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In Islam, Muhammad is the last and final prophet of God. Islam views Jews, Christians and Muslims as "People of the Book" as all three major faiths are part of the Abrahamic religions. Muslims also believe Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus were prophets. However, Muslims do not consider any Sikh guru as a prophet since they came after Muhammad, the last Prophet.

Sikhism is part of the Dharmic religions, the others being Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

Many Islamic dynasties ruled parts of the Indian subcontinent starting from the 12th century. The prominent ones include the Delhi Sultanate (1206–1526) and the Mughal Empire (1526–1857), with which the Sikh gurus frequently came into direct confrontation, however these empires helped in the spread of Islam in South Asia, but by the mid-18th century, the British Empire had ended the Mughal dynasty.[1]

Sikhism arose in a climate that was heavily influenced by Bhaktism and Sufism. Guru Nanak Dev was its founder. The Guru Granth Sahib contains the teachings and beliefs of eleven Hindu saints, four Sufi saints and later on followed by the subsequent additions from seven of the Sikh Gurus. Because of this diversity many people mistake Sikhism as being a branch of Hinduism or Islam, but it is its own separate religion.

The Gurus and their Muslim contemporaries

Guru Nanak's preachings were directed with equal force to all humans regardless of their religion.[2] As such he freely borrowed religious terminology from the lexicons of two faiths, sometimes redefining them.[3]

He also said, "if you make good works the creed you repeat, you shall be a Muslim," and "act according to the Qur'an and your sacred books."[4] Guru Nanak defines the transformation of man, after which he is established in permanent union with God.As part of his preaching against communalism summarized by the famous phrase, "There is no Hindu and no Muslim," Guru Nanak defined a Muslim as follows:

It is difficult to be called a Muslim; if one is truly a Muslim, then he may be called one.
First, let him savor the religion of the Prophet as sweet; then, let his pride of his possessions be scraped away.
Becoming a true Muslim, a disciple of the faith of Mohammed, let him put aside the delusion of death and life.
As he submits to God’s Will, and surrenders to the Creator, he is rid of selfishness and conceit.
And when, O Nanak, he is merciful to all beings, only then shall he be called a Muslim.
Allah is hidden in every heart; reflect upon this in your mind. The One Lord is within both Hindu and Muslim; Kabir proclaims this out loud.
Be kind and compassionate to me, O Creator Lord. Bless me with devotion and meditation, O Lord Creator. Says Nanak, the Guru has rid me of doubt.
The Muslim God Allah and the Hindu God Paarbrahm are one and the same.

To be Muslim is to be kind-hearted, and wash away pollution from within the heart. He does not even approach worldly pleasures; he is pure, like flowers, silk, ghee and the deer-skin.
One who is blessed with the mercy and compassion of the Merciful Lord, is the manliest man among men. He alone is a Shaykh, a preacher, a Haji, and he alone is God’s slave, who is blessed with God’s Grace.
The Creator Lord has Creative Power; the Merciful Lord has Mercy. The Praises and the Love of the Merciful Lord are unfathomable.
Realize the True Hukam, the Command of the Lord, O Nanak; you shall be released from bondage, and carried across.

I am not a Hindu, nor am I a Muslim. My body and breath of life belong to Allah — to Raam — the God of both.
Says Kabir, this is what I say: meeting with the Guru, my Spiritual Teacher, I realize God, my Lord and Master.

Sri Guru Granth Sahib

According to Sikh tradition, while in Baghdad as part of his journey to Mecca and Medina, Guru Nanak had extensive dialogue with Muslim scholars there.[5] In one discourse with a pir.

At Mecca, Guru Nanak was found sleeping with his feet towards the Kaaba[6] Kazi Rukan-ud-din, who observed this, angrily objected. Nanak replied with a request to turn his feet in a direction in which God or the House of God is not." The Qadi took hold of the Guru's feet. Then he lifted his eyes seeing the Kaaba standing in the direction of the Guru's feet,[6] wherever he turned them[dubious ]

Guru Nanak was pointing out that if he moves his feet elsewhere God is still in that direction as God is Omnipresent i.e. not confined by space (or time).

Many Muslim historians[where?] argue that Guru Nanak was a perennialist Muslim[dubious ] and was seeking to show the unity of origin of the major religions. Their contention is that Guru Nanak remained a Sufi Muslim until he died, and only after his death some of his followers created a new and institutionalized religion now known as Sikhism.[dubious ] There in doesn't appear to be any overt suggestion from Guru Nanak life and early writings where he is claiming to be a new prophet or indeed commanding people to follow him as religious figure after Mohammed.

