Criticism on an Article about Noor Jehan

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Dear Mubashir Nazir:

In this mail I will have to review the article, which you have written and published on Noorjehan.

Because it is assumed that ones writing is a mirror which reflects lights of ones character, intellect, aptitude, depth of thinking and major characteristics of ones personality. In a detailed article like one you have written regarding Noor Jahan the Empress of Hindustan, such personal and intellectual qualities should definitely emerges more brightly.

You have started this article with an old notion that there is someone brilliant lady behind someone successful gentleman. I may agree with you. But I am sorry to understand why you have given this regard to the Emperor Jahangir, because all of your article is arguing that Noor Jahan was a cunning woman who had got her husband addict of alcohol and by this way grabbed all the powers of the state. And further you write that to grab the state and power the empress spread her network of conspiracies all over the state.

After reading this article of full of flaws and contradictions, I will have to conclude that you are an ignorant fool, in regard of your baseless understanding of Mughal period history and personalities. You have written that empress Noor was detained after the death of emperor Jahangir, you did not even know what the empress has done great works after the death of her husband. For your kind information the tomb complex of Jahangir was built by empress Noor Jahan not by Shah Jahan. The empress also built a tomb complex for herself which is near the Jahangir’s tomb. And if, to some extent it is true that after the death of Emperor Jahangir, prince Khuram (Shah Jahan) and Asif Khan had restricted the powers of Noor Jahan because it was, they think indispensable to take over the empire, but how it affect the nobility of the Empress? Do you know how Orang Zaib over powered his father and what went on Shah Jahan in Agra during last years of his life? If it does not dilute the nobility of Shah Jahan why far less degraded treatment than this would degrade the character of Empress Noor Jahan?      

Your article is totally baseless, and itself contradictory by this way it bears no worth of genuine research. I would request you to please do read some credible works and then you will find how to write a research article and of course we, your readers would appreciate that effort.

Please Please, don’t mock with historic truths and don’t impose your readers to make a contest between Empress Noor and Empress Mumtaz Mahal. It does not seem positive a way to find something useful. You, in your article give nothing credible, sound and logical point regarding both respectful ladies, then why you ask your readers to draw a conclusion for you, from your this article. This is in fact a way to deliberately detract the readers. It is unknown what is your purpose behind.

Aown Ali

Lahore, Pakistan

April 2011

Dear Brother

Many thanks for your mail and identifying issues in my article. There is no need to be emotional on this issue. I’ve nothing personal against or in favor of Empress Nur Jehan or Mumtaz Mehal. I’ve revisited the article and found that it is not about history. It simply describes and compare two characters in order to learn a lesson. However if something is against the facts, I’m willing to replace that.

I do not deny the bright side of capabilities of Nur Jehan but it is not the topic of this essay. Anyway, if you can provide me with some evidence that gives indication that Nur Jehan did not control her husband as commonly described in history books, I’m willing to amend the article.

I do not claim that Shah Jehan, Aurengzeb and Mumtaz Mehal were angels and did not commit anything wrong. But as I said, the objective of this article is not to describe history. It is just about learning lessons. Whenever I’ll write about history of Mogul Empire, I’ll definitely point out mistakes of Shah Jehan and Aurengzeb as well. Definitely, none of such people are sacred and were human beings similar to us. Objective of studying their mistakes should be to learn lessons for ourselves and not to criticize that person specifically.

Some quotations about her from independent sources are as follows:

Nur Jahan was taken to the court, and three years later, at the age of forty, she became the royal consort. A capable woman, she acquired such an ascendency over her husband that she became in effect [[176]] the joint ruler of the kingdom. Coins were struck in her name, and Jahangir used to say that he had handed her the country in return for a cup of wine and a few morsels of food. Nur Jahan’s relatives soon occupied the chief posts of the realm. Her brother, Asaf Khan, became the prime minister, and his daughter, Mumtaz Mahal, the Lady of the Taj, married Prince Khurram, who succeeded his father as Shah Jahan. The influence of the gifted but masterly queen and her relatives was not entirely beneficial, but they were all capable people, and until toward the end of the later part of Jahangir’s reign they administered the empire efficiently. Their influence attracted a large number of brilliant soldiers, scholars, poets, and civil servants from Iran who played an important role in the administration and the cultural life of Mughal India. (Muslim Civilization in India by Frances W. Prichett)

After 1611 Jahāngīr accepted the influence of his Persian wife, Mehr al-Nesāʾ (Nūr Jahān); her father, Iʿtimād al-Dawlah; and her brother Āṣaf Khan. Together with Prince Khurram, this clique dominated politics until 1622. Thereafter, Jahāngīr’s declining years were darkened by a breach between Nūr Jahān and… (Britannica)

Mughal empress: For Mehr-un-Nisaa’s own immediate family, marriage to Jahangir became a great boon with several members receiving sizeable endowments and promotions as a result. This affection led to Nur Jahan wielding a great deal of actual power in affairs of state. The Mughal state gave absolute power to the emperor, and those who exercised influence over the emperor gained immense influence and prestige. Jahangir’s addiction to opiumand alcohol made it easier for Nur Jahan to exert her influence. For many years, she effectively wielded imperial power and was recognized as the real force behind the Mughal throne. She even gave audiences at her palace and the ministers consulted with her on most matters. Indeed, Jahangir even permitted coinage to be struck in her name, something that traditionally defined sovereignty.

