Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam are among the largest and classical world religions. Around 2 billion people on this planet affiliate themselves with Christianity. Islam can boast of approximately 1.5 billion people who consider Allah their only God, and there around 400 followers of Buddhism in the world. The three above-mentioned religions have their differences and similarities, and this paper aims at exploring main similarities and differences between Buddhism and Islam as well as Islam and Christianity.
Buddhism and Islam
Buddhism and Islam are creationist religions. It means that God created the universe, and this universe is separate from God. Both religions believe in humanity and respect it. Followers of Buddhism and Islam are taught that life is the greatest gift and it must be cherished. In both religions, moderation in life is promoted. There is nothing good about striving to get all the pleasures in the world or, on the contrary, living in pain and suffering. Moderation is the key to a happy and healthy life of a true Muslim or Buddhist. Finally, both religions do not tolerate alcohol consumption at all.
As for the main differences between Buddhism and Islam, one can name the following ones. First, Islam is a monotheistic religion. In other words, there is no other God other than Allah. He has all the power and omniscience. In Buddhism, there is no concept of creator God, at least in the earlier doctrines of this religion. However, enlightened or celestial beings are honored as deities by Buddhists.
The issue of salvation is another differentiating factor between the two religions in question. As the doctrine of Buddhism says, an individual’s salvation depends only on the works of this individual and nobody else’s. In fact, a true Buddhist should strive for nirvana and not salvation, and this path to nirvana depends only on the person, not God. In the Islamic doctrine, on the other hand, salvation is achieved through believing in Allah as one God, remembering Allah, repentance and fear as well as hoping that Allah will show mercy. Both religions have the concept of eternal life. However, while in Buddhism, the eternal life of an individual depends on this individual’s karma and his deeds during his life, Islam states that one’s eternal life depends only on the deeds of a person during his life. Nevertheless, only those who follow the path of Islam wholeheartedly have the chance for eternal life.
Islam has all holy texts collected in one book, the Quran; whereas Buddhism does not have a central book, which all followers must read and follow. For the Buddhists, there are different books that contain the Buddha’s teachings. Another important difference between Islam and Buddhism is the practices that both religions promote. For Buddhists, these practices are Wisdom, Concentration, and Morality. Islam is based on the Five Pillars. These are the testament that there Allah is the only one God and his messenger is Muhammad, prayer must be done 5 times a day, Ramadan is the time for fast, one must help the poor, and one must complete Hajj, or pilgrimage, at least once in a lifetime.
Islam and Christianity
Such two religions as Islam and Christianity have a lot in common, but there are differences between them, as well. One should look at similarities simultaneously with the differences between the religions.
The major similarity that unites these two religions is their monotheism as well as creationism. There is one God in both religions. God has created everything; he loves and forgives everyone. However, in regard to one and only God lies the major difference between Islam and Christianity. In Christianity, the concept of God equals the concept of the Holy Trinity. In other words, one God contains three entities – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. For Islam, this concept is unacceptable. The Muslim God is only one person. Believing in the Trinity means believing in three Gods, which is not acceptable in Islam.
The founders of both religions are different. Islam is founded by Prophet Muhammad while Christianity is founded by Jesus. Muhammad was a political and spiritual leader of Islam, hence the integration of church and state, which can be usually observed in Muslim countries. Jesus, on the other hand, was only a spiritual leader, and that explains why in many countries, where Christianity is the dominating religion, church is separated from state.
What unites Christianity and Islam is the personality of Jesus, but both religions view him differently. As it is believed in Islam and Christianity, Jesus was born in a miraculous way, and he was sinless and unfillable. He performed miracles during his lifetime, and when he died, he was raised from the dead and ascended to God. However, while for Christians, Jesus is God Himself, Muslims view him only as a prophet, though a highly regarded one.
Both religions believe in the end of times and in what will happen when the end comes. They believe that people can go to hell or heaven and stay there for eternity. However, some Muslims think that God can grant pardon to those who have gone to hell for some reason. Christians believe that all humans are sinful from birth, while Muslims think that humans are born sinless. It is their responsibility to remain sinless throughout their life.
As it can be seen from the above-said, three major religions have numerous similarities and differences. The fact that these similarities do exist shows that the core and fundamental moral values for people are the same regardless of their religious affiliation.