Dissimilarities between Sikhism and Islam

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Sheikh Aziz and Chatar Singh - Brothers

Sikhism, founded in fifteenth century Punjab on the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev and ten successive Sikh Gurus (the last one being the sacred text Guru Granth Sahib), is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world. This system of religious philosophy and expression has been traditionally known as the Gurmat (literally the counsel of the gurus) or the Sikh Dharma. Sikhism originated from the word Sikh, which in turn comes from the Sanskrit root śiṣya meaning "disciple" or "learner", or Siksha meaning "instruction".

Islam is the religion articulated by the Quran, a religious book considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of the single incomparable God (Allah), and by the Prophet of Islam Muhammad's demonstrations and real-life examples (called the Sunnah, collected through narration of his companions in collections of Hadith). Islam literally means submission to God (see Islam (term)

There are many Similarities between Sikhism and Islam, let's analyze dissimilarities:

Equality among different human beings

1) In Sikhism everyone is equal. All people of different color, religion, caste, creed, race and sex are equal in the eyes of God. No one is high or low. All are children of God created by God and God loves them all. Sikhism teaches that everyone should live a peaceful life and love each other as human beings. Sikhism teaches love, humility, equality, humbleness and how to live a peaceful life.

"The temple or the mosque are the same, the Hindu worship or the Musalman prayer are the same; all men are the same; it is through error they appear different. Deities, demons, Yakshas, heavenly singers, Musalmans and Hindus adopt the customary dress of their different countries. All men have the same eyes, the same ears, the same body, the same build, a compound of earth, air, fire, and water. Allah and Abhekh are the same, the Purans and the Quran are the same; they are all alike; it is the one God who created all. The Hindu God and the Muhammadan God are the same; let no man even by mistake suppose there is a difference." (Guru Gobind Singh, Akal Ustat, pg. 275)

First, Allah created the Light; then, by His Creative Power, He made all mortal beings. From the One Light, the entire universe welled up. So who is good, and who is bad? ||1|| (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 1349)

This clearly shows that from one light of God everyone came into existence. So if everyone comes from the same creator who will you call good and bad?

On the other hand, Islam teaches that only Muslims, who believe in Mohammad being the last prophet, are superior beings to others.The following are the passages from the Quran.

And the faithful men, and the faithful women are friends one to another: They command that which is just, and they forbid that which is evil; and they are constant at prayer, and pay their appointed alms; and they obey God, and his apostle: Unto these will God be Merciful; for He [is] Mighty [and] Wise.(The Quran 9:71)

"Those who follow the apostle, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (scriptures), - in the law and the Gospel; - for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits them from what is bad (and impure); He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honour him, help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him, - it is they who will prosper." (The Quran 7:157)

Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah. (The Quran 3:110)

However, Islam teaches all human races are equal whether Arabs or non-Arabs, Black or White. The following is the excerpt from Prophet Muhammad`s last sermon:

"O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore, listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and take these words to those who could not be present here today. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners, Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds. All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab; a white has no superiority over a black, nor does a black have any superiority over a white; [none have superiority over another] except by piety and good action. Remember, one day you will appear before God and answer for your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone."

Equality of Women with Men

Main article: Women in Sikhism

2) Again, Sikhism teaches equality of all human beings including women. Women are given very high status in Sikhism by the Sikh Gurus. Women are given not only equality but they are also given rights to do everything that men can. For example, women can participate and lead the congregation. Women can go to Sikh temple and worship there. Women can play a role of priest, lecturer, singer and whatever there may be. The third Guru, Guru Amar Das Ji, appointed many missionary priests that were sent all over India to preach Sikhism and fifty two of them were women.

Sikhism says this:

"We are born of woman, we are conceived in the womb of woman, we are engaged and married to woman. We make friendship with woman and the lineage continued because of woman. When one woman dies, we take another one, we are bound with the world through woman. Why should we talk ill of her, who gives birth to kings? The woman is born from woman; there is none without her. Only the One True Lord is without woman" (Guru Nanak Dev, Var Asa, Ang 473)

"Woman is one half the complete personality of man, and is entitled to share secular and spiritual knowledge equally." (Bhai Gurdas Ji, Var 5, Pauri 16:59)

Quran says this:

"Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what Allah would have them guard. (The Noble Quran 4:34)"

Even beating of women is permitted in Islam, and men are given a higher status.

Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, beat them(lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means: For Allah is Most High, great (above you all). (Quran, 4:34)

However Islam as many good things about women, like Heaven and Hell will not be on the basis of gender but will be on the basis of good deeds. "If any do deeds of righteousness be they male or female and have faith, they will enter Heaven, and not the least injustice will be done to them. (The Noble Quran, 4:124)"

However in other verses of Quran, Allah makes women equal to male "For Muslim men and women,- for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in Charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in God's praise,- for them has God prepared forgiveness and great reward." (The Noble Quran, 33:35)

Also Islam teaches men not to do anything against the will of Women, it teaches to live with wife in kindness and with equality. So it is hard to judge what Islam really says about women. "O ye who believe! Ye are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should ye treat them with harshness, that ye may take away part of the dower [money given by the husband to the wife for the marriage contract] ye have given them, except where they have been guilty of open lewdness; on the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If ye take a dislike to them it may be that ye dislike a thing, and God brings about through it a great deal of good." (The Noble Quran, 4:19)

Sikh women can go to Sikh Temple (Gurdwara), say their prayers and worship accordingly. Women can also take the role of a priest and any other role. Women can lead the congregation and are encouraged more to participate in congregations. But Islam teaches totally the opposite. Women cannot lead in congregations, but they are also prohibited to go to a Muslim church, called mosque, and worship. However there are separate mosque for women where women lead the congregations. Muslim scholars say that this segregation are made to bring purity in pryer as Islamic prayer or namaz have physical acts like bending,kneeling which muslim believes that a women shouldn`t do infront of non-mehrem men. In mecca both muslim men and women worship together at same place with same dress code.

Sikhism however gave different dress code for men and women, like men are required to wear turban while women are not.

In Islam women cannot go out without asking their husbands and when they do, they have to be accompanied by someone else (a male).

Islam is also against force marriage of women, these are few saying of Prophet Muhammad against forced marriage:

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger as having said: "A woman without a husband (or divorced or a widow) must not be married until she is consulted, and a virgin must not be married until her permission is sought. They asked the Prophet of Allah : How her (virgin's) consent can be solicited? He said: That she keeps silence. (Translation of Sahih Muslim, The Book of Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah), Book 008, Number 3303)"

"An orphan virgin girl should be consulted about herself; if she says nothing that indicates her permission, but if she refuses, the authority of the guardian cannot be exercised against her will. (Translation of Sunan Abu-Dawud, Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah), Book 11, Number 2088)"

The Prophet said: "Consult women about (the marriage of) their daughters. (Translation of Sunan Abu-Dawud, Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah), Book 11, Number 2090)"

A girl was forced by her parents into marriage, when that girl came to the prophet complaining to the prophet about her force marriage, the prophet ruled out that marriage as invalid and allowed the girl to take her own decision. "A virgin came to the Prophet and mentioned that her father had married her against her will, so the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) allowed her to exercise her choice. (Translation of Sunan Abu-Dawud, Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah), Book 11, Number 2091)"

The Quran says: "O ye who believe! Ye are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should ye treat them with harshness..." ( The Quran 4:19)

Monogamy in Marriage

3) Marriage Beliefs and Policies.

The Gurus regarded marriage a very spiritual state of life. Marriage is given very high respect by the Gurus.

They are not said to be husband and wife, who merely sit together. They alone are called husband and wife, who have one light in two bodies. ||3|| (Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 788)

Furthermore, a man and woman can have only one partner at a time. The only way for someone to remarry is if his/her marriage partner has died or he/she is divorced. In Sikhism, the marriage ceremony is very simple and the same every time. It does not matter whether it is ones first or fifth marriage.

In Islam men are allowed to keep upto 4 wives under some conditions.

Marry orphan(women) of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice. (Quran, 4:3)

In Sikhism, divorce in marriage is done with the consent of both couples and it is very straight forward. But in Islam there are hard rules for women because in Islam, an women gains economical benefit from divorce(mahr) but not men, so preference is given on men so that no women can misuse the divorce law, but there are cases where women can divorce her husband which is known as `Khula`.

Fasting and pilgrimages

4) Sikhism does not believe in fasting or pilgrimages.

