Haram Month #11 – Islam and Buddhism are NOT alike

This post is a response to an article that was posted yesterday on the news site Independent Australia. The article was written by a Year 12 student named Jessica Robinson, who is claiming that Islam and Buddhism are more alike than most people think. But before we begin, let’s address the image used at the top because, in my mind, the textual content within just lays out the kind of post we’re dealing with.

So right off the bat, the image chosen as the header image is nonsense. “Buddha was not a Buddhist”. So? “Jesus was not a Christian”. Yeah, he was Jewish. “Muhammad was not a Muslim”. So? And it’s really rich that the claim is that they all taught “love”. How did Muhammad teach love? By conquering Mecca and ordering killings and the desecration of the religion that was previously practiced, and towards his death he said “let there not be two religions in Arabia”. If you think this teaches love, then I must say you are fucking foul. Gautama never did this. Jesus never did this. Muhammad did. And the premise of that statement is that they’re all the same because they taught “love”. What the fuck is love to these people?

Anyways, let’s get on with the actual written content of the post.

Since the dawn of mankind, humans have attempted to answer the most complex and perplexing questions of the universe through religious beliefs. Questions such as why are we here? How did we come to be?

Religions worldwide set out a set of moral and ethical guidelines on how one should live and interact with the world. This leads to a vast number of teachings on peace and conflict, how to behave when at war and how to avoid it all together.

In today’s world, Islam is seen as one of the most violent and war-like religions. However, this is not the case. Many of their ancient scriptures and teachings from the Quran and from their prophet Muhammad talk of avoiding violence at all costs.

Do you know that there’s an entire Wikipedia page for Muhammad’s military career? Yes, the prophet who supposedly talks of avoiding violence at all costs had a military career. And it’s said that about 1,000 people have been killed in the battles fought by Muhammad. That is really, really bad for you if you claim to be all about peace. He and his forces killed people for not recognizing his religion and even slaughtered Jewish tribes living in Medina. That alone should be enough to convince you that Muhammad was not a pacifist in any stretch. In addition to this, Islam as a religion simply inspires more violence than any others. Put into perspective, the Inquistions carried out by the Catholic Church killed up to 3,000 people over the course of 350 years, while Islamic terrorists killed 5,000 people in the month of November 2014 alone. Just look at how many Islamist terror attacks carried out last year alone. In fact, there are verses in the Quran which instruct or endorse violence against non-believers.

Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors.” – Surah Al-Baqarah 2:193

And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” – Surah At-Tawbah 9:5

O Prophet, fight against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and be harsh upon them. And their refuge is Hell, and wretched is the destination.” – Surah At-Tawbah 9:73

And as for those who disbelieved, I will punish them with a severe punishment in this world and the Hereafter, and they will have no helpers.” – Surah Ali ‘Imran 3:56

Fighting has been enjoined upon you while it is hateful to you. But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you do not.” – Surah Al-Baqarah 2:216

Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” – Surah At Tawbah 9:29

So already, my dear, this is a claim that loses its foundation once you look at the facts of the matter. It’s not looking good for you and we’ve only just begun.

On the other side of the coin, Buddhism is seen as one of the most peaceful religions in the world. By all accounts it is. The Buddha preached love and kindness and the ending of all suffering. However, due to political and religious turmoil, many Buddhists have turned to violence and hate. Buddhist monks are now persecuting Muslims in Burma.

Yes, non-violence is a central tenet in the Buddhist faith, unlike in Islam where both Allah and his prophet condone and in fact encourage violence. So why do Buddhist monks clash with Muslims in Burma? Honestly I’m not sure, but I think it might have something to do with an insurgency on the part of the Rohingya Muslim community in Burma that has apparently been going on since 1947. The monks might also be doing this for political reasons, given that the Rohingya are viewed as illegal immigrants. Whatever the reason is, I doubt that this is done specifically to disseminate the teachings of Buddhism. But to be honest, I think comparing Islam – a religion that was founded in violent conquest, has verses instructing or condoning violence and continues to inspire scores of violence – to Buddhism based on what some monks are doing in Burma seems ineffectual.

