A Very Big Reason Why Buddhists Don't Like Islam Very Much
When the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way. —Quran 9:5
When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield strike off their heads and, when you have laid them low, bind your captives firmly. Then grant them their freedom or take a ransom from them, until War shall lay down their burden. —Quran 47:4
God loves those who fight for His cause in ranks as firm as a mighty edifice. —Quran 61:4
Prophet, make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites, and deal sternly with them. Hell shall be their home, evil their fate. —Quran 66:9
Sometimes, lately, people who don’t like religion much, or who want to demonstrate that even Buddhism can be as violent and bad as their own professed religion, point out the ethnic cleansing or even genocide allegedly perpetrated recently by Burmese Buddhists against the Muslim Rohingya people in southwestern Burma. My purpose in what follows is not to discuss the Rohingya situation, although I will mention it more than once; my purpose is more to the point of addressing why Buddhists, especially Burmese ones, don’t like Islam or most Muslims in general, and would prefer not to have much Islam in their country.
That atrocities have been committed by both sides in the conflict between Burmese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims is certain, as is practically always the case in such situations. Even Buddhist monks have been vociferous in their insistence that Islam is not welcome in Burma, to the extent of justifying the Muslims’ forcible expulsion. This has been pointed out as inappropriate and contrary to pacifistic Buddhist doctrine, which is quite true; yet of course the religion of Islam has a much more extensive history of wholesale slaughter than does Buddhism; in fact Islam has become a major world religion mainly because of wholesale slaughter. And history has shown that nations that do not firmly and vehemently defend themselves against militant Islam are doomed to forcible conversion and the death of their traditional cultures.
Consider the case of medieval Buddhist India. Most people are probably unaware that a thousand years ago India was a predominantly Buddhist country—or rather patchwork of kingdoms, all sharing similar cultures. When Islam spread from Arabia in the early 7th century CE, it quickly overran Persia and much of the Byzantine Empire, largely because these two nations were still in smoking ruins after a disastrous war with each other, and Persia especially had fallen into a state of political chaos. Militant Islam was, however, stopped at the northwestern frontiers of India for a few centuries. But then along came Mahmud of Ghazni, a Muslim Turk from somewhere in central Asia, who took it upon himself to invade, conquer, and forcibly convert for Allah the idolatrous infidels of India. What followed was a series of very bloody wars lasting for centuries, and involving the violent deaths of countless millions of Indian Buddhists, Hindus, and followers of other religious systems in what used to be a very peace-oriented society. As A. K. Warder observes in his book Indian Buddhism: "The war was long and for India unprecedentedly bitter: contemporary Indian writers speak of the 'Turkish Wars' as a new kind of war quite different from the traditional chivalrous contests between Indian aristocrats. India was fighting to save her civilization from total destruction."
Following are a series of extracts, written by Muslims themselves, describing their conquest of northern India and the conversion by the sword of the Buddhists, Hindus, et al. whom they encountered. All of the quotations, with a few minor alterations, are taken from Warder’s book.
In the middle of the city there was a temple larger and firmer than the rest, which can neither be described nor painted. The Sultan wrote thus respecting it: “If any should wish to construct a building equal to this, he would not be able to do it without expending a hundred thousand red dinars, and it would occupy two hundred years, even though the most experienced and able workmen were employed.”…The Sultan gave orders that all the temples should be burned with naphtha and fire, and leveled with the ground.
Mahmud replied: The religion of the faithful inculcates the following tenet: “That in proportion as the tenets of the Prophet are diffused, and his followers exert themselves in the subversion of idolatry, so shall be their reward in heaven”; that, therefore, it behoved him, with the assistance of Allah, to root out the worship of idols from the face of all India.
This has been the principle of my ancestors from the time of Asadu-lla Ghalib until now: to convert unbelievers to Allah the one true God and to the Muslim faith. If they adopt our creed, well and good. If not, we put them to the sword.
Many of the inhabitants of the place fled and were scattered abroad….Many of them thus effected their escape, and those who did not flee were put to death.
Islam or death was the alternative that Mahmud placed before the people.
The following account warrants some explanation. In the late 12th and early 13th centuries CE a Turkish military captain named Muhammad-i-Bakhtyar led a rather small force of cavalry deep into the Buddhist and Hindu territories further east. His forces sacked and burned all Buddhist universities that they came across, including the university of Uddandapura, mentioned in the next two quoted extracts. After it was taken and its inhabitants massacred, the university was used as a Muslim fortress and a base for raids against the infidels, including the nearby, larger, and more famous Buddhist university of Nalanda. After sacking Nalanda also, the Turks were unable to completely demolish the sturdily-built temples and outer walls, although the libraries were thoroughly destroyed. Warder gives the following picture of the situation:
A few monks hung on near the ruined universities for a time. For example a Tibetan traveller about 1235 visited Nalanda and found an ancient monk teaching Sanskrit grammar to seventy students among the ruins. Only one or two monks had books (which some must have carried with them when they escaped the Turks who destroyed the library). Even while the traveller was there there was another Turkish raid from Uddandapura, the object of which was presumably to massacre the monks who obstinately remained and perhaps to ransack the ruins further in the hope of finding buried treasure. The monks were warned by a messenger from Uddandapura and withdrew to places at a safe distance. Three hundred Turkish soldiers scoured the ruins and then returned to their base, after which some of the monks returned to their burnt out university.
