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Buddha's Prophecy about Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)
Recently many articles have surfaced on web sites regarding Dr. Zakir Naik's claim that the Buddha had prophesied the arrival of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). Many Muslim brothers are taking up this matter in social and religious discourses as if a miracle has happened without rationally analysing the subject in terms of historical era and true statement of Buddha in response to the question asked by Ananda, a close disciple of Buddha.
I do not concur with Zakir Naik's claim and suggest him not to make a mountain out of mole in term of Buddha's prophesy. He seems to be deliberately misleading the Muslims by distorting the saying of Buddha.
Historically when Ananda asked Buddha, who will teach him and the monks when Buddha is gone, Buddha replied that "he is not only the one who came upon earth nor shall he be the last. there will come another Buddha whose name would be Maitreya, A holy one, a supreme one, enlightened one who will know the universe. He will keep up the society of monks numbering to many thousands, even as now I keep up a society of monks numbering many hundreds".
It is clear from the above quote that the "Maitreya" will come within from the Monks and will promote Buddhism increasing the number of monks to thousands. In Buddha's prophecy, he mentioned that the new Buddha will work to increase the number of monks to many thousands. This objective of working for the monks is an integral part of his prophesy & is quite contrary to Islamic preaching which does not approve supporting monk society to increase in numbers in early or later era of Islam.
Though Dr. Zakir Naik has taken the prophecy of Buddha with respect to the meaning of "Maitreya" but he is misleading Muslims by intentionally deleting & distorting the quoting of Buddha by not revealing the phrase "he will keep up the society of monks numbering many thousands, and co-related it to Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) on the basis of the meaning of "Maitreya" which means loving, compassionate, merciful and benevolent etc. which are equivalent to our Arabic word "Rahmat".
Besides Buddha was born in 565BC (~2500 years ago). That means Buddha era was around 565 years before Christ. So his prophecy may also be applicable to the Jesus who also had qualities comparable to "Maitreya" or "Rehmat" and came just after the Buddha. Jesus was a prophet and paraclete (holy spirit) as per some Christian and was prophesied by Moses.
Based on above one can easily conclude that Dr.Zakir Naik's claim with respect to Gautama Buddha prophecy pertinent to the arrival of prophesied Muhammad, is not correct and misleading.
He often seems to deliver highly inflammatory and provocative remarks against other faith groups. Consequently he was banned to enter UK and Canada recently due to his remarks. I do agree that some of the things he propagates do fall within the domain of basic Islamic injunctions and our clergy had not spent time to revisit the scripture and find a solution to comply with today's need and re-interoperate the suras to satisfy human concern. He promotes death for blasphemy considering abandoning Islamic faith equates to treason against the nation although it is a private matter and has nothing to do with the nation.
He is entitled to his stance on religious subject but his provocation will hurt the Islamic Community, eventually. He allows wife beating (lightly) by Muslim men that complies with the faith. He is a supporter of Osama bin Laden and propagate that every Muslim should be terrorist to fight America, the bigger terrorist. This preaching may create more threat for humanity on this planet.
Now coming back to the prophesied "Maitreya" one can say that Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) used to have those qualities confined within Maitreya or Rehmat but neither prophet Mohammad (pbuh) had worked to promote Buddhism nor Buddha has prophesied the arrival of our prophet. what Buddha is quoted to have said is for a Maitreya coming within from Buddhist society that can have followers in thousands.In Buddha's heart, Ananda was the person to spread Buddha's seeds & become next Buddha.
With the discovery of Higgs boson like particle at CERN, we do not know exactly where we are heading for in terms of scientific conclusion about the beginning of the universe/multi verse & what the enormous data collected out of LHC will reveal. Followers of monotheistic faith should continue to follow the sacred text revealed and make oneself compatible to mankind & wait to see if the new finding conflict with the well established concept of a Omniscient and transcendent creator.
Mohammad Ashraf, Winnipeg. Canada