With Buddhism, there is an emphasis on peace and peaceful living but this comes from a focus on suffering and the ending of all suffering. The Four Nobel Truths are the centre of Buddhism. These truths centre around suffering, the cause of suffering, the end of suffering and how one can end suffering. Within Buddhism, there is a large focus on inner peace or “enlightenment”. Once one reaches enlightenment, you no longer suffer and your aim is to ease the suffering of others by aiding them in their path to enlightenment. The very basis of Buddhist teachings is one of peace.

If you wish to end suffering, the most obvious way to do that is to be peaceful.

Way to misspell the world noble. But anyways, the thing you have to remember is that Islam and Buddhism have different aims. In Islam, the goal is to get into heaven (or Jannah) by worshipping Allah and following his teachings and those of Muhammad, and of course to disseminate the teachings of Islam wherever people. The goals of Buddhism, as you’ve pointed out are slightly different and they don’t depend on the same means. Sure, spreading the teachings of Buddhism in order to bring about enlightenment is a part of those goals, but apart from that. Not to mention, as I will keep pointing out, one faith is inherently more militant or likely to inspire violence than the other.

To learn how Islam strives for peace, you must look to see when it was established and in what political and religious climate. The prophet Muhammad was born into an extremely violent tribal culture. In his thirties, Muhammad experienced “divine revelations” from God which led to the writing of the Quran. In these teachings, Muhammad said that God, or Allah, wished for peace for his people. These teachings also preached patience and kindness. These teachings were alien to pre-Islamic Arabia.

If Allah and Muhammad both strive for peace, why did Muhammad conquer Mecca through military force and desecrate, I repeat, desecrate the artefacts and temples of the former religion of Arabia. He sent generals to attack the shrines of pre-Islamic pagan deities and kill the people who tended to those shrines. One of his generals even killed a woman Muhammad assured him was one of the false goddesses. No one who strives for peace above all else would condone this or participate in this, even if you’re the type who espouses peace by superior arms. I don’t care how violent his culture was. If he really believed in peace and despised violence, he would be above that. But history, the Quran and the Hadiths show otherwise. Not to mention, why does the Quran tell believers to kill non-believers, keeping in mind that the Quran is considered the perfect, unchangeable word of Allah? This is still weak apologia.

Muhammad advocated a policy of non-violent resistance and like Buddhism, Islamic teachings, at their core, call for peace and patience. The Holy Quran 49:10 states ‘Humanity is but a single brotherhood; so make peace with your brethren.’ The word ‘Islam’ even comes from the world ‘Salam’ meaning ‘peace’.

The same lie about Muhammad’s advocacy of non-violent resistance is repeated here, and if we’re honest I think we know already that Islamic teachings don’t call for peace and patience, except with other believers (and even then, only the real believers – not “hypocrites”). Also, this is what 49:10 says:

The believers are but brothers, so make settlement between your brothers. And fear Allah that you may receive mercy.” – Surah Al-Hujurat 49:10

Key words: the believers. Not all of humanity. The rest are to be converted. Not to mention, in Islamic the world is divided into two categories: Dar al-Islam (the territory of Islam) and Dar al-Harb (the territory of strife, strife that is necessitated by a lack of belief in Allah). The word Islam does not strictly mean peace. It means “submission” or “surrender” as in surrender to the will of Allah. It comes from the word aslama which means “submit” or “surrender”.

Today, members and leaders of the Islamic faith actively condemn acts of violence. They speak out against injustices and work together with other Abrahamic faiths in interfaith dialogues to aid the spread of understanding and peace. Muslim communities in Australia are working with the federal and state governments to combat the radicalisation of Muslim youths.

