Buddhism and fallacies of idol worship
The destruction of Buddha statues in Bamiyan, (Afghanistan) by Taleban has prompted a worldwide discussion on this subject. It is common knowledge that having idols of religious significance would eventually lead to the practice of idol worshipping. Even idols without any religious importance, with the passage of time, have proven to become objects of worship. Does this worship and veneration of idols, created by humans, conform to human intellect and reasoning? This is the basic theme of this discussion and as the subject was initiated due to the recent destruction of Buddha statues, we would like to have a brief discussion about Buddhism, particularly about the authenticity of it's scriptures, on which the present day Buddhism is built upon. Your active participation with suggestions and even corrections, if there were any, would be highly appreciated. Our fervent hope is that an unprejudiced and unbiased approach to this discussion, would undoubtedly .result in a very constructive outcome
Even though we live in the 21st century, the period of knowledge and science, the phenomenon of idol worshipping still persists in many of the nations of the world. The Qur'an, the book of guidance for the entire mankind, revealed fourteen centuries ago, alerts us to the fallacy involved in worshipping idols. The story of Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him, who tried to demonstrate his people how illogical such an act of ignorance is, has been narrated in the Qu'ran
And recite to them the story of Ibrahim. When he said to his father and his people "What do you worship?" They said: "We worship idols and to them we are ever devoted" He said: " Do they hear you, when you call on (them)? Or do they benefit you or do they harm (you)?" They said: "(Nay) But we found our fathers doing so" )(Holy Qur'an 26:69-74
Ibrahim left his father's house and abandoned his people and shunned what they worshipped. He decided to do something about his people's state of belief, but did not reveal it to anyone. He knew that there was going to be a great celebration on the other bank of the river, which would be attended by all the people. Ibrahim waited until the city was empty, then came out cautiously directing his steps towards the temple. He went there carrying a sharp ax. He looked at the stone and wooden statues and at the food laid in front of them as offerings (dana). He approached one
Philips. He once again asked them )What is the matter with you that you speak not?' (Holy Qur'an 37 : 92 " He then raised his ax and started smashing the false deities worshipped by the people and by this he wanted to show his people a practical proof of their foolishness in worshipping something other than Allah. When the people returned.name came to their minds
They said: "Who has done this to our gods? He must indeed be one of the wrong . they were shocked to see their deities smashed to pieces. that they may testify "?They said: "Are you the one who has done this to our gods. O Ibrahim Ibrahim said: "Nay. and Ibrahim's . who is called Ibrahim "They said: "Then bring him before the eyes of the people. things that can neither profit you.of the statues and asked "The food in front of you is getting cold.A. They began to guess who had done that to their idols. Ask them if they can "?speak So they turned to themselves and said: "You are the wrong doer" Then they turned to themselves( their first thought and said): "Indeed you (Ibrahim) know well that "!these (idols) speak not Ibrahim said: " Do you then worship besides Allah. Why don't you eat?" The statue kept silent and rigid."doers "They said: "We heard a young man talking against them.B.A. He destroyed them all except one. biggest of them (idols) did it. Ibrahim asked the other statues around him )Will you not eat (of the offerings before you)?' (Holy Qur'an 37 : 91 " He was mocking them for he knew they would not eat. The following is the explanation found in the “Fundamentals of Tawheed” by Dr. . Fie upon you. this one. how the idol worship found it’s way amongst the mankind
. lying scattered all over the temple. the One True God. nor harm you. and upon that you worship besides Allah! Have )you then no sense?" (Holy Qur'an 21: 59-67
The story of Prophet Ibrahim and his continuous struggle against idol worship and all other forms of polytheistic practices as well as his enormous sacrifices to establish the worship of Allah amongst mankind needs lot more pages to explain. on whose neck he hung the ax.
which began with Prophet Adam. The prohibition of images can also be found among Ten Commandments given to Prophet Moses and recorded in the Old Testament: “You shall not make for yourself a graven image or likeness of anything that is in the heaven above or that is in the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth” Exodus 20:4
Now.)he invited them to the worship of Allah (only One True God They said to each other:`Do not leave your gods! Do not give up Wadd and Suwaa “ nor Yaghooth. However. It confirms the degeneration pattern. The Prophet’s companions related the concept to us in their explanation of Verse 23 of Chapter Nooh (Noah). These statues were placed in their favorite meeting places as reminders of righteousness and no one of that generation worshipped them. Yaooq and Nasr’” Qur’an 71: 23
The Prophet's companion Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) said the following in his commentary on this Qur’anic verse: “These were idols of Nooh’s nation which in time ended up among the Arabs. Satan came to their descendants and told them that their predecessors used to worship the statues because it was due to them that it rained down from the sky. in remembrance of them. The following generations continued to . identifies the historical origin of ancestor worship and it also explains why Islam is so firmly opposed to the depiction of human and animal forms in statues or paintings. This change produced a
.Prophet Mohammed (Peace and Blessings be upon him) described in vivid detail “ exactly how Polytheism (Shirk) found its way among mankind after long periods of Monotheism (Tawheed). when that generation died off and the purpose of the statues was forgotten.worship them
The Tafseer (explanation) of the verse given by these illustrious companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) paints a clear picture of the process by which idolatry and polytheism found its way into the pure monotheistic system of beliefs held by our ancestors. The descendants were fooled and began to worship them as idols. you will be able to see some satanic confusion repeated. where in Allah describes the reaction of Prophet Nooh’s people when . When these righteous men died Satan inspired the people to make statues of them named after them. Early followers of Prophet Jesus maintained this attitude until an infusion of Greco-Roman thought thoroughly distorted Prophet Jesus’ monotheistic teachings. These idols were named after some righteous men among Nooh’s people.
