Buddhism Buddhism and Islam
by
Johan Elverskog
  • LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 11 January 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393521-0050

Introduction

Although Buddhists and Muslims have interacted for more than a millennium across the length and breadth of Eurasia, there has been relatively little scholarly work on this particular religious encounter. Why scholars have overlooked this meeting is certainly an important question; however, it is one that is beyond the scope of this bibliography. Nevertheless, one can note that scholarship often creates artificial boundaries of study that obscure the messy realities of lived human experience. Indeed, it is presumably on account of various scholarly frameworks—such as nation-states, area studies, linguistic specializations, and even disciplines—that the history of Buddhist–Muslim interaction has largely been ignored. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, however, because these conceptual frameworks have come under increasing scrutiny, new chapters of human history are beginning to be explored, and one of these is the meeting between the worlds of Buddhism and Islam. Work in this field is still very much in its infancy, and thus what follows is not a conventional annotated bibliography surveying centuries of scholarship; rather, it is simply an overview of some of the available scholarly literature on the meeting of Buddhists and Muslims in both the past and present across various regions of Asia.

General Overviews

Even though there is not a great deal of scholarship on the historical interaction of Buddhists and Muslims, there are several studies that provide valuable introductory overviews of such meetings. Berzin 2010 and Waardenburg 1999, for example, both offer surveys of how Buddhists and Muslims understood each other in the medieval period. Akasoy, et al. 2011; Elverskog 2010; Foltz 2010; and Smith 1973, in contrast, take a geographical approach and therefore reveal how Buddhists and Muslims interacted in Tibet, Inner Asia, Iran, and India. It is these two general approaches—which may be termed the comparative and the regional—that provide the framework for this bibliography.

  • Akasoy, Anna, Charles Burnett, and Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim. Islam and Tibet: Interactions along the Musk Routes. Farnham, UK, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2011.

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    This collection of eighteen articles surveys the cultural exchange and transmission of knowledge between the Islamic world and Tibet as they have developed from the 8th to the early 21st century.

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  • Berzin, Alexander. “Historical Survey of the Buddhist and Muslim Worlds’ Knowledge of Each Other’s Customs and Teachings.” In A Special Issue on Islam and Buddhism. Muslim World 100.2–3 (2010): 187–203.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1478-1913.2010.01313.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this article, Berzin offers a concise overview of Buddhist and Muslim sources that reveal how each tradition understood the other from their first contact in South Asia until the Mongol Il-Khanid dynasty in Iran (1258–1336 CE). Available online for purchase.

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  • Elverskog, Johan. Buddhism and Islam on the Silk Road. Encounters with Asia. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010.

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    This work is the first monograph on Buddhist–Muslim interaction and focuses on Inner Asia from the 8th century through the Mongol Empire and to the end of the Qing dynasty in the late 19th century.

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  • Foltz, Richard. “Buddhism in the Iranian World.” In A Special Issue on Islam and Buddhism. Muslim World 100.2–3 (2010): 204–214.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1478-1913.2010.01322.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article is a revised and updated version of a chapter from Foltz’s Spirituality in the Land of the Noble: How Iran Shaped the World’s Religions (Oxford: Oneworld, 2004) and offers a useful history of Buddhism’s presence in Iran. Available online for purchase.

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  • Smith, Jane I. “Early Muslim Accounts of Buddhism in India.” Studies in Islam 10 (1973): 87–100.

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    Smith’s short article provides a convenient overview and analysis of the extant early Muslim sources on Buddhism in India.

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  • Waardenburg, Jacques. “The Medieval Period, 650–1500.” In Muslim Perceptions of Other Religions: A Historical Survey. Edited by Jacques Waardenburg, 18–69. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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    In this wide-ranging overview of Islamic representations of other religious traditions during the medieval period, the author provides material on how to understand the Muslim engagement with Buddhism.

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Buddhist Sources on Islam

There is a remarkable dearth of Buddhist sources on Islam. Why this is the case is hard to explain, though the displacement in many places of Buddhism by Islam as the dominant religion certainly played a role. Indeed, the fear of such conversion no doubt explains the general animosity toward Islam found in many Buddhist works, as seen in both Yang, et al. 1984, a translation of Ch’oe Hae’s Wang o chʻŏnchʻukkuk chŏn, and the Turkic anti-Islamic poem translated in Tezcan and Zieme 1990. Yet the main source for this Buddhist anti-Muslim sentiment was no doubt the Kālacakra-tantra (as revealed in Newman 1998 and Newman 1995), which, as seen in the later works of Jigme Lingpa (Aris 1995) and in Taranatha 1997, was to shape Tibetan conceptualizations for centuries. However, not all mentions of Islam in Buddhist sources are negative, as seen in Chattopadhyaya 1998 and van der Kuijp 2006.

  • Aris, Michael, ed. and trans. ‘Jigs-med-gling-pa’s “Discourse on India” of 1789: A Critical Edition and Annotated Translation of the Lho-phyogs rgya-gar-gyi gtam brtag-pa brgyad-kyi me-long. Studia Philologica Buddhica Occasional Paper series. Tokyo: International Institute for Buddhist Studies of the International College of Advanced Buddhist Studies, 1995.

