Sikhi and Islam

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Shree Quran & Guru Granth Sahib

The Guru Granth Sahib contains the teachings, philosophies and beliefs of Islamic saints. Sikh religious philosophy incorporates some aspects of Islam, and rejects others.

Both faiths recognize the Oneness of God and regard it as human duty to follow what they describe as the hukm, the Divine Will. However, they differ on the content of this hukm. For Muslims, it is derived from the Holy Koran, the hadith of Muhammed the Prophet, the consensus of the religious scholars (ijma) and argument by analogy (ijtihad). They define anyone not a Musim as a kafir a rebel or unbeliever, who denies their hukm.

For Sikhs, the Hukam is unspeakable: “hukam na ka-ha ja-ye”. It can only be realized when lived. Therefore, the emphasis is on personal experience rather than social order. God’s laws and truths are written in every human heart, they are inscribed in the very being of our nature, articulated in the body, mind and soul.

Hukmae andar sab kich bahar hukam na koye
Nanak hukmae jo bujhe taan haume kahe naa koi

The ideal Muslim social order is a return to the state established by the Muhammed the Prophet, with all the world as Muslims, the remaining non-Muslims - zimmis – suitably subjugated and unable to promote their lies (i.e. their religion) or practice their faiths. This ideal may be seen in a range of states from Afghanistan (where Sikhs may no longer perform nagar keertans), to Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan. It looks to an ideal past. The result of this has been what is termed Islam’s bloody borders, struggles with all non-Muslims be they Hindu (India), Jews (Israel), Sikhs, Christians (Sudan, Indonesia, Balkans), Buddhists (Bhutan).

By contrast, for Sikhs it is an, as yet unrealized, one world (sabhe manas ko ik pachanbo = recognise all humankind as One), with pluralism in people’s approaches to the One Reality as a garden of many flowers, with an emphasis on the equal dignity of all, of which the langar is a microcosm.

This pluralistic, one world vision is guarded by an armed and active citizenry in this republic of joy and is captured in the opt-repeated slogan, “Degh Tegh Fateh” = Victory to the Cauldron and the Sword. This ideal is also captured in the name of the birthplace of the Khalsa, Anandpur Sahib, City of Bliss. This is a physical manifestation of the spiritual transformation explained by holy bhagat Ravidass in the hymn about Begumpura, a description of the Kingdom of God. By entering that Kingdom within our heart, Sikhs strive to manifest that Kingdom in this world as a vanguard of this revolution, Akaal Purkh Ki Fauj – army of the Eternal Spirit.

First, this manifests for the flourishing of all humanity irrespective of race, religion, or sex in changing human expressions of God’s Divine Order, an ever-changing, ever-fresh kaleidoscope of rainbow colors in front of the Light of God’s Word or Guru-Bani. God’s law is not an abstract system for self-defined ‘normal’ people, with the ‘abnormal’, the kafir to be changed or subjugated, but a growing personal development which manifests in all people. It is based on the growth of every single person with the law (hukm) the universal natural growth principle for each person as a unique plant in God’s Garden of Love and Life. Second, it is a vision which looks to the future manifestation of that Order on earth realizing that its success depends not on external coercion (law or sh’araih), but inner transformation through meditation (simran) and meditation in action (meeri-peeri). Finally, the victory of God’s Order is held to be part of God’s sovereignty so it will be. Trusting in this, Sikhs enjoy chardi kala, a dynamic optimism for the future, not looking to the past.

The Sufis

However, there are also those within the Islamic tradition who also seek a mystical communion with God, the sufis. Not surprisingly, the relations of Sikhs with some sufis were very close. The Qadiriya, Bahlol Shah, established one of the oldest Gurdwaras in the world in Baghdad, while another of that group, Saint Mian Mir was invited to lay the foundation stone of the Golden Temple, according to a persistent Sikh tradition. From the Chestiya, some writings of Baba Farid are included in the Guru Granth Sahib Ji and Pir Budhu Shah and his sons died as Martyrs when he learned that the Muslims who he had recommended to Guru Gobind Sing had broken their pledges to fight in the Sikh army and had joined the forces of the Hill Chiefs and their Mughal allies who had attacked Guru Gobind Singh.

