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Japan offered to hide Bamiyan statues, but Taliban asked Japan to convert to Islam instead


Japan offered to hide Afghanistan's Bamiyan Buddha statues to prevent the Taliban from destroying them, but the hardline regime instead suggested the Japanese convert to Islam, a new memoir says.

Abdul Salam Zaeef, who was Taliban-ruled Afghanistan's most public face as ambassador to Pakistan, wrote that Japan was the most active country in pressing the regime not to demolish the 1,500-year-old statues in 2001.

He said that an official delegation from Japan, along with a Buddhist group from Sri Lanka, offered to remove the statues piece by piece and reassemble them abroad.

"Another suggestion they had was that they cover the statues from head to toe in a way that no one would recognize they had ever been there, while preserving them underneath," Zaeef wrote in "My Life With The Taliban," just published in the United States.

He said that the Japanese told the Afghans that they were forefathers of their religion and should preserve its heritage, but Zaeef said Afghans considered Buddhism "a void religion."

"Since they saw us as their forefathers and had followed us before, why had they not followed our example when we found the true religion, I asked them," he wrote.

Defying the intense international appeals, the Taliban spent a month using first anti-aircraft guns and then dynamite to obliterate the Buddha statues, arguing that Islam forbade idolatry.

Zaeef said he believed that the destruction was within Islamic sharia law. But he wrote that the decision had "bad timing," as it worsened the Taliban's foreign relations.

The Taliban was ousted months later in a U.S.-led invasion after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks by al-Qaida, which found a haven in Afghanistan. Zaeef was imprisoned at the U.S. camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and now lives in Kabul.

© Wire reports

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Japan and Sri Lanka and other Nations must be awarded great accolade for the efforts to stop what had happened. We must also show great compassion.

Once reading this article a few days ago I was trying to see how best I could answer the notion that Buddhism can be thought to be anything other than a practice to better one self, to gain perfection.

In grappling with a response I noted the following. I have the greatest respect for all religions and the following is only notes I have made as a basis to help, and not to cause any harm, distrust or concern to any, infact it is meant to allow people to remove these defilements.

I would like to begin by stating that Japan is very correct in stating that it must be seen that the forefathers of Afghanistan were Buddhist, but also most of the world if not the entire world followed the Buddhist teachings at some stage in the past, and the world will soon again follow the Buddhist teachings.

Buddhism is a religion, however Buddhism becomes a practice once one begins to practice Pahan Sila know also as the Five Precepts. When following the five precepts it’s important to cultivate compassion, and to begin to cultivate joy, happiness, gladdening and tranquillity or calmness of the mind. The five precepts asks one not to: kill or harm any living being, not to take or steal (including destroy) objects that do not belong to or is not given or what one does not own, not to commit inappropriate behaviour – such as adultery, to abstain from lying or gossip, and not to take any form of intoxicant Really this becomes a part of every moment in ones daily life to ensure that one’s actions, thoughts and speech uses the five precepts as it’s basis. Here within the thoughts aspect, one must build and support compassionate thoughts for oneself as well as all others. If one breaks any of the five precepts then one must try harder the next moment to keep to the precepts for one’s own and others welfare. The religion then becomes a practice, in that one practices and makes effort to keep to the precepts and build compassion day by day to become a respectable and dependable member of society.

When one advances in the practice of Buddhism one has to gain knowledge of the Four Noble Truths. The first Noble Truth is that there is Suffering; The Second Noble Truth is the arising of Suffering; The Third Noble Truth is the Cessation of Suffering; The Fourth Noble Truth is the Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering.

During gaining direct knowledge of the Four Noble Truths and the Practice of the Fourth Noble Truth, one has to gain direct knowledge on three factors: impermanence, non-self, and suffering. In order to get direct knowledge of these factors one may observe them in day to day life, or one can practice with the use of meditation. When using meditation one of the hardest factors to gain direct knowledge of is non-self, this factor requires effort, mindfulness and concentration on the part of the meditator. The right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration being the Mental Development part of the Fourth Noble Truth.

