Muhammad Aurangzeb Alamgir
Aurangzeb (November 3, 1618 - March 3, 1707), also known by his chosen
Imperial title Alamgir I (Conqueror of the Universe) was the ruler of the Mughal
Empire from 1658 until his death. He was the sixth Mughal ruler after Babur,
Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, and Shah Jahan.
Aurangzeb ruled northern India for 48 years. He brought a larger area under Mughal rule than ever before. He is generally regarded as the last 'great' Mughal ruler. His constant wars, however, left the empire dangerously overextended, isolated from its strong Rajput allies, and with a population that (except for the orthodox Sunni Muslim minority) was resentful, if not outright rebellious, against his reign. His last twenty five years were spent fighting in the Deccan and losing territory to rival states. At his death, the Mughal Empire was shrunken, having lost most of its northwest and being replaced by the Hindu Maratha Empire in large areas of India. Aurangzeb's successors, the 'Later Mughals', lacked his strong hand and the great fortunes amassed by his predecessors. The Marathas continued to gain at the Mughals' expense during the rest of the 18th century.
Aurangzeb is remembered for his Sunni fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. Strict adherence to Islam and Sharia (Islamic law) - as he interpreted them - were the foundations of his reign. He attempted to institute Sharia law throughout the empire, abandoning the religious openness of his predecessors. It is said of his reign that many Hindu temples were defiled, destroyed, and replaced by mosques, a practice which had been largely discontinued since Babur's time. Many non-Muslims were supposedly converted to Islam. The hated Jizya, a tax imposed on non-Muslims, was reinstated during his rule. In recent years, some historians have disputed these allegations. Yet it is important to keep in mind that Muslims were made to pay both Zakah and Ushr, and Aurangzeb is said to have abolished nearly sixty-five types of taxes, which resulted in a yearly revenue loss of fifty million rupees from the state treasury.