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How did the Mughal Empire's religious policies change over time?

The Mughal Empire's religious policies evolved from initial tolerance and syncretism to later periods of intolerance and persecution.

The Mughal Empire, established in 1526, was characterised by its diverse religious landscape, with the ruling class being predominantly Muslim and the majority of the population being Hindu. The early Mughal emperors, particularly Akbar, adopted a policy of religious tolerance and syncretism. Akbar abolished the jizya (a tax on non-Muslims) and encouraged interfaith dialogue, even creating a new syncretic faith, Din-i-Ilahi, which combined elements of Islam, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, and Christianity. His policies aimed to foster unity among his diverse subjects and consolidate his rule.

However, this policy of tolerance and syncretism did not continue uniformly throughout the Mughal Empire's history. Akbar's successors, particularly Aurangzeb, implemented policies that were markedly less tolerant. Aurangzeb reinstated the jizya and implemented a series of orthodox Islamic laws, leading to a period of religious intolerance and persecution. He destroyed many Hindu temples and imposed restrictions on non-Muslim religious practices, leading to widespread discontent and rebellion among his subjects.

The shift in religious policy under Aurangzeb can be attributed to his personal religious beliefs and his political ambitions. He was a devout Muslim and believed in the supremacy of Islam, which was reflected in his policies. Moreover, he used religion as a tool to consolidate his power and control over his diverse and vast empire. His policies, however, led to the alienation of his non-Muslim subjects and contributed to the decline of the Mughal Empire.

In conclusion, the Mughal Empire's religious policies underwent significant changes over time, reflecting the personal beliefs and political strategies of the emperors. The initial policy of tolerance and syncretism gave way to a period of intolerance and persecution, leading to social unrest and contributing to the decline of the empire.

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