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HomeCritical QuestionsThe Approach Of Islam To Buddhism

The Approach Of Islam To Buddhism

According to Islam, Buddhism

According to some views, Buddhism is considered a philosophical movement, while others consider it a religion. Muslims, get through the information about the prophets, religions, and holy books that lived in past times from the prophet of the Islam Hz. Muhammad (PBUH) and their holy book Qur’an. Since there is no reference found regarding Buddhism in these sources, it is not seen in the category of “divine religions” according to Islam.

Similarities Between Buddhism and Islam

Although Buddhism has aspects that seem to contradict Islam in terms of belief, it also draws attention to some moral and human characteristics. For example, the “middle way principle,” the fundamental principle in which Buddha experienced enlightenment, is also a desired feature in Islam.[1]

In His words, “Religion is easy. If a person tries to worship beyond his strength, he will be powerless in the face of religion. Therefore, do not overdo it; follow the straight path and rejoice (for the reward you receive for good deeds). Take advantage (continue your obedience and worship) of the morning, evening, and part of the night (times when you are rested).” [2] Hz. Muhammad (PBUH) emphasized that extremism should be avoided even in worship.

Four Noble Truths in Buddhism According to Islam

The four fundamental truths (noble truths) revealed by Buddha and accepted as the ‘essence of the doctrine of salvation’ form the basis of Buddhism. Through these, the differences and common points between the Islam with Buddhism can be understood:

  • Dukkha (pain and suffering): Dukkha believes both birth and death are painful. The moment of joy, like the suffering in the moment of grief, is painful because it comes and goes. Islam believes that no matter how much pain and sorrow there is in the life of this world, every situation will be rewarded and punished in the realm of eternity. No situation in the world will go unanswered.[3] Besides, Muslims believe that every created being is grateful and happy because he has been restored to existence. Every living creature remembers Allah in its own language.[4] While the main thing in life is health, safety, and peace, pain, diseases, and dangers are tests that people experience from time to time.[5]
  • Tanha (intense desire): Intense desire, greed, and passions are seen as situations that bind people to mortal life. Thus, a person who cannot get out of the cycle of karma [6] and spirit migration [7] cannot reach Nirvana [8]. Karma; represents an apocalypse that will occur at the end of the world and a kind of divine justice for people who do not believe in a religious court.

According to Islamic belief, everyone in this world must live by divine orders and prohibitions and do what is good and right. However, not every situation is rewarded in this world. The Hereafter is where this world will be held accountable, and absolute justice will be manifested.[9] Spirit migration is a belief that Islam does not accept.[10] Because human was sent to the world to be tested.[11] A single lifetime was deemed sufficient for this test.[12] The life of this world is temporary; the life of the Hereafter is eternal. The world is like a field for the Hereafter, and where the harvest will be taken is the Hereafter.[13] Although there is no belief in an upper layer like Nirvana in Islam, it is requested that people reach a mature level of faith (insan-i kamil), know their Lord, and adhere strictly to His orders and prohibitions (taqwa).[14]

  • Dukkho-Nirodha (cessation of suffering): In ‘Tanha,’ which is expressed as the second truth, the cause of pain and suffering is seen as cravings and desires. Buddha explained the state of eliminating these wants and desires as Nirvana.

Seeing cravings, ambitions, and passions as situations that connect people to a mortal life is an approach that is also valid in Islam. The religion of Islam has defined the source of these desires and passions as “nafs.”[15] It is aimed not to kill (destroy) the nafs but to control it in a balance by practicing the obligatory prayers and avoiding prohibitions, which are the requirements of Islam.[16] Because it is not possible to destroy the desires of the nafs (such as eating various delicious foods, lusting after the opposite sex, gaining more income, gaining a more prestigious position), but using and satisfying them within the allowed (halal)[17] limits. [18] As a result, desires and wants turn into situations that give pleasure, not torture.[19]

  • The Eightfold Path: It is an eight-part discipline taught by Buddha that leads from ignorance to knowledge, from pain and suffering to Nirvana. The eight-slice path consists of the correct view, intention, speech, action, livelihood, effort, attention, and concentration. The correct word, right action, and right livelihood; under the heading of morality (Sila), attention and concentration; under the heading of meditation (Samadhi), right view, right intention, and right effort; is discussed under the title of wisdom (Panna). These teachings are very similar to Islam. For example; to be truthful in words and actions, to stay away from haram [20] while looking for means of livelihood [21], to look at everything created as a work of Allah [22], to intend everything for the sake of Allah [23], to earn Allah’s approval [24] can be given as an example. Meditation is a practice not found in Islam. According to the Islamic belief, the procedure in which a person feels closest to his Lord [25] and focuses his mind and nourishes his soul is prayer.[26] Prayer is a one-to-one bond with Allah without any intermediary.[27]

[1] Baqara/143
[2] Bukhari, Iman, 29
[3] Yunus/26-27
[4] Israa/44
[5] Baqara/155-157
[6] Karma: defined as “Good things produce good results, bad things produce bad results. These are the basic conditions of moral maturity.” According to this, everything is based on a cause and effect relationship, and the reason for the person’s behavior does not come from the caste he lives in, but from his own will.
[7] Spirit migration: It is the continuation of life by ascending and descending in various forms of existence (animal, plant, human) until one reaches Nirvana by abandoning evil. The spirit migration ends when the mind and body are cleansed of sin.
[8] Nirvana: In Buddhism, freedom from all desires and passions and attaining the highest state of mind. It also means the extinction of desires, suffering, pain, and hatred.
[9] Al- Anaam/160
[10] See. “Do Muslims believe in reincarnation?”
[11] Baqara/155
[12] Fatir/37
[13] Hz. Muhammad (PBUH): “The world is the field of the Hereafter.”(Aclûnî, Keşfu’l-Hafa, I/412)
[14] At-Tawba/18
[15] Yusuf/53
[16] Shams/10
[17] Within the legitimate limits that Allah deems appropriate
[18] Maaida/87
[19] Maaida/5
[20] The states and behaviors that Allah forbade in the Qur’an
[21] Maaida/88
Hz. Muhammad (PBUH): “O people! Fear Allah (with the right) and seek your sustenance in a good way. No one will die without obtaining sustenance (even if it is late) (Allah has ordained for him). So fear Allah and seek your sustenance in a good way. Take what is halal; leave what haram is!” (Ibn Majah, Trade, 2) (İbn Mâce, Ticâret)
[22] Baqara/164
[23] Baqara/112
[24] Baqara/207
[25] Baqara/110
[26] Hz. Muhammad (PBUH): “The closest (moment) a servant is to his Lord is in the state of prostration. So pray a lot (while prostrating).” (Muslim, Salat, 215)
[27] Hz. Muhammad (PBUH): “Indeed, one of you is talking to his Lord privately while praying…” (Bukhari, Salat, 36)