Buddhist-Muslim Interaction: Umayyad Caliphate

Buddhism had spread throughout Central Asia and in most of the eastern regions of the Middle East before the advent of the Sunni Arabs from the Arabian Peninsula and their conquest of these areas, starting in the mid-7th century CE. The Arab relations with the peoples they conquered and with their everchanging allies and enemies among the Chinese, Tibetans and Turks were not based on religion, but on political, military, and economic expediencies. The main goal was to gain control of the Silk Route so as to tax the lucrative trade that passed through it. If the Buddhists along the route submitted to their rule and paid a poll tax, they were accepted as “People of the Book” and entrance fees levied on the temples provided additional funds for the rulers.