outline: Silk road carried trade,exchange of ideas, culture,religion- ups and downs
Trade along the route was adversely affected by the strife which built up between the Christian and Moslem worlds. The Crusades brought the Christian world a little nearer to Central Asia, but the unified Moslem armies under Saladin drove them back again. In the Fourth Crusade, the forces of Latin Christianity scored a triumph over their Greek rivals, with the capture of Constantinople (Istanbul). However, it was not the Christians who finally split the Moslem world, but the Mongols from the east.
Whilst Europe and Western Asia were torn by religious differences, the Mongols had only the vaguest of religious beliefs. Several of the tribes of Turkestan which had launched offensives westwards towards Persia and Arabia, came to adopt Islam, and Islam had spread far across Central Asia, but had not reached as far as the tribes which wandered the vast grasslands of Mongolia. These nomadic peoples had perfected the arts of archery and horsemanship. With an eye to expanding their sphere of influence, they met in 1206 and elected a leader for their unified forces; he took the title Great Khan. Under the leadership of Genghis Khan, they rapidly proceeded to conquer a huge region of Asia. The former Han city of Jiaohe, to the west of Turfan, was decimated by the Mongols as they passed through on their way westwards. The Empire they carved out enveloped the whole of Central Asia from China to Persia, and stretched as far west as the Mediterranean. This Mongol empire was maintained after Genghis’ death, with the western section of the empire divided into three main lordships, falling to various of his descendents as lesser Khans, and with the eastern part remaining under the rule of the Great Khan, a title which was inherited from by Kublai Khan. Kubilai completed the conquest of China, subduing the Song in the South of the country, and established the Yuan dynasty.
The partial unification of so many states under the Mongol Empire allowed a significant interaction between cultures of different regions. The route of the Silk Road became important as a path for communication between different parts of the Empire, and trading was continued. Although less `civilised’ than people in the west, the Mongols were more open to ideas. Kubilai Khan, in particular, is reported to have been quite sympathetic to most religions, and a large number of people of different nationalities and creeds took part in the trade across Asia, and settled in China. The most popular religion in China at the time was Daoism, which at first the Mongols favoured. However, from the middle of the thirteenth century onwards, buddhist influence increased, and the early lamaist Buddhism from Tibet was particularly favoured. The two religions existed side by side for a long period during the Yuan dynasty. This religious liberalism was extended to all.
Any history on the Silk Road would be incomplete without mention of Marco Polo. As a member of a merchant family from Venice he took the route. Starting in 1271, at the age of only seventeen, he trekked across Persia, and then along the southern branch of the Silk Road, via Khotan, finally ending at the court of Kubilai Khan at Khanbalik, the site of present-day Beijing, and the summer palace, better known as Xanadu.
Mongol invasion was a turning point in the history of the region. Islam will fall back from what they had gained: all the turbulence,-force released by falling edifices of old beliefs, cultures muddied by trades, wars was for their taking. There was the Black Death that hit as far as Europe. Two thirds of Europe will succumb to it. History would never be the same. Islam will make a giant leap backwards and would never be the same.
(To be Cont’d)
Posts Tagged ‘recidivism’
Posted in culture, history, tagged Benny Thomas, Buddhism, culture, Daoism, Genghiz Khan, history, Islam, Kublai Khan, Marco Polo, recidivism, the Black Death, the Mongols on May 3, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
outline: Silk road carried trade,exchange of ideas, culture,religion- ups and downs
Posted in religion,, tagged Benny Thomas, Correspondence principle, dar-ul Islam, dream of prophets, human evolution, Islam, Mormon religion, Principles of Islam, recidivism, Sickman of Europe, society, Turkey on November 24, 2011 | Leave a Comment »
Man is a social animal and as such thrust of his progress can be measured in terms of the society, created by him.
If it is created measure of his success can also be determined in how sociable he has become. In the evolution of our ape-ancestors to the modern man we hold no distinction between Australopithecines, Homo erectus (which inhabited Asia, Africa, and Europe) and Neanderthals (either Homo neanderthalensis or Homo sapiens neanderthalensis) (which inhabited Europe and Asia). We carry however in our genome something of those groups that have died out. We are humans and our achievements are part of our common experience. In short despite of evolutionary twists and turns of our origins we bear the bequest of those who did not make it. Family beginnings of modern man go far back as 400,000 and 250,000 years ago. In terms of biology we humans do not demonstrate in the least any particular divine favor that a Christian, Jew or a Muslim claim as special for himself.
