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Parallel lives or interconnected histories? Anagarika Dharmapala and Muhammad Barkatullah's ‘world religioning’ in Japan

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 November 2021

Samee Siddiqui*
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States of America


This article compares the ideas, connections, and projects of two South Asian figures who are generally studied separately: the Indian pan-Islamist Muhammad Barkatullah (1864–1927) and the Sinhalese Buddhist reformer Anagarika Dharmapala (1864–1934). In doing so, I argue that we can understand these two figures in a new light, by recognizing their mutual connections as well as the structural similarities in their thought. By focusing on their encounters and work in Japan, this article demonstrates how Japan—particularly after defeating Russia in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905—had become a significant site for inter-Asian conversations about world religions. Importantly, exploring the projects of Barkatullah and Dharmapala makes visible the fact that, from the late nineteenth century until the outbreak of the First World War, religion played a central role—alongside nationalism, race, and empire—in conversations about the possible futures of the international order.

Research Article
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press.

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1 Dharmapala, Anagarika, ‘Islam and Japan’, Journal of the Maha Bodhi Society, vol. 19, 1911, pp. 2830Google Scholar.

2 Extract from Report by New Scotland Yard on ‘Maulvie Mahomed Barkat-ullah’, 30 July 1924, India Office Records, British Library, IOR/L/PJ/12/213; ‘Hindu Teacher for Japan’, New York Sun, 6 February 1909, p. 3.

3 Muhammad Barkatullah, Notice to the Subscribers of the Islamic Fraternity, 1912.

4 For an excellent article cataloguing the reception of Barkatullah's Islamic Fraternity, see Brandenburg, Ulrich, ‘An Inventory of the First Muslim Journal in Japan: The Islamic Fraternity (1910–12) and Its Successors’, Annals of Japan Association for Middle East Studies, vol. 35, no. 2, 2019, pp. 177204Google Scholar.

5 It is important to note that between 1868 and 1945, there was a growing interest among Japanese pan-Asianist activists and scholars about Islam and how it compared or related to the Japanese ‘spirit’, nation, and empire. For more on Japanese scholarship on Islam between 1868 and 1945, see Brandenburg, Ulrich, ‘Imagining an Islamic Japan: Pan-Asianism's Encounter with Muslim Mission’, Japan Forum, vol. 32, no. 2, 2020, pp. 161184CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Misawa, Nobuo, ‘Shintoism and Islam in Interwar Japan: How did the Japanese Come to Believe in Islam’, Orient: The Reports of the Society for Near Eastern Studied in Japan, vol. 46, 2011, pp. 119139CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Usuki, Akira, ‘A Japanese Asianist's View of Islam’, Annals of Japan Association for Middle East Studies, vol. 28, no. 2, 2013, pp. 5984Google Scholar.

6 Dharmapala, ‘Islam and Japan’, p. 29. It is interesting here to note Richard Jaffe's book that highlights the connections forged between South Asia and Japanese Buddhists from the late nineteenth century. Jaffe charts the ideas and movements of Japanese Buddhists who began to travel to South Asia, including Ceylon, in order to study the ‘origins of Buddhism’. In particular, they began learning Pali and Sanskrit languages to enhance their ability to read ancient Buddhist texts. One such figure was Shaku Sōen (1860–1919) who travelled across South and Southeast Asia and spent time in Ceylon. There is a quote from Sōen, when discussing the situation of Buddhism across Asia, from a publication in 1889 that resembles Dharmapala's words when he writes: ‘At the front door the world of Christianity opens its draws; at the back door the tiger of Islam sharpens its claws.’ Quoted in Jaffe, Richard, Seeking Sakyamuni: South Asia in the Formation of Modern Japanese Buddhism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019), p. 46CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

7 While Barkatullah's beginnings were humble, both men operated in primarily elite, male circles in global metropoles like London and Tokyo. This does not necessarily mean that Barkatullah became wealthy or had financial stability throughout his adult life, however. Moreover, their lives did intersect with elite women from Europe and the United States like Annie Besant, Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner, Mary White Ovington, Madame Blavatsky, Marie de Souza Canavarro, Sara Bull, and Mary Foster. For instance, Foster—the Hawaiian philanthropist and Theosophist—was a patron of Dharmapala and his Maha Bodhi Society. It is also important to note that Madame Cama, an important figure in the Indian revolutionary movement, was said to have helped Barkatullah to secure his teaching post in Tokyo. Significantly, Barkatullah and Dharmapala did occasionally discuss questions directly related to gender in their writings. However, it was usually to counter Euro-American arguments about the ill-treatment of women in their respective societies and religious traditions. Their writings suggest that they were often talking about women rather than with women in Muslim and Buddhist societies, respectively.

