A Buddhist Crusade?

World Religions
The violence attack this time in Myanmar reminds me the Crusades which took place in Asia Minor and the Levant between 1095 and 1291. The target was also against Muslims, but this time the attacking force is Buddhists. (http://bit.ly/16o2cX1).

The incident began since late March when Buddhist-led violence swept the town of Meikthila, further north, killing at least 43 people. And this time (Apr 30) they hurled bricks overran mosques and set hundreds of homes ablaze in central Myanmar, injuring at least 10 people. The key word for me is “Buddhist-led”. In a word, they are Buddhist Crusaders. I was a Buddhist before I converted but I never heard that Buddhist has holy war.

Muslims said that they have Jihad (to struggle in the way of Allah). Jihad can be interpreted as the exerting of one’s power in repelling the enemy or in contending with an object of disapprobation (Hexam, p.432), or simply as inner spiritual struggle and outer physical struggle (Morgan). The outer physical struggle of Muslim to my understanding is what we normally called the “holy war” (even though not everyone agrees with this (Hexam, p.434).

Many Muslims claimed that it is the struggle against the enemies of Islam. They will keep fighting until enemies died, or surrender. This Muslim tradition is understandable as it happened and keeping happening since the very first day. However, I wonder when did the struggle against other religion first happened in a Buddhist community, as well as why it happened.

Buddhists talk about peace of mind, they talk about nirvana. (Hexam, p.206) The teaching of Buddhism also teaches the followers to master their thoughts to gain control over the inner working of their minds so as to escape the bonds of existence (Hexam, p.196). Therefore, I see the riot, rampageous or even the killing activities of Buddhists in Myanmar contradicted to their belief.

I wonder if they really know Buddhist belief, or were they really Buddhists? Or just a group of non-Buddhists people follow what Nero did in 64AD so as to lead public targeting Buddhists? And why didn’t those Muslim strike back?

The article also mentioned the report from Human Rights Watch which account yet of the violence in Rakhine state. It accused authorities – including Buddhist monks, local politicians and government officials, and state security forces – organized campaign of “ethnic cleansing” to against a Muslim minority known as the Rohingya. This incident again proved that religion should have nothing to do with politics, and it also proved that however it seldom work this way.

What we find all over the world is that “religions are good tools to politicians” (except communism, I attribute their fear of the power of religion which can gather general populace to against it). If politicians are wise enough, they can “utilizes” religious groups to achieve what their goals. It is not restricted in undeveloped and developing countries. I also saw politician appear in church during election period right here in Canada, and then he suddenly “vanished” afterward.

On the other hand, I wonder why those Muslims in Myanmar did not fight back. Is it because of they are just a minority in the country? Or they do not have enough resources to fight back? Or what …?


Hexham, Irving. Understanding world religions: an interdisciplinary approach. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan. 2011

Morgan, Diane (2010). Essential Islam: A Comprehensive Guide to Belief and Practice. ABC-CLIO. p. 87. Retrieved 5 January 2011.

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One thought on “A Buddhist Crusade?

  1. Believing in Hinayana Buddhism, Myanmar is also a warrior nation. Of about 40% of the population of the country of Myanmar, they use military power to control their territory. This makes me thinking of the theological ground for them to have these two seemingly contradicting characters: being a warrior and being a Buddhist.
    Hexham shows us what the early Buddhism is alike (also the later so called Hinayana Buddhism). The Buddhists community is made up by “an elite group of monks”, they rely on the lay people to provide them livelihood, however, the laity are on the “sidelines” (Hexham P.196)
    This picture is exactly like what is happening in Myanmar. The so called Buddhists doesn’t means they heart-fully embracing a life style that follows the teaching of Buddha. Same thing also happens in Christian community.

    David Wang
    (135 words)

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