Buddhism and Islam on the Silk Road by Johan Elverskog

By Johan Elverskog

In the modern international the assembly of Buddhism and Islam is often imagined as one in every of violent disagreement. certainly, the Taliban's destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001 appeared not just to reenact the notorious Muslim destruction of Nalanda monastery within the 13th century but additionally to reaffirm the stereotypes of Buddhism as a calm, rational philosophy and Islam as an inherently violent and irrational faith. but when Buddhist-Muslim historical past was once easily repeated situations of Muslim militants attacking representations of the Buddha, how had the Bamiyan Buddha statues survived 13 hundred years of Muslim rule?

Buddhism and Islam at the Silk Road demonstrates that the background of Buddhist-Muslim interplay is way richer and extra complicated than many think. This groundbreaking publication covers internal Asia from the 8th century throughout the Mongol empire and to the tip of the Qing dynasty within the past due 19th century. by means of exploring the conferences among Buddhists and Muslims alongside the Silk street from Iran to China over greater than a millennium, Johan Elverskog unearths that this lengthy stumble upon was once truly one in every of profound cross-cultural trade within which non secular traditions weren't in basic terms enriched yet reworked in lots of ways.

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122 For example, “ Kakah b. ” 123 In fact, the early Muslim state even continued the policy of allotting three percent of tax revenues for non-Muslim religious mendicants. 124 Before constructing too rosy a picture of early Muslim rule, however, it is important to recognize that all of these events and policies were carried out in the first decades of the eighth century. At this time Islam itself, to say nothing of its relations with other traditions, was in flux. Indeed, the ruling of al-Hajjaj, the governor of Iraq who allowed Buddhists to rebuild a temple, was in direct violation of the Pact of Umar (ca.

92 Some Buddhists even took things into their own hands. One group of Nikaya monks from northwest India and Sri Lanka, for example, was so enraged at the sight of the Vajrasena temple in Bodhgaya that they burned the tantric texts preserved there and smashed the temple’s silver statue of Hevajra. These Nikaya monks furthermore purportedly asserted, “ That which is called the Mahayana is only a source of livelihood for those who follow the wrong view. ”93 The historicity of this episode is certainly open to doubt; however, it does powerfully capture the tensions, in particular the financial ones, which arose between these competing Buddhist traditions.

The Mauryas, for example, adopted numerous practices from the Achaemenid Empire of Persia. ” 49 Within the Buddhist international^ nexus of trade, empire, and religion there was one region that was to play a pivotal role: northwest India up to the Hindu Kush (which now includes much of Afghanistan and Pakistan) and Central Asia (the area north of the Hindu Kush stretching to the Kazakh steppe and flanked in the west by the Caspian Sea and the Tianshan mountains in the east, which is now largely comprised of the five post­ soviet states of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan).

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