Sikhism and Islam


Peace, Love and Unity
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I have heard it claimed somewhere that there is an uneasy understanding of peace between Sikhs and Muslims.

I am curious - is there any truth to this perception, and what is the basis for it?

Is it a political decision, ie, set alliance against larger ideological oppressors or foes? Or is it that there are close parallels in faith between Sikhs and Muslims?
Every now and then claims and counter-claims are made about Guru Nanak professing Hinduism or Islam. Vishva Hindu Parishad is the protogonist of the first proposition: the Ahmadiya Sect of Muslims advance the second theory. The following is an extract from the late Bhai Sahib Sirdar Kapur Singh's response to an enquiry from the Haji of Mosul (Iraq) first published in the Missionary, January-March, 1963.

Question: "I have heard it said that (Hazrat) Baba Nanak was a true Moslem believer, or, at least he was a great admirer of the Holy Prophet of Islam and a staunch supporter of the Koranic Revelation. I request for authoritative comments from some eminent Sikh theologian and scholar on this matter."

Answer: Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, was born in the 15th Century in the North of India that had already been politically integrated to the organized world of Islam for almost 500 years. Arabic was already the official and cultural language at Lahore, a place only a few miles from the birth-place of the Sikh Prophet. Islam and its culture, was not only the dominant strain of the world civilization and culture of those days, but had also percolated into the common idioms and modes of thought of the North-Western Punjab. It was in this milieu that the oecumenical religion of Sikhism took birth.

Guru Nanak not only was in intimate contact with the Moslem learned men and centers of religion of Islam of those days, but he also made a close study of the basic Islamic literature. His knowledge of the fundamental Hindu sacred texts now being revealed through a critical study of the Sikh Scripture, is not only pleasantly surprising but it also impresses. Needless to say that Guru Nanak was thoroughly conversant with the texts and the teachings of the Koran. Since Guru Nanak was a Prophet in his own right and according to his own claim, he neither gives direct quotation nor makes precise references to Hindu and Muslim texts, as a mere scholar would be expected to make, and it is, therefore, only a trained scholar of Comparative Religion who can spot out and pin-point the exact sacred texts which Guru Nanak had in mind when delivering a particular Revelation.

When such a critical study of the Revelations of Guru Nanak is made, there is left no doubt in the mind of a balanced scholar that even when apparently affirming or repudiating a particular doctrine or text, the Guru almost always amplifies his own statement by added nuances of critical exposition. An appraisal of this character alone can make it clear that Guru Nanak had a definite and positive attitude towards the Koran.

The Koran has three distinct elements in its texts:

a. Dissertations on the nature of God and man's relation to Him
b. Pronouncements on Social organization and ethics
c. Statements on Judaic mythology

Guru Nanak ignores the last as irrelevant to the message that he has to preach to the mankind. He also considers this as uninteresting, for, he makes very sparse, if at all, even passing references to it. With regard to the second element in the Koran, namely, the laws and principles of social organisation and social ethics, Guru Nanak would seem to reject most of them as contingent and non-perennial. It is the first element in the Koran which the Guru takes seriously and on which he has made a large number of pronouncements.

The space and scope of this answer forbids any detailed discussion of this point and I would, therefore, just state that Guns Nanak seems to find most of it as worthy of consideration and even assent and he has explicitly incorporated its essentials in the Sacred Book of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth, though only after a personal digestion and re-interpretation.

I must make this statement slightly clearer.

In sura 2, called Albaqr, the Cow, for instance, amid brief disquisitions on a multitude of subjects, including pilgrimages, divorce, menstruation, the rights of women, proposals of marriage, and the need for killing the adversaries of Islam, there appears, quite unexpectedly, one of the grandest verses of the loran the famous throne-verse.

There is no God save Him, the living the eternal;
Slumber overtaketh Him not, nor doth sleep weary Him.
Unto Him belongeth all things in Heaven and on the earth.
Who shall intercede with Him save by His will.
His throne is as vast the Heavens and the earth.
And the keep of them wearieth Him not.
He is exalted, the mighty One.

It is this beautiful and noble text which claims the attention and general assent of Guru Nanak and it is this text which he has matched by his own famous text, the Sodar, that Gate, or The Gate, as there being no definite article in the Indo-Sanskrit languages, it can only be expressed as that,

Like what is that Gate?
With what compares that Abode?
By visiting where He sustains All?

Then in this text Guru Nanak goes to imply that the formal nature of this "Throne" is best comprehensible by human mind through reference to those areas of Reality that pertain to sound and feeling rather than those that pertain to visual and spatial aspects of Reality, as is implicated by the Koranic text. Herein Guru Nanak has the advantage of his acquaintance with the categories of the Samkhya school of Hindu Philosophy that categorises sound as the subject element of sensibilia and perception. It is only by a careful and critical analysis of such parallel texts in the Koran and the Guru Granth, that the true interrelationship between Islam and Sikhism can be properly understood.

