The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought

By Gerhard Bowering | Go to book overview


Babur, Zahir al-Din (1483–1530)

Zahir al- Din Muhammad Babur is known for three achievements. First, he survived the internecine conflict in his Central Asian homeland of modern Uzbekistan (mā warā’ al- nahr) in the 15th and early 16th centuries. Second, he founded a Timurid state in India in 1526 generally known as the Mughal Empire. Third, he wrote a memoir that has endured as one of the richest examples of that genre.

Babur, which is a Perso- Turkish name that means lion or tiger, was a patrilineal descendant of the Turkic conqueror Timur (d. 1405), or Tamerlane in European parlance, and a matrilineal descendant of the Mongol Chingiz Khan (d. 1227). Babur was born as a Muslim in the Ferghana Valley, east- southeast of Tashkent, at a time when the region was contested by three groups, who by the late 15th century were also Muslims: his own relatives, the Timurids; the Chaghatay branch of the Mongols; and the Uzbeks, a Mongol- led Turkic tribal confederation. After inheriting his father’s small Ferghana appanage in 1494 at the age of 12, he spent the next decade struggling with members of all three groups to capture Samarqand, Timur’s capital, and establish himself as the recognized heir of his ancestor. After twice occupying but failing to hold the city, Babur abandoned Transoxiana in 1504 and, with fewer than 300 supporters, seized Kabul, a former Timurid outpost.

During the next decade, he fought to survive in this desolate outpost while simultaneously struggling to recapture Samarqand and his homeland. After occupying Samarqand for a third time in 1511 with help from Shah Isma’il, the Uzbeks forced him to flee the city, and by 1514 he had abandoned his attempt to return to the Timurid homeland. Babur subsequently focused his self- described mulkgirliq, or “kingdom- seizing,” ambitions on India. Timur had invaded India in 1398 and sacked Delhi and established a Timurid claim to rule Hindustan. Babur invoked his Timurid descent to legitimize the campaigns that he began in northwestern India in 1519. After conducting a series of probing actions in territories then ruled by members of the unstable Afghan Lodi dynasty, Babur marched from Kabul in December 1525 with no more than 12,000 men and camp followers. In April 1526, he defeated the Lodhis at Panipat, a small town about 50 miles north of Delhi. Following a subsequent victory over a formidable Hindu Rajput army the following year, he spent the next three years trying to consolidate his hold over the agriculturally rich regions of the Punjab, the Ganges- Jumna Duab, and the Gangetic Valley.

Babur modeled his fragile new regime on the city- state of Herat, the city where the last great Timurid ruler, Husayn Bayqara (d. 1506), had presided over a florescence of Perso- Islamic art and literature that Ottomans, Safavids, and Indian Muslims alike idealized as a cultural golden age. As Babur demonstrates in his remarkable autobiography, his political ideal was a sedentary state dominated by Timurid and Chingizid Hanafi Sunni Muslims, who patronized Perso- Islamic literary and artistic culture, and before his death in 1530, he welcomed to his capital at Agra political, religious, and cultural refugees from the former Timurid lands in Transoxiana and Afghanistan. These included Turco- Mongol warriors; Naqshbandi Sufis, who practiced a restrained form of Sunni piety; and artistic and literary representatives of late- Timurid high culture. While Babur’s Indian state is usually called the Mughal Empire, Mughal (the Persian term for Mongol) is a misleading name for a state that represented a Timurid renaissance.

See also Delhi; India; Mughals (1526– 1857)

Further Reading

Jean- Louis Bacqué- Grammont, trans., Le Livre de Babur, 1980; Annette Susanah Beveridge, The Bâbur- nâma in English, 1969; Stephen F. Dale, The Garden of the Eight Paradises: Babur and the Culture of Empire in Central Asia, Afghanistan and India 1483– 1530, 2004; W. M. Thackston Jr., The Baburnama: Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor, 2002.



Baghdad has been the principal city of Iraq since the eighth century. The origin and meaning of the city’s name are unknown. At least one settlement by this name existed in ancient times. In 762, it was chosen by Abu Ja’far al- Mansur, second Abbasid caliph, as the site of the dynasty’s new capital, evidently because of its arable land and its proximity to trade routes and because— unlike the other places where the Abbasids had tried to establish a capital— its inhabitants were not hostile or otherwise dangerous to the dynasty. Mansur’s city- complex consisted of concentric circles formed by fortified walls. The space between the first and second walls was divided into lots distributed among his allies and clients. The inner circle contained Mansur’s palace, the great mosque, and government


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • Alphabetical List of Entries xxi
  • Topical List of Entries xxv
  • Contributors xxix
  • A 1
  • B 60
  • C 80
  • D 125
  • E 141
  • F 164
  • G 189
  • H 211
  • I 230
  • J 268
  • K 292
  • L 313
  • M 320
  • N 385
  • O 401
  • P 404
  • Q 440
  • R 457
  • S 480
  • T 539
  • U 573
  • V 587
  • W 592
  • Y 600
  • Z 603
  • Index 607


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 656

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.