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    Because Jigme Lingpa draws most of his information on Islam directly from either the Kālacakra-tantra or Taranatha 1997, his work is roundly negative. Even so, this fascinating account does reflect an awareness of the wider Muslim world in the 18th century, ranging from the Mughal dynasty in India to the Ottoman Turks in the West.

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  • Chattopadhyaya, Brajadulal. Representing the Other? Sanskrit Sources and the Muslims: Eighth to Fourteenth Century. New Delhi: Manohar, 1998.

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    This work provides a wide-ranging catalogue of Sanskrit sources that identify, describe, or engage with Islam and Muslims. Although the majority of texts are Hindu, they do provide a framework with which to understand the Buddhist response to the arrival of Islam in South Asia.

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  • Newman, John. “Eschatology in the Wheel of Time Tantra.” In Buddhism in Practice. Edited by Donald S. Lopez Jr., 284–289. Princeton Readings in Religions. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995.

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    In this study of the Kālacakra-tantra’s eschatology—the account of the end of time—Newman shows how the Shambhala myth is a Buddhist reinterpretation of the Hindu myth of Kalki, the future tenth incarnation of Viṣṇu. He also argues that the prophesied penultimate battle between Buddhists and Muslims is actually illusory, as the real war is the struggle within the practitioner between enlightenment and ignorance.

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  • Newman, John. “Islam in the Kālacakra Tantra.” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 21.2 (1998): 311–371.

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    This article is a fascinating and in-depth study of how Islam and its practices were understood and represented in the literature of the Indian Buddhist Kālacakra-tantra tradition, which developed at a time of increasing Muslim presence in northwest India.

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  • Taranatha. History of Buddhism in India. Edited by Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya. Translated by Lama Chimpa and Alaka Chattopadhyaya. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass, 1997.

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    Even though the 17th-century Tibetan historian Taranatha’s History of Buddhism in India is a late record of Buddhist–Muslim interaction in India, it does provide valuable material on this encounter, especially concerning how this meeting was understood in later Buddhist historiography.

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  • Tezcan, Semih, and Peter Zieme. “Antiislamische Polemik in einem alttürkischen buddhistischen Gedicht aus Turfan.” Altorientalische Forschungen 17.1 (1990): 146–151.

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    In this short and fragmentary Uygur poem written in alliterative verse, an unknown Buddhist author ridicules Muslims for their belief in God’s creation of the world as well God’s remoteness.

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  • van der Kuijp, Leonard W. J.. “The Earliest Indian Reference to Muslims in a Buddhist Philosophical Text of circa 700.” Journal of Indian Philosophy 34.3 (2006): 169–202.

    DOI: 10.1007/s10781-006-0001-2Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this philological tour de force, van der Kuijp reveals that within the complicated philosophical debates about Vedic sacrifice in the late 8th century, the Buddhist scholar Avalokitavrata used for the first time in an Indic source the Islamic term of self-identification, Muslim (Tib. Mu sul man). Available online for purchase.

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  • Yang, Han-Sung, Jan Yun-Hua, Iida Shotaro, and Laurence Preston, eds. and trans. The Hye Ch’o Diary: Memoir of the Pilgrimage to the Five Regions of India. Religions of Asia. Berkeley, CA: Asian Humanities, 1984.

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    Although this translation and study of Ch’oe Hae’s record of his pilgrimage to India in the 8th century, the Wang o chʻŏnchʻukkuk chŏn, is notoriously flawed, it does provide some of the earliest Buddhist comments about the arrival of Islam in South Asia.

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Muslim Sources on Buddhism

Although there is not a great deal of Islamic literature that explores the Dharma explicitly, there is certainly more than there is on Islam in Buddhist sources. Much of this literature can be found in the general surveys noted in General Overviews and Buddhist Sources on Islam, and thus the following list is a selection of texts that are meant to highlight both the wide range of available sources and their differing views of Buddhism. Whereas some Muslim sources are actually translations of Buddhist stories (e.g., Stern and Walzer 1971), other sources are simply sympathetic to Buddhism, as with The Fihrist (Dodge 1970, Fadlallah 1980). Still others, however, are more critical, as seen in Walker 1991, a study of Muslim interpretations of reincarnation, or else completely dismissive, as in Shahrastani 1976. Yet such responses from the medieval Muslim heartland were not the only Islamic responses to Buddhism, as seen in Murata 2000 and Strassberg 1994, translations of two Chinese Muslim sources, as well as the Persian sources from the post-Mongol period explored by Alam and Subrahmanyam 2007 and Moin 2009.

  • Alam, Muzaffar, and Sanjay Subrahmanyam. Indo-Persian Travels in the Age of Discoveries, 1400–1800. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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    Among the many interesting travel accounts studied by Alam and Subrahmanyam in this work, special note should be given to the memoir of Muhammad Rabi, who in the 1680s was sent by Shah Sulaiman of Iran to the court of King Narai, in Thailand.

