National

Sikh-Muslim relations over centuries

Nanak Singh Nishter

 

I started working for developing interfaith relations among all religions a long time ago. However later I began focusing on speaking and writing on Sikh-Muslim Relations.  People, irrespective of their religion used to ask me why I had chosen to work specifically on this theme. I replied that this was a severely distorted subject and the root cause of dividing and creating animosity among the most alike monotheist communities.  It is a known fact that the word Allah has come in the holy Qur’an 114 times and in Shri Guru Granth Sahib it has come 37 times.  There is no third scripture which refers to the name of Allah.  The significance of my theme is being recognised all over the world, by the Grace of Allah. 

From December 30, 2011 through January 1, 2012, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad, organised an international seminar on Islamic culture and art where.  I presented my paper, “Similarities between Sikhs and Muslims”.  It was well-received and appreciated.  It was also published in their souvenir.

The Dyal Singh Research and Cultural Forum has graciously published on the cover of their esteemed quarterly magazine Punjab Dey Rang of April-June 2015 issue, a picture of Janab Rana Sana Ullah, law minister of Pakistan Punjab, showing a tokra (basket) carrying building material on his head inaugurating and participating in the kar seva of Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore, which also speaks of and spreads this message.   

The 3rd Guru Shri Guru Amardasji had described Lahore as a pool of ambrosial nectar, full of virtues, in contradiction to the then general conception of it being the city of killings and torture.  On page 1412 of Shri Guru Granth Sahib it says: “Lahore shaher, Amrit sar, shifti da ghar.”

Since centuries a proverb is also prevalent, “Jina Lahore nahin vekhiya voh janmia hi nahin”, means one who has not seen Lahore, he is not yet born.” This shows the magnificence and splendor of Lahore city.

 

About Islam: After the Lodhis, the Mughal period and Guru period started and existed for 239 years between 1469 and 1708 concurrently.  During this long period, due to the monotheist beliefs and extensive commonalities between Islam and Sikhism, there were great friendly relations between the followers of the two faiths. But sometimes there were also unwarranted conflicts considering the Sikh movement as a threat to the Mughal authority. Similar conflict with idol worshipers who considered Sikh monotheism a great challenge to their beliefs and rituals.  

Islam entered the Indian subcontinent in the 7th century AD through sea with Arab traders at the Malabar coast in southern India, presently Kerala.  They married local women and an Indo-Arabian culture, breed and race developed there. And the first mosque was built in 628 AD at Kodungallur.  Its shape and style reflect the look of a Hindu temple.  Till today, since centuries Hindus and Muslims of this area live together and respect the faith of each other, no differences or clashes of faith, culture or language ever surfaced there.

Later, the other entrance of Islam was through west by invaders, who exploited the land as conquerors and humiliated the vanquished Hindus.  Thus Islam and Hinduism became incompatible, opposite and inimical to meet their political ends. 

Some biased historians have played havoc creating hatred among Hindus and Muslims by falsely depicting stories of atrocities of Muslim rulers allegedly to spread Islam, while the rulers objective was to retain and expand their kingdoms.  History is full of fight of kings with their own fathers, sons, brothers and even their religious heads.  Islam was never a part of their lives.

Islam was spread in the Indian subcontinent by peace-loving, friendly and well-meaning messages of the sufis, not through forcible conversions by rulers. That is the reason non-Muslim visitors heavily outnumber the Muslims at sufi dargahs. 

The text of Shri Guru Granth Sahib which was compiled in 1604, is the living testimony of this fact.  This multi-religious and multilingual spiritual and temporal digest contains the teachings of 36 contributors who lived, preached and practised spiritualism over five centuries, from 1175 to 1671. Among them there are seven Muslims and two untouchables. Their presence here is not by any compulsion of rulers. Their profound worship of One Almighty God, preaching oneness of humankind and loving messages found their place in this holy scripture. 

 

About Sikhism: Without doubt, it can be said that Sikhism is the essential product to pacify the conflict between the two major religions of Islam and Hinduism.  To bridge the gap between these two communities, Bhakti movement also carried the same message, but it was confined during the life of the individual saints. Afterwards, no follow-up was organised to carry forward their mission.  But in case of Sikhism, ten Gurus consolidated this mission during their life span of 239 years.  To continue eternally their mission through the scripture, Shri Guru Granth Sahib, was bestowed on it Guruship in 1708 by the 10th Guru Shri Guru Gobind Singhji.  Hence the Sikhs have their Guru present forever to guide them with the message.       

