The Disappearance of Buddhism From India Part 2 INT

The extinction of Buddhism from India at the time of the Turkish invasion led to a usual conclusion that Muslim persecution was the major cause of the disappearance of Buddhism from its homeland. Many even take it as support to a traditional charge that Islam is a religion of the sword which spread by the sword and was upheld by the sword. To confirm this, they quote from the Koran (Al-Qur’an):

“Prescribed for you is fighting, though it is hateful unto you” (2:212)
“O prophet ! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites ! Be harsh with them. Their ultimate abode is Hell, a hapless journey’s end.” (9:73)

“O Prophet ! Exhort the believers to fight. If there be of you twenty steadfast, they shall overcome two hundred, and if there be of you a hundred steadfast, they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they are a folk without intelligence.” (8:65)

“Truly, those who do not believe our verses we shall fry in the fire.” (4:56)
“Fight them then that there should be no sedition, and that the religion may be wholly God’s.” (8:40)
“O ye who believe ! it is only the idolaters who are unclean; they shall not then approach the Sacred Mosque after this year.” (9:28)

“Fight those who believe not in God and in the last day, and who forbid not what God and his Apostle have forbidden, and who do not practise the religion of truth from among those to whom the Book has been brought, until they pay the tribute by their hands and be as little ones.” (9:29)

“O Believers ! Make not friends of your fathers or your brethren if they love unbelief above faith: and whoso of you shall make them his friends, will be wrongdoers.” (9:23)

“Whoever fights for the way of Allah and is killed or victorious will receive a glorious reward.” (4:74)

Muslim scholars, however, do not approve of this. They say the above quotations should not be made here as a support to the charge. For this, they point to at least two reasons. Firstly, some of the above
quotations refer only to the early events during the lifetime of Muhammad when he fought to found the religion, and do not apply to other cases. Secondly, in other quotations, the word fighting or war is not to be interpreted as a physical fighting, but it means that of the spiritual life.

Muslim scholars further explain that the word Islam means ‘peace’ or ‘submission to the will of God,’ and Muslim, an adherent of Islam, means ‘one devoted to peace.’ Islam teaches religious tolerance and condemns persecution. They also quote from the Koran:

“There is no compulsion in religion.” (2:256)
“Defend yourself against your enemies; but attack them not first. Allah loveth not aggressors.” (2:190)
“Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion.” (109:6)
“So. if they hold aloof from you and wage not war against you and offer you peace. Allah alloweth you no way against them.” (4:90)
“O ye who believe ! When ye go forth to fight in the way of Allah, make investigation. and say not unto one who offereth you the salutation of peace: ‘Thou art not a believer.” (4:96)

The Turks who invaded India and persecuted the Buddhists did so only out of the desire for power and territorial expansion. They used the religion to conceal their crimes. True Muslims or those who know the spirit of Islam would not do that. Muslim scholars say the Christian record of intolerance is greater than theirs. It was the Christians who preached the crusades and used their faith as a tool for the expansion of colonialism. It was also the Christians who, quarrelling among themselves over Christian dogma, caused innumerable religious wars and persecutions. On the contrary, in Thailand, all the Muslims have lived peacefully among the friendly Buddhists throughout its history.1

The above explanation of Muslim scholars can be a great comfort to the world. The Turks who destroyed Buddhism while invading India were not true Muslims. True Muslims know the true spirit of Islam and devote themselves to the way of peace. We can now hope that Muslims in the future will be true Muslims and the sad and terrible history will not repeat itself.

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