Ages ago, as a late teenager I visited Calcutta, the burning ghats (outdoor cremation beside the river), a rich man's house with all sorts of European art objects and 50 beggars outside waiting for their daily meal.
What struck me, then and later, was the passivity of their religions: life is dreadful and the best outcome is to get out of it. Withdrawal-- from life; I never had any positive relationship to such a faith.
In recent years I've come to see that Buddha and the other faiths, at their best are not about 'getting out of life', but about getting out of the seamy side, the fallen world, the kingdom of Satan that Jesus refused in the wilderness.
But I still missed the activity, the love, the justice; Gandhi seemed like more of a christian than a hindu. However I perceived that for most people Buddha (and the others) was a creative response to the dismal economic world where they lived.
Islam was (is) a political religion. It tells people what to do. It was born when Mohammed's ideas rescued the warring tribes of Arabia and made them one great victorious tribe. But, as I've said before, they fell victim to the power principle just like Christianity had done (and continues to do); oligarchy replaced the egalitarianism of pure Islam. And the people became passive.
In the 13th century the Mongols swept through Asia and a good part of Europe. They took over what remained of the Arab Empire. With no religion of their own many of them became Muslims, but it didn't much affect their political (and military) activity.
"They had two chief political objectives: world hegemony and the perpetuation of the ruling dynasty, which justified any cruelty... they believed that the greater the ruler's power, the better the peace and security of the state. The decrees of all the monarchs remained in force as long as the family was in power, marginalizing all other legal systems. All the top jobs in government were given to members of the family and their local clients and proteges.." (Armstrong, Islam 98). (Can you think of any more recent political power that might apply to?)
One of the refugees from the brutal depradations of the Mongols was Rumi (1207-73), the founder of the whirling dervishes. A good Moslem, his poetry, his ideas, his spirit closely resemble those of Buddha and all the other inner directed religious views of the world, including much of Christianity. Was he the outcome of that vicious political and military system within which he lived?
"Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne.
Yet that scaffold sways the future, And, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow keeping watch above His own."
Where is our Rumi?