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Islam and Sikhism

Islam is an Abrahamic religion founded in the Arabian peninsula, while Sikhism is a Dharmic religion founded in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent. Islam means 'submission' or 'surrender'.[1][2] The word Sikh is derived from a Sanskrit word meaning 'disciple', or one who learns.[3]

Both religions are monotheistic. Sufi Muslims and Sikhs believe that the 'One' creator permeates the creation.[4][5][6] Salafi Muslims on the other hand disagree. Sufi Muslims differ from Sikhs in that they believe that God manifests his attributes, namely the 99 names or attributes through his creation.[4] According to Salafi Muslims, God's attributes are separate from his creation as he is only above his Throne.[7] Islam believes that Muhammad was the last prophet, to whom the Quran was revealed by God in the 7th century CE. Sikhism was founded in the 15th century CE by Guru Nanak and the Guru Granth Sahib is the scripture followed by Sikhs as "The Living Guru".[5][8]

In Islam, the legal system based on the Quran and the Sunnah is known as Sharia; there is no such legal system mentioned in Guru Granth Sahib. Daily prayers are one of the pillars of Islam and is mandatory for all Muslims.[9] Baptized Sikhs read the five banis (prayers) as part of their daily routine, Nitnem. Islam requires annual zakah (alms giving) by Muslims.[10] Kirat Karna (doing an honest livelihood - earning honestly without any sort of corruption), Naam Japna (to chant and meditate on Naam, read and follow "The One") and Vand Chhako (Selfless service (Sewa) and sharing with others) are fundamental to Sikhism given by Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Pilgrimage (to Mecca) is a crucial part of Islam, while Sikhism denounces pilgrimages, circumcision and rituals.[11] According to Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru stated in his 52 Hukamnamas that a Sikh should undertake Pilgrimages to Sikh Gurdwaras.

There has been a history of constructive influence and conflict between Islam and Sikhism. The Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib includes teachings from Muslims, namely saints (Baba Farid), a Muslim of the Chishti Sufi order and Kabir.[12][13][14]

Comparison

Belief

God

Sikhism believes that God is formless (nirankar).[5][15] It has been called a form of pantheism,[6] as well as monotheism.[5] God in the nirgun aspect is without attributes, unmanifest, not seen, but all pervading and permeating, omnipresent. God in the sargun aspect is manifest has attributes, qualities, and seen in the whole creation. [Ik Onkar There is only one God, he is the eternal truth, he is without fear, he is without hate, immortal, without form, Beyond birth and death...]

Similarly, Islam believes in one God which means it's monotheistic (tawḥīd).[16][17] This Islamic doctrine is a part of its Shahada.[17]

[Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; (1) Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; (2) He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; (3) And there is none like unto Him. (4)] (Quran Al-Ikhlas)[18]

Guru and Messengers

Sikhism reveres Guru Nanak as the teacher that taught of the One Divine Creator, Lord on Earth, which is manifest in the ten forms of the ten Gurus of Sikhs. Sikhism accepts that there were divine messengers, including Moses, Jesus and Mohammed in other religions.[5]

Islam believes that before Muhammad there were many messengers of God, Muhammad was the last messenger, and Quran was the last revelation to the last prophet.[19][20]

Duties/Articles of Faith

The Five Pillars of Islam are duties incumbent on every Muslim. These duties are Shahada (testimony that "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of God"),[21] Salat (prayers), Zakat (Giving of Alms), Sawm (Fasting during Ramadan) and Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). These five practices are essential to Sunni Islam; Shi'a Muslims subscribe to eight ritual practices which substantially overlap with the five Pillars.[22][23]

The three duties of Sikhs are Naam Japna (meditating on Waheguru's name), Kirat Karni (earn honest living) and Vand Chakna (sharing one's earning with others).[24] Baptized Sikhs, the Amritdharis are belonging to the Khalsa Panth. They wear the five articles of faith, known as 5 K´s, (1. Kes, uncut hair and beard, 2. Kangha, a wooden comb, 3. Kara, a bracelet worn around the wrist, 4. Kirpan, a small dagger and 5. Kachera, a special underwear). The Khalsa Panth was created on Vaisakhi 1699 by the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. The baptized Sikhs have a set of seven sikh prayers, called Nitnem, which they practise on a daily basis, this is mandatory.

