Salam Dear Fauzia,
Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.
In truth, to sum up the teachings of Buddhism is far beyond the scope of this answer, though there are some excellent web resources should you desire more information.
If I were to try and boil down the entire Buddhist tradition into a few black and white oversimplifications, as many Muslims are unfortunately willing to do, I would be doing a major disservice to both Muslims and Buddhists alike.
Oversimplified dismissals of another person’s beliefs are a sure way to get him to dismiss your own beliefs.
The Buddhist religion comprises three major schools, each of which represents a massive intellectual tradition.
Finding common ground among the schools in order to designate a particular belief as expressly Buddhist is sometimes difficult.
Nevertheless, there do exist concepts of general agreement within the religion that we can contrast with the Islamic faith on a very basic level.
Rather, the Buddhist concept of samsara, generally explained as the soul’s migration after death followed by its ultimate rebirth, suggests loss of the individuality that we experience in this world.
It is usually explained through the analogy of a flame passing between two candles.
This is starkly opposed to the Islamic belief of individual accountability in the hereafter.
Prophet Muhammad vs. Siddhartha Gautama
On a logical level, it is well nigh impossible to confirm or deny the historical accuracy of what we know today as the Buddha’s teachings.
For one thing, Siddhartha Gautama lived over 1,000 years before the advent of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).
Any objective historiographer will admit that many accretions, distortions, and apocryphal accounts have affected the accuracy of his recorded teachings.
Some Muslim scholars have even suggested that the Buddha was a prophet of Allah, though his message of tawheed (testimony to the oneness of God) would have thereby been lost with the passage of time.
On the other hand, the Quran has not been altered one letter since its revelation, while the confirmed Sunnah has reached us through the greatest intellectual project ever undertaken by mankind (i.e., the sciences of Hadith classification).
Monotheism In the Heart
The simplicity of Islam is that a person doesn’t have to necessarily study and reflect upon each and every other religious tradition.
Rather the faith offers decisive proofs, both rational and experiential depending upon one’s mindset, such that a believer needs simply submit to what he already knows is the truth in order to achieve success in this world and the next.
When we are faced with difficulty or despair, our hearts automatically turn to Allah for help.
This not only attests to our natural inclination to believe in a single all-knowing, all-controlling personal God, but it also gives the Muslim a peace of heart.
Islam vs. The Character of Muslims
The tone of your question suggests disgust with many people who claim to be acting in the name of Islam. I cannot help but agree with you.
I am ashamed to have to defend the name of Islam with the following reminder: Allah and the religion of His final Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) are perfect while Muslims are not.
Truth be told, I am ashamed because this may be the first time in history that we have to distance the actions of many Muslims from Islam itself in order to defend the faith.
Traditionally, the excellence of the character of Muslims, in addition to their exemplary conduct and dealings with others, has always been a source of pride for the Ummah (nation) and has been the primary means of spreading the religion.
I am less-interested in analyzing Buddhism from a historical and sociological perspective than in reminding you of the priceless gift that Allah has given you by making you a Muslim. Never forget this blessing, dear friend.
Thank you for your question and please stay in touch.
This is from AboutIslam’s archives and was originally published in August 2016.
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