Panel on “Islam and Buddhism” Dialogue

Posted on 18/5/2016

Panel on


On truth’s path, wise is mad, insane is wise.
In love’s way, self and other are the same.
Having drunk the wine, my love, of being one with you, I find the way to Mecca and Bodhgaya are the same.

Rumi, Kulliyat-e Shams-e Tabrizi 302

Historically and theologically, the Qur’an and the Muslims have engaged primarily in discussion and dialogue with other Semitic religions. This is understandable, considering those religions’ interconnections and relationships. Muslim engagements with the Asian religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism are largely the result of commercial relations, immigration, and political interactions between the worlds of Islam and Asia.

This paper examines Islam’s view of Buddhism as a non-theistic tradition, the history of relations between these two traditions, themes and issues in Muslim–Buddhist dia- logue, and the implications of such dialogue for the contemporary religious scene. While Muslims and Buddhists have coexisted in different parts of the world, their exchange has been largely political, military and economic, instead of doctrinal, and only a few scholars have studied the relations between the two traditions in any detail (Berzin 2007: 225, 251).

Islam and Buddhism first came into contact in central Asia (Foltz 1999) and later in south and southeast Asia (al-Attas 1963). These early encounters were followed, in some instances, by the conversion of Buddhists to Islam, as happened in central and maritime southeast Asia. Yet there were also other regions where Buddhists and Muslims continued to exist side by side, as in India, Tibet, and parts of mainland south- east Asia.

Despite the long record of Muslim–Buddhist interaction, such contact is at the present either nonexistent or rare, largely due to the strong trend of reified interpreta- tions of religion in the contemporary world – interpretations which in turn overlook the historical exchanges that took place between these religions during the Age of the Silk Road (400 BCE–1400 CE) and the Age of Commerce (1450–1680 CE).

Dr. Imtiyaz Yusuf is Assistant Professor, Lecturer and Director of the Center for Buddhist-Muslim Understanding in the College of Religious Studies at Mahidol University in Thailand and Senior Fellow at the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, (ACMCU) Georgetown University, Washington D.C., USA.

He specializes in Religion with a focus on Islam in Thailand and Southeast Asia and also Muslim-Buddhist dialogue. In 2009-2010, he was visiting Associate Professor and Malaysia Chair of Islam in Southeast Asia at ACMCU, Georgetown University, Washington DC, USA.

Dr. Yusuf has contributed to the Oxford Encyclopedia of Islamic World (2009); Oxford Dictionary of Islam (2003); Encyclopedia of Qur’an (2002); and Oxford Encyclopedia of Modern Islamic World (1995). He was also the special Editor, The Muslim World – A Special Issue on Islam and Buddhism Vol. 100, Nos 2-3 April/July 2010.

Dr. Yusuf‘s most recent publication are: Imtiyaz Yusuf (ed.), A Planetary And Global Ethics For Climate Change And Sustainable Energy, (Bangkok: Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Bangkok and College of Religious Studies, Mahidol University, 2016); “Muslim-Buddhist Relations Caught between Nalanda and Pattani” in Ethnicity and Conflict in Buddhist Societies in South and Southeast Asia, K.M. de Silva (ed.) (Colombo: Vijitha Yapa, 2015);   “Islam and Buddhism” in Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Interreligious Dialogue, Catherine Cornille (ed.) (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, Inc, 2013), Chapter 22. He also published following articles, “Islamic Theology of Religious Pluralism: Quran’s Attitude Towards Other Religions” Prajna Vihara, Vol. 11, No. 1 January-June 2010 : 123-140; “The Role of the Chularajmontri (Shaykh al-Islam) in Resolving Ethno-religious Conflict in Southern Thailand” American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, Vol. 27 No. 1 (2010) 31-53; “Dialogue Between Islam and Buddhism through the Concepts Ummatan Wasatan (The Middle Nation) and Majjhima-Patipada (The Middle Way)” Islamic Studies, 48:3 (2009) pp. 367–394; “The Thai Muslims and the Participation in the Democratic Process: The Case of 2007 Elections” Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, Vol. 29, No. 3, (2009) : 325-336; “The Southern Thailand Conflict and the Muslim World” in Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, Vol. 27, No. 2 (2007) 319-339 and “Dialogue between Islam and Buddhism Through The Concepts of Tathagata and Nur Muhammadi” International Journal of Buddhist Thought and Culture, Vol. 5 (2005) : 103-114. Dr. Yusuf often writes on Islam, religion and Middle East for the Bangkok Post and The Nation (Bangkok).

Dr. Yusuf is, member, Oxford Bibliographies – Islamic Studies Standing Editorial Board, September 2012 –; Editor, Oxford Islamic Studies Online, “Regional Update on Islam in Sou

RAYMOND LAM IS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT AND EDITORIAL WRITER at Buddhistdoor. He interviews Buddhist teachers and people in academia, culture, and the arts, and covers conferences and events around the world. He also writes editorials about Buddhism and society, current affairs, daily life, and other matters of concern to Buddhists. His intellectual background is in Christian theology, world history, and Buddhist Studies. He became a Buddhist of the Chinese tradition in 2008.

Date: 23 May 2016 / Monday
Time: 4.30 – 6.00 pm
Venue: CPD 4.36, 4/F, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam
Admission: Free
Language: English

Program Details:
– 4.30 Welcoming
– 4.40 Remarks by PI Exc. Dir.
– 4.45 Talk by Dr. Imtiyaz
– 5.15 Talk by Mr. Raymond
– 5.45 Q & A
– 6.00 Gift Ceramony and Closing Remarks


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