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Islam vs Buddism Essay

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When presented with a question of terminology, many people will refer to a dictionary. But some people actually think about what a word means, how it was created, its origins and what it means in today world. This essay will explain the meanings of Buddhism and Islam, as well as the origin of the religions. In a small country south of Nepal, Siddhartha Gautama was born sometime between 566 BC and 553 BC. It is said that the child was born fully awake and could speak. He told his mother, Mahamaya, he had “come to free all mankind from suffering (Boeree). Siddhartha could also stand and walk small distances, and lotus blossoms bloomed wherever he stepped. His mother died seven days after his birth. Upon this event, King Shuddodana consulted a sooth-sayer, Asita, to read his sons future. Asita told the king that Siddhartha would be one of two things: he could become a great sage and savior of humanity or a great king, perhaps even an emperor (Life of Buddha). Shuddodana was determined to have his first son become king so he set out to protect the child from anything that might lead to him taking the religious pathway.

Siddhartha was contained in one of three palaces to prevent him from Feeney 2 experiencing the “commonplace. ” He was not allowed to see the elderly, sick or dead. Only beauty and health surrounded Siddhartha (Silva-Vigier). Siddhartha grew up a strong and handsome man. As a prince of warrior caste, he trained in the arts of war. The king arranged for three palaces to be filled with 4000 girls each. Siddhartha was to choose a girl from the palaces but none of these pleased him. He found here at the end of the ceremony, she had refused to go to receive her gift.

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Siddhartha was appreciative of her selflessness and immediately fell in love with her. He won the hand of the beautiful princess from a neighboring kingdom by beating all other competitors at a variety of games. They married when Siddhartha and the princess were sixteen (Life of Buddha). Buddhist texts described her as a simple cow girl, but then cows were a sacred symbol in the time (Silva-Vigier). As time wore on, Siddhartha became curious of the outside world. He was sick of the confinement of palace life and demanded the right to see his people and lands.

Finally at the age of twenty-nine, Siddhartha was granted the privilege of leaving the palace. Within a day of leaving, Siddhartha came upon a sick man, an old man and saw a man die. He did not understand how all this could happen in his peaceful sheltered world. He did not like what he saw and returned to the palace within a week of leaving (Life of Buddha). Siddhartha was deeply troubled by what he saw and from that moment forward he decided to make it his life mission to put an end to all suffering. He chose the path Feeney 3 that his father had worked so hard to prevent.

It was during his travels that Buddhism was created. Buddhism is a major international religion that is built off of “The Four Noble Truths. ” The Four Noble Truths were the essence of Buddha’s teachings and are the basis of the Buddhist religion. They are the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering. More simply put, suffering exists; it has a cause; it has an end; and it has a cause to bring about an end (Eden). In Buddhism, desire and ignorance lie at the roots of suffering.

By desire, Buddhists refer to craving pleasure, material goods and immortality, all of which are wants that can never be satisfied. All a result, desiring them can only bring suffering (Life of Buddha). Another Buddhist belief is Karma. Karma refers to the bad and good actions that a person may do in their life. Bad actions, such as stealing, lying or killing, bring about unhappiness, while good actions, such as generosity, meditation or righteousness bring happiness. There is also neutral karma, which comes from breathing, sleeping, and eating. Neutral karma has no advantages or disadvantages (Eden).

The final Buddhist belief is life after death also known as the cycle of birth. There are six separate planes into which any living being can be reborn, three fortunate realms and three unfortunate realms. Those with positive karma enter the fortunate realms of the gods, demigods, or men. Those with negative karma enter the unfortunate Feeney 4 realms of animals, ghosts and hell. The ultimate goal is the reach Nirvana, or spiritual bliss (Eden). In the then small town of Mecca, around 570, the prophet of Islam, Muhammad was born. He struggled through his whole childhood, and was orphaned at the age of six.

His uncle, Abu Talib, took him and taught him the merchant trade. By the time he was sixteen he was known for his craftsmanship and trustworthiness. At the age of twenty-five, he married Khadija. Khadija was an extremely wealthy widow, whose status elevated Muhammad’s position in Meccan society. Muhammad and Khadija had two sons and four daughters. Both sons died in infancy (Islam: Empire in Faith). After begin married for twenty years, Muhammad began to hear mysterious voices and have visions. He sought solitude in a cave on Mount Hira, found on the outskirts of Mecca.

One night during Ramaden, the traditional month of spiritual retreat, an angel appeared to him in the form of a man and order him to: “Recite in the name of thy lord who created , Created man from a clot, Recite in the name of thy lord, Who taught by the pen, Taught man what he knew not (Bril). ” Muhammad feared that he was being attacked by an evil spirit and fled. The voice called to him, “Oh, Muhammad, you are the messenger of God, and I am the angel of Gabriel. ” The angel told Muhammad of the “One True God,” and told him to proclaim that God’s messages (Islam: Empire of Faith).

Feeney 5 After a few years Muhammad began to attract followers, many were young and looking for change. The followers were of mostly modest social standing. Muhammad began to impugn the traditional polytheism of his native town and the rich and powerful merchants of Mecca saw the religious revolution unfold before them. They realized it could be bad for business, which was believed to be protected by the Meccan pantheon of gods and goddesses. The elites of Mecca ganged up on the rising religious leader, and Muhammad realized that Mecca was a lost cause, and left (Bril).

Muhammad moved from town to town spreading his knowledge of the “One True God,” until he was asked to negotiate a truce between the new community of Medina and the rich and thriving community of Mecca. Upon finding a truce, Muhammad returned to Mecca, to attempt to teach his religion. The murder of one of his followers set Muhammad over the edge. He attacked the city until they final surrendered. Muhammad was merciful with the Meccans, demanding only that the pagan idols around the Kaaba be destroyed (Islam: Empire of Faith).

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