Social beliefs

Sikhism has an ambivalent attitude towards miracles and rejects any form of discrimination within and against other religions.[25][25] Sikhism does not believe in rituals, but is permissive of traditions.[8]

Sikhism rejects asceticism and celibacy.[26] The Sikhism founder Guru Nanak adopted the Indic ideas on rebirth, and taught the ideas of reincarnation.[26] Adi Granth of Sikhism recognizes and includes spiritual wisdom from other religions.[8][27][page needed] Islam warns against wrongful innovation (bid‘ah) to what is revealed in the Quran and the Hadiths.[8]

Islam considers itself to be a perfect and final religion.[27] It warns against innovation (bid‘ah) to what is revealed in the Quran and the Hadiths.[8]

Islam believes in miracles and a final judgment day (Qiyaamat).[28]

Apostasy

Apostasy, that is abandonment of Islam by a Muslim and conversion to another religion or atheism, is a religious crime in Islam punishable with death.[21][29] According to the Hadiths, states John Esposito, leaving Islam is punishable by "beheading, crucifixion or banishment", and Sharia (Islamic legal code) traditionally has required death by the sword for an adult sane male who voluntarily leaves Islam.[21] However, adds Esposito, modern thinkers have argued against execution as penalty for apostasy from Islam by invoking Quranic verse 2:257.[21]

Sikhism allows freedom of conscience and choosing one's own path.[30]

Menstruation

The traditional Islamic interpretation of the Qur'an forbids intercourse, but not physical intimacy, during a woman's menstrual period. The Qur'an explicitly prohibits a menstruating woman from sexual intercourse. If a man is engaged in sexual intercourse with his wife and discovers that her period has started, he must immediately withdraw.[31]

Menstruating women are also prohibited from engaging in tawaf during Hajj. When A'isha wept to Muhammad when she was not able to perform tawaf on her menses, Muhammad responded, "This is a thing which Allah has ordained for the daughters of Adam. So do what all the pilgrims do with the exception of the Tawaf (Circumambulation) round the Ka'ba."[32] Islam shows a lot respect to women and menstruation is a blessing in Islam as it gives birth to humans and a basic phenomenon for reproduction of humans. Menstruating women are provided with every kinds of privilege and are suggested to rest. [1]

Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, condemned the practice of treating women as impure while menstruating.[33] The Guru makes it very clear that the menstrual cycle is a God-given process. The blood of a woman is required for the creation of any human being.[34] Those who are impure from within are the truly impure ones.[35] In The Feminine Principle in the Sikh vision of the transcendent, Nikky Guninder Kaur-Singh writes:

'The denigration of the female body "expressed in many cultural and religious taboos surrounding menstruation and child-Birth" is absent in the Sikh worldview. Guru Nanak openly chides those who attribute pollution to women because of menstruation'.[36]

View on other religions

Sikhism teaches that all religious traditions are valid, leading to the same Waheguru, and it rejects that any particular religion has a monopoly regarding absolute truth for all of humanity.[37]

Islam teaches that non-Islamic religious traditions have been distorted by man to suit their desires.[38][39]

Predestination

Islam believes in predestination, or divine preordainment (al-qadā wa l-qadar), God has full knowledge and control over all that occurs.[40][41] According to Islamic tradition, all that has been decreed by God is written in al-Lawh al-Mahfūz, the "Preserved Tablet".[42][full citation needed]

Sikhism also believes in predestination, and what one does, speaks and hears is already pre ordained, and one has to simply follow the laid down path per God's Hukum.[43]

Heaven and Hell

Jannah (Arabic: جنّة‎) is the Muslim equivalent of Heaven. It is the final abode of the righteous and the Islamic believers.[44] Firdaws (Arabic: فردوس) is the literal term meaning paradise, but the Quran generally uses the term Jannah symbolically referring to paradise. However "Firdaus" also designates the highest layer of heaven.[45] Jahannam (Arabic: جهنم‎) is the Muslim equivalent of Hell. It refers to an afterlife place of punishment for evildoers. The punishments are carried in accordance with the degree of evil one has done during his life.[46][47]

In Sikh thought, heaven and hell are not places for living hereafter, they are part of spiritual topography of man and do not exist otherwise. They refer to good and evil stages of life respectively and can be lived now and here during our earthly existence.[48] For example, Bhagat Kabir rejects the otherworldly heaven in Guru Granth Sahib and says that one can experience heaven on this Earth by doing company of holy.

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.

