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Inner Peace: Islam or Buddhism?

An elderly German surprised me with his admiration for Buddhism and his extreme hatred of Islam؛ arguing that Buddhism is a religion of Inner Peace, while Islam calls for violence.

I said to him:

First of all, one of the most important teachings of “Gautama Buddha” is No effect without a cause.

This is consistent with what modern science has brought recently. Scientists say that the universe is expanding, so it has a beginning and an endpoint, and behind the starting point, there is a great reason which gave the first click to the “Big Bang.”

Islam has clearly spoken about the existence of a Creator to the universe and its contents, who created human beings for a specific purpose. Knowing that the Qur’an is fixed, it was never changed, while material science is speculative, empirical and ever-changing.

I started a discussion with the questioner by making a comparison. This comparison was between the teachings of Buddhism and the teachings of Islam as follows:

Gautama Buddha spoke of only four truths:

  • Gautama Buddha spoke of the truth of suffering (the existence of man in this world and the consequences of disability and old age, disease, pain, etc.): Dukkah.

The Qur’an reveals the secret of this fact:

˹He is the One˺ Who created death and life in order to test which of you is best in deeds. And He is the Almighty, All-Forgiving.

  • Gautama Buddha spoke of the truth of the suffering origin (lust and attachment): Samudāya.

The Qur’an tells us about the cause and origin of suffering, which is the assignment and the test:

God said:

And [mention, O Muḥammad], when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority.” They said, “Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we exalt You with praise and declare Your perfection?”2 He [Allah] said, “Indeed, I know that which you do not know.” (Al-Baqara:30).

And said:

Verily! We have made that which is on earth as an adornment for it, in order that We may test them (mankind) as to which of them are best in deeds (Al-Kahf: 7).

He also said:

God is the Creator of all things, and He is the Maintainer of everything. (Al-Zumar: 62).

  • Gautama Buddha spoke of the truth of the suffering cessation (giving up the causes of lust): Nirodha.

God said:

And as for those who were in awe of standing before their Lord and restrained themselves from ˹evil˺ desires. (Alnaziaat:40)

The Qur’an tells us about the reward for those who pass the test:

God said:

And those who were mindful of their Lord will be led to Paradise in ˹successive˺ groups. When they arrive at its ˹already˺ open gates, its keepers will say, “Peace be upon you! You have done well, so come in, to stay forever.” (Al-Zumar:73).

  • Gautama Buddha spoke of the truth of the path to the suffering cessation (by self-control and meditation): Magga.

The Qur’an tells us how to pass the test.

I did not create the Jinns and the human beings except for the purpose that they should worship Me. (Al-Dhariyat: 56).

Gautama Buddha said: Suffering comes in many forms, including old age, disease, and death. Suffering goes further because life is not perfect, and it does not always live up to our aspirations. Man is exposed to complex desires, but even if we achieve them, they do not last, for pleasure does not last, and if it lasts, it becomes boring.

One of his most important instructions is to work diligently to get rid of repetitive births (reincarnation) to obtain Inner Peace.

In the Buddhist tradition, karma refers to action driven by intention (cetanā), leading to future consequences.

Those intentions are considered to be the determining factor in the kind of rebirth in samsara, the cycle of rebirth.

Repetitive births for Buddha are a kind of torment. Man, according to Buddha, will not obtain salvation (security after death) unless he is united with existence.

Buddhism has eight pillars:

  • The first pillar of Buddhism is Right Understanding – Sammā ditthi. Accepting Buddhist teachings about the truth: The belief that truth is the guide to man.

The Qur’an tells us that the Creator is the Truth:

Guidance comes only from the Truth that created existence.

God said:

That is because Allah is the True Reality, and that which they call upon other than Him is falsehood, and because Allah is the Most High, the Grand. (Al-Hajj: 62).

  • The second pillar of Buddhism is the Right Decision: To always be calm and never cause harm to any creature, human, animal, or bird.

Muhammad, peace be upon him, said:

A Woman entered Hell because of a cat which she tied up & did not Feed, nor did she let it loose to feed upon the vermin of the Earth.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari).

