§ 71. Hindu prisoners of war executed.

During the siege of the fort of Satara, in the blessed month of Ramzan, four Muslims and nine Hindus out of a party that had made a sortie from the fort, were taken prisoner. The Emperor ordered Qazi Muhammad Akram, the Court Qazi, to investigate the question with the help of the muftis and report as to what should be done. After examining [the books of Canon Law], he told the Emperor that if the infidels accepted Muham­madanism it would be a ground for releasing them, and that the Muslims should be kept in prison for three years.

Across the sheet of the legal opinion His Majesty wrote, “This decision [is] according to the Hanafi school; decide the case according to some other school, so that control over the kingdom may not be lost. Ours is not the rigid Shia creed, that there should be only one tree in an entire village. * Praised be God! there are four schools [of Sunni theology] based on truth, [each] according to a particular age and time.”

After he had written this, the qazi and muftis pronounced another decision, saying, “From the Fatawa-i-Alamgiri we derive the sentence that the Hindu and Muslim [prisoners of war] should be executed as a deterrent.” The Emperor wrote, “I agree to it. They must be executed before I break the fast [of Ramzan, at sunset], for I shall not break my fast till I have seen the [severed] heads of the rebels.” So, Muharram Khan, with the help of Sarbarah Khan kotwal, about sunset brought the heads and placed them before the Emperor in the court of justice.

Text.—Ir. MS. 8a & b; MS. N. 35b—36b.

Notes.—Satara was captured by Aurangzib after a siege extending from 8th December 1699 to 21st April 1700. The execution of prisoners of war here is noted in the Akhbarat. Muhammad Akram was appointed qazi of the imperial Court in May 1698 and died shortly after October 1705. There are four schools of Islamic law accepted by the Sunnis, viz., the Hanafi, the Shafi, the Hanbali, and the Maliki. The mufti is an officer who expounds the law and assists the qazi or judge by supplying him with fatawas or decisions. The Fatawa-i-Alamgiri is a code of the decisions of former Islamic lawyers selected, harmonised and arranged by order of Aurangzib, by a syndicate of scholars under the presidency of Shaikh Nizam, at a cost of nearly two lakhs of Rupees. It was a mere compilation, with none of the originality and value of the Code Napoleon.