Zain-ul-Abidin was the eighth Sultan of Kashmir during the Shah Mir Dynasty, and he was the son of Sikander Butshikan, who was known for iconoclasm and bigoted policies towards Kashmiri Hindus. However, unlike his father, Zain-ul-Abidin was renowned for his religious tolerance and was referred to as Badshah (Great King).
Zain-ul-Abidin’s administration was one of great splendor. Zain-ul-Abidin built a large number of public works, founded new cities, and constructed numerous irrigation works. He stabilized the Kashmiri currency after its debasement by his predecessors, and he gave peasants of Kashmir tax relief.
Regarding religious policy, Zain-ul-Abidin broke with his predecessors and embraced religious tolerance. He abolished the Jizya tax that his father implemented on Hindus, rightly viewing it as a religiously-sanctioned discriminatory act. He banned cow slaughter to respect the sentiments of the Kashmiri Hindus.
Even more, Zain-ul-Abidin invited back the Hindus that had fled under his father’s genocidal rule against them. He patronized learned Hindu scholars and allowed for some of the temples that were destroyed by his father to be rebuilt.
Zain-Ul-Abidin, although less known today, represents the pluralist and humanist side of Kashmir’s history where people of all faiths and backgrounds could call the majestic Kashmiri Valley as home in peace.