Reason for Downfall of Mughal Empire

Muslim came in India as conquerors and established their rule in the sub-Continent. This period stretched on almost 1000 years. Muslim Sufis and theologians worked hard to convert the people to Islam, which means the right path. Their teachings were based upon oneness of God, following Prophets and abiding by the Quranic injunctions and cardinal principles of Islam. The hallmark of the Sufis’ teachings was the liberal attitude and cosmopolitan culture presented to the natives of India. Muslims had always been in a minority but they maintained their capacity to rule this vast land. Though Muslims were invaders in this land but they settled in India and mixed up in the native community. By mixing of the dogmas, culture, ideas and ethnicity there emerged a culture, which was homogenous and embracing to all the communities. Muslims never separated themselves from the land and they made India their home. Their rule was based upon the following three principles

  • Military strength
  • Justice
  • Intellectual superiority

But as the history shows that it is like a cycle and every empire have to fact its downfall and Muslims were no exception. Aurang Zeb was the last Mughal emperor who kept the means of power in his hands and when he died the chaos interrupted his empire and a war of succession among his descendants proved disastrous of the Mughal glory. Invasion of Ahmed Shah Abdali, during the reign of Muhammad Shah, proved fatal for crumbling Mughal Empire. Thus, anarchy prevailed all over India, many governors and Subedars declared themselves sovereign, the Marathas and Sikhs rose their heads and became the key players of India. And the Mughal Empire began to shrink and when Bahadar Shah, the last Mughal Empire, ascended to throne, he was merely a titular head. He was a pensioner of East India Company. The war of independence resulted in formal end of Muslim Empire and the East India Company took the reign of the subcontinent.

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The fall of Mughal Empire was the end of the Muslim rule in the sub continent. This was a severe blow to the culture and history of Muslim India. Why this degradation took place is no mystery. The reasons for their downfall were as under:

  • No Law of Succession: There was no law of succession among the Muslim rulers of the subcontinent. During the period of Delhi sultanate and Mughal era, the transfer of power was not peaceful except a few. During the last years of Shah Jehan a war of succession broke out among his sons and its consequences were disastrous for the complexion of the entire society. Likewise on the death of Aurangzeb the war was again fought among his kin, which divided the Muslim elite. These wars of succession were also responsible for the decline of the Mughal and Muslim Empire.
  • Lack of Military Efficiency: Military efficiency was the hallmark of the Muslim rule in India. The military, with which the earlier strong rulers carried on the conquest and extended the empire, had now become demoralized and inefficient. There was lack o discipline, cohesion, patriotism, and ignorance with the modern military warfare in the army. The military was also divided amongst religious, linguistic and ethnic basis.
  • Deterioration of Ruler's Character: Deterioration of character was another phenomenal contributor to the downfall. The king and sultans like Altutmash. Balban, Alaodin Khilji. Muhammad Tughluq, Sikandar Lodhi, Babar, Akbar and Aurangzeb, were competent, handworker and intelligent people, who were well aware, of the art of smooth sailing of the government. The remaining rulers were neither competent nor had the highest values of the character. The courtiers and the noble of Mughal rulers of 17th and 18th century were not men of characters and divided on ethnic and linguistic basis.
  • Segmentation on the Basis of Religion: Akbar’s religious dogmas resulted in weakening the hold of Muslims on government offices. The’ Muslim segment of the society alienated itself from the art and craft of the Mughal Empire. Moreover, this resulted in the rise of orthodoxy under the Aurangzeb who alienated the Hindu segment of the empire.
  • Rise of Marathas: The rise of the Marathas resulted in a period of anarchy and chaos. Aurangzeb’s death was a signal for Marathas to enhance their authority over the government, which resulted in administrative disorder. There was a great resentment amongst the Muslim masses against the Marathas particularly; but the emperors were too weak to meet the challenge.
  • Ignorance Towards Sea Power: The Muslim rulers particularly the Mughals neglected the importance of the sea power. They lacked the vision and sagacity to understand the challenges posed by the European sea power. 8. Administrative chaos resulted in economic downfall. The revenue taxes were enhanced and there was no uniformity in the tax policy during the later Mughal emperors. Economic instability thus undermined the stability of the empire.
  • Attacks of Invaders: The attacks of Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah were a fatal blow to the Mughal authority and resulted in the rise of the regional powers and deterioration n the central authority. Deccan, Orissa, Oudh, Bengal Bihar, etc., all declared their independence. Unfortunately, the Muslim rulers neglected the importance of educational institutions. When Europe was being illuminated with renaissance movement, establishing universities, hospitals and welfare institutions, our rulers were indulged in making gardens, palaces and palace intrigues.

History of civilizations shows that every civilization faces challenges and if it lacks the competence and energy to take in the challenges it cannot survive. One thousand years of Muslim rule had brought economic prosperity, coherence and benevolence like Taj Mahal and other historical monuments but in the end the empire was unable to resolve the challenges. But this decline could have been halted if the Muslim rulers paid heed to the modern knowledge, military warfare and unity among their ranks. Technical end of Mughal Empire meant to the end of 1000 years of glory and prestige for the Muslims of India.

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