Thursday, July 25, 2024

The Differences between Sanatana Dharma and Islam

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Islam and Sanatana Dharma represent two distinct religious paradigms and philosophies. They diverge in their theological, philosophical, and cultural outlooks. Islam is rooted in the Abrahamic tradition. It upholds monotheism and emphasizes the worship of one God ‘Allah’. Islam asks its followers to adhere to the teachings of only the Prophet Muhammad that are revealed in the Quran.

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Contrarily, Sanatana Dharma encompasses a diverse range of beliefs. It allows the freedom to choose any form of worship; be it monotheism, polytheism, or pantheism. Its roots are grounded in the ancient wisdom of the Vedas, Upanishads, and other ancient texts. It celebrated divinity via a rich tapestry of rituals, practices, and spiritual paths.

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The stark differences between Islam and Sanatana Dharma stem from their unique historical, cultural, and theological contexts. Therefore, their distinct religious perspectives position them on opposite ends of the religious spectrum.

How are Islam and Sanatan Dharma Different?

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Islam emerged in the 7th century CE in the Arabian Peninsula. Sanatana Dharma has roots dating back thousands of years in the Indian subcontinent. The historical and geographic separation of these traditions contributed to the development of unique theological perspectives. Islam is a monotheistic religion that emphasizes the greatness of Allah; it actively rejects the worship of multiple idols, other deities, and other Gods. Contrarily, Sanatana Dharma is a scientific approach to religious beliefs. It encourages believers to seek the form and version of Divinity that resonates with their inner divine. Islam seeks God outside while Sanatana Dharma celebrates God in all things.

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Islam regards the Quran as the divine revelation given to Prophet Muhammad. Sanatana Dharma draws ancient wisdom from a vast collection of sacred texts. There is no singular authority that claims complete knowledge of the cosmos in it. Its foundation lies in seeking answers to distinct theological, philosophical, and ethical ways of living a life within Dharma.

Each tradition and ritual can be accepted or rejected based on the understanding or belief of the follower. There are no wrong answers; just different paths to the realization of the divine cosmos.

5 Areas Where Sanatana Dharma Differs From Islam

1. Concept of God

Sanatan Dharma: “एकम सत विप्रा बहुधा वदन्ति” (Rig Veda 1.164.46)

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Meaning: “Truth is one. A wise man calls it by many names.”

Islam: “Allah, there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of existence.” (Quran 2:255)

These verses show that Sanatan Dharma allows diverse interpretations and manifestations of the divine supreme. Contrarily, Islam emphasizes the absolute singular existence of ‘Allah’.

2. Rituals and Worship

Sanatan Dharma: “यत्करोषि यदश्नासि यज्जुहोषि ददासि यत् |यत्तपस्यसि कौन्तेय तत्कुरुष्व मदर्पणम् ||” (Bhagavad Gita 9.27)

Meaning: “Consider that whatever you do, eat, offer in sacrifice, or give in donations as an offering to ‘Me’.”

Islam: “And establish prayer and give zakah and bow with those who bow.” (Quran 2:43)

These verses display that Sanatan Dharma celebrates diversity in its wide range of rituals, practices, and paths to attain spiritual enlightenment. Whereas Islam restricts the ways to pray through the performance of Salah or prayer and the giving of Zakah or charity as integral acts of worship.

3. Concept of Divine Cosmos

Sanatan Dharma:बहूनां जन्मनामन्ते ज्ञानवान्मां प्रपद्यते |वासुदेव: सर्वमिति स महात्मा सुदुर्लभ: || (Bhagavad Gita 7.19)

Meaning: “In the last birth all enlightened souls worship ‘Me’ after realizing that God is in everything. And the rare soul who understands this divine itself.”

Islam: “And those who believe and do righteous deeds – We will surely admit them among the righteous.” (Quran 29:9)

In Sanatan Dharma, Moksha is viewed as the realization that there is divine presence in all things. It suggests that any soul that understands the divinity of the cosmos lies in its very existence achieves ‘moksha’ and becomes divine itself. However, Islam teaches that Moksha is a privilege that is attained through faith in Allah and the performance of righteous deeds as per the Quran. These two verses define the major difference that the Dharma that encourages the search for God can start from within one’s self or in the study of the cosmos. While Islam divides the world among believers and non-believers in ‘Allah’ who shall gain divine rewards through earning merit.

4. Attitude towards Non-Believers

Sanatan Dharma: “अयं निजः परो वेति गणना लघुचेतसाम्। उदारचरितानां तु वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्॥” (Maha Upanishad 6.71)

Meaning: “Only those who are small-minded divide the world in terms of ‘mine’ and ‘his’. The wise understand that the whole world is one big family.”

Islam: “O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people.” (Quran 5:51)

This Quranic verse highlights how Islam treats followers of other faiths. It suggests that Muslims should not form alliances or friendships with Jews and Christians. This verse emphasizes the importance of maintaining a distinct identity and religious loyalty within the Islamic community. However, Sanatan Dharma promotes an inclusive worldview. It promotes the recognition of the divine presence in all beings whether they believe or not. Thus, Sanatana promotes the idea of the world as one big family, while Islam stresses the importance of religious separation and loyalty among believers.

5. Concept of Salvation

Sanatana Dharma:वासांसि जीर्णानि यथा विहाय, नवानि गृह्णाति नरोऽपराणि |तथा शरीराणि विहाय जीर्णा, न्यन्यानि संयाति नवानि देही || 22||(Bhagavad Gita 2.22).

Meaning: “As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones” 

Islam: “Everyone shall taste death. And only on the Day of Resurrection shall you be paid your wages in full. And whoever is removed away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise, he indeed is successful” (Quran 3:185)

The verse from the Gita highlights the cyclical nature of life and the opportunity for multiple births to progress toward spiritual liberation. It treats life as a journey to be filled with knowledge, experience, and good Karma. On the other hand, Islam focuses on the belief in only one life. It promotes the Abrahamic concept of final judgment on the ‘Day of Resurrection’ and eternal reward or punishment in the afterlife.


These contrasting perspectives and diverse theological teachings of Sanatana Dharma and Islam showcase their inherent differences. Sanatana Dharma emphasizes the concept of rebirth and the pursuit of spiritual liberation through the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. It promotes equality and acceptance. While Islam focuses on the belief in a final judgment and the ultimate destination of Paradise or Hell. The religion is focused on blind faith in the words of a single accepted prophet. It binds itself within restrictions of one particular form of prayer and rituals. 

The religious philosophies are reflected in the outlook of their followers. The Islamists follow behind their prophet in search of ‘Allah’. While the Sanatanis craft their own paths to search for their divine. Some find God in their work, some find it in their idol, and others it in through mediation. The closed Islam does not merge well in other societies; while Sanatanis blend into the fabric of any society without any waves or pushback. 




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