8 Goodman, Grant, ‘Dharmapala in Japan, 1913’, Japan Forum, vol. 5, no. 2, October 1993, p. 197CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

9 Aydin, C., The Politics of Anti-Westernism in Asia: Visions of World Order in Pan-Islamic and Pan-Asian Thought (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), p. 113CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

10 ‘Religion’ emerged as a category in Europe between the fifteenth and the seventeenth centuries to mean something that was ‘transhistorical, transcultural, essentially interior, and essentially distinct from public, secular rationality’. See Cavanaugh, W. C., The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 59CrossRefGoogle Scholar. For more on the history of the construction of the concept of religion and discussions around definition, see Asad, T., Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993)Google Scholar; Smith, J. Z., ‘Religion, Religions, Religious’, in Critical Terms for Religious Studies, (ed.) Taylor, Mark C. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), pp. 269284Google Scholar; Cavanaugh, The Myth of Religious Violence, pp. 57–85. It is important to note that there is much debate in the scholarship regarding how the European term ‘religion’ related to indigenous terms like din in Arabic, agama in Sanskrit, and shūkyō in Japanese. While the scholarship above has focused on the newness and particularity of the concept of ‘religion’, others have argued that the concept was not as radical a departure from local understandings as has been emphasized in some of the scholarship, and/or that indigenous terms were not too dissimilar to the European concept of religion. See Malalgoda, K., ‘Concept and Confrontations: A Case Study of Agama’, in Sri Lanka: Collective Identities Revisited, Vol. 1, (ed.) Roberts, Michael (Colombo: Marga, 1997), pp. 5578Google Scholar; Fuerst, Ilyse Morgenstein, ‘Locating Religion in South Asia: Islamicate Definitions and Categories’, Comparative Islamic Studies, vol. 10, no. 2, 2014, pp. 217241CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

11 For clarity, it is important for me to note that the introduction of the concept of ‘religion’ from Europe to non-European contexts does not imply the colonial invention of religious traditions. Rather than thinking in terms of inventions, I prefer to think about these historical transformations as radical reformulations of local categories and ideas that emphasized ‘fixity’. By this I mean the sharpening and hardening of boundaries between religion and science, superstition, and ‘the secular’, as well as between religious traditions. In thinking about these reformulations in the context of European colonialism or hegemony, Charles Hallisey proposes that we think about these dynamics as an ‘intercultural mimesis’. By which he means, rather than thinking about these complex dynamics as simply being responses by colonized populations to the West ‘characterized by negation or inversion’, we should also ‘consider occasions where it seems that aspects of a culture of a subjectified people influenced the investigator to represent that culture in a certain manner’. See Hallisey, Charles, ‘Roads Taken and Not Taken in the Study of Theravada Buddhism’, in Curators of the Buddha: The Study of Buddhism Under Colonialism, (ed.) Lopez, D. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), p. 33Google Scholar. I am borrowing the term ‘fixity’ from Sivasundaram, Sujit, Islanded: Britain, Sri Lanka and the Bounds of an Indian Ocean Colony (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013), pp. 9293CrossRefGoogle Scholar. I am also engaging with Jason Josephson-Storm's argument that the category of religion comes out through a ‘trinary formation’ separating religion from ‘superstition’ and ‘the secular’ in Josephson-Storm, J., The Invention of Religion in Japan (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), p. 5CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

12 For the colonial understandings and regulation of religion in South Asia, see Stephens, J., Governing Islam: Law, Empire, and Secularism in Modern South Asia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Gottschalk, P., Religion, Science and Empire: Classifying Hinduism and Islam in British India (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Dirks, N., Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001)Google Scholar; King, R., Orientalism and Religion: Postcolonial Theory, India and the ‘Mystical East’ (London: Routledge, 1999)Google Scholar; Thapar, R., Interpreting Early India (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992)Google Scholar; Rogers, John D., ‘Early British Rule and Social Classification in Lanka’, Modern Asian Studies, vol. 38, no. 3, July 2004, pp. 625647CrossRefGoogle Scholar and Rogers, J. D., ‘Caste as a Social Category and Identity in Colonial Lanka’, The Indian Economic and Social History Review, vol. 41, no. 1, February 2004, pp. 5177CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Sivasundaram, Islanded; Scott, D., Formations of Ritual: Colonial and Anthropological Discourses on the Sinhala Yaktovil (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 1994)Google Scholar; Harris, E., Theravada Buddhism and the British Encounter: Religious, Missionary and Colonial Experience in Nineteenth-Century Sri Lanka (London: Routledge, 2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

13 See Josephson-Storm, Invention of Religion; Thomas, J. B., Faking Liberties: Religious Freedom in American-Occupied Japan (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Maxey, T. E., The ‘Greatest Problem’: Religion and State Formation in Meiji Japan (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2014)Google Scholar.

14 For instance, Hans Martin Krämer argues that Japanese domestic politics and concerns played a central role in the formation of the twinned categories of ‘religion’ and ‘the secular’. See Krämer, H. Martin, Shimaji Mokurai and the Reconception of Religion and the Secular in Modern Japan (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2015)Google Scholar.

15 It is also important to note that Europe was ‘present’ in many other ways. Not only did Asian figures often speak to each other in English, they were also familiar with Orientalist writings, either in their original form or in translation. Moreover, despite being in Japan, South Asian figures like Barkatullah and Dharmapala were on the radar of British surveillance and were often conscious of this fact. Therefore, these conversations were always mediated by Europe and, in particular, the British empire.

16 For examples of recent literature on pan-Islamism, see Aydin, C., The Idea of the Muslim World (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Ryad, U., ‘Anti-Imperialism and the Pan-Islamic Movement’, in Islam and the European Empires, (ed.) Motadel, David (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 131149CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Devji, Faisal, ‘The Language of Muslim Universality’, Diogenes, vol. 57, no. 35, 2010, pp. 2539CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Zaman, Faridah, ‘Beyond Nostalgia: Time and Place in Indian Muslim Politics’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. 27, no. 4, 2017, pp. 627647CrossRefGoogle Scholar. For recent literature that explores the transnational dimensions of modern Buddhism, see D. McMahan, The Making of Modern Buddhism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008); Snodgrass, J., Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West: Orientalism, Occidentalism, and the Columbian Exposition (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003)Google Scholar; Kemper, S., Rescued from the Nation: Anagarika Dharmapala and the Buddhist World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015)Google Scholar; Jaffe, Seeking Sakyamuni.

