Buddhism and Islam Worlds Apart

Buddhism and Islam are both major religions of the world. World religions are divided into two areas Eastern and Western. Buddhism is an eastern religion and Islam is a western religion.

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In this paper, I plan to showcase the similarities as well as differences in the two religions. Buddhism and Islam seem on the surface worlds apart. While some major differences do exist the core teachings and beliefs are essentially the same. Both Buddhism and Islam have dealt with stereotypes and misinformation throughout history and one key stereotype is how women are treated. Buddhism is a religion with no gods and Muslims believe in one true god “Allah” Although this difference seems huge, the core teachings and beliefs are similar. If you follow the core teachings of these religions you will either go to heaven or attain nirvana. Buddhists believe in Samsara (cycle of life, death, and rebirth) and Karma (law of cause and effect). Buddhists ultimate goal is to rid one’s self of karma and reach Nirvana. Nirvana is defined as the extinction of desire, hatred, and ignorance and, ultimately, of suffering and rebirth (O’Brian). In order for the Buddhist to achieve nirvana they must follow the 4 Noble Truths. The truths center on the fact that life is suffering and is unavoidable. Suffering is caused by desire for things and desire can never bring true peace. The only way to end suffering is to abandon desire and that can be done only by following the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path is eight necessary aspects of life that must be accomplished. These aspects are right views, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. The aspects are guidelines on how to act, speak, think, and treat others and even the right way to earn a living. By following the 4 Noble Truths and the Eightfold path you can attain enlightenment, reach nirvana and free oneself from samsara.

Muslims believe in one true god “Allah”. They follow The 5 Pillars which represent a total way of life rather than a private belief system. Muslims believe in the importance of respect for god, charity, and neighbors. They must live a certain way to get closer to god and go to heaven. Both religions have one major goal. They both teach that one must live good and be good to people around you in order to reach your ultimate goal nirvana or heaven. Both, Buddha and Muhamad did not believe women were unequal to men. Even though buddha and Muhamad believed this some areas do not follow those teachings. Before Buddhas teaching women did not lead happy lives. Women were considered burdens to their families. Buddha believed women were not inferior to men on the contrary women were equally useful to society. Husbands and wives should do their duties with equal dedication. Wives were expected to manage their husbands’ affairs when they were away. Women have equal rights to education and religion. Women can become Buddhist nuns and are allowed into the order. Some Buddhist believe that women cannot attain enlightenment and must be reborn as men to reach nirvana but this belief differs depending on which sect one belongs to. Some female Buddhist nuns are given different rules then the monks, but this also depends on the sect you belong to. Many nun orders are working towards better conditions and education for women. In Islam, man and woman are moral equals and are required to fulfill the same duties. Islam improved the status of women compared to earlier Arab cultures. Islamic law gives the dowry to the woman, not her family and guarantees inheritance. It also gives women the right to own property and stopped the killing of female babies at birth. Muhammad is said to have consulted woman and seriously considered their opinions.

Islamic law requires women to cover certain parts of the body but it also requires men to do the same. Both men and women are required to practice modesty. Women also have the right to an education and to choose whom they want to marry. While some Islamic county’s oppress women most do not. Muslim women today are fighting for equal treatment. Many Muslim women have been heads of state and active in their country’s politics. Buddhism and Islam both suffer from stereotypes. Many people are misinformed on the basic facts of both religions. 1. Buddhism is a philosophy, not a religion. In fact, Buddhism is a religion and people have been practicing this way of life even before Christianity. Miriam Webster online defines religion as” a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices”(Merriam-Webster.com, 2018). This definition thus proves that Buddhism is, in fact, a religion not a philosophy. 2. Dalai Lama is like the Pope. The title of the pope has an exact line of succession when the pope dies a new one is selected. With the Dali Lama, he succeeds himself. When he dies he will be reborn as a baby and the cycle begins again. 3. Buddhists are pacifists. Many Buddhists have fought in wars. Buddha’s teachings say that one can fight for a just cause. 4. All Buddhist are vegetarians. Buddha did not require his followers to be vegetarians. In the beginning, Buddhist monks and nuns were fed by going around the city and receiving handouts from the town’s people. They had to take what offered including meat. 1. Arab and Muslims are the same people. Arabs speak Arabic and Muslims practice, Islam. You can be one, the other, or both. 2. Islam is very different from Christianity or Judaism. All 3 religions worship the same god, in a different name. All are children of Abraham. 3. All Muslims are fanatics. Some Muslims have a strict view on how to live but there is a great diversity among Muslims around the world. 4. You can’t be Muslim and be patriotic to the U.S.A. Many Muslims have fought and died defending the U.S. Currently; many Muslims are serving in the armed forces.

Stereotypes and misinformation hurt both Buddhists and Muslims alike. While Buddhism and Islam are very different their basic principles are the same. One should be kind and live right. One should treat their neighbor with respect and live righteously whether the outcome is nirvana or Jannah (heaven). Islam and Buddhism both struggle with stereotypes. A vast number of people are greatly misinformed when it comes to Buddhism and Islam. Both the teachings of Muhammad and Buddha say a woman should be respected and regarded as equals with men. Some countries and or sects have had issues with equal rights for women but women are fighting back. Muhammad and Buddha in their core beliefs wanted to help people and make the world a better place.

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