Akbar’s letter to King of Spain for religious tolerance

In 1582, King Philip II of Spain received a letter from the Mughal Emperor Akbar of India.

Akbar wrote: “As most men are fettered by bonds of tradition, and by imitating ways followed by their fathers… everyone continues, without investigating their arguments and reasons, to follow the religion in which he was born and educated, thus excluding himself from the possibility of ascertaining the truth, which is the noblest aim of the human intellect. Therefore we associate at convenient seasons with learned men of all religions, thus deriving profit from their exquisite discourses and exalted aspirations.

Akbar the Great chided Philip for the anti-Protestant excesses of the Sapinish counter reformation. Spain’s Catholic inquisitors had by this time mostly rid the country of Muslims and Jews, so turned their murderous attentions to Protestant Christians instead, particularly in Spanish-ruled Holland.

Although Philip II did not heed Akbar’s call for religious tolerance, it is indicative of the Mughal emperor’s attitudes towards people of other faiths. Akbar is also renowned for his patronage of the arts and sciences. miniature paintings, weaving, book-making, metallurgy, and technological innovations all flourished under his reign

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