The Relationship of Religions and Rulers in Buddhism, Islam and Christianity

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Religions appear to have begun as the vision of people’s imaginations of answers to their everyday life issues and the nature. People gave credits for the gods about the creation and control on everything in the world. Begining with the classical period religions were more influential in societies and a greater part of their political structures. As classical civilizations progressed into the post-classical era, religions and political powers mutually influenced each other in different civilizations. Rulers used religions to rule their societies as religions appealed and became more popular across broader swaths of territories that came under new political rule of expanding empires.. In this essay, I compare how rulers used Buddhism, Islam and Christianity the different religions to rule their societies. I compare the uses of these religions and their popularity among broader swaths of people to earlier religious interpretations in the Epic of Gigamesh and Popol Vuh. I begin by examining the relationship of those three religions and rulers such as Ashoka Maurya, Abu Bakr, Constantine in Early India, Arab Peninsula and Europe, and conclude by comparing them with Mesopotamian and Mayan religions. The spread of religions made rulers able to set up new political structures and to control their populations more effectively in the classical and post-classical eras.

Buddhism inspired Ashoka to create policies within his empire that ensured peaceful relationships among different ethnic groups in the empire.. The Early Buddhism was found by Siddhartha Guatama, who had been enlightened after forty-nine days of meditation under bo tree. Dharma, the core doctrine became important reference of Buddhism. Buddhism was supported by the Mauryan dynasty. Ashoka Maurya, who led to the high point of Mauryan dynasty, governed his kingdom with the practice of Buddhism. 1 He strongly believed that the practice of Buddhism can unify his culturally diverse and far-flung realm. Ashoka abandoned armed conquest after conquering the Kalinga country and adapted to the “conquest by dharma”. Because of his understanding of the virtues of compassion, mercifulness, benevolence, nonviolence, he adopted respectful policy towards the Kalinga people and ensured their full freedom to live according to their own wills. Not only he practiced Buddhist ideas in diplomacy, he also introduced several political practices within his kingdom. He delegated “dharma ministers” to foster dharma work by the common folks, relieve sufferings and look to the special needs wherever found in the kingdom. He also suppressed schisms and prescribed scriptural studies for Buddhist followers.2 With his avocation and devotion to spread Buddhism within the kingdom and expanded realm, Buddhism helped to unite the whole kingdom with peace.

As Islam spread throughout the Middle East and Northern India, it helped to reinforce legal norms and encouraged the use of religious texts as the basis for governing the Umayyad and Abbasid Dynasties. Islam emerged in Mecca in the seventh century CE, found by Muhammad. Muhammad introduced monotheism to “Allah” and the Quran as the holy book of Islam. Muhammad, acted as religious leader and also political leader within his followers, returned from Medina and conquered Mecca. After the death of Muhammad, his caliphs and later rulers of Islamic empire expanded Islamic power over other regions. Because of the concept of Jihad, they dedicated to spread the word of Islam and seek conversions to the faith by expanding their realm.3 The first caliph, Abu Bakr, took military action against the renouncement of Islam in clans and towns after Muhammad’s death and united and expanded Islamic realm to Mesopotamia, Egypt and Persia.4 Following with Abu Bakr, the Umayyad dynasty and the Abbasid dynasty continued expanding the empire with administrative policies based on the Quran and the sharia.5 Ulama and qadis, who were officials that focused their study on...
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