At the turn of the 15th century, the great warrior Timur Leng (d. 807/1405) ruled over a wide area stretching from Central Asia to Anatolia. However, upon his death, the political union he established quickly split into various statelets due to internal strife among the members of the dynasty. In fact, the heart of the empire -Samarkand, fell to the Uzbeks. While all this was going on, one of Timur’s grandchildren was going to establish another influential empire on the Indian subcontinent that would establish a Muslim reign of more than three centuries. The name of the person who built this empire is Babur.
Zahiruddin Muhammed Babur, known as Babur Shah, was born in 1483 as the son of Ömer Sheikh, a third-generation descendant of Timur and the leader of Ferghana, a region in present-day Uzbekistan. After his father died in 1494, Babur ascended to his throne at an early age. However, like other rulers of his time, he adopted an expansionist policy intending to take Samarkand, where his ancestors ruled.
Babur Shah tried to capture Samarkand twice. However, his efforts were futile. Realizing that he could not capture Samarkand, Babur, with his army, crossed the Hindu Kush Mountains and took hold of Kabul, the capital of today’s Afghanistan, in 1504.
By 1510, the Khan of the Uzbeks Muhammed Shaybani, holding Samarkand and Bukhara, was killed by the Safavid Khan Shah Ismail, who forced the Iranian people to Shiism. Taking this advantage, Babur allied with Shah Ismail, and with the assistance of the Safavids, he captured Samarkand and Bukhara in 1512-1513. According to narrations, he delivered khutbah in the name of Shah Ismail and twelve imams on the first Friday prayer to pay his debt of gratitude to the Safavids who supported him. Of course, this gesture does not mean that Babur converted to Shiism. Because it is known that the state he would later establish in India had a Sunni structure, this can only be considered a political strategy.
However, the success of Babur in this region did not last long. With the defeat of Shah Ismail by the Ottoman Yavuz Sultan Selim in 1514, Babur Shah lost support from the Safavids. Therefore, the Uzbeks declared war on him and overcame him again. As a result, Babur Sah had to retreat to the south.
With the power given by the firm determination of Babur, he continued his wars towards the Indian region. He defeated the Lodi Dynasty, who ruled the Delhi Sultanate between 1451 and 1526, at the Battle of Panipat in April 1526. He then established the Mughal Dynasty and continued his dominance as well as cultural and artistic activities in India for five years. Babur Shah died in Agra in 1530 due to an illness. Based on his will, his body was transferred to Kabul 6 months later and buried there.
· The Mughal Empire
Babur Sah left a great state to the Islamic world in the Indian region. Known as the Babur Empire in Turkish, the Mongolian Reign in Urdu, and the Indo-Mongolian reign in Persian, Arabic and English, the state has become more well-known with many architectural and literal works that have survived to the present day. Some of these works are:
Taj Mahal: The Taj Mahal, built in the 17th century in Agra, India, is the foremost example of mausoleum architecture in the Muslim world. Many nations, together with the architects and masters who took part in building construction, tried to claim it. Although the Taj Mahal, originally built by Shah Jahan, represents the power and might of the Mughals, who lived their heyday during the reign of the ruler (1628-1658).
Red castle: The Red castle was built in 1639 by the fifth Mughal Emperor. Until 1857, for 200 years, the Red castle served as the primary residence of the emperors of the dynasty. It is located in Delhi, India.
Al-Fatawa al-'Alamgiriyya (Al-Fatawa al-'Alamgiriyya):It was commissioned by the 50-year Indian sultan Aurangzeb (1658-1707), the third son of Shah Jahan (also known as Âlamgîr), to compile the Hanafi school’s opinions. It is a fiqh text authored by a respected group of scholars. In the history of Islam, it is regarded as the first text written by a committee linked to the field of Islamic jurisprudence.
· Babur’s literal Works
In addition to his political activities, Babur Shah was also closely interested in literature and mysticism and made significant contributions to these fields. Some of his works are:
Baburname (Wakai): a memoir book that has gained worldwide fame in which Babur tells about his own life.
Mubayyan:This work, which is also known as Dar Fıqh al-Mubayyan or Fıqh al-Baburî in some places, is a didactic poetry written by his sons Kamran and Hümayun in 1522 to teach religion to his people.
Others are Risalat al-Walidiyya, Diwan al-Babur and Arud al-Babur.
Lessons to be Taken from Babur Shah’s Life Story
Babur’s life story obviously showed that he had a strong will and never gave up on realizing his dreams. Babur’s knowledge of politics, history, religion and literature since childhood significantly contributed to his gathering and managing people around him.
During the time of Babur, five great states were trying to grow in the Islamic world. These are the Ottoman Empire, the Safavid Empire, the Uzbek Dynasty (Shaybanid Dynasty), the Lodis, and the Mughal Dynasty, newly established by Babur. Except for the Ottoman Empire, most of the wars fought by these five states were among themselves. This is sad proof that the Islamic world is fragmented. On the other hand, the Ottomans have maintained political and military relationships with the Uzbek Khanates since 1514.
Human history is replete with innumerable evidence proving that political authority greatly influences the spread of ideologies. The abolition of the Islamic culture in India and Andalusia and the change from Sunnism to Shiism in Iran are the most apparent indicators of this fact.
This artcile was translated from Turkish to English language by Zekiye Gök