Abdul Muqit Chowdhury :
Hazrat Muhammad (Sm) is the final Messenger of Allah Rabbul 'Alameen. He (Prophet) is Rahmatullil 'Alameen-blessing for all the creatures of the universe. Thus, Allah being the Supreme Lord of the universe, his last and greatest Messenger is mercy for the mankind and all creatures. His unique status as the Prophet of Allah , as revealed in the Holy Quran, is : "God and His Angels send blessings on the Prophet : O ye that believe! Send ye blessings on him with all respect." (Verse 56, Sura Ahzab 33, Al-Quran) The Verse speaks of the highest dignity of a human being achieving the Salam of the Creator (of the Heavens and the earth and all that exits).
There are many prophecies about this Prophet and Messenger of Allah in the ancient Hindu, Buddhist and Parsi Scriptures. These prophecies foretell the advent of a Prophet who will enlighten and lead the mankind with a Faith of Truth, human brotherhood and peace. The domain of exploitation, deprivation and inhuman atrocities will be over and a new dawn of light and wisdom will emerge.
Here, we shall focus on the prophecies in the Buddhist scriptures which bear the similarity with the life of Hazrat Muhammad (Sm). It is a matter of utmost significance that it appears many of the prophecies of the Great Buddha foretell about this Prophet of Islam.
The words about his (Buddha) great successor are : 'supreme, and of all men the chief,' 'a supremely enlightened one, ... an incomparable leader of men'.
The Buddha said to Sariputta :
".... But after me the Metteya comes.
While still this happy cycle lasts
Before its tale of years shall lapse
This Buddha then Metteya called
Supreme, and of all men the chief".
(Buddhism in Translation by Warren PP481-2. From the Burmese sources)
It may be mentioned here that Ananda was a very close disciple of Buddha : "And Ananda remained always near the Blessed Master of Truth, until the Tathagata made his final entry into Nirvana." (Do P. 148)
"Ananda said to the Beloved One
who shall teach us when thou art gone?"
And the Blessed One replied :
"I am not the first Buddha who came upon the earth, nor shall I be the last. In due time another Buddha will arise in the world, a holy one, a supremely enlightened one, endowed with wisdom in conduct, auspicious, knowing the universe, an incomparable leader of men, a master of angels and mortals. He will reveal to you the same enternal truths which I have taught you. He will preach his religion, glorious in its origin, glorious at the climax, and, glorious at the goal. He will proclaim a religious life, wholly perfect and pure, such as I now proclaim. His disciples will number many thousand, while mine number many hundred."
Ananda said, how shall we know him ?
The Blessed One replied, he will be known as Maitreya...... "(The Gospel of Buddha by Carus PP 217-8. From the Ceylon sources)
Verse -3 of Sura Mayeda of the Holy Quran may be cited here that supports the Prophecy what Buddha said : "He will proclaim a religious life, wholly perfect and pure, such as I now proclaim." The verse is : "This day have I perfected your Deen (religion) for you, completed my favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion." (Verse 3, Sura Mayeda, Al Quran)
The Prophet (Sm) in the prophecy of the Great Buddha bears different names in different languages. The Sanskrit 'Maitreya' is 'Metteyya' in Pali and there are other names in languages such as Burmese, Chinese, Tibetan and Japanese. The English equivalents of Metteyya are : "Teacher of love. Lord of love. He whose name is kindness. Buddha of kindness. Universal love or benevolence. Buddha of brotherly love. Buddha of friendliness. Loving and compassionate, Love or Mercifulness. Compassionate or of family of mercy. The Merciful. Merciful one. Quality of a friend ; friendly ; benevolent ; kind; love, amity, sympathy, active interest in others."
"Rahmat is the Arabic equivalent of Maitreya. Benevolence, loving kindness, friendliness, compassion, mercy or mercifulness - all words of similar import are all expressed by the Arabic word Rahmat.
