6.32 asks: “What is the life of this world except play and amusement? For those who are conscious (of God), the abode of the Hereafter is best. Do you not understand?” (Cf. al-‘Ankabūt 29.64); and Ghāfir 40.39 exhorts: “O my people! This present life is nothing but convenience. It is the Hereafter that will be the abode eternal.” The next two āyāt (16–17) of al-Mulk comprise two parallel and rhetorical questions, emphatically reminding humanity of its vulnerability before the Omnipotent God: 16. Are you sure that that the One who is Heaven will not cause you to sink into the Earth when it shakes? 17. Or are you sure the One who is Heaven will not rain down stones upon you, for then you will know how My warning is?9

Āyāt 17–18 reprise a theme that we encountered in āyāt 8–9: God’s warning (nadhīr) to humanity conveyed by His prophets, revealed books, and other signs, but often ignored by humanity.10 Once again, humanity’s sight is called into

9. Cf. al-Isrā’ 17.68. 10. Cf. Yā Sīn 36.6, 10, 11, and 70.

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question. Using a simple yet compelling image drawn from nature, al-Mulk directs humanity to see the flight of birds as a sign of God’s sovereignty: Do they not look at the birds above them spreading their wings and folding them in? None upholds them other than the Most Compassionate for truly He watches over everything. (67.19)

Similarly, al-Naḥl refers to the flight of birds as a sign of God’s omnipresence: Do they not look at the birds held in the air of the sky? Nothing upholds them except for God. Truly in this are signs for a people who believe. (al-Naḥl 16.79)

Elsewhere, the movement of birds in flight is viewed as their particular way of praising God: Do you not see that it is to God that everything in the heavens and the earth gives praise, as do the birds with wings outspread? Each one knows its means of prayer and praise. And God knows what they do. And to God belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth, and to God is the final destination. (al-Nūr 24.41)

Such references in the Qur’an would have resonated well with people living in the lands of the Middle East as numerous species of birds pass through the region during their annual migration from Europe and Asia to Africa. Likewise, in South Asia, people witness more than 350 species of birds migrating south every winter.11 Even today at the Taj Mahal, one sees black kites soaring over and around the dome of the mausoleum in great numbers, a visual reminder of the āya from alMulk. If it is indeed God who upholds birds in flight, as āya 19 asserts, then who assists and sustains humanity? This is the question posed rhetorically in āyāt 20 and 21 which, like āyāt 16–17, comprise two parallel verses: 20. Who is it that can be as a force for you to help you other than the Most Compassionate? For those who disbelieve are in nothing but delusion. 21. Who is it that can provide for you if He withholds His provisions? No, they persist in insolence and disobedience!

11. Swati Bopinwar, S.B. Zade, and T.K. Ghosh, “Seasonal Movements and Migration of Birds: Indian Scenario,” Journal of Today’s Biological Sciences: Research & Review (JTBSRR) ISSN 2320–1444 (Online), v. 1, no. 1, pp. 103–21, December 30, 2012. https:// www.academia.edu/27516431/Seasonal_Movements_and_Migration_of_Birds_Indian_ Scenario?auto=download.

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These verses begin in the same manner with the phrase: “Who is it that … ” (aman hādhā alladhī); they use similar verbs—“to help” (naṣara) and “to provide” (razaqa)—and end with rhyming words: ghurūr and nufūr. Ghurūr (“delusion”) is derived from gharra, a verb we have seen used in al-‘Infiṭār 82.6: “O humanity! What has lured you away from your Lord, the Most Munificent?” As noted in Chapter 6, luring is the work of Shayṭān who is called “the Lurer” (al-Ghurūr). According to al-Mulk (āyāt 20–21), “those who disbelieve” (al-kafirūn) have allowed themselves to be deluded and deceived by Shayṭān. Such people are characterized by insolence (‘utūw) and disobedience (nufūr), literally, “turning” or “running” away. Both of these words connote the traits of an unruly animal that bucks and bolts rather than submitting to the will of its master. The twenty-second āya reprises an essential phrase in the Qur’an and, as we have seen, one which is used three times in Yā Sīn: “a straight path” (ṣirāṭ mustaqīm). The āya draws a comparison between those who hang their heads down unaware and unobservant, distracted and disinterested, to those who walk with heads held high, aware of the signs of God’s sovereignty, omnipotence, and omnipresence that are all around him: “Is the one who walks with his face downcast better guided, or the one who walks upright on a straight path?” *** In al-Mulk’s final section beginning with āya 23, God instructs Muhammad in several verses, each starting with: “Say … ” (qul). The prophet is told to remind people that God has created them with the ability to know and understand, equipped with senses such as hearing and sight, as well as those traditionally associated with the heart: thinking and feeling. Most people, however, remain unaware and ungrateful: “Little do you give thanks” is a fundamental critique of humanity that the Qur’an makes in Yā Sīn 36.35 and 73, as we have noted. Echoing the start of the preceding verse, āya 24 begins: “Say: ‘It is He who scattered you throughout the earth.’” Thus, the diversity of humanity that populates different lands, comprises different cultures, and speaks different languages, is part of God’s creative process and plan, and an expression of divine will.12 The scattering of humanity is but a temporary state, however, for: “to Him you shall be gathered together,” a commonly used phrase in the Qur’an. Al-Mulk 67.23–24 therefore presents the whole cycle of human existence: the human family is created by God, scattered throughout the earth, and then gathered back together before God. In āya 25, the people to whom Muhmmad preached pose a question to him: “When will this promise (come to pass), if you are truthful?” This question was asked in Yā Sīn 36.48 and is found in several other sūrahs as well.13 Their question 12. Cf. al-Mā’idah 5.48. These two verses (al-Mulk 67.23–24) are also found in sūrah al-Mu’minūn 23.78–79, revealed either shortly before or after al-Mulk. According to the Egyptian edition, al-Mu’minūn is the seventy-fifth in order of revelation, and al-Mulk is seventy-seventh. Nöldeke-Schwally, however, places al-Mulk first (no. 63) followed by alMu’minūn (no. 64). 13. 34.29, 27.71, 21.38, and 10.48.

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and the Prophet’s reply—“Knowledge (of this) is with God”—are not unlike the exchange between Jesus and his apostles regarding the End Time according to the Gospels (cf. Mark 13.4, 31–32; and Matt: 24.36). The second part of Muhammad’s reply—“I am but a clear warner (nadhīr)”—echoes previous āyāt 8, 9, and 17 that also speak of the “warner.” An unidentified speaker also responds to the people as the End approaches: “This is what you asked for!” (āya 27). Similarly, an anonymous speaker in Yā Sīn 36.52 declared: “This is what the Most Merciful had promised!” In the preceding verses of al-Mulk, we have seen an emphasis on seeing as a means of believing, expressed by the use of the verb ra’ā (“to see”, āya 3 and 19) and al-baṣar (“sight”, āya 4). That theme recurs in āya 28 where ra’ā is again used: Say: “Have you seen God destroying me and those with me, or showing us mercy? But who can protect the disbelievers from a painful punishment?”

These questions originally seem to have been directed toward the Quraysh and other opponents of Muhammad and his followers. Failing to convince them of the truth of God’s presence and power, the prophet asks them to consider him and the umma. Their survival amid hostile opposition is evidence of God’s mercy, of which the Quryash and their disbelieving allies should take note. Al-Mulk presents much and varied evidence for God’s sovereignty over all things. The perfection of the creation alone is deemed sufficient for determining God’s omnipotence and omnipresence, from the heavens above with its stars to earth below with its birds that God holds aloft. Human beings endowed with senses, diverse in every aspect, are likewise signs of God’s sovereignty. God sustains them as He does every living creature. Some, however, persist in their disbelief. Others saw the signs to which the Qur’an refers as clear and convincing proof of God. Their words are those in āya 29: Say: “He is the Most Compassionate. We believe in Him and in Him do we trust, and you will come to know who is in clear error.”

Al-Mulk concludes with a final appeal to disbelievers in āya 30. God commands Muhammad to urge his people to see His sovereignty using a tangible example from daily life: “Say: ‘Have you seen this: if your water dries up, who could bring you flowing water?’” It seems like an abrupt ending to the sūrah, but the āya actually cites a parable related in sūrah al-Kahf 18.32–44 which tells of two men: one who was rich in land and the produce it brought forth, while the other man lacked wealth. The wealthy man trusted in his material wealth and abandoned faith in God. The poorer man attempts to turn his companion’s mind to God, warning him about the impermanence of wealth: It may well be that my Lord will give me something better than your garden, and send thunderbolts upon your garden from the sky, so that it becomes a barren waste, or its water dries up so that you cannot find any. (al-Kahf 18.40–41)

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The wealthy man indeed suffers the destruction of his property and sees the errors of his ways. Al-Mulk 67.30 thus intends to make the same point. Throughout the sūrah, al-Mulk implicitly asserts what the rich man in al-Kahf ultimately states explicitly: “Protection belongs to God, the True One. He is the best for reward and outcome” (18.44).

Chapter 10 A S E E D S S E N D S F O RT H I T S S HO O T : A L - F AT Ḥ

As indicated in the previous chapter, al-Mulk concludes in the middle of the horizontal panel above the southeast arch in the mausoleum’s upper burial chamber. We can appreciate the planning by which the calligraphy of the sūrah was proportioned such that it would end precisely above the point of the arch. Seamlessly, the calligraphy continues with the basmala of sūrah al-Fatḥ, the fortyeighth sūrah of the Qur’an. The first two āyāt occupy the left half of the horizontal panel. The sūrah continues down into the vertical panel left of the arch with āya 3 and continues into āya 5 which continues on the right of the adjacent east arch (framing the east door). The rest of the sūrah is distributed among the panels framing the interior arches as follows: East arch: Northeast arch: North arch: Northwest arch: West arch:

āya 5 (from: ‘anhum) āya 11 (bimā ta’malūn) āya 17 (wa rasūlahu) āya 25 (ma’kūfan) āya 29 (wa riḍwānan)

to to to to to

11 (until: bal kān Allāh) 17 (yuṭi’i Allāh) 25 (wa al-hadā) 29 (faḍlan min Allāh) end of 29

The twenty-ninth (and final) āya of al-Fatḥ concludes in the top righthand corner of the inscription panel framing the west arch. Thereafter, sūrah al-Insān begins. Of all the sūrahs used in the Taj Mahal complex, al-Fatḥ is the latest in date: 111th in order of revelation according to the Egyptian edition.1 The historical context for the revelation of al-Fatḥ is well known and is related by many Muslim chroniclers and Qur’anic commentators. Briefly summarized: in the year 628 CE (6 AH), the Prophet Muhammad dreamed that he had entered the Ka’ba to worship. Ever since the hijra, the Ka’ba had taken on new significance for the Muslims. Whereas in Mecca they had directed their prayers toward Jerusalem, after arriving in Medina Muhammad received a revelation about a change in the direction for prayer: “Now We shall turn you to a qiblah that will please you. Turn your face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque. Wherever you are, turn your faces in that direction” (al-Baqarah 2.144). They were reminded that the Ka’ba

1. Or 108th according to the Nöldeke-Schwally chronology.

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was built by Ibrāhīm and Ismā’īl as a place of prayer and pilgrimage (2.125–127; al-Ḥajj 22.26 ff.). As a result of his dream, Muhammad was moved to perform the “lesser pilgrimage” to Mecca (‘umrah) with his followers. This was a difficult proposition, however, since relations between the Muslim community in Medina and the Quryash of Mecca were still quite hostile. Nevertheless, donning the garb of a pilgrim, Muhammad set out for Mecca with some fourteen hundred followers. Fearing an invasion, the Quryash sent a military force to stop them, but Muhammad and the pilgrims avoided the confrontation by taking another route, leading them to Hudaybiya, just outside of Mecca’s sacred precinct. It was at this point that the Quraysh thought it best to enter into negotiations with Muhammad. After an exchange of several envoys, a treaty was signed which called for a tenyear truce between the Muslims and Quryash. The Muslims were not to proceed to Mecca on this occasion but, by terms of the treaty, would be permitted to return next year and every year as long as the truce remained in effect. Although a major confrontation with the Quryash had been avoided and the safety of the pilgrims assured, many of Muslims, including notably ‘Umar b. Khaṭṭāb, felt humiliated by the terms of the treaty and voiced their objections to Muhammad. The Prophet rebuffed him saying: “I am God’s Messenger and I will not disobey Him. He will give me the victory.” During the journey back to Medina, Muhammad received a revelation and told ‘Umar: “Last night, a sūrah was revealed to me that is dearer to me than the whole world and everything in it.”2 The sūrah began: “Truly We have granted to you a clear victory (al-fatḥ),” indicating that although the Muslims had not reached Mecca as hoped, the occasion was nevertheless to be considered a victory for them because of the peace, security, and benefits it brought them.3 As previously noted, Amanat Khan calligraphed the final three āyāt (27–29) of al-Fatḥ for the Madrasa Shahi Mosque in Agra, at the same time, the inscriptions for the mausoleum’s upper burial chamber were being prepared (1635–6). The reference in āya 29 to the marks of prostration on the faces of worshippers makes it particularly relevant for a mosque; but other, selected verses of al-Fatḥ are found on several structures in Delhi dating from the Sultanate period.4 These include those verses that are also suitable for a funerary monument, namely, āyāt 5 and 17 which refer to God admitting the righteous into “gardens through which rivers flow” (jinnāt tajri min taḥtihā al-anhār). Moreover, the sūrah concludes with God’s

2. Ibn Kathīr, or in Bukhari: “ … dearer to me than that over which the sun rises” (no. 4833). 3. For accounts of these events, see: al-Ṭabarī, The History of al-Ṭabarī (Ta’rīkh alrusul wa’l-mulūk): Volume 3: The Victory of Islam, Michael Fishbein, trans. (Albany: State University of New York, 1997), pp. 67 ff.; Martin Lings, Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2006), pp. 255–64; Adil Salahi, Muhammad: Man and Prophet (Markfield: Islamic Foundation, 2002), pp. 496 ff.; Meraj Mohiuddin, Revelation: The Story of Muhammad (Scottsdale, AZ: Whiteboard, 2016), pp. 275 ff. 4. Dodd and Khairullah, The Image of the Word, v. 2, pp. 182 ff.

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promise of “forgiveness and a great reward.” At its core, the story of the treaty Hudaybiya, as reflected by al-Fatḥ, is one of despair, anger, and disappointment that is transformed into an experience of peace, hope, and fulfillment. With God’s promise of Paradise for those who persisted in patience and faith, al-Fatḥ provides a message of consolation, as it perhaps consoled Shah Jahan as he mourned his wife’s death. Like other sūrahs, al-Fatḥ does not have discreet sections and the aural unity of the whole sūrah is maintained with the use of tanwīn bil-fatḥa at the end of every āya; that is, the last word at the end of every verse has an -an ending.5 The use of certain words in the āyāt, however, does allow us to see stylistic and thematic parts of the sūrah. Thus, I divide al-Fatḥ as follows: Part I, comprising āyāt 1–10, and containing three statements introduced with‘innā, “truly We,” (or simply inna, “truly”) with verses concerning God’s actions; Part II, comprising āyāt 11–17, concerning the mukhallafūn, “those who stayed behind” Part III, comprising āyāt 18–26, the section beginning with laqad, concerning God’s protection of “the believers” (al-mu’minūn/īn) Part IV, comprising āyāt 27–29, another section beginning with laqad, concerning God’s promise to Muhammad and those who are with him that they will enter the sacred mosque in Mecca.

al-Fatḥ (The Victory) In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful: 1. Truly, We have granted to you a clear victory 2. That God may forgive you your faults of the past and those to come, and fulfil his blessing upon you and guide you on a straight path; 3. And that God may help you with a powerful help. 4. He is the One who sent tranquility into the hearts of the believers, 5. that they may grow in faith—for to God belong the forces of the heavens and the earth and God is All-Knowing and All-Wise; that He admit the believing men and the believing women into gardens through which rivers flow, dwelling therein, and that He might absolve them of their sins—and that is in God’s view a great triumph; 6. And that He might punish the male hypocrites and the female hypocrites, and the male idolaters and the female idolaters who think evil thoughts about God. Evil surrounds them, and God’s wrath is upon them, and He has cursed them and prepared Hell for them, a terrible destination! 5. In Qur’anic tajwīd (recitation), this would be read as one fatḥa (“a”).

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7. And to God belong the forces of the heavens and the earth, and God is the All-Mighty, and the All-Wise. 8. Truly We have sent you (Muhammad) as a witness, as a bearer of glad tidings, and as a warner 9. so that all of you might believe in God and His Messenger, and that you might revere Him and honor Him and praise Him morning and evening. 10. For truly those who pledge allegiance to you (Muhammad) pledge allegiance to God. The hand of God is over their hands, and as for the one who betrays a pledge, he betrays himself, and whoever fulfils what he has promised to Him, God will grant him a great reward. 11. The Arabs who stayed behind will say to you: “We were busy with our property and our families, so ask forgiveness for us.” They speak with their tongues but not what is in their hearts. Say: “Who has any power to intercede with God on your behalf if He wanted to harm you or help you? But God is well aware of whatever you do. 12. But you thought that the messenger and the believers would not ever return to their families, and this was pleasing to your hearts; You thought this evil thought, and you are a worthless people!” 13. And for the one who does not believe in God and His messenger, we have prepared for the disbelievers a blazing fire! 14. And to God belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. He forgives who He wills, and he punishes who He wills, and God is the Forgiving and Merciful. 15. Those who stayed behind will say when you set out to take spoils: “Let us follow you.” They wish to change the Word of God! Say: “You will not follow us! God has said this before!” Then they will say: “On the contrary! You envy us!” No, they do not understand but for a little. 16. Say to the Arabs who stayed behind: “You will be summoned against a people foremost in strength. You will fight them, or they will submit (without fighting). Then if you obey, God will grant you a good reward, but if you turn back as you turned back before, He will punish you with a painful punishment.” 17. There is no blame upon the blind; there is no blame on the lame; and there is no blame on the sick. Whoever obeys God and His messenger, He shall admit him into a garden through which rivers flow; and as for the one who turns away, He will punish him with a painful punishment. 18. Indeed God was pleased with the believers when they pledged allegiance to you under the tree. And He knew what was in their hearts for He had sent tranquility upon them, and He rewarded them with a victory near at hand. 19. And much spoils they will take, and God is All-Mighty and All-Wise. 20. And God has promised you much spoils for your taking, and He has brought these to you and has restrained the hands of the people from you, that it may be a sign for the believers and guide you on a straight path.

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21. And other (things) over which you have no power, but of which God is fully aware; for God has power over all things. 22. And if those who disbelieve fought you, they would turn back, and not find a protector or helper. 23. [This is] the way of God that was established before. And you will not find change in the way of God. 24. And He is the one who restrained their hands from you, and your hands from them in the valley of Makka, after granting you victory over them; and God sees whatever you do. 25. They are the ones who disbelieved and turned you away from the sacred mosque and prevented the sacrificial animals from reaching their place of sacrifice. And if there were not believing men and believing women—whom you would not know that you were trampling—a sin would have befallen you on account of them without knowing—so that God might cause to enter into His mercy as He will. But if they had been separated (from the others), We would have punished those who disbelieve among them with a painful punishment. 26. When those who disbelieve allowed rage into their hearts, the rage of ignorance, God sent down tranquility upon His messenger and upon the believers and made them adhere to the word of taqwā; and they were worthy and deserving of it; and God is Knower of all things. 27. Indeed God has fulfilled for His Messenger the vision in truth: that you will enter the Sacred Mosque, if God wills, safely, your heads shaved or cut short, without fear, for He knows what you know not, and He granted in addition to this an imminent victory. 28. He is the One who sent His messenger with Guidance and the religion of truth in order that he may cause it to prevail over all religion, and God suffices as a Witness. 29. Muhammad is the messenger of God and those who are with him stand firm against the unbelievers but are merciful to one another. You will see them bowing and prostrating in prayer seeking favor from God and contentment, their marks on their faces from the effect of prostration. This is their likeness in the Torah. Their likeness in the Gospel is as a seed that sends forth its shoot, strengthens it, and it grows thick and stands on its stem, delighting the sowers, while the unbelievers become angry with them. God has promised those among them who believe and perform righteous deeds forgiveness and a great reward.

Commentary The first three āyāt of al-Fatḥ are addressed specifically to the Prophet Muhammad as evidenced by the use of the singular (second person masculine) object pronoun

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(-ka, “you”). As indicated above, the events that took place at Hudaybiyah were not a victory for Muhammad in the conventional sense since the Muslims were not able to enter Mecca to perform the rites of the pilgrimage; indeed, they would have to wait another year before that would occur. Moreover, according to the terms of the treaty, anyone who fled from Mecca to join the Muslims in Medina would have to return to Mecca, although Medinans were free to join the Quryash in Mecca, if they chose. Even as the treaty was being written, Suhayl ibn Amr, the representative for the Quraysh, refused to allow Muhammad to be described in the document as “the Messenger of God,” but only as “the son of ‘Abdullah.” Nevertheless, the treaty itself was proof that the Quryash and their allies recognized the Muslim community as a distinct entity led by Muhammad, and that their lives and religious observances were to be respected and protected. However unconventional this victory was, it was nevertheless understood as a confirmation of Muhammad’s role as God’s prophet, forgiven, favored, and led by God on the straight path (cf. al-Mulk 67.22; and Yā Sīn 36.4 and 61). The ability to persevere in faith even in the face of adversity, such as what the early Muslims experienced at Ḥudaybiya, is made possible by what āya 4 calls alsakīnah: “He is the One who sent al-sakīnah into the hearts of the believers, that they may grow in faith.” Sakīnah has been defined as: “the tranquility, serenity and peace of mind that results when a believer becomes totally aware of God’s nearby Presence.”6 The word is derived from the root sakana, “to be or become still, tranquil or peaceful,” with a common secondary meaning “to live or dwell in.” The term exists in Hebrew as shekinah, and in Judaic thought similarly refers to the indwelling of God’s presence—in his sanctuary, for example (Exodus 25.8). In sūrah al-Baqarah, it is said that God’s sakīnah was present in the Ark of the Covenant along with the relics of the family of Moses and Aaron (2.248). AlTawbah tells us that God sent His sakīnah upon Muslims in battle to strengthen their resolve (9.26, 40). Within the context of al-Fatḥ, God’s sakīnah, poured into the hearts of the believers, served to magnify their faith. As will be seen, the term is used twice more in the sūrah (āyāt 18 and 26). In the fifth āya, we come to the first of two references in the sūrah to the eternal abode of believers; they are admitted into “the gardens through which rivers flow” (cf. āya 17), a phrase we have already encountered in al-Bayyinah 98.8 and mirrored by the gardens of the Taj Mahal. In this Paradise, the believing men and the believing women are absolved of their wrongdoings. This is the true significance of the “victory,” which is here called “a great triumph” (fawz ‘aẓīm). No earthly victory can compare with that which awaits the righteous at the Last Judgment. This is also made evident in sūrah al-Ṣaff 61.12: “He will forgive you your sins and admit you into gardens through which rivers flow, and to fine dwellings in the gardens of eternity. That is the great triumph.” 6. Allen S. Maller, “The Quran’s Sakinah and the Torah’s Shekinah,” AlJumuah Magazine, November 22, 2016: https://aljumuah.com/the-qurans-sakinah-and-the-torahs-shekinahrabbi-allen-s-maller/.

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The Qur’an often speaks in general terms of “those who believe and those who perform righteous deeds” (allādhīn amanū wa ‘amilū al-ṣāliḥāt)—cf. alBayyinah 98.7—employing the third person masculine plural to refer to both men and women. By contrast, al-Fatḥ uses more gender-specific language, male and female plural forms, referring specifically to male believers (mu’minīn) and female believers (mu’mināt). The use of these gendered terms emphasizes the fundamental equality of men and women before God, perhaps best articulated in sūrah al-Aḥzāb 33.35: For the men who submit and the women who submit, and the believing men and the believing women, and the devout men and the devout women, and the true men and the true women, and the patient men and the patient women, and the humble men and the humble women, and the charitable men and the charitable women, and the fasting men and the fasting women, and the men who guard their chastity, and the women who guard their chastity, and those men who remember God much, and those women who remember God, God has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward.

Therefore, righteousness is not a matter of one’s gender but of one’s character and conduct. The Qur’an does speak of functional differences between men and women in society and upholds traditional gender roles as reflected by Islamic law. These legal and social distinctions, however, have not prevented Muslim women from exerting tremendous influence in their respective communities and cultures from the very beginning of the Islamic era and in every period. This is particularly true of women in the three Islamic empires of the early modern period—Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal. In spite of the restrictions of purdah which kept royal women out of public view, Mughal empresses and their daughters were often well-educated, wrote chronicles, poetry and spiritual works, kept libraries, were influential in matters of states, issued decrees in their own name, engaged in significant commercial enterprises, commissioned gardens, caravanserais, mosques and mausoleums, and were active in a number of philanthropic endeavors. Mumtaz Mahal died before she was able to exercise the kind of authority as did her aunt, Nur Jahan, during Jahangir’s reign, and as Mughal women had in previous reigns. There is evidence, however, that early in Shah Jahan’s reign, Mumtaz was already engaged in administrative matters. It is a decree dated September 1629 and bearing the empress’ own seal: “By the grace of God, Mumtaz Mahal, in the world, became the companion of Shah Jahan, the shadow of God.” The edict (hukm), issued in the name of “the most exalted, cradle of sublimity, Mumtaz Mahal, the Empress,” confirms the appointment of an official who had been unjustly deprived of his office in the Deccan.7 Moreover, after her death, court historian Qazwini wrote of her influence in juridical cases: 7. S.A.I. Tirmizi, Edicts from the Mughal Harem (Delhi: Idarah-i Adabiyat-i Delli, 1979), document IX, pp. 56–8.

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She always kept open the gates of alms and charity on the face of needy people and constantly interceded for the crimes of creatures in the presence of His Majesty, the Shadow of God. Heinous crimes, the pardoning of which no one of the fortunate princes or nobles of high rank had the power to request, the emperor of the Time forgave at the intercession of that Queen of heavenly couch. So that several persons, whose crimes, on account of their seriousness, could not be contained in the scales of forgiveness and who deserved to be put to death, got their release from her intercession.8

In al-Fatḥ, the male and female believers of āya 5 are contrasted in āya 6 with male hypocrites (munāfiqīn) and female hypocrites (munāfiqāt), and male idolaters (mushrikūn) and female idolaters (mushrikāt). The term “hypocrites,” in masculine and feminine forms, as well as in verbal form (allādhīn nāfiqū, “those who act with hypocrisy”), appears some thirty times in the Qur’an, and is the title given to sūrah sixty-three. Generally, it refers to people from Medina in particular who resented the authority of Muhammad and the presence of the migrants from Mecca but thought it wise to become Muslim nevertheless—at least in name. This did not prevent them, however, from speaking out against the Prophet, refusing to fight against the Quryash and their allies (al-Aḥzāb 33.12–13), and even conspiring with them against the Muslims. Judging by the number of occurrences in the Gospels, hypocrisy was also an issue in the Jewish community in the time of Jesus. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus uses the term repeatedly when chastising the scribes and Pharisees (Chapter 23). In an incident related in Mark’s Gospel (7.5 ff.), Jesus responds to their criticisms by quoting the prophet Isaiah (29.13): “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” As Jesus warns the scribes and Pharisees—“how can you escape from the judgement of Gehenna?” (Matt. 23.33)—so, too, al-Fatḥ says of the hypocrites: “God’s wrath is upon them, and He has cursed them and prepared Hell (Jahannam) for them!” Condemned along with the hypocrites are the male and female idolaters (almushrikūn wa al-mushrikāt). As discussed above in the commentaries on Yā Sīn and al-Bayyinah, clearly the Qur’an views polytheism and idolatry negatively for compromising the one, unifying Divine Reality that is God by “sharing” (shirk) God’s divinity with someone or something that is not God. It is important to emphasize, however, that the muskrikīn are repeatedly condemned in the Qur’an not solely on account of their religious practices, but for rejecting the prophethood and authority of Muhammad, and by extension, the veracity of God’s Revelation in the Qur’an. Within contexts like al-Fatḥ, for example, the mushrikīn are synonymous with the enemies of the ummah—i.e., the Quraysh and their allies— and with the munāfiqīn, the hypocrites with whom they are paired in this āya. The charge levied against them—that they “think evil thoughts about God”—is made because they did not believe God would help the believers at Hudaybiya. The 8. Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 14.

