The Role of Religion in the Mongol Empire

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Mongol Empire and Genghis Khan

Mongol leader, Genghis Khan who lived in 1162-1227, grew from modest beginnings to institute the biggest domain in history. He occupied large portions of central Asia and China after bonding the nomadic communities of the Mongolian Plateau. The kingdom was stretched out even more by his descendants, evolving other regions such as Syria, Poland, and Korea and at their highest, the Mongols managed about eleven and twelve million adjacent square miles. Numerous individuals were slain during the Genghis Khan's incursions, but he invigorated trade, eradicated cruelty, formed the first international postal structure and allowed religious liberty to his subjects. Under Khan and his descendants, the Mongol Empire became renowned for its prodigious size and multiplicity in both culture and religion. Religious open-mindedness initiated the upsurge of Mongol power and enabled the Mongols to develop their region while reigning efficaciously over a vast range of cultural experiences. Simultaneously, religion had a fundamental influence on day-to-day life, especially in the law, that it hastened the degeneration of the domain[1]. This freedom greatly influenced the Chinese culture more so, its religion.

Tolerance and Acceptance of Different Religions

Genghis Khan, the originator of the Great Khan dynasty of the Mongol Empire, together with his followers, were of Tengrism religion, which encompassed the concepts of ancestor worship, shamanism, and animism. The first Great Khans were believed to have gotten a directive to control the universe from Tengri, the sovereign of heaven and the highest Mongol god. Despite the fact Genghis Khan and his cliques were disciples of Tourism, they were understanding of numerous religions. Khan sought to learn ethical and moral instructions from other beliefs. Due to the affirmative outlook of the Mongol towards religious forbearance, good foreign associations were preserved. They did not torture individuals due to their views, and this enabled them to attain the backing of various religious sets including Muslims; Christians, Armenians, animists, Buddhists, and Catholics. A principal instance of the value of using religious freedom was revealed through the Mongol's approval of Islam. Under Genghis Khan, limited worship places were constructed because of a drifting way of life. Conversely, under his replacement Ogedai Kahn, houses of worship for Buddhists, Muslim, Christian, and Taoist supporters were established. Ultimately, Khubilai Khan delivered resources and maintenance for Buddhist monasteries, Christian churches, and Confucian grant. As the territory extended, the Mongols approved the faith of their subjects. Rapidly, Islam became widely recognized. The Mongols constructed numerous mosques in China and enlisted and hired Islamic financial managers, a move that steered noble relationships with the Islamic society in and outside China as well. A number of leaders of the Mongols appointed external groups of consultants to assist them, and this aided in averting wars and skirmishes in addition to creating an environment of harmony and order. The Islamic academicians made boundless dives in medicine and astronomy, something that captivated the Mongols, and thus, several experts in this field were called to China. These scholarships and civilizations reinforced the unusual ancestor worship along with the models and performed Confucianism, coordination that triumphs in the religious complex of the native residents.

Influence on Buddhism and Christianity

In the 13th century, Genghis Khan dominated Tibet, therefore, Buddhists got into the service of the Mongol Empire. All observes of Buddhism including Indian, Chinese and Tibetan were practiced, but Tibetan Buddhism was principally preferred, exclusively by Kublai Khan. Several Tibetan monks, as well as, Phags-pa-Lama, were picked by Mongol monarchs to aid them to govern and endorse Buddhism, and due to this, the number of Buddhist convents and the interpretation of Buddhist manuscripts in China improved fast. Religious autonomy also led to the revitalization of Christianity in western China, due to the invasion of Genghis Khan's posterities[2]. This religion, however, did not attain a high spot in the Mongol kingdom. Countless Great Khans and other frontrunners were nurtured by Christian mums and Christian teachers. For example, Kublai Khan's mother followed Christianity, as a result, it was upheld by the Mongols. The Mongol Khan intermarried with a Christian circle, supporters of Genghis Khan. Even though Genghis Khan was a shamanist and Kublan Khan a Buddhist, they were very accepting of Christianity. Islam, contrariwise, was highly held as Mongol rulers used it to fortify their authority over the Muslim residents. This led to the establishment of several mosques in China. Muslims worked mostly as tax accumulators and overseers.

Religious Influence on Chinese Culture

In religion, Muslims were members of Islam and the Chinese were antecedent and idol worshippers. Both had rough and difficult pasts, and considerate affiliates of each group were rendering concerned views to the effects of their culture. The Chinese religious adherence, precisely, their diligence in executing ceremonies linked with ancestor reverence and worship was amplified by religion open-mindedness from Mongolian governance. At specified periods all through the year, exclusively New Year, and in the course of the second, fifth and eighth moons; festivals idolization certain divinities, or honoring religious occasions, are held. Such events were a public affair; everyone donated money for the supplying of accessories suitable to the occasion. Some were involved in consolidating the celebration, others transported the images in the procession, and others worked together with ecclesiastics; Buddhists and Taoist, as the case may be, in the enactment of the different observances. Such rituals were not an issue of religious timetable as such parties were carried out in periods of tragedies as well.

