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Thu. November 30, 2023
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What the West Can Learn from the East
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By Bharat Vasudevan

When it comes to the issues of Islam, in the context of Islamic terrorists and the Global Jihad, The West, particularly America, is much uninformed. Their history is not entangled with any Jihad as European colonial powers had to deal with in lands they occupied. Yet America and the northern regions of Europe have not dealt with this matter in their own homeland. In order to best understand the situation, one must look to history, since those who fail to learn from it are doomed to repeat it. That history is of the ancient peoples in South and Southeast Asia, who reside mainly in India and the island of Bali. By looking to India, the West can learn what they are dealing with in this new war.

These pre-Islamic lands with their ancient way of life have had to deal with this issue for about 1300 years. For definition and argument sake, the pre-Islamic people discussed here can be classified as having a Vedic way of life. They are the Zoroastrians (mostly who lived in Iran and central Asia in ancient times who now mostly live in India and are called Parses), the Buddhists, Jainists, and the Hindus (Although there is a discrepancy on using the term Hindu, since it is an Arab name given to the South Asian people living on the Indus River, and that some on the left in India would rather use the term Brahmanism instead of Hinduism, which will not be discussed here, to be very accurate, the term Hindu will be used very loosely to label the people of South and Southeast Asia, also known as Greater India, whose way of life is indigenous to these regions). It is the history of these regions that must be studied, so that the modern world can learn how to deal with the situation.

Greater India- Conquered by Colonization

The Islamic point of view will state that Islam was accepted peacefully in Southeast Asia without the force of war. As it is said, history is written by the victors. It is true that Islam penetrated this region without war of any kind. However, the native Vedic people have a different story. According to them, most of the modern known world was Muslim. From North Africa all the way to Southern Asia, the Islamic conquest had total control of this known world and with it all the resources and economic trade. In order to do business with the rest of the world, one had to be an Islamic country. A similar analogy would be the equivalent of the WTO and doing business with the West, and that those not in the agreement will have trouble in a global economy. Back then it was the Islamic World Order, and Indonesia and Malaysia had no choice.

Around the 1290, Muslim merchants from India and other areas of the Muslim world would create trading businesses along the coastline and stay isolated. Since the known world was Islam, it was the Muslims who would reap the benefits of any trade that would ensue, since Muslims dealt with Muslims for the most part, and would do less interaction with non-Muslims. As time grew on, massive influx of Muslims claiming to be missionaries from other Islamic nations would flock to “Greater India” and as a result, the Hindu and Buddhists population dwindled from massive influx of Muslims. The Hindu rulers of Malaysia had no choice but to convert to Islam in order to get access to the rest of the world, but they would still practice their Vedic beliefs, and more importantly, allow their citizens to retain their culture. As time would progress, the Muslim kings, would marry into the preexisting Hindu kingdoms. After successful infiltration into Malaysia and Indonesia, the Hindus and Buddhists would then be forced to convert to Islam by force or by high taxation. Since the population was overwhelmingly Muslim, they had no chance of rebellion.

Today, islands like Bali are the only areas that are predominant of people who practice the ancient culture and a minority of them live in other islands of Indonesia and Malaysia as well. The history of these people and their way life was in dire jeopardy of being wiped out. The only reason why Hinduism and Buddhism thrive today is due to the European colonialists who fought against the Muslim rulers. Although the Europeans were also foreigners that did subjugate the Hindus and Buddhists, most of the territory was owned by Islamic kings, and thus it was the Muslims who were at war, and less likely to cooperate with their European enemies. Under the control of the Europeans, Hindus and Buddhists were given the chance to grow, get educated, and eventually become a force against the Islamic persecution. The history of how Islam truly conquered Malaysia and Indonesia is not told in the West in their history books. Although the Vedic people in Indonesia and Malaysia still remember the history, people who are intelligent may have problems accepting this fact due to a low level of history books written on this subject. Even India’s ancient history, which stretches far back as 10,000 years ago, is hardly found in Western history books.

Today’s Perspective

In the order of today’s national relations, the Global threat of Islamic fundamentalists is a serious threat to be considered. There is no greater teacher and ally than India. India has dealt with this problem for 1200 years, and still surviving. The region of Afghanistan is a region the Indians know too well, and having them at the forefront will aid the US in south Asia, and get a better glimpse on this current “War on Terror”. India knows how to distinguish between terrorist who have an Islamic agenda and Muslims who do not. For example, the richest man in India is a Muslim; the father of India’s atomic bomb is a Muslim. Past “Hindu” revolutionaries lead by people such as Shivaji had Muslim generals, and Hindu tribes such as the Rajputs followed a Muslim king.

Also, there is this question among Americans as to when will the “War on Terror” end. It must be noted that since the beginning of Islamic terrorism and incursions, this threat has been on going. In Northern Africa it has been going on for at least 1300 years, and in South and Southeast Asia, it has been going on for at least 1200 years. Given this history, America will have to accept the fact that there is a war with Muslims and that this battle will not end anytime soon, definitely not in our generation, to say the least.

Also, the world can learn of how “Greater India” was subdued by Islam. The best term that can be used is colonization. It is not that an overwhelming amount of Muslims flocked to the region; it is the fact that they stayed isolated for the most part and took over the non Muslim sectors. From learning how Islam colonized the civilized world, the West can learn and protect herself from this type of tactic. As stated before, those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

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