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pilgrims were unarmed and completely vulnerable to attack from the army of the Quryash, but they had in reality little to fear for, as the sūrah states: “to God belong the forces of the heavens and the earth” (āya 7), reiterating what had already been stated in āya 4. The word junūd (“forces”) also hearkens back to al-Mulk 67.20 where it appears in its singular form: Who is it that can be as a force (jund) for you to help you other than the Most Compassionate? For those who disbelieve are in nothing but delusion.

The eighth āya begins as did the first: “Truly, We … ” God, speaking in the first person plural, addresses Muhammad specifically, designating him as “a witness (shāhid), a bearer of glad tidings (mubashir) and a warner (nadhīr),” as also in alAḥzāb 33.45. The term mubashir (var., bashīr) is often paired with nadhīr, together describing the function of God’s messengers: We send the messengers only as bearers of glad tidings and warners; so those who believe and those who are righteous, no fear shall come upon them, nor shall they grieve. (al-An‘ām 6.48)

The reference to Muhammad as a “warner” provides another connection to alMulk: “‘Did not a warner come to you?’ They will say: ‘Indeed a warner did come to us, but we rejected (him)’” (67.8–9). The purpose of the messenger is to bring people to belief in God—and thus also His messengers who bear His word—“that you might revere Him and honor Him and praise Him morning and evening” (āya 9).9 This is generally understood to mean continuous prayer—i.e., “day and night”—connoting “throughout the day” since ritual prayers (ṣalāt) five times daily were, according to tradition, established with the mi’rāj (heavenly ascent) of the Prophet before the hijra.10 Through the prayers and prostrations of ṣalāt, Muslims express their belief in God and their submission to God (taslīm). Several times a day, ṣalāt offers the worshipper an opportunity to consciously place themselves in God’s eternal presence, to give praise and thanksgiving, to humbly ask for God’s forgiveness and guidance, and listen to God’s will and wisdom as recorded in the Qur’an. Muslim prayer does not consist only of what is required, however. There are supererogatory prayers (nawāfil), that is, those offered outside of the established times, as well as devotional prayers and repeated invocations using misbaḥah (prayer beads), as is done with mala in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism, and a rosary in Catholic and Orthodox Christianity. As we consider the faith of Shah Jahan as represented by the sūrahs of the Taj Mahal, it is worthwhile to continue to consider how his faith was expressed 9. Cf. al-Aḥzāb 33.41–42 and al-Insān 76.25. 10. R.P. Buckley, The Night Journey and Ascension in Islam: The Reception of Religious Narrative in Sunni, Shi’i and Western Culture (London: I.B. Tauris, 2013), pp. 17–18 and 167.

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in prayer. Assessing the prayer life of a historical figure such as a Mughal emperor can be difficult since private religious observances often go unnoticed and undocumented; but as we have seen in the chapter on al-Fajr, the royal chronicler Lahori wrote about Shah Jahan rising two hours before daybreak to recite supererogatory prayers followed by fajr. Lahori’s account continues with a description of Shah Jahan’s prayer throughout the day: About midday, His Majesty makes the auspicious seraglio [zenana] the envy of Paradise by his august advent. As soon as the time for the afternoon prayers (Zuhr) approaches, he performs these and other devotions and takes his food … After the evening prayers (‘Asr), His Majesty sometimes returns to the Jharoka of the Hall of Public Audience, where the courtiers again gain the fortune of performing their obeisance. The public affairs are transacted according to the time available, and the mounting guards, who are called chaukidars in the Hindustani language, then take charge of the arsenal. At this time, His Majesty next incurs the good fortune of saying his sunset prayers (Maghrib), in the Hall of Private Audience, along with those dignitaries assembled there. After these prayers, he is busy for about four or five gharis in the management of state affairs in the same Paradise-like hall … After performing these things, His Majesty says his night prayers (‘Isha) and returns to the Royal Tower.11

Although Lahori, like other chroniclers, was given to laudatory flourishes when writing about the emperor, his account of Shah Jahan’s regimen of regular prayer amid the daily demands of the court appears genuine, and is corroborated by Chandar Bhan who remarked that the emperor performed his afternoon prayers “with the kind of humility that is fitting for emperors who seek an understanding of Truth and an acquaintance with Reality.”12 We also know that Shah Jahan prayed privately with misbaḥah. When Shah Jahan was still a child, Jahangir wrote: “I gave my son Khurram a string of gem prayer beads with the intention that he should attain his desires, both spiritual and physical.”13 Apparently it did indeed become a lifelong practice because during Shah Jahan’s confinement in the Agra Fort, Aurangzeb demanded his father surrender a particularly expensive set of prayer beads composed of ninety-nine pearls. The now-deposed emperor rejected his son’s request because he used them in prayer.14 As described previously, shortly after ascending the throne, Shah Jahan commissioned a painting of his grandfather in which Akbar seems to offer a set of prayer beads to the viewer—i.e., Shah Jahan. Perhaps, Shah Jahan treasured the pearl rosary because it was given to him by his

11. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, pp. 567–73. 12. Kinra, Writing Self, p. 119. 13. Jahangirnama, p. 45. Shah Jahan later gave them to Dara Shukoh as he departed for Kabul in February 1639 en route to Qandahar (‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 255). 14. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 564.

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grandfather. In another painting,15 a young Prince Khurram is depicted receiving a pearl and ruby misbaḥah from Khizr, the traditional name given to Moses’ unnamed guide in the Qur’an (al-Kahf 18.65 ff.), and of particular significance in Sufi circles (see “Conclusion”). As further evidence of Shah Jahan’s commitment to prayer, we must also consider the mosques that he built. It is true the construction of a mosque can be viewed as a public demonstration of piety and power, but Jahangir did not feel compelled to build a single mosque, whereas Shah Jahan built several. As mentioned previously, there is the mosque within the Taj Mahal complex itself. Within the walls of Agra Fort, he built the Moti Masjid, a large congregational mosque entirely of white marble, begun in 1647 as the Taj Mahal complex was nearing completion. By the time the mosque was finished in 1653, the primary royal residence had been moved to Shahjahanabad, but when the court was resident in Agra, the mosque would have served officials and their attendants for daily and Friday jum’a prayer. Shah Jahan certainly prayed there with his courtiers and entourage on Fridays. It is possible that women of the zenana also prayed in the mosque on Fridays, using the two small rooms at either end of the prayer hall. Each chamber is provided with a carved stone jali screen that would have allowed occupants to hear the prayer and khuṭbah (sermon) in the hall without being seen. For his daily prayer while in residence at Agra Fort, he used the small mosque (Mina Masjid) designed for his private prayer and that of his sons. As noted previously, this personal prayer space seems to mimic the mosque he had built at the dargah of Mu’inuddin Chishti in Ajmer (1636). Within the Agra Fort, he also built a small mosque for the private use of the royal women, the so-called Nagina Masjid. In the palace fortress of Lahore, he built another small mosque for use by the royal family (also called Moti Masjid) which may have replaced his grandfather’s mosque on the same site.16 After establishing the new administrative capital and royal residence at Shahjahanabad, he built the Jama Masjid (1650–6), the largest mosque in the Empire and in India at the time, its courtyard alone capable of accommodating 25,000 worshippers. It was largely built of red sandstone from Fatehpur Sikri, and its monumental east gate by which the emperor entered the mosque after ascending a great staircase, resembles the Buland Darwaza (“Gate of Victory”) of Akbar’s mosque in the former capital.17 Given the attention to his personal prayer space in Agra Fort, as well as for the royal women, it is surprising that he built no mosques within the Shahjahanabad Fort. It is likely, however, that

15. St. Petersburg, Institute of Oriental Studies (AKG 1539647). See: The St. Petersburg Muraqqa’: Album of Indian and Persian Miniatures from the 16th through the 18th Century and Specimens of Persian Calligraphy by ‘Imād al-Ḥasanī (Milano: Leonardo Arte, 1996), pl. 68; and Susan Stronge, Made for the Mughal Emperors, pp. 164–5. 16. Anjum Rehmani, Lahore: History and Architecture of Mughal Monuments (Karachi: Oxford University, 2016), pp. 135–6. 17. According to ‘Inayat Khan’s Shah Jahan Nama, Shah Jahan prayed in the mosque at Fatehpur Sikri in 1644 (p. 305).

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he intended to do so after the Jama Masjid was completed in 1656, but he soon fell ill thereafter, and returned to Agra in October 1657 where he remained for the rest of his life. Shah Jahan is also credited with the construction of the Jama Masjid in Thatta (1644–57).18 *** Returning to al-Fatḥ, the first section of the sūrah concludes with āya 10, the third verse in the sūrah to be introduced emphatically with inna (“truly”—cf. 67.1 and 8): “Truly those who pledge allegiance to you (Muhammad) pledge allegiance to God.” It refers to the events of 628 CE when, before the Muslims and the Quraysh began their negotiations, Muhammad asked his followers to make a sacred pledge of their allegiance to him, the hand of one placed on the hand of the other and so on, a sign of unity and fortitude as together they faced their Meccan opponents in a pilgrimage of peace rather than in battle. God’s promise of a “great reward” (ajr ‘aẓīm) for those who remain faithful to their pledge anticipates the sūrah’s conclusion. Although this āya refers to a specific historical event, its broader meaning to subsequent generations is evident: “whoever fulfils what he has promised to Him, God will grant him a great reward.” Similarly, in sūrah al-Ra’d: Those who fulfill the promise with God, and do not break the covenant … for them is the reward of the (Eternal) Abode: the gardens of Paradise shall they enter with the righteous one among their fathers, their spouses, and their children. And angels shall give them admittance from every gate (saying:) “Peace upon you who have been patient! How excellent is the reward of the (Eternal) Abode!” (13.20, 22–24)

The next section, comprising āyāt 11–17, concerns the mukhallafūn, “those who stayed behind,” referring to the Bedouins who, although ostensibly Muslim, chose not to accompany Muhammad and the others on the pilgrimage to Mecca, making the excuse that they were too busy with their flocks and families. They have already been mentioned in āya 6 for they are also identified with the munāfiqīn— the hypocrites—who “speak with their tongues but not what is in their hearts.” As stated before, they harbored an evil thought (ẓann al-saw’) because they did not believe the others would return safely. Whereas God has promised the faithful a great reward, the unfaithful, hypocritical, and cowardly mukhallafūn will receive the fiery punishment prescribed for them in āya 6 (cf. al-Mulk 67.5, 10–11). 18. Koch, Mughal Architecture, pp. 119–20; Porter and Degeorge, L’Inde des Sultans: Architecture Musulmane dans le sous-continent Indo-Pakistanais (Flammarion, 2009), pp. 253–4. Catherine Asher doubts that Shah Jahan was responsible for the Thatta mosque construction but writes: “Nevertheless, the unusually careful crafting of this brick structure and its magnificent profuse tilework suggest that the mosque was subsidized by the imperial coffers” (Architecture of Mughal India, p. 218).

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Also echoing al-Mulk, āya 14 asserts God’s all-embracing sovereignty, here demonstrated by His infinite capacity for forgiveness and mercy even in the face of disbelief and duplicity by the mukhallafūn. The Bedouin had refused on this occasion to travel with Muhammad and the others to Mecca, but they would have eagerly followed them if they had the opportunity for material gain (āya 15). This pilgrimage, however, was not to be for material gain, but for spiritual enrichment, to perform the prescribed rites at the Ka’ba to which the faithful turned their faces in prayer five times daily. While the agreement made with the Quraysh at Hudaybiya brought about a temporary end to conflict, the umma would face more formidable foes in the future. The assistance of the Bedouins would be necessary, and thus they are warned not to turn back lest they be punished with divine retribution, except for those physically unable to fight. A key to understanding the broader meaning of these passages is the verb tawalla (form V of waliya) in āyāt 16–17 meaning “to turn back or away”—from God, generally. It is the opposite of tūb which signifies turning toward God in repentance (equivalent to the Hebrew shūv and Aramaic tūv). These two verbs are contrasted in sūrah Hūd 11.3: Ask forgiveness of your Lord and turn to Him so that might grant you wholesome enjoyment until an appointed time and give His grace to everyone who merits it. But if you turn away, I fear for you the punishment of judgement day.

The consequence of turning back or away is mentioned at the end of both āyāt 16 and 17: “a painful punishment” (‘adhab alīm). The reward for those who obey God and His messenger is repeated from āya 5: an eternal abode in the “gardens through which rivers flow.” *** The third section of al-Fatḥ, comprising āyāt 18–26, is introduced by the emphatic laqad—“indeed”—and concerns God’s protection of “the believers” (al-mu’minūn/ īn). A number of words and phrases in this section reprise those used in the first two sections, recalling important themes. Thus, āya 18 reminds us of the oath that the believers made with Muhammad (āya 10), repeating the previously used verb: yubāī’ūnaka—“they pledged allegiance to you.” There is a second mention of the “tranquility” (sakīnah) sent into the heart of the believers (āya 4), and another reference to “a victory” (fatḥ) with which the sūrah began. Āya 19 speaks of the “gains” (maghānim) that the believers will enjoy in contrast to the rewards desired by “those who stayed behind” (mukhallfūn). God is again called All-Mighty and All-Wise, as He was in āya 7. In āya 20, we are reminded that God protected the believers from their enemies so that He might lead them on a straight path, echoing āya 2. Āya 21 reaffirms God’s sovereignty as in āya 14. Conflict with those who disbelieve (āya 22) recalls āya 16. The unchanging “law of God” (sunnah Allāh) of āya 23 echoes the unchanging “word of God” (kalam Allāh) in āya 15. Āya 24 concludes with: “God sees (baṣīran) whatever you do,” as āya 11 had similarly stated: “But God is well aware (khabīran) of whatever you do.”

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The last two āyāt of this section (25 and 26) make specific references to events that transpired at Hudaybiya. As noted above, many of those who had accompanied Muhammad on the pilgrimage to Mecca had difficulty accepting the terms of the treaty since they were prevented from completing the rites of ‘umrah in Mecca that year, including the sacrifice of the animals that they brought with them for that purpose. When Muhammad ordered them to sacrifice their animals there at Hudaybiya, they refused since the rites of pilgrimage required that the animals be sacrificed within the sacred precinct in Mecca. Only after they saw Muhammad sacrifice his animal did they acquiesce.19 He thus made an important point about such ritual requirements: that is, that sometimes one must make reasonable adjustments to the requirements of the faith depending on circumstances, as the spirit of the act and the intention of the worshipper take precedence over the rules regarding the ritual. Although the sacrifices could not be made in Mecca that year, they were nevertheless made in good faith, and thus acceptable to God. The second part of āya 25 stresses the necessity of trusting in God even when the outcome seems unsatisfactory. Rather than accepting the terms of the treaty and postponing the pilgrimage until the following year, some of the Muslims would have opted instead to fight their way into Mecca. What they failed to recognize, however, is that God prevented them from doing so for their own sake, for among the Quryash in Mecca at the time were some believers. If the Muslims had attacked the Quryash, they might have unwittingly killed believers and thereby incur sin upon themselves. Once again—now for a third time in the sūrah—we are told that God sent His sakīnah upon Muhammad and the believers that they might act, not with the heated fury as had the Quraysh, but with the quiet awareness of God’s presence (taqwā).20 Like the previous section, the final section of al-Fath (āyāt 27–29) is introduced by the emphatic particle laqad. While God has already granted the believers a “victory” in the treaty of Hudaybiya, He assures them that Muhammad’s dream of performing pilgrimage in Mecca will indeed be realized for them according to the dictates of their faith—“the faith of truth” which will prevail over the practices of the Quraysh and their allies.21 This culminated two years later in the conquest of Mecca in 630 CE when the Ka’ba was cleansed of the idols of the Arab tribes, and (re)dedicated to the worship of one God. The Scriptures of Judaism and Christianity, the Torah and Gospel, are also mentioned in this context for they, too, speak of the one God and those who worship Him. To all these believers whose faith in God is expressed in righteous deeds, God will grant them “forgiveness and a great reward”—and that is the greatest victory for the righteous.

19. Al-Ṭabarī, History, v. 6, pp. 88–9; Lings, Muhammad, pp. 262–3; Salahi, Muhammad, pp. 515–16. 20. For a discussion of taqwā, see above: Yā Sīn 36.45. 21. Cf. al-Tawbah 9.33 and al-Ṣaff 61.9.

Chapter 11 A R EWA R D F O R Y OU : A L - I N S Ā N

Al-Fatḥ concludes in the upper right corner of the west arch, with a few of the sūrah’s last words turning the corner into the horizontal panel above the arch. Thereafter begins al-Insān, the seventy-sixth sūrah of the Qur’an. The first eight āya of the sūrah fill the remaining space around the west arch. The sūrah then continues around the southwest arch from the end of āya 8 through 22, and then around the south arch from āya 23 to 31, concluding at the left end of the horizontal panel. The remaining space on the arch’s left side is filled with two āyāt of al-Zumar and Amanat Khan’s colophon (see Chapter 12). The sūrah is commonly called al-Insān, “Humanity,” a word which appears in the first āya, but it is also known by the initial words of the sūrah: Hal Atā (“Has there been … ?”), or by other words used in the text: al-Dahr (“a period of time”), and al-Abrār (“the righteous”). Both the time and place of its revelation are disputed. Many exegetes, classical and contemporary, regard it as a Medinan sūrah, ninety-eighth in order of revelation according to the Egyptian edition, while others consider it Meccan (or at least āyāt 23–31).1 According to a widely reported tradition attributed to Ibn ‘Abbās, the revelation of the sūrah relates to ‘Ali, Fāṭimah and their sons Ḥasan and Ḥusayn. If this tradition is true, the sūrah would be Medinan as ‘Alī and Fāṭimah were not married until after the hijra. The story is related in Zamakhsharī’s al-Kashshāf which, as we have seen, was an influential exegetical work in Shah Jahan’s day and likely used to select the Taj Mahal sūrahs. According to Zamaksharī’s telling of the story, Ḥasan and Ḥusayn fell ill. The Prophet and some of his followers encouraged them to make a vow to God for their recovery. So ‘Alī, Faṭimah and their servant vowed to fast for three days, if the boys recovered; and so they did. To prepare for the breaking of the fast days promised, ‘Alī borrowed three measures of barley, one of which Fāṭimah ground into flour to make five loaves of bread. When they were about to eat the bread at the breaking of the fast, a very poor Muslim came to them begging: “Feed me and God will feed you from the tables of Paradise.” So, they gave him the bread, and went that night without anything but water. On the second day of the fast, Fāṭimah 1. Fifty-second in order of revelation, according to the Nöldeke-Schwally chronology.

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made more bread with the second measure of barley, but an orphan came to them that evening, and thus the family again went without food. On the third day, a captive came begging at the house, so they gave him the bread made with the last measure of barley. The next day ‘Alī took Ḥasan and Ḥusayn to see Muhammad. When he saw them trembling from hunger like newborn birds, the Prophet said: “How it grieves me to see you like this!” He got up and went with them to their home where he found Faṭimah praying, greatly emaciated and her eyes dimmed from lack of food. He was greatly saddened by her weakened condition, but then the angel Jibrīl appeared, saying to him: “O Muhammad, receive this sūrah for God is pleased with you on account of your family.” Jibrīl then recited sūrah alInsān to him.2 This story in which ‘Alī and Fāṭimah show such munificence, even at the expense of their own children’s needs, reflects the sūrah’s reference to “the poor, the orphan and the captive” (āya 8). Most of the sūrah, however, comprises some of the most beautiful descriptions of Paradise, and is undoubtedly the reason that it was inscribed in the mausoleum. At the end of Zamakhsharī’s commentary on the sūrah, he includes a saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad: “Whoever recites sūrah Hal Atā, his reward from God will be Paradise and (garments of) silk,”3 alluding to the twelfth āya. In terms of the sūrah’s style, al-Insān makes frequent use of the emphatic particle inna, “truly” (or ‘innā, “truly We”); nearly a third of the sūrah’s āya begin with it. Like al-Fatḥ, al-Insān makes consistent use of tanwīn bil-fatḥa such that most āya end with -an, giving an aural unity to the whole sūrah. Based on content, the sūrah falls easily into two sections: the first, comprising āya 1–22, provides vibrant descriptions of eternal life in Paradise; and the second, comprising āya 23–31, is a reminder (tadhkirah) to the living about righteous behavior. Like al‘Infiṭār and al-Bayyinah, al-Insān was also used in the inscriptional program of the Lutfallah Mosque where it appears on the exterior drum of the dome along with sūrahs al-Shams (see below) and al-Kawthar.

al-Insān (Humanity) In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful: 1. Has there been for humanity a period of time when he was not something of significance? 2. Indeed, We created humanity from a drop of mixed fluid. We test him, and We gave him hearing and sight. 3. Indeed, We guided him on the path, whether he was grateful or ungrateful.

2. al-Kashshāf, v. 4, p. 505. 3. al-Kashshāf, v. 4, p. 509.

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4. Indeed, We have prepared for the disbelievers chains, yokes and blazing fire. 5. As for the righteous, they will drink from a cup mixed with camphor, 6. (from) a spring from which the servants of God drink that they cause to gush forth abundantly. 7. They fulfill (their) vows and they fear a day when horror is widespread. 8. And, they feed, out of love for Him, the poor, the orphan, and imprisoned. 9. “We feed you for the sake of God. We do not want reward from you, nor thanks. 10. Indeed, we fear from our Lord a grim and distressful day.” 11. So God will save them from the horror of that day and shed light and joy upon them. 12. And on account of their steadfastness, He will reward them with a garden and silk garments, 13. reclining in it on couches. They will not experience the sun’s (heat) or extreme cold in it. 14. And its shade will cover them, and fruit will hang low. 15. And among them vessels of silver will be passed around and goblets of crystal, 16. crystalline silver, of which they will determine the measure. 17. And therein they will be given to drink a cup mixed with ginger. 18. (from) a spring therein called Salsabīl. 19. And among them will circulate immortal youths—if you saw them you would think they were scattered pearls! 20. And when you look, you will see bliss and a magnificent realm. 21. Upon them will be garments of green silk brocade, and they will be adorned with bracelets of silver, and their Lord will give them a pure drink. 22. Indeed, this is a reward for you, for your effort has been praiseworthy! 23. Indeed, it is We who revealed the Qur’an to you as a revelation in stages. 24. So be patient with the judgment of your Lord and do not follow sinner or disbeliever among them. 25. And remember the name of your Lord morning and evening. 26. And during the night, prostrate to Him and glorify Him by night at length. 27. But there are those who love what is fleeting, and they ignore a grievous day. 28. We have created them, and We have strengthened their joints. And if We will it, We can completely replace them with others like them. 29. Indeed, this is a reminder; for the one who wills it, let him take a path to his Lord. 30. But you cannot will it except as God wills, for God is All-Knowing, AllWise. 31. He will admit to His Mercy whoever He will; but for the wrongdoers He has prepared a painful punishment.

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Commentary Al-Insān begins with a rhetorical question with which exegetes and translators have struggled and differed with one another. It seems to suggest there is indeed a period when humanity is quite insignificant—literally, “not worthy of being mentioned” (mudhkūr), that is, when a human person exists only as the negligible organic elements from which it will ultimately develop. The entire revelation of the Qur’an, in fact, began with a simple reminder to humanity of its humble origins: “Recite in the name of your Lord, who created, created humanity from a clot … ” (al-‘Alaq 96.1–2). Yā Sīn similarly states: “Does humanity not see that We created him from seed? And yet he is really contentious!” (36.77). From the Qur’an’s perspective, when humanity recognizes its utterly humble origins in the most insignificant matter, it should then have an awareness of God the Creator—i.e., taqwā—that leads it to humility before God. The second āya tells us that humanity is often “put to the test”—i.e., challenged (cf. al-Fajr 89.15–16 and al-Mulk 67.2), but God does not leave humanity helpless. He endows humanity with senses and abilities to deal with life’s travails: “We test him, and thus We gave him hearing and sight.” Similarly, in al-Mulk 67.23, we read: “Say: ‘He is the One who brought you into being and endowed you with hearing, sight and hearts. Little do you give thanks!’” The God who creates humanity from the meanest material and then endows him with senses, guides him on the path (sabīl), the way of righteousness that leads to God (cf. āya 29); and God does this whether humanity is grateful or ungrateful (āya 3). We have seen references to humanity’s propensity for ingratitude in previous sūrahs inscribed on the mausoleum: And a sign for them is the dead earth which We bring to life. And We bring forth grain of which they eat. And We establish in it gardens of date palms and grape vines. And We cause to gush forth from it springs that they might eat of its fruit though their hands did not make it. Will they not then give thanks? (Yā Sīn 36.33–35) Say: ‘He is the One who brought you into being and endowed you with hearing, sight and hearts. Little do you give thanks!’ (al-Mulk 67.23)

Before describing at length the fate of the believing righteous in Paradise, alInsān briefly reminds us of what awaits the unbelieving: “chains and yokes,” as previously described in Yā Sīn 36.8, and the “blazing fire” (sa’ir), the threat of which appears in al-Mulk, al-Inshiqāq, and Yā Sīn, as well. The remainder of the first part of the sūrah emphasizes the joys that await the righteous (al-abrār) in Paradise (cf. al-Infiṭār 82.13). These are among the most vivid descriptions of Paradise in the entire Qur’an. One of the pleasures that the righteous are promised is a drink mixed with camphor that flows unceasingly from a fountain (āya 5–6). The substance of the drink has been greatly debated, and many contemporary

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translators avoid identifying the beverage as wine due to the Qur’anic admonitions against drinking intoxicating beverages (al-Mā’idah 5.90–91 and al-Baqarah 2.219); but other āya indicate quite clearly that wine flows in Paradise. Muḥammad 47.15 which speaks of “rivers of wine” (anhār min khamr). While it is true that wine is not explicitly mentioned in āya 5, but only a “cup (of something) mixed with camphor,” Zamakhsharī, whose al-Kashshāf was the most studied tafsīr in the early modern Islamic world, understood the drink as wine (khamr).4 In spite of certain religious objections and prohibitions based on the Qur’an and ḥadīth, the drinking of wine and other alcoholic beverages was not uncommon in Islamic court cultures, including those of the Seljuks, Ottomans, Safavids, the Deccan Sultanates, and the Mughals.5 Shahab Ahmed aptly described wine-drinking in Muslim societies of the past, both Sunni and Shi’i, as: a collective and normative group practice—which is to say, it was practiced in often large social gatherings of friends and peers; neither furtively and secretly on the hand, nor in the common and general public on the other.6

Apparently, alcohol did not always conflict with religious sensibilities as evidenced by a seventeenth-century wine bowl from Hindustan engraved with a Shi’ite prayer and invocation, as well as part of an āya from sūrah al-Ṣaff 61.13: “Help comes from God and victory is near.”7 The Safavid Shah Abbas gifted a white jade wine tankard to Jahangir originally made for the Timurid sultan Ulugh Beg (c. 1425– 50). Jahangir had his name and titles added to the piece introduced with: Allahu Akbar—“God is the Most Great”—an interesting choice for a wine vessel.8 When Shah Jahan inherited the cup, he added his name and titles to it below the handle. Moreover, Ahmed notes Muslim authors such as Abū Zayd al-Balkhī (849– 943 CE) whose book The Welfare of Bodies and Souls (Kitāb maṣāliḥ al-abdān wa al-anfus) addresses the benefits of drinking wine for health and happiness.9 In addition, Ahmed cites the most widely copied and read book of political theory and practical philosophy’ in Islamic history until the modern period, Naṣīr-udDīn Ṭūsī’s (d. 1274) book on ethics (Akhlāq). In his chapter on the “Manners of 4. Al-Kashshāf, v. 4, p. 504. 5. Sheila Canby et al., Court and Cosnos: The Great Age of the Seljuqs (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2016), cat. 56–7; Emma J. Flatt, The Courts of the Deccan: Living Well in the Persian Cosmopolis (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 2019), pp. 115 ff.; Rudi Matthee, The Pursuit of Pleasure: Drugs and Stimulants in Iranian History, 1500– 1900 (Princeton: Princeton University, 2005); Divya Narayanan, “Cultures of Food and Gastronomy in Mughal and post-Mughal India,” unpublished dissertation, Universität Heidelberg, January 2015. 6. Shahab Ahmed, What Is Islam? The Importance of Being Islamic (Princeton: Princeton University, 2016), p. 62. 7. Ca. 1620–30. Aga Khan Museum, AKM925. 8. Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon: 328; Ahmed, Islam, pp. 68–71. 9. Ahmed, Islam, p. 60 f.

