Coming from an Islamic background and having a community/Sangha that is loyal to the religion of Islam, how do you harmoniously integrate yourself and your Buddhist study and practice with the community you were born in including within a mosque?
I'm 26 and I considered myself becoming Buddhist when I was 14. I come from a very loyal Islamic family and I totally think that Islam is a beneficial religion... containing within it the simplest and easiest spiritual practices of all Abrahamic religions because it has a meditation+yoga-like prayer system, calling all practitioners to Practice with single-mindedness towards a singular God every day five times a day (namaj).
I made a lot of mistakes over the years in expressing these ideas with simultaneous conviction and non-defensiveness that is my power now.
Islam is a very strict religion on the the level of the 1st two trainings:
- morality: unconditionally forbids all intoxication and has many other moral codes
- concentration: routine concentration practice of prayer, using mantra method combined with yoga
Thus, even though I am Buddhist I don't run away from Islam. I fully embrace it and espouse the half-muslims to actually practice it because it has many health benefits. I go to mosque when I can and when I am required to with my family and community and I integrate Buddhist science of spiritual practice to practice with single-minded mindfulness and not the ignorant desire-filled prayer most people probably do.
Buddhism is a religion that is fully integrated within my Islamic community and if I speak about Buddhism I speak about it without ever mentioning the word Buddhism or Buddha. I merely reference the practices such as yoga and meditation and pranayama which are nondenominational and conducive to the actual reason for namaj (improve concentration and oneness with Allah--a concentration object).
Thus, when I speak about Islamic practices, I find myself always integrating the nondenominational, spiritual principles of Buddhism within the structure of Islam.
Islam is a great religion and can be fully subsumed into the spiritual science of Buddhism. Practice the Buddhist virtue of modesty and let no one know of your attainments and your vigorous concentration practice.
Mentally discard silly Islamic/religious that you know by Buddhadharma are only created to help people stay doubt-free and cultivating practice concept and enjoy spiritual practice with your community!
Use the phrases and phrases you learned from within Islam. Display complete devotion to Islam and spiritual science in general. Islam isn't that complicated at all... it is easy to blend in and be spiritual, continue to use the Buddhadharma but always appear Muslim by practicing Right Speech within your community.
There is an e-book about the similarities between the two:
Common Ground Between Islam and Buddhism
by Reza Shah-Kazemi
with an essay by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
H. H. the Fourteenth Dalai Lama
H. R. H. Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad
Professor Mohammad Hashim Kamali
Well certainly Allah is mentioned by The Buddha as Maha Brahma.
"He is Allah , the Creator, the Inventor, the Fashioner; to Him belong the best names. Whatever is in the heavens and earth is exalting Him. And He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise." (Quran 59:24)
Similarly the Great (Maha) Brahma is described:
"But there is Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Conqueror, the Unconquered, the All-Seeing, All-Powerful, the Sovereign Lord, the Maker, Creator, Chief, Appointer and Ruler, Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be." (DN 11)
Usually whenever people speak of a Creator that existing in the beginning of the universe they are referring to the same Maha Brahma that The Buddha spoke of.
This means Judaism, Christianity, and Islam likely came from the Brahma worlds or beings influenced by the Brahma worlds.
The angel Gabriel is likely an attendant of Brahma.
Maha Brahma in Buddhism is mostly good but sometimes influenced by the Evil One (Satan, Mara), is extremely powerful and knowledgeable but not all-knowing and all-powerful, but He usually praises The Buddha.
Certain virtues and morals that lead towards the extremely long-lasting Brahma worlds are also in-line with what helps one achieve arahantship, but The Buddha goes further and beyond the Brahma worlds towards arahantship here and now.
The Brahma worlds last for an extremely long time but eventually disappear towards the end of the universe-system, so arahantship here and now or going to the Pure Abodes is preferred.
Of course an arahant in the world is extremely rare, even during The Buddha's time there were few arahants.
Going to the Pure Abodes after death is also extremely rare.
Going to the Brahma worlds after death is also extremely rare.
It's much more common for people to go to hell, the animal womb, the realm of ghosts, or a lower heavenly world after death than the Brahma worlds.
Sariputta explains in MN 97 how to get to the Brahma worlds, by encompassing your awareness with good will, compassion, appreciation, and equanimity.
Similar teachings and virtues to what Muhammad says:
- “Do you love your Creator? Love your fellow-beings first”
- “They will enter the Garden of Bliss who have a true, pure, and merciful heart”
- "Adhere to truth, for truth leads to good deeds and good deeds leads him who does them to Paradise"
- “Ye will not enter Paradise until ye have faith, and ye will not have faith until ye love one another”
This means the majority of people will most likely not go to the Brahma worlds after death (including most Muslims).
The majority of rules and virtues in Islam seem mostly inline with achieving arahantship minus the violence and sex allowed so it shouldn't be that difficult to integrate.
The Buddha forbids violence for monks under all circumstances whereas Islam allows violence in some circumstances.
The Buddha forbids sex for monks whereas Islam allows it under certain circumstances.
But the majority of rules in Islam are inline with achieving arahantship likely because they lead towards the Brahma worlds, and most of the things that lead towards the Brahma worlds are also inline with what helps one achieve arahantship.
But remember that arahantship directly comes from extinguishing mental fermentations (asavas) not from merely doing good deeds alone (which makes achieving arahantship easier but doesn't directly cause arahantship).
Islam comes from a Buddhists back ground. The Buddha taught that, Eliminating the ignorance which is driven by Pancakkhandha is the road to enlightenment for all sentient beings.(Pancakkanda, the five Aggregates) Buddhism is still alive and well in Sufism.
If Buddhism is regarded as 'psychology' rather than as 'religion', there will be no competition/conflict between the two.
Of course, if this attitude is adopted, generally the 'belief' aspects of cultural Buddhism (such as Buddha statues, reincarnation, etc) must ideally be dropped.
If the ancient Greeks did not introduce alien Buddha statues into Buddhism & if the ambitious Buddhist rulers & clergy did not taint their scriptures with Brahmanistic ideas (for the purpose of religious conversion), Buddhism may have lasted longer in central Asia due to not being falsely regarded as a form of idolatry.