Religion. It is a universal institution in human civilization, found in all societies past and present. Parallel to this ubiquitous presence, is the phenomena known as religious ritual or as Psychologist Alexander Holub describes, “the act of unification” (Holub, 2009). To promote such group solidarity, the manipulation of archetypes and metaphors act as a mechanism to give meaning to the adherent through structure, purpose, prayer and meaning. Islamic and Buddhist rituals have many surface level similarities and differences. However, ritual is a physical expression reinforcing a particular spiritual belief. Buddhism and Islam have rituals that, while superficially dissimilar, are expressions of the same religious ideas and it could be argued that their conceptual understandings are identical.
Indeed, the commonalities of Islamic and Buddhist ritual – both individually and collectively – enable the adherents to strengthen their spiritual connections with their respective deities. The inclusivist approach concerning revelation ritual, highlights emotional meaning and purpose to the adherents. Through the incorporation of comparable attitudes, values and beliefs, shared ethical principles, revelation of truth and representations of deities, Islam and Buddhism are able to portray ritual as a spiritual highpoint of the believer’s faith and solidarity. A corroboration that brings adherents, through unification, closer to God.
It is important to note that there are many difficulties in exploring the commonalities of two religious philosophical systems. The most influential and challenging being, which theoretical approach is utilized for deciphering the comparative religions. However, Kristin Beise Kiblinger, professor of religious studies, developed a scheme for classifying different approaches to these comparisons. Kristin outlines three approaches of exclusivism, inclusivism and pluralism. The exclusivism approach dictates that there is only one religion with the true path to salvation or liberation. According to the inclusivist approach, there are many paths to salvation or liberation, yet one is superior. Finally, according to pluralism, there are many paths to salvation or liberation and none are superior. Historically, it is apparent that both Muslims and Buddhists have adopted the inclusivist approach; as demonstrated by the Muslims, in which the Buddhists were integrated as ‘People of the Book’ – as well as Jews and Christians (Berzin, 2010). This is expressed in the following verse of the Quran (2:62): “Truly those who believe and those who are Jews, and the Christians and the Sabeans – whoever believes in God and the Last Day and performs virtuous acts – for such, their reward is with their Lord. No fear or suffering will befall them.”
Despite American Islamic Scholar Hamza Yusuf describing Buddhist-Islamic relations as being “turbulent over the centuries”, other scholars diverge from this, instead arguing the commonalities of...