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Wine-Drinking,” Ṭūsī does not tell his Muslim readers not to drink, but how to drink responsibly and with dignity.10 Drinking wine was certainly common among the Mughals, perhaps too common as excessive drinking contributed to the deaths of Shah Jahan’s uncles Murad and Daniyal, as well as his own father and his brother Parvez, as noted above. Shah Jahan seems to have been more abstemious due to family history or genuine piety, or both; but the two, beautifully crafted wine cups bearing his name indicate that he did not forego wine completely. It should be emphasized, however, that in the case of al-Insān and other sūrahs that describe Paradise, we need not read the text too literally for we are clearly dealing with symbolic images of an eternal reality beyond human imagination. In Sufi thought wine represents “the eternal love flowing between God and the believer”11—perhaps an apt description of what the righteous experience in Paradise. The beverage of āya 5, however understood, is said to be mixed with kāfūr. Most exegetes identify this as camphor, the aromatic substance extracted from the wood of a certain laurel tree (Cinnamomum camphora) cultivated in south and east Asia.12 This is the first of several items of luxury mentioned in the sūrah that entered the Middle East from India. In the sixteenth century, Englishmen Ralph Fitch wrote that camphor “is a precious thing among the Indians, and is solde dearer then golde.”13 Abu’l-Fazl, Akbar’s chronicler, included a description of camphor in the section of the Ā-īn-i-Akbarī concerning ingredients for perfumes.14 In addition to perfumes, it was used from ancient times as an ingredient in sweet and savory dishes (in small amounts), in medicinal preparations, and in religious worship, Hinduism especially, to purify the air much like incense.15 All of these associations make camphor a symbolically potent ingredient for the elixir of Paradise: sumptuous, aromatic, sweet, soothing, healing, fragrant, and pure. With āya 7–10, the sūrah suddenly switches it focus from what the righteous will do in Paradise to what they do on earth: they fulfill their vows—i.e., obligations and responsibilities—aware that the Day of Judgment is coming—“a day when horror is widespread”—caring for the poor, the orphan, and the imprisoned out of their love for God. These āyat are those particularly associated with the story of ‘Alī, Fāṭimah, and their sons related above. It is significant that feeding the hungry is one of the defining characteristics of the servants of God: “And, they feed, out of love for Him, the poor, the orphan, and imprisoned.” Some exegetes understand this āya differently, that is, that the servants of God feed the poor “even though they love it,” referring to their love of food (al-ṭa’ām), rather than love for God. 10. Ahmed, Islam, p. 63. 11. Ladan Akbarnia with Francesca Leoni, Light of the Sufis: The Mystical Arts of Islam (Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, 2010), p. 94. 12. Versha Gupta, Botanical Culture of Mughal India, AD 1526–1707 (Bloomington, IN: Partridge, 2018), pp. 147–8. Some exegetes identify kāfūr with other substances. See Muhammad Asad’s note in: The Message of the Qur’an, pp. 1046, n. 7. 13. Early Travels in India, p. 46. 14. Ā-īn-i-Akbarī, v. 1, pp. 83–4. 15. Meera Sashital, Worship Essentials for Puja (Mumbai: Celestial Books, 2011), pp. 67 f.

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While this is grammatically possible since the object pronoun is ambiguous, a good parallel to āya 8 is provided by al-Baqarah 2.177: It is not righteousness that you turn your faces to the East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in God, the Last Day, the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance out of love for Him, for your kin, for the orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves.

Moreover, āya 9 also makes clear that it is indeed the love for God that motivates the righteous to feed the poor: “We feed you for the sake of God”—literally, “for the face of God”—“We do not want reward from you, nor thanks.” The phrase “the face of God” (wajh Allāh) is an interesting one given that the Qur’an generally eschews anthropomorphisms, but it is not unique to al-Insān, and it is used elsewhere in the Qur’an within the context of charitable giving: Whatever charity you give, benefits your souls; provided whatever you give is for the face of God. (al-Baqarah 2.272) So give to what is due to the kinsman, the needy, and the wayfarer. That is best for those who seek the face of God, and it is they who will prosper … whatever you give in charity seeking the face of God, those will prosper. (al-Rūm 30.38–39)

Even as they attend to the needs of the poor and the needy, the righteous remain humble and conscious of “a grim and distressful day”—i.e., the Day of Judgment. They stand in stark contrast to the greedy and complacent chastised in al-Fajr: “On the contrary, you do not honor the orphan! And you do not encourage one another in feeding the poor! … For on that day, His punishment will be such as no one can inflict!” (89.17–25). For the compassionate, God will “shed light and joy upon them” (āya 11), or as we read in al-Infiṭār: “As for the righteous, they will be bliss” (82.13). Patient endurance or steadfastness is expressed by the word ṣabarū in āya 12, and it is a virtue that is highly esteemed in Islam, and characteristic of the righteous. This is in no small part due to the opposition and outright hostility that early Muslims experienced as they allowed the Qur’an to transform their lives, to embrace its values, practices, and Prophet even as they were ostracized from their families and clans, even as they were subjected to violence and driven from their homes. The Qur’an makes frequent mention of the rewards in store for the steadfast believer; here in al-Insān, that reward is said to be “a garden and silk garments.” Similarly, in al-Ḥajj we read: God will admit those who believe and do righteous deeds to gardens through which rivers flow. They will be adorned with bracelets of gold and pearls, and their clothes therein will be of silk. (22.23; cf. Fāṭir 35.33)

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Al-Insān describes life in Paradise using images that people can understand, appealing to their sense of physical comfort, ease, and luxury. Thus, the righteous will recline comfortably untouched by excessive heat or cold. Trees will bend low over them offering shade and fruit within their grasp. They will drink from cups of silver and crystal that sparkle in the light of eternal day, and their drink spiced not only with camphor but also with ginger (zanjabīl). Although it originated in southeast Asia, ginger has been cultivated in India for more than three thousand years, and India is the largest producer of ginger to this day. In addition to its culinary uses, ginger has been used for millennia for its pharmacological properties, like the camphor (kāfūr) of āya 5.16 Thus, using substances that appeal to the senses of taste and smell, al-Insān conveys the idea of the Afterlife as an experience of healing and wholeness at the deepest level of existence. That healing occurs when one drinks from the fountain called Sal-sabīl, which may be understood to mean: “Seek the Path.” The “path” (sabīl) has already been mentioned in āya 3: “We guided him on the path …,” and is referred to again in āya 29—the way of faith and righteous deeds that lead to God. Scholars, classical and contemporary, have puzzled over the identity of the “immortal youths” who circulate among the righteous in Paradise in order to serve them (āya 19), with some interpreters suggesting a certain (homo)erotic element in the concept.17 The Qur’an, however, seems unconcerned with identifying these youths, but employs them simply as a symbol of purity and peerless beauty, likening them to pearls. Like silk and spices, pearls were imported into the ancient Near East by the Romans from India where they were farmed in the Mannar Gulf between India and Sri Lanka.18 The association of pearls with Paradise is evident in the mosaics from the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus (715 CE). In the depictions Paradise, pearls hang on chains of gold or silver in doorways of buildings and in spaces between columns.19 In Paradise the righteous will also be magnificently attired in silk, as noted above, but specified in āya 21 as “green silk brocade” (cf. al-Kahf 18.31). In Islam, as other religious traditions, green signifies new growth and the renewal of life: “Have you not seen that God sends down water from the sky, and the earth becomes green … ” (al-Ḥajj 22.63). In al-Raḥmān, the righteous are said to recline on green cushions (55.76). The word istabraq (“brocade”) is derived from the verb baraqa which connotes shimmering material. In al-Insān, it is coupled with 16. Ann M. Bode and Zigang Dong, “The Amazing and Mighty Ginger,” in: Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects, ed. Iris F.F. Benzie and Sissi Wachtel-Galor, 2nd ed. (Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2011): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92775/. 17. Khaled el-Rouayheb, Before Homosexuality in the Arab-Islamic World, 1500–1800 (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2005), pp. 133–6. Cf. al-Wāqi’ah 56.17–18. 18. Mclaughlin, The Roman Empire, pp. 92–3, 175–6. 19. Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition, 7th–9th Century, Helen C. Evans with Brandie Ratliff, eds. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012), p. 252; and Loreline Simonis, Les Relevés des Mosaïques de la Grande Mosquée de Damas (Paris: Louvre, 2012), figs. 16–18, 27, 29, and 33.

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shining bracelets of silver, further evoking an opulently luminescent realm where sparkling fountains fill crystalline cups with a “pure drink” (sharāb ṭahūr) served by the Lord God. This part of the sūrah, with its vivid descriptions of the realm of the righteous in the Afterlife, concludes with God’s address to them: “Indeed, this is a reward for you, for your effort has been praiseworthy!” Although the reward of the righteous as described in al-Insān may seem to satisfy the senses more than the spirit, Islamic scholar Mikhail B. Piotrovsky has rightly observed: Behind the concrete, realistic images of the Qur’an there lurks a more profound meaning. Contentment and delight, the rewards of the righteous, appear at first sight to be merely physical. In fact, they represent the bliss of God’s grace, that full spiritual tranquility, the joy of approaching into the presence of God. For this is—beneath the realistic representations and just as in the poetry of the mystics—the essence of Paradise.20

*** In the final section of the sūrah comprising the last nine āyāt, we return to the realm of the living where humanity is reminded and counseled about righteous conduct, a fitting conclusion as the inscriptions in the mausoleum draw to a close. First, there is an assertion about the divine origin of the Qur’an: “It is We who revealed the Qur’an to you as a revelation in stages” (āya 23). The Qur’an is therefore to be regarded as Sacred Scripture, the last in the succession of holy books, preceded by the Gospel (Injīl), the Psalms (Zabūr), and the Torah (Tawrah). The gradual revelation of the Qur’an (implied by the verb nazzal-nā) over the course of twentythree years required patience, a virtue associated with the righteous as seen in āya 12. The pressure and temptation for early Muslims to return to their former ways must have been great indeed, and so here the sūrah urges them not to follow sinners or those who refuse to believe in the revelation of the Qur’an. As in al-Fatḥ 48.9, the believers are reminded to “remember the name of your Lord morning and evening,” but here specifically also to glorify God during the nighttime hours as well—in essence, praying always. In contrast to the devout are those who are too enamored of the things of this world, and who forget that a “grievous day” (yawm thaqīl) of reckoning will come, a day for which the righteous are prepared (see above, āya 10). As in the beginning of the sūrah, humanity is reminded of its creation by God and also warned that God can completely replace it with another, more cooperative creature.21 Therefore, “let him take a path to his Lord,” the word sabīl (“path”) reprised from āya 3. As a creature, however, humanity is not entirely free to choose its path except as God wills. The phrase “if God wills” (in sha’ Allah), used repeatedly in the daily speech of Arab-Muslim peoples, reflects an awareness, not of human helplessness—for we have been endowed with senses and abilities 20. Piotrovsky, Heavenly Art, Earthly Beauty, p. 62. 21. Cf. al-Nisā’ 4.133; Ibrāhīm 14.19; and Fāṭir 35.16.

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to know and act—but reminds us of human limitations, physical, intellectual, and spiritual, to determine our fate. Only God is completely free: free to bestow mercy on those deemed to be righteous, and free to bring to judgment those who have rejected faith and neglected their fellow humankind.

Chapter 12 T U R N T O Y OU R L O R D : A L - Z UM A R ( 3 9 . 5 3 - 5 4 )

Sūrah al-Insān concludes before reaching the end of the inscription panel above the south arch and doorway of the central chamber. At this point, it is immediately followed by the fifty-third āya of al-Zumar. As the sūrah is only partially recorded here, it is not introduced with the basmala like the preceding sūrahs, but instead with the formula: “Said God, Blessed and Exalted” (qāl Āllāh tabarak wa ta’alā). The āya barely begins in the horizontal panel before turning the corner into the left vertical panel and continuing to the end of āya 54. The remaining space in the left panel is filled with a prominent colophon of Amanat Khan. Except for the inscriptions on the upper and lower cenotaphs, these two āya of al-Zumar are the last inscriptions inside the mausoleum with the exception of the verses inscribed on the cenotaphs. The title of the thirty-ninth sūrah, literally “The Throngs,” is a word used in āya 71 and 73, referring to the throngs of disbelievers who will be led into Hell, compared to the throngs of those who were ever conscious of their Lord (i.e., they exhibited taqwā), and who are led into the Garden of Paradise. Both the Egyptian edition and Nöldeke-Schwally chronology consider al-Zumar a Meccan sūrah (fifty-ninth and eightieth in order of revelation, respectively). Some exegetes and the Egyptian edition consider a few āya, including 53 and 54, to be Madinan additions that apply specifically to Waḥshī, an Abyssinian slave.1 His master, Jubayr ibn Muṭ’im, offered him his freedom if he would kill Muhammad’s uncle Hamza, which he did at the Battle of Uhud (625 CE); but he later repented of the killing and became Muslim.2 Another tradition says that āya 53 was revealed in order to calm the fears of those who wanted to embrace Islam but felt impeded by the sinful acts they had committed.3 Whether revealed to reassure Waḥshī that he was forgiven, or directed to Meccans who were haunted by their sins of the past, these āya nevertheless powerfully attest to the boundless mercy of God who “forgives all sins.” It is possible these verses and the supposed context of their revelation reminded Shah Jahan of his own sins of violence, namely, the execution of his

1. Zamakhsharī reports this context for the revelation of āya 53. 2. Lings, Muhammad, p. 178. After Hudaybiyah, Jubayr also became Muslim. 3. Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukharī, Kitāb al-tafsīr, 4810.

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brother Shariyar, his nephews and cousins by which he secured the throne, as well as the earlier murder of his brother Khusrau. Āya 53 was particularly cherished for it was also inscribed on Mumtaz’s cenotaph in the mausoleum’s crypt. Perhaps the āya reassured Shah Jahan that his beloved wife would be among the throngs entering Paradise, and that the mercy of God would allow him to join her there. The personal significance of this āya to Shah Jahan is reflected perhaps in its choice for the inscription above the mihrab of his Jama Masjid in Delhi.4

al-Zumar (The Throngs) Said God, the Blessed and Exalted: 53. Say: “O my servants who have transgressed against their own souls! Do not despair of God’s Mercy for God forgives all sins for indeed He is the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” 54. And: “Turn to your Lord and submit to Him before the punishment comes upon you; for thereafter you will not be helped.”

Commentary Here, as in al-Insān 76.6, the righteous are called God’s servants. Although lovingly called by God—“O my servants … ”—they are not perfect servants for they have “transgressed against their own souls,” that is, their own selves. In other words, when people sin, it affects them and their souls as they must live with the consequences in this life and the next, whereas God is unaffected. Even so, transgressors should not lose hope for God is merciful and forgives all sins. The verb qaniṭa—“to despair” (āya 53)—is used in al-Shūrā 42.28 to express the loss of hope in time of drought that is relieved only by God’s mercy: “He is the One who sends down relief (as rain) after they have despaired; and He spreads out His Mercy; and He is the Protector, Worthy of All Praise.” Thus, it can be said that God’s mercy brings relief to humanity like rain to a drought-stricken land. God’s mercy refreshes, restores, and regenerates what has withered from sin. God is called here: al-Ghafūr (“the All-Forgiving”) and al-Raḥīm (“the Most Merciful”), two of the ninety-nine “beautiful names of God” which are inscribed on Mumtaz’s cenotaph in the mausoleum crypt. Al-Raḥīm (“Most Merciful”) shares a common root (raḥima) with al-Raḥmān (“the Most Compassionate”), the two most frequently used names in the Qur’an to refer to God. This āya which so powerfully asserts God’s mercy is echoed by a well-known ḥadīth: “When God completed the creation, He wrote in His book which is with Him on the throne: ‘My Mercy prevails over My wrath.’”5 4. Begley, “The Symbolic Role of Calligraphy,” p. 11. 5. Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 3022.

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Exegetes are quick to point out, however, that God’s mercy and forgiveness are not a license for humanity to willfully commit sin in perpetuity. In order to avail oneself of God’s mercy and forgiveness, one must repent of one’s sins. Thus, in āya 54, we read: “Turn to your Lord and submit to Him … ” (anībū ilā rabbikum). In his tafsīr, Zamakhsharī equates the verb anībū (“turn”) with tūbū which likewise signifies turning to God in repentance. It is the equivalent of the Hebrew shūv (Aramaic, tūv) used frequently by the biblical prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Likewise, al-An’ām 6.54 says: “If any among you did evil in ignorance, and then turned (to God) and makes amends, He is Forgiving, Most Merciful.” From the Qur’anic perspective, God is Forgiving and Merciful as He turns to humanity even though humanity often turns away from God: “He turned to them that they might turn (to him), for He is the Oft-Returning, Most Merciful” (al-Tawbah 9.118). The name al-Tawwāb, also among the ninety-nine “beautiful names,” signifies that God turns repeatedly to humanity in mercy and forgiveness. Thus, the Qur’an asks: “Why do they not turn to God and seek His forgiveness? For God is Forgiving, Most Merciful” (al-Mā’idah 5.74). Al-Zumar 39.34 also exhorts humanity to “submit to Him” (aslimū la-hu), that is, to surrender to God’s will, for only then can one truly be called muslim, “one who submits.” The uncertainty and fragility of life, such as Mumtaz Mahal experienced, called from this life suddenly and without warning, were perhaps a painful reminder to Shah Jahan of his own need for sincere repentance and submission to God, the Forgiving and Most Merciful, before he too was summoned from this world.

The Colophon Finished with His help, written by the humble faqīr, Āmānat Khān al-Shirāzī, in the year one-thousand-and-forty-eight hijri, and the twelfth of His Majesty’s august accession. [1638–9 CE]

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The Upper Cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal In the center of the upper tomb chamber, within the octagonal pietra dura screen, is the white marble cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal. Shah Jahan’s cenotaph lies immediately to the west of his wife’s. The basic coffin-like form of their cenotaphs, set on a stepped plinth and resting on a platform, hearkens back to the very beginning of Islamic architecture in India under the Delhi Sultanates, such as seen in the mausoleum of Iltumish (d. 1236).1 Although the cenotaphs resemble sarcophagi, they are merely symbolic representations of the actual burials under the floor of the tomb chamber below which are likewise marked with cenotaphs. The cenotaph designated for Mumtaz bears Qur’anic inscriptions in addition to exquisite pietra dura flowers, plants, and flowery arabesques, while those of Shah Jahan, both upper and lower cenotaphs, are completely decorated with floral designs, and lack inscriptions except for the emperor’s epitaph on the base of the cenotaphs’ south end. Mumtaz’s upper cenotaph is inscribed on the top and on all sides with selected Qur’anic verses and is thus woven into the inscriptional program of the architecture that surrounds it. Whereas many of the complete sūrahs discussed thus far address a variety of topics and tenets, some of which are directly relevant to the funerary function of the complex, the āya of the cenotaph are even more specific to the sepulchral setting. They are, in some ways, more intimate and intense than the previous āya because of their direct connection with the grave of Mumtaz below.

The Top of the Cenotaph In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful. O Living One, O Eternal One, I appeal to Your Mercy.

1. Porter and Degeorge, L’Inde des Sultans, p. 42.

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Fuṣṣilat (Expounded) 41.30 As for those who say: “Our Lord is God,” and then stay on the straight path, the angels will descend on them (saying): “Do not be afraid and do not grieve but rejoice in the good news of the Garden which you were promised.” al-Ghāfir (The Forgiver) 40.7–8 7. Those who bear the throne (of God), and those around it glorify their Lord with praise, and believe in Him, and ask forgiveness for those who believe (saying): “Our Lord! You encompass everything in mercy and knowledge. Forgive those who turn to You and follow Your Path; and save them from the pains of Hell. 8. And admit them, Our Lord, into the Gardens of Eternity which You promised them and to the righteous among their fathers, their wives, and their progeny, for You are truly the Mighty, the All Wise.”

From the East Side of the Cenotaph to the South End al-Muṭaffifīn (Those Who Defraud) 83.22–28 22. Truly the righteous shall be in bliss 23. laying upon their couches, gazing about. 24. You will recognize on their faces the radiance of bliss. 25. They will be served nectar sealed – 26. its seal of musk, and for this may the aspirants aspire! 27. – mixed with (the waters of) Tasnīm, 28. a spring from which shall drink / those closest to God.

From the South End to the West Side Fuṣṣilat (Expounded) 41.30 As for those who say: “Our Lord is God” / and then stay on the straight path, the angels will descend on them (saying): “Do not be afraid and do not grieve but rejoice in the good news of the Garden which you were promised.”

From the West Side to North End al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2.286 (partial) Our Lord! Do not burden us with that for which we do not have the strength, and pardon us, and forgive us, and have mercy on us for You are our Protector and help us against / the unbelievers.

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North end (base) al-Ḥashr (The Gathering) 59.22 He is God! There is no god but He, who knows what is hidden and what is visible. He is the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful.

Commentary Fuṣṣilat 41.30 is used twice on Mumtaz’s cenotaph, clearly an indication of the efficacy it was believed to hold for the deceased. It is particularly suitable for the grave monument with its soothing angelic reassurances to the deceased and to the living—“Do not be afraid and do not grieve”—and its promise of the Garden of Paradise (al-jannah). The āya speaks of the two criteria by which one is deemed worthy of Paradise, namely: belief in God as indicated by the proclamation: “Our Lord is God”; and righteous action (astaqāmū), literally “to act uprightly” or “walk straight,” as in ṣirāṭ al-mustaqīm (“the straight path”). The promise of the Garden in Fuṣṣilat 41.30 poignantly connects the grave to the exterior of the mausoleum where Yā Sīn 36.26 announces: “Enter the Garden!”—as well as to the Great Gate where similarly al-Fajr concludes with: “Enter among my servants and enter My Garden!” The angelic presence continues in al-Ghāfir 40.7–8, but here the angels speak directly to God, appealing to His mercy and knowledge, and interceding on behalf of those “who turn to You and follow Your path” (cf. al-Zumar 39.54 and al-Insān 76.29). With al-Muṭaffifīn 83.22–28, we are reminded of the pleasures of Paradise as described similarly in al-Insān. Once again, we read of the righteous, “those nearest to God,” reclining on couches, and drinking from a cup, here said to be filled with a refreshing drink (raḥīq) mixed with the waters of a spring called Tasnīn. Fuṣṣilat 41.30, which is inscribed on the top of the cenotaph, appears again on the cenotaph’s side, beginning on the south end and continuing around to the west side. This is followed by part of al-Baqarah 2.286. The single āya from alBaqarah is humanity’s simple and poignant plea to God, imploring God’s mercy, forgiveness, and protection against unbelieving people. The āya concludes on the cenotaph’s north end. On the base of cenotaph, in much smaller calligraphy is inscribed al-Ḥashr 59.22, a simple profession of belief in the one God, Omniscient, the Most Compassionate and Most Merciful. The inclusion of this āya on the base was intended to keep the decoration of the cenotaph perfectly symmetrical as the base on the south end contains the empress’s epitaph: The illumined grave of Arjumand Banu Begam, called Mumtaz Mahal, who died in the year 1040 (1631 CE).2

2. Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, pp. 186–7.

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The Lower Cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal Beneath the mausoleum’s upper tomb chamber is a lower chamber, accessed by a set of stairs in the south vestibule. Beneath its floor, the bodies of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan were buried, their gravesites marked with monuments similar in design to those in the chamber directly above. As in the upper chamber, the top and sides of Mumtaz’s cenotaph are inscribed with texts. The Qur’anic texts chosen are: al-Zumar 39.53 (also used in the upper tomb chamber), Āl ‘Imrān 3.185, al-Mu’minūn 23.118, and al-Ḥashr 59.22 which appears on the northern end of the lower cenotaph as it does on the upper. The east and west sides of the cenotaph are not inscribed with verses from the Qur’an, but with al-asmā’ alḥusnā, “the most beautiful names of God.” These are designations for the Divine drawn from the Qur’an, either directly or by inference, many of which we have already encountered in the sūrahs discussed above, names such as: the Almighty (al-‘Azīz), the One who gives life (al-Muḥyī), the One who brings death (alMumit), the All-Knowing (al-‘Alīm), the Creator (al-Khāliq), the Powerful One (al-Qādir), the Benevolent (al-Laṭīf), the Aware (al-Khabīr), the Watchful (alBaṣīr), the All-Wise (al-Ḥakīm), the Forgiving (al-Ghafūr), the Guide (al-Hādī), the Enricher (al-Mughnī), the One who raises up (al-Rāfi’), and the Judge (alHakam), as well as the Most Compassionate (al-Raḥmān), and the Most Merciful (al-Raḥīm). As stated in the Qur’an: “To God belong the most beautiful names, so call upon Him by means of them” (al-A’rāf 7.180). According to tradition, the known divine names number ninety-nine and are often recited as a devotional practice using prayer beads (misbaḥah), particularly by Sufis. By meditating upon the divine names, it is held that an individual may come to manifest in a limited way that trait which most properly belongs to God. As Seyyed Hossein Nasr remarked: “The Names are thus the pathways leading toward God and the means by which one can ascend to the unitive knowledge of the Divine Reality.”3 It has been noted above, Shah Jahan used misbaḥah for personal prayer from the time of his youth until the end of his life. Moreover, his affinity for the practice of reciting al-asmā’ al-ḥusnā is indicated by a steel archery ring bearing his name and inscribed with the divine names in gold.4 The most significant indication that Shah Jahan had a personal devotion to reciting the divine names comes from the mosque he built at the shrine of Mu’inuddin Chishti in Ajmer. Above the arches of the mosque’s façade is a Persian masnavi comprising thirty-three verses in black inlay enclosed in sixty-six horizontal panels, each punctuated by one of the “beautiful names of God.”5 The use of al-asmā’ al-ḥusnā for Mumtaz’s cenotaph is perhaps best explained by a ḥadīth in which the Prophet Muhammad

3. Cited in: Ibn Arabi, Unveiling of the Secret of the Most Beautiful Names — Kashf alma’na ‘an sir asma Allah al-husna, Kazi Publications, trans. (Chicago: Kazi, 2018), p. xxiv. 4. Salam Kaoukji, Precious Indian Weapons and Other Princely Accoutrements (New York: Thames and Hudson, 2017), cat. no. 128, pp. 366–7. 5. Timirzi, Ajmer through Inscriptions, pp. 44–9.

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said that whoever knows the ninety-names of God will go to Paradise.6 The first appearance of al-asmā’ al-ḥusnā in a Mughal funerary context is on the upper cenotaph of Akbar at his tomb in Sikandra.7 As documented in the historical introduction to this volume, ‘Abd al-Ḥaqq al-Shirazi (later Amanat Khan) was employed by Jahangir to execute the calligraphy for Akbar’s tomb which was still under construction and being redesigned when he arrived at the Mughal court. It is possible that the marble cenotaph on the upper terrace of Akbar’s tomb was not yet designed or in place, and that ‘Abd al-Ḥaqq decided to inscribe the monument with the divine names. The calligraphy is not the thuluth that ‘Abd alḤaqq later used at the Taj Mahal, but Persianate nastaliq such as he used for some of inscriptions on the south gate. If ‘Abd al-Ḥaqq was not responsible for choosing al-asmā’ al-ḥusnā for Akbar’s cenotaph, he and Shah Jahan were certainly inspired by the emperor’s monument when they selected the texts for Mumtaz’s cenotaph. Mumtaz’s lower cenotaph probably then served as the model for those of Jahangir and her father Asaf Khan that are similarly inscribed. Like Mumtaz’s monument, the top of Jahangir’s cenotaph is inscribed al-Zumar 39.53, Āl ‘Imrān 3.185, and al-Mu’minūn 23.118, with al-Ḥashr 59.22 on the north end. Asaf Khan’s cenotaph is similarly inscribed, omitting al-Mu’minūn 23.118 from the top as the surface is smaller by comparison with the others. The sides of the cenotaphs of Jahangir and Asaf Khan also reproduce the divine names in the same order and in the same calligraphic style as Mumtaz’s monument. On all three of the cenotaphs, the divine names are arranged in three rows of sixteen on each side—a total of ninety-six names. The remaining three names come from the bismillah on the top of cenotaph: God (Allāh), the Most Compassionate (al-Raḥmān), and the Most Merciful (al-Raḥīm).

