World Religion
Religious Tolerance and Fanaticism

Religious Tolerance and Fanaticism
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.75

     challenging words:    jizya, respectively, savagery, sulahkul, unholy, indulgence, following, intolerance, non-Muslims, Akbar, fanatical, consolidate, persecution, fervor, dated, misunderstanding
     content words:    Civil War, One Muslim, Bamian Buddhas, One Buddhist

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Religious Tolerance and Fanaticism
By Colleen Messina

1     Religion evokes strong reactions in people. In the name of religion, people have invaded countries and fought wars. History has many intense examples of religious persecution, but also some striking examples of tolerance. Surprisingly, a Mogul emperor from the 16th century was one of the most tolerant men of all time.
2     Akbar the Great ruled almost all of northern India from 1556 to 1605, and he has been called the greatest ruler in Indian history. Akbar was a colorful character who loved to hunt with sleek, trained cheetahs and ride on elephants bedecked with jewels and silk. In between these dazzling pastimes and ruling an empire, he found the time to encourage culture. He was the patron of artists and writers, but he never learned to read.
3     Akbar also loved studying religion. One of his favorite things to do was invite wise men of many faiths to come to his court to teach him about their religions. He wanted to decide which religion was best! He loved to watch the holy men yell at each other with unholy fervor! Akbar never picked one religion over another, but he did use ideas from many faiths. He came up with his own, unique approach to religion that included tolerance for all.
4     India was a melting pot of many religious faiths. Akbar's Indian subjects included Hindus, Muslims, Zoroastrians, and Jains. He decided to adopt the idea of sulahkul, or "universal tolerance." Members of all religions were treated equally. Akbar also eliminated a severe tax on non-Muslims called jizya. His policies were revolutionary for that time! Akbar even married princesses of other religions in order to consolidate his empire. Akbar's tolerance helped make him "great."

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