God said:

Because of that, We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind. (Al-Maeeda:32)

  • The third pillar in Buddhism is Right Speech (Sammā vācā):Speaking truthfully, avoiding slander, gossip, and abusive speech.

The Prophet, may God grant him peace, said:

“There are three signs of a hypocrite: When he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise, he breaks it; and when he is trusted, he betrays his trust.” (Sahih al-Bukhari).

He said as well:

The believer does not insult others, does not curse others, is not vulgar, and is not shameless.” (Sahih al-Tirmidhi).

And he said:

Have taqwa (fear) of Allah (God) wherever you may be, and follow up a bad deed with a good deed which will wipe it out, and behave well towards the people. (Narrated by at-Tirmidhi),

  • The fourth pillar of Buddhism is Right Actions (Sammā kammanta): Behaving peacefully and harmoniously; refraining from stealing, killing, and overindulgence in sensual pleasure.

God said:

And do not kill anyone whose killing Allah has forbidden, except for a just cause.. (Al-Isra:33)

The Qur’an is the finest example of human behavior.

Adjusting words:

God said:

speak kindly to people; … (Al-Baqarah: 83).

Adjusting gait and voice:

God said:

Do not walk on earth with pride and arrogance. If you walk haughtily on earth you will not be able to split the earth, nor will your stature reach the mountains in height and elevation. Why then are you so proud?! (Al-Isra: 37).

And said:

Be moderate in your pace. And lower your voice,.. (Luqman: 19).

Adjusting gazes:

God said:

And strain not your eyes in longing for the things We have given for enjoyment to various groups of them, the splendor of the life of this world, that We may test them thereby. But the provision of your Lord is better and more lasting. (Taha:131)

Adjusting hearing, concerns, and ideas:

God said:

O  believers! Avoid many suspicions, ˹for˺ indeed, some suspicions are sinful. And do not spy, nor backbite one another. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of their dead brother? You would despise that!1 And fear Allah. Surely Allah is ˹the˺ Accepter of Repentance, Most Merciful. (Hujurat:12)

Adjusting food:

God said:

O Children of Adam! Dress properly whenever you are at worship. Eat and drink, but do not waste. Surely He does not like the wasteful. (Al-A’raf: 31).

Adjusting souls:

God said:

O you who believe ! Let not one people mock at (another) people. May be they (the mocked) are better than the others, and nor women (mock) at other women, may be they (the others) are better than themselves. And do not defame one another, nor call one another by nicknames. Evil is transgressed names after the Faith, and whoever does not repent, then such are indeed the wrong-doers. (Hujurat:11).

Adjusting statements:

God said:

And follow not that of which you have no knowledge. Verily, the hearing, and the sight, and the heart of each of those ones will be questioned (by Allah). Do not speak without Knowledge. (al-Isra’: 36).

  • The fifth pillar in Buddhism is Right Livelihood ( Sammā ājīva): Avoiding making a living in ways that cause harm, such as exploiting people or killing animals, or trading in intoxicants or weapons.

God said:

Indeed, Allah commands you to return trusts to their rightful owners;1 and when you judge between people, judge with fairness. What a noble commandment from Allah to you! Surely Allah is All-Hearing, All-seeing. (An-Nisa: 58).

Almighty said:

And do not come near the wealth of the orphan—unless intending to enhance it—until they attain maturity. Give full measure and weigh with justice. We never require of any soul more than what it can afford. Whenever you speak, maintain justice—even regarding a close relative. And fulfil your covenant with Allah. This is what He has commanded you, so perhaps you will be mindful. (Al-Anaam:152).

Also said:

give full measure and full weight and do not diminish to men the value of their things. Do not make mischief in the earth after its reform. This is better for you if you are believers”. (Al-Araf:85)

  • The sixth pillar of Buddhism is Right Effort (Sammā vāyāma): Cultivating positive states of mind; freeing oneself from evil and unwholesome states and preventing them from arising in the future. Always striving for all that is good and staying away from that which is evil.

God said:

As for him who giveth and is dutiful (toward Allah) And believeth in goodness;Surely We will ease his way unto the state of ease.But as for him who hoardeth and deemeth himself independent,And disbelieveth in goodness; Surely We will ease his way unto adversity. (Al-Layl)

  • The Seventh Pillar of Buddhism is Right Mindfulness (Sammā sati): Developing awareness of the body, sensations, feelings and states of mind. Never surrender to Joy or Sadness Meditation.

