ʿABD-AL-VAHHĀB BOHRĀ, chief judge (qāżī) in the reign of the Mughal emperor Awrangzēb. He was a native of Patan in Gujerat. The Bohrās (Vyohāra), a community of Hindu merchants, had converted to Shiʿite Islam in the 11th century but became Sunnites in the reign of Maḥmūd Begrā (1459-1511 A.D.). ʿAbd-al-Vahhāb’s learned grandfather, Sayyed Moḥammad Ṭāher Bohrā, was ruthless in persecuting the non-orthodox. ʿAbd-al-Vahhāb was likewise reputed as a master of theology and religious law. During Shah Jahān’s reign he was qāżī of Patan. He and ʿAbd-al-Qavī were confidants of Awrangzēb during the latter’s viceroyalty of Gujerat (1645-46); together they brought about the destruction at Ahmadabad of Sayyed Rāǰū, leader of the Mahdavī sect, along with twenty-two of his followers. ʿAbd-al-Vahhāb joined Awrangzēb in the Deccan during the prince’s second viceroyalty there (1652-58). When Awrangzēb, after defeating his brothers, planned to celebrate his first coronation ceremony in July-August, 1658, the chief qāżī refused to read the ḵoṭba in the name of a son while his father was still alive. ʿAbd-al-Vahhāb, now moftī of the prince’s army, opportunely ruled Awrangzēb’s accession as perfectly legal, on the grounds that Shah Jahān was physically and mentally unfit to rule. For this valuable service ʿAbd-al-Vahhāb was elevated to be chief qāżī of the empire (1659), a post he held until his death in 1675. In this capacity he exercised a strong influence on the emperor. He proved ruthless and corrupt, exploiting his position to enrich himself, not only by accepting bribes, but also secretly engaging in trade. As chief qāżī he amassed a fortune of thirty-three lakhs of rupees, besides much jewelry and other property. After falling ill at Lahore (July, 1675), he proceeded to Delhi, where he died on Friday, 18 Ramażān 1086/26 November 1675.
ʿAbd-al-Razzāq Awrangābādī, Maʾāṯer al-omarāʾ, Calcutta, 1888-91, ed., pp. 235-41; tr., pp. 73, 79. Ḵᵛāfī Khan, Montaḵab al-lobāb, Calcutta, 1860-74, pp. 216-17.
Mostaʿedd Khan, Maʾāṯer-e ʿĀlamgīrī, ed., Calcutta, 1870-73, pp. 78, 124-25, 143, 148; tr., Calcutta, 1947, pp. 49, 77, 88, 91.
Īshwar Dās Nāgar, Fotūḥāt-e ʿĀlamgīrī, ms. in J. Sarkar’s library, fol. 76b.
ʿAlī Moḥammad Khan, Merʾāt-e Aḥmadī I, ed. S. Navāb ʿAlī (Gaekwad Oriental Series 33), Baroda, 1927, p. 248.
Niccolo Manucci, Storia do Mogor, tr. William Irvine, London, 1906-08, II, pp. 5-6, 188-89.
J. Sarkar, History of Aurangzēb, Calcutta, 1912-24, III, pp. 73-74.
Originally Published: December 15, 1982
Last Updated: July 15, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 2, p. 168
P. Saran, “'Abd-Al-Vahhab Bohra,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/2, p. 168; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abd-al-vahhab-bohra-chief-judge-qazi-under-the-mughal-emperor-awrangzeb (accessed on 17 January 2014).