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Opinion Op Ed 16 Nov 2017 Mystic Mantra: Islam ...
The writer is an alim (classical Islamic scholar) and doctoral scholar with Centre for Media, Culture & Governance, Jamia Millia Islamia. Contact him at grdehlavi@gmail.com

Mystic Mantra: Islam and Buddhism — Spiritual symbiosis

Published Nov 16, 2017, 12:40 am IST
Updated Nov 16, 2017, 7:30 am IST
There is no dearth of peaceful references and spiritual commonalities among our faith traditions, as diverse as even Islam and Buddhism.
Similarly, the principle of karma, which is central in the Buddha’s teachings, is very similar to Islamic ethics (Akhlaqiyat).
 Similarly, the principle of karma, which is central in the Buddha’s teachings, is very similar to Islamic ethics (Akhlaqiyat).

At a time when the world is moving towards another “clash of civilizations”, it is indispensible to reclaim the world religions as essential sources of peacemaking for the cessation of the imminent conflicts. 

There is no dearth of peaceful references and spiritual commonalities among our faith traditions, as diverse as even Islam and Buddhism. But we often overlook them in an unconscious bid to further the nefarious ends of the religious bigots.

 

Though we entertain acute differences in numerous theological, doctrinal and jurisprudential matters of faith, we cannot reject outright the mystical “common grounds” well-seated in the sacred texts of Islam and Buddhism. They exhort the two communities not only to tolerate, but rather accept and honour each other, not merely as human beings in general, but also as adherents of the two distinct faith traditions—Islam and Buddhism.

Just as eternal salvation  in Islam is embedded in the “Five Pillars of Faith” , the spiritual enlightenment in Buddhism is summed up in the “Four Noble Truths” Much like the earlier were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad starting from the cave of Hira until his demise in Madina, the latter were delivered by Gautam Buddha to five monks at Isipatana in Banaras. 

They are: First, life inevitably involves suffering. Second, suffering originates in desires. Third, suffering will cease, if all desires cease. Fourth, this state can be realized by engaging in the noble eight-fold path. 

Thus, the Buddha’s first two noble teachings identify the root-causes of suffering, sadism and their consequences, while his second and the third teachings lay down the spiritual panacea for these ills. Inevitably, the four noble truths lead to a completely compassionate, peaceful and humane living style which ultimately ushers in peacemaking and conflict resolution.

Ultimately, the way leading to the end of sufferings, in the Buddhist tradition, is the noble eight-fold path, that is, to purify one’s view, intention, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness and concentration. 

Remarkably, these are repeatedly urged in the Quran as well. The broader notion of salvation in Islam, as stated in several Quranic verses, is pertinent to the “cessation of suffering”. Quran calls for the right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort and right mental concentration to save oneself from the sufferings of this world and the hereafter. (2:62)

Similarly, the principle of karma, which is central in the Buddha’s teachings, is very similar to Islamic ethics (Akhlaqiyat).  

There are candid commonalities between the noble eight-fold path of the Buddhist dharma and the ethical Islamic Shariah. This spiritual symbiosis is patently clear in this famous hadith tradition of the Prophet Muhammad.

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