Zahir al-Din Muhammad Babur Padishah (Transliterated)
Babur, Emperor of Hindustan (Translated)
Babar (Alternate transliteration)
Baber (Alternate transliteration)
ظهير الدين (Alternate)
Zahir al-Din (Transliterated)
Zaher al-Din (Alternate transliteration)
Zahiruddin (Alternate transliteration)
فردوس مكاني (Alternate)
Firdaus Makani (Alternate transliteration)
Firdausmakani (Alternate transliteration)
Zahir al-Din Muhammad Babur was a Timurid prince and successful military leader who would conquer the northern Indian subcontinent and become the first emperor of the Mughal dynasty of India in 1526/932 AH. The regnal name Babur may be related to the Persian word babr (tiger). His laqab (honorific title) Zahir al-Din means "protector of the faith." After his death, he was given the epithet firdaws-makani ("resident of paradise").
He was born in the town of Andijon in the Valley of Ferghana, located in the easternmost province of today's Uzbekistan near the border with Kyrgyz Republic. He was a member of the Central Asian nobility that had ruled over the region for hundreds of years, being a third great-grandson of Timur on his father's side and a descendant of Genghis Khan on his mother's side.
As a young man, Babur was initiated into the world of Central Asian politics when he became the ruler of the Province of Ferghana, at that time still part of the loose confederation of lands controlled by the descendants of Timur. In 1501/906 AH, he lost his grip on Ferghana after a failed attempt to capture Samarqand, a neighboring city of greater significance. It was not until he successfully took Kabul in 1504/910 AH that Babur regained a base of operations.1 From here, he would conquer the city of Kandahar (1522/928 AH), thus uniting two important Afghan cities in a political principality.
The fertile and populous lands beyond the Indus known in the Islamic world as Hindustan were now on the border of Babur's small Afghan kingdom. The ruler was presented with the opportunity to further his reach into this coveted region when he was invited to come to the aid of the Lodi Sultan of Lahore, who was engaged in a skirmish with his relative, the Sultan of Delhi. Bubur entered Hindustan in 1526/923 AH, took Lahore for himself and defeated the Sultan of Delhi's army at Panipat, a town along the Yamuna north of Delhi.2 A year later, he defeated the Hindu ruler Rana Sanga of Chittor. At this point, Babur took the regnal title Padishah-i Ghazi (Supreme King who Fights for the Faith), having vanquished a non-Muslim ruler and sealed the conquest of Hindustan for Islam.3
In addition to his military prowess, Babur was a man of letters and had an interest in gardens. He penned his own autobiography, the Baburnama, providing historians with a wealth of information. In Kabul and Delhi, he constructed gardens based on the Persianate chahar-bagh plan, a form that would become popular among his descendants who took the construction of gardens to new heights in northern India.
Harrison et al., "Bābur."
Harrison et al., "Bābur."
Schimmel, Empire of the Mughals, 25.
Harrison, J.B., P. Hardy, and M. Fuad Köprülü. “Bābur.” Encyclopedia of Islam, Second Edition, 2012.