Hamida Banu Begum – popularly known as Maryam Makani

Hamida Banu Begum (or Maryam Makani) was one of the wives of the second mughal emperor Humayun. She was also the mother of the third mughal emperor Akbar. Hamida Banu Begum is popularly known by the title name Maryam Makani which means ‘epitome of innocence’ given by her son, Akbar.

His father, Shaikh Ali Akbar Jami was a persian shia teacher of the mughal prince Hindal Mirza who was the youngest son of the founder of the mughal empire, Babur. Her mother Mah Afroz Begum and father Shaikh Ali Akbar Jami were married in Sindh (in pakistan).

Hamida Banu Begum
Image credit: Wikipedia

Quick Facts

  • Full Name: Hamida Banu Begum (or Maryam Makani)
  • Born: c. 1527
  • Died: 29th August 1604
  • Religion: Shia Islam
  • Spouse:  Humayun
  • Father: Shaikh Ali Akbar Jami
  • Mother: Mah Afroz Begum
  • Famous as: Mariam Makani | wife of Humayun | Mother of Akbar

Hamida met Humayun at the age of 14.  Initially, she opposed to marry Humayun when she got the proposal of marriage with Humayun, but later she agreed. Humayun was already married to Bega Begum, so she was his second wife. Bega Begum was also the chief consort of Humayun that time.

On 15th October 1542, she gave birth to the future emperor Akbar. She had undergone many difficult times with her husband. In the beginning she traveled with her newborn along with husband for 10 to 12 day in the month of june. In 1543, she traveled in desert from Sindh to reach Kandahar.

Hamida Banu was esteemed high throughout her life by her son Akbar. In one of the incidents, Akbar had carried her mother’s palanquin himself across the river while travelling from Lahore to Agra. In another incident, Akbar had shaved his head for only two occasions, one at the death of his mother, Hamida Banu Begum and second at the death of his foster-mother Jiji Anga.

She was buried in the Humayun’s Tomb after her death on 29th August 1604 by son Akbar.

How Hamida Banu met Humayun

Hamida Banu Begum was fourteen year old girl when she met Humayun. The armies of Sher Shah Suri had plans to restore the Afghan rule in Delhi. Thus, Humayun was expelled after leaving Delhi during that time.

Both Hamida and Hindal Mirza opposed the marriage proposal with Humayun strongly. It is assumed that because both Hindal and Hamida were in love with each other, that’s the reason they opposed this marriage proposal. According to the book Humayun-nama, Gulbadan Begum who was Hindal’s sister had mentioned that Hamida was regularly seen in Hindal’s palace as well as in their mother’s palace, Dildar Begum.

Hamida rejected to meet Humayun initially. After the request of Dildar Begum she was convinced to meet him after forty days and she agreed to marry him too. 

Marriage

Hamida married to Humayun on a day chosen by an astrologer in September, 1541 at Paat in Sindh. She became his younger wife after Bega Begum who was Humayun’s first wife and chief consort. The marriage was politically helpful to Humayun, as the rival Shia groups helped him during times of war.

After two years of marriage on 22 August 1542, Humayun and Hamida reached at the Umerkot at a small desert town which was under the rule of Rana Prasad (a Hindu Sodha Rajput), where they were given asylum. After two months, she gave birth to Akbar, the future emperor on 15th October 1542.

Later in coming years in her life, she underwent many tough journeys along with her husband Humayun. The first one was in the beginning of the month of December when she along with her newborn traveled for twelve days and went to a camp. Another one was in 1543, when she traveled a critical journey from Sindh to reach Kandahar when Humayun had to leave her along with her little son behind. She then followed her husband to Persia to visit the shrines of her ancestor, Ahmad-e Jami.

She gave birth to a girl in 1544, at a camp at Sabzevar which was 93 miles in south of Herat. That’s why, she had to return from Persia and she met met Dildar Begum at Kandahar. So she was not able to meet her son Akbar until 15th November 1545.  And then in 1548, she followed her husband Humayun along with her son Akbar and reached Kabul.

Hamida’s role during Akbar’s reign

During Akbar’s reign, royal ladies used to interfere in the official matters of the court to ask pardon for the culprits. It is said that once Akbar had refused to forgive a Sunni Islam from Lahore who had killed a Shia Islam even after the request of his mother Hamida Banu and her daughter-in-law, Ruqaiya Sultan Begum who was Akbar’s chief wife.

Suri dynasty disintegrated in November 1554 after which Humayun set out for India but Hamida stayed in Kabul only. After taking control of Delhi in 1555, he died the next year. He was 47 years of age during his death leaving behind their so Akbar, who was just 13 years old who later became one of greatest emperors of the Mughal Empire. Hamida Banu united to Akbar from Kabul during his second year of reign in 1557 CE and then she stayed with him after that. She even used to participate in various political matters and occasions. 

Death and after-effects

Hamida Banu Begum died on 29th August 1604 in Shahriyar, Agra after which she was buried at Humayun’s Tomb. Her husband Humayun had died a century ago before her death whereas her son Akbar died the next year after her death. As per an english traveler Thomas Coryat, Hamida was held in high regard throughout her life by her son Akbar.

It is said that Akbar carried her palanquin himself while crossing the river in a  journey from Lahore to Agra.

Hamida played a significant role in uniting her grandson Prince Salim and her son Akbar when prince Salim had rebelled against his father Akbar later. Even though, Salim was not convinced and had killed Abu’l-Fazl who was Akbar’s favorite minister.

Akbar was so much in pain after the death of his mother that he shaved his head and chin. And had done this only for 2 times in his entire life.

She was praised with the title, Maryam Makani meaning dwelling with Mary after her death by her son and Emperor Akbar. Humayun Nama has the story of her complete life written by sister of Humayun, Gulbadan Begum.  Her life has also been mentioned in Akbarnama and Ain-i-Akbari written during the her son Akbar’s reign.

Read Also: