Buddhism reached India as a belief system in 528 B.C. This was approximately 1,000 years before Islam was recognized as a religion. It had spread through Asia, from China to Japan, and Korea. Islam and Buddhism came about in different ways and held different definitions of what was considered as religious experiences (Frager, Fadiman, Smith, 1999). Despite the expansion of the intellectual facet of Buddhism that grew over the centuries, the ascetic emphasis was always predominant.
Alternatively, the outcome of the swift growth of Islam under the Umayyad empire was the contact of Muslims with a big number of diverse tribal and cultural groups and the attainment of substantial riches that was the result of military invasion. The repositioning of the capital city from Medina to the multiethnic municipal, Damascus, marked the rising affluence of the adherents of Islam (Martin, 2009). In response to the worldlier attitude of the Ummayads, assorted factions and individuals began to surface. They encouraged the masses to return to a purer understanding of the Islamic religion. The Sufis were the result of this exhortation.
The principles of Sufism
Although not theoretically an Islamic faction, Islamic spiritualists who tend to deliberate on doing more than observing the minute details of the tenets of the Islamic religion are known as Sufis. The principles and general lifestyle are known as Sufism. Sufism is an enthusiastic method of observing the Islamic religion. Both males and female worshippers are permitted to participate in this mystical observation. It has been a well-known society within Islam right through most of the faith’s history. Sufism has been existent since the establishment of Islam and functions as a branch that reminds Muslims of their ancestral roots. The original Sufis were ascetics, who attained their unification with God through denying themselves and removing themselves from the general society so that they could draw closer to God. Sufi holy men, who were also known as students of God, were like the correspondent of Buddhist monks. They functioned as a connection between the celestial universe and the earth and were viewed as a conduit for contacting the heavenly world (Vaughan- Lee, 1995). Sufi contemplation comprises of the narration of the Islamic correspondent of “mantras,” often performed together with breathing sequences, as well as the process of imagining the presence of the holy Prophet and other recognized spiritual masters.
In contrast to the external course of commandments and regulations, Sufis give emphasis to the internal way of devoutness and faithful love. Sufis were often in disagreement with the more conventional, and legalistic, Islamic religious scholars. These clashes frequently revolved around the subjects of clout and supremacy. The Islamic religious scholars typically wanted typically to function according to “the letter of the rule,” while Sufis were more interested with “the spirit of the rules.” The Sufis, in this respect, much resemble the Buddhists, who believe in the importance of any true devotee renouncing the world and turning inward in an attempt to find his or her God.
Buddhists believe that only self-examination, in the absence of all external factors that are likely to distract the person; will bring the human soul to a resting place. Sufis observe this mantra, commonly going as far as doing away with learning from the Quran. All their truth-seekers and thinkers have to participate in a necessary expedition to the wilds in search of God. They often remove themselves from their communities (Khilwah) for definite interludes of time (Chillah).
Buddhists agree with the idea that everything is the Initiator and that nothing subsists other than this God. The Creator and His formations are, in reality, one and eventually, every living thing unite in the Creator. This assimilation is essentially the aim of reverence in Buddhism, which is also recognized as ‘Moksha.’ The Sufis believe that their ancestral Shaikhs are alive and existing in another life form while in their graves. According to a well-known Sufi manifesto, the Fakir does not expire. He is merely transported from one habitat to the next. The same profit, which was enjoyed from the Fakir’s earthly life by his disciples, will be continued from his tomb.
Strangely, the Buddhist monks and Islamic Sufis speak about Jesus as though He was one form of the Buddha. They seem to recognize and revere practices that do not call for the cleansing of outward features in order to achieve harmony with God. They freely connect with practices in other religious beliefs that call for drawing one’s self apart from society. The aspect of conducting an ongoing self-examination as long as one has life is another predominant feature that Sufis appreciate in other religions. Ascetic observations within the Sufi viewpoint are also connected with Buddhism. The idea of spiritual cleansing by decontaminating one’s soul from all malevolent influences and attempting to attain Nirvana and immortality holds a significant function in Buddhism. The same inspiration comes up in the conviction of “vuslat” (unity with God) in Sufi beliefs.