During gaining direct knowledge of non-self there is a “Void” that is encountered, this void many may conclude to be Nibbhana and give up the practice. However, when one cultivated wisdom one realises that this “Void” is itself only a mental object from which then appear uncontrolled thoughts, images, sounds etc. All of the thoughts, images, sounds etc are seen to be not controlled by the self but just a flow of uncontrolled things appearing (arising) and disappearing (ceasing). Also the thoughts, images, sounds etc observed are seen to be impermanent and unsatisfactory. One at this point or after further effort gains direct knowledge of the factors of: impermanence, non-self, and suffering.

For one to go beyond the Void one has to see the void as a mental object as well as the thoughts, images, sounds etc as mental objects. Once realising, understanding and accepting of the mental objects one has now gone beyond the void and begin to cultivate compassion with tranquillity for all “Objects” that the mind sees, hears, touches, tastes, smells and thinks, the Objects that we have until then taken to be The “I” or The “Me” etc. The thoughts etc that we had taken so personally before, thoughts that would have started mindless wars and suffering are just illusionary mental Objects. It’s important to also realise the closer one get to the eradication of suffering the greater will be the tests. It is important that the mind through mindfulness is aware of arising of the barriers of Lust; Anger,Hate and Intolerance; Torpor; Restlessness and Worry; and Doubt of the Path – these will appear in many ways to make one stop the practice. It is at these moments that effort must be cultivated to maintain the right understanding and right thoughts.

This is just an introduction to Buddhism and also an attempt to awaken to the reason why the term “Void” may have been used. So I humbly ask all the religions of the world, and as the topic of this article, for the Taliban and the Muslim religion at large who seem to have stopped the practice of Buddhism once encountering the void, to practice further and make further effort. I promise the Muslim religion if they come back to Buddhism and become Buddhists all cessation of suffering will be gained and the bliss of Nibbhana or Nirvana here and now will be realised.

I ask the Great People of Afghanistan to start to practice the five precepts and to once again practice Buddhism, and to help also to rebuild the Great Buddha Statues of Bamiyan and other Great Buddhist Monuments. I also ask the Great People of Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Turkey to rebuild and build Buddhist Monuments and Temples and help and protect the Buddha; Dhamma; and Maha Sangha; this is now your time to see truth and to end the illusion of suffering. I also ask for the World to help build the Great Buddhist Monuments of Afghanistan and the World; I promise only then and with the practice of Buddhism will Afghanistan and the world see true peace and tranquillity.

Further Note:

It’s important for one to realise that to become a perfect being one has to have wisdom; wisdom being the balance of the right understanding (knowledge), and right thoughts (compassionate thoughts). The right understanding is the direct knowledge that all suffering ceases; the Fourth Noble truth prescribes the path to follow and practice for the cessation of suffering. The right compassionate thoughts are for the now realised mind objects that form the basis of the “I”, the “Me” etc. Cultivation of knowledge of cessation without compassion is not enough; cultivation of compassion without knowledge of cessation is not enough; both knowledge of cessation and compassion must be cultivated together for truth to be fully realised and to become fully enlightened or for one to awaken.

May all beings be well and happy

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He said that the Japanese told the Afghans that they were forefathers of their religion and should preserve its heritage

This just shows how Japanese diplomacy is the pits. They get an "A" for effort but get an "F" in delivery. The above statement is like a slap in the face to the Taliban and probably hastened the destruction of the statues.

What he should have said is that the destruction of the statues would tarnish the reputation of Islam and the Taliban and that it would make the Taliban appear as weak for attacking the past rather than accept it, as all the other Muslims before them accepted the statues.

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If religions were compared to school children, then Islam would be the playground bullies.

What the heck does that make the Christians then? The psychotic paedophiles preying on all the kiddies, meek and violent alike?

You're both wrong. And dammit, perhaps you should actually read up on what Christ, christians and christianity is all about. Then you wouldn't be so quick to blame us for us for the sins of a tiny minority who call themselves christian, and you wouldn't come up looking like such a bigot, because you're better than that, I'm sure.

