Early Sufi Scholar and Daughter of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan
Hijri 1022-1091 (AH); Common Era 1614-1681 (CE)
Jahanara, was an early Sufi scholar and the eldest daughter of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal. She was also known by alternative names, such as Fatima, Jahan Ara Begum Sahib, and Shahzadi. At the age of 17 years and upon the death of her mother, Jahanara succeeded to her mother’s position as the First Lady in the courts. Additionally, she became responsible for her siblings and the administration of the household. Jahanara wrote several books about both the practices of Sufism and Sufi figures such as her Sufi teacher, Mulla Shah, of the Qadiriyya line. Her book on her initiation as a Sufi “bears witness to the profundity of her faith and mystical understanding.” ( Wiebke Walther, Women In Islam: From Medieval to Modern Times [Princeton: Marcus Weiner, 1993], 111.) She was also known for her interest in the arts, and she financed the building of several mosques and gardens. When her brother Aurangzeb triumphed against their father in a war of succession in 1658CE, Jahanara accompanied Shah Jahan into prison until his death. She was then given her own home outside the prison until her own death.