"The mind is not softened by fasting or austerities. Nothing else is equal to worship of the Lord's Name." (Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 905)

"The pilgrimage to shrines, fasting, cleanliness and self-mortification are not of any avail, nor are the rituals, religious ceremonies and hollow adoration's. Deliverance, O! Nanak! is in the devotional service of God. Through duality the mortal is engrossed in worldliness. (Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 75)

I do not make pilgrimages to Mecca, nor do I worship at Hindu sacred shrines. I serve the One Lord, and not any other. ||2|| (Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 1136)

I do not keep fasts, nor do I observe the month of Ramadaan. I serve only the One, who will protect me in the end. ||1|| The One Lord, the Lord of the World, is my God Allah. He adminsters justice to both Hindus and Muslims. ||1||Pause|| (Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 1136)

Contrary to Sikhism, Islam teaches Muslims to fast during the special month of Ramadan. It is this month that Muslims have the opportunity to get closer to God. But my question is: why this special month? If this is the only month to get closer to God then what is point for Muslims doing five prayers a day for the rest of the eleven months?

“Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur'an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful.” (Quran, 2:185)

“The Brahmins observe twenty-four fasts during the year, and the Muslims fast during the month of Ramadaan. The Muslims set aside eleven months, and claim that the treasure is only in the one month”. ||3|| (Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 1349)

Relationship with God

5) Sikh way of life is filled with love of God. The Gurus taught Sikhs to follow and worship God out of love. Sri Guru Granth Sahib places greater emphasis on love of God as the main motivation for man.

"Within my heart, I sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord, and celebrate the Word of the Lord's Shabad. The Lord Himself is pervading and permeating the world; so fall in love with Him!" (Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 790)

"Remembering Him in meditation, one abides in peace; one becomes happy, and suffering is ended. Celebrate, make merry, and sing God's Glories. Forever and ever, surrender to the True Guru." (Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 386)

But the Quran puts more emphasis on fear of God. Quran teaches you to follow God not out of love but out of fear because otherwise He will get angry, and you will burn in the fire of hell.

"Truly, none will take heed but the wise: those who keep faith with Allah and do not break their pledge; who join together what He has bidden to be united; who fear their Lord and dread the terrors of Judgement-day; who for the sake of Allah endure with fortitude..." (13:18, Quran)

"Allah's reward is great. Therefore fear Him with all your hearts and be attentive, obedient, and charitable. That will be best for you." (64:13, Quran)

Sacred places open to all

6) Sikh Gurdwaras (Temples) are open to everyone regardless of color, race, caste, creed, gender and religion. Free food is served to everyone on a daily basis. There is no discrimination. Everyone is treated the same way with love and equality. Non-Sikhs are allowed to visit and enter the most sacred shrine of the religion, Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple).

However is Islam, non-Muslims are not allowed in Mecca though non-Muslims are allowed to visit other religious places but not Mecca.

"Blessed is the place, and blessed are those who dwell there, where God's Name is meditated upon. The sermons and songs of God's praises are sung there and there is nothing but peace, poise and tranquility." (Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 816)

"If the Lord Allah lives only in the mosque, then to whom does the rest of the world belong? “The God of the Hindus lives in the southern lands, and the God of the Muslims lives in the west. So search in your heart - look deep into your heart of hearts; this is the home and the place where God lives." (Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 1349)

Consumption of meat

7) In Sikhism eating meat is prohibited. Sikhism rejects the killing of any animal by evoking a prayer or by slow death. But it is permitted in Islam.

"Yet holding the knife, the world they butcher. Wearing blue the rulers approval they seek; With money derived from mlechhas the Puranas they worship. Goats slaughtered over the unapproved Muslims texts they eat." (Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 472)

“Make virtue your bread, good conduct the ghee, and modesty the meat to eat. As Gurmukh, these are obtained, O Nanak; partaking of them, one`s sins depart.” (Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 553)

"Kabeer, the dinner of beans and rice is excellent, if it is flavored with salt. Who would cut his throat, to have meat with his bread?


8) Sikhism rejects the idea of circumcision. Sikhs believe in living a natural way of life the way God created us. However muslim men are required to circumcise as it is part of sunnah or tradition of Prophets of Islam from Issac, Moses, Jesus to Muhammad.

"Because of the love of woman, circumcision is done; I don't believe in it, O Siblings of Destiny. If God wished me to be a Muslim, it would be cut off by itself. If circumcision makes one a Muslim, then what about a woman?" (Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 477)

However, both Jews and Muslim circumcise, circumcision of a Jewish kid is done on eighth day of the child's birth while there is no such age restriction for muslim men on circumcision, they are free to perform it at any age. Circumcision has health benefits though Muslims perform it for their religious obligation.

Ritual Slaughter of Animals

9) On the day of Eid Al-Azha, muslims sacrifice an animal. Animal sacrifice is a futile gesture that will not sway God. Why would God want his followers to slaughter animals to please him? Abraham was sacrificing his son to god; however all the sacrifice in this instance has achieved destruction of the outer shell of the animal. The soul won’t travel to god, but merely to another form. Killing an animal with a prayer is not going to enoble the flesh. No ritual, whoever conducts it, is going to do any good either to the animal or to the diner.