The founder of Sikhism Shri Guru Nanak Sahib (1469-1539) was born to Hindu-Khatri parents.  But when he was eleven years of age, he refused to wear janevoo (sacred thread) across this chest. The thred is a distinguishing mark of the Hindu male members of high caste.  He discarded every sort of discrimination among human beings. He started a movement for oneness of mankind, gender and social equality in society.  His movement was against exploitation at the hands of both the priestly class and rulers.  He declared on page 353 of Shri Guru Granth Sahib, his religion as the Name of True God and the rituals and customs were replaced by truthful living: “Hamri, jath-path,   sachch Navoo. Karam, dharam, sanjam, sath, bhavo”.

In Shri Guru Granth Sahib, there is a strong contempt for those Muslims, who do not offer Namaz from Hazarat Baba Sheikh Faridji.  No scripture conveys such an admonition with the same intensity.  

 Inscribed on page 1381, Hazrat Baba Sheikh Faridji says, “O Benimazi (prayer-less) dog, this is not a proper way of life.  You never come for prayers to the mosque for five times.  Get up, O’ Farid, perform Vazu (wash your face, hands and feet) and offer the Namaz in the morning.  The head, which does not bow to the Saayeen (Allah), cut it off and remove that head. The head, which does not bow before the Saayeen, what is the use of such a head?  Burn it under the earthen pot in place of firewood.”

Another peculiarity of Shri Guru Granth Sahib is its monotheistic message.  Shri Guru Granth Sahib not only starts with the unique name of God as the numerical “1” (one), but also continues with a one-line description of the concept in its preamble.  “Ik Onkar sat naam karta purakh nirbhav nirvair akaal moorat ajoni saibhang Gur prasad”.  (God is alone.  He is all-pervading.  His name is true.  He is the doer of all Deeds.  He is Fearless.  He does not have Enmity.  He is Eternal.  He has not taken birth.  He is Self-Existent.  With the Grace of such God (Gurprasad) I am beginning this text).. This is recorded in abbreviated forms also and the smallest form is “Ik onkar satgur prasad”.  This is written 525 times before the beginning of Chapters and Ragas.   I will try to confine my discourse and explore the reasons for martyrdom of two Guru Sahiban and battles by the two rulers who happened to be Muslim and its subsequent consequences. 

 

Martyrdom of Shri Guru Arjan Sahib (1563-1606): He compiled Shri Aad Granth Sahib in 1604, which was conferred Gurship by the 10th Guru Shri Guru Gobind Singhji in 1708.  For keeping this scripture, he built a structure and named it Hari mandir.  mandir is a structure and Hari is a qualitative name of God which means, who is har jaga (everywhere), har waqat (all time) and abiding in har ek mein (in every one).  He invited Hazrat Baba Sain Mir Mohammed Sahib (1550-1635), popularly known as  Hazrat Miyan Mir, to lay down its foundation stone.  This is also the foundation stone of Sikh-Muslim relations. 

This is the period when Emperor Jehangir captured the throne, and killed his fleeing son Khusro whom Akbar the Great wanted to appoint his successor. To divert attention from his misuse of power and to gain support of Muslim fundamentalists and courtiers, he targeted Guru Sahib.  The other reason was also that most of the Hindus who embraced Islam for various reasons were paving it and turning towards Sikhism to take shelter under it as it also holds the same values and is an indigenous alternative in their own spoken language and culture.  This was mentioned in his autobiography Tuzk-e-Jehangiri.(1)

Shri Guru Arjan Sahib was tortured for six days till he attained martyrdom in Lahore. However, it does not relate to Islam in any manner. Beyond all reasonable doubt it was for gaining support and cover up Jehangir’s failures.

 

Shri Guru Hargobindji (1595-1644): Due to intervention of Hazrat Mian Mir, other well-wishers and mainly the reports of his own intelligence, Emperor Jehangir reconciled and revived relations with Guru Sahib following the footsteps of his predecessor emperors. 

