Islam and Buddhism
Rooted in thousands years of tradition, rituals and practices Islam and Buddhism are at the forefront of the major World Religions. Their influences on culture, politics and society have reached far and wide; from quaint villages in the Middle East to roaring metropolitan areas of China and Japan. Islam is born out of the teachings of the prophet Muhammad, while Buddhism focuses on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama. Although many people claim to know these two religions, the reality is that many continue to not realize the great differences between them. While both religions seem very similar in nature, their main differences come from their sacred texts and ritual practices.
Islam and Buddhism are similar in that they both have a strong belief in abiding by sacred scriptures. While Islam’s scriptures come out of one holy book, Buddhists use a wide variety of Holy Books depending on their specific sect. According to Muslims, The Qur’an is believed to be the direct words of Allah, which was revealed to the prophet Muhammad over a period of 23 years by the angel Gabriel. Gabriel transmitted the ayahs (verses) and surah’s (chapters) for Muhammad and from that the Qur’an was born (Oxford 218). The term “Qur’an” is derived from the root q-r- meaning to read and recite, which is what Gabriel commanded Muhammad to do upon presenting him with the scriptures. The Qur’an contains verses of commands and warnings, to stories and parables for the people of Islam to live by. Commentary relating to the Qur’an is the Tafsir, meaning ‘unveiling’ or elucidating the meaning of the texts (Oxford, 219). Interpretations of the Qur’an are based off of three authoritative sources: The Qur’an itself, the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad known as the Hadith, and the opinions of the Prophets Companions. The Qur’an stresses a belief in Allah, the Lord of all beings who demands faith and worship of all creatures, Allah’s Angels, books and prophets and the judgment of the last day. The Qur’an also states that Muslims should give of their wealth, and practice patience and steadfastness in times of misfortune and hardship. The ultimate purpose of the Qur’an is Islam is to create an ummah; a community united by faith (Oxford 218).
Rather than having one specific Holy Book, Buddhism provides a plethora of sacred texts for its followers based on the sect of Buddhism they are in. Those in Theravada Buddhism follow the doctrine of Tripitaka or “Three Baskets”, which is composed of three bodies; the Vinaya (discipline), the Sutras (sermons), and the Abhidharma (systematic treatises) (“Buddhism vs Islam”). Its main use in Theravada Buddhism is for study and discussion; the selections known as Parittas are chanted as blessings in various rituals, and verses from the Dhammapada are often used in everyday life (Oxford, 431). Followers of Mahayana Buddhism consider the Lotus and Heart Sutras to be their sacred texts, as well as hundreds of other sutras and...