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  • Dodge, Bayard. The Fihrist of al-Nadīm: A Tenth-Century Survey of Muslim Culture. 2 vols. Records of Civilization: Sources and Studies. New York: Columbia University Press, 1970.

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    The Kitāb al-Fihrist, a survey of Muslim literature compiled by Ibn al-Nadim, serendipitously contains the travelogue of Yahya ibn Khalid, whom the Barmakid viziers had sent in the 8th century to collect pharmaceuticals and speak to doctors and scholars in India.

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  • Fadlallah, Rashid al-Din. Die Indiengeschichte des Rašīd ad-Dīn: Einleitung, vollständige Übersetzung, Kommentar und 80 Texttafeln. Veröffentlichungen der Iranischen Kommission 8. Translated by Karl Jahn. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1980.

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    Rashid ad-Din was commissioned by the Mongol rulers of Iran to write a history of the world, the Jāmiʻ al-tawārikh, which includes twenty chapters on Buddhism that are the most extensive and well-informed presentation of Buddhism in any Muslim source.

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  • Moin, Ahmed Azfar. “Challenging the Mughal Emperor: The Islamic Millennium according to ‘Abd al-Qadir Badayuni.” In Islam in South Asia in Practice. Edited by Barbara D. Metcalf, 390–402. Princeton Readings in Religions. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009.

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    This work brings to the fore the question of the Buddhist impact on the Muslim world in the post-Mongol period through a study of one work by the Mughal emperor Akbar’s courtier and historian, Badayuni. In particular, Moin notes Badayuni’s interest in not only theories of reincarnation but also astral projection bodies and the end of time.

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  • Murata, Sachiko, ed. and trans. Chinese Gleams of Sufi Light: Wang Tai-yü’s Great Learning of the Pure and Real and Liu Chih’s Displaying the Concealment of the Real Realm. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000.

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    The earliest Chinese Islamic author was Wang Daiyu (c. 1570–1660), and in his works he often engaged with Buddhist, Confucian, and Daoist ideas, as seen most notably in his Shengyu (Addendum), a collection of forty-six dialogues with a Buddhist monk. Although Murata does not translate Shengyu in this book, her translation of Wang’s Qingzhen da xue provides valuable insight into Wang’s critique of Buddhism.

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  • Shahrastani, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Karim. Shahrastani on the Indian Religions. Translated by Bruce B. Lawrence. The Hague: Mouton, 1976.

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    Shahrastani’s Kitāb al-milal wan-niḥal of 1125 CE is a catalogue of the world’s heresies and as such contains the longest and most detailed description of Buddhism in any Muslim source prior to the Mongol Empire.

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  • Stern, S. M., and Sofie Walzer, eds. and trans. Three Unknown Buddhist Stories in an Arabic Version. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1971.

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    Among the works translated herein is the “Story of the King’s Grey Hair,” told by the 10th-century Shi’ite theologian Ibn Babuya, which was apparently based on Buddhist stories about the devadutta, “messengers of death,” as found in several jātaka stories about the Buddha’s previous lives.

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  • Strassberg, Richard S., ed. and trans. Inscribed Landscapes: Travel Writing from Imperial China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.

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    Among the many travelogues translated in this wonderful collection is one of particular interest: that of Sadula (c. 1300–1380 CE), a Muslim official of the Yuan dynasty, who visited the famous cave temples of Longmen. Most notably, he attacks the statues not only for being an extravagant waste of money but also because they violate the ascetic and transcendent teachings of Buddhism.

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  • Walker, Paul E. “The Doctrine of Metempsychosis in Islam.” In Islamic Studies Presented to Charles J. Adams. Edited by Wael B. Hallaq and Donald P. Little, 219–238. Leiden, The Netherlands, and New York: Brill, 1991.

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    Although this article focuses mainly on Islamic debates about reincarnation in Platonic and Hindu thought, it nevertheless does shed light on Muslim responses to this basic principle of Buddhist thought.

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Artistic and Material Exchange

Although Buddhist and Muslim perspectives on art are usually imagined as being diametrically opposed, as well evidenced in Ernst 2000 and Flood 2002, it was probably in the realm of aesthetics and material culture that the richest exchange occurred between these two worlds. Indeed, as seen in Canby 1993, Elverskog 2010, Fehévári 2005, Flood 2009, and Gruber 2008, such exchanges not only were diverse but also went in both directions. At the same time, however, as all the articles in Komaroff and Carboni 2002 reveal, it is also very difficult to deduce precisely how and in which direction such transmissions actually occurred.

  • Canby, Sheila R. “Depictions of Buddha Sakyamuni in the Jami’ al-Tavarikh and the Majma’ al-Tavarikh.” Muqarnas 10 (1993): 299–310.

    DOI: 10.2307/1523195Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this excellent article, Canby explores the many paintings of the Buddha found in these two Islamic sources and reveals not only the wide-ranging influences that shaped these particular images but also the religiocultural atmosphere of Il-Khanid Iran that made such depictions possible.

