The Qur'an was supposedly “divinely revealed” for some twenty-two years to the illiterate Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel beginning in 610 AD. The revelations he received were reported to family members and friends who either memorized them or wrote them down. These revelations were not about an innermost realization or awakening, the kind that Siddhartha experienced who became, subsequently, the “awakened one” or Buddha. Nor could Muhammad’s revelation be attained by others as is the case with the Buddha’s awakening. One can think of the Angel Gabriel as the middleman between God and Muhammad upon whom the latter depended.
Here we can see a difference between Islam and Buddhism. Muhammad requires a messenger sent by God. By contrast, the Buddha through his own efforts awakens to ultimate reality of which there is nothing higher—not even God. More importantly, the Buddha teaches us how to achieve his awakening. He is a true teacher in this respect. Muhammad’s revelation is different. If we follow the Qur'an there is heavenly reward. If not, there is punishment. The Qur'an is comparable to the Bible but supersedes it according to its ‘believers’—almost to the point of being a fetish. In this respect, the Qur'an turns into an idol made of words (i.e., a representation of God himself) that is worshiped by the faithful. Imam al-Ṣādiq describes the Qur'an this way:
"Certainly, the Qur'an lives, and has not died; and it is existent just as the day and the night and the sun and the moon are existent. And it will exist for the last among us as it has existed for the first."
Buddhism does not have such a “book” like the Qur'an. It doesn’t need it. No religious book can make letters and words an end in itself. Their only value is what they point to which is beyond letters and words, which in the case of Buddhism, is the true nature of reality which is transcendent and unconditioned. The teachings of the Buddha, even in book form, are likened to a raft for helping us to cross to the other shore which is certainly beyond letters, words, angels and even a creator god. After we reach this yonder shore the raft is no longer of any use. The Buddha’s teaching/dharma is for crossing over not for retaining.
The Qur'an, which is believed by its followers to be the absolute unchanging word of God, in the final analysis, is more human than holy and unchanging in which Muslims wage war, and during the early formation of Islam argued over what was scripture and what was not. Buddhism on the other hand is always trying to rise above the delusions, the hostility and the sensual desires that confront human beings daily. Buddhists also have no need of a creator god or his prophets. The idea that humans are a product of some god is frankly absurd. If we were made by such an all powerful god, wouldn’t we be like god since we are his offspring? When a cow gives birth to a calf isn’t the calf still a cow? All god based religions are inferior to Buddhism. The Buddha asked, “If god’s wide power has no limit, why then is his hand so rarely spread to bless? Why are god’s creatures all condemned to pain? Why doesn’t god give happiness to all? Why, instead, do fraud, lies, and ignorance prevail?”