Muslims Victims of Buddhist Violence?!

Kind of sounds strange, doesn’t it? Especially given the image of these two religions many of us get through Western media. Brother AbdulHaq of Brixton sent me the following link to a rather interesting blog post by an anthropologist studying Muslim communities. His name’s Dr. Gabriele Marranci and he’s given a pretty interesting look into the situation being experienced by my Muslim brothers and sisters in Burma; thanks to Dr. Marranci for the insight, and thanks to AbdulHaq for directing me to the Dr.’s post. From the article:

Since the revolt of the monks against the military junta in Burma, all the western mass media have focused on the long history of oppression of this South Asian country, which, I suppose, few of us really know about. While in Italy, I saw people wearing purple T-shirts in the streets, at the universities, and organised protests at the Burmese embassies in support of the ‘Buddhist monks’. This struggle for freedom has seen recently its first victims, and there is a general fear that the new protest can be as unsuccessful as the attempted revolution in 1988. Yet the attention is very much focused upon the courage of the ‘peaceful’ monks. 

Read on … The Other, Invisible Suffering of Burma.

I also came across this collection of links concerning Buddhist inspired violence: Buddhism: Violence and War. I have yet to go through them, but they do look interesting to say the least. From the disclaimer at the top of this particular page:

Not unlike other religions Buddhism also has “skeletons in its’ closet” which it carefully conceals in the Western world. There are dark aspects in this “philosophy of compassion, non-violence and tolerance”. Zen-Buddhism for example influenced the most sophisticated warrior philosophy of the East: the extremely brutal and suicidal Samurai Ethics. In Tibetan Buddhism one can find believes in spirits and demons, in secret sexual practices, in war gods, in occultism. Lamas search to influence their retinue and the world with all sorts of magical rituals. In Sri Lanka Buddhist violence and Buddhist racism are the order of the day. In Burma and in Kashmir Buddhist armies are fighting. And yet the Dalai Lama has another face that peeks out from behind the mask of goodness, charity and kindness, which gives one pause to think more deeply about the shadow sides of this “man of peace.” Why is Buddhist fundamentalism so dangerous – because it shows a tendency to religious Fascism! It’s not well known that the brain trust of the SS in Nazi Germany was extremely interested in Vedic- and Buddhist- teachings, in the Lamaist culture, and in Zen-Meditation with the goal to construct with elements of these eastern believes its own Nazi-Religion. (See: www.trimondi.de/H-B-K/inhalt.hi.en.htm ) Buddhism – if it will become congruent with western values like democracy, human rights, equality of gender etc. must be “reinvented”. The condition therefore is an open, critical and honest debate.

About Rasheed Gonzales
My name is Rasheed Gonzales. I’m a Muslim convert of Filipino descent. Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, I was guided to Islam through one of my younger brothers and a couple of friends, all of whom had converted to Islam sometime before me (may Allah reward them greatly). I am married with four children (and the praise is Allah’s) and also a volunteer for the Qur'an & Sunnah Society of Canada, based in Toronto.

23 Responses to Muslims Victims of Buddhist Violence?!

  1. azza05 says:

    Intersting article…..different from the norm. Keep up the good work :)

  2. AS says:

    As-salam alaikum,
    In order to try & TRULY understand the nature of a created object, we must look at it from different angles. You have gone past the lazy one dimensional perspective to give a greater depth of understanding to the subject. I am sure that many will be surprised & benefit from the clearing of the stereotypical propaganda fog. For that may Allah (SWT) reward you insha’Allah.

  3. Pingback: Weapons Found in Tibetan Temples « Rasheed Gonzales

  4. Jack says:

    Muslims have been victims of violence by “peaceful” Buddhists for centuries. Buddhist Vietnam and Khmer Empires repeatedly attacked Champa, ultimately destroying it. Buddhist Japan attacked much of Asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia. Today, Buddhist Thailand attacks Pattani Muslims. In Sri Lanka, Buddhists attack peaceful Muslims. Don’t forget Buddhists aggressive attacks against fellow Buddhists. Read up on the Emerald Buddha’s wars. It’s all over history.

