It was Abul Fazal who devoted himself to Akbar and encouraged him for debates on doctrinal and philosophical enquiries. Akbar displayed a curiosity in these discussions. The debate took place in the Ibadat Khana or Hall of Worship, which is now recognized to be the Diwan-i-Khas, founded in 1574 at the City of Fatehpur Sikri. It was opened for Sunni Muslims initially and was opened to all religions viz. Sufis, Shias, Christians, Zoroastrians, Hindus and Jains.
Debates at Ibadat Khana
It was in this beautiful city of Fatehpur Sikri that Akbar’s dream of a universal religion grew into a definite shape. In the Ibadat Khana, initially there were disgusting arguments, some of which included a question over character of Hazarat Muhammad. These discussions, rather than clearing Akbar’s doubts only increased the insatiable religious quest of the emperor.
- These heated arguments, Akbar found that were only to defend the creeds of their own doctrines.
- In the emperor’s eyes, there was a truth in all the faiths but none of the creed had the master key of the Supreme Being.
- In 1579, Mahzar Nama was declared by which the emperor declared that if there were conflictions in the views of the debaters, he was entitled to choose any of the interpretations.
- In 1581 the discussions at the Ibadat Khana were discontinued.
With the Mahzar Nama, Akbar pounced upon the dominance of the intolerant orthodox and allowed free development of a genuine religious spirit. Mahzar Nama was actually an idea of the father of Abul Fazal and Faizi , set that the authority of the King was higher than that of a Mujtahid (doctor of the faith) and if there is a variance, the emperor’s decision should be binding on the Muslims of India. With this edict, Akbar’s judgment was set above every legal and religious authority, so it was the promulgation of the doctrine of Imperial infallibility.