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In the 13th century, Muslim soldiers attacked the Buddhist monastery Nalanda in northeast India. This event is held up as an example of how Muslim invaders were responsible for the eventual destruction of Buddhism in the Indian subcontinent. But it is far from the full story.
In Buddhism and Islam on the Silk Road, history professor and Chair of Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University, Johan Elverskog, explores the ways that religions and cultures influenced each other along the trade route. He also debunks the assertion that the Mughal invasions during the 12th to 16th centuries were the sole cause of Buddhism’s waning on the subcontinent, a long-held Buddhist narrative often used to justify Islamophobia.
Here, Elverskog talks to Tricycle editor and publisher James Shaheen about this and other common misconceptions, often rooted in stereotypes, and reveals a more complicated picture of how these two religions intermingled and shaped one another.
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