God said:

So that you may not grieve for what has come out of your hand, nor be happy (brag) with what is given to you. And Allah does not love any of the arrogant and boater. (Al-Hadid:23).

  • The eighth pillar in Buddhism is Right Concentration (Sammā samādhi): Developing the mental focus necessary for this awareness.

this is only by following the previous rules and reaching the stage of complete peace “Nirvana” which is the union of the creature with the source of existence.

But is the union with the existence logical in the first place and provides Inner Peace and delivers from torment?

Who created existence in the first place?

Without an answer to this question, we will not have any kind of Inner Peace.

The person in this case spins in a viscous circle.

  • There is no Inner Peace without recognizing the source of existence, and communicating with this source (the Creator) directly (not through a priest or a saint).
  • There is no Inner Peace unless we know our destination after death. We will not get the answer except from the one who gave the life.
  • There is no Inner Peace without knowing the purpose of our existence.

Life’s journey is like a train journey, the train passenger will not enjoy his journey unless he knows his destination and the point from which the train departed.

Knowing the starting and ending point is a great and lofty goal that every human being must strive for.

The primary purpose of life isn’t to enjoy a temporary sense of happiness, but to achieve Inner and Deep Peace through knowing and worshipping the Creator. Achieving this aim will lead eventually to eternal bliss and true happiness. So, if this is our goal, we will go through every trouble to achieve it.

The questioner asked:

How does a Muslim obtain security after death and achieve Inner Peace?

I said to him:

The Muslim obtains Inner Peace by:

  • Recognizing the source of his existence.
  • Knowing the purpose of his existence.
  • Knowing his destiny after death.
  • Establishing the direct connection with the source of his existence (The Creator).
  • Doing good deeds and taking reasons.

Only in this case he attains security after death.

This beautiful meaning will not be achieved unless the Creator is independent of His creatures, not united with them.

This meaning can be achieved as well by having the faith in the day of judgment, and therefore, punishment or recompense.

The well-known orientalist Voltaire says:

“The faith of the Last Day alone is enough to create a moral framework in society”.

God asks His Messenger Muhammad to convey to mankind the means of salvation:

Say ( O Muhammad ): « I am only a man like you. It has been revealed to me that your God is One God – i.e. Allâh) . So whoever hopes for the Meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord. »


Notes:

  • The Qur’an is the last sacred book sent by God, but not the only book, as Muslims believe in all the earlier revelations of God (the scriptures of Abraham, the book of David, the Torah, the Gospel,etc.). Muslims believe that the original message in all the sacred books is Pure Monotheism (unifying God in worship). Unlike the Divine scriptures that preceded it, the Qur’an has not been kept in the hands of any particular group or clergymen of all Muslims which would lead to the misinterpretation or alteration of it. On the contrary, the Qur’an has always been within the reach of Muslims who recite it in their daily prayers, and they refer to it for all their concerns.  Muslims read and recite the same Qur’anic text that was read and recited during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions. Not a single letter has been added or removed from the Qur’an. The language of the Qur’an, the prophecies which came true, the accuracy in historical accounts, the mathematical inimitability and scientific accuracy, all prove that the Qur’an could not have been produced by a man who lived in Arabia in the 7th century and who could not read or write. God the Almighty challenged the Arabs and the non-Arabs to bring forth a book similar to the one He revealed, even though the Arabs at that time were masters of eloquence and rhetoric, they were unable to meet the challenge, and they realized that the Qur’an could not be from any other than God, the Lord of the universe.
  • The Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Middle East use the word “Allah” to refer to God, which refers to The Only True God.
  • The reference of God to Himself as WE or US in many verses of the Qur’an denotes Grandeur and Power in Arabic. In the English language this is known as the royal WE, where a plural pronoun is used to refer to a single person holding a high office, such as a monarch. For the avoidance of doubt, the Qur’an has consistently reminded us of the SINGULAR pronoun in reference to God, when called upon by His servants.

From the book:

A Universal Religion

Faten Sabri

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