17 Kemper, Rescued from the Nation. Malory Nye argues that, rather than discussing ‘religion’, we should talk about ‘religioning’, which, he argues, ‘is not a thing, with an essence, to be defined and explained. Religioning is a form of practice, like other cultural practice, that is done and performed by actors with their own agency…A discourse of religioning also moves away from looking at “religion” in terms of “religions” (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, etc.), but instead looks at religious influences and religious creativities, and the political dynamics through which certain conceptualizations of religious authenticity are produced and maintained.’ See M. Nye, ‘Religion, Post-Religionism, and Religioning: Religious Studies and Contemporary Cultural Debates’, Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, vol. 12, no. 1–4, 2010, p. 467.

18 Masuzawa, T., The Invention of World Religion: Or, How European Universalism was Preserved in the Language of Pluralism (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2005), p. 12CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

19 The details of his early life in India are unclear, including his date of birth. He is often quoted as being born between 1859 and 1864. In British files on Barkatullah, both those of the India Office and the Government of India, he is said to have been born in 1864. In his articles, his first name is usually written as either Barakatullah or Barkatullah. I am going with the latter in this article. Extract from Report by New Scotland Yard on ‘Maulvie Mahomed Barkat-ullah’, 30 July 1924, India Office Records, British Library, IOR/L/PJ/12/213; ‘Government of India, Foreign and Political Department Notes, Secret—Internal—A, Proceedings, February 1914, nos. 11–18’, National Archives of India. For a non-official, contemporaneous biographical note on Barkatullah, see Patterson, Charles Brodie, ‘Mohammad Barakatullah: A Biographic Sketch’, Mind, vol. 12, no. 7, October 1903, pp. 494495Google Scholar. For scholarship on Barkatullah's career, see H. Ansari, ‘Maulana Barkatullah Bhopali's Transnationalism: Pan-Islamism, Colonialism and Racial Politics’, in Transnational Islam in Interwar Europe: Muslim Activists and Thinkers, (eds) Gotz Nordbruch and Umar Ryad (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2014), pp. 181–209; Mohammed Ayub Khan, ‘Universal Islam: The Faith and Political Ideologies of Maulana Barkatullah “Bhopali”’, Sikh Formations, vol. 10, no. 1, February 2014, pp. 57–67; Samee Siddiqui, ‘Coupled Internationalisms: Charting Muhammad Barkatullah's Anti-colonialism and Pan-Islamism’, ReOrient, vol. 5, no. 1, Autumn 2019, pp. 25–46.

20 It is also important to note that Barkatullah helped train students from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge in Arabic, Persian, and Urdu for Indian Civil Service examinations. See Patterson, ‘Mohammad Barakatullah’, p. 494.

21 For more on the connections between Indian and Irish nationalists, see M. Silvestri, Ireland and India: Nationalism, Empire and Memory (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).

22 See M. Ramnath, Haj to Utopia: How the Ghadar Movement Charted Global Radicalism and Attempted to Overthrow the British Empire (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011), pp. 222–225; Harald Fischer-Tine, ‘Indian Nationalism and the “World Forces”: Transnational and Diasporic Dimensions of the Indian Freedom Movement on the Eve of the First World War’, Journal of Global History, vol. 2, no. 3, November 2007, pp. 337–338.

23 For two excellent monographs on Ghadar, see Ramnath, Haj to Utopia; Sohi, S., Echoes of Mutiny: Race, Surveillance, and Indian Anticolonialism in North America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

