Lecture 9. Islam, South Asia Style: The Making of Fatehpur Sikri

This lecture addresses the so-called establishment of Islam in South Asia. While colonial texts usually identify the invasions of Mohammand Ghazni and Ghori around 1000CE as the beginning of Islam in India, this lecture contends that these are colonial projections, and that the actual story of Islam and south Asia goes back to the older ongoing trade between West Asia and South Asia. This lecture then examines the architecture of the Delhi Sultanates, a series of short lived kingdoms, with their base in Delhi, who competed with the Rajput kingdoms of north India for dominance. Then the lecture introduces to the Mughals by first establishing their Mongol and Persianate central Asian lineage and affiliations, and next locates in that lineage the development of some of the political philosophy of the best known of the Mughal kings, Jalal-ud-din Akbar. The lecture concludes with a reading of Fatehpur Sikri, Akbar’s short-lived capital city, with a focus on the Diwan-i-Khas, which is presented as a unique ‘theoretical’ project invested in ideas of a kind of ‘secularism’.

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