Haram Month 2017 #2 – Sikhism and Islam

For some reason, there is tendency among some people to confused Muslims for Sikhs. In fact there was one incident around the time of the Manchester attack when Cosmpolitan saw a Sikh man offering free taxi rides to people in Manchester who may have been in need or danger and falsely identified him as a Muslim man, presumably in an opportunistic attempt to point Muslims in a positive or humanitarian light. So I think it’s worth having a look at Sikhism, and the relationship between Sikhism and Islam.

Sikhism is an Indian religion which believes in one God, a formless and genderless God at that, which they believe to be found in all things and all beings and cannot be incarnated in a concrete form. Many Sikhs profess their religion to about honesty, charity, sharing with others, getting close to God and controlling the “weakness” of the human personality through meditating on God, and the premise that all humans are equal before God. Like Hindus, Sikhs believe in reincarnation and karma, but unlike Hindus they reject the implementation of the caste system and the premise of needing to lead a particularly monastic or ascetic lifestyle in order to attain closeness to God, instead believing that meditation and good works within worldly life can achieve that closeness, and there is no dietary restriction involving meat. The religion seems to have been founded in the 15th century by a man named Guru Nanak, who expounded what would come to be known as the teachings of Sikhism during his lifetime. According to Sikh lore, he was the first of ten Gurus who contributed to the development of Sikh teachings. Although the Gurus are seen as important to their teachings, they are not seen as godlike, and since Sikhism rejects idolatry believers insist that the Gurus should not be worshiped in the same way that God is worshiped.

Muslims, naturally, consider Sikhism to be a false doctrine, and sometimes they perceive Sikhs as having a hatred of Islam. Relations between Sikhs and Muslims have not always been peaceful, not least because of the obvious doctrinal differences between Sikhism and Islam. Sikhs don’t worship the human proponents of their religion, where Islam worships Muhammad along Allah as his prophet. Islam has an entire legal and political code built around the teachings of Sharia, where Sikhism does not.  Not to mention, there has been some historical violent conflict between Muslims and Sikhs. During the partition of what was formerly British India, Sikhs and Muslims attacked and killed one another in Punjab, which some believe may have been instigated by Muslims.

In Britain, Sikhs are often seen as a model of integration of foreign cultures into British society. British Sikhs fought alongside their countrymen in the British Army in defense of their country, and have generally been respected by their fellow Brits ever since, though some feel they are overlooked in the political discussion of the merits of multiculturalism vs assimilation. At any rate, Sikhs certainly don’t seem to have much of the problems associated with the Islamic community. It’s a shame that people get the two confused.