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The Decline of Hinduism , Buddhism and Sikhism in the areas that now constitute the new country of Pakistan which was formed in 1947 happened for a variety of reasons, and even as these religions have continued to flourish beyond the eastern frontiers of Pakistan, these Dharmic religions have continued to dwindle in Pakistan .

Decline under Qasim

In AD 711, Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Sindhmarker bringing Indian societies into contact with Islam. When he arrived Sindh had a multi religious mix of Buddhist as well as Hindu population, as opposed to contemporary Pakistan where Buddhism is practically extinct and Hindus and Sikhs now constitute around 2% of the population .

Chach of Alor was a Hindu and his the earlier Rai Dynasty was Buddhist . The forces of Muhammad bin Qasim defeated Raja Dahir

Destruction of Temples and Stupas in Sindh by Qasim

In the Chach Nama ascribed to Baladhuri who was a Persian historian by birth, though his sympathies seem to have been strongly with the Arabs has written of several of instances of conversion of Buddhist Stupas to mosques such as at Nerunmarker,and the destruction of Hindu temples .

Arab invaders described Indian Pagans as "but-parast, and idol-breakers as "but-shikan". The word "but" is derived from Buddhism, but the Arabs used it for "Indian paganism" in general. Therefore in Arabic chronicles it is not always evident if Buddhists, Hindus or other Indian religions are meant.

Around 1000 CE, Turkic, Persian and the Afghan Muslims began major incursions into India through the traditional invasion routes of the northwest. Mahmud of Ghazni (979-1030) established a base in Punjab and raided nearby areas. Mahmud of Ghazni is said to have been an iconoclast. Hindu and Buddhist statues, shrines and temples were looted and destroyed, and many Buddhists had to take refuge in Tibet.

Mahmud of Ghazni

By the 10th century Mahmud of Ghazni defeated the Hindu-Shahis, effectively removing Hindu influence and ending Buddhist self-governance across Central Asia, as well as the Punjab region. He demolished both stupas and temples during his numerous campaigns across North-Western India, but left those within his domains and Afghanistanmarker alone, even as al-Biruni recorded Buddha as the prophet "Burxan".

Mahmud of Ghazni is said to have been an iconoclast. Hindu and Buddhist statues, shrines and temples were looted and destroyed, and many Buddhists had to take refuge in Tibet.

Muhammad of Ghor

Muhammad attacked the North-Western regions of the Indian subcontinent many times. Gujarat later fell to Muhammad of Ghor's armies in 1197. Muhammad of Ghor's armies destroyed many Buddhist structures, including the great Buddhist university of Nalandamarker.

In 1200 Muhammad Khilji, one of Qutb-ud-Din's generals destroyed monasteries fortified by the Sena armies, such as the one at Vikramshilamarker. Many monuments of ancient Indian civilization were destroyed by the invading armies, including Buddhist sanctuaries near Benaresmarker. Buddhist monks who escaped the massacre fled to Nepalmarker, Tibet and South India.

The Mongols

In 1215, Genghis Khan conquered Afghanistanmarker and devastated the Muslim world. In 1227, after his death, his conquest was divided. Chagatai then established the Chagatai Khanate, where his son Arghun made Buddhism the state religion. At the same time, he came down harshly on Islam and demolished mosques to build many stupas. He was succeeded by his brother, and then his son Ghazan who converted to Islam and in 1295 changed the state religion. After his reign, and the splitting of the Chagatai Khanate, little mention of Buddhism or the stupas built by the Mongols can be found in Afghanistan and Central Asia.

Timur (Tamarlane)

Timur was a 14th-century warlord of Turco-Mongol descent The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, "Timur", 6th ed., Columbia University Press: "... Timur (timoor') or Tamerlane (tăm'urlān), c.1336–1405, Mongol conqueror, b. Kesh, near Samarkand. ...", ( LINK), conqueror of much of Western and central Asia, and founder of the Timurid Empire.

Timur destroyed Buddhist establishments and raided areas in which Buddhism had flourished.


Mughal rule also contributed to the decline of Buddhism. They are reported to have destroyed many Hindu temples and Buddhist shrines alike or converted many sacred Hindu places into Muslim shrines and mosques. Mughal rulers like Aurangzeb destroyed Buddhist temples and monasteries and replaced them with Islamic mosques.

conversion from, not assimilation

When Islam arrived in India, it sought conversion from, not assimilation to or integration with, the already present religions. Under Sufi influence, the pressures of caste, and with no political support structure left in place to resist social mores, many converted to Islam in the Bengal region.

