Sikhism closest to Islam

By M Naushad Ansari

Responding to an appeal by Shahi Imam Maulana Habibur Rahman Saani Ludhianvi, prayer meetings were held at the mosques of Punjab, while Akali Dal and Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee organized Ardas Divas to demand justice to the victims of 1984 anti-Sikh riots. The meetings were attended by large gatherings at Muktsar, Firozpur, Maler Kotla, Jallandhar, Kapurthala, Moga, Amritsar and Pathankot Masjids. (Milli Gazette, 1-15 December, 2009)

Later, Punjab deputy chief minister, Sukhbir Singh Badal, thanked Shahi Imam for his appeal to Muslims to hold prayer meetings all over Punjab on the occasion of Ardas Divas. He described it as a positive step towards friendship and cooperation between Muslims and Sikhs, two major monotheistic minorities of India.

It is an undeniable fact that among Indian originated religions, Sikhism is the closest to Islam. The message of the Guru, as embodied in Guru Granth Sahib, is rooted in devotion to One God (monotheism), which is called tauheed i.e. there is no God except Allah, in Islam. The equality and love of God’s creation exists in both the religions, in the teachings of Sufis as well as in Guru’s Hukum. Dr. Sir Mohammad Iqbal, whose inspiring verse:

"Chisti ne jis zamin mein paigham-e-haq sunaya
Nanak ne jis chaman mein vahdat ka geet gaya".
still reverberates in the subcontinent. About Guru Nanak, the spiritual father of Sikhism and social reformer, Dr. Iqbal, in his famous poem  ‘Nanak’, further says:
"Phir uthi aakhir sada tauheed ki Punjab se
Hind ko ek mard-e-kamil ne jagaya khwab se"

We all know that, Guru Nanak performed Hajj, an Islamic holy pilgrimage to Makkah, and built a Gurdwara in Baghdad while returning, which exists even today. Guru Nanak’s life-long companion, Bhai Mardana – a Muslim – sang the hymns of Divine love to carve out a permanent place in the hearts of every devout Sikh.  Further, Guru Arjun honoured Hazrat Mian Mir of Lahore by asking him to lay the cornerstone of the holy Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) Amritsar.  Pir Burhanuddin, also called Budhu Shah of Sadhaura, fought the Mughal hordes side by side with Guru Gobind Singh, losing his sons in the battlefield - a conflict that did not involve any territorial ambitions on the part of the Tenth Guru.  And who can forget the daring deed of the Pathan brothers, Ghani Khan and Nabi Khan, who helped Guru Gobind Singh to escape the Mughal dragnet in the early years of eighteenth Century? Guru Granth Sahib incorporates the kalam not only of the Gurus, and saints like Kabir, but of the Sufi seer, Sheikh Baba Farid.

For the execution of Guru Arjan Das, even Historian like Jadunath Sarkar, who is quite biased against Mughal emperors, has considered it a political act, not a communally or religiously motivated act.  Emperors did not differentiate between Hindus and Muslims if they felt threatened from any quarter. It is a historical fact that Jehangir also imprisoned Shaikh Ibrahim Baba Afghani in the fort of Chunar (near Allahabad) and Mujaddad Alf Sani in the fort of Gwalior.  These facts need to be reminded to the new generation of Sikhs and Muslims.

It is unfortunate that because of certain political reasons there had been clashes between Muslim and Sikh rulers.  Mughal’s atrocities against Sikhs and Sikhs atrocities against Muslims during Sikh rule over Punjab before the British rule and again during the Partition created a deep gulf between the two communities.

A new thought that has emerged among Sikhs and Muslims in recent years, which is very heartening.  It would go a long way in promoting peace and communal harmony among the communities.   

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 July 2010 on page no. 2

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