Akbar grew up in an environment where remarkable saints like Kabir, Chaitanya emphasized on a religion based on devotion and love rather than one based on rituals and interpretations of revealed books.An atmosphere where liberal sentiments and views propagate greatly influenced Akbar’s religious policy.
Main features of his religious policy:
Protective measures- Abolition of pilgrim tax, giving up policy of religious conversion of the prisoners of war.This laid the foundation of the empire based on equal rights irrespective of religious faiths.
Sulh-I-kul (peace to all)- This involved the adoption of the idea of how a true sovereign should behave . Akbar adopted the idea that a true ruler should show parental love towards his subjects without any discrimination , not allow sectarian strife to rise.
Ibadat khana- Initially Akbar was influenced by the Chief Qazi but after his betrayal he grew increasingly inclined towards mysticism, repeating God’s name . In 1575, he established Ibadat Khana at Fatehpur Sikri where he invited theologians, preachers of different religions. He held discussions about the Quran , features of different religions, the nature of God etc.
“Decree of Infallibility “- To deal with Mullahs Akbar issued a declaration or Mazhar that to consider fit to interpret the Quran among different persons Akbar is the one. Since he is wise , just and ranks higher in the eyes of God so he will choose which interpretation of the Quran is correct among many others.
Maintained contacts- Abar maintained contacts with different religious scholars and continued to invite them to his court. For example , he had invited from Hindu religion Puroshottam and Devi , from Christianity Aquaviva and Monserrate.
Tauhid-I-Illahi- Contact with different religious leaders provided Akbar with great understanding, although all religions had different good points but they all preached the creation of an atmosphere of peace , amity and good for the country. This understanding made Akbar to create a new religion combining all the good of other religions. This was the Tauhid-I-Illahi. It was an order of the Sufistic type, Sunday was the day of initiation where those willing to join placed head at the feet of the Emperor who raised him up and gave him the formula-the shast to repeat upon , Allah-o-Akbar was the motto.
Enrolling Murids- They were a personal band of nobles completely loyal to the Emperor who had to give up their property, life, honour and religion and become devoted to Akbar. Badayuni has criticized this move of Akbar as a strategy to gain loyalists and many unworthy flatterers.
Translation department- Akbar made sure to translate works like Singhasan Battisi , Atharva Veda , Ramayana, Mahabharata etc.
Hence the religious policy of Akbar shows his attempt to maintain peace and cordial relations between different sections in society.