On the surface, Buddhism and Islam have more differences than similarities in their philosophies. While Islam is a monotheistic religion that believes in worshiping an almighty God, Buddhism rejects the notion of a creator God but does honor enlightened beings as deities.

Buddhism preaches vegetarianism and shunning alcohol and drugs. Islam also bans alcohol but does not preach vegetarianism.

A Buddhist who takes a spiritual refuge outside the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha is not considered a Buddhist. S/he may study and learn from other religions, but to consider another teaching and to honour someone outside the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha (collectively called the Sasana) as equal to or higher than the Sasana makes him/her a non Buddhist.

Comparison chart

Buddhism versus Islam comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartBuddhismIslam
BuddhismIslam
Place of worship Buddhist monasteries, temples, shrines. Mosque/masjid, any place which is considered clean by Islamic standards.
Place of origin Indian Subcontinent Arabian Peninsula, Mecca at Mount Hira.
Practices Practices of the Threefold Training: Virtue, Concentration, and Wisdom, a.k.a the Noble Eightfold Path. Five pillars: Testament that there is one God and Muhammad is his messenger (shahadah); prayer five times daily; fast during Ramadan; charity to the poor (zakat); pilgrimage (Hajj).
Use of statues and pictures Common Images of God or prophets not permitted. Art takes the form of calligraphy, architecture etc. Muslims distinguish themselves from other groups by not drawing lifelike human works, which could be mistaken as idolatry. No image is representative of God
Belief of God The idea of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent creator is rejected by Buddhists. The Buddha himself refuted the theistic argument that the universe was created by a self-conscious, personal God. Only one God (monotheism). God is the one True Creator. God has always existed, none existed before him and will exist forever. He transcends life and death. No part of His creation resembles Him, He cannot be seen, but sees all.
Scriptures Tripitaka - a vast canon composed of 3 sections: the Discourses, the Discipline and the Commentaries, and some early scriptures, such as the Gandhara texts. The Qur'an, and traditions of the Holy Last messenger Muhammad, called 'Sunnah' which is found in narrations or 'hadiths' by the men around him.
Means of Salvation Following the Noble Eightfold Path. Belief in one God, remembrance of God, repentance, fear of God and hope in God's mercy.
Life after death Rebirth is one of the central beliefs of Buddhism. We are in an endless cycle of birth, death and re-birth, which can only be broken by attaining nirvana. Attaining nirvana is the only way to escape suffering permanently. All beings created with reason will be accountable to God Almighty on the Day of Judgement. They will be rewarded for every atom's weight of good, and either forgiven or punished for evil deeds.
Goal of religion To attain enlightenment and be released from the cycle of rebirth and death, thus attaining Nirvana. Fulfill gift and responsibility of this life through following the guidance of Holy Quran and Hadith, striving to serve mankind through compassion, justice, trustworthiness, and love for all of God's creation
Followers Buddhists Muslims
Founder Gautama Buddha (born as Prince Siddhartha) Prophet Muhammad. According to Islamic scripture, all people who follow God's revealed guidance and the messengers sent with it 'submit' to that guidance, and are considered Muslims (ie. Adam, Moses, Abraham, Jesus, etc.).
Clergy The Buddhist Sangha, composed of bhikkhus (male monks) and bhikkhunis (female monks). The sangha is supported by lay Buddhists. Imam leads congregational prayer in a mosque. Sheikh, Maulana, Mullah and Mufti
Human Nature Ignorance, as all sentient beings. In the Buddhist texts, it is seen that when Gautama, after his awakening, was asked whether he was a normal human being, he replied, "No". Humans are born pure and innocent. Upon reaching adolescence, you are responsible for what you do, and must choose right from wrong. Islam also teaches that faith and action go hand-in-hand.
Literal Meaning Buddhists are those who follow the teachings of the Buddha in order to become like the Buddha. Islam is derived from the Arabic root "Salema": peace, purity, submission and obedience. In the religious sense, Islam means submission to the will of God and obedience to His law. A Muslim is one who follows Islam.
View of the Buddha The highest teacher and the founder of Buddhism, the all-transcending sage. N/A. Islamic scripture does not discuss or mention Gautam Buddha.
Original Language(s) Magadhiprakrit Arabic
Geographical distribution and predominance Theradava Buddhist countries, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Sri Lanka are the places of predominance of Buddhism. The Noble Truths are presently best heard in Myanmar only. There are 1.6 billion. By the percentage of the total population in a region considering themselves Muslim, 24.8% in Asia-Oceania, 91.2% in the Middle East-North Africa, 29.6% in Sub-Saharan Africa, around 6.0% in Europe, and 0.6% in the Americas.
Symbols The conch, endless knot, fish, lotus, parasol, vase, dharmachakra (Wheel of Dharma), and victory banner. Muhammad's name in calligraphy is common. There is also the black standard that says "There is no god but God and Muhammad is the last messenger of God" in Arabic. The star and crescent is not Islam per se; it is inspired by the Ottoman empire.
Status of women No distinctions between men and women. Women are equal to men, and men are equal to women in the Sangha. The prophet said "Do good to and serve your mother, then your mother, then your mother, then your father, then the near relatives and then those who come after them." Islam's honoring women is the great status of the mother in Islam.
Concept of Deity Gods are seen as higher life forms, still bound in samsara. God (Allah) is the only god and is all-powerful and omniscient.
Religious Law The Dharma. Shariah law (derived from Quran and Hadith) governs prayers, business transactions, and individual rights, as well as criminal and governmental laws. Religious debate, or 'Shura' is utilized for practical solutions to contemporary issues
Principle This life is suffering, and the only way to escape from this suffering is to dispel one's cravings and ignorance by realizing the Four Noble Truths and practicing the Eightfold Path. Say, "He is Allah , [who is] One, Allah , the Eternal Refuge. He neither begets nor is born, Nor is there to Him any equivalent." - Quran: Surah Al Ikhlas
Marriage It is not a religious duty to marry. Monks and nuns do not marry and are celibate. Advice in the Discourses on how to maintain a happy and harmonious marriage. Islam is totally opposed to monasticism and celibacy. Marriage is an act of Sunnah in Islam and is strongly recommended. Men can only marry the "people of the book" i.e., Abrahamic religions. Women can only marry a Muslim man.
Confessing sins Sin is not a Buddhist concept. Forgiveness must be sought from God, there is no intermediary with him. If any wrong is done against another person or thing, forgiveness must first be sought from them, then from God, as all of God's creation have rights that must not be infringed
Views on Other Religions Being a practical philosophy, Buddhism is neutral against other religions. Christians and Jews are regarded as the people of the book, who hold a great deal of respect over materialists but are disbelievers far from the correct path.
Population 300-350 million. 1.6 billion Muslims

Further Reading

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