Common Ground Between Islam and Buddhism

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Forging a interfaith dialog between traditions that typically stand at odds, his groundbreaking book explores the scriptural and spiritual tenets of Islam and Buddhism in relation to one another, creating a basis for comparison and analysis of the two traditions.

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Forging an interfaith dialog between traditions that typically stand at odds, this groundbreaking book explores the scriptural and spiritual tenets of Islam and Buddhism in relation to one another, creating a basis for comparison and analysis of the two traditions. The discussion juxtaposes foundational principles and practices by linking underlying principles and fostering a mutual appreciation between followers of both religions. This interfaith initiative focuses upon metaphysical and ethical aspects of Islam and Buddhism, placing them in context with each other, thus encouraging understanding, and providing a point of reference for continuing and deepening reciprocal respect and collaboration. In their respective introductions to this book, H.H. the Dalai Lama states that the book helps demonstrate that Islam is indeed a 'path of salvation'; while leading Islamic scholar of jurisprudence, Prof Mohammad Hashim Kamali, asserts that on the basis of this book one can argue that Buddhism is an authentic 'deen' or religion.


This is an important and pioneering book, which seeks to find common ground between the teachings of Islam and of Buddhism. It is my hope that on the basis of this common ground, followers of each tradition may come to appreciate the spiritual truths their different paths entail, and from this develop a basis for respect for each others’ practice and beliefs.This may not have occurred very often before, because there has been so little opportunity for real understanding between these two great traditions.This book attempts to set that right ... From a Buddhist point of view, the practice of Islam is evidently a spiritual path of salvation.

- His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama


With compelling evidence, drawing upon a dazzling interplay of scriptural and spiritual authorities from both traditions, the reader is led on a pilgrimage to the respective hearts and foundational principles of these great revelations. This results in an unusually profound enrichment and understanding of the two faiths, when juxtaposed, on subjects varying from Ultimate Reality to worship.


By exploring our mutual longing for ethical and spiritual community, we can find the means to reach the goal of peaceful engagement. Common Ground is both informative and inspiring. I am grateful for this initiative and believe that Muslims and Buddhists who live together, from America to Malaysia, will benefit from this scholarship and guidance."

- Ingrid Mattson, Professor of Islamic Studies, Hartford Seminary; and President of the Islamic Society of North America


[This is] the essential aim of the Common Ground project: inviting into our tent the stranger who may not look, worship, or be like us in many ways, because he or she is a creation of God, here for a purpose, and someone to be honored as a fellow guest of God .... Buddhists are heirs to a very powerful spiritual training.

- Shaykh Hamza Yusuf Hanson (from his essay in this volume)


[Common Ground is] .... an earnest attempt to help Muslims to see Buddhism as a true religion, and Buddhists to see Islam as an authentic Dharma.

- Professor Dr Hashim Kamali (from his Foreword)


- Reviewed by Elena Lloyd-Sidle, Yale Divinity School in Parabola Magazine, Spring 2010.


 About Author:

Reza Shah-Kazemi studied International Relations and Politics at Sussex and Exeter Universities before obtaining his PhD in Comparative Religion from the University of Kent in 1994.

He has authored several works, including most recently The Spirit of Tolerance in Islam (IIS/IB Tauris, 2012), Spiritual Quest: Reflections on Qur’anic Prayer according to the teachings of Imam ‘Ali (IIS/IB Tauris, 2011); Common Ground Between Islam and Buddhism (Fons Vitae, 2010); Paths to Transcendence: According to Shankara, Ibn Arabi and Meister Eckhart (World Wisdom, 2006);Justice and Remembrance: Introducing the Spirituality of Imam 'Ali (IIS/IB Tauris, 2006) and The Other in the Light of the One The Universality of the Qur'an and Interfaith Dialogue (Islamic Texts Society, 2006).

Formerly a Consultant to the Institute for Policy Research in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Dr Shah-Kazemi is at present a Research Fellow with the Department of Academic Research and Publications where he is Managing Editor ofEncyclopaedia Islamica, the English translation and edition of the on-going multi-volume Persian Great Islamic Encyclopaedia (Da’irat al-Ma’arif-i Buzurg-i Islami).

