The Islamic and Buddhist faiths are vastly different. So distant from each other, it is hard to draw parallels between the two religions. The Islamic religion is exactly that; a monotheistic religion that believes in heaven, hell, and earth. However, the Buddhist religion is almost not a religion. The Buddhist faith rejects the idea of an afterlife and also rejects the idea of deity.
Instead Buddhism focuses on reaching nirvana. The Islamic religion is a monotheistic religion that stems from the JudeoChristian origins and believes in Allah, a supreme being that must be worshiped by his followers; Buddhism is a system of beliefs focuses on reaching a state of enlightenment known as nirvana, Buddhism rejects the idea of deity and an afterlife. These two religions run on completely different belief systems and stem from vastly different origins.
A man from India named Siddhartha Gautama was the original Buddha who in turn founded Buddhism. As Indian legend has it, at his birth a prophecy was made that the young prince was either going to be a religious leader or the next king. Siddhartha Gautama’s father wanted him to follow his footsteps as becoming the next king. In an attempt to make his will come true, the king sheltered the young prince from all hardship, disease, and suffering. At age
29 Siddhartha Gautama who was born a prince and brought up in luxury, abandoned his life as a prince and began to search for an answer to human suffering. After nearly seven years of meditation and searching for an answer, the original Buddha finally achieved enlightenment at age 35 in the year 525 B.C. For the next 45 years of his life, the original Buddha spent his time establishing a religion now known as Buddhism. The former prince died his teaching were
passed on orally until first century B.C when Buddha’s teaching were written down for the first time. Right now there are about 300 million Buddhists worldwide although an exact number is impossible because Buddhism does not conflict with other religions allowing for the possibility of a person to be a Buddhist and a different religion and not have conflicting beliefs.
There are two main divisions within Buddhism. One is named Mahayana Buddhism the other is called Theravada Buddhism. Theravada Buddhism is dominant in southern Asia, especially in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. Theravada Buddhism is sometimes referred to as Southern Buddhism because of its popularity in southern Asia.
Theravada Buddhists believe that they more closely follow the teachings of Buddha than any other division of Buddhism. The main goal of a Theravada Buddhist is to become arhat, or a perfect saint who has reached nirvana and will not be reborn. Theravada Buddhism’s approach is slightly more philosophical that religious because of this. Mahayana Buddhists refer to
Theravada Buddhists as
Hinayana or “lesser vehicle” while referring to themselves as “great vehicle.” The biggest philosophical difference between Mahayana and Theravada Buddhists is that Mahayana Buddhists believe that all things are deprived of selfnature. Another major difference between the Buddhist sect’s is that Mahayana Buddhists believe in postponing entry into nirvana until all other human beings have also reached nirvana.
In third century B.C an Indian Emperor named Asoka who deeply supported Buddhism
came to power and began to promote Buddhism. Asoka greatly strengthened Buddhism in terms of numbers of supporters by sending messengers and missionaries as far away from India as
Syria. However, because of the Hindu revival movement, Buddhism started to gradually decline in India. The Hindu revival movement, invasion of the Muslims, and the invasion of the white
Huns caused Buddhism to become virtually nonexistent in India, its country of origin by the thirteenth century. However, because of Emperor Asoka’s efforts to