The Decline of Hinduism , Buddhism and Sikhism in the areas that now constitute the new country of Pakistan which was formed in 1947 happened for a variety of reasons, and even as these religions have continued to flourish beyond the eastern frontiers of Pakistan, these Dharmic religions have continued to dwindle in Pakistan .
In AD 711, Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Sindh bringing Indian societies into contact with Islam. When he arrived Sindh had a multi religious mix of Buddhist as well as Hindu population, as opposed to contemporary Pakistan where Buddhism is practically extinct and Hindus and Sikhs now constitute around 2% of the population. But the real growth of Islam occurred gradually. The Hindus , without any religious zeal to spread their religion just paled in front of the Muslims who slowly and steadily kept growing their numbers culminating in 1947 with British assistance.
Destruction of Temples and Stupas in Sindh by Qasim
In the Chach Nama ascribed to Baladhuri who was a Persian historian by birth, though his sympathies seem to have been strongly with the Arabs has written of several of instances of conversion of Buddhist Stupas to mosques such as at Nerun,and the destruction of Hindu temples .
Arab invaders described Indian Pagans as "but-parast, and idol-breakers as "but-shikan". The word "but" is derived from Buddhism, but the Arabs used it for "Indian paganism" in general. Therefore in Arabic chronicles it is not always evident if Buddhists, Hindus or other Indian religions are meant.
Around 1000 CE, Turkic, Persian and the Afghan Muslims began major incursions into India through the traditional invasion routes of the northwest. Mahmud of Ghazni (979-1030) established a base in Punjab and raided nearby areas.
Mahmud of Ghazni
By the 10th century Mahmud of Ghazni defeated the Hindu-Shahis, effectively removing Hindu influence and ending Buddhist self-governance across Central Asia, as well as the Punjab region. He demolished both stupas and temples during his numerous campaigns across North-Western India, but left those within his domains and Afghanistan alone, even as al-Biruni recorded Buddha as the prophet "Burxan".
Muhammad of Ghor
Muhammad attacked the North-Western regions of the Indian subcontinent many times. Gujarat later fell to Muhammad of Ghor's armies in 1197. Muhammad of Ghor's armies destroyed many Buddhist structures, including the great Buddhist university of Nalanda.
In 1200 Muhammad Khilji, one of Qutb-ud-Din's generals destroyed monasteries fortified by the Sena armies, such as the one at Vikramshila. Many monuments of ancient Indian civilization were destroyed by the invading armies, including Buddhist sanctuaries near Benares. Buddhist monks who escaped the massacre fled to Nepal, Tibet and South India.
In 1215, Genghis Khan conquered Afghanistan and devastated the Muslim world. In 1227, after his death, his conquest was divided. Chagatai then established the Chagatai Khanate, where his son Arghun made Buddhism the state religion. At the same time, he came down harshly on Islam and demolished mosques to build many stupas. He was succeeded by his brother, and then his son Ghazan who converted to Islam and in 1295 changed the state religion. After his reign, and the splitting of the Chagatai Khanate, little mention of Buddhism or the stupas built by the Mongols can be found in Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Mughal rule also contributed to the decline of Hinduism and Buddhism. They are reported to have destroyed many Hindu temples and Buddhist shrines alike or converted many sacred Hindu places into Muslim shrines and mosques. Mughal rulers like Aurangzeb destroyed Buddhist temples and monasteries and replaced them with Islamic mosques.
When Islam arrived in India, it sought conversion from, not assimilation to or integration with, the already present religions. Under Sufi influence, the pressures of caste, and with no political support structure left in place to support Hinduism, many converted to Islam in the Bengal region. After the Mongol invasions of Islamic lands across Central Asia, many Sufis also found themselves fleeing towards India and around the environs of Bengal. In Bengal, their influence, caste attitudes towards Buddhists, previous familiarity with converting Buddhists, a lack of Buddhist political power, Hinduism's resurgence through movements such as the Advaita and the bhakti movement, all contributed to a significant realignment of beliefs that relegated Buddhism in India to the peripheries.
Buddhism suffered immensely during the Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent with Muslim rulers such as Muhammad bin Qasim, Muhammad of Ghor, Qutb-ud-din Aybak and Aurangzeb destroying temples and shrines and seeking conversion of Buddhists to Islam.
According to Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, "there can be no doubt that the fall of Buddhism was due to the invasions of the Muslims.” He wrote: “Thus the origin of the word ["but", Persian for "idol"] indicates that in the Muslim mind idol worship had come to be identified with the religion of Buddha. To the Muslims they were one and the same thing. The mission to break idols thus became the mission to destroy Buddhism. Islam destroyed Buddhism not only in India but wherever it went. Bactria, Parthia, Afghanistan, Gandhara and Chinese Turkestan (…) in all these countries Islam destroyed Buddhism.”
