While much of the da’wah material available to Australian Muslims has so far concentrated on preaching to the dominant religious group in Australia, the Christians, I felt that in my first article, I should pay attention to the fastest growing “religion” (way of life as they call it) in Australia. Buddhists follow the ancient teachings of Indian preacher Gautama Buddha, an “enlightened being” who never claimed to be God, and never claimed there was not one. Yet he nevertheless had the concept thrust upon his name by his followers for all eternity. Although none of his teachings or sayings were recorded till centuries after his death, he is still revered even by many outside of Buddhism as the ultimate embodiment of wisdom. Despite his critical and prejudiced views against women which led to him banning them from his religion until he was at his deathbed, with the words “My religion was to last for five thousand years. Now that women have entered it, it will not last five hundred”, people still look to his words of wisdom for guidance-or at least, only the ones they wish to remember. Whether his true teachings have survived or not is open to speculation. Even then, it has become the view of some Islamic scholars that he may have been an early prophet of Islam. One proof of this theory is the prophecy of a future Buddha, the Maitreya, one which bears startling resemblance to the story of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).This prophecy is written in Dhammapada Sutta 151, where Buddha supposedly writes: “My future follower will be: compassionate to the whole of creation; a messenger of peace, a peacemaker; the most successful man in the world.”Now in order to convince any Buddhist or intelligent listener of the validity of this prophecy pertaining to Muhammad (pbuh), let us first examine each of the conditions listed:
– “Compassionate to the whole of creation”: As many non-Muslims might argue that this point looks away from Muhammad, him being the vilified anti-Christ he is traditionally portrayed as in Judeo-Christian dogma, it is the duty of the da’ee to clear this misconception and explain how true compassion to creation manifests itself. (this will be explained in my next article, so hang tight)
– “A Messenger of Peace, a Peacemaker”: Another popular misconception non-Muslims will pose to the da’ee at this point is that of Muhammad being a bloodthirsty warmonger, inciting conflict against those who refused to believe in Allah’s religion. This must also be clarified by the da’ee and promptly, so as not to prolong on any point of his explanation. (see future article also)
– “The Most Successful Man in the World”: This one’s a doozey, as one can easily point out the numerous ways in which Muhammad (pbuh) succeeded as the most influential man on history, on both a religious and secular level, as noted in the book “The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History”, written by Michael H. Hart in 1978. Although by the end of his life he was living in severe poverty, this aspect can be used to identify the strong similarities between Gautama Buddha and the Messenger of Allah. They were both born into honourable and wealthy families, married into wealth, and gave up nearly everything for the sake of their mission to humanity.
A second prophecy should also be noted, one that describes direct correlations between the stories of Muhammad in the Hadith and Quran, and in the Buddhist prophetic descriptions of the coming Maitreya Buddha.
(this next part is sourced from the Da’wah website: http://www.islamawareness.net/ For more excellent resources for making the Da’wah, refer to this website)
According to the Gospel of Buddha by Carus pg. 214:
“The Blessed one said, “There are two occasions on which a Tathagata’s appearance becomes clear and exceedingly bright. In the night Ananda, in which a Tathagata attains to the supreme and perfect insight, and in the night in which he passes finally away in that ultra passing which leaves nothing whatever of his earthly existence to remain.’ ”
According to Gautam Buddha, following are the six criteria for identifying a Buddha.
– A Buddha attains supreme and perfect insight at night-time.
– On the occasion of his complete enlightenment he looks exceedingly bright
– A Buddha dies a natural death.
– He dies at night-time.
– He looks exceedingly bright before his death.
– After his death a Buddha ceases to exist on earth.
Now let us compare this prophecy, to the Prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh):
– Muhammad (pbuh) attained supreme insight and Prophethood at night-time.
According to Surah Dukhan: “By the books that makes thing clear ? We sent it down during a blessed night.” [Al-Qur’ân 44:2-3]
According to Surah Al-Qadar: “We have indeed revealed this (message) in the night of power.” [Al-Qur’ân 97:1]
– Muhammad (pbuh) instantly felt his understanding illumined with celestial light.
– Muhammad (pbuh) died a natural death.
– According to Ayesha (r.a.), Muhammad (pbuh) expired at night-time. When he was dying there was no oil in the lamp and his wife Ayesha (r.a.) had to borrow oil for the lamp.
– According to Anas (r.a.), Muhammad (pbuh) looked exceedingly bright in the night of his death.
– After the burial of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) he was never seen again in his bodily form on this earth.
Looking at both of these prophecies, it can be clearly inferred that the Lord Buddha indeed predicted the coming of the Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him, if these are indeed truly his own words. If so, this would prove his authenticity as a Prophet of Islam, whose message has been distorted through time and human corruption and idolatry. Do not let this statement come across as an attack to any who adhere to Buddhist beliefs, but rather a bridging ground between them and those who follow the Last Prophet of Allah (SAW), indeed the “Buddha Maitreya”.
In a later article, I will elaborate on the similarities between Buddhism and Islam, and how one further bring the Message of Islam closer to the hearts of the Buddhists. In the meantime, be sure to check out many other websites on the internet which provide further material and resources on this field of Da’wah, including and not limited to: http://www.islamawareness.net/Buddhism/scriptures.html which I have directly quoted in parts within this article.
May Allah reward you for your future efforts in propagating Islam, brothers and sisters. I will be writing again shortly.