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Buddhism and Islam - Essay Example

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This research will begin with the statement that Buddhism which originated in India over 2500 years ago was formed by Siddhartha Gotama who eventually came to be known as Gotama Buddha. Buddhism originated in northern India during the 5th century B.C.E and spread to other parts of the subcontinent during the 3rd century B.C.E. Various branches of the religion including Zen, Theravada, and Tibetan Buddhism have emerged over the years due to the influence of various host cultures. The term Buddha means an enlightened / awakened one. The concept of Buddhism refers to the adherence to the principles of Buddha or Buddha-hood by its followers thus essentially implying that individuals are inherently lacking in a spiritual sense and that they can only be awakened or enlightened by following the principles of Buddhism. The basic preaching of Buddhism entails individuals to "wake up from restricting delusions, which cause attachment and thus suffering for individuals and those he or she interacts with". Buddhism spread throughout the Asian subcontinent post the demise of Gotama Buddha at the age of eighty in 486 B.C.E. Buddhism is known to be the first world religions to spread to beyond its place of origin. Theravada Buddhism, for instance, spread to Southeast Asia during the 1st century A.D. in countries like Burma, North and South Korea, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand and to the Western / European world centuries later. As the religion traveled beyond Asia towards the western world it underwent various changes to suit and appeal to the western way of life. (Prebish and Baumann, 2002; Cicoccolanti, 2010). Brief History - Islam: Islam originated in Mecca and was founded by the Prophet Mohammad who claimed to have received revelations from God himself through his angel Gabriel over fourteen centuries ago. It is believed to be the literal word of God handed down to Mohammad in the form of verses. The Muslim community holds that everything Mohammad said and did was the perfect manifestation of the will of God. Mohammad is said to have received these revelations over a period of twenty two years after which the Quran was finally complete. However after his death there were debates over his legal successor and the Muslim community was divided in opinions regarding the same. Part of the community believed Ali, Mohammad's cousin to be the true and legal successor of Mohammad while the other opposed his election as the Caliph resulting in division of the community into Shia and Sunni sects, which eventually came to be known as the two major denominations in Islam (Islamcity, n.d.). World view, primary beliefs: Buddhism: Peace and non-violence are the underlying elements of the Buddhist world views. The Buddhists follow and adhere to the doctrine of dependent origination which entails that anything can only exist due to everything else in the world meaning thereby that nothing in this world can exist on its own and that all things are interdependent on one other. It posits that all things and elements of our lives are directly or indirectly dependent and correlated to one another (George, 2008). The concept of God: Unlike various other religions the concept of God in Buddhism is not described as omnipresent, omnipotent or omniscient creator of the world since Buddhism rejects the idea of the existence of such creator (Sahni, 2008). Cyclic existence: This Buddhist worldview of existence is cyclic in nature i.e. the Buddhists view life as an eternal cycle of life and death where life leads to death which in turn leads to rebirth. The current life of individuals is perceived as one among many in the series of incarnations. The only way to stop or absolve oneself from this cyclical existence is good karma. Buddhism states that the karma or actions of an individual good or bad determines their status in the cycle of birth and death. Good karma can be generated through good behavior i.e. adhering to the principle code of morals and ethics laid ...Show more
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Summary

This paper is aimed at providing a critically comparative study of two world religions: Buddhism and Islam. The opening of the paper consists of the brief history of each religion; their worldview, primary beliefs, key rituals, and denominations…
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