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It looks like they really did make bad karma for themselves- "The Taliban was ousted months later in a U.S.-led invasion after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks". Why the UN just sat back while these beautiful statues were destroyed, I'll never know. It's true that such acts have been perpetrated by others in the past- but this is (more or less) now, which makes it all the more shocking.

The ray of sunlight is the appearance of the oil paintings pointed out by 'sageb1' above, it's almost as if something good was sitting there to be given to the world, even if it proved warped enough to allow such destruction. Of course, I'd rather that the statues had simply been moved, as Japan so graciously suggested. It turns out that the Taliban were, very forcefully, 'moved'.

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Destructive Talibans need to know: You destroy Buddha statues only mean you destroy your spirituality within yourself plus you will have to cope with bad karma, deep resentment from buddhists, and worldwide condemnation for destruction of world heritage.

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Zaeef said he believed that the destruction was within Islamic sharia law.

As is the stoning to death of a 13-year-old girl because she had sex outside of marriage. That she was gang-raped doesn't even enter into Islamic sharia law. No penalties for the rapists; not even arrested.

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And Abdul you didn't really have to blow up those statues even after they offered to relocated the statues piece by piece out of your sight.

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“Since they saw us as their forefathers and had followed us before, why had they not followed our example when we found the true religion, I asked them,”

That's a warped argument and a pathetic attempt to cover up your barbaric acts Abdul. They didn't see you as their own forefathers. They saw you as forefathers of their religion which according to them is true and were asking you to preserve the heritage. You didn't really have to blow up those statues you know. You guys sure are raking up a lot of bad karma.

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If I recall those Buddah statutes were actually built by Greek and other craftsmen travelling with the armies of Alexander the Great. Good for Japan and Sri Lanka for making an effort. Intolerant Islamic attitudes are an affront to all of the world. If "racism" is such a big issue for the United Nations, why not religious intolerance? Tell me it isn't just as bad if not worse.

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Apparently, it is not the religion which did the damage, but the whole sense of religious fanaticism of these people. You can not blame a whole religion for the things these idiots did to the Buddha statues, because at the same time you would have to accuse every single religion in the world. Let's not forget what the Crusaders did, or that a large number of statues and artifacts in the Greek mainland were destroyed by Christian fanatics. The Middle Ages are not so far either. If you have to blame someone, then blame the Monotheistic approach.

Too bad that these statues were not preserved. I am sure that Japanese would have been very proud if they had managed to bring them in Japan.

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they are sooooooooooooo tolerant it makes me wanna cy

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tokyokawasaki at 08:03 AM JST - 27th February; What positive actions or solutions have ever come from Islam. If religions were compared to school children, then Islam would be the playground bullies.

What the heck does that make the Christians then? The psychotic paedophiles preying on all the kiddies, meek and violent alike? Of course, you'd probably claim that as Christianity gets older it gets milder, but just because it's going through a comparatively quiet phase now (with just the pervy priest problems and the allegations of Nazism directed at the Pope) doesn't mean they've bucked their ideas up.

But on to the subject matter in hand, I don't remember much news about those statues at the time, although I'll admit Buddhism would have had little chance of catching my attention, but I suspect there was little news coverage of it in Blighty. I remember the news coverage of the US deliberately destroying Babylon though. They also were asked to please spare the world's historical heritage. They decided they were above all others too, and did whatever the hell they pleased.

Seems to me that the Taliban (former legitimate government of Afghanistan) are about equal to the Americans, at least in this respect.

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Qutbism influences the Taliban and other militant Muslims who embrace Islamic-Fascism.

Their kind of Islam is not mainstream Islam, since they may follow the writings of Sayyid Qutb and other writers who influenced Islamic-Fascism in the 1930s.

Mainstream Islam, represented by 54 member states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), did protest loudly, and condemned the Taliban's intention to destroy the Bamiyan statues.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE even condemned the destruction.

The good news, after occupation in 2003, Japanese researchers accurately dated newly discovered oil paintings found in 12 of the 50 caves revealed by the destruction of the statues.

It's probable that between 400 and 800 CE, artists on their way through Bamiyan stopped by to create these paintings out of religious devotion.