He is currently working on a volume of essays entitled: The Same God? Essays on Muslim-Christian Understanding. He is also working on a biography of Imam Ali:The Triumph of Sanctity: Ali b. Abi Talib.


Hamza Yusuf (born 1960) is an American Muslim scholar, and is co-founder of Zaytuna College. He is a proponent of classical learning in Islam and has promoted Islamic sciences and classical teaching methodologies throughout the world.

He is an advisor to the Centre for Islamic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.He also serves as a member of the board of advisors of George Russell's One Nation, a national philanthropic initiative that promotes pluralism and inclusion in America. In addition, he serves as vice-president for the Global Centre for Guidance and Renewal, which was founded and is currently presided over by Abdallah bin Bayyah.

He is one of the signatories of A Common Word Between Us and You, an open letter by Islamic scholars to Christian leaders, calling for peace and understanding. The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom reported that "Hamza Yusuf is arguably the west's most influential Islamic scholar."Similarly, The New Yorker magazine reported that Yusuf is "perhaps the most influential Islamic scholar in the Western world".


His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk. He is the spiritual leader of Tibet. He was born on 6 July 1935, to a farming family, in a small hamlet located in Taktser, Amdo, northeastern Tibet. At the very young age of two, the child who was named Lhamo Dhondup at that time, was recognized as the reincarnation of the previous 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso. 

The Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and the patron saint of Tibet. Bodhisattvas are believed to be enlightened beings who have postponed their own nirvana and chosen to take rebirth in order to serve humanity.

On 14 March 2011 His Holiness sent a letter to the Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies (Tibetan Parliament in exile) requesting them to devolve him of his temporal (political) power. According to The Charter of the Tibetans in Exile, His Holiness was technically still considered to be the head of state. The historic announcement would bring an end to the dual spiritual and political authority of the Dalai Lama and revert to the previous tradition of the first four Dalai Lamas being only the spiritual leader of Tibet. The democratically elected leadership would assume complete formal political leadership of Tibet. The Ganden Phodrang, the institution of the Dalai Lamas, would continue and remain intact. 

On 29 May 2011 His Holiness signed into law the formal transfer of his temporal power to the democratically elected leader. This brought to an end the 368-year old tradition of the Dalai Lamas being both spiritual and temporal head of Tibet.


Mohammad Hashim Kamali (born February 7, 1944, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan) is an Afghan Islamic scholar and former professor of law at the International Islamic University of Malaysia. He taught Islamic law and jurisprudence between 1985 and 2004. Born in Afghanistan in 1944, he graduated from the University of Kabul and the University of London.

Kamali is the author of Islamic Commercial Law (2000), a study of the application of Shariah principles to some crucial financial instruments, options and futures contracts. He takes a much more permissive view of these instruments than do most Islamists.

In his book, Islamic Commercial Law (2000), Kamali wrote, for example, that many have "passed prohibitive judgments on futures and options" who have "not only failed to produce decisive evidence in support of their positions but have done so on the assumption that futures trading has no social utility and has no bearing on the welfare... of the people."

Among the scholars who pass the "prohibitive judgments" with which Kamali disagrees are Muhammad Akram Khan and Umar Chapra.

Mohammad Hashim Kamali served as Professor of Islamic law and jurisprudence at the International Islamic University Malaysia, and also as Dean of the International Institute of Islamic Thought & Civilisation (ISTAC) from 1985-2007. He is currently the CEO of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia under the newly appointed Chairman of the Institute, Former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi. He studied law at Kabul University and then served as Assistant Professor, and subsequently as Public Prosecutor with the Ministry of Justice, Afghanistan, 1965-1968. He completed his LL.M. in comparative law and a PhD in Islamic and Middle Eastern law at the University of London, 1969–1976.

Data sheet
EAN 13 / ISBN9781891785627
AuthorReza Shah Kazemi, H. H. the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Hamza Yusuf Hanson, Prof. Mohammad Hashim Kamali
PublisherFons Vitae
Year Published2010
Height0.7 in
Width6.0 in
Length9.0 in