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Muslim and Sikh Commonality

Muslim and Sikh Commonality

Sami Ullah Malik

(Oh bhra Gamia to tey azad ho gia per asi tey hamesha lai ghulam ho gai, aj asi apney purkhan agay baray sherminda haan). Oh Brother Ghulam, Mohammad (Gamia), your people have received liberation but we are ashamed before our ancestors in saying that we remain enslaved to this day. I can still recollect from a scene which occurred 20 years ago when two friends Baba Ghulam Mohammed and Baba Harnam Singh embraced each other so passionately; their beards were soaked from the tears they had shed. Both of these friends were meeting for the first time in forty-five years after Pakistan came into being. The cruel enemy separated them but could not break the bond of Muslim-Sikh friendship. The five decades of separation only strengthened their love and bondage.

The founder of the Sikh religion Baba Guru Nanak Sahib was born on April 15, 1469 [it has been decided now the date is 20th October, 1469, according to Sardar Gurmit Singh Khalsa in The Sikh Historical Calendar 2012 and 2013 ISSN 1708-9220] in a village called Bhoay De Talvandi presently known as Nankana Sahib (Sharif) in Shekhupura, District Lahore, Pakistan. He was the son of a Hindu Kalyan Chand Das Bedi also known Kalu Mehta. At the time, Sultan Lodhi was the ruler of India. The father of Baba Guru Nanak was working as a Patwari for a Muslim landlord. The Sikhs celebrated the birthday (Parkash Divas) of Guru Nanak in the month of November. However, this date changes every year (please see above Sardar Gurmit Singh). This year, the Sikhs celebrated his birthday on November 28. Sikhs all over the world in particular and Nankana Sahib greatly celebrated. The people of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and their government did not leave any stone unturned in serving the community of the House of Guru Baba Nanak Sahib.

Guru Nanak lived with his in-laws of his sister whose name was Bebey Nanaki in his early years. According to the Sikh history, Baba Guru Nanak Sahib became interested in religious books at the age of 5. However, he received admission in school at the age of seven and was in the top of his class. He refused to wear a religious thread known as Janeu at the age of nine when asked by the Purohit (a Brahmin). It shows that he was in sighted with the oneness of God who provided him with the strength to refuse. Due to his ability, he mastered Sanskrit, Arabic and Farsi. The brother in-law (sister’s husband) of Nanak was the land administrator for the governor of Lahore and Nanak was assisting him in his work. The first one to accept him as a religious leader was his sister Babe Nanaki.

It was Nanak’s habit to shower in the cold water fetched from a canal before sunrise and remembered God during this process. According to Sikh history at the age of 30 in 1499 in the canal named Kaliban near his village he went head first into the water and did not come up for a breath, immediately scaring friends. A Muslim rescuer named Daulat searched the entire canal but could not find him making people believe he had drowned. He returned after three days and did not speak for a whole day before beginning to talk again. His first words were “which path should I go when there is no Muslim or Hindu; so, I should then follow the path of God who is nor Muslim or Hindu.” He also explained of his disappearance in the canal that he was taken to the court of God where he was asked for the Amrit, which is similar to the pledge of allegiance in Islam (Bayat). As a reward God promised him holiness and supremacy and he was also ordered by God to spread the truth. Nanak distributed his wealth to the poor. He left his village along with his Muslim friend named Mardana for spread of the truth.

According to Sikh history his first 4 long journeys (Udasi) required him to travel thousands of miles to disseminate the message of God. He went to Kashmir, Bengal, Assam, Tamilnadu, Ladakh, Tibet, Baghdad and finally Madina to spread God’s word. He preached in Punjab showing his followers that worship of idols is wrong and to worship the oneness of God. Travelling with him were two Muslim followers Mardana and Bala. Their job was to spread God’s message through music. He advised honesty and ignoring superstitions and asking God without worshiping idols. He highlighted shortcomings of humans including pride, anger, greed, lust and envy exactly in accordance with Islamic teachings. The foundation of Sikhism is based on these three pillars which show his love for Islam. 1) Recitation of God’s name or Nam Japna (similar to zikr in Islam) and singing songs in his honour and to remember Him at all times similar to the teaching of the Quran according to verse 33:41. 2) Working for an honest living (kirtkarni) similar to the message of Quran that your prayers will be accepted subject to your honest living. 3) Distribution of wealth and eating together (vand chhakna) same way the Quran teaches to pay zakat to the needy. The purpose of this decision was to relieve humanity of poverty, spending for the people, fighting for the oppressed and taking care of travellers similar to Quranic verse 60:9.