By deceit, the Emperor Jehangir housed Guru Sahib for about two years between 1611 and 1613 in Gwaliar Fort, Madhya Pradesh. The Sikhs under the leadership of Baba Buddhaji and Bhai Gurdasji, used to take processions performing kirtan (reciting of hymns) coming from Punjab, circumambulating the fort, taking a round and going back.  This was how they were paying obeisance to their Guru and protesting against the attitude of the ruler.  Day by day the number of people joining the procession was growing and it started looking like a rebel movement developing among the people of Punjab.  (This protest was immitated during the national freedom movement) This might have compelled the emperor to order the release of Guru Sahib.  But Guru Sahib refused to leave the fort unless the 52 princes who had long languished in confinement at the fort were released as well. 

Emperor Jehangir paid respect to Guru Sahib by graciously accepting his advice to release the 52 political prisoners, who were imprisoned for life. We cannot find any such other example in the history of the world that political prisoners who had no chance of freedom were released en masse on suggestion of a person who had no link with them.

We cannot find any such other example in the history of the world that for setting free one person 52 other persons were also set free.  Since then Guru Sahib became famous as “Bandi Chhod”, that is liberator of prisoners. Guru Sahib and Emperor Jehangir were now having cordial relations. They used to go jointly on hunting expeditions. Once queen Noor Jahan also paid obeisance to Guru Sahib when they were camping in Kashmir.  

 

Mosque - Gurdwara - Mosque: In the year 1634 Guru Sahib built a mosque for Muslims in the village Hargobind Pur of Gurdas Pur district of Punjab, which was famous as “Guru ki Maseet”.  In the year 1947 during the Partition, all Muslims of the village migrated and the mosque was abandoned. Sikhs converted this deserted mosque into a gurdwara and named it as “Gurdwara Guru ki Maseet” retaining the name of the mosque.  In the year 2003, some Muslim families came for settlement in the village.  Seeing this, the Sikhs voluntarily vacated the gurdwara and handed it over to the Muslims.  Now it is standing with great pomp and show as “Guru ki Maseet” again, telling a unique Sikh-Muslim friendship story.

 

Shah Jehan:  After this during the period of Shah Jehan from1628 to 1658, in the years 1628, 1630, 1631 and 1634, the governors of Punjab fought four battles with Shri Guru Hargobind Sahib, and lost.  These battles were not joined by the Mughal emperor.            

“The Mughal Empire’s relations with the Sikhs were full of ups and downs.  Initially, the Delhi throne gave patronage to the Sikhs, but the relations deteriorated during the regime of Jehangir.  And the Mughal governors continued their atrocities on the Sikhs for about one century(2) .”

Basically, confrontations among the Sikhs and Mughal Empire were created by people with vested interests, family rebels, and mainly by the Hindu hill rajas.  On the other hand, Mughal emperors Babar, Humayun and Akbar met the Sikh Gurus and were their admirers. It is evident from the fact that when Jehangir met Guru Hargobind Sahibji. He smelt foul and immediately ordered his own intelligence to know the facts and became friendly on knowing the facts. Aurangzeb also, after receiving a letter popularly known as Zafar Nama from Shri Guru Gobind Singhji came to know about the excesses committed against Sikhs and expressed his desire to meet Guru Sahib.

 

Shri Guru Tegh Bahadarji (1621-1675): Emulating his grandfather Jehangir Aurangzeb more viciously captured the throne.  Naturally, he had to do everything more severely. During the period of Aurangzeb, Guru Tegh Bahdar was put to death and Guru Gobind Singh confronted his ideology, which was on one hand oppressing the weak and on the other destroying freedom of faith? In spite of the confrontation in which swords were wielded there was no animosity among the people.  This was solely between a Mughal emperor and his subjects.  It is absolutely wrong to attribute it to Islam and Sikhism.

The real reason behind the sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadar was the general condition of the people which affected their spiritual and day-to-day living. The atmosphere was full of fear and terror. Hence it was but natural that a person who lived for God and died for God felt suffocated and resisted the atrocities.

The reason for the great sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadar could not be to protect the rituals which Guru Nanak and his successors negated at every step. Hence the reason could be only one, to end atrocities and ensure justice, for an honourable, peaceful and respectable atmosphere for everyone. The conflict between Aurangzeb and Guru Tegh Bahadar was a fight between the oppresser and the oppressed.  It is quite strange that their belonging to different religion was given undue importance.  In the history of the world there are several incidences which speak the fact that, even among the follower of the same religion there were confrontations between the oppressors and the oppressed.