The Lower Cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal: Top In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful. Said God, Blessed and Exalted: al-Zumar (The Throngs) 39.53 Say: “O my servants who have transgressed against their own souls! Do not despair of God’s Mercy for God forgives all sins for He is the Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” Āl-‘Imrān (The Family of Imran) 3.185 Every soul shall taste death, but only on the Day of Resurrection will you be given your reward. For the one who is saved from the fire and admitted into the Garden has certainly triumphed, and worldly existence is only an illusory pleasure. 6. Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukharī, 50: 894. 7. Smith, Akbar’s Tomb, p. 15.

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al-Mu’minūn (The Believers) 23.118 Say: O my Lord! Forgive and have mercy for You are the best of those who show mercy. North End al-Ḥashr (The Gathering) 59.22 He is God! There is no god but He, who knows what is hidden and what is visible. He is the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful The Most Beautiful Names of God8

East Side Top row 1. O King 2. O Holy 3. O Peace 4. O Giver of Faith 5. O Protector 6. O All-Mighty 7. O Restorer 8. O Majestic 9. O Creator 10. O Maker 11. O Fashioner 12. O Forgiver 13. O Dominant 14. O Bestower 15. O Provider 16. O Opener Middle Row 17. O All-Knowing 18. O Constrictor 19. O Expander 20. O Abaser 8. The names comprising al-asmā’ al-ḥusnā vary. Translating some of the names is difficult because of the complexity of meaning in the Arabic word. I have used several sources for the English equivalents including: Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 241; Shems Friedlander and al-Hajj Shaikh Muzaffereddin, Ninety-Nine Names of Allah (San Francisco: Harper, 1993); Samira Fayyad Khawaldeh, The Most Beautiful Names of Allah (New Delhi: Goodword, 2007); and Ibn Arabi, Unveiling of the Secret of the Most Beautiful. In some instances, I have opted for my own English translation.

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21. O Exalter 22. O Honorer 23. O Dishonorer 24. O All-Hearing 25. O All-Seeing 26. O Judge 27. O Just 28. O Benevolent 29. O All-Aware 30. O Clement 31. O Magnificent 32. O All-Forgiving Bottom Row 33. O Appreciative 34. O Most High 35. O Most Great 36. O Preserver 37. O Sustainer 38. O Reckoner 39. O Majestic 40. O Generous 41. O Watchful 42. O Responsive 43. O All-Embracing 44. O Wise 45. O Loving 46. O Most Glorious 47. O Resurrector 48. O Witness

West Side Top Row 49. O Truth 50. O Entrusted 51. O Most Strong 52. O Firm 53. O Protector 54. O Praiseworthy 55. O Counter 56. O Originator 57. O Restorer

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58. O Giver of Life 59. O Bringer of Death 60. O Living 61. O Everlasting 62. O Finder 63. O Noble 64. O Unique Middle Row 65. O Eternal 66. O Powerful 67. O All-Powerful 68. O Promoter 69. O Delayer 70. O First 71. O Last 72. O Manifest 73. O Hidden 74. O Ruler 75. O Most Exalted 76. O Source of All Goodness 77. O Oft-returning 78. O Benefactor 79. O Avenger 80. O Pardoner Bottom row 81. O Kind 82. O Ruler of the Kingdom 83. O Lord of Majesty and Generosity 84. O Equitable 85. O Gatherer 86. O Self-Sufficient 87. O Enricher 88. O Restrainer 89. O Afflicter 90. O Beneficent 91. O Light 92. O Guide 93. O Incomparable 94. O Enduring 95. O Inheritor 96. O Patient

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Commentary Contrary to Mumtaz’s upper cenotaph, which is surrounded by the numerous texts of the tomb chamber, the lower cenotaph “speaks” alone in the silence of the crypt, the walls of which are bare and uninscribed. The magnificence of the mausoleum that rises above it cannot deny that this is a place of death, for this cenotaph marks the empress’s actual grave directly below the floor. The royal chronicles are mercifully brief about the reburial of Mumtaz’s body on this very site after its arrival from Burhanpur. Lahori recorded in his chronicle: After the arrival of the dead body in that highly dignified city, on the 15th of Jumada II 1041 [January 8, 1632] of the next regnal year, the luminous body of that heavenly essence was consigned to the holy earth. The overseers of the Abode of the Caliphate, under exalted orders, hastily concealed from the public gaze the heaven-ranked grave of that world of chastity.9

Like the texts of the upper cenotaph, the āya of the lower cenotaph speak most immediately to the deceased and her survivors. There are no references to those who disbelieve, the Final Judgment, or hellfire; but only brief assertions and assurances such as might be shared at the deathbed. We have already encountered al-Zumar 39.53 in the context of the mausoleum’s interior where it is inscribed on the south arch of the upper tomb chamber along with the 39.54. Its use again on the cenotaph suggests a deeply held belief in God’s mercy and forgiveness, or perhaps a yearning for some assurance of that clemency. Āl ‘Imrān 3.185 asserts the reality of death (cf. al-‘Anbiyā’ 21.35 and al-‘Ankabūt 29.57), but also the reward of life eternal in Paradise for the righteous in contrast to the fleeting pleasures of earthly existence. Not unlike al-Baqarah 2.286 on the upper cenotaph, al-Mu’minūn 23.118 is a brief and heartfelt prayer to God for mercy and forgiveness. As noted above, al-Ḥashr 59.22, also inscribed on the upper cenotaph, is a simple statement of belief in the Compassionate and Merciful God. *** The south end of Mumtaz’s cenotaph is inscribed with her epitaph as it appeared on the upper cenotaph: The illumined grave of Arjumand Banu, called Mumtaz Mahal, who died in the year 1040 (1631 CE).10

9. Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 43. 10. Belgey and Desai, Taj Mahal, pp. 186–7.

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On either side of the mausoleum are two nearly identical buildings: the mosque on the west side (Figure 28) and the Mihman Khana (“guest house”) on the east side. The northern end of the mosque features a maqṣūrah, an enclosure reserved for Shah Jahan during prayer. The location of the maqṣūrah suggests that during formal visits to the tomb complex such as on the empress’s ‘urs, the emperor would have arrived from Agra Fort by boat, disembarked by the base of the northwestern tower, taken the steps up within the tower until he reached the level of the mosque, and then entered the maqṣūrah directly without passing through a crowd, thus ensuring his privacy (and safety) during prayer. It is probably by this same route that Shah Jahan’s body was brought to the Taj Mahal for burial (see conclusion).

Figure 28  Taj Mahal Mosque. Author’s photograph.

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By contrast, the Mihman Khana was built simply to “balance the group, to provide a jawab, an answer, for the mosque,”1 and even duplicates the mosque’s ablution pool. The façades of both buildings feature a large pishtaq with white marble panels framing the central archway which could have provided an optimum space for inscriptions such as on the façades of the Great Gateway, but they are devoid of texts. After the inscribed façade of the Great Gateway and the mausoleum’s four pishtaqs, the mosque and the Mihman Khana almost seem unfinished by comparison. One wonders if there were plans to inscribe the façades, but were abandoned, or whether they were deliberately left uninscribed so as not to compete with the inscribed surfaces of mausoleum. Of the two structures, only the mosque interior has inscriptions, and minimally so. The most significant is a single band of text that follows the arch around the mihrab and is inscribed with the complete sūrah al-Shams, the ninety-first sūrah of the Qur’an (pl. 11). In addition, there are the two geometric disks above the mihrab, each inscribed with al-Ikhlāṣ (sūrah 112), and disks on other walls bearing short invocations or the shahādah. In contrast to the sūrahs of the Great Gateway and the mausoleum, al-Shams is not inlaid black stone on white marble; it is painted in black on polished white plaster (chuna) which has suffered some water damage, perhaps not long after completion. When, in December 1652, Aurangzeb wrote to his father to about the leaks in the mausoleum’s dome, he also noted: “The domes of the mosque and assembly-hall (jama’at khana) leaked in the rainy season as well and have also been repaired.”2 Although we do not know precisely the order in which the buildings of the Taj Mahal complex were finished and decorated, we can be certain that the mausoleum was given priority and completed first judging by the colophons inside the mausoleum and on the exterior, bearing dates from 1635–6 to 1638–9 CE. By the time the twelfth urs was observed in February 1643, all of the structures of the complex had been erected, although the inscriptions on gateway were not completed for another four or five years (1647–8 CE)—according to the colophon on the north façade. The official description of the complex as it appeared at the time of the twelfth ‘urs notes the beauty of the inscriptions inside and outside of the mausoleum but makes no mention of mosque’s inscriptions. This could have been simply an oversight, or it is quite possible that the mihrab had yet to be inscribed. Comparing the painted basmala from the mihrab to the inlaid texts of the mausoleum, it becomes clear that Amanat Khan was not the calligrapher of alShams. Even considering the differences in media—i.e., paint verses stone inlay— the rendering of the letters and words is significantly different (Figure 29). This is seen particularly in several letters: the lams (l) of Allāh, the mīm (m) of ism, and the “heads” of the letter mīm in al-Raḥmān and al-Raḥīm, all of which depart noticeably from Amanat Khan’s consistent style seen in the texts of the mausoleum. As discussed in the introduction, it is likely that Amanat Khan completed his work on the mausoleum’s calligraphy in August 1639, shortly after the large colophon was added to mausoleum’s interior, and then left for Lahore in order to attend his 1. Koch, Complete Taj Mahal, p. 181. 2. Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 175.

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Figure 29  al-Shams, beginning. Author’s photograph.

dying brother. Thus, we may assume that al-Shams was added to the mosque’s mihrab sometime after 1639, perhaps years later, and somewhat hastily it would appear, by another hand. Al-Shams was also inscribed on the mihrab of Agra’s Jama Masjid, construction of which began in 1643 (the same year that the Taj Mahal was largely completed) and finished in 1648, about the same time the inscriptions were completed on the Taj Mahal’s Great Gateway. The Jama Masjid’s calligraphy appears so similar to that on the mausoleum of the Taj Mahal that we must assume some involvement from Amanat Khan. This raises some historical questions, however, since the Jama Masjid post-dates his time in Agra. We know that Shah Jahan had planned to build a mosque in Agra, on a different site, as early as 1637, but work was suspended due to the construction of the Taj Mahal mausoleum. Ultimately, Jahanara provided her own funds for the Jama Masjid as a charitable act.3 It is possible that Amanat Khan already had calligraphed al-Shams for the future Jama Masjid before his departure from Agra, or the calligraphy was done later by someone who had studied under Amanat Khan and was thus able to closely replicate his style at the Jama Masjid as well as on the Great Gateway of the Taj Mahal. When exactly al-Shams was added to the mihrab at the Taj Mahal mosque is unknown, but whether originally intended or not, it fits well into the whole inscriptional program of the complex, as will be seen. Like the majority of the 3. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 206.

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sūrahs chosen, al-Shams is from the Meccan period of revelations, twenty-sixth in order according to the Egyptian edition, and sixteenth according to the NöldekeSchwally chronology. Its title comes from the reference to the sun (al-shams) in the first āya. In total, it comprises fifteen short āya, the first seven of which comprise an oath like the first four āya of al-Fajr. The two sūrahs thus have a similar cadence, but the rhythm of al-Shams is even more pronounced since each of the fifteen āya ends with the attached possessive pronoun -ha (“its,” in this context). Whereas the first part (āya 1–10) draws attention to natural phenomena so as to lead the faithful to taqwā (awareness of God) and the purification of the soul, the second part (āya 11–15) speaks of the unbelieving Thamūd people and the consequences of their effrontery—a remarkable connection to al-Fajr. Ottoman mosques are consistent in their use of one short passage from the Qur’an for inscriptions over mihrabs: part of āya 37 of sūrah Āl ‘Imrān that reads: “Every time that Zakariya came upon her (Maryam) at the place of prayer (mihrab) … ” It recalls the story of Mary who, in her youth, had been placed into the care of Zakariya and spent her time at prayer in the Temple in Jerusalem. The occurrence of the word mihrab makes this passage particularly appropriate for use in a mosque. In South Asia, however, there is a much greater variety in the āya inscribed around mihrabs of mosques and funerary monuments, but al-Shams is not among those typically chosen.4 A Shi’i tradition about alShams, however, makes the sūrah particularly appropriate for use in a funerary complex: Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has said that the person who recites Surah al-Shams, al-Layl, al-Dhuha and al-Inshirah will, on the Day of Judgement, find all creatures of the earth testifying on his behalf and Allah will accept their testimony and give him a place in Jannah.5

Although al-Layl is not one of the sūrahs inscribed on the buildings of the Taj Mahal, al-Ḍuḥā and al-Inshiraḥ (or al-Sharḥ) appear on the north façade of the Great Gateway (see chapters below). Zamkhsharī relates a tradition ascribed to the Prophet Muhammad: “The one who recites sūrah al-Shams is like the one who has given charity to everything upon which the sun and moon shine.”6 AlShams is the fourth sūrah employed in the Taj Mahal complex that is also used in the Lutfallah Mosque in Isfahan, perhaps reflecting Amanat Khan’s familiarity with that structure’s inscriptional program before he departed for the Mughal realm, or indicative of the Shi’i traditions he held in common with ‘Ali Reza ‘Abbasi. 4. The āya that recur most frequently among the mosques and mausoleums documented by Dodd and Khairullah (The Image of the Word, V. II, pp. 181–94) include: al-Baqarah 2.256, al-Kahf 18.107–110, and all of sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ. 5. Sayyid Mustafa Musawi, Fawaid-e-Quran, https://www.al-islam.org/fawaid-e-quransayyid-mustafa-musawi/benefits-recitation-chapters-holy-quran. 6. Al-Kashshāf, v. 4, p. 573.

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Al-Shams (The Sun) In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

By the sun and its morning brightness and the moon as it follows it, and the day as it reveals it, and the night as it conceals it, and the sky and the One who built it; and the earth and the One who spread it. and a soul and the One who fashioned it. and inspired it (to know) its depravity and its consciousness of God. Truly, he succeeds who purifies it, and truly he fails who corrupts it. The Thamud people erred by their transgression When the most wicked of them rose up Although the Messenger of God said to them: “This is a she-camel of God; let her drink.” 14. But they deceived him and hamstrung her and so their Lord brought destruction upon them for their sin, all of them equally. 15. And He did not fear its consequences.

Commentary As indicated above, al-Shams begins with a series of declarative statements by God comprising an oath that refer to natural phenomena, the sun being the first of these. The use of the word ḍuḥā (“morning brightness”) in the first āya connects the mosque to the north façade of the Great Gateway where sūrah al-Ḍuḥā (93) is inscribed. Following the reference to the morning sun, the moon is mentioned in the second āya, forming a pair of contrasting elements. The third and fourth āya provide a second contrasting pair: the day which reveals the sun, and the night that conceals the sun.7 With their alternating references to the sun/moon and day/ night, these first four āyāt 1–4 emphasize the daily cycle. Also implicit in these verses is a reference to the cycle of ṣalāt (Islamic prayer), for the Muslim prays from just before the brightness of morning (al-ḍuḥā) until the nighttime (al-layl), or from al-fajr to al-‘ishā’. We need only recall al-Fatḥ 48.9 from the mausoleum’s central chamber: “ … that all of you might believe in God and His Messenger, and that you might revere Him and honor Him and praise Him morning and evening;” and al-Insān 76.25: “And remember the name of your Lord morning and evening.” The references to the day and night in al-Shams are therefore particularly suitable 7. Although exegetes differ, I understand “it” (-ha) in āya 2–4 to refer back to the sun.

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for a mihrab before which people are to pray throughout the course of the day into the night. In the fifth and sixth āya, the third contrasting pair is presented: the heavens and the earth are referenced, as is their Creator.8 We may also understand this pair within the context of prayer, for at the beginning of each prayer cycle (rak’a), one stands upright (qiyām), with one’s head in the sky, so to speak; and at the end of the rak’a, one’s head touches the earth (sujūd). Thus, it can be said that in ṣalāt the worshipper “touches” heaven and earth. In the seventh and eighth āya, God’s oath continues, attesting not by cosmic phenomena, but by the human soul, with its capacity for both depravity (fujūr) and an awareness of God (taqwā). The juxtaposition of these two words is meaningful. Fujūr, like fajr, comes from the verb fajara—to cleave or split. Thus, “depravity” is essentially divisive (see above al-Infiṭār 82.14). It separates us from our higher self, from one another, and from God. Taqwā, as we have seen in Yā Sīn, connotes a consciousness of God’s omnipresence that keeps a person on the “Straight Path.” The ninth and tenth āya comprise the statement of truth to which the preceding oath attests: the one who purifies his soul succeeds, and one who corrupts his soul fails. The key to understanding this passage and indeed to the entire sūrah is the phrase: “Truly, he succeeds who purifies it (i.e. the soul) … ”—qad aflaḥa man zakkā-hā (āya 9). Whenever the phrase “truly he succeeds” (qad aflaḥa) is used in the Qur’an, it appears within the context of prayer. Sūrah al-A’lā 87.14–15, states: “Truly, he succeeds who purifies, remembers the name of his Lord and prays.” Likewise, al-Mu’minūn begins: “Truly, successful are the believers who humble themselves in prayer” (23.1–2). These passages are reflected in the adhān (the call to prayer) in which is heard: ḥayya ‘alā al-falāḥ—“Come to success!” Thus, success in Islam is measured by one’s conscious attention to prayer. As we have seen, al-Shams opens with references to the sun and moon and day and night that allude to the times of prayer; and references to heaven and earth that signify the postures of prayer. The first part of the sūrah attests that it is by means of prayer, by standing in God’s eternal presence, by giving praise and thanksgiving to only the One who is worthy of worship, by asking for God’s guidance, by humbling oneself before the One who is most exalted, and by seeking God’s forgiveness that humanity can purify their souls of corruption. That corruption enters hearts and minds through arrogance and disobedience, exemplified in the story of the Thamūd which follows in the second part of the sūrah. We have already encountered the Thamūd within the context of al-Fajr where they are mentioned along with the ‘Ād people and with the Pharaoh of Egypt as examples of “exceeding limits” (ṭaghā), a word used in both sūrahs. Here, in al-Shams, the story of the Thamūd is told more explicitly: how they refused to listen to the prophet Ṣāliḥ and ham-strung the camel sent among them as a sign, preventing her from drinking. Thus, God destroyed them for their disobedience 8. Here I take wa mā to mean “and the One who … ” since only God can build the sky and spread out the earth.

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and disbelief. In other sūrahs that recount the story of the Thamūd, the first thing that Ṣāliḥ says to his people is to worship God: To the Thamud We sent their brother Ṣāliḥ. He said: ‘O my people! Worship God. You shall have no god but Him. (al-A‘rāf 7.73. cf. Hūd 11.61 and al-Naml 27.45)

Understanding al-Shams as a sūrah concerned with prayer helps us to appreciate its use on the mihrab of the mosque at the Taj Mahal and in the Jama Masjid of Agra. *** Above the mihrab, in the spandrels of the arch, are two disks each containing an extended eight-point star and inscribed with the 112th sūrah generally called al-Ikhlāṣ. Its title, derived from the verb khalaṣa (which does not appear in the sūrah), is variously translated as “Purity” or “Sincerity,” connoting the wholeness and integration of faith that are characteristic of God’s servants (al-Ṣāffāt 37.40, 128). The four short āyāt are arranged in a circle, beginning at the bottom center and continuing clockwise within the disk. Similar disks on other walls of the mosque are inscribed with the phrase “O God, O Sufficient One” and: “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is His Messenger.” The decorative rendering of al-Ikhlāṣ within the geometry of the stars and disks distinguishes it from all the other sūrahs inscribed on the structures of the Taj Mahal, and thus it does not appear to have been conceived as part of the inscriptional program we have examined thus far. In fact, the use of al-Ikhlās in the mosques and tombs of the Delhi Sultanate period is quite common.9 Nevertheless, the succinct statement of God’s utter unicity in al-Ikhlāṣ, said to be equivalent to one-third of the Qur’an, is foundational in Islamic prayer, and thus it is included here. According to a ḥadīth quoted by Sharafuddin Maneri in his Maktubat-i Sadi, al-Ikhlās should be recited ten times after each obligatory prayer.10

al-Ikhlāṣ (Purity / Sincerity) In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Say: He, God, is One. God is the Eternal. He has not begotten, nor is He begotten. And there is nothing comparable to Him.

9. Dodd and Khairullah, The Image of the Word, v. 2, p. 182 ff. 10. Maneri, The Hundred Letters, p. 217.

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This study of the Taj Mahal’s inscriptions began with al-Fajr, as if we were standing before the great gate’s south side where the sūrah is inscribed. Passing through the gateway, we proceeded to mausoleum’s exterior where Yā Sīn is inscribed on the large pishtaqs on each side of structure, and then to the four doors to read al-Takwīr, al-Infiṭār, al-Inshiqāq, and al-Bayyinah. Entering the mausoleum’s central (upper) burial chamber, we read al-Mulk, al-Fatḥ, al-Insān, and the two verses of al-Zumar, as well the various āyāt on Mumtaz Mahal’s cenotaph. Descending into the lower burial chamber, we read the inscriptions on the lower cenotaph, including al-asmā’ al-ḥusnā—the beautiful names of God. Leaving the mausoleum by the south door, we proceeded to the mosque’s mihrab to read al-Shams. Now we begin the journey back toward the Great Gate where three sūrahs are inscribed on the north façade: al-Ḍuḥā, al-Sharḥ, and al-Tīn (sūrahs 93–95—Figure 30). It seems certain that these sūrahs were intended to be read as one faced them before leaving through the great gate. It is important to keep this in mind as we examine these sūrahs so that we might more fully understand their meaning within the particular context of the funerary complex. Standing before the great gate’s north façade, al-Ḍuḥā begins on the bottom right side of the arch and finishes in the upper right corner of the inscription panel (pl. 12). Al-Sharḥ occupies the entire length of the horizontal panel above the arch, and al-Tīn fills the entire panel on the arch’s left side. A dated colophon at the end of al-Tīn indicates that the inscriptions on the great gateway were not completed until 1057 AH (1647–8 CE), a decade after Amanat Khan left Agra, and two or three years after his death. Amanat Khan could have designed the calligraphy before his retirement or, alternatively, it was done by someone who had trained and worked under him. The calligraphy in al-Ḍuḥā contains elements we have to come to associate with Amanat Khan’s designs, including three elongated and backward-turning alif maqṣūras at the end of the fourth, seventh, and eighth āya. By all accounts, al-Ḍuḥā (Morning Light) is an early Meccan, the eleventh sūrah revealed according to the Egyptian edition or thirteenth according to NöldekeSchwally. Like al-Fatḥ, the circumstances surrounding the revelation are better known that many of the other sūrahs. According to tradition, after Muhammad

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Figure 30  Great Gateway, North Façade: al-Ḍuḥā, al-Sharḥ, and al-Tīn. Author’s photograph.

had begun to receive revelations of the Qur’an, there came a period of silence (al-fatra)—weeks or months perhaps—when the angel Gabriel did not come to him. This was a time when, according to tradition, Muhammad experienced tremendous doubt exacerbated by taunting from disbelievers. He wondered if he would receive another revelation, if he were truly the “the Messenger of God,” as Jibrīl (Gabriel) had addressed him, and if God had rejected him. When alḌuḥā was at last revealed to him, those doubts were dispelled with words that are consoling, soothing, and tender. This is the third surah selected for the Taj Mahal complex with a title referring to the sun and its light, following al-Fajr (Daybreak) and al-Shams (the Sun). As discussed within the context of al-Fajr, the light of the sun is an important symbol of the Divine presence, and the regularity of its movement a sign of Divine order, sovereignty, life, and resurrection. These concepts are further emphasized in the overall design of the Taj Mahal complex, its garden, and structures. In 2015, scientist Amelia Carolina Sparavigna demonstrated that, on the summer and winter solstices, the sun appears to rise and set at the corners of the garden’s northern half (between the central pool and the riverfront terrace), marked by wall towers and the garden-wall pavilions.1 Thus, the garden enclosure, with the 1. Amelia Carolina Sparavigna, “The Gardens of the Taj Mahal and the Sun,” International Journal of Sciences, v. 2 (November 2013), p. 11. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/ abstract=2573618.

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mausoleum positioned precisely on the site between the rising and the setting sun, becomes a symbolic horizon, a microcosm, a place where light and darkness, and life and death yield to the other in an eternal cycle until the Day of Resurrection as reflected in the opening āya of al-Fajr, al-Shams, and al-Ḍuḥā. It was perhaps with this knowledge that the first ‘urs for Mumtaz was observed on or about the summer solstice, c. June 22, 1632 CE (4 Zi’l Hijja 1041 AH), that is, just over one solar year after the queen’s death. The precise layout of the Paradise garden and the structures of the Taj Mahal vis-à-vis the solstices was likely the work of Makramat Khan, who not only supervised the construction of the Taj Mahal but was also the superintendent of the court astrologers.2 Like al-Shams, al-Ḍuḥā begins with oaths that confirm the statements that follow (āya 1–5). The next three āyat (6–8) provide the evidence for the oath statements and comprise a distinctive syntactical unit as evidenced by the repeated use of the verb wajada, “to find.” The final three āyat (9–11) also form a distinct section, each verse beginning “and as for … ” (ammā … fa … ) and concluding with God’s command to the prophet. Although al-Ḍuḥā is addressed specifically to Muhammad, the sūrah is poignantly relevant for all believers, and as discussed below, perhaps touched Shah Jahan at a deeply personal level.

Al-Ḍuḥā (Morning Light) In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11.

By the morning light And the night when it is still Your Lord has not forsaken you nor does He hate (you). And truly the future will be better for you than the past. And truly your Lord will give to you and you will be pleased. Did He not find you an orphan and shelter you? And He found you wandering, and He guided you. And He found you in need, and He enriched you. So as for the orphan, do not oppress him. And as for the beggar, do not drive him away. And as for the blessing of your Lord, announce it!

Commentary Like al-Shams, the oath that opens al-Ḍuḥā begins with a pair of contrasts: the light of the morning and the darkness of the night. As discussed in Chapter 3, 2. Shah Jahan conferred the title of Makramat Khan on Mullah Murshid early in his reign. Like, Amanat Khan, Makramat Khan hailed from Shiraz. See: Maāthir-ul-Umarā, v. 2, pp. 264 ff.

