International Workshop - Berlin Institute of Islamic Theology, 18 June 2021
Although interreligious dialogue and comparative studies between various religious traditions have been well established over several decades, theological and philosophical conversations between Islam and Buddhism are still in the early stages. The encounter between Muslims and Buddhists has been often overshadowed by misunderstandings, negative images and biases, what also partly explains the lack of interest in theological dialogue between the two religions. From the viewpoint of Islamic theology, Buddhism is predominantly conceived as atheism due to the absence of the concept of a creator God or regarded as idolatry in which the decorated buddha statues are worshipped; whereas the Islamic notion of God as an omniscient and omnipotent creator is commonly seen as an unbridgeable gap on the side of Buddhism. The Buddhist concepts of anātman (non-self) and śūnyatā (emptiness), the theory of rebirth, the Islamic doctrine of prophethood constitute further fundamental differences that are regarded as irreconcilable by members of these religions. In this field of tension, the planned workshop aims to contribute to that underdeveloped branch of comparative studies. It will thus bring three central tenets of Islam and Buddhism into a comparative conversation, giving also room to academic insider perspectives.