Visit to Vihara Sri Suvarnabhumi

Last Sunday, again, I had an opportunity to visit a very nice and beautiful vihara for a program aimed to create a better understanding between believers of different faith. The program was called, True Beliefs & Believers: Clearing Doubts and Overcoming Misunderstandings in Islam and Buddhism. I went there with a group of Muslim friends and we were so happy to be there because we had the warmest welcome from the organizer i.e. the Nalanda Institute, located in Serdang Selangor. The institute is also called Vihara Sri Suvarnabhumi . For me, it was truly a friendly and informative program aimed to clear the misconceptions between Muslims and Buddhists regarding Islam and Buddhism. We had a dialogue session whereby speakers from both the Muslims side and also the Buddhists side presenting the topic given beforehand. As usual, for the Muslims side, they were asked questions like jihad, halal food, life after death and in fact, the most favourite question of all-POLYGAMY was even asked!During Q&A Session

As one of the participants, I felt very happy because it really shows how they are interested to know about Islam and I am glad that the speaker representing Islam for that particular dialogue had the ability to answer and convey his message eloquently. When it comes to the Buddhist speaker, it was really interesting and I’ve learned a lot on that day. Here are among the things that according to the Buddhist speaker, people tend to have misconceptions:
1-Buddhism is a pessimistic religion.
2-Buddhism is a Chinese/Indian religion.
3-All Buddhists are vegetarians.
4-Buddhists are Idol worshipers.
5- Buddhists should not be ambitious.

I won’t be touching them anyway, but I want to share something which had really caught my attention during the program. Firstly is, when Mr. Tan Ho Soon (one of the Buddhist Speakers on that day) said something about the concept of conversion in Buddhism. He says that Buddhism is not a missionary religion by nature. In fact, there is no such thing as conversion in Buddhism. However, conversion according to them is like; changing from being a greedy person to a generous one, from being lazy to hardworking so on and so forth. Sounds familiar right?? Yup. The concept of Hijrah in Islam. The first time when I heard Mr.Tan said this, I was like.. Subhanallah..THIS IS VERY-VERY ISLAMIC!!

Secondly is, when the speaker enlightened us how Buddha (Gautama Buddha) forbade people to personify his image. Again, to some extent this thing is very inherent in Islam. For Muslims, they are forbidden to personify the image of the prophets what more the image of God. However, I feel very strange because despite the prohibition by Buddha, Buddhist still personify his image. Even in that vihara itself, there are so many statues/images of Buddha. It is not surprising then why people have that misconception that the Buddhists are Idol worshipers. I really hope that they can explain to me, why is that you still personify the image of Buddha and make his statue if really Buddhism teaches that the Buddha inside you is much more important. Huh...hopefully, somebody can help me. Try to enter a vihara and you would see so many statues of Buddha form the smallest one to the biggest one.Yup, I am not kidding.(better ask for permission first la ! =D )

is, with regard to the teaching of respecting the elders etc in Buddhism. For me, such teaching of being respectful to others is very close to Islam. For instance, when you are talking to your parents while they are sitting, you cannot talk to them while standing, you have to at least bow down a bit to show your respect. Again , sooo Islamic.

For me, the program was really-really interesting and definitely very informative especially being a student of comparative religion. What more,we even managed to have a tour around the Vihara itself. I believe the program has achieved its objectives and hopefully it can be a great platform for all of us to create a better society to live in =).
AllahuA’lam (Allah Knows best).

p/s: I see the teachings of Buddhism as very-very Islamic though. Even by looking at Mr. Tan, I can see Islam in him despite the fact that he is a non muslim =) . InsyaAllah, God gives him Hidayah one day!

Those two pictures up there are not mine actually. credit for Nalanda Institute..hope they don't mind =)
For your info,
This hand gesture means Don't fear

Buddhist flag
The longest sleeping Buddha statue in South EastAsia is located in Kelantan.Interesting isn't it!


a.j. said...

subhanallah! cultivate understanding ... cultivate peace...

how did you join? which organizer collaborated?

TheHumbleWayfarer said...

Anyway Ayub,That's what we should do right?to cultivate peace bt us. I knew it from my sis coz she knows that I am so crazy about this coparative religion thing =)

the organizer was solely nalanda.

Fid said...

Jazakum Allahu Khairan. How sweet Eman is when it's beautified with Knowledge. And how sweet Knowledge is when it's beautified with Implementation. And how sweet Implementation is when it's beautified with Kindness. Thanks for the review.