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for many cultures, ancient and modern, Eastern and Western, and for many faith traditions—Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Sikh, and others—the light of a new day (al-ḍuḥā), marked by prayer, signifies new life, a new beginning, the hope that the difficulties of yesterday will fade like the night, and that new opportunities will arise with sun. The silence of nightfall may bring a sense of gratitude for a day well spent, and feelings of peace and rest to the weary, but they can also bring despair, loneliness, and anxiety, and thus the end of the day is also marked with prayer. Muhammad certainly experienced the stillness of the night during the fatra when the revelations had apparently ceased. At last there came a most beautiful and tender reassurance, and the point of the oath: “Your Lord has not forsaken you nor does He hate you.” The silence and the pain of doubt were over. The difficulties of the present—literally, “the first” (al-ulā)—will give way to a brighter future (alakhirah)—literally, “the last”—also suggesting the rewards of the life to come will exceed anything in earthly life. The fifth āya uses the verb radiya (“to be pleased”): “And truly your Lord will give to you and you will be pleased”—a word used in alBayyinah 98.8: “God is well pleased (raḍiya) with them, and they are well pleased (raḍū) with Him,” and with al-Fajr 89.28: “Return to your Lord, well-pleased (rāḍiyah) and well-pleasing! (marḍiyyah).” This establishes a connection from alFajr on the south façade of the Great Gate to al-Bayyinah on the mausoleum’s east door and then back to al-Ḍuḥā on the north façade of the Great Gate. In essence, we have come full circle, emphasized by the use of the verb in these three sūrahs. The signs of God’s love for Muhammad are presented in āya 6–8—three parallel statements using the verb wajada, “to find.” In the sixth āya, God reminds Muhammad: “Did He not find you an orphan and shelter you?” Early Muslim sources all agree that Muhammad’s father ‘Abdallah ibn ‘Abd al-Muṭṭalib died before his son was born, and his mother Āminah died when he was six years old. Although taken into the custody of his grandfather, the young Muhammad was orphaned again just two years later when ‘Abd al-Muṭṭalib died. Ultimately, the boy was placed into the care of his uncle Abū Ṭālib with whom he lived until he married Khadija bint Khuwaylid and established his own household. The seventh āya reiterates the sixth, reminding Muhammad that God found him “wandering” (ḍāllan), but that God guided (hadā) him. This conveys the image of Muhammad as a homeless child, wandering by himself, or perhaps Muhammad as a grown man wandering on the slopes of Ḥirā’ outside of Mecca before he received the first revelation. We can also understand ḍāllan in a figurative sense to signify that Muhammad’s purpose in life was yet to be fully realized until, at about forty years of age, he was called to be God’s messenger and the recipient of the Qur’an. Indeed, in the eighth āya, Muhammad is reminded that he was “in need” (‘ā’ilan), but that God “enriched” him. Again, this evokes the image of a needy, orphaned child, poor and hungry until cared for by relatives, but it may also be understood to mean that Muhammad, who had lacked a specific spiritual path, was enriched by the revelations of the “straight path.” In al-Shūrā 42.52, Muhammad was reminded: We have revealed to you a spirit by Our Command. You did not know what Scripture was or faith, but We have made it (the Qur’an) a light by which We

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guide whom We will among our servants. Indeed, you now serve as guide to the straight path, the way of God to whom belongs all that is the heavens and the earth, for truly to God does everything return.

The care that God showed Muhammad, a poor orphan who was raised to adulthood as God’s messenger, required a response from the prophet. In the sūrah’s final three āya God therefore instructs him: do not oppress the orphan, do not turn away those in need, and tell people what God has done for you. People entering the Taj Mahal complex through the great gateway are first confronted with humanity’s lack of concern for the orphan and the needy, as proclaimed in al-Fajr 89.17–20. Now as visitors prepare to leave by that same gate, they are again reminded of the parentless and the poor. The Qur’an’s concern for the needy and vulnerable, conveyed by the sūrahs of the Taj Mahal, is clear and unequivocal. In the chapter on al-Fajr, we noted Shah Jahan’s efforts to alleviate hunger during times of famine and years of want, as well as his practice of distributing charity at the tuladan performed on the emperor’s birthday and on each ‘urs observed in honor of Mumtaz at the Taj Mahal. We have also noted the waqf that he established so that the poor could come to the Taj Mahal to receive alms. Shah Jahan’s concern for the poor and vulnerable would also have been formed by popular authors such as the Persian poet Sa’di who described charity as an essential aspect of a king’s rule. At the beginning of his Bustan, Sa’di wrote: Cherish the poor, and seek not your own comfort. The shepherd should not sleep while the wolf is among the sheep. Protect the needy, for a king wears his crown for the sake of his subjects. The people are as the root and the king is as the tree; and the tree, O son, gains strength from the root.3

There were several copies of the Bustan in the Mughal imperial library, at least two of which were inscribed by Shah Jahan himself.4 It is likely, however, that Shah Jahan saw much more than the call to charity in al-Ḍuḥā. Like Muslims, past and present, he perhaps saw himself and his own travails in the verses of the sūrah. We need only recall that at the peak of his princely popularity, “the King of the World” fell from grace in the eyes of his father, who henceforth referred to him only as “the wretch” (bedawlat). For five years he fled the length and breadth of the empire in search of support and security. He found neither and never saw his father again. It is not difficult to imagine that Shah Jahan thought of himself as orphaned, hated, and in need during those years, as did Muhammad during the fatra. Yet, in time, Shah Jahan “ascended to the throne of the Caliphate and sovereignty with auspiciousness and fortune.”5 In this, he may have seen God’s care for him. Perhaps he felt God had enriched him in Mumtaz 3. The Bustan or Orchard of Sa’di, A. Hart Edwards, trans. David Rosenbaum, ed. (Omphaloskepsis, 2010), p. 9. 4. Seyller, “Inspection and Valuation,” pp. 281and 336. 5. ‘Inayat Khan, Shah Jahan Nama, p. 17.

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who had loved and supported him throughout those difficult years, not unlike Khadija who had comforted Muhammad. Whatever and whomever Shah Jahan counted among his blessings, in al-Ḍuḥā God commanded him to share those blessings of family and fortune with the orphaned and the needy, and to announce God’s blessings to the world. Every visitor to the Taj Mahal is urged to do likewise.

Chapter 16 W I T H H A R D SH I P T H E R E I S C OM F O RT : A L - S HA R Ḥ

The eight short āyāt of al-Sharḥ (sūrah 94, also called al-Inshirāḥ) fit easily into the horizontal panel above the north arch of the great gate. The calligraphic design is far less dense than that of al-Ḍuḥā. The choice of al-Sharḥ was not a difficult one since it directly follows al-Ḍuḥā in the Qur’an, and it was revealed immediately after al-Ḍuḥā, according to most exegetes and the Egyptian edition.1 As in al-Ḍuḥā, God addresses Muhammad directly, again reminding him of the relief that God provided him in difficult times, giving him reassurance, while exhorting him to carry on. Since the sūrahs were revealed so close in time, and their styles and content are so similar, for many centuries some have considered them to be one sūrah, such that in recitation, no basmala separates them.2 Indeed, whereas al-Ḍuḥā begins with a formal oath, al-Sharḥ begins abruptly with a rhetorical question addressed to the Prophet Muhammad as in al-Ḍuḥā 93.6. The sūrah’s title, translated as “The Expansion,” comes the verb sharaḥa—“to open or expand”—that appears in the first āya.

al-Sharḥ (The Expansion) In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Have We not expanded for you your heart? and removed from you your burden that weighed heavily on your back? And have We not raised for you your renown? For truly, with hardship there is comfort. Truly with hardship there is comfort! So when you have reached the end, carry on! And long for your Lord!

1. Nöldeke-Schwally places al-Sharḥ (no. 12) immediately before al-Ḍuḥā (13). 2. See, for example, the introductory notes to the sūrah in: The Study Qur’an, and Muhammad Asad’s The Message of the Qur’an, as well as remarks by Sayyid Qutb and Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri, etc.

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Commentary Without any introduction, al-Sharḥ opens with a question to Muhammad: “Have We not expanded for you your heart, and removed from your burden that weighed heavily on your back?” The word ṣadr is perhaps rendered best here as “heart” rather than as “breast,” as the idiom of expanding the heart is an ancient one and exists in the ancient Egyptian language as aw ib, literally “long of heart,” meaning to be joyful.3 Thus, we may understand the āya to mean simply: “Have We not made you happy … ?” This fits the context of the sūrah that was revealed, like al-Ḍuḥā, to alleviate Muhammad’s anxieties resulting from the fatra (the period of silence), alluded to here as “the burden that weighed heavily on your back.” In the story of Mūsā and Pharaoh, as told in sūrah Ṭā Hā 20.25–28, “expanding the heart” is again associated with removing a burden: “(Mūsā) said: ‘O, my Lord, expand for me my heart. Ease my task for me and loosen my tongue that they may understand my speech.” Within the context of the Qur’an, the verb sharaḥa is also used in the sense of making the heart larger so that it is more open or receptive to the message of Islam. Thus, in al-An’ām 6.125: “The one whom God wills to guide, He expands his heart to Islam, and the one whom He wills to wander, his heart is narrowed … ” (cf. al-Zumar 39.22). A “narrow” (yaḍīq) heart is a sad and troubled one, as Muhammad himself experienced due to the ridicule by the Quraysh (al-Hijr 15.97). Yet, as God reminds Muhammad in al-Ḍuḥā, his renown was nevertheless raised. The number of people who accepted him as the messenger of God continued to grow and in time the city that had rejected him became the center of a faith community that spread to every corner of the world. The fifth āya is the pinnacle of the sūrah, and its message so essential that it is repeated for emphasis (as the sixth āya): “For truly, with hardship there is comfort!” Similarly, in al-Ṭalāq 65.7, it is written: “God will bring comfort after hardship.” For Muhammad and his followers who were mocked, persecuted, and ostracized, some of them by their own family members, this was a much-needed message of perseverance in faith and hope. While al-Sharḥ offers a message of consolation and hope, like al-Ḍuḥā it also ends with a challenge: “So when you have reached your end, carry on! And long for your Lord!” In other words, when one feels that one has endured all that one can, or has suffered as much as one can, particularly as it relates to matters of faith, one must summon strength and courage at every level to fulfill the task to which one has been called. This has profound relevance for Shah Jahan’s own experience after suffering the loss of Mumtaz. If we take Qazwini’s chronicle at his word, Shah Jahan was so affected by his wife’s death that he wanted to abdicate and lead a life of seclusion and prayer. He is alleged to have said: If the business of government and the important affairs of the Caliphate, which had been entrusted to us from the office of Divine Decree, had not been thrust 3. Raymond O. Faulkner, A Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian (Oxford: Griffith Institute, 1976), p. 1.

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upon us, and if the World-Creating God had not charged us with the protection of the honor of sovereignty, which entails the custodianship of the world and the protection of all humanity, as well as causing the flourishing of the affairs of the world and the administration of important matters for the common good—if all these had not become incumbent and obligatory in accordance with the creed of perfect wisdom, we would have abandoned kingship and taken up sovereignty over the world of seclusion. And having distributed among our worthy offspring the whole of this vast kingdom which the Exalted God, may his pomp and grandeur be glorified, has conferred on us by his very generosity, without anyone else’s obligation, we would have spent the rest of our precious life in offering prayers to the Real God.4

As a man of faith, however, al-Sharḥ urged him on. This sūrah and the others inscribed at the Taj Mahal gave him the hope that Mumtaz would dwell in the Garden of Paradise, reclining in the shade of trees laden with fruit, and drinking from sparkling fountains, and that in spite of his sins and shortcomings as emperor, husband, and father, with the mercy of God, he would join her there one day.

4. Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 13.

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Chapter 17 W H Y D O Y OU D E N Y F A I T H ? : A L - T Ī N

Although it is one of the shortest sūrahs inscribed in the Taj Mahal complex, comprising just eight short āya, al-Tīn (sūrah 95) is nevertheless a significant one because it is the last of all the sūrahs intended to be seen to or be read by visitors. It cannot be said to be a summary of all that has been gone before it, but it is a kind of punctuation point to the entire inscriptional program, a final comment, one last reminder to “those who believe.” Like, the other sūrahs on the great gate, al-Tīn is a Meccan sūrah, twenty-eighth in order of revelation according to the Egyptian edition, shortly after the revelation of al-Burūj (85), or twentieth according to the Nöldeke-Schwally chronology. Like al-Fajr and al-Ḍuḥā, al-Tīn begins with an oath. The title of the sūrah comes from the word al-tīn (“the fig”) used in the oath at the beginning of the first āya—the only use of this word in the entire Qur’an. The sūrah was undoubtedly selected to complete the sequence with al-Ḍuḥā (93) and al-Sharḥ (94), yet it easily could have been replaced with another sūrah, if so desired. Thus, Shah Jahan and/or Amanat Khan must have felt that al-Tīn fit the theological purpose of the inscriptional program, rather than simply the sequence of sūrahs. Zamakhsharī records a ḥadīth attributed to the Prophet Muhammad that was perhaps considered in the selection of the sūrah: Whoever recites the sūrah (beginning) w’al-Tīn, God will bestow upon him two qualities: well-being and certainty for as long as he is in this world; and when he dies, God will bestow upon him the reward multiplied by the number of all those who have recited this Surah.1

al-Tīn (The Fig) In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful: 1. By the fig and the olive 2. And Mount Sinai 1. Zamakhsharī, al-Kashshāf, v. 4, p. 585.

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3. 4. 5. 6.

And this secure city Indeed, We have created humanity in the best state. Then We reduced him to the lowest of the low, Except those who believe and do righteous deeds, for they shall have an endless reward 7. So what causes you to deny the faith? 8. Is not God the most just of judges?

Commentary Al-Tīn begins with references to two fruits (or their trees)—the fig and the olive— and two locations: Ṭūr Sīnīn and “the secure city” (al-balad al-amīn). There is much more consensus on the significance of the locations than there is on the fruits, and the locations have been used to posit the meaning of the fig and olive within the context of the sūrah. Ṭūr Sīnīn is understood by most commentators to refer to Mount Sinai, the place where God spoke to the Prophet Mūsā (cf. Maryam 19.51–52; al-Qaṣaṣ 28.46). “The secure city” is taken as a reference to Mecca—the city where God called Muhammad—for even in pre-Islamic times warfare was not allowed in its boundaries due to the presence of the Ka’ba. If the two locations are indeed meant to symbolize the places where Mūsā and Muhammad received God’s Word, many have suggested that the fig and the olive are also symbolic of locations in the Middle East with prophetic significance. The olive is most often associated with Jerusalem due to the Mount of Olives just east of the walled city and may signify Jesus (‘Īsā). The Gospels place him on the Mount of Olives on several occasions (e.g., Matt. 24.3 ff; Luke 21.37, etc.), and it is from there that both Christians and Muslims believe he ascended to God. Commentators have suggested that the fig is associated with various prophets including Adam and Noah, but it may also be identified with Jesus, since he taught with the example of the fig tree.2 The identification of both the fig and olive with one prophet or place (Jesus and Jerusalem) is perhaps suggested by their mention together in a single āya rather than in two separate āya like Mount Sinai and Mecca. In this interpretation, God testifies to the truth by the fullness of His revelation to humanity in the Torah, the Gospel, and the Qur’an, by the prophets Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad who received the revelation, and the places most identified with them: Mount Sinai, Jerusalem, and Mecca.3 In his translation of the Qur’an, ‘Abdullah Yusuf ‘Ali tentatively suggests that it may be possible to expand the meaning of the oath at the beginning of the sūrah 2. E.g., Mark 13. 28–31; Matt. 24.32–35; Luke 21.29–33. 3. See, for example, Muhammad Asad’s comments in his: The Message of the Qur’an, p. 1096, n. 1. The Psalms (zabūr) of David might be inferred from the reference to Jerusalem, too. Still others believe the fig and olive refer to other prophets: Adam, Noah, and Abraham, for example.

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beyond the Abrahamic faiths if the fig is understood as a symbolic reference to the indigenous religions of South Asia: It has been suggested that the Fig stands for the Ficus Indica, the Bo-tree, under which Gautama Buddha obtained Nirvana. I hesitate to adopt the suggestion, but if accepted it would cover pristine Buddhism and the ancient Vedic religions from which it was an offshoot. In this way all the great religions of the world would be indicated.4

Yusuf Ali is perhaps alluding to the interpretation offered by Muhammad Hamidullah (1908–2002), a renown and prolific scholar of Islam, who believed the fig tree of al-Tīn symbolized the Buddha.5 The identification of the fig (tree) in the sūrah with the Buddha has been upheld by other Muslim scholars, including Professor Imtiyaz Yusuf, Director of the Center for Buddhist-Muslim Understanding at Mahidol University in Thailand.6 The belief that the Qur’an makes reference to the Buddha is hardly a modern interpretation, however, and dates back at least to the twelfth century CE, as evidenced by Muhammad alShahrastani’s (1086–1153 CE) Kitāb al-Milal wa al-Nihal.7 Following the oath of the first three āya comes the truth to which God testifies: “Indeed We have created humanity in the best state” (aḥsan taqwīm). This is not as much an aesthetic assessment of humanity as it is an existential one. The word taqwīm—derived from the verb qawm (to get up, rise or stand up)—connotes a level to which one has been raised. God elevated humanity above all his creatures when He commanded even the angels to bow down to Adam (al-Baqarah 2.34; al-A’rāf 7.11, etc.). As one commentator has noted, humans are superior creatures because they are “able to manifest all of the Divine Names and Qualities, whereas all other created beings are only able to manifest a limited range of the Divine Names and Qualities.”8 If indeed the oath of al-Tīn refers to God’s revelation to humanity in the Torah, Gospel and Qur’an—and perhaps the scriptures of South

4. ‘Abdullah Yusuf ‘Ali, The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an, p. 1669, n. 6198. 5. Muhammad Hamidullah, Muhammad Rasulullah (Lahore: Idara-e-Islamiat, 2011), p. 161. See also: Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Sufi Essays, 3rd ed. (Chicago: KAZI, 1999), p. 132. 6. Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies, Universitas Gadjah Mada “CRC’s interview with Prof. Imtiyaz Yusuf,” June 26, 2017, https://crcs.ugm.ac.id/muslims-dontstudy-buddhism-enough-an-interview-with-prof-imtiyaz-yusuf-part-1/. See also: A.F. Dawood’s discussion, “Strong Similarities between Buddhism and Islam,” July 25, 2008: https://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=6,6867, 0, 0,1,0. 7. Imtiyaz Yusuf, “Dialogue between Islam and Buddhism through the Concepts Ummatan Wasaṭan (The Middle Nation) and Majjhima-Patipada (The Middle Way),” Islamic Studies, v. 48, no. 3 (2009), p. 376. See also: Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, “Buddha in the Qur’an?” in: Common Ground between Islam and Buddhism, ed. Reza Shah-Kazemi (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 2010), pp. 113–36. 8. The Study Qur’an, p. 1534, n. 4.

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Asian religions as well—the “best state” of humanity (aḥsan taqwīm) could possibly “be seen as a reference to that aspect of their nature that is receptive to revelation.”9 Although humanity was created in the “best state,” God may also reduce them “to the lowest of the low (asfal sāfilīn).” Some commentators understand this is to refer to the natural processes of physical decline that comes with age. I believe, however, it is rather a reference to God’s chastisement of those who act contrary to the exalted status they have given, peoples such as the ‘Ād and Thamūd who opposed God’s prophets, and individuals like Pharaoh who opposed Mūsā (al‘Ankabūt 29.38–9), and Abū Lahab who opposed the Prophet Muhammad (alMasad 111). They stand in contrast to those describe in the sixth āya: “those who believe and do righteous deeds.” The righteous do not suffer abasement but are given an eternal reward for their righteousness. Here, in one of the last āyāt seen or read as one exits the Taj Mahal through the Great Gate, we are reminded of the two foundational aspects of being a believer: faith in God which is expressed in righteous action. It is a potent reminder to humanity who has been created in the best of states. The sūrah concludes with two questions. The first is directed to each individual hearer/reader as indicated by the singular “you” (-ka) and requires a response: “What causes you to deny the faith?” The word translated here as “faith” is the Arabic word dīn. Many understand dīn in this context to mean the Final Judgment as in yawm al-dīn, “the Day of Judgment” (al-Fātiḥah 1.4) in anticipation of the following āya. It can indeed be interpreted as such, but I prefer the broader meaning of al-dīn as “the faith,” that is, all that constitutes the faith—belief in God, His revealed Books, His Prophets, and the commitment to righteous action. Dīn need not specify a specific “religion” per se but rather the complete system of belief, worship, law, ethics, morality, and spirituality that express God’s revealed Word. When people deny al-dīn, they not only refuse to accept God as the Universal Creator and Sovereign and refuse to demonstrate that belief in worship, but they refuse to shape their conduct and their relationships with the Creation and the created in accordance with belief in God. They therefore act in ways contrary to the exalted state in which God created them. In essence the āya asks such people, “Why do you do this?” The sūrah then asks a more rhetorical question as a means of awaking humanity to the Divine Reality: “Is not God the most just of judges (aḥkam al-ḥākimīn)?” This phrase—“the most just (or wisest) of judges”—is used in Hūd 11.45 in the story of Nūḥ (Noah). As the flood waters engulfed the land, Nūḥ called to his family to board the ark, but one of his sons obstinately refused, and was overwhelmed by the waters. When at last the ark came to a rest on land, Nūḥ’s pleaded with God to save his son: “for Your promise is true and You are the most just of judges.” God refused however to save him, “for he acted unrighteously” (ghayr ṣāliḥ, 11.46). This is the end of the Qur’an as “spoken” by the Taj Mahal: an expression of trust in the transcendent wisdom of God’s will. If indeed the final āya of al-Tīn is meant 9. The Study Qur’an, p. 1534, n. 4.

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to evoke the story of Nūḥ as recounted in Hūd, then perhaps we are also to be reminded of Nūḥ’s prayer to God: O my Lord! I seek refuge with You lest I ask of You something of which I have no knowledge. And unless you forgive me, and have mercy on me, I will be among the lost. (11.47)

*** Colophon on the Great Gate, north side, after al-Tīn: Finished with His help, the Most High, 1057 (1647/48 CE) (pl. 13)

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Chapter 18 T H E R E L IG IO N O F S HA H J A HA N

A fundamental premise of this book has been that the Qur’anic texts selected for the Taj Mahal not only suited the funerary context of a mausoleum, but also reflected the faith of Shah Jahan, a faith that he himself struggled to live with authenticity, a faith that he wished to declare and share through the magnificent memorial he created for Mumtaz Mahal. I have also proposed that these texts spoke to his life experience as a person of faith; as the grandson of a beloved emperor-grandfather who had seen to his spiritual and intellectual education; as a son who had fought on the battlefield for his emperor-father and was thus honored as “the King of the World,” but also a son who had fought against his father, and was cursed by him as “the Wretch;” as a brother who, like the generations before him, regarded his siblings as rivals to be defeated, or eliminated, if necessary; as a husband and father who experienced familial love but also loss—the loss of a beloved wife, and the loss of children who died prematurely. The sūrahs of the Qur’an that he selected, undoubtedly in consultation with Amanat Khan, spoke to his understanding of God, Most Compassionate and Most Merciful, All-Mighty and All-Knowing, singular in His sovereignty, Creator of the cosmos, who gives life, brings death, and raises to life again; who judges people, not according to their religious affiliation or gender, but according to their awareness (taqwā) of His eternal presence and their deeds that flow from it; who demands not only faith expressed in prayer, but faith in action, caring for the poor, the orphaned, the hungry, and the imprisoned; whose justice is not capricious but is compassionate and consistent, allowing the righteous to enjoy eternal life in a luminescent Garden of unfathomable beauty, and the wicked to suffer the consequences of their willful recalcitrance in fiery punishment or purification; who revealed His Will and Wisdom in Sacred Scripture given to His messengers Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, and many others, named and unnamed. I have also proposed that the texts selected for the Taj Mahal spoke to his experience as an emperor who ruled a vast and diverse empire, who commanded prodigious resources—economic, intellectual, artistic, and military— but who also had faced devastating famines, rebellions from within the realm, and wars with powers outside it. Indeed, the affairs of state demanded his constant attention in the years following Mumtaz’s death in spite of his stated desire to abandon kingship and take up “sovereignty over the world of seclusion.” There were problems in the east

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with the Portuguese in Bengal and the on-going campaign in the south to bring the Deccan sultanates under Mughal sovereignty. In the northwest, the border with the Safavid Empire had to be secured and the status of Qandahar resolved. The city had remained under Safavid control for the first decade of Shah Jahan’s reign until 1638 when the city’s governor shifted his allegiance to Shah Jahan and surrendered the city to him. A decade later, however, the Safavids retook the city while the Mughal army was bogged down in a costly and ultimately futile campaign against the Uzbeks in Balkh (1646–7), led initially by the prince Murad Bakhsh and then by his brother Aurangzeb. The loss of Qandahar prompted Shah Jahan to send repeated but unsuccessful campaigns against the city, first under the command of Aurangzeb and then Dara Shukoh (1652–3).1 Yet, in spite of the demands of ruling such a large empire, Shah Jahan found time to continue his spiritual pursuits while encouraging those of Dara Shukoh and Jahanara with whom he was especially close. While in Lahore in April 1634, Shah Jahan and Dara Shukoh made a visit to Miyan Mir (c. 1550–1635), a Sufi ascetic of the Qadiriyya ṭariqah who emphasized the importance of meditation and contemplation for spiritual advancement. The Qadiri Sufis were ardent believers in waḥdat al-wujūd, “the Oneness of Being,” the all-embracing view of existence espoused by several of Shah Jahan’s childhood tutors (see introduction).2 The emperor believed that the holy man “surpassed all saints in detachment and renunciation,” and hoped that Miyan Mir might be able to heal Dara Shukoh (aged 19) who had succumbed to depression and illness following the death of his firstborn child.3 This was an important moment in Dara Shukoh’s own spiritual quest as he henceforth commenced his initiation into the Qadiri ṭariqah. Upon their return trip from Kashmir in October, Shah Jahan and Dara again visited Miyan Mir in Lahore. This time, Shah Jahan confessed to the shaykh that his heart had become cold to the world, and that he had wearied of his duties as emperor, just as he had expressed after the death of Mumtaz Mahal. Miyan Mir responded: “You ought to do a righteous act that would gladden the heart of any Muslim. On 1. For the most complete treatment of Shah Jahan relations with the Uzbeks, see: Audrey Burton, The Bukharans: A Dynastic, Diplomatic and Commerical Activity, 1550–1702 (New York: St. Martin’s, 1997). Other treatments of the Qandahar and Balkh campaigns include: Richards, The Mughal Empire, pp. 132–5; Richard C. Foltz, Mughal India and Central Asia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998); Jos Gommans, Mughal Warfare: Indian Frontiers and High Roads of Empire, 1500–1700 (London: Routledge, 2002), 179–87; Fischer, A Short History of the Mughal Empire, pp. 179–81; Pratyay Nath, Climate of Conquest: War, Environment, and Empire in Mughal North India (New Delhi: Oxford, 2019). 2. According to Sikh tradition, Miyan Mir was a friend of the fifth guru Arjun and laid the foundation stone for the Golden Temple (Harimandir) in Amritsar. See: Kushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs: Volume I: 1469–1839, 2nd ed. (New Delhi: Oxford, 1999), p. 26. 3. Rizvi, A History of Sufism, v. 2, pp. 103–8, 128; Bikrama Jit Hasrat, Dārā Shikūh: Life and Works (Calcutta: Visvabharati, 1953), p. 77; and most recently: Gandhi, The Emperor Who Never Was, pp. 85–7.

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that occasion, then offer a prayer asking for nothing but God.” Then he quoted a verse by the great Sufi shaykh Jalaluddin Rumi: “You wish for God as well as the material world. This is mere fancy, impossible, insanity.”4 Trying to balance his responsibilities as emperor with a heartfelt desire to lead a more contemplative life was the greatest struggle (jihād) Shah Jahan faced in these years. Chandar Bhan Brahman provides an important witness to Shah Jahan’s associations with the Sufi holy men from whom he sought counsel. In his memoir, Chandar Bhan wrote of Miyan Mir to whose “isolated corner of reclusiveness and liberation” Shah Jahan traveled so that the two could hold “spiritual discussions.”5 He describes Shah Jahan and Miyan Mir as “two great masters of form and meaning,” one of whom “bangs the drum of the Shadow of God” while the other “raises knowledge of devotion to its acme.”6 After the death of Miyan Mir in August 1635, Shah Jahan, Dara Shukoh, and Jahanara developed a relationship with his disciple, Mulla Shah Badakhshi (pl. 14). In 1640, while in Kashmir, Shah Jahan wrote to him to request a meeting. Not unlike Miyan Mir had done previously, Mulla Shah rebuked the emperor for his worldly attachments: Day and night you’re in the company of people who only understand the external world. You’ve moved far away from spiritual matters. If you were to hear about these, what effect would they have?7

Nevertheless, he ultimately relented and went to speak with the emperor. Chandar Bhan noted that: “in heavenly Kashmir that great knower of mystical Truths, Mullah Shah, visited the assembly of the emperor—who is himself acquainted with Truth and is a friend to holy men—where they held a vibrant discussion.”8 In 1645, Shah Jahan, Dara Shukoh, and Jahanara again met with Mulla Shah in Kashmir. During their conversation, Shah Jahan remarked: “You are a servant of God, and I am a servant of God. We do not depend on anyone external.” Mulla Shah again humbled the emperor, observing that Shah Jahan only occasionally occupied himself in the remembrance of God (dhikr), to which the emperor responded: “Yes, that is true … but you and I have no need of any other than God the Most High, and that is why it is appropriate for us to commune.”9 Shah Jahan’s regard for Mullah Shah is also evident in the portrait of the shaykh that the emperor likely commissioned (c. 1650).10 Tawakkul Beg Kaulabi, one of the shaykh’s disciples, describes the close relationship between Shah Jahan and Mulla Shah in his Nuskha-i ahwal-i Shahi, completed after the emperor’s death. Tawakkul 4. Gandhi, The Emperor Who Never Was, pp. 87–8. Cf. Brahma Singh Brahma, Hazrat Mian Mir and the Sufi Tradition (Patiala: Punjab University, 1994), pp. 18–19. 5. Kinra, Writing Self, p. 149. 6. Kinra, Writing Self, p. 149. 7. Gandhi, The Emperor Who Never Was, p. 107. 8. Kinra, Writing Self, p. 149 (my emphasis). 9. Gandhi, The Emperor Who Never Was, pp. 127–8. 10. Sackler LTS2002.2.4. See: Akbarnia, Light of the Sufis, (cat. no. 16).