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  6. Casual Bud says:

    Dear Rasheed,
    It is sad to hear of violence incited by any religion. However, your claim of Buddhism as a religion/belief based on occult and that itself inspires violence is a pure misinformation or a bigoted statement. Please check the facts first before posting on the Internet.

    There has not been any killing of innocent civilians esp. children and women in the name of the religion.

    Samurai is a Japanese warrior culture with no relevance to the religion.

    Thailand – is a case of armed so-called Muslim militant against Buddhist civilians and Thai soldiers.

    I don’t know about Sri Lanka, could be an attempt to defame Buddhism by linking political action with the religion, or to inflame religious hatred.

    During WW2, Japan had attack much of East and South East Asia. It was inspired by fanatical patriotism, not religion. The aristocracies in Malaya (Not Malaysia then), Indonesia … and massacre in China were directed to different races, not religion.

    So my dear friend, you could have post something that promotes religious tolerance rather than hatred, a disservice to humanity.

  7. Hello “Casual Bud”, and welcome to my blog.

    your claim of Buddhism as a religion/belief based on occult and that itself inspires violence is a pure misinformation or a bigoted statement. Please check the facts first before posting on the Internet.

    Buddhism is based on occult? Where did I say that? Where did I also make the claim that Buddhism itself inspires violence? What I did in this blog post was give two links to articles and sites that give another perspective into the topic: Buddhist violence against other faiths.

    There has not been any killing of innocent civilians esp. children and women in the name of the religion.

    I never made the claim that Buddhists are killing others in the name of their religion. But to deny that there are Buddhists that kill others, despite the evidence showing that there are (as provided by Dr. Marranci), is turning a blind eye to reality.

    So my dear friend, you could have post something that promotes religious tolerance rather than hatred, a disservice to humanity.

    I don’t mean this in a hostile way or anything at all, just being frank, but we’re not friends, let alone dear friends, so please don’t patronize me. As for what I posted, as mentioned I posted this information to give another perspective on things. You don’t agree with it, that’s fine. You’re entitled to your own opinion. Dr. Marranci’s article, however, does show that contrary to the public perception, Muslims are sometimes actually the victims, not the perpetrators, of religious violence.

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  9. Steve in Allen, TX says:

    Thank you for the “information”. I believe some of the details in your article are accurate; but, I also believe several of your conclusions are fallacious. For starters, your writing suffers from hasty generalizations or slothful inductions (depending on motivation), because you attempt to make a point by using insular events and arguing your point as if these are a representative of the whole. Also, your argument suffers from a slippery-slope fallacy (common in conjunction with generalizations and slothful inductions), because it attempts to emphasize a point using hyperbole. These slippery-slope fallacies are usually easy to spot since they frequently compare/contrast a person or organization with Hitler and/or Nazism.

    While there are horrific events which have involved people who practice Buddhism, their actions (in most cases) were not done to expand Buddhism. In many cases, these events occurred because others wanted to impose their will on the Buddhists. (Islamic and Christian history is replete with events of the adherents trying to enforce their beliefs on others.) In others, the conflict (usually racial) preceded the arrival of Buddhist teachings; and, the culture, while embracing the teachings, was not able to overcome the conflict immediately. I will also admit that there were a few regrettable cases of violence in the name of Buddhism, which was the source of my original search; however, these appear to be isolated.

    Like Casual Bud stated, I believe the predominant cause of most of the violence you cite is/was racial. And I can assure you that the Dahlai Lama, and Buddhists around the world condemn the violence.

    The teachings of the Dahlai Lama, and most Buddhists, advocate peace, acceptance, and tranquility. However, it does not mean that we have to just accept fallacies or oppression. In fact, fallacies are the antithesis of enlightenment, which is (as most people know) the ultimate goal of Buddhism.

    Best regards,

    Steve

  10. Hello Steve in Allen, TX and welcome to my blog.

    Thank you for your input and criticisms, but I’m afraid you need to direct them to the actual authors of the articles I linked to, the first of whom is Dr. Marranci, whose blog is linked to in the main post. Please feel free to visit his blog and leave your comments under the appropriate post. The authors for the bit I quoted with the Nazi reference, Victor and Victoria Trimondi, can be contacted with the info found here. Thanks.