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  • Elverskog, Johan. “A Buddhist Origin for Islamic Blockprinting?” In A Special Issue on Islam and Buddhism. Muslim World 100.2–3 (2010): 287–301.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1478-1913.2010.01315.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In trying to explain the development of Islamic block printing, the author argues that the broader historical context of its appearance during the period of Qarakhanid and Mongol rule in Central Asia, as well as the physical nature of the xylographs, points to an Inner Asian Buddhist origin. Available online for purchase.

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  • Ernst, Carl W. “Admiring the Works of the Ancients: The Ellora Temples as Viewed by Indo-Muslim Authors.” In Beyond Turk and Hindu: Rethinking Religious Identities in Islamicate South Asia. Edited by David Gilmartin and Bruce B. Lawrence, 98–120. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2000.

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    Although this article focuses mostly on Muslim interpretations of Hindu rather than Buddhist iconography, it does provide a valuable perspective on the varied Muslim responses to South Asian religious art.

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  • Fehévári, Géza. “Islamic Incense-Burners and the Influence of Buddhist Art.” In The Iconography of Islamic Art: Studies in Honour of Robert Hillenbrand. Edited by Bernard O’Kane, 127–141. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005.

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    In this detailed study of Islamic incense burners, the author reveals direct Buddhist influences, as evidenced in parallels not only from stupas in Afghanistan but also from the inclusion of both Buddhist symbols and bodhisattvas.

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  • Flood, Finbarr B. Objects of Translation: Material Culture and Medieval “Hindu-Muslim” Encounter. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009.

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    Although this work focuses explicitly on Hindu–Muslim relations, it also contains much interesting information on the trade and artistic exchange that occurred between the Buddhists of western Tibet and the Muslim world of the Ghaznavids.

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  • Flood, Finbarr Barry. “Between Cult and Culture: Bamiyan, Islamic Iconoclasm, and the Museum.” Art Bulletin 84.4 (2002): 641–659.

    DOI: 10.2307/3177288Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this groundbreaking work, Flood looks at the broader historical and cultural context as well as the meaning of the Taliban’s destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001.

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  • Gruber, Christiane J. El “Libro de la Ascensión” (Mi’rajnama) timúrida: Estudio de textos e imágenes en un contexto panasiático. Rome: Ediciones Patrimonio, 2008.

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    Gruber’s detailed art-historical study of the famous 1436 Mi’rajnama from Afghanistan explores the Buddhist, especially Chinese, influences that may have shaped this particular portrayal of Muhammad’s night journey to Jerusalem and his visit to heaven and hell.

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  • Komaroff, Linda, and Stefano Carboni, eds. The Legacy of Genghis Khan: Courtly Art and Culture in Western Asia, 1256–1353. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002.

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    The eight outstanding articles in this richly illustrated volume examine the multifarious artistic influences, including Buddhist ones, that came to shape the art produced at the Mongol Il-Khanid court in 13th- and 14th-century Iran.

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Comparative and Interreligious Studies

Drawing inspiration from the older and more established tradition of Muslim–Christian dialogue, many scholars have begun to explore the possibilities of developing a Buddhist–Muslim interreligious dialogue. One of the earliest such studies was Gilliat 1993, which proposed that a dialogue could develop around common social-ethical issues, an idea subsequently adopted by Scott 1995, which not only expanded on Gilliat’s work by including a historical dimension but also explored some further theological possibilities. This task has more recently been taken up by Yusuf 2010, in a spirited defense of religious pluralism as found in the Qur’an. Such inquiry, which aims to build bridges between Buddhists and Muslims, is evidenced in two early 21st-century volumes. One of these, Shah-Kazemi 2010, part of the Common Ground Project, was initiated by Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, in collaboration with the Fourteenth Dalai Lama; it contains two articles comparing the spiritual teachings of Buddhism and Islam. The second collection, which was published as a special issue of The Muslim World, contains a much wider range of scholarly approaches to the question of Buddhist–Muslim exchange, such as Mayer 2010, on Yogic-Sufi homologies; Perreira 2010, on Buddhist and Muslim meditations on death; and Reis Habito 2010, on the similarities of Buddha nature and the thought of Ibn al-‘Arabi.

  • Gilliat, Sophie. “Islamic and Buddhist Doctrines of Personhood: Some Reflections for Interfaith Dialogue.” World Faiths Encounter 6 (1993): 28–32.

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    In this short article the author argues that Buddhist–Muslim engagement can develop in relation to social-ethical issues, or what she calls hidden doctrines, such as the desire to preserve life, welfare issues, and the struggle against human injustice.

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  • Mayer, Toby. “Yogic-Ṣūfī Homologies: The Case of the ‘Six Principles’ Yoga of Nāropa and the Kubrawiyya.” In A Special Issue on Islam and Buddhism. Muslim World 100.2–3 (2010): 268–286.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1478-1913.2010.01320.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article explores the homologies between Tibetan Buddhism and Sufism in terms of values, structures, and function. Available online for purchase.

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  • Perreira, Todd LeRoy. “‘Die Before You Die’: Death Meditation as Spiritual Technology of the Self in Islam and Buddhism.” In A Special Issue on Islam and Buddhism. Muslim World 100.2–3 (2010): 247–267.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1478-1913.2010.01319.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this article the author presents a phenomenological comparison of death meditation practices as espoused by the Sufi al-Ghazali and contemporary Thai monks. Available online for purchase.