Another grand verse, sura 24 in the Koran goes under the name of mishkatul-anwar. The tabernacle. This is the text to which the Mohamedan mystics and Sufis have returned again and again, never tiring of the mysterious Lamp whose rays bathe the whole universe:

God is the Light of the heavens and earth.
The similitude of His Light is a niche wherein is a lamp.
And the lamp is within a glass.
And the glass, as it were a pearly star.
This lamp is lit from a blessed tree.
An olive neither of the east nor of the west;
Almost this oil would shine though no
fire touched it.
Light upon Light, God guideth whom He will to His Light,
And He speaketh in parables to men, for He knoweth all things.

Now, Guru Nanak has taken an unmistakable note of this text. Guru Nanak was also familiar with certain Hindu sacred texts (Vaikunth, and Dipaparijvalanam in the Guradudapauranam) that speak of the Lamp that guides men here and hereafter, Guru Nanak has revealed a text which not only takes note of all these Moslem and Hindu sacred texts but which constitutes the Guru's own disquisition on the Lamp that guides. Guru Nanak opens by declaring:

My Light is the Name of One and only God.
And its oil is the pain and suffering:
The former is consumed and the latter is then done away with.
And, lo! there is no-doing between I and Death.

A large number of similar texts in the Guru Granth, are, in this manner, grounded in the Islamic and Hindu sacred texts but invariably the former have the content and identity of their own.

This is true and correct relationship between Islam and Sikhism. As for Guru Nanak's attitude towards the Muslim Prophet Mohammed, it has to be a matter of inference, for, nowhere in the voluminous Guru Granth, the name of the Moslem Prophet occurs, directly or indirectly, though Koran is mentioned by name more than once. The Sikh doctrine on the subject is sharp and clear, the born is perishable, and all praise is due to the Timeless. In so far as the Guru perceived excellence in Mohammed, he attributed it exclusively to the grace of God, and whatever was contingent, unenduring in the words and deeds of Mohammeqhe deemed as merely human and impermanent trait.

There is no other way of answering the question put by the learned Quadi from Mosul.

The below arguement was made on another website and it has good information to clear it. You is not for you but it was used for user of that forum. It was asked by Muslim member.

I had a good laugh at your suggestion that Guru Nanak was a muslim! Maybe you need to read page 1428 of the SGGS where Guru makes his opinions on reincarnation, pilgrimages (Hajj) and fasting perfectly clear! You suggested that its only after Guru Nanak that Sikhs believed in reincarnation, well I hate to dissapoint you but read the translation, it may clear things up!

I suggest that you stop believing the Islamic schollars whose material you read (they are obviously unbiased arent they?!) and just read Guru Nanak's direct opinion which can only be found in the SGGS as it written by him! Not by some clown 200 years after his birth who you seem to believe for some reason! You seem to keep on mentioning that Guru Nanak went to Mecca, but you conveniently forget to mention that he went there and pointed his feet at Kabba. When the Muslims asked him to change the direction of his feet because hes showing disrespect by pointing his feet at a place of god, he said move my feet,but wherever you move my feet god will be in that direction (sikh ideology: god is eveywhere). Hardly the typical actions of a person doing HAJJ!!!!!

As far as a non-Muslim not being allowed in Mecca, i dont think guru Nanak would have cared about any restrictions Muslims would have put on any land as he was guided by god to spread the truth. At the end of the day when Babar went to visit Guru Nanak, guru Nanak said to him that 'tu babar nehi tu jabar hai' this basically shows that Guru Nanak was not scared of anyone (babar was the mughal empire) or anything. Guru Nanak believed God is everywhere and there should be no worldy attachment (so this belief of only Muslims being allowed in Mecca would be against his Ideology and anything against his Ideology he would challenge!)

There also seems to be alot of meaningless points like Guru Nanak giving money to beggers, wearing certain clothes or the belief in one god. How can you say someone believing in one god means they are Muslim, that is a very frail argument. I didnt think Islam had a 'copyright' in the belief of one god! Especially since its far from being the first to believe in one god. The arguments of clothes and money to beggers implying he's Muslim are astonishing.

You say that Khalsa was created 200 years after Guru Nanak, but then Guru Nanak laid the foundations for it. Guru Gobing Singh was just the eventual successor of guru nanak. Guru Nanak actually gave his gurgaddi ('successorship') to Guru Angad Dev ji, was he a muslim? doesnt that answer the question. Saying that Guru Nanak came 200 years before Guru Gobind Singh means that he was not Sikh is like me saying Adam came an eternity before Prophet Muhammed hence he is not a Muslim! Do I see contradictions in your views?! Guru Nanak did have 5 prayers, but they werent Islamic prayers, if they were then why did he write the Jap ji sahib? which is the morning prayer God gave him. Another thing Guru Nanak had 5 prayers which he did 3 times a day, theres a difference!

