Folio from The Dara Shikoh Album, c.1635
The British Library

Jahanara Begum (1614–1681) was the eldest daughter of the Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor of India (r. 1628–1658). Like her brother Dara Shikoh, the heir to the throne, she was profoundly spiritual, and they were initiated together into the Qadiriya order of Sufism. Jahanara was an influential political figure, receiving the title Sahibat al-Zaman (‘Mistress of the Age’) after her mother Mumtaz Mahal’s death in 1631. In 1644 she was given the port of Surat, and she also owned her own ship, the Sahibi, which transported cargo and pilgrims between Surat and Mecca. Revenues from maritime trade made her extremely wealthy. Jahanara paid for the construction of the famous Jamiʻ Masjid in Agra, completed in 1648 and one of the largest mosques in India. She also commissioned a huge mosque and religious complex dedicated to her spiritual teacher Mulla Shah in Srinagar in 1650.

Jahanara Begum