.worship in present day Buddhism is an innovation. Cherisher of everything in the heavens and the earth and whatever lies between them. Anguttara Deega Nikaya . particularly of monks‘)II . The Bible of Buddhism is called ‘Tri Pitaka’ composed of three books. Mahayana. a close relative. Buddha has opposed making of idols. Majjima Nikaya 3.Nikaya and 5. These are the books of the Hinayana or Theravada sect of Buddhism. Who only deserves our worship. Rejection of one’s father and attributing this very honorable position to another person is a very disgraceful and disgusting thing any human being will think of doing. saints. animals and other created objects. 4. when Ananda.Sanyukta Nikaya. On the contrary. Supposed‘)I to be the most important of the Pitakas as a source book of Buddhist .1 .this division of Buddhism
Sutta Pitaka’ collection of sermons and discourses of Buddha. The practice of idol . If we make idols of human beings.Abhidhamma Pitaka’ analysis of doctrine‘)III
In any of these texts we do not find any evidence or statement approving or promoting of idol worship by Buddha. which claims to be more orthodox than the other sect. we have to examine their sacred books. It consists of five divisions known as ‘Nikayas
2. The only one true God (Allah) is the Creator. the most devoted attendant and a leading monk sought permission to make an idol of Buddha. apostles. Sustainer. while his real father is another person. for the purpose of
To know what Buddhism says about idol worship. defying the teachings of Buddha
Idol worship. Mary. Jesus and even God . We will be dealing with the books of the Hinayana sect and the following are the collections in . It is He.rash of statue making in which martyrs.Vinaya Pitaka’ composed of rules of conduct. written in Pali. the nearest analogy I can provide you is like calling someone else as one’s father. Mahayanist use Mahavastu and Lalitavastu as their sacred books written in Sanskrit.’doctrine.
he wandered away from his princely realm. Khalifa Abdul Hakim in his book ‘The Prophet and His Message’ sums up the basics of Buddhism as follows. in search of light to solve the problem of cosmic pain. for which reason . therefore do not know what the Buddha taught.will not equal the analogy provided above
The following is a glimpse of basic principles of Buddhism and the views expressed by competent persons about the authenticity of their sacred scripture. do we earn the Blessings or the Wrath of Allah? This is the unpardonable sin any human being can commit. “What we know about Buddha with any certainty is only this. therefore.worship.”it is indescribable
Just as Christian theology revolves around the ‘figment of ORIGINAL SIN’. deserting his community. This is the corner stone on which the entire structure of Buddhism is founded. Now. are the products of desire. to which no category of life or consciousness is applicable. is that it must be ended. Original Buddhism has changed colours completely
. Therefore. his wife and child. that overwhelmed by the pain and misery of life. The only remedy. author of the book ‘Buddhism’. proclaim their own view as to what Buddhism . according to him. Actions. idol worship and Hindu . Buddha arrived at the conclusion that ‘ all is suffering!’ (Sarvam Dukham). After spending some six years in his quest for truth. Dr. to end all actions and ultimately all life. Life. any more than we know what Jesus taught. says of himself that he studied Buddhism for thirty years and of Buddhism in the world today he knows more than most and he has this to say about :the Buddhist Scriptures
The Buddha himself wrote nothing. my simple question is.religious rituals. could not be mended. and today at least four schools. let us examine some statements concerning the authenticity of Buddhist sacred books. and none of his teaching was written down for“ at least four hundred years after his death. Christmas Humpreys. so too does all Buddhist theology revolve around the ‘fact of SUFFERING’. for the Buddhists are sunk in superstitions. good as well as bad. The aim of life should be to negate itself to attain to a desire less state. The seriousness of this sin . The light that he received showed him the unreality of all life.”is The disappearance of original teachings and practices of Buddha are almost complete today. with sub-division in each. We. all desires should be annihilated. Nirvana.