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  • Reis Habito, Maria. “The Notion of Buddha-Nature: An Approach to Buddhist–Muslim Dialogue.” In A Special Issue on Islam and Buddhism. Muslim World 100.2–3 (2010): 233–246.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1478-1913.2010.01321.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This work explores the possibilities of building a Buddhist–Muslim dialogue through a comparison of Mahayana theories of Buddha nature in relation to the work of the Andalusian mystic Ibn al-‘Arabi. Available online for purchase.

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  • Scott, David A. “Buddhism and Islam: Past to Present Encounters and Interfaith Lessons.” Numen 42.2 (1995): 141–155.

    DOI: 10.1163/1568527952598657Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    After providing both a historical and contemporary overview of Buddhist–Muslim interaction, the author turns to the possibilities of interfaith dialogue. In particular, he argues that common ground can be found between these two traditions in terms of ethics and social action as well Buddhist and Muslim traditions of contemplation and mysticism.

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  • Shah-Kazemi, Reza. Common Ground between Islam and Buddhism. Louisville: Fons Vitae, 2010.

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    In addition to introductory remarks by both Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad and the Dalai Lama, this volume contains a lengthy article by Shah-Kazemi, comparing Buddhist and Islamic thought and practices, as well as an article by Hama Yusef Hanson that explores whether the Buddha can be found in the Qur’an.

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  • Yusuf, Imtiyaz. Islamic Theology of Religious Pluralism: Qu’ran’s Attitude towards Other Religions.” Prajñā Vihāra 11.1 (2010): 123–140.

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    The author contends that Islam has historically been distorted on account of politics and thus uses the Qur’an to argue that Muslims should accept religious pluralism.

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Inner Asia

Historically, Buddhists and Muslims have met in places across the length and breadth of Asia, Burma, China, and Sri Lanka; however, some of the earliest and most sustained interactions took place in Inner Asia, the wide swath of territory stretching from Afghanistan to Mongolia (Maclean 1989, Mair 1990, Tremblay 2007). Moreover, this engagement did not end with the coming of Islam, as is often imagined; rather, it continued for centuries, most notably during the reign of the Qara Khitai and the later Mongols, as explored by Biran 2005 and Rossabi 1981. Even after the collapse of the Mongol Empire, the meeting of Buddhists and Muslims continued in Inner Asia, as is poignantly captured in the 15th-century account of a Timurid embassy to Ming China, translated in Maitra 1970.

  • Biran, Michal. The Empire of the Qara Khitai in Eurasian History: Between China and the Islamic World. Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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    In this groundbreaking work, Biran investigates how the non-Muslim Qara Khitai were able to rule successfully over an Islamic population by highlighting their Chinese and nomadic origins as well as through a policy of religious tolerance.

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  • MacLean, Derryl N. Religion and Society in Arab Sind. Monographs and Theoretical Studies in Sociology and Anthropology in Honour of Nels Anderson. Leiden, The Netherlands, and New York: Brill, 1989.

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    In this historical study of Sind (modern-day Pakistan’s Balochistan) from the 8th century to the 11th, the author examines not only the religious composition of pre-Islamic Sind, pointing out that Buddhists were present only in lower Sind along the Indus Delta, but also how this community was eventually challenged by the coming of Islam on account of its trading networks.

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  • Mair, Victor H. “Three Brief Essays Concerning Chinese Tocharistan: B: Early Iranian Influences on Buddhism in Central Asia.” Sino-Platonic Papers 16 (1990): 131–134.

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    In addition to summarizing archaeological discoveries of Buddhist monuments in Central Asia, this article draws attention to the role Iranians played in the transmission of Buddhism to China as well as their possible influence in shaping both the Pure Land tradition and the worship of Maitreya.

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  • Maitra, K. M., ed. and trans. A Persian Embassy to China: Being an Extract from Zubdatu’t Tawarikh of Hafiz Abru. New York: Paragon, 1970.

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    In the beginning of the 15th century, the Ming court in China and the Timurids in Central Asia exchanged embassies, and this account, by one of Shahrukh’s envoys, contains valuable material on Buddhism in Inner Asia at that time.

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  • Rossabi, Morris. “The Muslims in the Early Yüan Dynasty.” In China under Mongol Rule. Edited by John D. Langlois, 257–295. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1981.

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    During the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368) the Mongol court in China both employed a great many Muslims and supported Islamic science and scholarship in China, while at the same time supporting Buddhism. This article provides much useful information about this important period of history, during which Buddhists and Muslims interacted at the Mongol court.

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  • Tremblay, Xavier. “The Spread of Buddhism in Serindia: Buddhism among Iranians, Tocharians, and Turks before the 13th Century.” In The Spread of Buddhism. Edited by Ann Heirman and Stephan Peter Bumbacher, 75–129. Handbuch der Orientalistik: Achte Abteilung/Handbook of Uralic Studies 16. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2007.