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Beg records the repeated invitations that Shah Jahan and Dara Shukoh extended to Mulla Shah, their conversations with him, and refers to the mosque and khanqah that Jahanara built for him in Srinagar, as well as the house in Lahore provided by Shah Jahan to which the shaykh retired in 1660.11 Shah Jahan again visited Mulla Shah in the summer of 1651 during what would be his last journey to Kashmir. Shah Jahan later invited Mullah Shah to visit him in Shahjahanabad (Delhi) but he declined due to his failing eyesight.12 In addition to Shah Jahan’s association with Miyan Mir and Mulla Shah, Chandar Bhan mentions several other Sufis with whom the emperor was well acquainted. They include Shaykh Bala’ul (d. 1636–7), another Qadiri Sufi “with whom he discussed numerous matters of gnosis and esoteric meaning.”13 Likewise, Chandar Bhan notes that Shah Jahan also was fond of conversing with “a man at an advanced stage of Truth named Khwaja Jawid Mahmud, who hailed from charming Kashmir and was given a seat right next to the imperial throne.”14 There was also the unconventional shaykh Nazir, “a fixture at the palace both day and night,” and Khwaja ‘Abd al-Razzaq, who was in the Emperor’s personal security detail but “trod the path of (mystical) precedents.”15 He also mentions Mir ‘Arif, Mir Fakhr al-Din, and Mir Sayyid Muhammad Qannauji all of whom were “honored and revered guests” who held dialogues with the emperor “who knows all the finer points of intellectual matters.” Thus, as Chandar Bhan concludes: “elite shaikhs who had achieved a level of divine friendship were constantly arriving at the sublime maḥfil (gathering at court) where they were featured members of the assembly.”16 Of these three last individuals named, Sayyid Muhammad is the most significant for Shah Jahan’s final years. About him we are told: About the end of Shah Jahan’s reign, he at the urgent request of the appreciative Sovereign came to the Presence. Shah Jahan was a true patron of learned men, and he regarded the arrival of the venerable Saiyid, who was a paragon of esoteric and exoteric knowledge, as a rare boon, and fervently welcoming him admitted him into his intimate circle.17 11. Rizvi, History, pp. 122–4. For Mullah Shah’s mosque in Srinagar, see: Asher, Architecture, pp. 215–16; and Afshan Bokhari, “The ‘Light’ of Tumria: Jahan Ara Begum’s Patronage, Piety, and Poetry in 17th-century Mughal India,” Marg, 60 (2008), pp. 53–62. Given the close relationship between Shah Jahan and his family with Mulla Shah, it is surprising to read that, according to Kaulabi, in 1634 Shah Jahan had been persuaded to execute Mulla Shah for blasphemy, and only relented due to the Miyan Mir’s invention (Rizvi, 116). This incident is not corroborated by any other source of which I am aware, and thus could be an exaggeration or even fictional. 12. Rizvi, History, p. 123. 13. Kinra, Writing Self, p. 149. See also: Rizvi, History, p. 66. 14. Kinra, Writing Self, p. 150. 15. Kinra, Writing Self, p. 150. For Shaykh Nazir, see also: Joshi, “The Politics of Ceremonial in Shah Jahan’s Court,” pp. 122–3. 16. Kinra, Writing Self, pp. 150–1. 17. Maāthir-ul-Umarā, v. 2, pt. 1, p. 129.

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The Sayyid had been a disciple of the renowned Chishti shaykh Muḥibbullah of Allahabad (1587–1648), the leading exponent of waḥdat al-wujūd and the teachings of Ibn ‘Arabi.18 Shah Jahan greatly desired the shaykh’s spiritual counsel and wrote to him urging him to come to court: Greetings, O knower of gnosis and locus of the splendor of the divine sciences, Shaykh Muhibb Allah. Having considered well the command, ‘Obey God, and obey the Messenger [Muhammad] and those who have authority over you [alNisā’ 4.59], come to me, for my desire is beyond limit!19

In spite of the emperor’s ardent invitation, the shaykh declined, yet his influence at court nevertheless perdured. When Dara Shukoh was appointed governor of Allahabad in 1645, he corresponded with the shaykh on matters of the spirit. Muḥibbullah’s responses to the prince’s queries reveal much of the shaykh’s thought and may shed light on Shah Jahan’s own religious perspectives and beliefs, particularly as a Muslim ruler of a religiously diverse realm. As one who upheld the oneness of existence, the shaykh states that: Justice requires that the thought of the welfare of men should be uppermost in the minds of rulers, so that the people might be protected from the tyranny of officials. It does not matter if one is a believer or a non-believer. All human beings are the creatures of God. If one has such a feeling, he will not differentiate between a believer and a non-believer and will show empathy and consideration towards both. It is in the Qur’an and the Futuhat [of Ibn ‘Arabi] has elucidated it that the Prophet was sent as a mercy to all human beings.20

As God sent the Prophet Muhammad “as a mercy to the worlds” (al-“Anbiyā” 21.107), a ruler should therefore “follow the example (sunnah) of the Prophet who himself reflects God’s perfect Lordship, [and] should display mercy towards all his subjects, Muslim or otherwise.”21 Muḥibbullah’s teaching is reflected well by Shah Jahan’s actions as emperor, for although he engaged in armed conflicts with political opponents—Hindu, Muslim, and European Christians—he did not persecute his subjects on religious grounds. This is attested by the Maratha leader Shivaji Bhonsale (1630–80) himself. When Aurangzeb (emperor ‘Alamgir) reinstituted the jizya tax on non-Muslims in 1679, Shivaji reminded him of the beneficence Aurangzeb’s own father has shown his subjects: 18. For a good summary of Muhibbullah’s thought, see: Shankar Nair, Translating Wisdom: Hindu-Muslim Intellectual Interactions in Early Modern South Asia (Oakland: University of California, 2020), 85–118. See also: Gandhi, The Emperor Who Never Was, p. 129 ff. 19. Nair, Translating Wisdom, 87. 20. M. Zafiruddin Siddiqui, “Shah Muhibb Alahh [sic] Ilahabadi and the Liberal Tradition in Islam,” Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, v. 42 (1981), 292. 21. Nair, Translating Wisdom, 105.

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The Emperor Shah Jahan for 32 years cast his blessed shade on the head of the world and gathered the fruit of eternal life,—which is only a synonym for goodness and fair fame,—as the result of his happy time on earth. He who loves with a good name gains everlasting wealth Because after his death, the recital of his good deeds keeps his name alive.

Referring to Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan, he continued: They, too, had the power of levying the jaziya; but they did not give place to bigotry in their hearts, as they considered all men, high and low, created by God to be [living] examples of the nature of diverse creeds and temperaments. Their kindness and benevolence endure on the pages of Time as their memorial, and so prayer and praise for these [three] pure souls will dwell forever in the hearts and tongues of mankind, among both great and small.22

According to Muḥibbullah, it is through formal religious praxis (‘amal)— recitation of the Qur’an, repetition of the Divine Names, and spiritual retreat as well as prayer (both canonical and supererogatory), fasting and the like in the manner of the Prophet—that Muslims better reflect the attributes of the Muhammad and the other friends of God (awliyā’), and thus may better manifest God’s wujūd. What interests Muḥibbullah above all else, writes Shankar Nair, “is truth, salvation, and spiritual realization, articulated in a specifically Islamic idiom.”23 This accurately describes the foundation for Shah Jahan’s own religious beliefs and practices, apparently shaped in part by Muḥibbullah’s teachings and the belief in waḥdat al-wujūd that he had been taught since childhood. Thus, Shah Jahan’s attention to religious praxis in the form of prayer (canonical and supererogatory) confirmed by a number of independent sources, reciting the names of God as evidenced by the ring referred to previously, doing dhikr (remembrance) using a rosary (misbaḥah), attending to the needs of the poor, etc., and lexio (tilāvat-i qur’an), as exemplified by the inscriptional program of the Taj Mahal, need not be interpreted as evidence of his “orthodoxy,” as some have claimed. These practices and devotions may instead be evidence of Shah Jahan’s desire to become the “Perfect Person” (al-insān al-kāmil), that he might better reflect God’s Essence, the One Existence shared by all created things (waḥdat al-wujūd), as articulated by Muḥibbullah and other Sufi shaykhs whose company the emperor sought. The Late Shah Jahan album, a collection of paintings and calligraphy that was assembled during the last decade of the emperor’s reign, contained several works 22. J. Sarkar, Shivaji and His Times, 1627–1680, 2nd ed. (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1920), pp. 367–8. See also: Satish Chandra, “Jizyah and the State in India during the 17th Century,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, v. 12, no. 3 (September 1969), pp. 322–40. See also: Calabria, “The Unorthodox ‘Orthodoxy’ of Shah Jahan.” 23. Nair, Translating Wisdom, 115.

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that reflect the emperor’s interest in Sufi subjects. In addition to the portrait of Mulla Shah mentioned above and a painting of the shaykh conversing with companions, the album featured a portrait of the miracle-working Shaykh Shah Dawlat (d. 1676) wearing a patched shawl (muraqqa’)—a Sufi sign of renunciation. His portrait faced that of an ascetic wearing a tiger skin. The album likewise depicted a number of Sufi shaykhs, dervishes, and ascetics in natural settings, both as subjects of the paintings and in the border decorations. Other paintings depict Sa’di and Jami with their companions, popular Persian poets whose works are well represented by volumes in what remains of the imperial library collection. A page of calligraphy contains a prayer from Sa’di’s Bustan that applies to Shah Jahan in the context of the album: O God, keep this dervish-loving king, in whose shadow is the repose of the people, On the throne of kingship and exaltedness, as long as the sun and moon are in the heavens above.24

Also included in the album is a painting of Majnun in the wildnerness (from Nizami’s Khamsa), who serves as the epitome of holy desire as expressed by the accompanying poem25: O God, I tremble like a willow lest I have no value. O God, once a trace of your love came, all other loves ended. It is perhaps the prayer of the album’s frontispiece, however, that reveals the most about Shah Jahan’s faith during these later years: O God, if you do not shepherd me, I am lost; If you shepherd me, then I cannot go astray. O God, if I make a mistake out of ignorance, I implore you (for forgiveness) even before it has vexed anyone.26 The penitent tone seen in this prayer had been expressed earlier in the verses inscribed on the mosque that Shah Jahan had built at the dargah of Mu’inuddin Chishti at Ajmer: 24. Wright, Muraqqa’, pp. 398–99 (cat. no. 66B)—my emphasis. Shah Jahan apparently liked this prayer since it was used in an earlier painting of him (1629 CE) in which he is depicted standing on a globe (Freer F1939.49). See: Beach, The Imperial Image, pp. 146–7 (cat. no. 24D). 25. Wright, Muraqqa’, p. 388 (cat. no. 63); 396–8 (no. 65B and 66A); 404 (no. 68); 406 (no. 69); and 460 (no. 2). For a list of the album’s now scattered paintings, see: Wright, Muraqqa’, Appendix 3, pp. 462 ff. 26. Ca. 1650. Sackler S1986.69: https://asia.si.edu/object/S1986.69/.

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When you rub your fortunate face on the floor of the mosque (in prayer), your book of deeds becomes as white as marble … To the throng of people who come to offer prayers its gate is always open as is the gate of penitence.27

Turning to God in repentance is an essential teaching of the Qur’an, as we have seen in the Taj Mahal’s inscriptions, especially in al-Zumar 39.54 which was inscribed twice—on the south arch of the mausoleum’s interior and on Mumtaz’s lower cenotaph: And: “Turn to your Lord and submit to Him before the punishment comes upon you; for thereafter you will not be helped.”

Repentance is considered to be the first step on the spiritual path of Sufis, as in other mystic traditions. Sharafuddin Maneri, whose letters Shah Jahan had read as part of his early education (see introduction), wrote: “Realize that sincere repentance is like a beautiful carpet on which you perform your devotions.”28 When taken together, the poem at the beginning of the Late Shah Jahan Album along with the numerous depictions of Sufi shaykhs, as well as the inscriptions at the Ajmer mosque and Taj Mahal, seems to reflect Shah Jahan’s concerted desire to follow the spiritual path by repenting of his sins. There is much material that we must consider if we are to accurately assess Shah Jahan’s religious and spiritual orientation while acknowledging the constraints imposed by history. There is the vast inscriptional program of the Taj Mahal constituting 241 verses of the Qur’an which we have examined at length. There is also Shah Jahan’s attention to the dargah of Mu’inuddin Chishti at Ajmer to consider; the content of the royal chronicles; his conversations and contacts with Miyan Mir, Mulla Shah, Muḥibbullah, and many other Sufi shaykhs; his personal effects, the books from the imperial library that he inscribed, and the content of the paintings and poetry of the Late Shah Jahan Album and other works of art from his reign. When taken as a whole, we may conclude that Shah Jahan was wellgrounded in the Qur’an and sunnah of the Prophet, and drawn to a contemplative and mystical dimension of Islam in which he had been instructed from his youth and adopted as an adult, a faith that reflected the concept of waḥdat al-wujūd as taught by the shaykhs of the Chishti and Qadiri ṭariqah, and given poetic expression by the likes of Jami, Hafiz, Nizami, Amir Khusrau, along with the more didactic spirituality of Sa’di. *** In November 1654, Shah Jahan returned to Ajmer for pilgrimage, accompanied by Dara Shukoh. This visit was commemorated in a painting from the Windsor 27. Tirmizi, Ajmer, p. 48. 28. Maneri, The Hundred Letters, 15.

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Padshahnama.29 It depicts Shah Jahan crossing a stream on the outskirts of the city, his head encircled by a brilliant halo and shielded with a sunshade. There he encounters a mysterious figure standing on the surface of the water, clad in an emerald green robe and turban and offering a globe to the emperor. The figure robed in green has been identified as Khizr (al-Khiḍr/al-Khaḍir, literally “the Green One”), the traditional name given to Moses’ unnamed guide in the Qur’an (al-Kahf 18.65 ff.), described as a servant of God, who was bestowed with divine knowledge. Khizr subsequently appears in the Persian “Alexander Romances” (Iskandarnama) which recount the adventures of Alexander the Great. In Nizami’s version of the story (c. 1202), Khizr serves as guide for Alexander who is searching in the Land of Darkness for the water of eternal life. Khizr does indeed find the source, drinks from it, and becomes immortal, but the water disappears before Alexander can reach him.30 Among many Sufis, Khizr acquired particular significance as a spiritual guide (murshid) on account of his ‘ilm ladunī—the knowledge given to him directly from God. Thus, the Padshahnama painting signifies that Khizr, who initiated God’s prophets and saints, also serves as guide and mentor to Shah Jahan, the Sufi sovereign, seeker, and disciple (murīd), imparting to the emperor divine knowledge and spiritual wisdom. The story of Khizr and Alexander greatly appealed to Shah Jahan as evidenced by a volume of Jāmī’s Khiradnāma-yi Iskanadrī which he personally inscribed for the imperial library on the eighth of Jumada II 1037 Hijrī—i.e., on the fourteenth of February 1628, the very day he ascended the throne in Agra.31 Over the course of his lifetime, Shah Jahan had himself depicted as Khizr’s disciple in at least five different paintings.32 In addition to the globe 29. Royal Collection Trust: https://www.rct.uk/collection/1005025-ap/shah-jahanvisits-the-shrine-of-khwaja-muinuddin-chishti-at-ajmer-november. See also: Beach and Koch, King of the World, nos. 41–2. Lahori’s accompanying text refers to Shah Jahan’s pilgrimage to Ajmer in 1636, but the painting depicts the emperor as much older, probably as he would have appeared in during his visit in 1654. 30. William L. Hanaway, “Eskandar-nāma,” in: Encyclopaedia Iranica, (December 15, 1998/January 19, 2012): https://iranicaonline.org/articles/eskandar-nama; Heike Franke, “Emperors of Ṣūrat and Ma’nī: Jahangir and Shah Jahan as Temporal and Spiritual Rulers,” Muqarnas, v. 31 (2014), pp. 141 ff. H. Talat Halman, Where the Two Seas Meet: al-Khidr and Moses—The Quranic Story of al-Khidr and Moses in Sufi Commentaries as a Model for Spiritual Guidance (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 2013). 31. Seyller, “Inspection and Valuation of Manuscripts in the Imperial Mughal Library,” 331. According to Seyller, the location of the volume is now unknown. The imperial library also contained a copy of Nizami’s Iqbālnāma, the second volume of his Alexander Romance. That volume bears the inspection seal of “Abd al-Haqq, son of Shirazi” (Seyller, 289). 32. In addition to the three described by Heike Franke — one, c. 1628–30 from the St. Petersburg Album now housed in the Museum of the History of Religion, St. Petersburg; another, c. 1645, from the Late Shah Album, the present whereabouts of which are unknown; and the third, c. 1656, as described here, from the Windsor Padshahnama — there is a fourth, c. 1640–60, which was sold at auction by Christie’s in 2019 (https://www.christies.com/ lotfinder/Lot/a-meeting-between-shah-jahan-and-khizir-6212082-details.aspx); and a fifth, in the Institute of Oriental Studies, St. Petersburg (AKG 1539647), referred to above, p 161

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offered to the emperor in the Padshahnama painting, three of the paintings depict Khizr offering Shah Jahan a drinking bowl, presumably containing the life-giving water that the spirit guide had drunk. In the fifth example, Khizr offers a young Shah Jahan a misbaḥah of pearls and rubies used for performing dhikr—glorifying God and reciting His “beautiful names” (al-asmā’ al-ḥusnā) such as found on Mumtaz Mahal’s lower cenotaph in the Taj Mahal. This last painting cited, from the St. Petersburg Album, depicts Shah Jahan as a young prince in his early- to mid-twenties and suggests that he envisioned himself as Khizr’s disciple from his youth. Having completed the pilgrimage to Ajmer, Shah Jahan set out for his new capital of Shahjahanabad, traveling via Agra. There Shah Jahan and Dara Shukoh visited the recently completed Moti Masjid within the Agra Fort, and then traveled by boat to “the heaven-like mausoleum of that one enshrined under canopies of divine pardon, Her late Majesty the Queen,” where they recited al-Fātiḥah on her behalf.33 Twenty-three years had passed since Mumtaz had died. Although Shah Jahan did not know it then, this was to be the last time he would visit his wife’s memorial—although not the last time he would see it. Shortly after their return to Shahjahanabad, Shah Jahan celebrated his sixty-fifth lunar birthday (63 solar years) in February 1655 with the customary weighing (pl. 15). He chose this occasion to award Dara Shukoh the title of Shah Buland Iqbal—“Emperor of Exalted Fortune,” and seated him adjacent to the imperial throne, thereby confirming what everyone suspected: that Dara Shukoh would succeed his father as emperor. While Dara plumbed the depths of the world of spirit with his father at court, Shah Jahan’s other sons policed the empire: Shah Shuja in Bengal, Aurangzeb in the Deccan, and Murad Bakhsh in Gujarat. The events that followed soon took a sad and violent turn not unfamiliar from the Mughal period: sons turning against their father, and brothers turning against one another. The war of succession fought among Shah Jahan’s sons has been documented at length elsewhere, most recently in two monographs on Dara Shukoh: Avik Canda’s Dara Shukoh: The Man Who Would Be King (2019) and Supriya Gandhi’s The Emperor Who Never Was: Dara Shukoh in Mughal India (2020), as well as in Audrey Truschke’s Aurangzeb: The Life and Legend of India’s Most Controversial King (2017); thus, a broad outline of events suffices here. In September 1657, Shah Jahan fell ill in Shahjahanabad. Dara Shukoh attended his father, and restricted access to the emperor. When rumors circulated that the emperor had died, Shah Shuja proclaimed himself emperor in Bengal. In Gujarat, Murad Bakhsh did the same, ostensibly supported by Aurangzeb who quietly made his own plans to seize the throne. Within a few weeks, Shah Jahan’s condition had improved sufficiently and he departed for Agra to recuperate there, but his sons were already gathering their troops to realize their ambitions. As Aurangzeb’s forces from the Deccan marched toward Agra to be joined by Murad and his troops, Dara Shukoh prepared to face his brothers on the battlefield to keep his father on the throne. Defeated by imperial forces near Benares, Shah Shuja ceased to be a principal player in the war 33. Waris, cited in: Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 135.

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of succession. Jahanara attempted to stop the fraternal conflict by appealing to Aurangzeb through an envoy. Likewise, Shah Jahan offered to face Aurangzeb and Murad in place of Dara Shukoh, but Shaysta Khan, Mumtaz’s brother, convinced him to remain securely within the walls of Agra Fort. It was not out of concern for his brother-in-law that Shaysta Khan did so, however; he had already made a secret alliance with his nephew Aurangzeb against the emperor. He had served in Shah Jahan’s army and administration, but not without controversy, and had found a supportive ally in his ambitious nephew. The decisive battle was fought between the brothers at Samugarh, about twelve miles east of Agra on June 8, 1658. Roundly defeated, Dara fled back toward Agra to gather his wife and children before fleeing to Shahjahanabad where he hoped to raise a new army. Humiliated by his defeat, he was unable to face his father before his hurried departure. Two days later, Aurangzeb and Murad arrived in Agra, setting up camp in the Nur Manzil garden (Zehra Bagh), probably the garden that their mother had established and bequeathed to Jahanara.34 While Murad recovered from his battle wounds, Aurangzeb received courtiers and family members who now openly supported his claim to the throne, including his uncle Shaysta Khan. He was not the only member of Mumtaz’s family to abandon Shah Jahan. Ja’far Khan, the husband of Mumtaz’s sister Farzana Begum, also defected as did Asad Khan, the husband of Mumtaz’s sister Mihr al-Nisa. Although Jahanara remained her father’s and Dara’s stalwart supporter, her younger sister Roshanara gave her support to Aurangzeb. François Bernier, a French physician, who arrived in India just after these events unfolded, expressed his shock at such betrayals: “I can indeed barely repress my indignation when I reflect that there was not a single movement, nor even a voice heard, on behalf of the aged and injured Monarch.”35 Shah Jahan sent a letter to Aurangzeb along with gifts, entreating his son to come to him to negotiate a peace settlement, but Aurangzeb’s supporters dissuaded him from doing so. Unable to take the impregnable Agra Fort with military might, Aurangzeb instead forced his father’s surrender by cutting off the water supply. When Shah Jahan opened the gates of the fort on June 19, 1658, his thirty-year reign came to an end, almost precisely on the twenty-seventh anniversary of Mumtaz’s death. Refusing to set eyes upon his father, Aurangzeb sent his eldest son, Muhammad Sultan, into the fort to receive Shah Jahan’s surrender and confine him to a part of the royal residence, the Shah Burj (“royal tower”), from which he would have had access to his small private mosque (Mina Masjid). Once again Jahanara attempted to serve as peace broker and brought Aurangzeb an offer from Shah Jahan to divide his kingdom among his sons: Punjab would go to Dara, Gujarat to Murad, Bengal to Shah Shuja, and the remainder to Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb finally agreed to meet with his father to discuss the offer, but Shaysta Khan again schemed to keep father and son apart, telling his nephew that the proposed meeting was a trap. Aurangzeb set off in pursuit of Dara Shukoh and never saw his father again; neither would Dara. On route to Shahjahanabad, 34. Koch, The Complete Taj Mahal, p. 41. 35. Bernier, Travels, p. 65.

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Aurangzeb lured Murad into a trap and took him prisoner, and upon reaching the capital, he ascended the throne as Emperor Alamgir (“World Seizer”). For nearly a year, he relentlessly pursued Dara Shukoh, his family, and a small group of supporters across the empire. In June 1659, as they were fleeing toward Qandahar and asylum in the Safavid Empire, Dara’s wife Nadira Banu Begum succumbed to dysentery and died. He sent her remains to Lahore with instructions that she be buried near the grave of Miyan Mir, his beloved murshid. Shortly thereafter, he and his fifteen-year old son Sipihr Shukoh were captured by a local chieftain and taken to Shahjahanabad as prisoners. There they were paraded through the streets in rags and chains on the back of an elephant, much to the distress of the local population. In September 1659, Dara Shukoh was forcibly separated from his son and then beheaded. Shah Shuja, whose forces Aurangzeb had also routed, managed to elude capture and fled to Burma where he was killed by the ruler of Arakan in 1660. Murad, who had been held captive in Gwalior Fort for nearly three years, was finally executed in December 1661. Sulaiman Shukoh, Dara’s eldest son who had fled to Srinagar, was also captured and imprisoned in Gwalior Fort for a year before being executed in May 1662. With his brothers and nephew eliminated, Aurangzeb’s grip on the throne was secure. His father, although still living, presented no real threat provided he remained confined to his quarters in Agra Fort, deprived of contact with the outside world. He was stripped not only of his power but also of his possessions, including books, artwork, fine clothing, and jewelry. When Aurangzeb demanded even his father’s pearl prayer beads, Shah Jahan wrote to him, threatening to grind the pearls to dust before handing them over. His sole confidants during these years were Jahanara and Sayyid Muhammad Qannauji, who “was constantly in attendance on him, and from the beginning of the 32nd year to his (Shah Jahan’s) death profitably discoursed to him on spiritual matters and Traditions (aḥadīth).”36 According to Salih’s account, Shah Jahan “kept himself constantly busy reciting the Glorious Book and copying its verses, repetition of religious formulae, listening to the Traditions and to the narration of the lives of saintly persons of the past.”37 The desire he had expressed after Mumtaz’s death to withdraw from the world to lead a life of prayer and contemplation was now fulfilled. The “King of the World” was now a faqīr. In January 1666, seven and a half years after he was forced from the throne and into captivity, now in his seventy-fifth year of age, Shah Jahan fell seriously ill with fever, strangury, and dysentery. Although attended by doctors, he failed to regain his strength. After two weeks of illness, knowing his death was imminent, he asked 36. Ibid. Cf. Muhammad Salih’s remarks from his ‘Amal-i-Salih as given in: Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 142. 37. Cited in: Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, p. 143. Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahman Chishti (d. 1683) similarly describes Shah Jahan’s last years. See: A. Azfar Moin, “The Millennial and Saintly Sovereignty of Emperor Shah Jahan According to a Court Sufi,” in: The Empires of the Near East and India: Source Studies of the Safavid, Ottoman, and Mughal Literate Communities, ed. Hani Khafipour (New York: Columbia University, 2019), 217.