After the Mongol invasions of Islamic lands across Central Asia, many Sufis also found themselves fleeing towards India and around the environs of Bengalmarker. In Bengal, their influence, caste attitudes towards Buddhists, previous familiarity with converting Buddhists, a lack of Buddhist political power, Hinduism's resurgence through movements such as the Advaita and the bhakti movement, all contributed to a significant realignment of beliefs that relegated Buddhism in India to the peripheries.


Though certain sects of Hinduism allow conversion of non believers to the faith, it stresses and tolerates the existence of other beliefs. When conquered, Islamic rulers have been known implement a policy on their subjects to either accept conversion to Islam or flee the land under Islamic rule; otherwise punishable by enslavement or even execution.

Buddhism suffered immensely during the Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent with Muslim rulers such as Muhammad bin Qasim, Muhammad of Ghor, Qutb-ud-Din and Aurangzeb destroying temples and shrines and seeking conversion of Buddhists to Islam.

According to Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, "there can be no doubt that the fall of Buddhism was due to the invasions of the Muslims.” He wrote: “Thus the origin of the word ["but", Persian for "idol"] indicates that in the Muslim mind idol worship had come to be identified with the religion of Buddha. To the Muslims they were one and the same thing. The mission to break idols thus became the mission to destroy Buddhism. Islam destroyed Buddhism not only in India but wherever it went. Bactria, Parthia, Afghanistan, Gandhara and Chinese Turkestan (…) in all these countries Islam destroyed Buddhism.”

The Arabic invaders described Indian Pagans as But-parast, and idol-breakers as but-shikan. The word "but" is derived from Buddhism, but the Arabs used it for "Indian paganism" in general.

Ranil Wickremesinghe, a Buddhist and former Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, has stated that Buddhism had collapsed in Central and East Asia because Islam was propagated by use of armed force in those countries.

External links


  1. The Historical Interaction between the Buddhist and Islamic Cultures before the Mongol Empire, Part III: The Spread of Islam among and by the Turkic Peoples (840 - 1206 CE)
  2. Notes on the Religious, Moral, and Political State of India Before the Mohammedan Invasion:... By Faxian, Sykes (William Henry) pg.??
  3. How to Prepare for the Sat II: World History By Marilynn Hitchens, Heidi Roupp, pg. ??
  4. Historia Religionum: Handbook for the History of Religions By C. J. Bleeker, G. Widengren page 381
  5. Islam at War: A History By Mark W. Walton, George F. Nafziger, Laurent W. Mbanda (page 226)
  6. The Ilkhanate
  7. B.F. Manz, "Tīmūr Lang", in Encyclopaedia of Islam, Online Edition, 2006
  8. "Timur", in Encyclopaedia Britannica: "... [Timur] was a member of the Turkic Barlas clan of Mongols..."
  9. "Baber", in Encyclopaedia Britannica: "... Baber first tried to recover Samarkand, the former capital of the empire founded by his Mongol ancestor Timur Lenk ..."
  10. Sir Aurel Stein: Archaeological Explorer By Jeannette Mirsky
  11. Ethnicity & Family Therapy edited by Nydia Garcia-Preto, Joe Giordano, Monica McGoldrick
  12. War at the Top of the World: The Struggle for Afghanistan, Kashmir, and Tibet By Eric S. Margolis page 165
  13. India By Sarina Singh
  14. Enforcement of Human Rights in Peace and War and the Future of Humanity By Nagendra Singh (page 35)
  15. In the Path of God (Ppr): Islam and Political Power By Daniel Pipes (page 45)
  16. Ambedkar and the Neo-Buddhist Movement, - Page 14 by Madathilparampil M. Thomas, Theodore S. Wilkinson, S. Wilkinson (This was the greatest loss Buddhism suffered. The killing that followed the Muslim conquest wiped out the Buddhist Sanga)
  17. B.R. Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches, vol.3, p.229 (Chapter “The decline and fall of Buddhism”).
  18. B.R. Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches, vol.3, p.229-230.
  19. Elliot & Dowson: History of India, vol.1, p.119, 120. Koenraad Elst: Who is a Hindu. 2001
  20. Sri Lanka: Ranil must apologise to Muslims

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