The Arabic invaders described Indian Pagans as But-parast, and idol-breakers as but-shikan. The word "but" is derived from Buddhism, but the Arabs used it for "Indian paganism" in general.
Ranil Wickremesinghe, a Buddhist and former Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, has stated that Buddhism had collapsed in Central and East Asia because Islam was propagated by use of armed force in those countries.
There are a number of instances of persecution of Hindus in Pakistan. In 1951, Hindus constituted 22 percentage of the Pakistani population; by 1998 the share of Hindus were down to around 1.7 percentage. This huge drop is due to wide forcible conversion and murder of those who resisted it, a situation that is recorded to have continued till date. Minority members of the Pakistan National Assembly have alleged that Hindus were being hounded and humiliated to force them to leave Pakistan.
The increasing Islamisation of Pakistan and antagonism against India, a nation with a Hindu majority, has been an influential factor in the persecution of religious minorities, among those minorities, Hindus. Such Islamisation include the blasphemy laws, which make it dangerous for religious minorities to express themselves freely and engage freely in religious and cultural activities. The promulgation of Sharia, Quranic law has also increased the marginalisation of Hindus and other minorities. Following the Babri Mosque riots in India, riots and attacks on Hindus in retaliation has only increased; Hindus in Pakistan are routinely affected by communal incidents in India and violent developments on the Kashmir conflict between the two nations. It remains the hope of many that a permanent peace between the two nations will go a long way in making life better for the roughly 3 million Hindus living in Pakistan. The 1998 census recorded 2,443,614 Hindus in Pakistan.
Hindu minorities, under Taliban rule in Swat, were forced to wear Red headgear such as turbans as a symbol of dhimmi.. In July 2010, around 60 members of the minority Hindus in Karachi were attacked and ethnically cleansed following an incident when a Hindu youth drank from a water tap near an Islamic mosque
Pakistan Studies curriculum issues
According to the Sustainable Development Policy Institute report 'Associated with the insistence on the Ideology of Pakistan has been an essential component of hate against India and the Hindus. For the upholders of the Ideology of Pakistan, the existence of Pakistan is defined only in relation to Hindus, and hence the Hindus have to be painted as negatively as possible' A 2005 report by the National Commission for Justice and Peace a non profit organization in Pakistan, found that Pakistan Studies textbooks in Pakistan have been used to articulate the hatred that Pakistani policy-makers have attempted to inculcate towards the Hindus. 'Vituperative animosities legitimise military and autocratic rule, nurturing a siege mentality. Pakistan Studies textbooks are an active site to represent India as a hostile neighbour' the report stated. 'The story of Pakistan’s past is intentionally written to be distinct from, and often in direct contrast with, interpretations of history found in India. From the government-issued textbooks, students are taught that Hindus are backward and superstitious.' Further the report stated 'Textbooks reflect intentional obfuscation. Today’s students, citizens of Pakistan and its future leaders are the victims of these partial truths'.
An editorial in Pakistan's oldest newspaper Dawn commenting on a report in The Guardian on Pakistani Textbooks noted 'By propagating concepts such as jihad, the inferiority of non-Muslims, India’s ingrained enmity with Pakistan, etc., the textbook board publications used by all government schools promote a mindset that is bigoted and obscurantist. Since there are more children studying in these schools than in madrassahs the damage done is greater. ' According to the historian Professor Mubarak Ali, textbook reform in Pakistan began with the introduction of Pakistan Studies and Islamic studies by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1971 into the national curriculum as compulsory subject. Former military dictator Gen Zia-ul-Haq under a general drive towards Islamization, started the process of historical revisionism in earnest and exploited this initiative. 'The Pakistani establishment taught their children right from the beginning that this state was built on the basis of religion – that's why they don't have tolerance for other religions and want to wipe-out all of them.'
According to Pervez Hoodbhoy, a physics professor at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, the "Islamizing" of Pakistan's schools began in 1976 when an act of parliament required all government and private schools (except those teaching the British O-levels from Grade 9) to follow a curriculum that includes learning outcomes for the federally approved Grade 5 social studies class such as: 'Acknowledge and identify forces that may be working against Pakistan,' 'Make speeches on Jihad,' 'Collect pictures of policemen, soldiers, and national guards,' and 'India's evil designs against Pakistan.'
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