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How did Aurangzeb's reign affect the religious dynamics of the Mughal Empire?

Aurangzeb's reign significantly intensified religious tensions in the Mughal Empire due to his strict Sunni Islamic policies.

Aurangzeb, the sixth Mughal Emperor, ruled from 1658 to 1707. His reign marked a significant shift in the religious dynamics of the Mughal Empire. Unlike his predecessors, who were known for their policy of religious tolerance and syncretism, Aurangzeb was a devout Sunni Muslim and implemented policies that reflected his religious beliefs. This led to a significant increase in religious tensions within the empire.

Aurangzeb's policies were a stark departure from the inclusive approach of his predecessors, particularly Akbar, who had introduced the policy of 'Sulh-i-Kul' or 'peace with all'. This policy promoted tolerance and respect for all religions within the empire. However, Aurangzeb reversed many of these policies, imposing the Jizya tax on non-Muslims, which had been abolished by Akbar. He also enforced Islamic law (Sharia) more strictly, leading to the destruction of Hindu temples and the construction of mosques in their place. These actions not only alienated the Hindu majority but also other religious minorities within the empire.

Aurangzeb's reign also saw a rise in religiously motivated rebellions. The most notable of these was the Sikh rebellion led by Guru Tegh Bahadur and later by his son, Guru Gobind Singh. The Marathas, under the leadership of Shivaji, also rose in rebellion against Aurangzeb's religious policies. These rebellions were a direct result of the religious intolerance and persecution under Aurangzeb's rule.

Furthermore, Aurangzeb's religious policies also had a significant impact on the administrative and military structures of the Mughal Empire. He purged the administration and military of non-Muslims, replacing them with Muslims. This not only led to a decline in the efficiency and effectiveness of the administration and military but also further alienated the non-Muslim population.

In conclusion, Aurangzeb's reign marked a significant shift in the religious dynamics of the Mughal Empire. His strict Sunni Islamic policies led to increased religious tensions, rebellions, and a decline in the efficiency of the administration and military. His reign is often seen as the beginning of the decline of the Mughal Empire.

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