Comparing Islamic Religion
To compare the Islamic religion, one has to first define Islam. “The word Islam means surrender or submission to the will of Allah, the one God”(Webster). The word Islam conveys much meaning, especially those of submission and peace.
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It is through the total submission to the will of God, also known as Allah, that one achieves peace with oneself, peace with the Creator, as well as peace with all creations. Muslims are believers who have submitted themselves to the will of God. The basic creed of Islam is the shahada.
Shahada is the profession of faith: “I testify that there is no deity save God and that Muhammad is the messenger of God”(Schimmel 34). I study Buddhism. Buddhism is the name attributed to an intricate system of beliefs developed around the teachings of a single man known as the Buddha. Buddha is the title given to the Indian philosopher Gautama circa 2,500 years ago. Buddhism is a Western word. “The religion is known in the East as the Buddha-Dharma, or the teachings of the Buddha”(Maitreya 1). Buddhists share similar beliefs about the nature of the world and how to behave within it based on the teachings of the Buddha.
Islam comes from the mouth of Muhammad. Buddhism is based on the Buddha”s personal experience of enlightenment. Thus, Muhammad is a divinely inspired teacher who preached the words of God”s will, whereas the Buddha shared his understanding of ‘the way” to attain enlightenment. Neither religion worships the tellers of the truth i. e. Muhammad and the Buddha. Instead, both religions recognize and appreciate the magnificent contribution both men have made as well as utilize the doctrines that summarize their school of thought-the Koran and the Four Noble Truths.
The foundation of Islam is the Koran which is, for the pious Muslim, not the word of a prophet but the unadulterated word of God, which has become audible through Muhammad, the pure vessel, in clear Arabic language”(Schimmel 29). The main emphasis of the Koran is the oneness of Allah. All of humanity is regarded as subject to the will and power of Allah. It is He who has created mankind, and will one-day judge his creation. The faithful are called upon to believe in Allah and to listen to His Prophet and will be saved on Judgement Day. “The Four Noble Truths are the briefest synthesis of the entire teachings of Buddhism” (Maitreya 3).
The first truth is that all life is unpleasant suffering, pain, and misery. The second truth is that this suffering is caused by selfish craving and passionate personal desire. The third truth is that this selfish craving can be overcome. The fourth truth is that the way to overcome the misery of life is by following the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path promotes sight and wisdom that will allow for inner peace, and ultimately enlightenment. The Koran”s principal assertion is that there is one God–the creator and sustainer of the universe. “This God, Allah, is compassionate and just.
Because He is compassionate, He calls all people to believe in Him and worship Him”(Ali 6). Buddhism does not teach of gods. Instead, Buddhism teaches the way of life that Buddha comprehended-the Eightfold Path. The Koran declares that all of humanity is subject to the will and power of Allah. “It is a fundamental Islamic belief that we were created to serve (worship) Allah”(Ali 2). Islam religion regards mankind as the crown of creation, entrusted by God with management of the whole-created order. Humans can be weak and are susceptible to disbelief in God and to disobedience to His will.
Humanity”s weakness is pride. Humans do not realize their limitations and believe they are self-sufficient. It is the people who are deluded by Satan that continued to disbelieve in Allah. Similarly, the Four Noble Truths proclaim that people make a mistake of being excessively egotistical. Analogously, Buddhism confirms that people error by identifying too strongly with personal existence in any one life. Unlike Muslims, who consider themselves committed to a mission by their belief in Allah, Buddhist aspires to escape from the sufferings of life.
These two goals of life are vastly different. Muslims will always see themselves reflected in the eyes of God whereas Buddhists will never see a God, only their life as a cycle of rebirths until the release called Nirvana. The Islamic religion is an extensive, multidimensional, and complex topic just as Buddhism is. I acknowledge that I am neither an expert of the religion nor a religious scholar, yet. I am solely making a brief comparison between Islam with my own personal convictions and understandings of Buddhism.