— Bhagat Kabir, Guru Granth Sahib 325 [49]

Similarly, Guru Arjan explains that people who are entangled in emotional attachment and doubt are living in hell on this Earth i.e. their life is hellish.[50]

So many are being drowned in emotional attachment and doubt; they dwell in the most horrible hell.

— Guru Arjan, Guru Granth Sahib 297 [50]

Fasting

Fasting in Islam is the practice of abstaining, usually from food, drink, smoking, and sexual activity. During the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, fasting is observed between dawn and nightfall when the evening Adhan is sounded.[51] Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar and fasting is the fourth of the five pillars of Islam.[52] Fasting, in Islam, is considered an exercise of devotion to willingly renounce oneself, for a definite period of time, from all bodily appetites in order to form spiritual discipline and self-control.[53]

Sikhism does not promote fasting except for medical reasons. Fasting as an austerity, as a ritual, as the mortification of the body by wilful hunger is condemned as Sikh Gurus proclaimed that it "brings no spiritual benefit to the person".[54] The Sikh Scripture, Guru Granth Sahib proclaims: "Fasting, daily rituals, and austere self-discipline – those who keep the practice of these, are rewarded with less than a shell." (Guru Granth Sahib 216)

Direction of Prayer

The Qibla (Arabic: قِبْلَة‎) is the direction that should be faced when a Muslim prays during ṣalāh (Arabic: صَلَاة‎). It is fixed as the direction of the Kaaba in the Hejazi city of Mecca.[55] Most mosques contain a wall niche that indicates the Qibla, which is known as a miḥrâb (Arabic: مِحْرَاب‎). Most multifaith prayer rooms will also contain a Qibla, although usually less standardized in appearance than one would find within a mosque.[56]

In Sikhism, there is no particular direction which one should face while offering prayer.[57] For example, in the following hymn of Guru Granth Sahib, Bhagat Kabir explained that God is in every direction rather than in any one direction.

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.

— Bhagat Kabir, Guru Granth Sahib 1349 [58]

Practice

Grooming and dress

The Khalsa panth among Sikhs are guided by the five Ks. They keep their head hair long (kesh) and men wear turbans (head hair cover) Women may also wear a turban by their choice. They carry a wooden comb, wear an iron bracelet, wear a cotton underwear, and carry a kirpan (steel sword).[59] Non baptized Sikh women are free to dress as they wish in Sikhism. Sex segregation is not required in public places or Sikh temples by Sikhism.[60]

Muslim males are encouraged to grow their beards and trim the moustache.[61] Men in some Muslim communities wear turban (head cap).[62] Muslim men, as well as women, must dress modestly. For Muslim women, it is highly recommended to cover their hair. Muslim women are required to cover body in public,[63] with some Islamic scholars stating that the Islamic Hadiths require covering the face too.[64][65] Islam encourages gender segregation in public, and Muslim men and women do not usually mix in public places such as mosques. These restrictions are part of 'Adab'.[61]

Circumcision

Sikhism does not require circumcision of either males or females, and criticizes the practice.[66]

In Islam, no verse in the Quran supports male or female circumcision (FGM/C).[67] Male circumcision is a widespread practice and considered mandatory for Muslim males according to Sunnah.[68] Muslim scholars disagree whether any authentic Sunnah in the hadiths supports the practice of female circumcision.[69][70][71] The Ijma, or consensus of Muslim scholars, varies by the Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) on whether circumcision is optional, honorable or obligatory for Muslim male and females.[note 1] Prominent Islamic scholars have both supported and opposed FGM/C for female Muslims.[72][73][note 1][note 2]

Food

Islam has Quranic restrictions on food, such as how the meat is prepared.[77] Halal meat is required in Islam, prepared by ritual slaughter that involves cutting the jugular veins of the animal with a sharp knife. This leads to death, through bleeding, of the animal.[78] Meat from animals that die of natural causes or accident is not allowed, unless necessary.[77] Beef is a religiously acceptable food to Muslims, but pork and alcohol is not.[79] Muslims fast for the month of Ramadan.