After the death of Guru Gobind Singh, during the wars between the Sikhs and the later Mughal Emperors, many sufis fought alongside the Sikhs against the Mughal and Afgaani tyranny. The Durrani considered their invasions as a jihad and tried to eliminate the Sikhs in a series of holocausts, but as it was Daulat Khan, one of the noblemen of Ibrahim Lodi, who like many of subjects of Lodi ( the last Afgan Sultan of Delhi, who was so cruel to his subjects, killing and poisoning even his noblemen) who invited Babur to invade India, it was the Muslims merchants and citizenry of Lahore, who had long suffered under the oppressive heel of their Afgani rulers (their Muslim brothers) who opened the gates to the city of Lahore, inviting Maharaja Ranjit Singh to rule their city. It was the Maharaja who established the Sikh Kingdom in 1799. Under his rule the citizens of the kingdom were free to practice their religions, whether Hindu, Jain, Parse, Buddhist or Muslim without any oppression. Unfortunately the zeal of the Maharaja to take over all of the other Sikh kingdoms caused many of the other Maharajas to ask the British for protection, which effectively divied the Territories of the Sikhs into a East and West divided along the River Sutledge. The British learning that the Maharaja was intending to invade or annex the Sind quickly moved to sign a treaty with the Sikh ruler which precluded any southern expansion, but the Maharaja had free reign to annex Jammu and Kashmir. Unfortunately infighting in his court after his death weakened and divided the Sikhs, who after several rapid replacement of Rulers were soon defeated in the first Anglo-Sikh War. Jammu and Kashmir were dived off and sold to the Dogras and infighting in young Maharaja Duleep Singh's Court and saber rattling by different Sikhs militias of the old misl alliances brought about a second Anglo-Sikh war with treaties that allowed the British take control and effectively end the once proud Sikh Kingdom in 1849.

Islamic saints in holy Guru Granth Sahib

A Comparative Study of Sikhism and Islam

by Dr. Amrit Kaur Raina* * Retired Principal and Research Scholar, Major Research Project, U.G.C. Address: 154, Tribune Colony, Baltana (Zirakpur), Distt. Mohali (Punjab) 140603 [Sahitya Srimani Awardee].

Islam is the second major world religion which has swayed the minds and hearts of a large section of mankind. The Holy Qur’an is one of the most widely read books of the world. This investigator has studied Qur’an intensively and written eleven chapter on it, which are: Introduction to Islam and introduction, Concept of God, man, woman, social duties, moral ethics, Gurmat and Sufi-ism, Gurmat and Baba Farid. I have studied the Qur’an intensively, in Hindi and Punjabi, and on the basis of quotations from Gurbani and Qur’an tried to show the similarities and the differences. There are several eternal values which are common in both religions.

Islam means religion of peace and submission to the will of God. It is a way of living. Like Sikhism, Islam believes in one God. Allah is the Arabic word for God (It was used by the Christians of the Middle East for more than 600 years before the coming of the Muslim religion). Allah is Al-lah meaning the one who is the object of worship, love and obedience who rules over the universe, responds to prayers, protects one from evil. God meets our needs; wherever you turn, there is the face of God (though hidden from eyes God transcends comprehension).

Allah is the creator of heavens and earth. Whole universe is dependent on Him. Creation is an art of God’s will. God is ‘Rehman’. Every activity of God is activity of Rehman. Islam believes in unity of God. These ideas about the conception of God resonate with the conception of God in Gurbani given in Mulmantra.

Like Sikhism, Islam does not believe in gods and goddesses, or idol worship and incarnation of God. Guru Gobind Singh (mYN hMU prm purK kau dwsw) and Mohammad never claimed to be more than a man. God does not appear in the form of a man. The Creator cannot become the created. Like Sikhism, the Holy Qur’an believes in revelation of God’s message.

The Quran is the Holy book that was revealed to Prophet Mohammad (as collected and edited by a later Kalifa) , like Gurbani. Islam also emphasizes the greatness of man. Man consists of a body and a soul. Body is perishable, but soul is eternal and not perishable having spiritual entity. Man is multi-dimensional personality. He has infinite potentialities of knowledge.

Quran regards human intelligence as practically infinite. In his infinite potentiality of knowledge lies the secret of man’s greatness ;unlimited knowledge means unlimited power. By endowing man with potential for infinite knowledge and power - God has honoured him and, as a token of this honour, He ordered the angels to bow down before Adam. He is the viceregent of God on earth.

The ideas of Islam about the greatness of man’s unlimited potentialities resemble the conception of Man in Sikhism. But the repeated incarnation of the soul in this world is ruled out in Islam, though some in Islam also believe in the philosophy of Karma.