24 The concept of ‘Protestant Buddhism’, and how Dharmapala fits into it, is a vexed question that has produced much debate. Considering Dharmapala features as a central figure in debates revolving around this term, it is important for me to highlight the basic contours of the debate. Richard Gombrich and Gananath Obeyesekere, in their monumental work Buddhism Transformed: Religious Change in Sri Lanka (published in 1988), argued that Protestant Buddhism refers to the transformations to Sri Lankan Buddhist tradition that has its roots in the late nineteenth century. Although they expand on the various ways in which Buddhist sensibilities, institutions, and practice were reformulated, the central idea is that this reformist project originated in reaction to British rule and, in particular, Protestant missionary activity in Ceylon. Importantly, while the emerging class of an English-speaking, Sinhalese Buddhist elite opposed Christian missionaries, they ‘assumed salient characteristics’ of Protestantism. Gombrich and Obeyesekere identify Dharmapala as the ‘founder’ of Protestant Buddhism, with his mentor from the Theosophical Society, Henry Olcott, being its ‘patron’. The reformist movement aimed to revive Buddhist prestige, which had been damaged after decades of colonial rule and had led to the ‘demoralization of the Buddhist peasantry’. Some of the characteristics of these shifts included modelling Buddhist educational institutions on Christian missionary schools, an impulse towards Buddhist monasticism that was, at the very least, ‘ambivalent’ and, at most, opposed to the traditional authority of the Buddhist sangha. The other characteristics include a dependency on English-language concepts, the idea that Buddhism was a ‘philosophy’ rather than a ‘religion’, with an increasing focus being put on canonical texts that could be directly accessed by lay followers. See Gombrich, R. and Obeyesekere, G., Buddhism Transformed: Religious Change in Sri Lanka (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), pp. 7 and 202–224Google Scholar. As John C. Holt points out in his review essay, Protestant Buddhism was introduced initially by Obeyesekere in an article in 1970 as a heuristic device to help understand how Buddhists responded to missionaries and proved useful to a variety of scholars. However, in Buddhism Transformed, Protestant Buddhism was ‘reified’ and became a ‘movement’ with distinct historical origins. In expanding the concept, Protestant Buddhism went from being a reaction against certain aspects of Protestant Christian missionary activity on the island to being seen as a movement that opposed ‘traditional Buddhism’ as well. Holt critiques this expanded version of Protestant Buddhism on a variety of fronts. For instance, he argues that it obscures soteriological differences between Buddhism and Protestantism. For Holt, ‘more than causing “internalization”, “rationalization”, and “laicization” among Sinhala Buddhists’, as Gombrich and Obeyesekere claim, ‘Protestant Christian missionaries helped to rekindle’ militant, missionary Buddhism in the modern era. Therefore, Sinhala Buddhists were ‘“mirror images” of their rivals in form, but not substance’. See J. C. Holt, ‘Protestant Buddhism?’, Religious Studies Review, vol. 17, no. 4, October 1991, p. 310. More recently, Anne Blackburn has demonstrated that Buddhist monastic authority and prestige were not diminished in the nineteenth century and that ‘Buddhist interest in authoritative texts of the tipitaka and the Pali language had substantial roots in the mid-eighteenth century reorganization of Lankan monasticism. Nineteenth-century editorial work on authoritative Pali texts owed much to intra-Buddhist monastic debate and lay-monastic patronage politics as well as to the strategic requirements of Buddhist-Christian polemic.’ See A. Blackburn, Buddhist Learning and Textual Practice in Eighteenth-Century Lankan Monastic Culture (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011), p. 200. For a critique of Holt's reading, in particular, of Gombrich and Obeyesekere and an alternative perspective on Protestant Buddhism and Buddhist transformations in the context of colonial modernity, see Abeysekere, Ananda, and, ‘Protestant BuddhismInfluence”: The Temporality of a Concept’, Que Parle, vol. 28, no. 1, June 2019, pp. 175Google Scholar.

25 However, it is important to note that Dharmapala did fashion a new title for himself—‘anagarika’ (or homeless)—which he borrowed from ‘traditional Hinduism via Theosophy’. According to Gombrich and Obeyesekere, the anagarika role seems to have been an ‘interstitial role’ invented in order to ‘preserve the clear distinction between roles of the monk and the laity’. See Gombrich and Obeyesekere, Buddhism Transformed, pp. 217 and 227; Kemper, Rescued from the Nation, p. 65.

26 Kemper, Rescued from the Nation, p. 44.

27 See Kemper, Rescued from the Nation; M. Moritz, ‘“The Empire of Righteousness”: Anagarika Dharmapala and His Vision of Buddhist Asianism (c.1900)’, in Asianisms: Regionalist Interactions and Asian Integration, (eds) Marc Frey and Nicola Spakowski (Singapore: NUS Press, 2015), pp. 19–48; Blackburn, A., Locations of Buddhism: Colonialism and Modernity in Sri Lanka (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Roberts, Michael, ‘For Humanity. For the Sinhalese. Dharmapala as Crusading Bosat’, The Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 56, no. 4, November 1997CrossRefGoogle Scholar, pp. 1006–1032; Rambukwella, H., The Politics and the Poetics of Authenticity: A Cultural Genealogy of Sinhala Nationalism (London: UCL Press, 2018)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

28 For a chapter on the ‘1905 moment’, see C. Aydin, ‘A Global Anti-Western Moment? The Russo-Japanese War, Decolonization and Asian Modernity’, in Competing Visions of World Order: Global Moments and Movements, 1880s—1930s, (eds) Sebastian Conrad and Dominic Sachsenmaier (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2007), pp. 213–236.

29 For an excellent monograph exploring Black intellectual and activist engagements with Japan, see Y. Onishi, Transpacific Antiracism: Afro-Asian Solidarity in 20th-Century Black America (New York: New York University Press, 2013).

30 Aydin, Politics of Anti-Westernism in Asia, p. 78.

31 During the Meiji and Taishō periods, Japan also became an important site for pan-Asianist organizing and institutions, which often included prominent Japanese politicians, bureaucrats, intellectuals, and figures from the military and security establishment. However, officially the Japanese empire largely avoided using pan-Asianist rhetoric in order to maintain ties with Euro-American powers and to not further stoke Western ‘yellow peril’ fears during the Meiji and Taishō periods. It was not until the early 1930s, in the aftermath of the Japanese invasion of Manchuria that the Japanese empire appropriated pan-Asianist rhetoric and networks for its militaristic foreign policy in Asia. For important scholarship on pan-Asianism, see Aydin, Politics of Anti-Westernism in Asia; E. Hotta, Pan-Asianism and Japan's War 1931–1945 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007); T. Weber, Embracing ‘Asia’ in China and Japan: Asianism Discourse and the Contest for Hegemony, 1912–1933 (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). For an excellent historiographical essay on the Japanese empire, see Jordan Sand, ‘Subaltern Imperialists: The New Historiography of the Japanese Empire’, Past and Present, vol. 225, no. 1, November 2014, pp. 273–288. Robert Tierney argues that Japanese imperialism was different to, yet mimetic of, Western imperialism and, therefore, can be understood as ‘interstitial imperialism’ by a ‘colored’ empire. See R. Tierney, Tropics of Savagery: The Culture of Japanese Empire in Comparative Frame (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010), pp. 20–28.