    DOI: 10.1163/ej.9789004158306.i-474Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Although this article does not particularly address Buddhist–Muslim interaction, it does provide the most thorough and up-to-date history of Buddhism in Inner Asia, which sets the stage, so to speak, for the subsequent conversion of these peoples to Islam.

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Iran

Much as Tibet, in the early 21st century, is readily identified with Buddhism, Iran is synonymous with Shi’a Islam. Of course, much as Iran was not always Shi’a, it was also not always Muslim; rather, as the following works reveal, not only did Buddhism play an important role in Iranian history, but also Iranians helped shape Buddhist history, as seen in Skjaervø 1999, on Khotan. In Iran itself, however, there can generally be said to be two periods: the pre- and early Islamic period, and the Mongol Il-Khanid period of the 13th and 14th centuries. Bailey 1931, Ball 1976, Bulliet 1976, and Melikian-Chirvani 1977 all investigate the early period and reveal the presence of Buddhists and their temples in Iran as well as their lasting influence in the realms of art, language, and politics. Of course, after this early period it has generally been assumed that Buddhism disappeared in Iran; however, as Grupper 2004 and Elias 1995 reveal, there was a formidable Buddhist presence in Iran during the period of Mongol rule. Moreover, as Amitai-Preiss 1999 reminds us, when the Mongols did finally convert to Islam, it did not take place as often imagined.

  • Amitai-Preiss, Reuven. “Sufis and Shamans: Some Remarks on the Islamization of the Mongols in the Ilkhanate.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 42.1 (1999): 27–46.

    DOI: 10.1163/1568520991445605Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In the study of Inner Asian peoples’ conversions to both Islam and Buddhism, there is a common tendency to argue for the continuity and assimilation of earlier religious practices, such as shamanism, a theoretical approach that this article sheds critical light upon. Available online for purchase.

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  • Bailey, H. W. “The Word ‘but’ in Iranian.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 6.2 (1931): 279–283.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0041977X00092752Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This short article is an etymological study of the word but in Persian (found widely in Persian literature) and its possible relations to the Sanskrit term Buddha.

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  • Ball, Warwick. “Two Aspects of Iranian Buddhism.” Bulletin of the Asia Institute of Pahlavi University 1–4 (1976): 103–163.

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    This article, which has a rich array of photographs, argues that two cave sites in Iran were formerly Buddhist. The first, Chehel Khaneh, on the Gulf, was presumably active during the 7th to 10th centuries; and the second, at Rasatkhaneh, near the border with Turkey, was probably built during the Il-Khanid period, when the Mongols built their first capital nearby at Maragheh.

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  • Bulliet, Richard W. “Naw Bahār and the Survival of Iranian Buddhism.” Iran 14 (1976): 140–145.

    DOI: 10.2307/4300550Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this article Bulliet looks at the possible connections between the Barmakid family of viziers and the Buddhist monastery of Naw Bahār (presumably from the Sanskrit nava vihāra, “new monastery”), in Balkh.

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  • Elias, Jamal J. The Throne Carrier of God: The Life and Thought of ʻAlā ̕ad-Dawla as- Simnānī. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995.

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    ‘Ala ’ad-Dawla as-Simnani was a Sufi master at the Il-Khanid court in Iran, who, after partaking in religious debates with Buddhists hosted by the Mongol Khans, eventually came to draw parallels between the two traditions.

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  • Grupper, Samuel M. “The Buddhist Sanctuary-Vihāra of Labnasagut and the Il-Qan Hülegü: An Overview of Il-Qanid Buddhism and Related Matters.” Archivum Eurasiae Medii Aevi 13 (2004): 5–78.

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    This important article reveals the long ignored history of Buddhism at the Mongol court in Iran during the second half of the 13th century.

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  • Melikian-Chirvani, Assadullah Souren. “The Buddhist Heritage in the Art of Iran.” In Mahayanist Art after A.D. 900: Proceedings of a Colloquy Held 28 June–1 July 1971 at the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, London. Edited by William Watson, 56–73. Colloquies on Art and Archaeology in Asia. London: Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, 1977.

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    This article highlights Buddhist monuments found in Iran, exploring their unique “Iranian” features (e.g., the “moon-faced Buddha”) as well as how such aesthetic ideals continued to shape much later Persian literature and poetry.

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  • Skjaervø, Prods Oktor. “Khotan, an Early Center of Buddhism in Chinese Turkestan.” In Collection of Essays 1993: Buddhism Across Boundaries: Chinese Buddhism and the Western Regions. Edited by Erik Zürcher and Lore Sander, 265–344. Collection of Commentary and Dissertation. Sanchung, Taiwan: Fo Guang Shan Foundation for Buddhist and Culture Education, 1999.

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    Although Skjaervø does not address Buddhist–Muslim interaction in Khotan, or even the eventual sacking of the city by the Muslim Qarakhanid dynasty in 1008 CE, this article does provide a useful overview of this famed and wealthy Iranian Buddhist city-state on the Silk Road, which not only produced a trove of important Buddhist texts but also was one of the earliest centers of Mahayana Buddhism.