The tenets of Sikhism do not advocate a particular stance on either vegetarianism or the consumption of meat, but rather leave the decision of diet to the individual.[80][81] The only restriction is that Sikhs are prohibited from eating any type of meat like Islamic halal or Jewish kosher style meat because to them, this manner of obtaining meat involves a ritualistic component and a slow death of the animal. This is known as Kutha meat.[82][83] The official Sikh Code of Conduct Sikh Rehat Maryada only forbids the consumption of Kutha meat.[83] Charity meals distributed at a Sikh Gurudwara, called a langar, is only lacto-vegetarian.[82][84] Some groups[85] of Sikhism disagree with the consumption of meat altogether.[86] In practice, some Sikhs eat meat, while some Sikhs avoid meat. Baptized Sikhs are strict lacto-vegetarians .[83]

Jizya

Muslim rulers in history, compelled the payment of a special tax called Jizya from dhimmi, those who refuse to convert to Islam but live in a Muslim state. Dhimmis were excluded from having to pay Islamic religious tax such as zakat and excluded from observing other Islamic religious obligations.[87][88] Jizya was a tool of social stratification and treasury's revenue from non-Muslims.[88] Jizya was a reminder of subordination of a non-Muslim under some Muslim rulers, and created a financial and political incentive to convert to Islam.[88][89]

Sikhism has never required a special tax for non-Sikhs.

Central Religious Place

The Harmandir Sahib (also known as the Golden Temple).

The Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib) in Amritsar, India is not only a central religious place of the Sikhs, but also a symbol of human brotherhood and equality. The four entrances of this holy shrine from all four directions, signify that people belonging to every walk of life are equally welcome. The Golden Temple is a holy site for Sikhs and is welcome to people of any faith.[90]

Mecca in Saudi Arabia is the central religious place in Islam.[91][92] Mecca is regarded as the holiest city in Islam,[93] and a pilgrimage to it, known as the Hajj, is one of the pillars of Islam. Non-Muslims are prohibited from entering the city.

Pilgrimage

Sikhs do not believe in pilgrimages; Muslims, in contrast, consider Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) a crucial part of the faith. However, the first Sikh Guru, Baba Guru Nanak, is known to have attended the Hajj on one occasion and also he is known to had a great influence of Islam on his personality, which further depicts from his teachings.

History

During the Mughal Empire, Sikh gurus were persecuted. The fifth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Arjan was executed by Jahangir.[94] There were exceptions too. During Muslim Emperor Akbar's rule, for example, Sikhism and diverse religions were accepted and flourished. He established an ibadat khana which served as a platform for religious debates and dialogues among different communities, including Sikhs. He also visited the third Sikh Guru, Guru Amardas at Goindwal, ate at the Langar kitchen, and offered donations for Langar.[95][96]

Guru Hargobind, (sixth Guru of the Sikhs), after the martyrdom of Guru Arjan saw that it would no longer be possible to protect the Sikh community without the aid of arms.[97] He built Akal Takhat the Throne of the Immortal and it is the highest political institution of the Sikhs and he also wore two swords of Miri and Piri.[98]

Guru Tegh Bahadur (ninth Guru) was tortured and beheaded by Aurangzeb at Chandni Chowk in Delhi,[99] fellow devotees Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Sati Das and Bhai Dayala were also tortured and executed, while Guru Tegh Bahadur was forced to watch.[100][101] Tenth Guru Guru Gobind Singh formed Khalsa known as Army of Akal Purakh (Immortal) and Gave 5 Ks to Khalsa. Two of the younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh aged 9 and 7 were bricked up alive by the governor Wazir Khan in Sirhind (Punjab). When Guru Gobind Singh was in South India, he sent Banda Singh Bahadur to chastise the repressive Mughal faiy`dar of Sirhind. Banda Singh captured Sirhind and laid the foundation of Sikh empire.[102] According to a popular myth, the Nawab of Malerkotla Sher Mohammad Khan, protested against the execution of Sahibzadas, after which Guru Gobind Singh blessed the state. This is considered as a reason by many historians due to which Malerkotla was the only city not harmed by Banda Singh Bahadur during his military campaign.[103][104]

The Muslims under Ranjit Singh of the Sikh Empire were mostly treated favorably and comprised the majority of the population of the empire. Ranjit Singh declared during his coronation that Muslims would be governed under Islamic law and appointed many of them in important official positions. The Muslim religious leadership and mosques continuously received state support under Sikh rule.[105][106] This was in contrast with the Muslims of Kashmir valley where Sikh rule was generally oppressive,[107] protected perhaps by the remoteness of Kashmir from the capital of the Sikh Empire in Lahore.[108] The region had passed from the control of the Durrani Empire of Afghanistan, and four centuries of Muslim rule under the Mughals and the Afghans, to the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh in 1819.[109] As the Kashmiris had suffered under the Afghans, they initially welcomed the new Sikh rulers,[110] however this perception later changed.[107] The Sikh rulers of Kashmir enacted a number of anti-Muslim laws,[108] which included handing out death sentences for cow slaughter,[110] closing down the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar, and banning the azaan, the public Muslim call to prayer.[108] Several European visitors who visited Kashmir during Sikh rule wrote of the abject poverty of the vast Muslim peasantry and of the exorbitant taxes under the Sikh rulers. High taxes, according to some contemporary accounts, had depopulated large tracts of the countryside.[110] However, after a famine in 1832, the Sikhs reduced the land tax.[108]