32 See H. Kim, Empire of the Dharma: Korean and Japanese Buddhism, 1877–1912 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013); Jaffe, Seeking Sakyamuni; Hans Martin Krämer, ‘Pan-Asianism's Religious Undercurrents: The Reception of Islam and Translation of the Qur'an in Twentieth-Century Japan’, The Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 73, no. 3, August 2014, pp. 619–640; Prasenjit Duara, ‘The Discourse of Civilization and Pan-Asianism’, Journal of World History, vol. 12, no. 1, Spring 2001, pp. 99–130. It is important to note that while Japan, due to its rise as a regional power, became the centre in Japanese and other Asian imaginaries, it was not the only imagined centre. In turn-of-the-century Japanese discourses, China and India were often seen as birthplaces of Asia's civilizational essences, namely Confucianism and Buddhism. Moreover, Carolien Stolte has demonstrated, in Indian imaginaries of the future of Asia, India often played a central, leading role, rightly pointing out that there were several visions of Asianism. See C. Stolte, ‘Compass Points: Four Indian Cartographies of Asia, c. 1930–55’, in Asianisms: Regionalist Interactions and Asian Integration, (eds) Marc Frey and Nicola Spakowski (Singapore: NUS Press, 2015), pp. 49–73.

33 See C. Aydin, ‘Pan-Nationalism of Pan-Islamic, Pan-Asian, and Pan-African Thought’, in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Nationalism, (ed.) John Breuilly (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 672–693; S. Esenbel, Japan, Turkey and the World of Islam: The Writings of Selcuk Esenbel (Folkestone: Global Oriental, 2011).

34 Siddiqui, ‘Coupled Internationalisms’.

35 F. Devji, ‘Islam and British Imperial Thought’, in Islam and the European Empires, (ed.) Motadel, pp. 256–270.

36 Siddiqui, ‘Coupled Internationalisms’.

37 Addie W. Hunton, ‘The Cosmopolitan Society of Greater New York’, The Voice of the Negro, vol. 4, no. 4, May 1907, pp. 185–186. The Society was established by the influential suffragist Mary White Ovington and included African American leaders like Owen M. Waller. Both Ovington and Waller would later go on to form the African American civil rights organization, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, in 1909.

38 Kemper, Rescued from the Nation, p. 316.

39 The understandable focus on Barkatullah's revolutionary activities in the historiography is partly what obscures the ‘world religioning’ intersections between him and Dharmapala. Unlike Dharmapala, who shied away from directly challenging British sovereignty, Barkatullah went from being committed to imperial reform to becoming an anticolonial revolutionary and a significant figure in what Tim Harper calls the ‘underground Asia’ of global, anticolonial revolutionaries. See T. Harper, Underground Asia: Global Revolutionaries and the Assault on Empire (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2021).

40 It is also important to note that although Japanese Buddhist involvement in world religion conferences around the world has been noted and discussed, particularly by those studying the history of Japanese religions, more attention is required to uncover the role Japan played in facilitating conversations between various religious traditions from the 1890s into the interwar period. For an example of recent work that does this, see Okamoto Yoshiko, ‘An Asian Religion Conference Imagined: Okakura Kakuzo, Oda Tokuno, Swami Vivekananda and Unwoven Religious Ties in Early Twentieth-Century Asia’, Japanese Religions, vol. 41, nos. 1 and 2, Spring and Fall 2016, pp. 1–24.

41 While Dharmapala is well-known for his performance at the World Parliament of Religion in Chicago in 1893, Barkatullah also participated in a similar, if less heralded, conference entitled the Fourth International Congress of Religious Liberals held in Boston in 1907. It is important to note that a significant number of Theosophists were present at both of these conferences.

42 Masuzawa, The Invention of World Religion: Or, How European Universalism was Preserved in the Language of Pluralism.

43 Gottschalk, Religion, Science and Empire, p. 30.

44 Masuzawa, The Invention of World Religion, p. 264.

45 Here I am referring to David Chidester's argument about seeing religions in colonized regions of the world as ‘cocreations’ which emerged through a process of ‘triple mediation’ (imperial, colonial, and the indigenous). See D. Chidester, Empire of Religion: Imperialism and Comparative Religion (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2011).

46 Blackburn, Locations of Buddhism.

47 For more on W. W. Hunter and Islam, see I. M. Fuerst, Indian Muslim Minorities and the 1857: Religion, Rebels, and Jihad (London: I. B. Tauris, 2017). For more on Renan's views on Islam, see Aydin, Politics of Anti-Westernism in Asia, pp. 47–51. For an exploration of Euro-American theories regarding the nature and ‘world religion’ status of Buddhism and Islam, respectively, see Masuzawa, The Invention of World Religion, Chapters 4 and 6.

48 For an exploration of the circulation of theories about Aryanism within the British empire, see T. Ballantyne, Orientalism and Race: Aryanism in the British Empire (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002).