“The sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadar was for upholding human values, not for the preference of one religion over the other. It was his firm conviction that truth is undivided.  The path to the truth can be different, but the destination to the truth can never be changed.(3) “    

“While going towards Delhi to sacrifice his life, Guru Sahib stayed with his Muslim followers. In Saifabad (Bahadur Gadh) he stayed with Saif Uddin.  In village Salmana, he stayed at the residence of a Pathan, Mohammad Bakhash. In Agra he stayed with a poor man named Taleh Zar.  Guru Sahib asked him, “Anyhow I am going to Delhi to sacrifice my life.  You better inform the officials about my presence here and get the reward of 1,000 gold coins which is announced for the informer for my arrest.  This way your poverty will vanish.” But this poor Sayyed, who was earning his livelihood by grazing cattle, refused to hear Guru Sahib’s words and said, ‘Instead of getting wealth by conveying this information, it is better we die from hunger not getting even a loaf of bread’ This incident is also a clear evidence of friendship of the Sikh Gurus with common Muslims.” (4)

The author of the above lives, Janab Mehdi Nazmi, had also written a book with the title Hind ki Chader.  Guru Sahib was identified and got famous by the title “Hind ki Chader”. He laid down his life for people of Hindustan, but the people with vested interest have misrepresented his great sacrifice and depicted it as a sacrifice for the protection of Hinduism (5) .

From Delhi, Bhai Jaitaji took Guru Sahib’s (head) to Anandpur Sahib, hiding from the Mughal forces. It is an amazing story that is worth sharing. He covered 400 kilometers with four halts. At one of the places was a Muslim, Pir Dargahi Shah near Nabha, about 15 kms from Chandigarh, who not only gave shelter asking Bhai Jaitaji to sleep but spent the whole night paying obeisance by staring at the head of Guru Sahib and guarded the whole night. (6)

 

Shri Guru Gobind Singhji (1666-1708): A child of hardly 9 years Gobind Rai welcomed the severed head of his father Shri GuruTegh Bahadarji.  He graciously cremated it without the body at Anandpur Sahib. Subsequently, he attained Guruship. Till 18 September 1688; he spent 22 years of life in traditional learning of various languages, literary work and martial skills, when he was attacked.  Guru Sahib was attacked fourteen times.  In all, 18 battles were imposed on the 6th and 10th Guru Sahibs (7)

A strange paradox it is that first the Hindu rajas jointly attacked him and were defeated. Then they conspired and influenced the Mughals and turned them against Guru Sahib and the Sikhs, and fought against them side by side Mughals till the period of Banda Bahadar. 

As a mark of respect for women and morals of the disciples, adultery is strictly prohibited in Sikhism, particularly mentioning Muslim women. It shows his regard for the people fighting against him. Another reason appears to be as most of the Hindus persecuted by Muslims might have embraced Sikhism to settle scores.  And that they should not be allowed to be revengeful towards Muslim women, which generally happens in the event of battles with the people of other side.  “The Sikhs’ tenth guru has specifically enjoined his followers against sexual intercourse with Moslem women” (8)

No doubt that Sikhism stood against tyranny.  It was a religious war in the sense that the Sikhs were inspired by religious ideals to fight. It was to defend the genuine human rights of the oppressed, but not a religious war in the sense of fighting against Muslims, or Islam.  It was definitely not.  It is a pity that many historians out of ignorance or mischief have sought to make out that the Sikhs were against Muslims.

To substantiate my contention here is one glaring and unparallelled example.  Hazrat Pir Badruddinalias Pir Buddhu Shah of  Sadhaura village of district Yamuna Nagar, presently in Himachal Pradesh, was an admirer and friendly to Guru Sahib.  On his recommendation Guru Sahib employed 500 Shia Pathans retrenched from the Mughal army. Bhikan Khan, Najabat Khan, Hayaat Khan and Kale Khan led them.  In the battle of Bhangani fought in 1688, with the exception of Kale Khan and his soldiers, all other Pathans deserted Guru Sahib.  At that time, Guru Sahib was a guest of Raja Medni Prakash in whose territory the battle was fought, who diplomatically remained neutral.  On the other hand, Hazrat Pir Buddhu Shah, on getting the news that his recommended Pathans had deceived Guru Sahib and joined the Hill rajas, he joined the battle along with his four brothers, one brother-in-law, four sons and 700 disciples, on the side of Guru Sahib.  In this battle, his brother Bhura Shah and two sons Syed Ashraf and Syed Mohammad Shah and several disciples sacrificed their lives. This was the opening chapter of Muslim sacrifices for the sake of Guru Sahib. History is full of friends and foes in both the communities. The friendship still exists. 