As well, a "sleeping" Buddha statue was discovered in 2008.

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Talibans are just shameless..i don't think they ever had it.

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Just a reminder that every religion have the possibility to et violent and authoritarian. Around asia there are many buddhist extremists linked with nationalist movements. with the air to limit the inflences of other religions. In Sri Lanka buddhist monks have for decades supported the tough Sri Lankan military and suppressed Tamils from being integrated in Sri Lankan society and keeping them from gaining simple citizen rights. So the tamils decided to fight against the state. The talibans in Afghanistan were a harsh regime that brutalised the country, but do remember that the forces that rules Afghanistan before Taliban were also involved with brutalising the country, and it was because of the chaos Afghanistan was in, that Bin Laden and the talibans were able to come into power. If people want to see an interesting documentary about the past and present state about the statues, then try to find a documentary made by the german documentarist Christian Frei. I saw it at the Copenhagen documentary festival some years back, and is worth seeing.

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Japan has got the money and influence. Sri Lankans have the respect in the region and the statue is part of the world heritage. The country is in question is under US military occupation and its politicians, the administration etc rely on US protection and in US pockets. The majority of Afghans sure do have common sense and all is not Taliban. Anyway, at this moment in time, at least, you don't talk to a former Gautama Bay prisoner, if you want to take something out of the country as this has never been the case in Afghanistan. Why should things be any different now? Besides, if there's a demand that creates attractive price, there'll be mysterious ways in which things go out of the country with the blessings of Taliban, occupational forces, religious fanatics, civil administration if any etc. For example, you don't have to be drug addict to smuggle Hashish and Marijuana, or at least there's no such requirement imposed by Taliban, it seems!

So, what’s the problem?

What’s the point of the US occupation, if not for the influence and power in the country? What’s the point of all the deaths in Afghanistan?

If Japanese Cheque Book mentality is not working, send a world’s best Special Forces commandos of Sri Lankan army to get things done!

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“My Life With The Taliban,”

Sounds like a great title for a sitcom!

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Good on Japan and Sri Lanka for trying to stop this destruction, but why was the rest of the world not made aware of the Bamiyan sculptures' impending doom at the time?

American news coverage was very intense. Everyone around the world was outraged.

The question you should be askin is why didnt the supposedly moderate Islamic people do or say nothing to this day?

Zaeef said he believed that the destruction was within Islamic sharia law.

Islam has a purely evil face. Evil acts against Infidels, and other religions are sanctioned under sharia law and disorder.

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Scr*w them, I say.

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Talibanese are using their own axe for their own feet. Bamiyan Buddha was the world heritage site, largest Buddha statue in the world. Japanese wanted to help the Afghani people to protect their heritage, But Talibanese do not want. Even their Allah cant help them if this project is failed.

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Buddhism teaches tolerance and Law of Karma (every action has a reaction equal in magnitude and opposite in direction - same as Newton's 3rd Law! But the Buddha taught it over 2550 years ago). Islamic extremeists got in return the destruction they caused to the Bamiyan Buddha statues - a complete destruction. The Buddha's teachings and the laws of nature can not be cheated or challenged as it is the TRUE nature of the Universe and its laws regarding matter, energy and multi-dimensions+time. Buddhism has survived Worse challangers than Taliban in the past and it will in the future. "Change is inevitable; nothing is permanent" - The Buddha.

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At one point, I expect some irate non-muslim group to get so upset with the religion of peace that they'll blow up the Kaaba. Good on Japan and Sri Lanka for trying to stop this destruction, but why was the rest of the world not made aware of the Bamiyan sculptures' impending doom at the time?

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An offer to remove them and re assemble them is nice, but I bet they would have been much more successful if they offered a huge chunk of change for them.

Owning some 1500 year old statues would be a huge tourist draw.

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islamic intolerance to other religion and faith is violently increasing.

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This is something Japan should be proud of. It failed, but their trying was noble.

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What positive actions or solutions have ever come from Islam. If religions were compared to school children, then Islam would be the playground bullies.

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islam such a peaceful tolerant religion

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