49 See M. Barkatullah, ‘The Mecca Pilgrimage’, Indian Magazine and Review, no. 256, April 1892, pp. 185–187; M. Barkatullah, ‘Islam and Democracy’, Arena, vol. 30, no. 3, September 1903, pp. 256–267.

50 Kemper, Rescued from the Nation, p. 119.

51 A. Dharmapala, ‘Memories of an Interpreter of Buddhism to the Present-Day World’, in Return to Righteousness: A Collection of Speeches, Essays and Letters of the Anagarika Dharmapala, (ed.) Ananda Guruge (Colombo: The Government Press, 1964), p. 688.

52 Kemper, Rescued from the Nation, p. 287.

53 Blackburn, Locations of Buddhism, p. 176.

54 As I have already mentioned, Barkatullah's position vis-à-vis British colonial rule changed in the years prior to the First World War.

55 Ramnath, Haj to Utopia, p. 11; A. C. Bose, Indian Revolutionaries Abroad, 1905–1927: Select Documents (New Delhi: Northern Book Centre, 2002), p. 111.

56 Interestingly, Quilliam and the LMI had a global following and their journals had subscribers and advertisers from the Malay Muslim community in Ceylon as well. Leaders from the Malay Muslim community would also send in reports about British treatment of Muslims in Ceylon, which were published in the LMI's Crescent journal. Moreover, Hasan Hatano Uho, Barkatullah's colleague and protégé in Tokyo, seems to have betrayed Barkatullah and passed information to the British authorities in Japan. One of the several pieces of information he gave up was a long list of names and addresses of people in India and around the world to whom Barkatullah was connected. This included several prominent Malay Muslims in Colombo and elsewhere on the island. To clarify, this does not necessarily mean that any of the people mentioned were involved in Barkatullah and Ghadar's secret, anti-British activities. See ‘Government of India, Home Department, Political—A, Proceedings, August 1914, nos. 7–17’, National Archives of India, p. 22.

57 For more on Quilliam, the LMI, and Barkatullah's activities in Liverpool, see R. Geaves, Islam in Victorian Britain: The Life and Times of Abdullah Quilliam (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010).

58 Barkatullah interacted with Japanese intellectuals and political figures primarily through the Ajia Gikai (or ‘Asian Congress’). According to Ulrich Brandenburg, the purpose of the organization was to connect Muslims and Muslim societies with Japanese pan-Asianists, and Barkatullah was involved in the establishment of Ajia Gikai in 1909. Aside from Japanese pan-Asianists, Barkatullah was also connected to the Indian merchant community in Yokohama and Kobe, in particular. See Brandenburg, ‘An Inventory of the First Muslim Journal in Japan’. Moreover, Barkatullah also makes an interesting, albeit brief, appearance in the memoirs of Kathleen Tamagawa (1893–1979), an Asian American woman who was the child of a Japanese father and an Anglo-Irish mother. After moving to Japan, she recalls meeting Barkatullah around 1912 at a cosmopolitan space she calls ‘The Ethnic Center in Tokyo’ which is described in her memoirs as being ‘presided over by one of the finest non-partisan philosophers’ and ‘was well attended by every type of religionist. There were Buddhists, Christians, [Mohammedans], Hindus, Jews, Zoroastrians and many others, including Atheists and followers of Comte, Nietzsche, Swedenborg and the various other Germans.’ K. Tamagawa, in Holy Prayers in a Horse's Ear: A Japanese American Memoir, (eds) Greg Robinson and Elena Tajima Creef (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2008), p. 71. Interestingly, Barkatullah was also connected to leading figures in the Bahai movement which has been unexplored outside of Brandenburg, ‘An Inventory of the First Muslim Journal in Japan’. It is important to note that there is also evidence of Dharmapala being in direct conversation with Bahai intellectuals when he took part in several gatherings at the Green Acre retreat in Maine in the United States. Greenacre was established by Sarah Farmer and the community included Hindus, liberal Christians, Theosophists, Unitarians, Buddhists, figures from the New Thought movement, Sufis, and Bahais like Mirza Abu'l Fadl, whom Dharmapala met at Green Acre in 1901. See Kemper, Rescued from the Nation, p. 104. For more on Dharmapala's time in Green Acre, see L. E. Schmidt, Restless Souls: The Making of American Spirituality, 2nd edn (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), pp. 165–178.

59 Muhammad Barkatullah, ‘The Japanese Latitudinarianism’, The Islamic Fraternity, vol. 1, no. 7, October 1910, p. 2. Interestingly, although Barkatullah argued that the official religion of Japan was Shintō and even described this arrangement with the common Euro-American term and concept ‘State Shintō’, he did not see it as repressive, retrograde, or even uniquely Japanese. Departing from State Shintō's Western critics, Barkatullah saw it as being compatible with what he saw as Japan's liberal religious landscape and structurally comparable to the relationship between the British monarch and the Church of England. For a detailed discussion on the history and utility of the term ‘State Shintō’, see Thomas, Faking Liberties.

60 The idea of Japan having a ‘syncretic’ religious landscape—in which Shintō, Confucianism, and Buddhism were seen to be ‘amalgamated’—was being argued by Euro-American Japanologists like William Elliot Griffis and George W. Knox, as well as Japanese intellectuals, bureaucrats, and scholars of religion, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Barkatullah was clearly aware of these arguments.

61 Muhammad Barkatullah, ‘Do the Indian Muslims Need a University?’, The Islamic Fraternity, vol. 1, no. 8, November 1910, pp. 2–3.