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Jahanara to recite verses from the Qur’an for him as he made the second profession of faith: “I testify that there is no god but God, the One alone, without partner, and I testify that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger.” He also recited an āya from sūrah al-Baqarah (2.220): “Our Lord, give us good in this world and in the hereafter, and shield us from the punishment of the Fire.” On the evening of January 31, 1666, the auspicious prince Khurram who had become “the King of the World”—Shah Jahan—died. Jahanara summoned Sayyid Qannauji and Qazi Qurban, the chief religious judge of Agra, who washed and shrouded the body according to custom, and placed it in a coffin of sandal wood. Early in the morning of February 1, the body was then taken down the stairs of the Shah Burj, out the door that been blocked during his captivity, and through the gate in the fortification wall down to the riverbank (pl. 16). His remains were then put on a boat and taken downstream to the Taj Mahal where funeral prayers were recited, probably in the mosque, taking the same route Shah Jahan would have during his lifetime when he paid respects to his deceased wife. His body was then taken into the lower chamber of the mausoleum and interred beneath the marble floor next to the grave of Mumtaz. At some time later, white marble cenotaphs inlaid with pietra dura flowers were added next to hers in the upper and lower burial chambers to mark his burial place. In contrast to his wife’s cenotaphs inscribed by Amanat Khan with the “beautiful names” of God and Qur’anic verses, Shah Jahan’s cenotaphs lack inscriptions except for an epitaph written in Persian. In the upper chamber, it reads simply: This is the sacred grave of the His Most Exalted Majesty, Dweller in Paradise, Second of the Auspicious Conjunction, Shah Jahan, Padshah; may it ever be fragrant! The year 1076 (1666 CE).38

On the cenotaph in the lower chamber, there is a longer and more florid farewell: This is the illumined grave and sacred resting place of the Emperor, dignified as [the angel] Rizwan, residing in eternity, His Majesty, having his abode in [the celestial realm of] ‘Illiyun, Dweller in Paradise, the Second Lord of the Conjunction, Shah Jahan, Padshah Ghazi; may it be sanctified and may Paradise become his abode. He travelled from this world to the banquet-hall of eternity on the night of the twenty-sixth of the month of Rajab, in the year one-thousandand-seventy-six Hijri (January 31, 1666).39

38. Koch, The Complete Taj Mahal, pp. 171 and 173. 39. Based on Begley and Desai, Taj Mahal, pp. 192–3.

CHRONOLOGY 1592 Prince Khurram is born in Lahore on 15 January. 1593 Arjumand Banu Begum is born on April 15. 1600 Prince Salim rebels against Emperor Akbar. 1605 Akbar dies. Salim ascends the throne as Emperor Jahangir. 1606 Khurram’s brother Khusrau rebels against Jahangir but fails. 1607 Khurram is betrothed to Arjumand Banu Begum. 1608 Jahangir orders changes and additions to Akbar’s funerary complex. Mullah Shukrullah and ‘Abd al-Haqq Shirazi arrive in Surat from Persia. ‘Abd al-Haqq begins work on inscriptions for Akbar’s gateway in Sikandra. Shukrullah enters the service of Khan Khanan and then Prince Khurram in Burhanpur. 1610 Khurram marries daughter of Mirza Muzaffar Husain (“Qandahari Begum”). 1611 Jahangir marries Arjumand’s aunt, Mihr al-Nisa, who is titled Nur Jahan. 1612 Khurram marries Arjumand who is titled Mumtaz Mahal. 1613 Birth of Arjumand’s first child: Princess Hur al-Nisa. Khurram presides at Akbar’s ‘urs for and meets ‘Abd al-Haqq. 1614 Khurram commands Mewar campaign. Mumtaz gives birth to Princess Jahanara in Ajmer. 1615 Jahangir awards Shukrullah the title: Afẓal Khan. Mumtaz gives birth to Prince Dara Shukoh in Ajmer. 1616 Jahangir awards Khurram the title: Shah. Hur al-Nisa dies. Mumtaz gives birth to Prince Shah Shuja in Ajmer. 1617 Mumtaz gives birth to Princess Roshanara at Burhanpur. Prince Khurram marries daughter of Shahnawaz Khan. Jahangir awards Shah Khurram the title Shah Jahan. 1618 Mumtaz gives birth to Prince Aurangzeb. 1619 Jagat Gosā’īn, Shah Jahan’s mother, dies. Shahnawaz Khan’s daughter gives birth to Prince Jahan Afroz. Jahangir promotes Parviz and releases Khrusau from prison. Mumtaz gives birth to Prince Izad Baksh near Sirhind. 1621 Shah Jahan leaves for Deccan campaign. Shariyar marries Ladli Begum, daughter of Nur Jahan. Deaths of Prince Izad Basksh and Prince Jahan Afroz. Mumtaz gives birth to Princess Surraya. 1622 Khusrau dies at Burhanpur. Shah ‘Abbas attacks and seizes Qandahar. Shah Jahan rebels against Jahangir. Mumtaz gives birth to a son who dies in birth. 1624 Imperial forces defeat Shah Jahan’s forces near Benares. Mumtaz gives birth to Prince Murad Bakhsh. 1625 Shah Jahan surrenders Dara Shukoh, Shah Shuja and Aurangzeb to Jahangir. Afzal Khan and Asaf Khan escort them to Lahore.

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1626 Shah Jahan’s brother Parvez dies from alcoholism. Mumtaz gives birth to Prince Lutfallah in Thatta. 1627 Jahangir dies en route from Kashmir to Lahore. Asaf Khan places his sister Nur Jahan under house arrest; Shahriyar is imprisoned; and Dawar Bakhsh is named emperor in Lahore. 1628 Asaf Khan proclaims Shah Jahan emperor in Lahore. Shahriyar, Dawar Baksh et al. are executed. Shah Jahan travels to Ajmer. Shah Jahan assumes the throne in Agra on 14 February. Afzal Khan, Asaf Khan, and the royal princes return to Agra. Princess Surraya dies. Mumtaz gives birth to Prince Daulat Afza. Prince Lutfallah dies. ‘Abd al-Haqq’s seal appears in volumes of imperial library. Jujhar Singh Bundela rebellion. 1629 Afzal Khan is appointed Prime Minister (Diwān-i-A’la). Prince Daulat Afza dies. Khan Jahan Lodi rebellion. 1630 Portuguese seize Mughal ships at Surat. Mumtaz gives birth to Princess Husnara who dies soon after birth in Agra. The Court proceeds to Burhanpur. Widespread famine in South Asia (1630–2) 1631 ‘Abd al-Haqq escorts Persian ambassador to Burhanpur. Mumtaz gives birth to Gauhar Ara and then dies on the morning of 17 June. She is temporarily interred at Burhanpur. Plans for her tomb in Agra begin. Khan Jahan’s rebellion ends with his death. Mumtaz’ body is taken from Burhanpur to Agra for reburial. 1632 Mumtaz reinterred in Agra. Her first urs is observed. ‘Abd al-Haqq is awarded the title: Amanat Khan. Shah Jahan arrives in Agra for the first ‘urs for Mumtaz. Mughal attack on Portuguese port of Hughli. 1633 Amanat Khan is promoted to rank of 1,100/100. 1634 Shah Jahan and Dara Shukoh visit Miyan Mir in April and October. 1635 Miyan Mir dies. 1635/6 The name and titles of Amanat Khan are inscribed in the interior of the mausoleum. Amanat Khan’s name and titles inscribed at Madrasa Shahi mosque. Shah Jahan departs for Deccan campaign, bypassing Burhanpur. Shah Jahan makes pilgrimage to Ajmer and inaugurates mosque there. 1636/7 Date is inscribed on exterior of Taj Mahal mausoleum (west door). Famine in Punjab. 1637 Shah Jahan honors Amanat Khan with gift of an elephant. 1638 Persian commander surrenders Qandahar to Mughals. 1638/9 The name and titles of Amanat Khan are inscribed a second time in the mausoleum’s interior. Jahangir’s mausoleum is finished in Lahore. 1639 Afzal Khan dies in Lahore and later interred in Agra. Shah Jahan honors Amanat Khan and his sons. Amanat Khan retires from his post at court. Work begins on his serai near Amritsar.

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Work begins on new capital at Shahjahanabad. Mumtaz Mahal’s mother dies in Lahore. 1640 Shah Jahan meets with Mulla Shah. 1640/1 Amanat Khan’s serai is completed. He makes his own copy of the Qur’an. 1641 Asaf Khan dies in Lahore. Amanat Khan designs calligraphy for his cenotaph in Lahore. 1642 Famine in Kashmir. 1643 The Taj Mahal complex is largely completed. The twelfth ‘urs of Mumtaz is observed. 1644/5 Amanat Khan dies and is buried near his serai. 1645 En route to Lahore, Shah Jahan makes camp near Amanat Khan’s serai. Shah Jahan, Dara Shikoh, and Jahanara meet with Mulla Shah. Nur Jahan dies in Lahore. 1646–7 Balkh campaign. 1647 Colophon on north façade of Taj Mahal gate indicates work is finished. Work begins on Moti Masjid at Agra Fort. 1648 Shahjahanabad Fort is formally inaugurated. Safavids retake Qandahar. 1649 Amanat Khan’s son Aquil Khan dies. Mughal campaign fails to recapture Qandahar. 1650 Work begins on the Jama Masjid in Shahjahanabad. 1652 Shah Jahan makes camp near Amanat Khan’s serai. Aurangzeb fails to recapture Qandahar. 1653 Dara Shikoh fails to recapture Qandahar. Work completed on Moti Masjid at Agra Fort. 1654 Shah Jahan and Dara Shukoh make pilgrimage to Ajmer. In Agra, they visit the Moti Masjid and the Taj Mahal. 1655 Shah Jahan celebrates his fifty-fifth lunar birthday (63 solar years) and names Dara Shukoh: Shah Buland Iqbal. 1656 The Jama Masjid in Shahjahanabad is augurated. 1657 Shah Jahan falls ill in Shahjahanabad, and within weeks, departs for Agra. Shah Shuja declares himself emperor in Bengal. Murad Bakhsh declares himself emperor in Gujarat. 1658 Dara Shukoh defeats Shah Shuja near Benares, but is defeated at Battle of Samurgarh by the armies of Aurangzeb and Murad Bakhsh. Shah Jahan surrenders to Aurangzeb on 19 June. Shah Jahan’s reign ends. Aurangzeb declares himself emperor Alamgir in Shahjahanabad. 1659 Dara Shikoh is captured and executed in Shahjahanabad. 1660 Shah Shuja flees to Burma and is killed there. 1661 Murad Bakhsh is executed at Gwalior. 1662 Dara Shikoh’s eldest son, Sulaiman Shukoh, is executed. 1666 Shah Jahan falls ill on 17 January, and dies on 31 January. Jahanara sees to his burial in the Taj Mahal on 1 February.

GLOSSARY adhān The Islamic call to prayer. ahl al-kitāb Lit., “the People of the Book,” a Qur’anic term for Jews, Christians and other people who have received divine revelaton. al-asmā’ al-ḥusnā The “beautiful names of God,” generally numbering ninety-nine, that appear in the Qur’an, and recited in devotional practice. āya (pl., āyāt) Lit., a “sign,” a verse of the Qur’an. barzakh Lit., “barrier,” it refers to the between bodily death and the resurrection. basmala The phrase that begins all but one sūrah of the Qur’an: “In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful.” caravanserai Also simply, serai. A rectangular enclosure found throughout Islamic lands that functioned as a guesthouse for caravans char bagh A walled garden generally divided into quarters divided by water channels and paved walkways. chauk A term used in South Asia to refer to an open court or square. chhajjā In architecture, an overhanging eave to protect against rain or sun. ḍamma A vowel marking in Arabic that designates a short “u.” dargah In South Asia, a shrine that features the tomb of a holy person. darwāza A gate or gateway. dhikr Lit., “remembrance;” signifies any Islamic devotional practice, particularly in Sufism. du’ā Intercessory Islamic prayer. fajr The dawn; the name of sūrah 86 in the Qur’an; also designates the first prayer of the day. faqīr Lit., “poor,” it is used in Sufism to refer to a mendicant, or one who is spiritually poor. farman (firman) A royal decree. fatwa A ruling or decree issued by a religious authority. ḥadīth (pl., aḥadīth) Lit., “tradition;” refers to sayings by the Prophet Muhammad. haldili A type of pendant, often inscribed with Qur’anic verses or prayers and worn as an amulet. ḥajj The pilgrimage to Mecca. ḥanīf A Qur’anic term that refers to a monotheist without a denominational designation. ḥarakāt Markings in Arabic that indicate short vowels. ḥijra Lit., “migration;” refers to the migration of the Muslim community from Mecca to Madinah in 622 CE, or year one of the Islamic calendar. Iblīs A Qur’anic name for Satan. i’jām Diacritic points in written Arabic that distinguish letters with the same basic shape. Injīl The Christian Gospel. jāli A perforated stone screen with carved ornamental design. jama A Mughal men’s garment comprising a fitted bodice with flaring skirt worn over trousers. Jannah The Garden of Paradise. jaziya (jizya) In Muslim societies, a tax imposed on non-Muslims who are exempt from paying zakat and serving in the military.

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Glossary

jigha A jeweled turban ornament. jilaukhana A place where the royal retinue gathered in front of a building. jharoka The window at which the emperor appeared to his subjects. Ka’ba The cubic shrine in Mecca which serves as the focus of Muslim worship. katar A dagger. khanqah A building that serves as gathering place for a Sufi ṭariqah. khuṭbah The Friday sermon delivered in congregational mosques. kun fa yakūn A Qur’anic phrase designating God’s creative utterance and meaning: “‘Be!’ and it is.” madrasa A school for religious instruction and study. mansab An indication of rank in the Mughal administration. See also: suwar and zat. maqṣūrah An enclosure in the prayer hall of a mosque where the emperor prayed. masnavi A Persian poetic form comprising rhyming couplets. mihman khana a guest house or assembly hall. mihrab the niche in a mosque that indicates qiblah. misbaḥah prayer beads used for Islamic devotions. mohur (muhr) A gold coin in Mughal currency. muqaṭṭa’at The disjointed letters that appear at the beginning of several sūrahs of the Qur’an. murshid a Sufi spiritual guide. mushrik/ūn/īn A Qur’anic term used to designate polytheists. naskh A calligraphic style noted for its clarity. nastaliq A calligraphic style used particularly for writing Persian and Urdu. patka A sash worn around the waist by Mughal men. pishtaq A monumental arched niche with a rectangular frame. purdah The practice of keeping (royal) women separate and hidden from public view. qiblah The direction to the Ka’ba in Mecca to which Muslims face in prayer. rak’a A complete cycle of the prescribed phrases and postures of Islamic prayer (ṣalāt). sabīl A public water fountain. ṣadaqah The general term for charitable acts. sajdah Prostration. sakīnah The “indwelling” of God’s spirit that conveys faith and tranquility. salām Peace. ṣalāt The ritual prayer required of Muslims five times daily. ṣāliḥāt A Qur’anic term designating righteous acts. sang-i moosa The black slate used as inlay for the Taj Mahal’s inscriptions. sarpech A type of turban ornament. ṣawm The term for Fasting. sayyid “Lord,” an honorific title designating descendants of Muhammad. serai See: caravanserai. shahādah The Muslim profession of faith: “I testify there is no god but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” shirk A Qur’anic term that meanings “sharing” and shurūq The rising of the sun over the horizon, and the end of fajr prayer. sujūd Prostration made during prayer (ṣalāt). sulus: see thuluth sunna The customs and habits of the Prophet Muhammad that Muslims use as a model for their own behavior. sūrah (pl., suwar) A chapter of the Qur’an.

Glossary

233

suwar A number indicating the number of horses the officer was expected to field for the emperor for military service tafsīr A commentary on the sūrahs of the Qur’an. tanwīn A grammatical indicator on indefinite nouns in Arabic consisting of -an, -in, or -un endings. ṭariqah Lit., “path.” Signifies a particular order of Sufis, such as the Chishti or Qadiri, etc. taqwā An important Qur’anic concept that signifies an individual’s awareness or consciousness of God. tashkīl In Arabic, diacritics that indicate vowels, absence of vowels, doubling of letters, pronunciation, etc., and include harakat and tanwīn. taslīm A ritualized form of greeting the emperor in which the right hand is lowered to the ground and then raised to the head. Tawrah The Qur’anic word for the Hebrew Torah. thuluth A decorative calligraphic style used particularly for monumental inscriptions. tuladan The ceremonial weighing of members of the royal family. “ulamā” The body of religious scholars. ummah The total community of Muslims. ‘umrah Pilgrimage to Mecca outside of the Hajj season. ‘urs The anniversary of a death and its commemoration. waḥdat al-wujūd A term used in Sufism meaning “the Oneness of existence.” waqf An endowment used for the maintenance of religious institutions and structures. wuḍū’ Ritual ablutions performed before prayer. Zabūr The qur’anic term for the Psalms. zakāt Alms-giving required of all Muslims. zamīnbūs A gesture of respect similar to the sajdah except the head was rested on the back of the hands rather than on the ground. zat A number that indicated one’s standing at the Mughal court zenana Designates quarters reserved for the women of a household. ziyarah A visit to a religious site or shrine.

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INDEX 1: PERSONS ‘Abbas I, Shah 12, 22, 30, 134, 138, 169 ‘Abd al-Hamid Lahori appointed chronicler 11 n. 31 Mumtaz Mahal’s death and burial 75, 111, 145, 187 Padshahnama 20 n. 66, 31–2, 60 n.6 Portuguese at Hughli 138 Shah Jahan’s prayer life 60, 160 Taj Mahal inscriptions 51–2 ‘Abd al-Ḥaqq Shirazi (Amanat Khan) accompanied Persian ambassador 31 Akbar’s funerary complex 14–17, 183 arrival in Mughal Empire 12–13 Asaf Khan’s cenotaph 49–51, 183 book seals 29–30 calligrapher of the Taj Mahal 33–43, 215 asmā’ al-husnā 183, 227 Colophons 78, 115, 142, 165, 175, 177 Sūrahs: al-Bayyinah 134 al-Ḍuḥā 197 al-Fajr 63, 74 al-Fatḥ 152 al-Infiṭār 115 al-Inshiqāq 124 al-Mulk 142 al-Shams 190–2, 197 al-Tīn 207 Yā Sīn 87–8 calligrapher under Jahangir 14 caravanserai 46–9 Chini ka Rauza 46, 80 death and burial 53 gap in historical record 17, 29 Jahangir’s cenotaph 40–1, 183 Madrasa Shahi Mosque 38–9, 152 Qur’an 49 retirement 44–53 sons: Faiz Allah 44, 53 ‘Inayat Allah (Aqil Khan) 29, 44, 53

titled Amanat Khan 30 Windsor Padshahnama 31–2 ‘Abd al-Malik, caliph 80, 94 ‘Abd al-Raḥīm (Khān Khānān) 14, 91 n. 24 Abraham (Ibrāhīm), prophet 42, 63, 136, 208 n. 3 Abu’l-Fazl 6–7, 71–2, 89–90, 98, 101, 170 Abu’l Hasan (Asaf Khan) 10, 20, 27, 29, 57 mausoleum and cenotaph 49–52, 183 supporter of Shah Jahan 23–5, 39 Windsor Padshahnama 31 Afzal Khan See ‘Allamī Mullā Shukrullah Shirāzī (Afzal Khan) Akbar 14, 89, 220 animal slaughter prohibited 98 astrology and astronomy 90–1 Burhanpur 13 death 8 family of Ghiyas Beg (I’timad uddawla) 10 funerary complex 15–17, 29, 33–5, 43, 74–5, 142, 183 prostration (sajdah) 131 relationship with Khurram (Shah Jahan) 3–9, 16, 160–1 religious views 4–8, 98, 119, 220 Tuladan 71–3 ‘urs 16 ‘Ali, ‘Abdullah Yusuf 109, 129, 208–9 ‘Ali ibn Abi Ṭālib 165–6, 170 ‘Ali Reza ‘Abbasi 12–15, 115, 192 ‘Allamī Mullā Shukrullah Shirāzī (Afzal Khan) arrival in the Mughal Empire 12–13 birth 53 career 14, 16–17, 19, 33, 44, 51 mausoleum (Chini ka Rauza) 43–6, 48, 50, 80 Shah Jahan supporter 22–4, 29 son: Mirza Muhammad 23, 29, 44 titled Afzal Khan 17 Windsor Padshahnama 31–2, 44

Index 1: Persons Amanat Khan See ‘Abd al-Ḥaqq Shirazi (Amanat Khan) Ambar, Malik 22, 28 Amir Fathullah Shirazi 90–1 Amir Khusrau Dehlavi 30, 222 Arjumand Banu Begum See Mumtaz Mahal Asaf Khan See Abu’l Hasan (Asaf Khan) Aurangzeb (Alamgir) 20, 23, 160, 190 Balkh campaign 216 execution of Dara Shukoh 21 n. 73, 226 Jizya (tax) 219 war of succession 73, 224–6 Babur 14, 26 Bada’uni, ‘Abd al-Qadir 5 n. 8–9 Bernier, François 73, 225 Chandar Bhan Brahman on: ‘Abd al-Haqq (Amanat Khan) and sons 46, 53 Shah Jahan 37, 60, 99, 160, 217–18 Daniyal (son of Akbar) 7, 23, 27, 132, 170 Dara Shukoh 20, 23, 27 n. 15, 160 n. 13, 222 birth 18 execution 21 n.73, 226 Qandahar campaign 216 sons 226 Sufism 216–19 war of succession 224–6 wife 226 Dawar Bakhsh (Bulaqi) 23–4, 131 Eliade, Mircea 129–30 Farhad Khan Qaramanlu 12–13 Fāṭimah bint Muhammad 165–6, 170 Ghiyas Beg See I‘timād ud-daula Hafiz 12, 30, 222 Hasan ibn ‘Ali 165–6, 170 Hawkins, William (Captain) 13–14 Hoshang 23, 132 Hūd, prophet 65–6 Humayun 8, 14, 34, 71 n. 42, 90, 141 n. 2 Husayn ibn ‘Ali 165–6, 170

249

Ibn ‘Arabi 6, 96, 118 ‘Inayat Khan 20–1, 24 n. 79, 26–7, 111 I‘timād ud-daula (Ghiyas Beg) 10–11, 20, 29, 80, 110 Jagat Gosā’īin (Jodh Bai) 3–4, 8, 19–20 Jahanara 23, 53 grave 18 Jama Masjid (Agra) 191 suffered burns 54, 72–3 Sufism 216–18 war of succession 225–7 Jahangir Ajmer 17–18 alcohol 7, 26–7, 169 arranged marriages of Khurram (Shah Jahan) 10–11 awards Khurram title of Shah Jahan 19, 25 conflict with Portuguese 138 death 23 death of granddaughter 110 employs ‘Abd al-Haqq Shirazi as calligrapher 14–17, 34, 183 forbids animal slaughter 98–9 forbids female infanticide marries Mihr al-Nisa (Nur Jahan) 11 mausoleum 39–41, 50 as Prince Salim, father of Khurram (Shah Jahan) 3–4, 10–11, 160 promotes ‘Allamī Mullā Shukrullah Shirāzī as Afzal Khan promotes Shah Jahan’s brothers 20–21 rebellion against Akbar 7–8 religious views 9, 98, 119, 161, 220 Shah Jahan’s rebellion 22–3, 25–6, 28–30, 44 sufis and Sufism 9 Tuladan (weighing) 72 Windsor Padshahnama 17, 19 Jami, ‘Abd al-Rahman 30, 221–3 Jesus (‘Īsā), prophet 102–3, 136, 149, 158, 208, 215 Kalim, poet 32, 61 Kanbo, Muhammad Salih 21, 72 Khadija bint Khuwaylid 200, 202 Khān Khānān See ‘Abd al-Raḥīm Khurram See Shah Jahan

250

Index 1: Persons

Khusrau 3, 7, 9, 11 death of 20–3, 131. 176 Lahori, ‘Abd al-Hamid See ‘Abd al-Hamid Lahori Makramat Khan 36, 199 Maneri, Sharafuddin Ahmad ibn Yahya 6–7, 96, 101–2, 195, 222 Manrique, Sebastien, friar 138–9 Maryam (Mary, mother of Jesus) 10, 102, 192 Maryam-uz-Zamani 3, 10, 37, 138 Mihr al-Nisa See Nur Jahan Miyan Mir 216–18, 222, 226 Moses (Mūsā), prophet 66, 113, 208, 215 in Qur’an 88, 156, 161, 204, 210, 223 Muhammad, prophet 3, 215, 219–20, 227 celebration of birth (mawlid) 27 adhān 125 al-‘Alaq 119 al-asmā’ al-ḥusnā 182 al-Bayyinah 135 al-Ḍuḥā 197–202 al-Fajr 62–5, 67–8 al-Fatḥ 151–6, 158–9, 162–4 al-Insān 166 al-Isrā’ 130 al-Mulk 142, 148–9 al-Shams 192 al-Sharḥ 203–4 al-Takwīr 106–7, 112–13 al-Tīn 210 shahādah 195 Yā Sīn 78, 80–1, 84–8, 97 Muhammad Amin Qazwini 10–11, 145, 157, 204 Muḥibbullah, Shaykh 219–20, 222 Mu’inuddin Chishti 17–18 Shah Jahan’s devotion to, 24, 27, 40–4, 60, 161, 182, 221–2 Mulla Shah Badakhshi 217–18 Mumtaz Mahal (Arjumand Banu Begum) authority 157–8 betrothal and marriage to Khurram (Shah Jahan) 10–11 children 18–20, 22–3, 27, 32, 110–11 See also Aurangzeb; Dara Shikoh; Jahanara; Murad Bakhsh; Shah Shuja

death and burial 32–3, 75, 138, 145, 177 epitaphs 181, 187 family of, 10 “illumined tomb” (Taj Mahal) cenotaphs 34, 40, 74, 87, 120, 141, 175–6, 179–87 planning and construction 33–40, 43–4, 46, 50–4 texts and commentary 57–75, 77–103, 105–13, 115–21, 123–39, 141–77, 179–87, 189–95, 197–205, 207–11 life during Shah Jahan’s rebellion 22–3 reburial in Agra 33, 73, 141, 187 ‘urs 33, 51–2, 54, 57–8, 60, 73, 139, 141 n. 1, 189–90, 199, 201 Murad 7, 27, 170 Murad Bakhsh 216, 224–6 Nas.ir-ud-Dīn Ṭūsī 169–70 Nizami Ganjavi 12, 30, 221–3 Noah (Nūḥ), prophet 65, 113 al-Tīn 208, 210–11 Hūd 127 Yā Sīn 91, 97 Nūḥ See Noah Nur Jahan (Mihr al-Nisa) authority 157 birth 110 builds: Jahangir’s mausoleum 39–40 parents’ mausoleum 29, 34, 80 plots against Shah Jahan 20–3 taken to Agra 11 under house arrest 23 Parvez 3, 7, 18, 28, 30 death 23, 27, 170 promoted 20–3 Pelsaert, Francisco 21, 99 n. 44 Pharaoh (Qur’an) al-‘Ankabūt 210 al-Fajr 62, 64–7, 74, 194 al-Qas.as. 88 Ṭā Hā 204 Qasim Shirazi 12, 29–30 Qazwini, Muhammad Amin See Muhammad Amin Qazwini

Index 1: Persons Qutb, Sayyid 63, 68, 81, 203 n. 2 Rana Amar Singh (of Mewar) 7, 17 Sa’di 12, 30, 201, 221–2 S.āliḥ, prophet 65–6, 194–5 Salim See Jahangir Sayyid Muhammad Qannauji, Mir 218–19, 226–7 Shah Jahan astrology 91 beard 25–6 betrothal and marriage to Arjumand Banu Begum 10–11 (see also Mumtaz Mahal) birth and childhood 3–10 (see also Jagat Gosā’īin (Jodh Bai)) charity 70–4, 93, 100, 201 children 18–20, 22–3, 27, 32, 110–111 (see also Aurangzeb; Dara Shikoh; Jahanara; Murad Bakhsh; Shah Shuja) Christianity 7, 138–9 custody of Khusrau 20–2 death and burial 226–7 education 6–7 execution of rivals 23, 132 family opposition to 20–3, 224–6 grief over Mumtaz 32–3, 57, 70, 138, 145, 153, 204–5 hindus and Hinduism 91, 99–101, 119, 219

