Friday, August 19, 2005

Interfaith Insight : Islamic-Buddhist Dialogue

Venerable Thubten Chondron's Home page (website) contains an article by Dr. Alexander Berzin, Islamic-Buddhist Dialogue. I mention some content from it here:

"... Historically, Islamic law has accepted Buddhism as a "religion of the Book." Because "Dharma" was translated as "law," and "law" referred to "book," Buddhists as "people of the Dharma" were understood to be "people of the Book" throughout medieval Central Asia. Islam tolerates all "people of the Book," which is defined as people who accept a creator God. This leads to some interesting discussions on the meaning of "creator God."

Indonesian Buddhists posit Adibuddha, the primordial Buddha of the Kalachakra Tantra, as the "creator." I had several interesting discussions with Buddhist monks in Indonesia about the issue of God in Buddhism. Since Adibuddha can be interpreted as the clear light primordial consciousness, and since all appearances of samsara and nirvana are the play or "creation" of that mind, we concluded that it could be said that Buddhism accepts a "creator God." The fact that Buddhism asserts Adibuddha not to be an individual, separate being who created the universe, but something present in each sentient being, can be seen as a theological difference concerning the nature of God. That is, Buddhism does accept a "creator God" but with its own unique interpretation. As the Muslims say, "Allah has many names," and many Christian, Islamic, Hindu, and Jewish thinkers assert that God is abstract and present in all beings. ...

... some modern Islamic scholars have asserted that the Prophet Dh'ul Kifl--the "man from Kifl"- mentioned twice in the Qur'an, refers to the Buddha, with Kifl being the Arabic rendering of the name of Buddha's native kingdom, Kapilavastu. The Qur'an stated that the followers of Dh'ul Kifl are righteous people. Secondly, al-Biruni and Sehristan, two eleventh century Islamic scholars who visited India and wrote about its religions, called Buddha a "Prophet ..."
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