62 This metaphor, as it relates to Barkatullah in particular, is partly inspired by Barkatullah's own words regarding the history of ‘Islamic civilization’ and India. Barkatullah argues that the Abbasid caliphate brought in knowledge from Ancient Greece and India and, thereby, ‘the two streams of the Eastern and Western philosophies found a confluence on the bank of the Tigris’. Barkatullah goes onto argue that, in India, Muslim conquests brought Islamic civilization into direct contact with Brahmanical and Theosophic knowledge, in part through the study of Sanskrit texts. Thus, ‘the Orient and the Occident kissed each other in [medieval]’ times. See M. Barkatullah, ‘Sufeeism: Part I’, Mind, vol. 12, no. 7, October 1903, pp. 484–485.

63 M. Barkatullah, ‘The British Invasion of Tibet: In Defence of the Dalai Lama’, Forum, vol. 37, no. 1, July 1905, p. 136.

64 As the president of the Hindustani Progressive Association (HPA), Barkatullah also signed a letter written by the HPA for the Japanese foreign minister Komura Jutarō to congratulate the Japanese delegation on the signing of the Treaty of Portsmouth in the United States, which formally ended the Russo-Japanese War. The letter also praised the Japanese emperor, as it was through ‘his majesty's goodness of heart [that] Buddhism triumph's over Christianity, and through his majesty's wisdom the Orient has become secure in the future from perennial wanton incursions of the free-booters of the West, the wagging of the evil tongues and the murmuring of evil minds notwithstanding’. See ‘Witte and Komura Sick’, New York Tribune, 11 September 1905, p. 1.

65 Unlike Dharmapala's voluminous diaries, which have been explored by the likes of Anne Blackburn, Michael Roberts, and Steven Kemper, we do not know if Barkatullah kept a diary. His archive is, therefore, far more scattered than Dharmapala's and we do not have the same level of insight into his private thoughts.

66 As Kemper has argued, this was an argument Dharmapala ‘seems not to have heard before’ he encountered it in Calcutta through Indian Theosophists. This proved convenient for him in trying to garner help from elite Bengali Hindus and Theosophists for his Bodh Gaya project. See Kemper, Rescued from the Nation, p. 287.

67 A. Dharmapala, ‘Who Destroyed Buddhism in India?’, Maha Bodhi and the United Buddhist World, vol. 1, no. 1, June 1892, p. 11. As Audrey Truschke points out in her excellent article, a historical puzzle historians struggle to fully explain to this day is why Buddhism seemingly vanished from India from around the thirteenth century. While there are several theories about the reasons for the ‘destruction of Buddhism’ in India, British translations and interpretations of Persian chronicles demonstrating the supposed destruction of Buddhist centres of worship like Nalanda by Muslim invaders have remained central in much of the scholarship. Truschke argues that, instead of framing the question as ‘What happened to Buddhism?', we should ask: ‘What happened to the Buddhists?'. Therefore, rather than think about this question through the abstract category of ‘Indian Buddhism’, it would be more productive to think about what happened to particular Buddhist communities. Moreover, her work also illustrates, as others like Richard Eaton and Manan Ahmed Asif have done, how historians should be wary of using British interpretations of Persian chronicles uncritically. Instead, Truschke incorporates Tibetan and Chinese Buddhist chronicles to help give a broader source base towards understanding what may have happened. In doing so, the simplistic story often told of iconoclastic Muslim invaders destroying Buddhist temples and, eventually, ‘Indian Buddhism’ does not hold up to historical scrutiny. Audrey Truschke, ‘The Power of the Islamic Sword in Narrating the Death of Indian Buddhism’, History of Religions, vol. 57, no. 4, May 2018, pp. 406–435; Asif, M. Ahmed, The Loss of Hindustan: The Invention of India (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2020)CrossRefGoogle Scholar and Asif, M. Ahmed, The Book of Conquest: Chachnama and the Muslim Origins in South Asia (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Eaton, Richard, ‘Temple Desecration and Indo-Muslim States’, Journal of Islamic Studies, vol. 11, no. 3, September 2000, pp. 283319Google Scholar. For an alternative perspective on the Muslim–Buddhist historical relationship, see Elverskog, Johan, Buddhism and Islam on the Silk Road (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. In this monograph, Johan Elverskog challenges the commonly held belief that Islam and Buddhism have an inherently antagonistic relationship. He not only highlights Buddhist-Muslim alliances, he also points out that Buddhism survived in India until the seventeenth century. Although the Buddhistic narrative that the introduction of Muslim rule heralded the end of Buddhism in India goes back almost a century, in the nineteenth-century reformulation of modern Buddhism, Orientalist notions about Islam being a ‘fanatical’ religion that spread ‘through the sword’ became pervasive.

68 Dharmapala, A., ‘Christianity and Science’, Maha Bodhi and the United Buddhist World, vol. 16, no. 8, August 1908, p. 129Google Scholar.