Guru Nanak also preached oneness of God, Sufism and Spiritualism. Among his contemporary’s was the famous Sufi Saint Hazrat Baba Fareed Shakar Ganj (R.A). He had the chance of meeting many Muslim scholars of the time and often hosted them for dinner. Nanak Sahib also arranged food for school children and for visitors to the tombs of Sufi Saints a tradition that is still alive today known as langar. In 1522, he put together the foundation for Kartarpur village situated at the international border of India and Pakistan. The additional land for this religious city was awarded to Guru Amardas Sahib by Mogul Emperor Jahangir.

According to Sikh scholar Gian Singh, Kartarpur the city was farther furnished by Muslims for its development and growth. At the time of Mughal Emperor Akbar, he awarded additional land to the city making Kartarpur a famous religious city of Punjab.

Similarly, it is known from historical facts that the land for the Amritsar was given to the Sikhs by the Mughal Emperor Akbar; specifically to the Fourth Master of Sikhs Janab Guru Ram Das Sahib, who had laid the foundations of the city. Initially it was called Ramdas Pur. It is also said that Emperor Akbar in 1565, and then in 1579, offered this land to Janab Guru Amar Das Sahib and thereafter it was offered in 1606 to Janab Guru Arjan Sahib. However, at all three times, they did not accept the offer. It is also said that Emperor Akbar offered this land to Bibi Bhani, the daughter of Guru Amar Das Sahib at her marriage, which the Guru could not refuse as it had been a gift from the Emperor to the Guru Sahib’s daughter. Moreover, Akbar also exempted the population from taxes (Mehsool).

Besides Ramdaspur, Amritsar is also known as Guru-da-chak and Ramdaschak. Prior to the demise of Guru Nanak Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan in 1539, he appointed his successor, Guru Angad Sahib. The period of the third Guru, Janab Amar Das Sahib’s work on the pool started in 1479-1574. Thereafter, from 1534-1581 work continued on the pool and a Gurduwara was eventually constructed beside the pool. Emperor had enjoyed a long relationship with the people of Amritsar and this area was even extended as far as to be considered an autonomous region.

The land for Darbar Sahib Amritsar (mistakenly known as the Golden Temple Complex) was given by the Emperor Akbar. In 1589 the first brick comprising the foundation of Darbar Sahib was placed by Hazrat Mian Mir (RA; see Risal Honein Qeemtaan January 1949 Edition). Guru Arjan Sahib was very close to Hazrat Mian Mir. Not only was the foundation of Darbar Sahib laid by the sacred Sufi Muslim, but also used in it was given by the Muslims (Bhartiya Rashtira Congress Amritsar 1956). Sikh authors also acknowledged that in 1923 when the pool was under construction more than 200 devout Muslims were sent to participate in the volunteer construction of the site by the Nawab of Maleer Kotla.

At the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, a Muslim Engineer, Muhammad Yar Khan prepared a golden ornament for the Darbar Sahib as quoted by Sardar Gurbaksh Singh Shamsher. He also confirmed that Haji Muhhamad Maskeen a Sufi saint on December 31, 1925 at 2:00pm donated a very expensive ornament for the Darbar Sahib through Bhai Heera Singh (Keertani). This follower of Nanak Sahib took five years and seven months to prepare this chanoor of chandan (Silver). It contained 145,000 threads of silver utilizing a total of 54kg of silver. Until today this silver chanoor is available in the Darbar Sahib. When the Sufi saint gave this donation, in return the management of Darbar Sahib rewarded him with 100 pounds of precious shawls (Rasala Amritsar May 1938 Edition). Giyani Singh writes about the Panja Sahib presently in Pakistan that the pool of that Gurdwara was made by Shamsuddin and the land for the Gurduwara was provided by the Nawab of Qallat (Gurdam Nagras 22).