But looking at our social structure we see we are fragmented in the way we have chosen to show our identity in terms of our race, religion and economic status. We went about creating a family of man and became a creature of our own conceit. Perhaps this paradox is ever in our consciousness and that would explain the perennial popularity of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein.
We choose the society that we can relate to and not other way around. In accommodating members with various life experiences and interacting with them we infuse vitality into it. We broaden our horizons as a result. Nature has divised ways which would seem to follow this formula: like repels like; and opposites attract. History is replete with instances where societal collapse owed to the failure in heeding Nature’s warning. Inbreeding of Pharaohs in Egypt sowed their eventual demise and one of the serious consequences of Islam lay in the cultural stagnation. Dar-ul Islam or Global Islam means that all nations would be ruled under an Islamic theocracy, which is simply a national government set up under the rule of Allah’s divine sanction as expressed in the Qur’an and Shari’ah law. It did not happen. Historically Muslims failed to make their initial successes in world conquests to something permanent or significant. Mongol Invasion of the 13th century and Black Death had curtailed their mission. In their falling back to their old ideas a way of life they were comfortable they denied further growth. Compare between the period of Ottoman Empire at the height of its glory during the reign of Suleiman the magnificent, and the decades prior to the WWI (when it was called the Sick Man of Europe) is a sad commentary of a society that had run of ideas. It ceased to grow.
Islam as a religion can be authoritatively dated and the flight of Mohammed is a historical date. Let us consider Islamic tradition relates Prophet Muhammad in 610, when he was 40 years old first heard the voice of the angel Gabriel, who recited to him the word of God, today written down in the Muslim holy book, the Qur’an, meaning “recitation.”
It is significant that Muslims believe that what Gabriel told Muhammad came directly from God;by the same token the Jews believe the promise of Israel was given by God to Patriarch Abraham indicating the extent of their promised land.
One cannot be true and the other false.
Islam says that the message was similar to those received by the early Hebrew prophets: that God is one, he is all-powerful, he is the creator of the universe, and that there will be a Judgment Day when those who have carried out God’s commands will enjoy paradise in heaven, and those who have not will be condemned to hell. As we have seen, these ideas were also part of the Zoroastrian religion. When certain ideas are common experience of man there must be something to it. But in the way these ideas are coined and given value we need to be clear that such value system is man-made and as currency holds limited use. The correspondence principle states that if one man’s revelation is accepted as true on the same scale every belief must be accepted as true.
Man who dreams the impossible is everywhere persecuted. It is not the dream but how that dream is realized for the betterment of society is the main point. Prophet Mohammed fled to Medina and his dream was put into reality by his followers. How one would make a case for the Mormon sect, which was also founded on a spiritual experience?
This sect was founded in 1830. The Mormon pioneers were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as Latter-day Saints, who migrated across the United States from the Midwest to the Salt Lake Valley in what is today the U.S. state of Utah. At the time of the planning of the exodus in 1846, the territory was owned by the Republic of Mexico, which soon after went to war with the United States over the annexation of Texas.
The journey was taken by about 70,000 people beginning with advanced parties sent out by church fathers in March 1846 after the assassination of Mormon founder Joseph Smith made it clear the faith could not remain in Nauvoo, Illinois — which the church had recently purchased, improved, renamed and developed because of the Missouri Mormon War setting off the Illinois Mormon War. The well-organized wagon train migration began in earnest in April 1847, and the period (including the flight from Missouri in 1838 to Nauvoo) known as the Mormon Exodus is, by convention among social scientists, assumed to have ended with the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. Whether preposterous or wholesome values that a religion may contain man is ready to forsake all for his liberty of conscience. It is the golden key which opens the door to the promised land.
How can Moslems expect others to accept their religion as perfect when they themselves did not keep the promise? History of mankind shall be strewn with the conflict of liberty of conscience and pursuit of pleasure whatever the term ‘pleasure’ may mean. History is not concerned with motives or dreams of man but how their dreams were realized. When the children of Islam fell back from the shared experience of the rest of the world they nullified even what was within their reach to be at the vanguard of progress.
Dreams of a prophet like Joseph Smith or Brigham Young will please many but for me to accept these under coercion would be veritable nightmare. (To be continued)
Parts of this essay was taken from my book Principles of History. B