According to Sufis, God is also believed to be the foundation and target of everything. All living things originate from Him and return to Him. Dervishes, the Sufis who believe that rotational exercises when carried out at a constant pace draw the soul to God, illustrate this belief in their spiritual exercises. When they spin continuously, they usually hold out their right hand towards the skies (Vaughan- Lee, 1995). The right hand is believed to be the ‘clean’ hand, and so can reach out to God. Its extension towards the heavens is supposed to signify the desire to establish a conduit to heaven in an attempt to reach God. The ‘unclean’ left hand is pointed downwards to signify the submission of the whirling individual to God even as he reaches out to establish contact with Him. Spiritual union with God or assimilation into God, therefore, is the authentic principle of all human and animal operations, and faith the heartbeat of the cosmos. God is the uppermost sacred and inspired Being.
Similarity of religions
Both Buddhists and Sufis also deem that the world issues from God, that it is an emanation from God, an unavoidable runoff of his inestimable power. God is a source from which the vitality of all existences flows without draining its vast source. The Supreme Being (God) is greater than loveliness, truth, kindness, self-awareness, and determination for all these characteristics are imbued with character by God. The farther away that humanity is from the sun, the font of all illumination, the closer it is to darkness. Beauty is in the constitution of celestial existence. Other forms of existence such as physical substances of different textures and the human body are not attractive in their essence but only as a likeness of God’s loveliness. Among all creatures in the world, human beings are the nearest to the divine spirit (Surya Das, 1998). This is because they have spirits that endeavor to circle the path of pure thought. The honesty, beauty, or decency of a human being relies on his or her spirit’s activities within its flesh. The nearer the spirit of a person gets to the font of light, the more it obtains characteristics such as genuineness, integrity, and inner beauty. Human beings mirror the exterior form of God in themselves more than other organisms; consequently, they are the uppermost in the level of being.
In Sufism, the cosmos is just a manifestation of God and has no autonomous existence. To imagine of the world and God as being disconnected is to refute the “Oneness” and imply estrangement between God and His creation. It is not possible to conceive of God and the cosmos as disconnected units, to the Sufis. This is because God is perceived within both Sufism and Buddhism as being an inherent contributor in the lives of the creatures He created.
The Buddha instructed his followers that nirvana, which symbolizes the definitive reality, was not some unattainable awe-inspiring realm, but was current in the here and now and reachable by all people. However, he stressed that nirvana is just one method of articulating the ultimate. The Buddha taught the one dharma in several ways. The decisive truth, the actuality that is not itself anything precise (akincana), is the core of the philosophy of Buddha. According to Buddhism, the one truth can be identified by many names. This happens because all tribes and cultures in the world have different customs (Frager, Fadiman, & Smith, 1999). Their grasping of the concepts of truth will be affected by their different experiences in life. This interpretation leaves room for the acceptance of other religions and philosophies that have the process of self-examination as a core doctrine.
The Buddha was not only a mystic. His stirring was not a cataclysmic revelation into an inspirational Truth that exposed to him the inscrutable characters of God. He did not declare that he had an experience that won him confidential, mysterious knowledge of how the cosmos operates (Martin, 2009). Only when Buddhism became a recognized religion with individuals who sought to incorporate the characteristics of exclusivity were such ostentatious statements attributed to his awakening. In recounting to the fellow ascetics, what his awakening intended, he told of having discovered absolute self-determination of heart and psyche from the coercions of desiring physical and psychological things. He called such liberty the experience of dharma.
Sufis hold similar believes. Though they differ from Buddhists in that they venerate the words of Mohammed and not so much Buddha, the styles they incorporate in their worship processes are similar to those utilized by the Buddhists. Their beliefs about the character of Allah are also similar to those Buddhists hold about Buddha. They have undoubtedly no interaction with the fanatic components of the brand of Islam embraced by fundamentalists who accept jihadist principles. Rather than forcing others to accept Islam, they believe that individuals should be drawn to Islam by the unspoken characters of true Muslims.