  11. Elisabeth says:

    Rasheed,

    I really commend your even-tempered responses to the commentators who disagreed with the conclusions in the articles you referenced.

    Personally, I ascribe to most (Chan, or Zen) Buddhist beliefs. I found this blog post of yours when, after a friend said there has been violence in Buddhism just like any other religion, I began searching for more information, because this idea was upsetting to me.

    I have a few comments on the subject of Buddhist violence, though:

    1. I certainly believe that people are capable of using whatever justifications they like for their actions. In that light, Buddhism certainly cannot be immune from such a use.

    2. I would contend that in at least some, though not all, cases of Buddhist violence, there was a more mundane understanding of the Dharma, or just plain wrong understanding or even ignorance.

    3. Finally, although with my understanding of the Dharma I would never participate in or help a violent act, I can definitely empathize (in some cases) with the thought processes of Buddhist monks and others who truly believe they are doing the right thing. However, on the whole it is my perception, although I am certainly not extremely widely informed, that Buddhism has been tolerant and nonviolent to an extent that most other major religions have not been.

    Thank you very much for turning peoples’ attention to these ideas, and especially for spreading Dr. Marranci’s article, which i believe is balanced and logical on the whole. It is a great discredit to oversimplify anyone’s belief system, and even more so to perpetuate a stereotype of “aggressive and violent” to a religion to which many intelligent, thoughtful, and compassionate people ascribe to. I hope that we can all work together to create a worldwide culture of thoughtfulness, compassion, and tolerance.

  12. Hello Elisabeth and welcome to my blog.

    Thank you for dropping by and commenting on the article seeing it for what it is. Much appreciated.

  13. NotJack says:

    Hey Jack, the muslims started it in thailand. although it was our fault that we took their land, they protested through killing innocent monks and buddhist.

  14. And in the taking of the land, was there no killing was involved? (This is a serious question, btw. I don’t know Thailand’s history).

  15. Srini says:

    Hi Rasheed,
    Though you are only saying that Buddhists are killing others, everyone dropping by your blog seem to understand that Buddhism encourages killing. I mean there is nothing like Luke 19:26-27 or Surah 9:5 in Buddhism. These Buddhists are killing just because they want to kill. There is nothing in their religion that they can quote even if they are life is threatened. I think such a disclaimer wouldn’t mislead the people.
    Thanks,
    Srini.

  16. Gabriel says:

    If people who see themselves as Buddhists are initiating violence against others then they are not acting in accordance with the teachings of the Buddha. Blaming Buddhism for their violence is not logical – one should blame the individuals themselves who fall short of proper Buddhist behaviour, especially those who would pervert Buddhism for political purposes.

  17. Hi Gabriel.

    Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts. You make a great observation. It’s a shame, however, that Islam and Muslims aren’t afforded the same benefit.

  18. hanciong says:

    I agree with Srini and Gabriel: NOTHING in Buddhism texts encourages violence toward other living beings (not just human), misinterpreted or literal. These Buddhism people, if they really do violent things, can’t cite anything from Buddhism texts to justify their actions. So, it is different from Christian or Muslim people’s violence, because they REALLY do it based on their scriptures (in some cases misinterpretation, in other cases too literal interpretation).

  19. Abdullaah bin Adam says:

    hanciong: erm..how ’bout this passage: “”Arhats don’t know the Buddha. All they know are so many practices for realization, and they become trapped by cause and effect. Such is a mortal’s karma: no escape from birth and death. By doing the opposite of what lie intended, such people blaspheme the Buddha. Killing them would not be wrong. The sutras say, “Since icchantikas are incapable of belief, killing them would be blameless, whereas people who believe reach the state of Buddhahood.”

  20. hanciong says:

    @Abdullaah bin Adam: thanx for showing me this. However, from where this passage is taken? Could you show me the source of this sentence? (internet link, or some book?)

  21. abu-subay'ah says:

    @hanciong; that statement is taken from bodhi-dharma’s bloodstream sermon. it is very popular and easily found on the internet.

