Religion Wars

Objects as History Week 13


In our last discussion, we talked about the beginning of a new faith somewhere in the middle of a desert. Today, we discussed it’s rapid expansion into what we today know as Islam.

  1. Around 500 AD, the mighty Roman empire had begun to decline. Presence of widespread plague.
  2. In the Arab peninsula, emergence of the Bedouins tribe.Prophet Mohammed established the rule of God, and acted as his messenger on earth.
  3. We discussed the terminology involved in naming government systems. This was something I did not think of beforehand so it was fascinating. ‘Theocracy” is a term used for the rule of religion.’Autocracy’ is the system of a single ruler. And ‘plutocracy’ would be the rule of the rich.The Caliph in Islam was a theocrat, but also acted as the messenger.
  4. The rise of Islam also meant the expansion of the Achaemenid Empire, who created a territory from the Arab peninsula all the way to Gaul in Central Europe in the West, to the Indian subcontinent in the east.
  5. This was also the era of religion wars taking place. These were caused by different interpretations of the same beliefs, and each side trying to impose their beliefs over the other.This is understandable, since three different Abrahamic religions – Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, sprang up from the same land.And thus began the Crusades.
  6. Calling upon a Crusade and participating in it was considered as a support to the religion one believed in. There were 7 crusades in total.
  7. Rise of Temujin in Central Asia, who united all the tribes in his region by threatening to kill them. This tactic amassed great power, leading to the creation of Genghis Khan. He soon built an empire stretching from China to the edge of Europe at its peak.
  8. A descendant of Genghis Khan was Babul, who was half-Mongol and half-Muslim.He invaded the Indian subcontinent, laying down the foundation for the Mughal Empire.
  9. Akbar expanded and ran the Mughal Empire to it’s greatest glory, which is why his rule is considered the golden age of Mughal Rule in India. He brought about several policies, one of the most noticeable being the abolishment of the jaziya tax.
  10. His attempt to create a new sect, called the Din-e-ilahi, failed because of the fact that it had no rigid backbone. It was not given enough time for implementation.
  11. We discussed Akbar’s royal battle armour, which was nothing less than perfection. Inscribed with verses from the Quran, this armour is the perfect fusion of form and functionality.
  12. Development of power camps after Akbar’s death,and Aurangzeb’s ascent to the Mughal throne.
  13. Entry of the East India Company in India during Aurangzeb’s reign.

Giving people something to believe in is a powerful tool. Giving them hope, and an incentive, is the most sure shot way to bend their will against yours. And that’s what religion is all about. It can drive people into doing anything you ask of them, and after a point, even if you don’t tell them directly , they will know how to fill in the blanks,and put in their own beliefs. Isn’t that how the rule of closure works? Except when it comes to human behaviour, this can have a rapid rippling effect which might or might not be for the best. Till today, there are sects in Hinduism, sects in Islam, and even in Christianity and Judaism. These sects have all branched out from one single belief, especially in the case of the three Abrahamic religions, and have found their own ways into society today. People act the way they do because of this drive that religion gives them. And if there’s one thing history can teach us, it’s that a conflict in these drives will always end in war. And people will take advantage of these conflicts, further planting the seeds of mistrust and betrayal in our minds. It’s all happened before. But we never learn.

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