Well they’re trying, but it’s mostly #NotAll so-and-so and “Islam dindu nuffin”. You hear very little addressing of the ideological prerogatives of Islam or Islamism compared to the apologia coming from both Muslims and non-Muslims alike, yourself included. And that’s in the West. In the Middle East, meanwhile…

And have you seen Arab Twitter’s response to the Orlando Pulse massacre?

Also, Australia’s government is more concerned about cracking down on “vilifying” religions than fighting terrorism.

Obviously, the glaring contradiction is terrorist organisations such as Islamic State and Boko Haram. However, these organisations do not work in the name of Allah, or in any way embody the teachings of Muhammad. These contradictions result from a misunderstanding and misinterpretation of Islamic text. With all religious text, one must continually re-interpret it as society evolves.

That’s an outright lie. Islamic State (or ISIL) are an Islamic organization, specifically they are Wahhabi Muslims, and the thing about Wahhabists is they believe in propagating the strictest, purest form of Islam possible. They commit violence against non-believers because it is written in the Quran. They implement Sharia law based on the Quran and the Hadiths. They kill other Muslims because they deem them to be hypocrites, who the Quran also commands violence against. They kill gay people because the Quran tells them to. Even slavery, including sexual slavery, is something that they justify using the Quran. If it is Allah’s will, then they follow it without question. It’s not a misunderstanding, only a strict interpretation and broad application of the teachings of the Quran, unmoderated and untempered by the values of the Enlightenment and the modern secular liberal values that spring from it. They are also Islamists which means they wish for society in general to structured around Islam. Boko Haram have the same ideology. All of this is religious motivated and tied to Islam. It’s worth noting that the leader of ISIL, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has a PhD in Islamic Studies, which would suggest he is very educated on the subject.

In reality, the Quran is no more violent than the Christian bible, it just so happens that there are groups of people who insist on taking portions of the Quran out of context to fit their radical agenda.

The problem is that you have significantly more Muslims who strictly adhere to the Quran and more radical Islamists who kill people in the name of Allah than Christians doing the same thing in the name of Jesus, and the former is currently killing more people than the latter are. In fact, there have been 29,055 Islam-inspired attacks committed since 9/11, and that number is bound to rise further. Also Christianity is more tempered by modern secular values than Islam is, and we in the West are coddling the Islamic faith and preventing any kind of reform which might lead to Islam being as reformed and tempered as Christianity is now. This is what needs to be addressed.

In the modern world, Buddhism works with many people and religions in an effort towards peace. Organisations such as The Soka Gakkai International is a global movement of people who are connected through Buddhism. They attempt to bring a “revolution of peace” to the world. This organisation has roots leading back to the Cold War where they rallied against the use of nuclear arms. The then president of the organisation, Josei Toda, called for the complete prohibition of all nuclear weapons.

The Soka Gakkai organisation has always said that open dialogue among the various faiths and cultures is the key to peace. They published dialogues with the former soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, Indonesian Muslim leader Abdurrahman Wahid, and Chinese writer Jin Yong.

It’s a shame the Islamic world isn’t doing much of that lately.

Also, how many Nichiren Buddhists commit religiously motivated murders? Just out of interest.

Like Islam, there is still the radical sect of Buddhism who insist on interpreting the sacred texts to suit their own agenda. This is never more obvious than with the persecution of Muslims in Burma at the hands of Buddhist monks. The origin of this violence is vague at best and there are disputing claims as to why and when these persecutions began. The persecution included boycotting Muslim business and attacking and killing Muslims.”

Ashin Wirathu is the monk who is seen as the leader of the anti-Islamic movement in Burma and he is a Theravada Buddhist. Is Theravada Buddhism the radical sect you’re talking about? If so, I’m not convinced because Theravada is very much a mainstream school of Buddhism. Otherwise, name those sects. His opposition to Islam appears to be less based on his own religious beliefs and more on a concern for the increasing influence of Islam and fears of violence from Islamic communities. In that sense, he is more like the Burmese Buddhist equivalent of Tommy Robinson to some extent. At any rate, I’m no expert but, from what I’ve read, it’s not like the Rohingya Muslims are entirely blameless, since they’ve attacked people and damaged property themselves. In addition to this, there is also a militant Rohingya Islamist movement called the Rohingya Solidarity Organization. Why don’t you look them up?