  22. Here’s Dr. Marranci’s latest article on the oppression being dished out by the Buddhist Burmese majority, Burma, ethno-Buddhism, racism and religious persecution.

    Here are the other articles he’s written over the years on this issue as well:

    My Muslim brothers and sisters, let us supplicate to Allah, beseech Him and beg Him to alleviate the suffering of our oppressed brothers and sisters in Burma and elsewhere around the world; to give them patience, resolve and strength; and to answer their supplications for salvation and relief from the oppression and injustice they face. Let us take advantage of the benefits that Allah affords us during this blessed month and not forget the brothers and sisters that need our help in our supplications and prayers.

  23. What an amazingly peace-loving group of people!

    Burma’s monks call for Muslim community to be shunned

    The Buddhists have reportedly tried to block humanitarian aid getting to ethnic group
    Hanna Hindstrom
    Wednesday 25 July 2012

    Monks who played a vital role in Burma’s recent struggle for democracy have been accused of fuelling ethnic tensions in the country by calling on people to shun a Muslim community that has suffered decades of abuse.

    In a move that has shocked many observers, some monks’ organisations have issued pamphlets telling people not to associate with the Rohingya community, and have blocked humanitarian assistance from reaching them. One leaflet described the Rohingya as “cruel by nature” and claimed it had “plans to exterminate” other ethnic groups.

    The outburst against the Rohingya, often described as one of the world’s most oppressed groups, comes after weeks of ethnic violence in the Rakhine state in the west of Burma that has left more than 80 dead and up to 100,000 people living in a situation described as “desperate” by humanitarian organisations. As state-sanctioned abuses against the Muslim community continue, Burma’s president Thein Sein – credited by the international community for ushering in a series of democratic reforms in the country and releasing political prisoners such as Aung San Suu Kyi – has urged neighbouring Bangladesh to take in the Rohingya.

    “In recent days, monks have emerged in a leading role to enforce denial of humanitarian assistance to Muslims, in support of policy statements by politicians,” said Chris Lewa, director of the Arakan project, a regional NGO. “A member of a humanitarian agency in Sittwe told me that some monks were posted near Muslim displacement camps, checking on and turning away people they suspected would visit for assistance.”

    The Young Monks’ Association of Sittwe and Mrauk Oo Monks’ Association have both released statements in recent days urging locals not to associate with the group. Displaced Rohingya have been housed in over-crowded camps away from the Rakhine population – where a health and malnutrition crisis is said to be escalating – as political leaders move to segregate and expel the 800,000-strong minority from Burma. Earlier this month, Thein Sein attempted to hand over the group to the UN refugee agency.

    Aid workers report ongoing threats and interference by local nationalist and religious groups. Some monasteries in Maungdaw and Sittwe sheltering displaced Rakhine people have openly refused to accept international aid, alleging that it is “biased” in favour of the Rohingya. Monks have traditionally played a critical role in helping vulnerable citizens, stepping in to care for the victims of Cyclone Nargis in 2008 after the military junta rejected international assistance.

    Many have been shocked by the response of the monks and members of the democracy movement to the recent violence, which erupted after the rape and murder of a Buddhist woman, allegedly by three Muslims, unleashed long-standing ethnic tensions.

    Monks’ leader Ashin Htawara recently encouraged the government to send the group “back to their native land” at an event in London hosted by the anti-Rohingya Burma Democratic Concern. Ko Ko Gyi, a democracy activist with the 88 Generation Students group and a former political prisoner, said: “The Rohingya are not a Burmese ethnic group. The root cause of the violence… comes from across the border.” Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK, said: “We were shocked to have [Ashin Htawara] propose to us that there should be what amounts to concentration camps for the Rohingya.”

    Ms Suu Kyi has also been criticised for failing to speak out. Amal de Chickera of the London-based Equal Rights Trust, said: “You have these moral figures, whose voices do matter. It’s extremely disappointing and in the end it can be very damaging.”

    The Rohingya have lived in Burma for centuries, but in 1982, the then military ruler Ne Win stripped them of their citizenship. Thousands fled to Bangladesh where they live in pitiful camps. Foreign media are still denied access to the conflict region, where a state of emergency was declared last month, and ten aid workers were arrested without explanation.

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