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Southeast Asia

Even though Buddhism and Islam presumably interacted with each other for centuries in Southeast Asia, there is unfortunately very little evidence of such encounters. Indeed, as seen in Johns 1966, it was not really until Islam was firmly established in the early modern period that sources actually become available. Yet, if the history of the Buddhist–Muslim encounter in Southeast Asia may be murky, certainly that is the one place where such interaction is most pronounced today. Moreover, as seen in the essays collected in de Silva 1988, as well as in Berlie 2008, Burr 1979, Jerryson 2010, and Loos 2006, in the early 21st century the meeting between these two religious traditions is most often framed within the confrontational modern discourses of economics, ethnic identity, nation-states, and migration. Yet, as Berlie 2010, Horstmann 2004, and Ismail 2010 also reveal, this is not necessarily always the case in all places.

  • Berlie, J. A. The Burmanization of Myanmar’s Muslims. Bangkok: White Lotus, 2008.

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    The Burmese Buddhist state has historically always tried to incorporate surrounding Muslim polities, as is most famously evidenced in the case of 15th- and 16th-century Arakan. In this study, however, Berlie explores this phenomenon by looking at the contemporary Burmese state’s ethnoreligious policies of assimilation and how they affect Burma’s Muslims.

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  • Berlie, J. A. “A Comparative Study of Buddhism and Islam in Yunnan Province: Dai and Paxidai.” In A Special Issue on Islam and Buddhism. Muslim World 100.2–3 (2010): 337–348.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1478-1913.2010.01316.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This article discusses the Dai-speaking minority of Yunnan, whose members include both Buddhists and Muslims, and how their internal relations are mediated in terms of both local politics and the ethnicity policies of the People’s Republic. Available online through purchase.

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  • Burr, Angela. “Pigs in Noah’s Ark: A Muslim Origin Myth from Southern Thailand.” Folklore 90.2 (1979): 178–185.

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    Using a structuralist approach to a peculiar myth about the origin of pigs found among disenfranchised Thai-speaking Muslims in Songkhla, the author argues that this myth is saying that the pig (Buddhism) is the cause of suffering and should be cast out, just as Noah cast the pig out to sea. Available online for purchase.

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  • de Silva, K. M., Pensri Duke, Ellen S. Goldberg, and Nathan Katz, eds. Ethnic Conflict in Buddhist Societies: Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Burma. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1988.

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    The thirteen essays in this collection investigate different aspects and issues related to Buddhist–Muslim relations in contemporary Southeast Asia—especially in terms of religious, ethnonational, political, and economic discourses—that shape the encounter between these two communities in three predominantly Buddhist nations.

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  • Horstmann, Alexander. “Ethnohistorical Perspectives on Buddhist–Muslim Relations and Coexistence in Southern Thailand: From Shared Cosmos to the Emergence of Hatred?” Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia 19.1 (2004): 76–99.

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    In contrast to the hard ethnoreligious boundaries developing between Thai Buddhists and Malay Muslims in the early 21st century, this article explores the reciprocal hybridization and interpenetration of Buddhist and Islamic cosmologies in the cultural landscape of northern peninsular Malaysia and southern Thailand.

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  • Ismail, Mohamed Yusoff. “Buddhism in a Muslim State: Theravada Practices and Religious Life in Kelantan.” In A Special Issue on Islam and Buddhism. Muslim World 100.2–3 (2010): 321–336.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1478-1913.2010.01323.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This anthropological study of Thai and Chinese Buddhists in Malaysia explores in particular how this community has avoided the violence that has plagued Buddhist–Muslim relations in neighboring Thailand. Available online for purchase.

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  • Jerryson, Michael. “Militarizing Buddhism: Violence in Southern Thailand.” In Buddhist Warfare. Edited by Michael K. Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer, 179–209. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195394832.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In this anthropological study of the escalating tensions between Buddhists and Muslims since approximately 2000 in the south of Thailand, the author reveals not only the militarization of the sangha but also the development of Buddhist monk-soldiers.

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  • Johns, A. H. “From Buddhism to Islam: An Interpretation of the Javanese Literature of the Transition.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 9.1 (1966): 40–50.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0010417500004333Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In trying to better understand the Javanese conversion to Islam, the author investigates 15th- and 16th-century Javanese sources, whereby he reveals that many Buddhist narrative elements were incorporated into Muslim stories.

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  • Loos, Tamara. “Colonial Law and Buddhist Modernity in the Malay Muslim South.” In Subject Siam: Family, Law, and Colonial Modernity in Thailand. By Tamara Loos, 72–99. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2006.

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    In this comparative and historical study, Loos explores the similarities and differences between European imperialism and the Thai states’ colonization of the Malay south, focusing in particular on the linkage between Buddhism and the state as well as the creation of a pluralistic legal system that instituted Islamic courts to rule on issues of Muslim marriage, divorce, and inheritance.