The Muslim rulers of the Lodhi dynasty and the first Mughals were too concerned with consolidating their respective rules, and Akbar's liberalism led him to establish cordial relations with India's religions.[4] The influence of Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi and the Sufi Naqshbandi order on Jahangir led to the subsequent execution of Guru Arjan Dev in 1606.[4]

The Sikh rebellion against Mughal rule

Early in Aurangzeb's reign, various insurgent groups of Sikhs engaged Mughal troops in increasingly bloody battles. In 1670, the ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur encamped in Delhi, receiving large numbers of followers, was said to have attracted the wrath of Emperor Aurangzeb.[7]

The execution of Guru Tegh Bahadur infuriated the Sikhs. In response, his son and successor, the tenth Guru of Sikhism Guru Gobind Singh further militarized his followers.

In a temporary alliance, both groups attacked Gobind Singh and his followers. The united Mughal-Rajput Imperial alliance laid siege to the fort at Anandpur Sahib. In an attempt to dislodge the Sikhs, Aurangzeb vowed that the Guru and his Sikhs would be allowed to leave Anandpur safely. Aurangzeb is said to have validated this promise in writing. However Aurangzeb deliberately failed to keep his promise and when the remaining few Sikhs were leaving the fort under the cover of darkness, the Mughals were alerted and enagaged them in battle once again; where two of the younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh [Zoravar Singh and Fateh Singh] of 9 and 7 yrs respectively were bricked up alive within a wall by Wazir Khan in Sirhand (Punjab). The other two elder sons [ Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh] as well as many other Singhs fought with giant Mughal force achieving martyrdom and proved words of tenth guru "Sava Lakh se Ek Laraun Tabhe Gibind Singh Naam Kahaun" [That each brave Khalsa must fight with more than a million oppressor]. The events of which Guru Gobind Singh wrote a letter to Aurangzeb, called a [Zafarnamah :- epistle of Victory]. The Emperor died shortly after on March 3, 1707. Eventually the Guru was attacked and wounded by two of Aurangzeb's soldiers, Jamshed Khan and Wazir Khan who was the Mughal Governor of the Punjab at Sirhind before. The Guru would later die because his wound's stitches had reopened.[8]

United Punjab

Maharaja Ranjit Singh's empire was secular; a strong empire consisting of Sikhs & Muslims. During Ranjit Singh's time Punjab saw peaceful times amongst Punjabis, with unity & love as well as the strength to withstand foreign invaders. The majority of Maharaja Ranjit Singh's subjects were Muslim including his Foreign Minister Fakir Azizuddin. When Fakir Azizuddin met the British Governor-General of India, Lord Auckland, in Simla, Lord Auckland asked Fakir Azizuddin which of the Maharaja's eyes was missing, Azizuddin replied: "The Maharaja is like the sun and sun has only one eye. The splendor and luminosity of his single eye is so much that I have never dared to look at his other eye." The Governor General was so pleased with this reply that he gave his gold watch to Azizuddin. Maharaja Ranjit Singh had many Muslim Generals & soldiers in his empire; of these some notable Generals are listed as the following: Ch. Khuda Buksh Chattha, Ch. Nawab Khan Chattha, & Ghaus Mohammed Khan. Within Maharaja Ranjit Singh's "Fauj-i-ain" units many Muslims & Sikhs fought united in several different units, 19 of these consisting of Muslims & Sikhs together & 2 of these units primarily Muslim.[9]

Differences between Islam and Sikhism

Sikhs are prohibited from eating halal (and kosher) food or any other ritually slaughtered meat/fish.[10] Most Sikhs eat various non-halal meat, although Sikhs only serve vegetarian food in Sikh temples. Sikhs do not believe in pilgrimages; Muslims, in contrast, consider Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) a crucial part of the faith. Male Sikhs do not circumcise unlike Muslim males.

The Five Pillars of Islam (Arabic: أركان الإسلام‎) is the term given to the five duties incumbent on every Muslim. These duties are Shahada (Profession of Faith), 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.[11]

The Five Symbols of the Khalsa or Five Kakkars are Kirpan, Kanga, Kesh, Kara and Kaccha, meaning the wearing of a short sword, the wearing of a comb, uncut hair, the wearing of a symbolic bangle and characteristic shorts or underpants respectively.[12]

In Islam and Abrahamic faiths, when a Muslim dies, he or she is buried, whereas when a Sikh dies, then cremation is the funeral act which is carried out, as is also done in the other main dharmic faiths.