Through Nur Jahan’s influence, her family, including her brother Asaf Khan, consolidated their position at court. Asaf Khan was appointed grand Wazir(minister) to Jahangir, and his daughter Arjumand Banu Begum (later known as Mumtaz Mahal) was wed to Prince Khurram (the future Shah Jahan), the third son of Jahangir, born by the Rajput princess, Jagat Gosaini. Jahangir’s eldest son Khusrau had rebelled against the Emperor and was blinded as a result. The second son, Parviz, was weak and addicted to alcohol. The fourth son was Prince Shahryar, born by a royal concubine. Khurram rebelled against his father and a war of succession broke out. Due to Khurram’s intransigence, Nur Jahan shifted her support to his younger brother, Shahryar. She arranged the marriage of her own daughter Ladli Begum, born of her first marriage, to her stepson Shahryar.[1] The two weddings ensured that one way or another, the influence of Nur Jahan’s family would extend over the Mughal Empire for at least another generation. (Wikipedia)



Dear Mubashir Nazir

Thanks for your immediate reply. Let me make a few points clear:

1-You have written that your article is not about history. it simply describes and compares two characters in order to learn a lesson.

My question is, which characters? Do you mean by Empress Noor Jahan and Arjmand Bano?. If yes, then it is definitely a subject of history. If you are minded to draw any lesson by a so called comparison between Empress Noor and Bano, it is mandatory to have at least average level of understanding of life and characters of both ladies. Because me and you and your readers are not eye witness of their life and character, so it is important to have enough understanding with sound history sources otherwise it is an attempt like tracking with closed eyes. So that, this plea is unacceptable that it was not an article of history and you just wanted to get some lesson by comparing both characters. By all means it is a subject of history, and you cannot move a single step forward if you have no understanding of both characters, with most possibly sound sources of history.

2-You say, you do not deny the bright side of capabilities of Noor Jahan but it is not the topic of this essay.

This is again an unrealistic and in-genuine way, if you are minded to gain a lesson by comparing the characters of Lady Noor and Lady Bano, why you are focused only to the areas what you have assumed as dark parts of the characters. This is purely negative sense and states an all to all negative state of mind. Principally when we want to compare to characters we should have compared it with high level of honesty, sympathy and responsibility.  

I say, Noor jahan had extreme level of influence on the personality and mentality of her emperor husband. It is a historic truth and the emperor was very satisfied and confident with conferring authorities to his wise better-half. For that we say “وہ  تخت  و  تاج  پر  نہیں  تخت  و  تاج  والے  جہانگیر  کے  دل پر  حکومت  کرتی  تھی”

So I will say she do controlled the empire because the emperor trust her, because she was the most wise person close to the emperor. Because she was a life partner of the emperor and he sought her assistance and advisory. And this is the marvelous aspect of life of Empress, which separates her of other noble women of the house of Babur.

You have added some quotations from wikipedia and website of Encyclopedia Britannica, below your mail. Thank you for this. I well come this But again my request, why you ignore direct and detailed sources of Jahangir’s period history. I will suggest you

i-Tuzik-e-Jahangiri, Empror Jahangir wrote during the events in 1607

ii- Nur Jahan: Empress of Mughal India, (1611-1627)

By:ELLISON BANKS FINDLY…Oxford University Press

iii- History of Begum Nurjahan

By: Anad, Sugam, Radha Publications, New Delhi, 1992

iv-Domesticity and Power in the Early Mughal World

By: Lal Ruby, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2005

I can hope that you will spend some time on reading before writing a book on history of Mughal Empire.

Yours Sincerely

Aown Ali     

Dear Brother

Assalam o alaikum

Many thanks for your mail and arguments. Also thanks for providing the list of books. I’ll definitely read them if I plan to write something on Mogul empire.

I’m convinced with your arguments and will amend the article accordingly. Since the objective of article is just to give a lesson, therefore, I’ll use some fictitious characters instead of giving Noor Jehan and Mumtaz Mehal as examples. Please feel free to share your views on my other books and articles.

Thanks once again for drawing attention.



Dear Mubashir Nazir

I am very pleased and thankful to find your agreement to review that particular article which had been under discussion between us. I will request you to change it thoroughly, rather pen a new one discussing the facts regarding the life of Empress Noor Jahan. You will be wonder to know that She was not only an authoritarian as it seems generally, but also a qualified house wife. knitting, house decoration, cooking, dress designing, teaching young girls, she was very expert in all such fields which are considered major expertise of a house wife. If you will require I will share all the details I know about inventions and modifications made by Empress Noor. All these things are also repeatedly discussed in articles available on net, also.

Best Regards

Aown Ali

Note: The article was deleted from my website after this email.

Criticism on an Article about Noor Jehan
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