 

Sikh shrines in Muslim names: One may not find any religious shrines and institutions carrying name of person professing a different religion.  Undoubtedly, these are the unchallenged sole proprieties of Sikhs.  In  Sadhaura a "Gurdwara Yaadgar (memorial) Pir Budhu Shah" is built in memory of Pir Sahib's sacrifice at that place.  On 21st March 1704, Pir Sahib was brutally tortured and killed by cutting away the various parts of his body one after another by the governor of Sadhuara, Mohammad Osman Khan, for his association with Guru Sahib.  Later, his entire family was hunted and killed by the Mughal army, leaving none behind.   In the same village, there is another gurdwara built at the place of birth of Pir Sahib called "Gurdwara Janam Asthan Shaheed Pir Budhu Shahji".

There is a Gurdwara Moulavi Patti Likhi, at Nankana Sahib, now in Pakistan, where Shri Guru Nanak Sahib learnt Persian and Arabic from a moulvi.   Gurdwara Majnu Ka Tila is located at Delhi, in the name of a Sufi saint, with whom the 1st Guru Sahib had interacted.  There are many more gurdwaras in the name of Muslims in Punjab, such as Gurdwra Farid Tilla, at Farid Kot and Gurdwara Haji Rattan at Bhatinda, among many others. The name of the University guest house of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, is "Sheikh Sajjan Guest House".  Another university guest house of Punjabi University, Patiala, is named "Waris Bhavan", in the name of Waris Shah.  There are many more such Sikh institutions named after Muslims.

A gurdwara is built in the name of Bibi Kaulan.  She was the daughter of Rustam Khan, Qazi of Lahore. She was influenced by the Sikh ideology, which she knew through her tutor Mullah Shah Abdullah, a disciple of Hazrat Miyan Mir. Her father scolded and punished her several times for her attitude. Abdullah could not tolerate such high-handedness and rescued her, by bringing her to Guru Hargobind Sahib at Amritsar. She spent her remaining life in the vicinity of Shri Harmandir Sahib, learning and preaching the teachings of Shri Aad Granth Sahib,  where Guru Sahib constructed a pond in her memory and named it "Kaul Sar". Later, the Sikhs constructed a gurudwra, where she stayed her remaining life.

There is a Gurdwara Ghani Khan Nabi Khan, at village Machiwada, about 35 kilometres from Ludhiana, Punjab. These two brothers lived there.  After the battle of Chamkaur, Guru Sahib was passing by that side.  When they came to know of the arrival of Guru Sahib along with three Sikhs, Bhai Daya Singhji, Bhai Dharam Singhji and Bhai Mann Singhji, they took them to their house.  For the safe passage out of Machiwada, these two Khan brothers and two Sikhs carried Guru Sahib on their shoulders in a palanquin, and one Sikh flying the brisk from behind.  All dressed like Muslims and disguising Guru Sahib as a Pir (Muslim divine) from Uchch, an old seat of Muslim saints near Multan in south east Punjab (now in Pakistan) visiting his disciples in this area.

 

Gurdwara Bibi Mumtaz: In the annals of world history you cannot find any other example of such Muslim devotion for a Sikh. Gurdwara Bibi Mumtaz is located at village Kotla Nihang Khan of Ropad district, Punjab.  This gurdwara is built in the memory of Bibi Mumtaz Begum.  She was a daughter of Nawab Nihang Khan, who was a great admirer of Guru Sahib. 