The Tenth Master Guru Gobind Singh Sahib also had a good relationship with the Muslims and it is evident that Mir Gama Shah, Mir Hassan Shah, Choudhary Peer Ali, Balwant Khan, Choudhary Pattu, Choudhary Sammo, and Jamal Khan etc. were all very close to him and also served him. In Patna Bihar Muslim Judges (at the time known as Kazi’s) awarded a garden to Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib. Presently, this garden is known as Guru-da- Bagh. While his stay in Bahdur Garh (Patiala) Ali Khan served him greatly and similarly Tenth Master Guru Gobind Singh Sahib was given a garden by the Nawab which is known as Nazar Bagh (Garden received in donation).

Sardar Gian Singh, along with many other writers, confirms when Hilly Rajas (Hindus) became jealous of Tenth Master and they double crossed him in the court of Aurangzeb. At the time more than 500 Udasi Sadhu (Hindus) who were being supported financially by the Tenth Master left him alone. As a result, the Tenth Master had to leave Annand Pur Sahib and took refuge in the forest of Machiwara. In time of hardship, Budhu Shah brought two thousand soldiers with him to fight alongside the Tenth Master and lost his two sons in this war. The Guru Gobind Sahib had to leave in the guise of hajjis In a Palki carried out by Ghani Khan and Nabi Khan (Uch-da-Peer). The Guru declared that these two persons are dearer to me than my own children. There are many references available in various Sikh religious books such as Gurpartap Suraj Granthvaihar, Zafarnama Stika, Geewan Katha, and many other books (Guru Khalsa Urdu 158). The Sikh authors also confirm in almost every fight with hilly Rajas Muslim commanders in particular Yad Baig, Alif Khan, Sayad Khan, Sayad Baig, and Memoon Khan had fought alongside with the Guru.

The Sikh historian claims that Bahadur Shah, the son of Aurangzeb, gifted a sacred sword to Guru Gobind Singh Sahib which is still available in Sri Kes Garah, Annandpur. Another Sikh historian noted that in the Sant Sipahi (a Punjabi monthly) edition of August 1951, according to Sardar Kahan Singh, one side of blade was engraved with the Islamic declaration of faith (Kalma Sharif), and on the opposite side was carved, “Nasru Minallahi Wa Fathn Qarib” which means O’ God grant us success. It is evident that Muslims gifted to the Guru an item which was very precious to them. This clearly proves that Muslims have love and respect for the Sikh Gurus, and that this love was not one way. Furthermore, Guru Gobind Sahib built many glorious mosques at his own cost in Katarpur, Har Gobindh Pura and Amritsar.

Janab Guru Angad Sahib the successor of Guru Nanak Sahib used the classical Punjabi language (Gurmukhi) to spread the message. In 1551, the third Guru Amar Das was appointed and thereafter his death in 1574. The fourth Guru Ram Das installed the Amritsar City for which Emperor Akbar gave 500 hectares of land along with the construction costs. After the death of Ram Das in 1581, his son Guru Arjan was his successor. The same Guru Arjan Sahib who had started compiling of Sikhs’ Guru Garanth Sahib (Holy Scripture) which covers 239 years of messages from the Gurus from the period of 1469 to 1708, written in Gurumukhi language. It contains 3381 verses of poetry, and it is 3 times bigger than the Hindus second book which is called Rig Vaid. It includes sayings of Guru Nanak, Baghat Kabir, and Baba Farid Shakar Ganj (RA).