Community Worship and Cultural Events

Communal worship was also heightened in China as apparent from the township or public theatricals. Even though the shows were normally conventional drama, the main implication in the performance was a religious one; to offer the deities desire and consequently position them constructively to the populace in the community. The concealing and animal dramas in the New Year's festivities similarly had a religious impact. The indigenous sanctuary and memorial were also an outcome of community strength. Consistent valuations were imposed for the appeasement of the resident deity, who has regularly fashioned the 'earth god' and characterized as having a particular concern in the area. Such idolatry most of the Chinese deliberated an anomaly and reason for humiliation. It was not firmly harmonized with the joining feature of Chinese culture, which could be demarcated in a three-fold way as the; acknowledgment, adoration, and preservation of the bond with the past. The important religious practice of unadulterated Confucianism was an essential fragment of the Chinese beliefs. The communal events for all their religious implication had an integral role in crafting public awareness among the Chinese. The Muslims in the same community; the theatricals, festivals, temple-building, and repair were aggressive as partaking idol worship. They also had their distinctive religious adherence, some of which were of a shared nature, although Islam is a peculiar religion. In a mixed community, when Ramadan overlapped with the overall fasting and joviality of the Chinese New Year, the conduct of every group was a felony and gravitation of the other. However, if the Muslims had to equalize the New Year's fasting of the Chinese with long-faced self-denial in the course of the day, they were able to gather the times of darkness with unlimited dining and good partnership of their own.

Religious Freedom and Cultural Differences

Due to the religious freedoms, in the subject of religion or semi-religious introduced the problem-causing distinctions between Muslims and Chinese, which vary from matters of a firmly spiritual nature to those of worship and tradition and also to questions that appear absurd. A good example is on the subject of pork eating, which is the central meat of the Chinese community, and the regular settlement in western China has pigs everywhere. This issue created an extended enduring irritation to the devout Muslims who regard the pigs as pollutants of the environment and contaminators of the earth. In areas beyond the Titao district in China, the Chinese practiced a more amount of Buddhism in their religious exercise owing to the religious freedoms permitted by Genghis Khan[3]. The Chinese of these zones were more religious than those of the more classically Chinese populations, and Taoism is caught in-between a wide-ranging scheme of mystic performs, necromancy and every other anomalous method of attitude or delusion. The Chinese, in general, seemed to be more money-oriented and none demonstrate the spiritual approval and dedication that distinguish the Muslims and the Tibetans of that region.

Law and Religion

Religion had a more prevailing effect on everyday life than the law, which majorly triggered the deterioration of the Mongolian dynasty. Diverse regions in China embraced different religions because the Mongolian kingdom was enormous, and there was freedom of worship. Everyone established their private religious ideologies as the elementary basis of their existence. Mongols in the Middle East transformed into Islam and others in China to Buddhism. When the Yuan Khan of the Mongolian was changed to Buddhism, the religion was collective only amid the superior class, and its impact was much punier than in the late sixteenth century when the entire Mongolian state embraced Buddhism as its faith[4]. The Mongols changed their outlook and comportments and strived for blessings.


Religious freedom also aided in upholding a steady government. It assisted in governing freshly occupied zones. Instead of using hostile strategies to retain order and compelling all and sundry to follow Shamanist, which was Mongol's own belief, the Great Khans of the Mongol empire, together with Kublai and Genghis Khan, resolved to consent to all religious viewpoints. For that reason, their subjects would be more ready to heed to them and carry out rules the administration implemented. A Venetian tourist Marco Polo documented his expedition to China and indicated that there are prophets who are venerated and whom the whole world does respect. The Christians believe in Jesus Christ as their god; the Jews have faith in Moses, the idolaters; Sakyamuni Borhan, and the Saracens; Mohammed. He said he honors and respects all these four, explicitly, to him who is paramount in heaven and more real, and to him, he requests for guidance. Furthermore, Genghis Khan and his heirs were regarded as guards of religion. When Muslims emanated from central Asia to flee away from the religious harassments of the Christian ruler, Genghis Khan assisted them, slew the emperor, and permitted them to exercise their faith freely. As a result, the Muslims were pleased to submit to Genghis Khan as their leader since he secured them.


Jagchid, Sechin. 2014. "Tibetan Buddhism, The Mongolian religion." Religion. November 9. Accessed November 1, 2018.

Rossabi, Morris, ed. 2014. "Life in China under Mongol Rule: Religion." The Mongols in World History. November 9. Accessed November 1, 2018.

Weatherford, Jack. 2012. "Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World." Diplo


Weatherford, Jack. 2016. "Genghis Khan- Hero Of Religious Freedom?" The Daily Dose 35.

[1] Weatherford, Jack. 2016. "Genghis Khan- Hero Of Religious Freedom?" The Daily Dose 35.

[2] Weatherford, Jack. 2012. "Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World." Diplo


[3] Jagchid, Sechin. 2014. "Tibetan Buddhism, The Mongolian religion." Religion. November 9. Accessed November 1, 2018.

[4] Rossabi, Morris, ed. 2014. "Life in China under Mongol Rule: Religion." The Mongols in World History. November 9. Accessed November 1, 2018.

November 13, 2023



History of China

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