On December 6, 1705, after evacuation of the Anandpur Sahib fort as a strategy, Sikhs divided into groups. They were promised safe passage,but were chased and attacked contrary to the agreement.  One group of a 100 Sikhs led by Bhai Bachitar Singh was killed in the attack.  Another group led by Sahibzada Ajit Singhji reached the place and found that Bhai Bachitar Singh was still breathing.  They brought him to the palace of Nihang Khan for treatment and left him there, as he was seriously injured and not in a condition to travel. The Mughal forces came to his fort in search of the Sikhs.  He denied any Sikh was taking shelter at his fort.  During the search, they found one room was bolted from inside.  On asking Nihang Khan said that his ailing son-in-law and his daughter were in that room.  When he enquired loudly about his health, she replied he had taken medicine and was taking rest. Satisfied with this, the forces left without a search of that particular room.  After a few days Bhai Bachitar Singhji could not survive.  Nihang Khan performed the cremation of the body in his fort.  Bibi Mumtaz who was engaged to a Muslim noble remained unmarried and lived like a widow of Bahi Bachitar Singhji. 

 

Other incidents: I need not repeat the role of Nawab of Maler Kotla, Sher Mohammad Khan for intercession against Nawab Wazir Khan's orders for bricking alive the two infant children of Shri Guru Gobind Singhji on December 26, 1704, which is a popularly known fact.  It is also evident that then onwards till today, his family, boundaries of this tiny state with largely Muslim population, were fully intact and protected during last three centuries and even during the bloody riots of partition for the reason of the Sikhs respecting them.  

I have tried to confine my paper on "Sikh-Muslim Relations through Centuries", covering the period of Guru Sahiban only.  For the next three centuries, sending troops to help Nawab of Avadh and other Muslim nobles and recruitment of Sikhs in the army of Hyder Ali of Mysore are important events.   I need not tell about the period of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who has held high the head of Punjabis and was a proud son of this soil.  Your ancestors are the living legends of his golden period who never discriminated among his subjects.  He used to proudly tell, "God has given me one eye so that I may see my subjects with one eye" (a proverb, to see everyone equally). 

By the way, let us also analyse the infamous, bloody period of Banda Bahadar who turned the tables of authority and ruled just for seven years.  He is the worst victim of historians who smashed within a few months the centuries-old mighty empire as a castle of sand.  The Land Reforms he brought in this territory could not be followed by the Governments of India and Pakistan. He never took any revenge, because there is no ideology or terminology for revenge in Sikhism. Protection of the oppressed and punishment to the oppressors is regarded as a sacred duty and is recited in ardas (daily prayers). Sikhs happily live in the will of God.  He was having 5,000 Muslim soldiers in his army. There is not even a single incident of disrespecting Muslim women or place of worship.

At the same time he did not spare any single Hindu or Muslim responsible for the atrocities, and paid them back in their own coin.  His infamous carnage at Sarhind, has still got the memories of his generosity and respect for Islam. This city is named now Fateh Garh Sahib.  Here stands a glorious roza shareef (mausoleum) of Hazrat Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi Mujadid Alf Sani.  He was mainly responsible for instigating Jehangir to smash the Sikh movement. This is still intact after Banda Singh Bahadar's complete destruction of the city. Not only this, but all other 360 mosques and dargahs at that point of time in the Suba (division) of Sarhind, were never touched, nor an inch of their land holdings was encroached upon  during the 86 years of Sikh rule, till British annexation, and after that under the Sikh rule of princely states till independence. This existing evidence can be physically verified.  Such facts are deliberately ignored for fomenting hatred against Sikhs.

 

Capturing Red Fort: Interestingly, Sikhs are the only conquerors of Red Fort, Delhi, who did not plunder it nor humiliated or insulted the emperor, his family and courtiers.  Here, they did not enter the Diwan-i-Khas (private enclosures) as a mark of respect for the women folk.  They maintained the great age old heritage, culture and traditions of India in giving the maximum respect and dignity to enemies and conquered emperor.  At the same time, as a token of their victory over the Red Fort, they took away to Amritsar the stone slab on which the Peacock Throne was kept and from where orders were issued for persecution of Sikhs for years.  It can still be witnessed at the back of Sri Har Mandir Sahib, that is Golden Temple, where it is kept in the Bunga Ram Gadhiya, in the corridor around the holy tank.  The holy Akal Takhat Sahib, the highest religious seat is located in front.     