Islamic predestination

In accordance with the Islamic belief in predestination, or divine preordainment (al-qadā wa l-qadar), God has full knowledge and control over all that occurs. This is explained in Qur'anic verses such as "Say: 'Nothing will happen to us except what God has decreed for us: He is our protector'…"[13] For Muslims, everything in the world that occurs, good or evil, has been preordained and nothing can happen unless permitted by God. In Islamic theology, divine preordainment does not suggest an absence of God's indignation against evil, because any evils that do occur are thought to result in future benefits men may not be able to see. According to Muslim theologians, although events are pre-ordained, man possesses free will in that he has the faculty to choose between right and wrong, and is thus responsible for his actions. According to Islamic tradition, all that has been decreed by God is written in al-Lawh al-Mahfūz, the "Preserved Tablet".[14]

Islamic predestination concerns in reality less the life after the current life but the regulation of cases within the current life, like for instance the life of a warrior in Jihad or struggle in the way of God, which renders him a place in Paradise. Concerning eternal life, it is positively acquired through the absolute declaration of faith in Allah and Muhammed. The key concepts mentioned in the Qu'ran are Jabar (determination) and qadar (predestination).

The Shia understanding of predestination is called "divine justice" (adalah). This doctrine, developed in Sunnism as well by the Mu'tazili, stresses the importance of man's responsibility for his own actions. In contrast, the Sunni de-emphasizes the role of individual free will in the context of God's creation and foreknowledge of all things.[15]

Sufism as a whole is primarily concerned with a direct personal experience and is considered one of the mystical dimensions of Islam,[16][17][18] and as such may be compared to various forms of mysticism such as Bhakti form of Hinduism, Hesychasm form of Greek Orthodox, Zen form of Buddhism, Kabbalah from Judaism and Gnosticism from Christian mysticism.

There are also other major differences in Islam and Sikhism. The Qur'an as in the Bible describes God as merciful and beneficent, though frequently angry.[19][20] In the Adi Granth, this is not an attribute of God, who is beyond human emotion and understanding.[4]

The concept of a Last Judgment[21] is found in all of the Abrahamic religions whereas the Sikh Gurus taught reincarnation and karma, which are also Hindu beliefs,[22] and Muhammad preached of a Qiyamah.[23] Muslims, as do Christians, accept from their scriptures, the concepts of Heaven or Jannah and Hell or Jahannam,[24] whereas in the Dharmic faiths one reaps the fruit of his/own own Karma to attain Nirvana.[25][26][27] Sikhs are instructed to transcend and merge one's soul directly with God. The Sikh has to rise above ego in order to escape repetitive reincarnation[4] and attain permanent union with the creative immanence of God.[28] Having done so, the soul retains its identity; man and God are never ontologically identical.[29]

Sufi saints in holy Guru Granth Sahib Ji

Sufi saint: Hazrat Mian Mir construction of Golden Temple

In December 1588, the Sufi saint of Lahore, Mian Mir,[31][33] who was a close friend of Guru Arjan Dev, initiated the construction of the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) by laying the first foundation stone.[34]

Bhai Mardana Ji: Muslim follower of Guru Nanak

Bhai Mardana Ji (1459-1534) was a Muslim[35] and one of the first followers alongside Bhai Bala,[36][37] who travelled with Nanak in his early journeys across India and Asia. On his later journeys, Nanak was accompanied by Saido and Greho, and Mardana remained with his family.[31] Mardana was born a Muslim[35] to a Mirasi couple, Badra and Lakkho, of Rai Bhoi di Talwandi (modern Nankana Sahib, capital of Nankana Sahib District of Pakistan).

Shah Bhikhan

Pir Bhikhan Shah, a 17th-century Sufi saint, was born the son of Sayyid Muhammad Yusaf of Siana Sayyidari, a village 5 km (3.1 mi) from Pehowa (in modern Kurukshetra district of Haryana). For a time, he lived at Ghuram in present-day Patiala district of the Punjab and finally settled at Thaska, again in Kurukshetra district. He was the disciple of Abu l-Muali Shah, a Sufi divine residing at Ambhita, near Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh, and soon became a saint of much repute and piety in his own right.

According to a tradition preserved in Bhai Santokh Singh, Sri Gur Pratap Suraj Granth, Pir Bhikhan Shah, as he learnt through intuition of the birth of Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708) at Patna, made obeisance that day to the east instead of to the west. At this, his disciples demurred, for no Muslim should make such respectful gestures except towards the Kaaba in Mecca.

The pir explained that in a city in the east, God had revealed Himself through a newborn baby, to whom he had bowed and to no ordinary mortal. Bhikhan Shah with his disciples then traveled all the way to Patna to have a glimpse of the infant Gobind Rai, barely three months old. Desiring to know what would be his attitude to the two major religious peoples of India, he placed two small pots in front of the child, one representing in his own mind Hindus and the other Muslims. As the child covered both the pots simultaneously with his tiny hands, Bhikhan Shah felt happy concluding that the new seer would treat both Hindus and Muslims alike and show equal respect to both.

