12th August 1602: Abu’l Fazl, Akbar’s Vizier was Assassinated at the Instigation of Akbar’s Son, Prince Salim


On 12th August 1602 Emperor Akbar’s vizier, Abu'l Fazl was murdered on the instigation of Akbar’s son, prince Salim (who was later known by his imperial name, Jahangir).


Abu'l Fazl, also known as Shaikh Abu al-Fazl ibn Mubarak was a high ranking political advisor and minister in Akbar’s court. Apart from translating the Bible into Persian, Fazl was also the author of the Akbarnama (the official history of Akbar’s life and his rule). Fazl’s brother, Faizi was a poet laureate in Akbar’s court.


Fazl was the descendent of Shaikh Musa of Sindh, who was originally from Yemen. Abu'l Fazl was born in Agra to Shaikh Mubarak, who began his son’s education with Arabic. By the time he was five, Fazl could read and write. His father also began teaching him the Islamic sciences, but Fazl found it difficult to keep pace with conventional learning and underwent a period of depression. Fazl was rescued from this situation by a friend who also helped him resume his studies.


Abu'l Fazl’s brilliance was noticeable from a young age when Fazl found a dictionary of Ishafani which had been eaten by ants. Fazl removed the parts which had been destroyed and joined blank paper to what was left and found the beginning and end of each fragment and composed a draft of it. Eventually, the entire Ishafani was discovered and when compared to Fazl’s version, it only differed in two or three places.


In 1575, Abu'l Fazl joined the court of Akbar and was highly inspired by Akbar’s secular outlook regarding religion. Fazl also led Akbar’s army in its battles in the Deccan. Akbar and Abu'l Fazl shared a strong relationship and in his writings Fazl provides a very informative description of administration, economics, social and political structure of the Mughal Empire, as well as the accomplishments of Akbar.


Akbar commissioned the Akbarnama, which would serve as a biographic account of his life and achievements which was written by Abu'l Fazl. The Akbarnama talked about Akbar, his philosophy, rule and empire and his flexible diplomacy and economic policy which enabled him to sustain his empire till the next empire. Written in two parts, the first part of the Akbarnama dealt with the reign of Akbar, his lineage and descent and the first seventeen years of his rule. The second part of the Akbarnama chronicles the life of Akbar till he was forty six years old. It was while writing the second part of the Akbarnama that Abu'l Fazl was murdered while he was on his way back from the Deccan by Vir Singh Bundela, on the command of Prince Salim, Akbar’s son. Prince Salim wanted Abu'l Fazl killed because he opposed his ascension to the Mughal throne. Fazl’s severed head was sent to the prince.


Apart from the Akbarnama, Abu'l Fazl is also remembered for his other works such as the Ruqa'at, which is a collection of private correspondence to Murad, Daniyal, Akbar, Mariam Makani and Salim. Fazl is also known for the Insha-i-Abu'l Fazl which is a collection of official communication written by him.


Also on This Day:


1765: Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II conferred Diwani of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa on the East India Company.


1919: Nuclear scientist Ambala Sarabhai was born.

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