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Full text of "Akbar, The Emperor Of India"

AKBAR, EMPEROR OF INDIA.                         29
system of ethics which places the sinful thought on the
same level with the sinful word and act.
From olden times the inhabitants of India have had a
predisposition for religious and philosophical disputations.
So Akbar, too, was convinced of the utility of free discus-
sion on religious dogmas. Based upon this idea, and perhaps
also in the hope that the Ulemas would be discomfited
Akbar founded at Fathpur Sikri, his favorite residence in
the vicinity of Agra, the famous 'Ibadat Khana, literally
the "house of worship/' but in reality the house of con-
troversy. This was a splendid structure composed of four
halls in which scholars and religious men of all sects gath-
ered together every Thursday evening and were given an
opportunity to defend their creeds in the presence and with
the cooperation of the Emperor. Akbar placed the discus-
sion in charge of the wise and liberal minded Abul Fazl.
How badly the Ulemas, the representatives of Moham-
medan orthodoxy, came off on these controversial evenings
was to be foreseen. Since they had no success with
their futile arguments they soon resorted to cries of fury,
insults for their opponents and even to personal violence,
often turning against each other and hurling curses upon
their own number. In these discussions the inferiority of
the Ulemas, who nevertheless had always put forth such
great claims, was so plainly betrayed that Akbar learned
to have a profound contempt for them.
In addition to this, the fraud and machinations by
means of which the Ulemas had unlawfully enriched them-
selves became known to the Emperor. At any rate there
was sufficient ground for the chastisement which Akbar now
visited upon the high clergy. In the year 1579 a decree was
issued which assigned to the Emperor the final decision
in matters of faith, and this was subscribed to by the chiefs
of the Ulemas,ówith what personal feelings we can well
imagine. For by this act the Ulemas were deprived of