Sikhs have created a new history in fields never heard of earlier, but they have never recorded it nor encouraged anybody else to pen it down in the correct perspective.  As a result, the Sikhs are the worst victims of improper and distorted histories. In spite of fact that the Sikhs raided Delhi 17 (seventeen) times, finally capturing Red Fort on March 11, 1783, and entered Diwan-i-Aam amidst thundering jaikara (war cry), i.e., "Jo Bole so Nihal - Sat Sri Akal".  In a most humane gesture, they entertained dialogue with the emissary sent by the emperor and not only spared Delhi on his request but also protected it, in lieu of Rakhi, i.e., protection money.   

I take the liberty to give the following few quotations from the most authenticated book published by Munshi Manohar Lal Publishers Private Ltd, New Delhi.  It is in three volumes written by a dedicated historian par excellence, Dr. Hari Ram Gupta.  Born in 1902, he received Ph.D. in 1937 and D.Litt. in 1944 in history from the University of Punjab, Lahore.  He spent his entire life-in reading, researching, writing, and teaching history in various colleges of Punjab, and also at the University of Delhi. 

I am quoting the page numbers from Volume III of the History of the Sikhs titled "Sikh Domination of the Mughal Empire" second and revised 1980 edition to verify and ascertain the true facts.

 Page 165.  "It was considered essential to invite Begum Samru to Delhi to negotiate with the Sikhs.  She was a faithful and loyal subject of the Mughal Emperor.  She was at the beck and call of Shah Alam II, who called her his daughter."

 Page 166:  "The Sikhs made for the Red Fort on March 11,1783. The Emperor and his courtiers hid themselves in their private apartments.  The Sikhs entered the Diwan-e-Aam."

 Page 167:  "Begum Samru arrived in the Capital on March 12,1783.  The emperor told her all about the Sikhs and sought her assistance in persuading the Sikhs to retire from Delhi and spare the Crown Lands in Rohtak and Karnal districts from plunder.  She immediately opened negotiations with Baghel Singh.  She came into the camp of Sardar Baghel Singh, showed willingness to make peace with the emperor.  The following terms were accepted by the Begum and approved by the emperor under his signature and royal seal:

"Baghel Singh took charge of all the octroi posts as well as of the Kotwali in Chandni Chowk.  Five-eighths of the whole collection was regularly and punctually conveyed to the Government treasury every day.  Perfect peace and order was established in the city as the Sikh horsemen patrolled in the streets and suburbs day and night."

Page 170.  "At the meeting (with the emperor) usual courtesies were exchanged.  After a while Baghel Singh was given a Khillat, fully caparisoned elephant and a horse and a necklace of pearls.  The four other sardars including Duleha Singh and others also received Khillats.  Baghel was granted 12.5 per cent of the octroi duties of Delhi to be remitted to him at his headquarters at Chhalondi annually on the condition that he would check the Sikhs from attacking the capital." 

I have given the above few quotations from one of the several histories written by unbiased and independent historians above all reasonable doubts, whose integrity could not be challenged.

 

Conclusion: I am a Dakhni Sikh (north Indians settled in Hyderabad-Deccan are called Dakhni) living testimony of friendship between the Sikh and Muslim monarchs and Sikh and Muslim people. As many as 1200 personnel of the Sikh army were sent to help the Nizam of Hyderabad around 1830.  They were paid salaries through Punjab treasury till Maharaja Ranjit Singh was alive.  Afterwards, the Nizam absorbed our ancestors as a separate "Nazam Jamiyat Fouj Beqayeda Sikhan" (irregular army of Sikhs). Our ancestors were given special facilities with hereditary jobs and huge salary till the Nizam government was disbanded by the Government of India in 1951.  I am proud to belong to the 4th generation of that army which symbolises the Sikh-Muslim friendship in life.   

Notes:

1. Tuzk-e-Jahangiri, by Mirza Hadi, p. 99

2. Sindh Sagar Aur Qayam-e-Pakistan by Aitzaz Ahsan, Jumhoori Publications, Lahore, 2014, p.172.

3. Do Satguru by Mehdi Nazmi,  Hindustan Publications, Ghaziabad, U.P., 1982, p. 113

4. Ibid., p. 129

5. Ibid., p. 131.

6. Ibid., p. 160.

7. Ibid., pp. 146-147.

8. Freedom at Midnight by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins - 4th reprint 2000, p. 424.

The author is Director of the International Sikh Centre for Interfaith Relations, 15-3-137, Gowliguda, Hyderabad-500012.

He may be contacted at nanaksinghnishter@yahoo.com

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 December 2016 on page no. 8

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