In the early 1630’s, a wealthy ruler in India named Shah Jahan lost his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who had died while giving birth to their fourteenth child. To honor the deceased queen, the ruler commissioned a white marble mausoleum surrounded by gardens which suggested the Muslim conception of paradise. This mausoleum was named the Taj Mahal.
In this op-ed for Washington Post, Haroon Moghul (who is a fellow the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding) offers a unique viewpoint, proposing a new vision for this historical monument – as a monument not only to love but to Islam. As Mr. Moghul pens, “I propose we see it as a vision of what Islam used to be, and what Islam could be, a building dedicated to love, and to love across boundaries that seem more like vast chasms today. Shah Jahan was a Sunni ruler from a Sunni dynasty. His beloved wife, however, was Shiite. Far from being doomed to fight, they fell in love. They married. They produced the next emperor. And they are now buried peacefully beside one another.”