Sikh chronicles[38] record another meeting between Guru Gobind Singh and Pir Bhikhan Shah, which took place in 1672 when the latter went to see him at Lakhnaur, near Ambala, where he was halting for some time on his way from Patna to Kiratpur [38].

Relations between Sikhs and Muslims

During the partition of India in 1947, there was much bloodshed between Sikhs, Hindus 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.

Today in the Indian subcontinent, relations between Indians and Pakistanis are very positive since relations between India and Pakistan have improved overall in the last 10 years, both countries have experienced increased levels of tourism by Pakistani Muslims wishing to visit Indian Islamic shrines or sport events in India, or Sikhs wishing to visit the few historical temples in neighboring Punjab in Pakistan.[39][40]

There are, however, tensions that remain in UK between Sikhs and Muslims regarding some allegations that some Sikhs have been forced to convert to Islam.[41][42]

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.[1]

See also

Islam specific:


  1. Lapidus, Ira Marvin (2002), A history of Islamic societies (2 ed.), New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 358, 378–380, 624, ISBN 0521779332 
  2. N.D. Ahuja, The Great Guru Nanak and the Muslims. Kirti Publishing House, Chandigarh, page 144.
  3. N.D. Ahuja, page 147.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 N.D. Ahuja
  6. 6.0 6.1 Guru Nanak: A Global Vision - Dr Inderpal Singh and Madan jit Kaur
  7. The Ninth Master Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621-1675)
  10. In pictures: Sikhs in Britain
  11. See:
    • Mumen (1987), p.178
    "Pillars of Islam". Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. 
  12. < 5K's of the Sikhs
  13. See:
    • Qur'an 9:51
    • 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…" ' "
    • Ahmet T. Karamustafa. "Fate". Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an Online. : The verb qadara literally means "to measure, to determine". Here it is used to mean that "God measures and orders his creation".
  14. See:
    • Farah (2003), pp.119–122
    • Patton (1900), p.130
  15. Momen (1987), pp.177,178
  16. Dr. Alan Godlas, University of Georgia, Sufism's Many Paths, 2000, University of Georgia
  17. Nuh Ha Mim Keller, How would you respond to the claim that Sufism is Bid'a?, 1995.
  18. Dr. Zubair Fattani, The meaning of Tasawwuf, Islamic Academy.
  19. Michael Cook, Muhammad. In Founders of Faith, Oxford University Press, 1986, page 314.
  20. Surinder Singh Kohli, "Guru Granth Sahib, an analytical study." Singh Brothers, 1992, page 279.
  21. The Last Judgement
  22. Sri Granth: Search Results
  23. Ahuja, page 148.
  24. Heaven and Hell in the Qur'an and Gospel
  25. A Dictionary of Islam: By Thomas Patrick Hughes ISBN 8120606728, 9788120606722 Page 591
  26. Death and Religion in a Changing World by Kathleen Garces-Foley. Page 188. ISBN 0765612216.
  27. Surinder Singh Kohli, Sikhism and Major World Religions, Singh Brothers, Amritsar, 1995, page 96.
  28. Daljeet Singh, Sikhism: A Comparative Study of its Theology and Mysticism. Singh Brothers, Amritsar, 1998, page 224.
  29. Daljeet Singh, page 227.
  30. Bhagat Beni Ji
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 31.3 31.4 31.5 Harban Singh; Punjabi University (1998). Encyclopedia of Sikhism. Punjabi University. ISBN 817380530X. 
  32. A Gateway to Sikhism | Sikh Bhagats : Baba Sheikh Farid Ji - A Gateway to Sikhism
  33. A Gateway to Sikhism | The Sikh Saints:Mian Mir - A Gateway to Sikhism
  34. Harmandir Sahib Amritsar, Swarn Mandir India, Golden Temple India, Swarna Mandir Amritsar, Swarn Mandir In Punjab
  35. 35.0 35.1 Pak delegation arrives to celebrate Bhai Mardana's 550 birth anniversary
  36. Sikh Personalities
  37. A Gateway to Sikhism | Early Gursikhs: Bhai Mardana ji - A Gateway to Sikhism
  38. 38.0 38.1
  39. India to ease visa rules for Pakistanis
  40. On the scene: Musharraf tribute at Gandhi shrine
  41. "Forced" Conversions: An Investigation
  42. Protest march over 'conversions'

Further reading

  • The Holy Qu'ran
  • Talib, Gurbachan (1950). Muslim League Attack on Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab 1947. India: Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee. Online 1 Online 2

External links