On the bright side, Bakhtyar eventually moved on to what is now Assam; and in his efforts to conquer the territory in the name of Allah, the benevolent, the merciful, his entire invasion force was annihilated, and he also was slain, in the year 1206 CE. I continue with the Muslims’ own accounts.
Muhammad Bakhtiyar with great vigor and audacity rushed in at the gate of the fortress and gained possession of the place. Great plunder fell into the hands of the victors. Most of the inhabitants of the place were brahmins with shaven heads [rather, Buddhist monks]; and they were all put to death. Large numbers of books were found there, and when the Muslims saw them, they called for some persons to explain their contents, but all of the men had already been killed. It was discovered that the whole fortress and city was a place of study. In the language of the Hindus the word “vihar” means “a college.”
When they reached the place they laid siege to it….The town was reduced to extremities and Allah prevailed over it in the same year. The people were forbidden to worship the budd image, which the Muslims burned. Some of the people also were burned, and the rest were slain [presumably by the more standard method of being put to the sword].
The Muslim forces began to “kill and slaughter on the right and on the left unmercifully, throughout the impure land, for the sake of Islam,” and blood flowed in torrents. They plundered gold and silver to an extent greater than can be conceived, and an immense number of brilliant precious stones….They took captive a great number of beautiful and graceful maidens, amounting to 20,000, and children of both sexes, “more than the pen can enumerate”….In short the Muslim army brought the country to utter ruin, and destroyed the lives of the inhabitants, and plundered the cities, and captured their offspring, so that many temples were deserted and the idols were broken and trodden underfoot.
The nephew of Dahir, his warriors, and the principal officers have been despatched, and the infidels converted to Islam or destroyed. Instead of temples of idols, mosques and other places of worship have been built, pulpits have been erected, the Khutba is read, the call to prayers is raised, so that devotions are performed at the stated hours. The takbir and praise to Almighty Allah are offered every morning and evening.
Orders proscribed the residence of any person other than Muslims in Kashmir….Many of the brahmins, rather than abandon their religion or their country, poisoned themselves; some emigrated from their native homes, while a few escaped the evil of banishment by becoming Muslims. After the emigration of the brahmins, Sikandar ordered all the temples in Kashmir to be torn down….Among other good institutions of Sikandar was the prohibition of vending wine.
…He fell upon the insurgents unawares, and captured them all, to the number of 12,000—men, women, and children—whom he put to the sword. All their valleys and strongholds were overrun and cleared, and great booty captured. Thanks be to Allah for this victory of Islam!
The Amir marched out toward Lamghan, which is a city celebrated for its great strength and abounding in wealth. He conquered it and set fire to the places in its vicinity which were inhabited by infidels, and demolishing the temples of idols, he established Islam there. He marched and captured other cities and killed the polluted wretches, destroying the idolatrous and gratifying the Muslims. After wounding and killing beyond all measure, his hands and those of his friends became cold in counting the value of the plundered wealth. On the completion of his conquest he returned and promulgated accounts of the victories obtained for Islam, and everyone, great and small, concurred in rejoicing over this result and thanking Allah.
The Muslim Turks reached the southern tip of India by the 14th century, although by that time the Indians had become hardened and determined to defend their country and their culture. Despite their fanatical and ultra-violent efforts, the Muslims never succeeded in conquering the entire country, partly due to their relatively small numbers in a very populous land, and partly due, perhaps, to the good karma of the Indian people at the time.
The Hindus fared better than the Buddhists in the conflict with the Muslims. The Buddhists were more uncompromisingly pacifist, so that their only real hope of survival in the face of Turkish invasions was to run away or hide. Many Buddhists fled as refugees into Tibet and Burma, while others fled southwards into territories less accessible to the marauders. While the Hindus also were relatively nonviolent, they did have warlike heroes and role models in their tradition, including the god/warriors Rama and Krishna of the great Hindu epics, and of course also the rather warlike advice Krishna gave to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. So the Hindus fought for their lives and eventually stopped the spread of the sword of Islam, whereas Buddhism became almost totally extinguished in the country of its birth.