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Tibet

Although many people think about Tibet solely in terms of Buddhism, there has long been a Muslim presence in the land of snows. Indeed, Muslim traders came to Tibet in the empire period, as seen in Akasoy and Yoeli-Tlalim 2007, a study of the musk trade. Yet this exchange was not only financial, as shown in Tsering 1988 and Yoeli-Tlalim 2010. However, as Warikoo 1996 and Zarcone 1995 also make clear, most Muslims came to Tibet as traders, such as the Kashmiris and Chinese Hui, and, being a minority trading community, the Muslims of Tibet have faced the standard gamut of reaction by a dominant culture, from acceptance to violent rejection, as seen in Emmer 2007 and Fischer 2008. And, invariably, as explored in Sagaster 1983, a study of Balochistan, this dynamic has also shaped the Tibetan Muslim view of Buddhists.

  • Akasoy, Anna, and Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim. “Along the Musk Routes: Exchanges between Tibet and the Islamic World.” Asian Medicine 3.2 (2007): 217–240.

    DOI: 10.1163/157342008X307857Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Musk was the most important commodity traded from Tibet to the Islamic world, where it was used for medicinal purposes. This article compares the medical uses of musk in Tibetan and Islamic medicines and explores the ways by which medical knowledge was transmitted along these “musk routes.”

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  • Emmer, Gerhard. “Dga’ Ldan Tshe Dbang Dpal Bzang Po and the Tibet-Ladakh-Mughal War of 1679–84.” In The Mongolia–Tibet Interface: Opening New Research Terrains in Inner Asia: Proceedings of the Tenth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Oxford, 2003. Edited by Uradyn E. Bulag and Hildegard G. M. Diemberger, 81–107. Brill’s Tibetan Studies Library 10.9. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2007.

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    Ganden Tsewang was the Mongol general who led the Fifth Dalai’s campaigns against Ladakh in the 17th century, and this article examines not only the history of this war and its impact on Muslim traders in the region but also how Ganden Tsewang is now remembered in various communities, from Ladakh to Tibet.

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  • Fischer, Andrew Martin. “The Muslim Cook, the Tibetan Client, His Lama and Their Boycott: Modern Religious Discourses of Anti-Muslim Economic Activism in Amdo.” In Conflict and Social Order in Tibet and Inner Asia. Edited by Fernanda Pirie and Toni Huber, 159–192. Brill’s Tibetan Studies Library 21. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2008.

    DOI: 10.1163/ej.9789004158177.i-274Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In trying to explain the ethnic tensions between Tibetans and Chinese Muslims in contemporary Qinghai province, this article explores the economic background of a particular boycott and how it reveals the struggle for resources by political elites.

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  • Sagaster, Klaus. “Kesar, der islamische Antichrist.” In Documenta Barbarorum: Festschrift für Walther Heissig zum 70. Geburtstag. Edited by Klaus Sagaster and Michael Weiers, 341–348. Veröffenlichungen der Societas Uralo-Altaica 18. Wiesbaden, West Germany: Otto Harrassowitz, 1983.

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    Gesar is the most important Tibetan folk hero, and this article looks at how he is transformed in the folktales of Tibetan Muslims in Balochistan.

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  • Tsering, Tashi. “The Advice of the Tibetan Muslim ‘Phalu’: A Preliminary Discussion of a Popular Buddhist/Islamic Literary Treatise: Part I.” Tibetan Review (February 1988): 10–15.

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    In trying to answer the question of who wrote Advice on the Art of Living, which is apparently a Tibetan version of the Persian poems “Gulistan” and “Bostan,” Tsering argues that Khache Phalu was actually Faizullah, a rich Muslim merchant from Shigatsé and close associate of the Third Panchen Lama. Continued in Part II, Tibetan Review (March 1988): 18–21.

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  • Warikoo, K. “Trade Relations between Central Asia and Kashmir Himalayas during the Dogra Period (1846–1947).” Cahiers d’Asie Centrale 1–2 (1996): 113–124.

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    Although it is commonly assumed that Buddhist–Muslim interaction came to an end in South Asia after the Turkic invasions of the 12th century, there were areas where this was not the case, such as northwest India and Tibet. Moreover, as this article reveals, an important medium for Buddhist–Muslim exchange was the world of trade, which in many cases was in the hands of Muslims.

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  • Yoeli-Tlalim, Ronit. “On Urine Analysis and Tibetan Medicine’s Connections with the West.” In Studies of Medical Pluralism in Tibetan History and Society. Edited by Sienna Craig, Mingji Cuomo, Frances Garrett, and Mona Schrempf, 195–211. Halle, Germany: International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, 2010.

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    Through a comparison of one of the earliest extant texts of Tibetan medicine, the Lunar King (Sman dpyad zla ba rgyal po), with Ibn Sina’s Canon of Medicine, the author reveals that there is a remarkable similarity in their dealing with the inspection of urine as a method of diagnosis.

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  • Zarcone, Thierry. “Sufism from Central Asia among the Tibetans in the 16th–17th Centuries.” Tibet Journal 20.3 (1995): 96–114.

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    This article explores the missionary activities of the Naqshbandi Sufi Khoja Afaq (d. 1694) in Gansu and northeastern Tibet in the second half of the 17th century as well as the hagiographical account of his trip to Lhasa and meeting with the Fifth Dalai Lama.

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