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HIST112 World Civilization II - M01: Discussion (2)

Read "The Religious Zeal of Shah Abbas the Great" (textbook page 404). Was the Shah thinking only of the safety of his Armenian subjects when ordering these conversions? To what degree would you expect his religious zeal to be accompanied by more earthly political motives? Why? Are there similar examples of forced conversion in the history?

  1. Read "Opposing Viewpoints: The Capture of Port Hoogly" (textbook page 410). Was the motive for the Mughal assault on Port Hoogly primarily economic, cultural, or religious? Explain. What are the differences in the two reports? Which seems more reliable? Why? Why might Jahangir have possible been more supportive of the Portuguese than Shah Jahan, if in fact he was?

1. While the Shah used the safety of his subjects as a talking point, I do not believe it was the only reason for ordering their conversions to Islam. Sure, maybe he was a caring guy who wanted all of his people to be safe, but I think more realistically, having them convert was a way to control them. The section before this piece of reading in the textbook says "Like the Ottoman sultan, one shah regularly traveled the city streets incognito to check on the honesty of his subjects. When he discovered that a baker and butcher were overcharging for their products, he had the baker cooked in his own oven and the butcher roasted on a spit." By having all the subjects "accountable" to the same laws of the same religion, the Shah was able to better control all his subjects by ensuring they all followed the religious law as he saw fit. I also believe that by having everybody following the same religion, it makes them more loyal in a sense to their leader. So if there ever came a time where they went to war with a Christian entity, the Armenian subjects would be more likely to stay true to him than take the other side. There are many examples of forced religious conversion, even on our own continent. Many native tribes (Links to an external site.) were forced to convert to Christianity by European "settlers".

2. The motive for the assault on Port Hoogly seems to be two-fold. It sounds as though the location of the city allowed the Portugese to profit financially via trade, so taking out this location would most definitely have an economic benefit to whoever would control the city. However, like most events of both past and present day the main motive sounds to be religious. To me, it sounds as though the main difference is their motive behind the attack. John Cabral recounts that the Emperor declares himself the enemy of Christianty and sets out to cleanse his land of it and all the negative aspects he associates with Christians. The other account describes the Muslims were treated poorly by the Christians and he was doing his civil duty to protect not only his people, but the people he believed were right in the sense of their morality. It is hard to say which account is more reliable, but it seems as though John Cabral would be impartial, aside from being a resident in the city. Because of this, I believe that his story is probably the more reliable of the two. When these two men are described, it sounds as though they were complete opposites in just about every manner. Jahangir was not so strict on religion and sounds to have related more with the Christian people than the Muslim people. On the other hand, Shah Jahan was very solid in his belief of Islam and that anybody who thought otherwise was wrong, therefore should be treated as an enemy of himself and his people.

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