Recent relations

During the partition of India in 1947, there was much bloodshed between Sikhs and Muslims, there was mass migration of people from all walks of life to leave their homes and belongings and travel by foot across the new border, on trains and on land people were killed in what was felt to be revenge attacks.[111] Millions of Sikhs left Pakistan and moved into India, while millions of Muslims left India and moved into Pakistan.[111] Malerkotla was however not affected and was viewed as a safe haven for Muslims during the partition. The popular myth associated with it is that the town was not impacted because of Guru Gobind Singh blessing it after its Nawab protested against the execution of the Guru's sons.[104]

Since 9/11 Muslims and Sikhs in America have endured hate crimes, denial of employment, bullying in schools and profiling in airports.[112]

In the UK, there have some instances of tension between Sikhs and Muslims on allegations that some Sikhs have been forced to convert to Islam.[113][114]

In 2009, the Taliban in Pakistan demanded that Sikhs in the region pay them the jizya (poll tax levied by Muslims on non-Muslim minorities).[115]

In 2010 the Taliban, a terrorist group, attacked many minorities including Sikhs resulting in two beheadings.[116]

In April 2016, two Muslim teens bombed a gurdwara in the German city of Essen. The two teen converted fire extinguishers into an explosive device. The devices detonated after a wedding party had left for the reception. A gurdwara priest was injured seriously, while two others were treated for minor injuries. The gurdwara building was damaged severely. One of the teens was in deradicalization program. The two denied it was religiously motivated saying “just for the kick of building fireworks!” However, before setting off the blast, the two 16-year-olds tried to break into the Sikh place of worship, North Rhine Westphalia (NRW).[117]

Sufi Muslims and Sikhs

In South Asia alone there are over 200 million Muslims who are followers of Sufi traditions, the most notable being the Barelvi movement.[118] The Sikh Gurus had cordial relations with many Muslim Sufi Saints, and in the Sikh Holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, many Sufi and other Muslim scholars’ quotes and wisdom are featured..[13]

In December 1588, a Sufi saint of Lahore, Mian Mir, visited Guru Arjan Dev at the initiation ceremony before the construction of the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple).[119]

Ahmadiyya Muslims and Sikhs

Ahmadiyya, a minority reform sect that arose within Islam, believe that a certain form of prophethood within Islam continues after Muhammad and consider themselves to be Muslims.[120] They are, however, not recognized as Muslims by mainstream Sunni and Shia Islam, and are treated as blasphemous and persecuted.[120][121] Since the 18th century, Sufis and ancestors of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad – the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement – had cordial relations with Sikhs, and they fought with Sikhs to resist the persecution by Sunni-based Mughal rule in northwest region of South Asia.[122] However, as Ranjit Singh established the Sikh Empire, there were conflicts between the Sikhs and the Jagir of Ahmad's father.[122]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b According to Islamic scholars Ibrahim Lethome Asmani and Maryam Sheikh Abdi, "Examination of all the texts on Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) shows that scholars have no consensus on FGM/C. For example the four schools of thought express the following views: The Hanafi view is that it is a sunnah (optional act) for both females and males; Maliki hold the view that it is wajib (obligatory) for males and sunnah (optional) for females; Shafi’i view it as wajib (obligatory) for both females and males; Hanbali have two opinions: it is wajib (obligatory) for both males and females, and it is wajib (obligatory) for males and makrumah (honourable) for females.[74]
  2. ^ According to 2016 estimates of UNICEF, at least 200 million girls and women alive today worldwide have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting.[75] The 2013 report by the UNICEF states, "in many countries, FGM/C prevalence is highest among Muslim girls and women. The practice, however, is also found among Catholic and other Christian communities."[76]

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    • D. Cohen-Mor (2001), p.4: "The idea of predestination is reinforced by the frequent mention of events 'being written' or 'being in a book' before they happen: 'Say: "Nothing will happen to us except what Allah has decreed for us…" ' "
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Further reading

External links