According to Baba Farid the good actions done in this world help to get an honourable seat in Heaven. On the doomsday man’s fate is decided on the basis of his actions. The best among men is the best in conduct. There are five basic duties to God which are known as the pillars of Islam: Belief in one God (qOhId) prayer, (nmwz), alms giving (zkwq) fasting and Hajj.

Islam believes only in one God. A true Muslim must pray five times (daily). His day begins with prayer of morning, like Sikhism, Islam attaches great value to the remembrance of God’s Name and submission to the will of God. Zakat (Alms giving) is one of the redeeming feature of Islam. Zakat to the poor and needy is considered as a duty imposed by God. Hajj is a pilgrimage to the home of God. Moral ethics and discharge of social duties are also redeeming features of Islam.

As a man of faith and action, the Prophet never separated political and spiritual aspects of man. He strove to improve the social conditions of his people by regulations concerning cleanliness, sobriety, fasting and prayer. He esteemed Alms-giving and charity. There is no distinction of high and low, superior and inferior. All are equal. A unique spirit of brotherhood and comradeship pervades the teachings of Islam. There is no compulsion in religion.

Islam has encouraged learning and cultivation of intellect. Social impact of Islam, service to mankind, good behaviour, justice, kindness, proper discharge of duties rendering what is due to parents, relatives, wife and husband and children, neighbours and the society at large - are another kind of Ibadat.

Man should lead a clean and healthy life doing good and avoiding evil. Faith in God means love of His creatures, salvation through service. Humanitarian outlook exhorted his disciples to develop ‘river like generosity’, ‘sun like affection’ and ‘earth like hospitality. Islam emphasizes cordial relations with man and man. God loves one who love His creatures. All human beings are brothers unto one another.

For every nation there is a Messenger. Submission to God and doing good to others. He rewards the pious. He is honored in the court of God who is the most righteous of you. Moral code asks man to profess and practice good and shun evil. Charity is much encouraged in Islam. Responsibility and accountability of actions is emphasized which lead to mental bliss. Islam emphasizes equality of mankind. No Arab is superior to non-Arab and no non-Arab is superior over an Arab. Piety alone confers honour on man. Men are born from Adam and Eve and they were made of clay.

The God in Guruvani is ever merciful and a friend. Sikhism does not believe in heaven and hell. Heaven and hell are on this earth. Peace of mind is Heaven, and the suffering of the earth are hell. Sikhism believes in rebirth. Death is a change of garment of soul. Man takes birth again and again, until he is united with God. Sikhism does not believe in dooms day.

It does not bury its dead in the hope that ‘they will rise on doomsday and will be sent to Heaven and hell according to one’s actions in life’. Sikhism, also, does not believe in fasting and pilgrimages. Though Islam says there should be no compulsion in religion but we all know how Mughal rulers imposed Islam in India. Sikhism does not believe that Prophet Mohammed is the last prophet, or Qur’an is the last revelation of God. Sikhism believes that God sends great souls from time to time for the upliftment of man and society, and there is no end to the revelation of knowledge.

The revelation of God’s message to Prophet Mohammad came through God’s angel Gabriel, but Guru Nanak received message of God directly. There is no Satan in Sikhism. There is ego, illusion and maya of God which separates man from God. Maya is the special power of God through which he is carrying on the ‘play’ of the world. According to Sikhism the evolution of the world is always going on, and there are "pwqwlw pwqwl lK Agwsw Agws"; but according to Islam there are seven heavens. In Sikhism there is no place for polygamy and Pardah system. It has great regard and reverence for women. They are not inferior to men in any way.

According to Islam, both the unbelievers and their idols made of stone will be fuel of hell-fire. Sikhism is a liberal religion though the Gurus did not believe in the rituals and meaningless ceremonies of Hinduism. Guru Teg Bahadur sacrificed his life for the protection of jnyau.

Sangat and Pangat and singing of Gurbani are the main features of Sikhism which are not found in Islam. Arabic, the language in which the Qu'ran is written, is still the spoken religion of much of the Middle East. but many Muslims of the world cannot or read Arabic, but Punjabi, in which Gurbani is written, is still the spoken language of the masses of Punjab. Hence Gurbani is easily understood by the common people Sri Guru Granth Sahib has some of the common heritage of humanity, including the verses of many saints and Bhagats of various castes and creeds and regions beside the Bani of six Gurus, giving it a more universal appeal than the Qur'an.

See also

Sikhi & Other Religons

♣♣ Islam ♣♣ Hindu Dharam ♣♣ Christianity ♣♣ Jain Dharam ♣♣ Dhamma ♣♣ Judaism ♣♣