by Dr. Zakir Naik
|1. Buddha prophesised the advent of a Maitreya: A) Almost all Buddhist books contain this prophecy. It is in Chakkavatti Sinhnad Suttanta D. III, 76: “There will arise in the world a Buddha named Maitreya (the benevolent one) a holy one, a supreme one, an enlightened one, endowed with wisdom in conduct, auspicious, knowing the universe:
“What he has realized by his own supernatural knowledge he will publish to this universe. He will preach his religion, glorious in its origin, glorious at its climax, glorious at the goal, in the spirit and the letter. He will proclaim a religious life, wholly perfect and thoroughly pure; even as I now preach my religion and a like life do proclaim. He will keep up the society of monks numbering many thousands, even as now I keep up a society of monks numbering many hundreds”.
B) According to Sacred Books of the East volume 35 pg. 225: “It is said that I am not an only Buddha upon whom the leadership and order is dependent. After me another Buddha maitreya of such and such virtues will come. I am now the leader of hundreds, he will be the leader of thousands.”
C) According to the Gospel of Buddha by Carus pg. 217 and 218 (From Ceylon sources): “Ananda said to the Blessed One, “Who shall teach us when thou art gone?” And the Blessed one replied, ‘I am not the first Buddha who came upon the earth nor shall I be the last. In due time another Buddha will arise in the world, a holy one, a supremely enlightened one, endowed with wisdom in conduct, auspicious, knowing the universe, an incomparable leader of men, a master of angels and mortals. He will reveal to you the same eternal truths, which I have taught you. He will preach his religion, glorious in its origin, glorious at the climax and glorious at the goal. He will proclaim a religious life, wholly perfect and pure such as I now proclaim. His disciples will number many thousands while mine number many hundreds.’
Ananda said, ‘How shall we know him?’
The Blessed one replied, ‘He will be known as Maitreya’.”
(i) The Sanskrit word “Maitreya” or its equivalent in Pali “Metteyya” means loving, compassionate, merciful and benevolent. It also means kindness and friendliness, sympathy, etc. One Arabic word which is equivalent to all these words is “Rahmat”. In Surah Al-Anbiya: “We sent thee not, but as a mercy for all creatures.” [Al-Qur’an 21:107]
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was called the merciful, which is “Maitri”.
(ii) The words Mercy and Merciful are mentioned in the Holy Qur’ân no less than 409 times.
(iii) Every chapter of the Glorious Qur’ân, except Chapter 9, i.e. Surah Taubah begins with the beautiful formula, ‘Bismillah Hir-Rahman Nir-Rahim’, which means ‘In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful’.
(iv) The Word Muhammad is also spelt as ‘Mahamet’ or ‘Mahomet’ and in various other ways in different languages. The word ‘Maho’ or ‘Maha’ in Pali and Sanskrit mean Great and Illustrious and ‘Metta’ means mercy. Therefore ‘Mahomet’ means ‘Great Mercy’.
2. Buddha’s doctrine was Esoteric and Exoteric:
According to Sacred Books of the East, volume 11, pg. 36 Maha-Parinibbana Sutta chapter 2 verse 32:
“I have preached the truth without making any distinction between exoteric and esoteric doctrine, for in respect of truths, Ananda, the Tathagata has no such thing as the closed fist of a teacher, who keeps something back”.
Muhammad (pbuh) on the commandment of Almighty God delivered the message and doctrine without making any distinction between esoteric and exoteric. The Qur’ân was recited in public in the days of the Prophet and is being done so till date. The Prophet had strictly forbidden the Muslims from hiding the doctrine
3. Devoted Servitors of the Buddhas:
According to Sacred Books of the East volume 11 pg. 97 Maha-Parinibbana Sutta Chapter 5 verse 36: “Then the Blessed one addressed the brethren, and said, “Whosoever, brethren have been Arahat-Buddhas through the long ages of the past, they were servitors just as devoted to those Blessed ones as Ananda has been to me. And whosoever brethren shall be the Arahat-Buddhas of the future, there shall be servitors as devoted to those Blessed ones as Ananda has been to me”.”
The Servitor of Buddha was Ananda. Muhammad (pbuh) also had a servitor by the name Anas (r.a.) who was the son of Malik. Anas (r.a…) was presented to the Prophet by his parents. Anas (r.a…) relates: “My mother said to him, ‘Oh Messenger of God, here is your little servant’.” Further Anas relates, “I served him from the time I was 8 years old and the Prophet called me his son and his little beloved”. Anas (r.a…) stayed by the Prophet in peace and in war, in safety as well as in danger till the end of his life.
i) Anas (r.a.), even though he was only 11 years old stayed beside the Prophet during the battle of Uhud where the Prophet’s life was in great danger.
ii) Even during the battle of Hunain when the Prophet was surrounded by the enemies who were archers, Anas (r.a…) who was only 16 years old stood by the Prophet.
Anas (R) can surely be compared with Ananda who stood by Gautam Buddha when the mad elephant approached him.
4. Six Criteria for Identifying Buddha:
According to the Gospel of Buddha by Carus pg. 214:
“The Blessed one said, “There are two occasions on which a Tathagata’s appearance becomes clear and exceedingly bright. In the night Ananda, in which a Tathagata attains to the supreme and perfect insight, and in the night in which he passes finally away in that ultra passing which leaves nothing whatever of his earthly existence to remain.’ “
According to Gautam Buddha, following are the six criteria for identifying a Buddha.
i) A Buddha attains supreme and perfect insight at night-time.
ii) On the occasion of his complete enlightenment he looks exceedingly bright
iii) A Buddha dies a natural death.
iv) He dies at night-time.
v) He looks exceedingly bright before his death.
vi) After his death a Buddha ceases to exist on earth.
i) Muhammad (pbuh) attained supreme insight and Prophethood at night-time.
According to Surah Dukhan: “By the books that makes thing clear ? We sent it down during a blessed night.” [Al-Qur’ân 44:2-3]
According to Surah Al-Qadar: “We have indeed revealed this (message) in the night of power.” [Al-Qur’ân 97:1]
ii) Muhammad (pbuh) instantly felt his understanding illumined with celestial light.
iii) Muhammad (pbuh) died a natural death.
iv) According to Ayesha (r.a.), Muhammad (pbuh) expired at night-time. When he was dying there was no oil in the lamp and his wife Ayesha (r.a.) had to borrow oil for the lamp.
v) According to Anas (r.a.), Muhammad (pbuh) looked exceedingly bright in the night of his death.
vi) After the burial of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) he was never seen again in his bodily form on this earth.
5. Buddhas are only Preachers:
According to Dhammapada, Sacred Books of East volume 10 pg., 67:
“The Jathagatas (Buddhas) are only Preachers.”
The Qur’ân says in Surah Ghashiya: “Therefore do thou give admonition, for thou art one to admonish. Thou art not one to manage (men’s) affairs.” [Al-Qur’ân 88:21-22]
6. Identification of Maitreya by Buddha:
According to Dhammapada, Mattaya Sutta, 151:
“The promised one will be:
i) Compassionate for the whole creation
ii) A messenger of peace, a peace-maker
iii) The most successful in the world.
The Maitreya as a Preacher of morals will be:
iii) Gentle and noble
iv) Not proud
v) As a king to creatures
vi) An example to others in deeds and in words”.