The Guru Granth Sahib is installed in every Gurduwara and is recited until this day. In this Granth, the identification of the Sikhs’ Akalpurakh or Waheguru ji is the same as it has been identified in the Quran of Muslims. Today, the people of the Sikh religion greet each other with the greeting of Satsriakal (Sat-Sri-Akal) which means “the truth is God” whose translation is interestingly the same as Allah-ho-Akbar. Another greeting of the Sikhs is Waheguruji Ka Khalsa, Waheguruji Ki Fateh, which means “the Khalsa (Arabic term means Sovereign) belongs to God, Victory to God. Moreover both of these religions stress the oneness of God.

On Monday, September 22, 1539 (9 Jamadeul Awal 946) Baba Guru Nanak Sahib left this world to meet his creator. Muslims and Hindus both put their claim over his body how to bury the body of Guru Sahib. This problem was solved by the Almighty that flowers had been found when the sheet on his body was removed. These flowers had been divided half and half by the Sikhs and Guru Nanak Sahib’s Muslim followers. Therefore, both Hindu and Muslims disposed of their flowers according to their respective traditions i.e. Burial and cremation. The spot where both of these events took place is intact until today in Kartar Pur in Pakistan.

Baba Guru Nanak had two sons from his wife Mohtarma Salla Khani named Sri Chand and Lakshmi Chand. The former was a very pious person who also had a long beard. According to the Sikh religion our body is the gift of God and we should not change it, thus, to make any alterations is considered to be unthankful to God. The Second son Lakshmi Chand got married and had two sons. Guru Nanak tried very hard to bring Muslims and Hindus together. Since oneness is the foundation of ideal worship, therefore, a new religion in the name of Sikhism emerged. For the Muslims the message of the Guru was not new because it is very similar to the message of the Quran and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Despite all of these similarities between Muslims and Sikhs initially they could not get along but by the passage of time, the two communities realized that the hatred between them was propagated by Hindus-Brahmins. Guru Nanak’s message stressed helping the poor just as Islam also puts great importance on this. When Guru Nanak introduced his education in Kartarpur Sahib, he also arranged food for the poor and visitors. Most of the visitors took refuge in the city and in this way the Sikh religion continued to grow. Tenth Nanak Janab Guru Gobind Singh Sahib introduced Khalsa (Sovereign) by selecting five dear ones or Panj Piare on 30th March, 1699.

The emperor Aurangzeb had equal representation of the diverse religions of India within his court. When Hindus-Brahmins noted that there community is converting to Sikhism this created great tension. Thus in reaction to these conversions, the Hindu community started to paint the Sikhs as a danger to the Muslims. Their conspiracy was successful because they were able to convince Aurangzeb that his brother Dara Shikoh was taking refuge with the Sikhs against him (the Emperor).

Due to this, Hindus acquired great political gains as Aurangzeb prepared his forces against the Tenth Guru Sahib. It is a fact that no government bears treason against itself. On the other hand Sikhs asserted that it is religious right to help the poor. This is the reason that the fight between the Mughals and Sikhs did not take place under the banner of religion as it was a fight of political nature surrounding treason. This is explicitly why many of those who fought against Aurangzeb were also Muslims.

Further proof of this is that Muslims and Sikhs had a great bond during the reign of Maharajah Ranjit Singh, who had ruled Punjab for about fifty years (1799 to 14th March, 1849). Although it was a sovereign Sikh state and the first sovereign and secular nation of the South Asian region, equal participation was given to Muslims and the Hindus (Brahmins, Dogras, etc.). The same Hindu that had incited Aurangzeb against Sikhs, later on became “collaborators” with the British who had founded the East Indian Company. Due to this early alliance between Hindus and the British, they had received access to the British court and had brought the end of the Mughal period. These same Hindus conspired against Maharajah Ranjit Singh (only after his death) to finish the Sikh sovereign and secular state. The British understood very well that both the Sikhs and the Muslims are martial race and are both willing to fight for their freedom; thus the British were strongly against their unification. They strategically created a rift among them in order to follow a divide and rule policy.