It can be argued that those were violent times, and that times have changed. Defenders of Islam often point to similar atrocities committed by Christians and Jews, and recently also Burmese Buddhists. That the Old Testament of the Bible also is very violent is obviously true, as well as the fact that Jews and Christians have taken that violence as a justification of their own genocidal activities over the centuries. (The Buddhists have no scriptural precedent whatsoever for violent conquest, or even for killing another living being, so by waging war they necessarily have to violate the tenets of their own religion as a kind of necessary evil, especially if the war is one of self-defense. I have been told that the Burmese army recruits heavily from non-Buddhist, mostly Christian, ethnic groups.) But the thing is, the Jews and Christians have gradually evolved beyond the blood-soaked pages of the Old Testament, most of it written well over 2500 years ago. They rarely use their own scriptures as a justification for aggressive, offensive conflict with other nations, and no longer practice bloody animal sacrifices. Islam, on the other hand, emphatically has NOT outgrown its scriptures or its violent past. Fundamentalist Islam remains ideologically in the Dark Ages.
To this day the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is considered to be the perfect role model for Muslim men, the shining example to be emulated. But very unlike Jesus of Nazareth or Gotama Buddha (and more closely resembling the early Hebrew prophet Moses), Muhammad was not a saintly or even particularly peaceful man. In fact (and the Muslims themselves have provided this information) Muhammad was a bandit who led armed and murderous pirate raids against caravans, and a warlord who led bands of marauders against non-Muslim settlements; who had hundreds of people beheaded and otherwise put to death; who sold women and children into slavery; who endorsed torture and rape; and who, last and possibly least, had sexual intercourse with a nine-year-old girl when he was in his fifties. And I repeat, he is still considered to this day to be the ideal Muslim.
Islam today is much like Muhammad was in another sense: when Muslims are a minority and without political power they profess tolerance and peace; but when they reach a certain critical mass and gain sufficient power they tend to become aggressively intolerant of non-Muslims, and even of different sects of Muslims. Muhammad, likewise, taught peace and humility while he was persecuted and despised in Mecca, channeling teachings like “The duty of a prophet is only to give fair warning”; but after he became effective warlord over most of Arabia his messages from Allah became more along the lines of “Hunt down the unbelievers and the hypocrites and show no mercy.” And in Islam, in accordance with a principle the Arabic name of which I forget, the earlier teachings are abrogated by the later ones which contradict them. But even to point out such unsavory facts is punishable as a “hate crime” throughout much of the western world nowadays. At first it was simply politically correct not to be Islamophobic; but now real fear of Islamic violence is reinforcing the taboo on criticizing the Prophet or the message he promulgated, often at the point of a scimitar. Throughout much of the west, one must declare Islam to be a religion of peace, because if one tells unsavory truths about it Muslims may go berserk and start killing people.
So the Burmese, being a people who are proud of their ethnicity and cultural heritage and who, bless their hearts, do not give half a damn about “progressive” political correctness, favored the expulsion of a population of Muslims in Burma who were reaching the aforementioned critical mass, and who had begun, allegedly, to direct some aggressive intolerance toward their Buddhist neighbors, as well as, again allegedly, raping some virtuous Buddhist village girls. Very unlike the globalist and/or neo-Marxist decadents of the European Union, the Burmese have no intention of allowing the destruction of their national culture by allowing outsiders endorsing a violent and barbarous world view to infiltrate and overrun their nation. So the Burmese army acted ruthlessly, and in all likelihood, typical of the Burmese army, they overdid the ruthlessness to the point of wanton brutality. Although, as I mentioned early on, atrocities have been committed by both sides of the conflict, as is pretty much standard in situations like this one.
Unilateral disarmament, especially when you are thoroughly pacifistic while living side by side with people whose very religion justifies violence against you, is just plain suicidal. Furthermore, openly inviting people from a violent and relatively barbarous culture into a civilized, peaceful society is foolish to the point of insanity. The Buddhists of India were extremely pacifistic, many of them favoring the ideal of abolishing all armies and even abolishing the killing of animals for food; which is a big reason why Buddhism was practically extirpated from the land of its birth—the Buddhists who didn’t scatter were slaughtered like sheep by the very non-pacifistic Muslims. And now the people of the west, apparently lacking an ounce of sense, are doing one over the medieval Indian Buddhists by actually inviting and welcoming Muslim people, many of whom would not hesitate to extirpate the depravity and blasphemy of ultraliberal European culture once they reach sufficient mass to do so. Perhaps there are still enough “Hindus” in Europe who still harbor some masculine and martial sentiment who will be able to fight back, and perhaps save at least part of Europe for non-Muslims. Perhaps the inevitable race wars in Europe will bring forth a stronger, less feminized race of Europeans.
As for the Muslims themselves, I really bear no ill-will towards them, so long as they remain in their own Islamic societies (most of which were converted violently to Islam centuries ago). They can live in peace in the Islamic world, or, which is more likely, continue to attack and kill each other there. But importing ideological medieval barbarism into the western world is just plain beyond stupid; and people like Tony Blair and Angela Merkel could never have their butts kicked sufficiently to repay what they have done to their own homelands, even if their butts were kicked for thousands of years.
A common Buddhist blessing is, May all beings be happy and peaceful; but, needless to say, it’s not very realistic. Anyhow, to the extent that you can manage it, my blessings are upon you. Be happy, and laugh while you can.
|ruins of Nalanda University, in northern India|