69 It is interesting here to note Ōkawa Shūmei's views on Islam and the ‘West’. Ōkawa was an Islamophilic Japanese pan-Asianist ideologue who was connected to both Dharmapala and Barkatullah. While he thought Islam was ‘Asian’ and Japan should align with their Muslim brethren to combat Western imperialism, he argued in 1942 that the foundations of ‘Islamic culture’ were developed in relation to Hellenistic and Persianate cultures due to the early Muslim conquests of the crumbling Byzantine and Persian empires. They developed a ‘Saracen’ culture through mixed marriages and the integration of Greek, Roman, and Persian cultures. He argued that, although Islam was often argued to be an ‘Oriental’ religion, it was, in many ways, ‘Western in nature’ and was much closer to ‘European culture’ than Indian or Chinese cultures, which were clearly Eastern. See Ōkawa Shūmei, Kaikyō Gairon (‘An Introduction to Islam’) (Chikuma Shobō, 2008), pp. 12–13. For more on Ōkawa, see Usuki, Akira, ‘A Japanese Asianist's View of Islam’, Annals of Japan Association for Middle East Studies, vol. 28, no. 2, 2013, pp. 5984Google Scholar; Aydin, The Politics of Anti-Westernism in Asia; Yukiko Sumi Barnett, ‘India in Asia: Okawa Shumei's Pan-Asian Thought and His Idea of India in Early Twentieth-Century Japan’, Journal of the Oxford University History Society, vol. 1, 2004, pp. 1–23.

70 Dharmapala, A., ‘Christianity and Europe’, Maha Bodhi and the United Buddhist World, vol. 14, no. 3, March 1906, pp. 3942Google Scholar.

71 I would like to thank Professor Steven Kemper for sharing his document with Dharmapala's diary entries during his time in Japan, which I have used to reflect on Dharmapala's interactions with Barkatullah.

72 See Kemper, Rescued from the Nation, p. 190.

73 Wickramasinghe, N., Sri Lanka in the Modern Age: A History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 124125Google Scholar.

74 Rambukwella, The Politics and the Poetics of Authenticity, p. 54.

75 See Ali, Ameer, ‘Four Waves of Muslim-Phobia in Sri Lanka: c. 1880–2009’, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, vol. 35, no. 4, November 2005, 486502CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Nuhman, M. A., ‘Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism and Muslim Identity in Sri Lanka: One Hundred Years of Conflict and Coexistence’, in Buddhist Extremists and Muslim Minorities: Religious Conflict in Contemporary Sri Lanka, (ed.) Holt, John (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 1853CrossRefGoogle Scholar. For scholarship exploring the possible causes of the 1915 riots, see Tambiah, S. J., Levelling Crowds: Ethnonationalist Conflict and Collective Violence in South Asia (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), pp. 3681CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Jayawardena, Kumari, ‘Economic and Political Factors in the 1915 Riots’, Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 29, no. 2, February 1970, pp. 223233CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

76 A. Dharmapala, Letter to the Secretary of State for Colonies on 15 June 1915, in Return to Righteousness, (ed.) Guruge, p. 540.

77 For clarity, I do not give this caveat to refute arguments about Dharmapala's role in creating the anti-Muslim atmosphere in this period.

78 Rambukwella, The Politics and the Poetics of Authenticity, p. 54.

79 Ibid., p. 52. For similar arguments regarding thinking about Dharmapala's universalism and particularism, see Roberts, ‘For Humanity’, pp. 1006–1032.

80 Perhaps this attitude was partly informed by Dharmapala's class status and commercial interests. As Rambukwella points out, segments of the Coast Moor community ‘had significant control of the island's internal and external trade and were in direct competition with an emergent Sinhala merchant class. Dharmapala's family had a strong trading-merchant basis and his views of Moors were potentially shaped by family concerns.’ See Rambukwella, The Politics and the Poetics of Authenticity, p. 65. The British inherited the term ‘Moors’ from the Portuguese—who used it to refer to Mauritanian Muslims—and applied it to a diverse array of Muslims in Ceylon, outside of the Malay Muslim community. The British divided the Moors into the Ceylon Moors and the Coast Moors. Ceylon Moors had a longer history on the island, while the latter were a ‘much smaller community’ who had come to Ceylon more recently ‘from the Coromandel Coast or South India as traders or labourers’. See Wickramasinghe, Sri Lanka in the Modern Age, p. 120. For more on the history of Muslims in Ceylon, see Dewaraja, L., The Muslims of Sri Lanka: One Thousand Years of Ethnic Harmony, 900–1915 (Colombo: Lanka Islamic Foundation, 1994)Google Scholar; McGilvray, Dennis, ‘Arabs, Moors and Muslims: Sri Lankan Muslim Ethnicity in Regional Perspective’, Contributions to Indian Sociology, vol. 32, no. 2, November 1998, pp. 433483CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and D. McGilvray, ‘Rethinking Muslim Identity in Sri Lanka’, in Buddhist Extremists and Muslim Minorities, (ed.) Holt, pp. 54–57; Ameer Ali, ‘The Genesis of the Muslim Community in Ceylon (Sri Lanka): A Historical Summary’, Asian Studies Association of Australia Review, vol. 19, 1981, pp. 65–82.

81 Barkatullah's writings about Buddhism should also be viewed in the context of him forging connections with Japanese pan-Asian Buddhists.

82 See Adas, Michael, ‘Contested Hegemony: The Great War and the Afro-Asian Assault on the Civilizing Mission Ideology’, Journal of World History, vol. 15, no. 1, March 2004, pp. 3163CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Berman, Nathaniel, ‘“The Sacred Conspiracy”: Religion, Nationalism, and the Crisis of Internationalism’, Leiden Journal of International Law, vol. 25, no. 1, March 2012, pp. 954CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

83 Berman, ‘“The Sacred Conspiracy”’.

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