Încă un fragment interesant din cartea „Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World” de Jack Weatherford, despre religie la mongoli, europeni și arabi. Deși unele detalii din fragment sunt contestate, povestea per ansamblu, este în continuare revelatoare. Din motive obiective, spre deosebire de postarea anterioară, aici nu am mai tradus textul:
Near the end of 1253, the Year of the Ox, William of Rubruck, a Franciscan monk, came to the Mongol court as an envoy from the French king.[...] Despite the common religion, Rubruck greatly resented the Assyrian, Armenian, and Orthodox Christians at the Mongol court. Since he considered all non-Catholics to be heretics, he contemptuously designated the Mongol congregants of the Assyrian Church as Nestorians in reference to Nestorius, the fifth-century Patriarch of Constantinople who was condemned as a heretic by the Council of Ephesus in 431. [...] Even when they admitted to being Christians, Mongols did not consider their religion as their primary identification. As one of the Mongol generals who was a follower of Christianity explained, he was no Christian—he was a Mongol.
After making the French envoy wait for many months, Mongke [Khan] finally received him officially in court on May 24, 1254. Rubruck informed the officials that he knew the word of God and had come to spread it. In front of the assembled representatives of the various religions, the khan asked Rubruck to explain to them the word of God. Rubruck stumbled over a few phrases and stressed the importance to Christians of the commandment to love God, whereupon one of the Muslim clerics asked him incredulously, “Is there any man who does not love God?”
Rubruck responded, “Those who do not keep His commandments, do not love Him.” Another cleric then asked Rubruck, “Have you been in heaven that you know the commandments of God?” He seized upon the implication of what Rubruck was saying to them about God’s commandments and challenged him directly: “By this you mean that Mongke Khan does not observe God’s commandments?”
The discussion continued for some time, and according to Rubruck’s own account, it was obvious that he did not fare well in the sometimes acrimonious arguments. He was unaccustomed to debating with people who did not share his basic assumptions of Catholic Christianity. Evidently, Mongke Khan recognized the problems he was having and suggested that all the scholars present take time to write out their thoughts more clearly and then return for a fuller discussion and debate of the issues.
The Mongols loved competitions of all sorts, and they organized debates among rival religions the same way they organized wrestling matches. It began on a specific date with a panel of judges to oversee it. In this case Mongke Khan ordered them to debate before three judges: a Christian, a Muslim, and a Buddhist. A large audience assembled to watch the affair, which began with great seriousness and formality. An official lay down the strict rules by which Mongke wanted the debate to proceed: on pain of death “no one shall dare to speak words of contention.”
Rubruck and the other Christians joined together in one team with the Muslims in an effort to refute the Buddhist doctrines. As these men gathered together in all their robes and regalia in the tents on the dusty plains of Mongolia, they were doing something that no other set of scholars or theologians had ever done in history. It is doubtful that representatives of so many types of Christianity had come to a single meeting, and certainly they had not debated, as equals, with representatives of the various Muslim and Buddhist faiths. The religious scholars had to compete on the basis of their beliefs and ideas, using no weapons or the authority of any ruler or army behind them. They could use only words and logic to test the ability of their ideas to persuade.[...]
Their debate ranged back and forth over the topics of evil versus good, God’s nature, what happens to the souls of animals, the existence of reincarnation, and whether God had created evil. As they debated, the clerics formed shifting coalitions among the various religions according to the topic. Between each round of wrestling, Mongol athletes would drink fermented mare’s milk; in keeping with that tradition, after each round of the debate, the learned men paused to drink deeply in preparation for the next match.
No side seemed to convince the other of anything. Finally, as the effects of the alcohol became stronger, the Christians gave up trying to persuade anyone with logical arguments, and resorted to singing. The Muslims, who did not sing, responded by loudly reciting the Koran in an effort to drown out the Christians, and the Buddhists retreated into silent meditation. At the end of the debate, unable to convert or kill one another, they concluded the way most Mongol celebrations concluded, with everyone simply too drunk to continue.
While the clerics debated at Karakorum, their religious brethren were hacking at each other and burning one another alive in other parts of the world outside the Mongol Empire. At almost the same time of Rubruck’s debate in Mongolia, his sponsor, King Louis IX, was busy rounding up all Talmudic texts and other books of the Jews. The devout king had the Hebrew manuscripts heaped into great piles and set afire. During Rubruck’s absence from France, his fellow countrymen burned some twelve thousand handwritten and illuminated Jewish books. For these and other great services to the furtherance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, his church canonized him as Saint Louis, thereby making him a figure of veneration that good Christians could emulate and to whom they could pray as an intermediary between humans and God.
During the same time in both the Muslim and Christian kingdoms, the rulers made religious intolerance an official policy of the state. Frustrated in the attempts to conquer the Holy Land or to expand into eastern Europe, the Catholic Church moved into a phase of growing intolerance for religious variation at home. In 1255 the church sanctioned the torturing of people suspected of heretical beliefs, and priests, mostly Dominicans, began traveling from city to city to find and torture suspects. Until this time civil authorities used torture to interrogate suspected criminals, traitors, and war prisoners, but priests did not inflict torture for religious purposes.