The Brahmans and the British were finally successful using those Hindus who were working in the guise of Sikhs with the Mogul government creating enmity between Sikhs and Muslims and converted this into religious war. Although, after the downfall of the Sikh sovereign state of Punjab of Maharajah Ranjit Singh, Muslims and Sikhs attempted to unite but the British barred them from doing so using the divide and rule policy. Since the founder of Pakistan, Quid -e-Azam was fully aware about Guru Nanak’s teachings and the Muslims and Sikhs combined bound, he suggested to Master Tara Singh that in Pakistan Sikhs can live with full freedom with their fundamental human rights but the betrayal of Master Tara Singh lost this opportunity (see Betrayal of Sikh Nation By Master Singh With British Documents of Transfer of Power 1947 by Ram Singh of the U K, second ed. August 2009 ISBN 978-0-9811360-6-6). Today the real Sikhs of Guru Baba Nanak Sahib feel that Master Tara Singh was a traitor of the Sikh nation, because of his short sightedness and having soft heart towards Brahmins-Baniya-Hindus. It was none else but Master Tara Singh left the Sikhs at the mercy of Brahman wolves, since 15th August, 1947.

The cunning Brahmans (Brahmins-Hindus-Baniyas) used the Sikhs in east Punjab during the partition to kill the Muslims in which many women were dishonoured. After this atrocity, some of the Muslims retaliated back. The Brahmans succeeded in their mission so that these two nations living in the common border will always have animosity towards one another. A key question arises then that were all these actions taken by the Sikhs and Muslims were not in accordance with the teachings of Baba Guru Nanak Sahib or Islam. When the Sikhs massacred the Muslims who were travelling by train to Pakistan, did they get any reward from the Hindus? Millions of the Sikhs and Muslims lost their lives and their dead bodies had been recovered. However, one dead body did not found. The dead body of the ‘naked faqir’, who had every time said while visiting Punjab before 15th August, 1947 that the “Pakistan would come over my dead body” and these had been the words of the person whom Sir Churchill used to call a ‘naked faqir’, that is, Mohandas Karan chand Gandhi. This MK Gandhi carried out the ‘genocide of Zulu tribe in Africa’ and had a rank of ‘Seargent-Major in the British Red cross’. The real culprits of the animosity between the Sikhs and Muslims of Punjab had been MK Gandhi and his Brahmins-Hindus followers.

Quid-e- Azam’s prediction proved correct when we see that all religious Gurdwaras are safe in Pakistan; whereas, the Darbar Sahib Complex Amritsar which is the holiest place of worship of the Sikh religion in “robbed” Punjab of 15th August, 1947, became the target of an ‘undeclared’ war in the form of a brutal military “Operation Bluestar” of June, 1984, under the sinister designs of the Indian administration of Indira Gandhi, the Indian armed forces, and foreign advisors. The bond between the Sikhs and Muslims also showed its true colours when Russia invaded Afghanistan and an influx of refugees shifted to Pakistan. The refugees included three million Afghans as well as thirty five thousand Sikhs of Afghanistan. Today, every year Sikhs travel to Pakistan to pay their respects to religious places, including the birth place of Guru Nanak Sahib. The Sikhs are welcomed with open arms by the great people of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Whereas, the Sikh Diaspora have to get the visa endorsements to visit their holy of the holiest shrine in Amritsar, the Sikhs’ Holy and Historic Homeland Punjab

The Pakistan is the only country where the Sikh’s are treated well. Pakistan has maintained the Sikh places of worship and the Historical Gurdwaras. At the 130th birthday of Quid -e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the six Kakul Academy cadets who were performing duties at the time of Quaid-e-Azam Day they include five female and one Sikh cadet. Pakistan celebrates the birthday of Quid -e-Azam on December 25. This happened for the first time in the history of Pakistan, at the tomb of Quid-e-Azam, five female cadets and a Sikh cadet were given duty for guard of honour at the tomb.

I cannot forget the words expressed by Baba Harnam Singh to the BBC reporter while at Lahore where he said, “this is the same Lahore railway station where in 1947 the train had stopped here and out of the fear of death I was questioning myself as to why the train had stopped here and was anxious to leave right away. Today, I pray that if only that train would not leave from Pakistan and I was able to die on that very soil.”

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