About this Buddhist countryside he would discover a number of curious little mechanisms. ‘the jewel is in the lotus’. which from the first they distorted and misconceived (the Bo tree which helped him to rest his back. it counts as a prayer. in ………an access of reverence. it was a prayer also. (At the time when Wells wrote. very beneficial to the gentlemen who paid for the flag and to the land generally. The Quran enjoys the unique distinction of being. the only religiouspersonality who ever paid any proper attention to this task was the Messenger of Allah. At one point in the service a bell would be rung and mirror lifted up. Wells makes the following interesting observations
Tibet today is a Buddhist country. which would be dimly familiar to him. the only religious scripture in the world today which is directly reported from the Messenger of the
. “Gautama’s disciples have cared more for the preservation of his tree than of his thought. Moreover. From then until he died forty-five years later. Every time these things spin. As a matter of fact. while achieving ‘enlightenment’. on the one hand. he would learn. was what the world had made of his religion”(H. little wind-wheels and water-wheels spinning. Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him). the Sri Maha Bodi in Anuradapura . on which brief prayers were inscribed. and certain precepts.G. which he would learn was called ‘Gautama Buddha’! He would hear services intoned before this divinity. At Lhasa he would find a huge temple filled with priests.Wells-An Outline of History).H. there would be a number of flagstaffs in the land carrying beautiful silk flags-which bore the perplexing inscription. he devoted his entire life to preaching his ethical doctrines. Bells. Yet he never paid any attention to the vitally important task of recording his message in a permanent written form. depicted as the ‘living Buddha’. He would find the most ancient type of human ruler. prostrations. still exists and with a sapling from the original tree planted in Sri Lanka. Writing on the corruption :of Buddhism. murmured as responses. might go“ from end to end of Tibet seeking his own teaching in vain. while the whole congregation. And this. he would realize at last. a god-king. abbots and lamas. Gautama Buddha achieved ‘enlightenment’ at the age of thirtyfive. whose only buildings were huts and who made no priests-and above a high altar he would behold a huge golden idol. Mr. the Dalai Lama.G. would play their part in these amazing proceedings. he would ask. ‘Ong Mani Padme hum’ . Whenever the flag flaps. he would learn. venerated and worshipped excessively)”. Wells (An Outline of History Page 392) has described this in a very terse language. incense. yet Gautama could he return to earth. Gangs of workmen. enthroned. ‘To whom?’. would be going about the country cutting this precious formula on cliff and stone. the Dalai Lama had not fled to New Delhi). employed by pious persons.
Dr. The view of the scholars is that there are differences of historical period between each 'Sutta' and even between parts of the same 'Sutta'. genuineness and purity
The Scriptures of Buddhism are numerous and mutually conflicting. Both these languages. Maligakanda. Similarly. Therefore. Chancellor of the Vidyodaya Buddhist University (Pirivena).historical criticism in respect of its integrity. Both these sets of scriptures oppose each other. two languages for recording scriptures. Nikayas and Divisions would have been subjected to many amendments.'his book ' What Buddhists Believe
. Scholar of the Tripitaka and Chief Monk of Southern Sri Lanka. 'Brahmajala'. This description continues further and we feel that it is sufficient to state the above details to illustrate that the present day Buddhism is not what Buddha has . 'Mahasudassana' and 'Lakkana' have been considered by scholars as belonging to a later period of history……. the most accepted view would be that the present day 'Deega Nikaya' is a collection of Suttas subjected to amendments. the only original religious scripture which has survived . Buddhism employed. authenticity. 'Janavasaba'. The most striking and undisputable statement about the authenticity of the Buddhist scriptures is by Chief Monk Akuratiye Amarawansa. Kirinde Sri Dhammananda Chief Priest (Sri Lanka) in . In the Pali language are recorded the scriptures of the Hinayana sect and in the Sanskrit language those of the Mahayana sect. are now virtually dead or survive only as literary curiosities. According to the scholars. and on the other.Almighty. additions and deletions done during many reform councils held after the first one. in the main. 'Samajjapala' and 'Thevijja' are supposed to be the oldest 'Suttas' in 'Deega Nikaya'. Pali and Sanskrit. This makes a Hinayana – Mahayana reconciliation next to impossible. It is very difficult to state the exact historical details of these amendments. In his preface to the Sinhala translation of Deega :Nikaya.taught
Another important observation was found in a book written by one of the well known Buddhist scholars. It is useful to read the 'Lakkana' sutta to know about the thirty two super human signs of Budda". In all these reform councils. he has expressed the following
We cannot assuredly state that the 'Deega Nikaya' we have in present days was“ the one that was presented to the first reform council (Dharma Sangayana). There were many reform councils held after the first one. It is evident from 'Lakkana' sutta how Buddha has been gradually transformed into a super human being. Colombo.
