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A Buddhist Manual for Being Christ-like

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About four years ago i went through the Tibetan Buddhist text The 37 Bodhisattva Practices and analyzed them in the context of Christianity to such an extent that (hopefully) a Christian with no knowledge or interest in Buddhism could still benefit from the wisdom if sincerely desiring to be Christ-like. This text has been very helpful for many Buddhists just beginning on the spiritual path as well as very wise veterans of it. Reading it i was feeling it had all the potential of being adapted to another religion, and since at the time i was in a Christian club at school (for the sake of the spiritual discussion), and because i wanted to learn more about the contents of the Bible, i figured i would begin with the Christian adaptation. The Christian model of the saint fit very well as a parallel for a Bodhisattva, and Buddhahood as becoming Christ-like (of course the comparison is by no means perfect, but still i find there is value in this kind of cross-religious analysis and the basis of differences are beyond the scope or intent of this piece of writing). This should (hopefully) be as useful to Buddhists seeking a better understanding or appreciation for the Christian faith as it is to Christians in aiding their spiritual development. I focused on using only verses from the Old and New Testaments, so that its validity would be less questionable to any Christians who don’t have knowledge of or faith in the apocryphal writings. No doubt the addition of these texts would yield a great wealth of relevant verses to add as references. I will also note that i did not include the text of the verses referenced, due mostly to the sake of saving space. I welcome any and all feedback, and/or dissemination of this text for constructive spiritual purposes.

Click here to download the PDF.

Click here to download the DOC

Note that it will be updated periodically as useful feedback comes in.

Thank you all!

Jacob Ibrahim Abuhamada

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The Grammatical and Stylistic Similarities between Spanish* and Arabic: A Brief Comparative Grammar

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Many people are familiar with the fact that the Arabs controlled or maintained a cultural presence in Spain for about 900 years (If not, i recommend you give this wiki page about it a quick look-over). It should be of no surprise then to learn of the Arabic influence on the developing Iberian tongue. This of course has been well documented of the Spanish lexicon, and it has been estimated that about 8% of the Spanish vocabulary is of Arabic origin — no small amount when considering that’s about one in every twelve words. These words include such important daily terms as:

  • Sp. hasta: until, even, to, through. From Ar. ḥatta (حتى)
  • Sp. azul: blue. From Ar. Azraq (ازرق)
  • Sp. loco: crazy. From Ar. lawqa “fool.”
  • Sp. ¡ole! (or olé): The most famous expression of approval, support or encouragement, possibly comes from Ar. wa-llah (و الله): by Allah (God)!
  • Sp. cero: zero. From Ar. sifr (صفر)
  • Sp. café: coffee. From Ar. qahwa (قهوة)
  • Sp. tarea: task. From Ar. ṭaríḥa root(طرح), “to throw”.

Here’s a full list of Spanish vocabulary with an Arabic origin.

The familiar vocabulary words will be a welcome sight for any Spanish speaker attempting to learn Arabic or vice versa, but there are many similarities of stylistics and grammar that will be notable as well. Oddly enough, counter-intuitively, these are all almost entirely coincidental and have essentially nothing to do with influence of Arabic on Spanish. These are the 10 most notable similarities i’ve found, so far (some of which are actually common in other languages, too):

  1. Surprisingly similar definite articles: Sp. “el/la”, Ar. “al”.
  2. Similar flexible syntax of VSO (verb-subject-object) and SVO (sub.-verb.-obj) in various contexts. Summarized in this excerpt from the wikipedia on the subject: “Both the Spanish and Greek language resemble Semitic languages such as Arabic in allowing for both VSO and SVO structures: e.g. “Jesús vino el jueves” / Vino Jesús el jueves, “Tu madre dice que no vayas”/”dice tu madre que no vayas”. In Spanish, the only restriction on the VSO form is for the object to require a definite or indefinite article in the sentence.”
  3. The word for “there is/are” is a single word which is treated less like a verb or noun, and more like a preposition of sorts, and is unrelated to the demonstrative pronouns. The usage and connotation is exactly the same: “hay” in Spanish and “fī” in many colloquial variants of Arabic.
  4. The conjunction “or” is expressed with “o/u” in Spanish and “aw” in Arabic, which in normal speech is pronounced very similarly.
  5. An arbitrary gender system for nouns and adjectives, with the feminine marked by a suffixed “a” sound, in Arabic called the “taa marbuta” (ة).
  6. Suffixed direct and indirect object pronouns. Ex.: “Tell me it” Sp. Dímelo, Ar. Qul-li-ha : the exact same morpho-semantic units, with simply different sounds making them up.
  7. A comparative-superlative adjective system which depends on a combination of context, word order, and the definite article to convey one or the other. Ex.: Sp. Fátima es la más alta. Ar. Fatima hiya aṭwal فاطمة هي أطول (gloss: Fatima she[-is] taller[-one].)
  8. The use of adjectives as nouns. Arabic actually views nouns and adjectives as effectively the same thing, because an adjective literally would translate as a noun + adjective, so “beautiful” (jamīl جميل) would literally be “beautiful-one”. Spanish appears to have a similar view of adjectives. Ex.: Sp. La joven; aquel viejo; este ciego; los altos están allí; etc.
  9. Common omission of the subject pronoun of a sentence due to the precision of verb conjugations–the use of pronouns being mainly for emphasis or formality.
  10. N-final plural verb conjugations. Ex.: Sp. Ellos/ellas/ustedes hacen; Ar. They (m.) do: yafʿulūn يَفْعُلُونَ; You (m. pl.) do: tafʿulūn تَفْعُلُونَ; they two (dual 3rd person): yafʿulān يَفْعُلاَنِ. (And of course these conjugation patterns apply to all the verbs of the languages).

Wikipedia mentions this as a non-coincidental influence of Arabic on Spanish grammar:
The suffix í: Arabic has a very common type of adjective, known as the nisba or relationship adjective, which is formed by adding the suffix -ī (masc.) or ية -iyya (fem.) to a noun. This has given Spanish the suffix -í (both masc. and fem.), creating adjectives from nouns which indicate relationship or belonging. Examples are Marbellí, Ceutí, Maghrebí, Zaragocí, Andalusí or Alfonsí.

I hope that this information with all prove useful to anyone studying Arabic or Spanish with a knowledge of the other language! Starting at the common ground, i find, tends to be the fastest, most effective way to learn a new language.

– J. Ibrahim Abuhamada

*I’m not certain, due to my ignorance of the language in depth, but i would assume most, if not all of these similarities apply to Portuguese as well.