The Courageous Yet Reluctant Warrior

Zarr Bin Hobeish relates this story: Two travelers sat together on the way to their destination to have a meal. One had five loaves of bread. The other had three. A third traveler was passing by and at the request of the two joined in the meal.

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First published in Great Britain in 1949
by Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd.
Reprinted three times.
This edition first published in 1979
by Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd.
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The Statesman par excellence and the Teacher

The Recipient of the Mantle of Prophethood/ The Warner and the Exhorter

About 932-4 the city of Harran was destroyedeither by the 'Alids, as Hamawi says, or by Egyptian invaders asDimishqi asserts. The contemporary historian, John of Antioch,describes


The early doubts had finally melted away.

In the Bhabra edict an address to the monasticorder generally, we read of the "conquest by the Law of Piety...won byhis Sacred Majesty inhis own dominions and in all the neighbouringrealms as far as 6,ooo leagues where the Greek king named Antiyaka(Antiochus II) dwells, and north of that Antiyaka, where dwell the fourkings severally named Turamay (Ptolemy), Antigonus (Gonatus), Maga(Magas of Cyrene), and Alexander (of Epirus?), and in the south the(realms of the) Cholas and Pandyas, with Ceylon also: and here, too, inthe king's dominions, amongst the Yonas (Greeks) and Kambojas andPtinkas, amongst the Andhras and the Pulindas, everywhere men followhis Sacred Majesty's instruction in the Law of Piety". On the face ofit this seems to claim missionary enterprise throughout the Greekworld, not necessarily that the princes were converted, but thatgenerally they received Asoka's mission graciously (Senart in (1885),Magas of Cyrene and Alexander of Epirus died about258 B.c., so probably were not alive at the date of this decree.

(By al-`Allamah at-Tabataba'i )

The third king of this dynasty, Asoka, wasconverted to Buddhism, which attached no importance to caste, and gavean enthusiastic support to his adopted religion. He summoned a thirdgeneral Buddhist council to be held in the Asokarama in Pataliputra,a village which had been visited by Buddha at one time, and atthis council eighteen sectarian differences were debated and settledand what was of greater moment, it was decreed that Buddhism shouldembark on missionary enterprise and carry forward the "Law of Piety "toall the nations of the world. In accordance with this missionaries weresent out to the south and west, but not to the east. No reference tothis council occurs in the Sanskrit authorities, whilst the thirdcouncil mentioned in the Sanskrit books is described as having beenheld in Kashmir under Kanishka, this council being ignored in the Palirecords which describe the council of Asoka. By these missionaryefforts the island of Ceylon was converted to Buddhism of the primitivetype, such as is known as Hinyana, and there are surviving records ofthat mission and its work. The Ceylon chronicles also refer tomissionary work in the west. They state that a person namedMaharakshitra led a body of missionaries to Yavana, the land of theIonians or Greeks, but give no details of their work. At that time theSeleucid Empire extended to the Hindu Kush and politically of courseall up to that boundary was reckoned as Greek. It was not until thelater years of Asoka that the Parthians threw off the Seleucid yoke,and it was later still when Bactria withdrew from Greek control andmade itself independent by gradual stages. Probably missionary workamongst the Greeks simply meant amongst the people of Bactria andSogdiana, which were under Greek rule and which afterwards appear asstrongholds of the Buddhist religion.

'Ali is the son of Abu Talib and cousin of the Apostle of Allah.

The next king of Magadha was Bindusara (297-272B.C.), at whose court Megasthenes was replaced by Daimachos, whocorresponded with Antiochus Soter. Both these two Maurya kings wereregarded by the Hindus as upstarts and unclean, not being of priestlyor warrior caste.