charms. is never found
. 1060. 767. Basing on these scholarly assertions can anyone say that the 'Absolute Truth' supposed to have been expounded by Buddha after his 'Enlightenment' has been preserved in its pristine ?purity
Page: 71: 'Some scholars assert that the Abhidhamma is not the teaching of the Buddha. says that the accounts differ about .. fortune telling. prayers and many rites and rituals that were not found in the original teaching'. it being fixed at 900. additions and deletions of the sacred scriptures of Buddhism done after Buddha. While organizing the religion. Fa Hian. 546.C. at the conclusion of which he declared: “Since his parinirvana (death) 1497 years have elapsed.E.Page 57: 'A few hundred years after his passing away. they incorporated. 752. The Japanese date is about B. The learned Chief Priest has appropriately described the development of the present day Buddhism and how it deviated from the original teachings. 576. 640. 1045 and 1130. 2139. Cosma de Korosi: B. the King of this island was accustomed to send a preacher to proclaim the austerities and mortifications of Buddha. 1300 and 1500 years before his time
The Maha Wansa (chronology of Sri Lanka) fixes the same date for the death of Buddha and the landing of Vijaya in Sri Lanka. a Chinese traveler who visited Sri Lanka in C. 410.Buddha’s death. These commentaries are said to be the work of great scholar monks…….C. after his return from India.. various types or miracles. 640. the disciples of the Buddha organized a religion around the teachings of the Master. but this date. 1200. 653. Hiun Thsang.C. 1000. 2135. 837. 2144 and 2422.C. mysticism. B. 880. 949. 543. who wrote in C.subject since the beginning
The above statements deal lengthily about the amendments. 1087 ( Laidlay’s Pilgrimage of Fa Hian). 882. mantras. This difference amounts to nearly two thousand years. says that ten days before the middle of the third moon. The Chinese have the following dates for this event: B.E.”. From the Tibetan books. but it grew out of the commentaries on the basic teachings of the Buddha.. which would make the death of Buddha to be in the year B. the authenticity of the nucleus of the present day Buddhism 'Abhidhamma' has been a controversial . From ancient times there were controversies as to whether the Abhidhamma was really taught by the Buddha. among other concepts and beliefs. 884. another Chinese pilgrim. talismans. 1310.' According to the learned Chief Priest. 1000.C. Another striking point is the extraordinary differences in the chronology of Buddha’s appearance adopted by the various nations that have embraced his faith. fourteen different dates have been collected by the learned Hungarian.
and argue with them in ways that are best and
. Cherisher and Sustainer) with “ wisdom and beautiful preaching. “ Prophet Muhammed). date and sources from which it has come cannot be determined. that is the case with most of the documents on which we build a history of . How could a man. is just good for nothing’”. if you should be truthful” Qur’an 2:23
The scripture of Islam is in one language. then produce a surah (chapter) the like thereof and call upon your witnesses (i.”Buddhism
Let us see the views of scholars about the Qur’an. has remained with so pure a text Dr.e. they would have found within it much contradiction” Qur’an 4:82 And if you are in doubt about what We have sent down upon Our servant (i. An ardent critic of Islam. Dr. Arabic. in the whole of Arabic literature? How could he then pronounce truths of a Scientific nature that no other human being could possibly have developed at that time. had to say the following in his book ‘Life of Mohammed’ published two centuries ago. Edward Conze. the Quran and Science’ has to say the following: “ The above observation (his own thesis) makes the hypothesis advanced by those who see Muhammad as the author of the Qur’an untenable. ‘Buddhism.in the sacred chronology of Buddhism. “Except for the Qur’an. Conze goes on to remark sadly: “Alas.even the uneducated have direct access to the scripture of Islam
Invite (all) to the Way of your Rabb (Only God. and all this without once making ”?the slightest error in his pronouncement on the subject Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an? If it had been from (any) other than “ Allah. Maurice Bucaille. become the most important author. before it was borrowed from the chronology of Sri Lanka ( Max Muller: Ancient Sanskrit Literature). supporters) other than Allah. in terms of literary merits. It is indeed most exasperating when we try to apply our current ideas of historical criticism. Dr. which is today a living language spoken by hundreds of millions of people all over the world. in his book ‘The Bible.e. for the last twelve centuries. Sir William Muir. a member of the French Academy of Sciences. state that ‘ a document whose author. Thus the ordinary and . Its Essence and Development’ remarks: “ Buddhism is a body of traditions in which few names stand out. Langlois and Seignobos in their textbook of historical method. in his book. there is no other book under the sun ”which. from being illiterate. and in which fewer dates are precisely known.
who have strayed from His Path.most gracious. “
. and )who receive guidance” (Qur’an 16:125 You are the best of people chosen for mankind because you command righteousness.forbid evil and believe in Allah” Qur’an 3: 110
Reference and theme from ' Islam and Buddhism in the Modern World' by Mr. Imran Nazar Hosein
. for your Rabb knows best.