"You seize a living creature, and then bring it home and kill its body; you have killed only the clay. The light of the soul passes into another form. So tell me, what have you killed? And what good are your purifications? Why do you bother to wash your face? And why do you bother to bow your head in the mosque? Your heart is full of hypocrisy; what good are your prayers or your pilgrimage to mecca? You are impure; you do not understand the pure lord. You do not know his mystery. Says Kabeer, you have missed out on paradise; your mind is set on hell." (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 1350)

Ritual Impurity

10) Islam has many laws on ritual impurity which are rejected by Gurbani.

Left hand is considered ritually impure in islam. Prophet Mohammad asked his followers not to eat with left hand.

"Jabir b. 'Abdullah reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) having said: Do not eat with your left hand, for the Satan eats with his left hand." (Sahih Muslim B023 N5007)

A menstruating women is also considered ritually unclean in islam and is not allowed to enter mosque.

"Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin: The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) came and saw that the doors of the houses of his Companions were facing the mosque. He said: Turn the direction of the houses from the mosque. The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) then entered (the houses or the mosque), and the people did take any step in this regard hoping that some concession might be revealed. He the Prophet again came upon them and said: Turn the direction of these (doors) from the mosque I do not make the mosque lawful for a menstruating woman and for a person who is sexually defiled." (Sunan Abu Dawud 1:0232)

The sikh gurus vigorously condemned such practices and said that impurity does not lie in any particular hand or menstruation. Instead impurity lies in evil tendencies of the mind.

"If one accepts the concept of impurity, then there is impurity everywhere. In cow-dung and wood there are worms. As many as are the grains of corn, none is without life. First, there is life in the water, by which everything else is made green. How can it be protected from impurity? It touches our own kitchen. O Nanak, impurity cannot be removed in this way; it is washed away only by spiritual wisdom." (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Ang 472)

"Outwardly, he washes off the filth, but the impurity of his mind does not go away." (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Ang 88)

Hell and Heaven

11) Muslims beleive that somewhere 'up there' exist futuristic and otherworldly hell and heaven. But according to gurbani, hell and heaven are 'here' and 'now'. Heaven is higher spiritual state of consciousness, and hell is a lower state of consciousness. To put it in simple terms, the enlightened mind is its own heaven whereas the unenlightened mind its own hell.

If otherworldly hell and heaven exist, where are these located? Are they located on some lofty island or on some mystical planets somewhere 'up there'? Are they located below the earth or above the earth? Can heaven and hell encompass God, or anything else for that matter? It is God who encompasses everything including the so called hell and heaven, not other way around. And the same one God who encompasses everything resides within our bosom as well. Therefore, any hell and heaven that reside in God must also reside 'here within' ourselves. Thus, imagining or believing the notion that hell or heaven are mere futuristic and otherworldly existence is a creation of man's inconsistent understanding of these terms. Therefore, whatever is 'up there' must be demonstrated here on this earth; otherwise it has no meaning.

"Everyone speaks of going there, but does not even know where heaven is. One who does not even know the mystery of his own self, speaks of heaven, but it is only talk." (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Ang 1161)

"He claims to know the lord, who is beyond measure and beyond thought; by mere words, he plans to enter heaven. I do not know where heaven is. Everyone claims that he plans to go there. By mere talk, the mind is not appeased. The mind is only appeased, when egotism is conquered. As long as the mind is filled with the desire for heaven, he does not dwell at the lord`s feet. Says kabeer, unto whom should I tell this? The company of the holy is heaven." (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Ang 325)

"Everything is within; there is nothing beyond. One who searches outside is deluded by doubts." (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Ang 102)

Charity Work

12) According to Sikh religion, Sikhs are required to give 10% of their earnings (Dasvand) for charity work. Muslims are required to give 2.5% of total savings and wealth (Zakat) above a minimum amount known as nisab for charity work.

Islamic scholarship, historically, has taught that only Muslims can be the recipients of Zakat. The Sikh Dasvand can be spent on any needy person, irrespective of caste, creed, color, gender and religion. Khalsa Aid, a contemporary Sikh humanitarian organisation, has done charity work in Iraq, Nepal, Japan, Latur (India), places with minuscule Sikh population.

Above points show that without any doubts Sikhism is a separate religion and differs from Islam not only by beliefs but by practice, philosophy and way of life.