Some claim that the Buddhists of Burma became angry at the influx of Muslim migrants to the country. Others say that the Buddhist monks became angry at the accumulated wealth of the Muslims, effectively blaming them for the poverty of their own people. Whatever the origin, these events show that no religion is immune from violent extremism. But these episodes of violence should in no way over-shadow the good done by other Buddhists and Buddhist organisations.

What you’ve just said doesn’t simply prove that no religion is immune from violent extremism, although no one can deny that this is the case. You’ve just said that there are political reasons underlying the sectarian conflict. Although tied to religion, it’s not solely religiously motivated. Whereas in the case of Islamic terrorism, religion is either the sole motivation or the primary or dominant motivation. And again, Islamic violence is more rampant worldwide than Buddhist violence.

It is safe to say, that the goal for every religion is to reach a state of peace, whether it’s inner peace, or world peace. The radical sects of some religions do not speak for these religions as a whole, and the majority of adherents of these religions are appalled at the things done in the name of, say, Allah and Buddha.

The two main goals of every religion are to propagate themselves and to come up with answers to complex questions concerning the “meaning of life”. That’s it. You yourself pointed out the latter. The main difference is that Islam is still propagated by force and its teachings, if implemented as the basis of a society, create brutal totalitarian societies. One need only look at the Middle East to see that this is the case, and I don’t think they disavow the puristic adherents of Islam (except in the case of ISIL, and I really think they condemn them just to save face).

Also, a quarter of British Muslims sympathized with the Charlie Hebdo attackers. 20% of British Muslims sympathize with the 7/7 bombers while 1 in 4 say they were justified. 32% of Palestinians supported the slaughter of Jewish families. And 45% of British believe that anti-Western Islamic clerics are part of mainstream Islam. I know, not all Muslims believe this! But it’s a significant number, larger than I think it should be.

“Through the teachings of Muhammad, Muslims are instructed to be patient, to be kind to those of differing faiths.

I’m not going to repeat myself about Muhammad.

Buddhists have a similar view. They must not cause suffering and should shy away from violence. Much like Muhammad, they preach non-violent resistance.

Buddhists don’t have a similar view, mainly because Siddhartha Gautama never encouraged killing people of different faiths, including people who leave the faith! Also I really don’t think resistance, let alone non-violent, is that strong a theme in Buddhism compared to the theme of letting go of attachments and delusions (or rather what Buddhism views as attachments and delusions). And again, I’ve already established that Muhammad advocating non-violent resistance is a lie so I’m not repeating myself again.

Many people would be shocked to think of Islam and Buddhism being comparable in any way and yet if you look closely at their teachings, and their efforts towards peace, they are more similar than one may suspect.

Yeah! Yeah I imagine many people would be shocked! And I highly doubt that looking at the teachings and the texts would change people’s minds too much. This is a pointless exercise of the lie that all religions are the same, and all to shield Islam from much-needed criticism and reform. If Siddartha Gautama were to read the Quran, I think he would be aghast at what it condones or instructs.

This article has proven to be nothing more than a weak and dishonest piece of apologia, not to mention a pathetic exercise in comparative religion. I can only hope that the author’s ignorance is simply a mark of her naivety, but even then I am still concerned that people like her are the next generation. I am deeply worried about how blind the human species is becoming, and how our inability to look at the reality of the situation is only increasing with time. And sadly, people like her are part of the problem – not least because the apologia she offers us is printed by the media numerous times and propped as a voice of reason.

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Link to the original article: https://independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/islam-and-buddhism-are-more-alike-than-you-think,9377

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