251

military campaigns 17–20, 26, 30, 33, 216 mosques of (see Mosques) named: Khurram 4 Sha Jahan 19 “orthodoxy” 6 n. 15, 25–7, 99, 131, 220 prayer practices 8, 42, 44, 57, 60, 160–1, 182, 189, 204–5, 220, 226 rebellions against his rule 28 rebellion against Jahangir 22–3 relationship with Akbar 3–9, 16, 160–1 religious views 215–24 sufis and Sufism 6–7, 18, 215–24 (See also Mu’inuddin Chishti) supervises Taj Mahal design 36–7 wine consumption 26–7, 170 wives: Izz al-Nisa Begum 19 Qandahari Begum 11 Shah Shuja 20, 23, 224–6 Shahriyar 21, 23 Shaysta Khan 24, 225 Shivaji Bhonsale 219–20 Ṭabāṭabā’ī, Mirza Jalala, chronicler 57 n. 2, 73 Tawakkul Beg Kaulabi 217–8 Zamakhsharī al-, Jar Allah 63 Tafsīr on: al-Insān 165–6, 169; al-Mulk 142; al-Zumar 175 n. 1, 177; alTakwīr 109; Yā Sīn 78–80

2. GENERAL INDEX ablutions (wuḍū’) 60–1, 90 ‘Ād (People) 62, 65, 67, 194 Agra See Chini ka Rauza; Taj Mahal; Mosques Agra Fort 43–4, 60, 161, 189, 224–5 Shah Jahan confined in 73, 160, 226–7 Ahmednagar 7, 22, 28, 30, 70 Ajmer See Mosques – Shah Jahan; Mu’inuddin Chishti Akbarnama 5, 71 n. 41 alcohol See wine Allāh See God Allahabad 7, 20, 219 Almsgiving (zakāt) 39, 69–70, 92, 134–8 Mumtaz Mahal 158 See also charity; Shah Jahan – charity Amritsar 39, 46–7, 50, 216 n. 2 angels (Qur’an) al-Fajr 62, 67, 69, 74, 78 al-Fus.s.ilat 180–1 al-Inshiqāq 130 al-Mulk 141 al-Ra’d 162 al-Tīn 209 Yā Sīn 95 Arabs 100–1, 108, 135, 154 arrogance (Qur’an) 65–7, 74, 194 astrolabe 90–1 astrology / astronomy 90–1 Balkh 28, 216 Barzakh 58 Basmala 50, 58, 151, 175, 190, 203 Bengal 11, 63, 138, 216, 224–5 birds 144, 147, 149, 166 brocade 167, 172 buddhists and Buddhism 97, 159, 209 Burhanpur 13–14, 17, 21–4, 30–1, 70 Mumtaz Mahal 19, 32–4, 73, 187

call to prayer (adhān) 125, 194 calligraphy See also ‘Abd al-Haqq (Amanat Khan) naskh 37, 49 nastaliq 183 thuluth 15, 35, 58, 183 camphor (kāfūr) 167–70, 172 caravanserai 70, 157 Amanat Khan 39, 46–50, 53–4 cenotaphs Amanat Khan 53 Asaf Khan 50–52 Jahangir 34, 40–1 Mumtaz 34, 40, 74, 87, 120, 141, 175–6, 179–87, 197, 222, 224 Shah Jahan 141, 227 charity 171, 192, 201 See also almsgiving (zakat), Tuludan Chini ka Rauza (Afzal Khan’s tomb) 44–6 christians and Christianity See also people of the book beatific vision 127 morning light 200 sevenfold heaven 145 european 7, 219 Qur’an 112, 130–1, 135–139, 164, 208 Rosary 159 colophons ‘Abd al-Haqq (Amanat Khan) Akbar’s gateway 15–16 Shai Madrasa Mosque 39 Taj Mahal 37–8, 43–4, 52, 78–9, 115, 141–2, 165, 175, 177, 190, 197, 211 cows 98–100 creation (Qur’an) al-Baqarah 65, 67 Hūd 68 al-Infiṭār 119–20 al-Insān 173 al-Kahf 68

2. General Index al-Mulk 142–6, 149 Yā Sīn 84, 89, 95, 97, 102–3 dawn (fajr) 61, 63–4, 128 death (Qur’an) al-Ḍuḥā 199 al-Fajr 61, 64 al-‘Imrān 183, 187 al-Insān 68 al-Inshiqāq 128–9 al-Mulk 143–5 al-Rūm 87 al-Takwīr 109, 113 angel of death 78 Barzakh 58 God as al-Mumit 87, 182, 186, 215 Yā Sīn 90 deccan 157, 224 campaigns in 7, 13–14, 18–23, 26, 28–30, 33, 216 Delhi (Shahjahanabad) 4, 54, 218 Chishti sufism 17–18 Humayun’s tomb 14, 34 Jama Masjid 60, 161, 176 sultanate structures 79, 152 Delhi sultanate 179, 195 depravity (fujūr) 193–4 Dhikr See remember/remembrance Dhu al-Ḥijjah 63–4 dome of the rock 80, 94, 141 Du‘ā’ 92, 128 Earth (Qur’an) al-Baqarah 65 al-Fajr 62, 68–9 al-Fatḥ 153–4, 159 al-Insān 170, 172 al-Inshiqāq 124–6, 128 al-Mulk 143–6, 148–9 al-Nūr 61, 67, 147 al-Rūm 87 al-Shams 193–4 al-Takwīr 108, 117 Yā Sīn 82, 84, 89–90, 95, 97, 102 eden See paradise end time See judgement, day of exceed limits / transgress (ṭaghā) 62, 66–7, 176, 183, 194 exodus 66, 88

253

famine 70–1, 89, 93, 99, 201, 215 fasting (sawm) 71, 90, 92, 157, 220 Fatehpur Sikri 4–5, 7, 161 fig 207–9 flood, the 91, 95, 210 Gabriel, angel See Jibrīl ginger (zanjabīl) 167, 172 Goa 7, 138–9 God (Allāh) 61 cenotaph inscriptions 180–7 in Qur’an al-Bayyinah 134–7 al-Ḍuḥā 198–202 al-Fajr 63–9, 74–5, 77 al-Fatḥ 152–9, 162–4 al-Ikhlās. 195 al-Infiṭār 115, 121 al-Insān 165–74 al-Inshiqāq 124–31 al-Mulk 141–50 al-Shams 192–5 al-Sharḥ 203–5 al-Takwīr 106–7, 109–13 al-Tīn 207–11 al-Zumar 175–7 Yā Sīn 78, 80–97, 100–3 Shah Jahan’s belief in 215–4, 227 gospel (Injīl) end time 149 hypocrites 158 in the Qur’an 135, 155, 164, 173, 208–9 gratitude/ingratitude 68, 74, 89, 100, 168, 200 Gujarat 10, 70, 79, 138, 224–5 Gwalior 10, 20, 28, 226 ḥadīth al-Fajr 63–4 al-Ikhlās. 195 al-Infiṭār 116 al-Inshiqāq 123 al-Mulk 142 al-Takwīr 106 al-Tīn 207 Yā Sīn 78, 80 re: al-asmā’ al-ḥusnā 182–3; angels 120 mercy 95; mosques 49 Sayyid Muhammad Qannauji 226

254

2. General Index

Ḥajj See pilgrimage Ḥanīf (pl., ḥunafā) 136 Heart al-Fatḥ 153–6, 162–3 al-Insān 168 al-Mulk 143–4, 146 al-Sharḥ 203–4 heavens (sky) al-Fatḥ 153–4, 159 al-Infiṭār 116–17 al-Inshiqāq 124–6, 129 al-Mulk 143–5, 147, 149 al-Shams 193–4 al-Takwīr 106–8, 111 Yā Sīn 84, 102 hell and hellfire (Qur’an) cenotaphs 180, 183 al-Bayyinah 134, 137 al-Fajr 62, 69 al-Fatḥ 153–4, 158 al-Infiṭār 121 al-Insān 167–8 al-Inshiqāq 125, 127–8 al-Mulk 143, 146 al-Takwīr 107, 111–12, 117 al-Zumar 175 Yā Sīn 84, 86–7, 95–6 Hijra 3, 135, 151, 159 See also Shah Jahan – hindus and Hinduism 5, 9, 90, 97–8, 119–21, 123–39, 141–77, 179–87, 189–95, 197–200 See also Chandar Bhan Brahman; tuladan camphor 170 prayer beads 159 prostration 131 Ḥudaybiya 152–3, 156, 158, 163–4 Hughli 138–9 humanity al-Baqara 181 al-Ḍuḥā 201 al-Fajr 62, 64–5, 67–9, 74 al-Infiṭār 117–20 al-Insān 165–6, 168, 173 al-Inshiqāq 124, 126–30 al-Mulk 145–8 al-Shams 194 al-Tīn 208–10

al-Zumar 176–7 Yā Sīn 77, 80–1, 84–5, 89, 92–3, 95–7, 100, 102 hypocrites 153, 158, 162 Iblīs See Shayṭān idolatry See polytheists and Polytheism infanticide 109–10 Israelites 66, 135 jains and Jainism 97–8, 131 Jannah See paradise Jerusalem 80, 94, 151, 192, 208 Jesuits 7, 138 jews and Judaism See people of the book Jibrīl, angel (Gabriel) 106, 112–13, 166 Jizya (jaziya) 219–20 judgement, day of (Qur’an) al-Fajr 61, 69, 74–5 al-Fatḥ 156, 158, 163 al-Infiṭār 115–18, 120–1 al-Insān 167, 170–1, 174 al-Inshiqāq 125–8 al-Mulk 141 al-Shams 192 al-Takwīr 106–9, 111–12 al-Tīn 208, 210–11 Yā Sīn 80, 92–5 Ka’ba 42–3, 63, 151–2, 163–4, 208 Kabul 4, 28, 53–4, 160 Kashmir Akbar 4 famine 70, 100 Jahangir and Nur Jahan 22–3, 39, 110 Shah Jahan 54, 216–18 Khizr (al-Khiḍr) 161, 223–4 Lahore See also Abu’l Hasan – mausoleum and cenotaph; Jahangir – death and mausoleum Amanat Khan in 40, 44, 190–1 famine 70–1, 99 Shah Jahan and 4, 7, 10–11, 51, 60, 91, 161, 216, 218 Shah Jahan’s sons in 23–4, 27, 29 late Shah Jahan Album 8, 44 n. 54, 220–2 love

2. General Index for God 69, 167, 170–1, 221 for Muhammad 200 between priests, monks and believers 130 for wealth 62, 118–19, 167 Mandu 19, 22–3 Mecca See pilgrimage; Ka’ba Medina 71, 135, 151–2, 156, 158 Meena bazaar (Lahore) 10–11 mercy (Qur’an) cenotaph inscriptions 179–81, 183–4, 187 al-Fatḥ 155, 163 al-Insān 167, 174 al-Inshiqāq 127 al-Mulk 144, 149 al-Takwīr 111 al-Zumar 175–7 Hūd 211 Yā Sīn 83, 85, 87, 92, 95–7 messengers (Qur’an) al-An‘ām 118, 159 al-Baqarah 69, 171 al-Fatḥ 159 al-Takwīr 113 Yā Sīn 81–3, 85–90, 92, 94, 97 Mewar 7, 17–18, 20, 29, 42 Misbaḥah / subḥa (prayer beads) 8, 93, 159–61, 182, 220, 224 moon (Qur’an) al-Ḥajj 126 al-Inshiqāq 125–6, 128–30 al-Mulk 145 al-Qiyāmah 108 al-Shams 192–4 Yā Sīn 83, 90–1 mosques Amanat Khan serai 46, 49 Jahanara 43, 191, 195, 218 Lutfallah Mosque (Isfahan) 12, 34, 115, 134, 138, 192 Madrasa Shahi Mosque (Agra) 38–9, 152 Shah Jahan: Ajmer 18, 24, 27, 40–4, 60, 161, 182, 221–2 Jama Masjid (Delhi) 43, 60, 161–2, 176

255

Lahore 161 Mina Masjid (Agra) 43–4, 60, 161, 225 Moti Masjid (Agra) 43, 60, 161, 224 Taj Mahal (Agra) 189–95 Thatta 162 Mount Sinai 207–8 Mysticism See sufis and Sufism names of god (al-asmā al-ḥusnā) 42, 50, 87, 182–6, 93, 224 Nauroz 10, 54 night (Qur’an) al-Ḍuḥā 199–200 al-Fajr 60–5 al-Insān 162 al-Inshiqāq 125, 128–30, 137 al-Shams 193–4 al-Takwīr 107–8, 112 oaths (Qur’an) al-Ḍuḥā 199–200 al-Fajr 63–5 al-Fatḥ 163 al-Inshiqāq 124 al-Shams 192–4 al-Sharḥ 203 al-Takwīr 112 al-Tīn 207–9 Yā Sīn olives 207–8 orphan 215 al-Baqara 135 al-Ḍuḥā 199–202 al-Fajr 62, 68–9, 74 al-Insān 166–7, 170–1 Yā Sīn 93 ottomans 9, 30, 71 n. 38, 80, 138, 157, 169, 192 Padshahnama Kalim 61 Lahori 17, 19, 25–6, 44, 51, 60 n. 6, 138, 222–4 paradise (Qur’an) Āl ‘Imrān 187 al-Bayyinah 134–5, 137–9 al-Fajr 58–60, 74–5

256

2. General Index

al-Fatḥ 153, 156 Fus.s.ilat 181 al-Insān 165–6, 168–70, 172–3 al-Inshiqāq 127 al-Mulk 145 al-Ra’d 162 al-Takwīr 107, 111–12 al-Zumar 175–6 Yā Sīn 77, 81, 86, 88, 95 peace (Qur’an) al-Fajr 62, 74–5 al-Fatḥ 152–3, 156, 162 al-Zumar 93 Yā Sīn 80, 83, 94–5 Yūnus 128, 145 pearls (Qur’an) 167, 171–2 people of the book See also christians and Christianity 130, 134–5, 137, 139 pilgrimage Ḥajj 63–4, 67, 92 ‘Umrah 152, 164 planets 107, 112, 145–6 pleased (raḍiya/raḍī) al-Bayyinah 135, 137 al-Ḍuḥā 199–200 al-Fajr 62, 75–5 polytheists and Polytheism 100–2, 109, 134–7, 158 poor, the (Qur’an) See also almsgiving (zakat); charity; Tuludan al-Bayyinah 135–7 al-Ḍuḥā 200–1 al-Fajr 62, 68–74 al-Insān 165–7, 170–1 al-Mulk 149 Yā Sīn 77, 93 Portuguese 7, 13, 138–9, 216 prayer (s.alāt) See also index 1: Shah Jahan – prayer practices al-Fajr 60 al-Bayyinah 134–8 al-Fatḥ 151, 155, 159–60 al-Infiṭār 120 al-Inshiqāq 125–8, 131 al-Shams 193–5 al-Takwīr 106 Yā Sīn 90, 92 prophets (Qur’an) See also names of individual prophets

al-Bayyinah 135 al-Fajr 61, 67 al-Inshiqāq 130 al-Mulk 146 al-Takwīr 113 al-Tīn 208, 210 Yā Sīn 85, 87, 92–4 prostration (sajdah) Āl ‘Imrān 137 al-Fatḥ 152, 155, 159 al-Insān 167 al-Inshiqāq 125, 130–2 Punjab 28, 70, 99, 225 Qandahar 4, 11, 22, 30–1, 110, 216, 226 Qur’an See index 3: Qur’anic citations Quraysh (tribe) 149, 152, 156, 158–9, 164 Ramaḍān 64, 71, 73 remember/remembrance of God (dhakara/dhikr) 62, 92, 102, 157, 167, 173 217 repentance 6, 67, 92, 95, 163, 177, 222 resurrection 58, 61 Āl ‘Imrān 183 al-Ḍuḥā 198–9 al-Fajr 63 al-Infiṭār 116–7 al-Inshiqāq 123, 129 al-Mulk 143, 146 al-Takwīr 106, 108–9 Yā Sīn 80–81, 94 reward (Qur’an) Āl ‘Imrān 183, 187 al-Aḥzāb 157 al-Baqarah 112, 136 al-Bayyinah 134–5 al-Fajr 68 al-Fatḥ 153–5, 162–4 al-Insān 166–7, 169, 171, 173 al-Inshiqāq 125, 132 al-Kahf 150 al-Mulk 143, 146 al-Tīn 207–8, 210 Yā Sīn 78, 81–2, 86–7, 94 righteous and righteousness (Qur’an) cenotaph inscriptions 180–1, 7 al-An‘ām 159 al-Baqarah 69, 112, 136

2. General Index al-Bayyinah 134–5, 137–8 al-Fajr 68, 74 al-Fatḥ 152, 155–7, 164 al-Infiṭār 116–7, 120–1 al-Insān 165–74 al-Inshiqāq 124–5, 127–8, 132 al-Mā’idah 130 al-Ra’d 162 al-Takwīr 112 al-Tīn 208, 210 al-Zumar 176 Yā Sīn 81, 85, 87, 92, 94–5 Safavid Empire 4, 10–12, 14, 22, 110, 157, 169 Shah Jahan and 28, 30–1, 216, 226 Sakīnah 156, 163–4 satan (Shayṭān/Iblīs) al-Infiṭār 118 al-Inshiqāq 128 al-Mulk 143, 145, 148 al-Takwīr 107, 113 Yā Sīn 84, 89, 95 seas 106, 108, 117–18 Shah Jahan Nama See index 1: ‘Inayat Khan Shahjahanabad See Delhi (Shahjahanabad) Shayṭān See satan Shirk See Polytheism and polytheists signs (Qur’an) al-Bayyinah 137 al-Fajr 61, 65, 72 al-Infiṭār 118 al-Inshiqāq 130 al-Mulk 145–9 al-Rūm 87 Yā Sīn 81, 83, 85–6, 89–90, 92, 5 sikhs and Sikhism 131, 159, 200, 216 n. 2 silk 166–7, 171–2 sins and sinners (Qur’an) al-Fajr 63 al-Fatḥ 153, 156 al-Insān 167, 173 al-Inshiqāq 128 al-Mulk 143 al-Zumar 175–7, 183 Yā Sīn 78, 80–1, 84–5, 87, 95 sky (Qur’an) al-Infiṭār 116–17 al-Inshiqāq 124–5, 129

257

al-Mulk 145 al-Shams 193–4 al-Takwīr 107–8, 111 solstices 198–9 stars 106, 108, 117–18, 145–6, 149 straight path (Qur’an) al-Bayyinah 135 al-Fatḥ 153–4, 156, 163 Fus.s.ilat 180–1 al-Mulk 144, 148 al-Shūrā 200–201 al-Takwīr 107, 113 Yā Sīn 81, 84–5, 95 Yūnus 128 sufis and Sufism See also names of individuals; and waḥdat al–wujūd Amanat Khan and 37 Asceticism 118–19 chishti 17–18 (see also index 1: Mu’inuddin Chisti) Jahangir and 9 misbaḥah 182 Naqshabandi 6 Qadiri 18, 216, 218, 222 Rumi 217 Shah Jahan and 6–7, 27, 42, 101, 161, 217, 220–4 wine 170 Sun (Qur’an) al-Fajr 60–1 al-Infiṭār 116 al-Inshiqāq 128–9 al-Shams 192–4, 198 al-Takwīr 106, 108 Taj Mahal cenotaphs 179–87 construction of 33–40, 51–3 garden 58, 60, 73, 75, 77, 137, 156, 198–9 Great Gate 58–75, 197–205, 207–11 Jilaukhana 57–8 mausoleum 77–103, 105–13, 115–21, 123–39, 141–77 Mihman Khana 189–90 mosque 189–95 solar orientation 198–9 Taqwā (Qur’an) 92–3, 155, 164, 168, 175, 192, 194

258

2. General Index

Taslīm 20, 31, 44, 131, 159 Thamūd (Qur’an) 62, 65–7, 74, 192–5 Torah (Tawrah) 135, 173 Tuludan 71–3, 201 unbelievers (kāfirūn/īn) 81, 83, 86, 93, 97, 125, 155, 180 Waḥdat al-wujūd 6–7, 18 n. 57, 102, 216, 219–20, 222 Waqf 73, 201 warning (nadhara) and warners (Qur’an) al-Infiṭār 118

al-Mulk 143–4, 146, 149 al-Fatḥ 154, 159 Yā Sīn 81, 84–7, 95, 97 wicked, the See sins and sinners wine 23, 26–7, 169–70 women See also names of specific women 153, 155–7, 161 worldly life 118–19, 183, 217 Yamuna River 33, 44, 54, 92, 123, 139 youths, immortal 167, 172 Zakat See Almsgiving (zakat)

3. QUR’ANIC CITATIONS al-Fātiḥa 1.4

210

al-Baqara 2.27 2.28 2.30 2.34 2.43 2.45–46 2.62 2.83 2.86 2.117 2.144 2.155–156 2.164 2.177 2.219 2.220 2.223 2.255 2.272 2.277 2.285 2.286

67 144–5 67 209 136 127 112 135 118 102 151 68 63, 65 69, 74, 171 169 227 127 38 171 136 74 180–1, 187

Āl ‘Imrān 3.26 144 3.47 102, 103 3.59 103 3.67 136 3.113 130, 137 3.154 67 3.185  40, 50–1, 118, 182–3, 187 3.199 137 al-Mā’idah 5.15 5.17–18 5.32–34

61 144 67

5.40 5.74 5.83–84 5.90–91 5.120

144 177 130 169 144

al-An‘ām 6.10 6.32 6.48 6.54 6.70 6.73 6.125 6.130 6.137 6.143–144 6.151

89 146 159 177 118 102 204 118 109 97 110

al-A‘rāf 7.11 7.17 7.22 7.51 7.73 7.78 7.180

95, 209 89 118 118 195 66 182

al-Tawbah 9.26 9.40 9.118

156 156 177

al-Yūnus 10.1 10.25 10.105

85 128, 145 136

Hūd 11.3 163 11.7 168 11.25–48  92, 127, 210–11

3. Qur’anic citations

260 11.53 11.61 11.63, 88

135 195 135

al-Ra‘d 13.11 13.20 13.22–25

120 162 67, 74, 162

Ibrāhīm 14.1, 5 14.22

61 128

al-Hijr 15.11 15.16–17

89 145

al-Naḥl 16.6–7 16.32 16.36 16.59 16.79

97 74 86 110 147

al-Isrā’ 17.31 17.44 17.105–109

110 126 130

al-Kahf 18.7 18.16 18.31–34 18.37 18.40–41 18.44 18.49 18.65

68 111 149, 172 119 149 150 111 161

Maryam 19.31–32, 51–55

136

Ṭā Hā 20.2428, 43, 45 20.81

66 67

al-Anbiyā’ 21.25 21.33–34

100 129

21.35 21.41 21.48

187 89 135

al-Ḥajj 22.11 22.18 22.23 22.26 22.63

67 126 171 152 172

al-Mu’minūn 23.23–30 92 23.97–98 145 23.118 40, 182–4, 187 al-Nūr 24.35 24.41

61 147

al-Furqān 25.13–14 25.47

127 61

al-Shu‘arā 26.105–121 26.221–223

92 145

al-Naml 27.45

195

al-Qas.as. 28.20 28.46 28.77 28.88

88 208 67 6, 128

al-‘Ankabūt 29.38–39 29.46 29.57 29.64

210 137 187 146

al-Rūm 30.19, 24 30.30 30.38–39 30.50

87 136 171 87

3. Qur’anic citations

261

al-Luqmān 31.2 31.28–29 31.33

85 129 118

al-Fatḥ 48.1–29 48.24 48.27–29

151–64 67 38

al-Sajdah 32.7–9

119

al-Ḥujurāt 49.13

93

al-Aḥzāb 33.12–13 33.35

158 157

al-Ṭūr 52.6

108

Fāṭir 35.5 35.33

118 171

al-Najm 53.1–11

112

Yā Sīn 36.1–83

77–103

al-Raḥmān 55.26–27 55.37 55.76

6 125 172

S.ād 38.12 38.71–72

66 119

al-Wāqi‘ah 56.7

109

al-Ḥadīd 57.9 57.14, 20

61 118

al-Hashr 59.22 59.24

40, 50, 52, 181–4 120

al-S.aff 61.12–13

156, 169

al-Jumu‘ah 62.9–11

38

al-Taghābun 64.3

120

al-Ṭalāq 65.7

204

al-Mulk 67.1–30

141–50

al-Zumar 39.5 108 39.22 204 39.42 109 39.53–54  40, 50–1, 175–7, 181–3, 187 39.73 74, 93 al-Ghāfir 40.7–8 40.39 40.64 40.70–72

74, 180–1 146 120 86

al-Fus.s.ilat 41.30

180–1

al-Shūrā 42.28 42.52

11, 176 200–1

al-Zukhruf 43.5–7

88–9

al-Ḥaqqah 69.15–16

125

Muḥammad 47.15

169

Nūḥ 71.13–18

129, 145

3. Qur’anic citations

262 al-Muzzammil 73.14–16

66

al-Qiyāmah 75.9 75.38

108 119

al-Insān 76.1–31 76.2 76.25 76.29

al-Fajr 89.1–30 89.15–16 89.17–20 89.21 89.24 89.28

57–75 168 201 94 87 103, 145, 200

165–74 68 193 181

al-Shams 91.1–15

189–95

al-Mursalāt 77.10

al-Ḍuḥā 93.1–11

197–202

108

al-Nabā’ 78.8

al-Sharḥ 94.1–8

203–5

64

al-Takwīr 81.1–29

al-Tīn 95.1–8

207–11

105–13

al-Infiṭār 82.1–19

115–21

al-‘Alaq 96.1–5 96.6–7

119, 168 67

al-Bayyinah 98.1–8

133–9

al-Zalzalah 99.1–2

126

al-Muṭaffifīn 83.22–28  121, 180–1 al-Inshiqāq 84.1–25 84.15

123–32 67

al-‘Ādiyāt 100.9

118

al-Burūj 85.17–18

66

al-Mā‘ūn 107

68

al-A’lā 87.14–15

194

al-Ikhlās. 112.1–4

190, 195

Plate 1  Mumtaz Mahal. From the Dara Shukoh Album, attributed to Bishn Das, 1631–3. © British Library Board, London (BL Add.Or.3129, f. 34).

Plate 2  Prince Khurram (Shah Jahan) at age twenty-five. Nadir al-Zaman, c. 1615. © Victoria and Albert Museum. (IM. 14–1925)

Plate 3  Shah Jahan, c. 1630. Hashim, active 1598–c.1650. 5.4 x 3.7 cm. Cleveland Museum of Art, gift of J.H. Wade 1920.1969. Reproduced by kind permission of the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Plate 4  The mausoleum of the Taj Mahal. Author’s Photograph.

Plate 5  Moti Masjid, Agra Fort. 1647–53. Author’s Photograph with permission of the Archaeological Survey of India, Agra Circle.

Plate 6  Jami’ Masjid, Shahjahanabad, Delhi. 1650–6. Author’s photograph.

Plate 7  Shah Jahan Receives a Persian Ambassador, c. 1640; attributed to Payag. Courtesy of the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford (MS. Ouseley Add. 173. F. 13v). Detail.

Plate 8  View of the Taj Mahal complex to the north, with the forecourt (jilaukhana), the Great Gate, Paradise Garden, Mausoleum, mosque and guest house (mihman khana) to the left and right of the mausoleum respectively. Courtesy iStock.

Plate 9  Taj Mahal mausoleum, north façade. Sūrah Yā Sīn 36.45 ff.

Plate 10  Taj Mahal mausoleum, central chamber, with inscriptions. Courtesy iStock.

Plate 11  Taj Mahal Mosque, mihrab. Author’s collection.

Plate 12  Taj Mahal. Great Gate, north façade. The beginning of surah al-Ḍuḥā. Author’s collection.

Plate 13  Taj Mahal, Great Gate, north façade. The end of surah al-Tīn and colophon: “Finished with His Help, the Most High, 1057” (1647/48 CE). Author’s collection.

Plate 14  Mullah Shah and Mian Mir on a Terrace, c. 1630s. Opaque watercolor on paper. Yale University Art Gallery. The Vera M. and John D. MacDonald, B.A. 1927, Collection, Gift of Mrs. John D. MacDonald. 2001.138.59.

Plate 15  Shah Jahan holding a jeweled sarpesh, c. 1655. 23.4 x 14 cm. © Bodleian Library (MS. Douce Or.a.3, f. 1r).

Plate 16  The Shah Burj at Agra Fort wherever Shah Jahan lived under house arrest from June 1658 until his death in January 1666. The Taj Mahal can be seen in the distance. Author’s photograph.