You talk of this Saffron robe which is supposedly of Guru Nanak, but does this take prescedent over his own revelations in the sri Guru Grant Sahib where he says 'naa hum hindhu, naa hum musulmann', (if you would like exact page number and traslation you only have to request! I thought 1 was enough for you!). At the end of the day one thing for sure is that his written teachings have been preserved since his time, but can the same really be said about this supposed saffron, which has been kept in a predominately Muslim area for the last 300 years?

Another argument was that he went to Baghdad! This is the most comprehensive nit-picking argument I have ever come across! Guru Nanak also went to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Afghanistan, Russia, Nepal, Burma. He went to these places because he was a messenger of god. I guess the Christian Equivalent of you will turn around tommorow and say he went to Israel to go Jerrusulam because he was actually Christian!

I mean at the end of the day, by all means follow Islam and I hope you good luck in becoming one with God, but your arguments on Guru Nanak are just based on what you've read written by these Islamic schollars that you choose to follow. Ultimately the only truth of Guru Nanak can be found in the Sri Guru Granth sahib because he actually a lot of it HIMSELF.
im basically in love with my Sikh boyfriend...and the only problem is that i am a Muslim.
What would people say to this...and is there anyway around the situation?
i think this is a problem that you should consider in real life - don't be taking advice from strangers on the internet, even here.

relationships have to work on paper as well as in bed. i am sure that nobody's parents are going to approve of yours. it depends on many many things and, on balance, i don't tend to think that interfaith relationships where both families are traditional are ever going to be comfortable.

what tradition would you bring up any children in, for a start?


im basically in love with my Sikh boyfriend...and the only problem is that i am a Muslim.
What would people say to this...and is there anyway around the situation?

I feel for you in your Dilemma sister. I am a Sikh revert who become Muslim quite recently and I had a similar situation with a Sikh girl i had been dating for 6 years before I embraced Islam.

You will no doubt be aware of the bad history between the two religions and will probably realise that both sets of parents will probably not accept both of your choices if you were to take the relationship to the next level.

Islam clearly forbids inter-faith marriage as it is stated that your marriage partner will complete your religion.

Your choices are as follows:

1 = Marry him with both of you remaining as you are.
- Your marriage will not be acceptable in the eyes of Allah, therefore it will be like committing fornication every time you are intimate which is a major sin.
- Chances are this will not be accepted by your family or his. (You know your situation best)
- Your children will grow up confused and without a solid foundation for belief in Islam and may rebel in the future.

2 = Teach him about Islam and allow him to taste the sweetness of Imaan (Faith).
- Your marriage can then be accepted in Islam and will be pleasing in the eyes of Allah.
- His parents most likely will not be happy and it may lead to him being isolated or abandoned by them.
- You will both have each other and also the protection of Allah which is the best protection possible.

3 = Sikh parents, can in rare cases be liberal and allow inter-faith marriages as in my family people have married Christians, Jews and Hindus. But again there is that old Taboo with Islam, Usually because on the part of the Muslim, there is no leniency (All Praise and thanks be to Allah). Sikhs do prefer marriage to other Sikhs and some even go as far as only allowing marriages to those within the same caste system (Which incidentally is one of the things that Guru Nanak came to abolish)

My advice (Biased as it may be) is to take option 2, or end the relationship. It is not worth being condemned to the Hellfire over. If you leave something for the sake of Allah, then he will reward you with something better in its place.

Speak to your boyfriend. He may not even be considering marriage as an option as unfortunately is sometimes the case with men (irrespective of faith)!! He will know his situation at home better than anyone (although this should not deter him from seeking the truth.

May Allah guide you both to the Truth.

Salam Alaiykum sister
Well i'l be honest love.. Allah made you fall in love with this bloke then i think you need to go for it.. raise kids without faith then you know they will find the right path..

Quick Note:

I mean at the end of the day, by all means follow Islam and I hope you good luck in becoming one with God,
The stated thesis of the Quran opposes any union between the Creator and the created.
I read somewhere that, at one time all Hindu families raised their first-born son as Sikh, most likely due to swordsmanship prowess to protect the family, or for some other reason. If this information provides any solutions..

Rough observation on tendencies and old sayings (don`t make me finger point).. People from countries older than 3000 years, couples almost 90% of time abide with what their parents tell them to do on marriage. If you get people from countries like that mad, they will never listen and not forgive for a thousand years.

If a country has roughly 2000 years of history, LOL.., love takes presidence over what mom and paps has to say. They might even blame themselves for misfortune and apologize. Maybe the 2000 year old countries were also founded by runaway couples from the old countries..

The only way is to end the relationship or start a family away from your direct family and hope to re-establish the relationship somewhere down the line (the guy needs to be totally independent for sure). Personally I don`t understand why people would care so much what parents think of their mate, but 1 generation up in my country and I assume permission was absolute. But then again, even in the old days I assume that rich women were allowed to divorce their husbands at anytime, maybe even in the old Muslim culture (but I could be wrong).