The Arabic English Lexicon by Edward William Lane gives some of the following equivalents of Rahmat - Mercy, pity, compassion, tenderness of heart, inclination rquiring the exercise of favour, and beneficence ; pardon and forgiveness." Badger's English Arabic Lexicon includes 'goodness and providence." (Muhammad in Parsi, Hindoo and Buddhist Scriptures by A.H. Vidyarathi and A. Ali. P.132-33-34)
"Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim are both derived from Rahmat, signifying tenderness requiring the exercise of beneficence (Ragib Imam) and thus comprising the idea of love and mercy." ...."Thus the former is expressive of the utmost degree of the love and generosity, the latter of unbounded and constant favour and mercy. Lexiconsists agree in holding that the former includes both the believer and the unbeliever for its object, while the latter particularises more the believer. (LL.R. gh. L.A.T.A. ; Do, P.134)
"Metteyya is from Metta. The Metta Sutta runs thus : As a mother at the risk of her life watches over her own child, so let everyone cultivate a boundless friend (friendly) mind towards all beings." (The Maha Bodhi Society Translation)
"The Merciful...it expresses the universal attribute of mercy which Almighty extends to all men, the wicked and the good, believers and the unbelievers. This is a noble thought." (The Muslim Doctrine of God by S.M. Zwemer D.D.PP. (35-36)
"Thus Rahmat fully exprsses the significance of the word Metteyya. Sale translates Rahmat as 'Mercy'." (The Koran, Chapter 21, P. 326)
"We sent thee not, but as a mercy for all creatures." (Verse 21, Sura Azhab 33, The Holy Quran Translation and Commentary by A. Yusuf Ali).
In the Holy Quran, Muhammad (Sm) is called 'Mercy' (Maitreya).
Muhammad (Sm) unlike Jesus and Shankaracharya published that he was sent as mercy (Maitreya).
The Hadith narrated by Abu Saleh :
" The Apostle of God used ot address people, O People, I am a Mercy (Maitreya) (who is) sent (to you).'
In the field of Uhud in the defensive fight of Hazrat Muhammad (Sm) and his companions against the aggressive forces of Quraish, when the Prophet was in a pitiable condition and profusely bleeding, he was asked by some of his companions to curse the unbelievers, he not only declined their request but also prayed for them :
"I have not been sent for cursing, but as an inviter (unto God) and a Mercy (Maitreya). O God, guide my people (and forgive them) as they know me not." (M. Quoted in RAHMATAL-LIL ALAMIN by Q. Md. Sulaiman, Vol 1. P.114)
"It is a wonderful thing" observes Mr. Holland, "that Mohammed, born of a fierce and war-like race, a people given to many cruel practices, should have so much regard for compassion. He thanked God Who had put in men's heart to be compassionate,...of all the qualities he regarded compassion as the most God-like, and every chapter of the Koran begins with this invocation, 'In the name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful'." (The Story of Mohammad, P.100)
It is a matter of significance that 'mercy' and 'merciful' are used in many verses of the Holy Quran.
"When we go through the works written by men of various nations on Islam we observe one curious thing. The word 'Mohammed' is spelled in a number of ways, as Mahamet', 'Mahomet', Mohamet, Mehemet, 'Mahemmet'."
....We utilise some of the natural differences for one purpose." (Mohammad in Parsi, Hindoo and Buddhist Scriptures by A.H. Vidyarathi and U. Ali P.141)
The authors of 'Mohammad in Parsi, Hindoo and Buddhist Scriptures' find a similarily of names mentioned above including resemblance of mercy in the life of Hazrat Muhammad (Sm) as was in the prophecy of Great Buddha, where he foretold the advent of 'Maitreya' or 'Metteyya.'
Here the authors' comment on names and spelling in various style seem apparently different, but all those lead to 'one purpose' - Hazrat Muhammad (Sm), the Messenger of mercy.
"Mahamet or Mahomet means "an illustrious mercy" or " a great mercy.' 'Mohamet' means "of an affectionate or of sympathetic mercy." 'Mehemet' means 'a mercy like rain' or 'a man who rains mercy in general'. 'Mahemmet' means 'the glorious mercy' or 'a great mercy'. (Do, 141-42-43)
Here, the connotation of the words 'Maitreya' or 'Metteyya' of Gautam Buddha in his prophecy in reply to the question about his successor with the Divine quality of great mercy for the creatures testifies Hazrat Muhammad (Sm) - the greatest Messenger of mercy for the Ummah, for the mankind and for all creatures.