Lucknow gurdwara hosts iftar for Muslims breaking fast

LUCKNOW: Gurdwara Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib Ji, Lucknow recently organised an iftar party for their fasting Muslim brothers and without a doubt, it’s one commendable show of inter-faith solidarity.

Read more: Communal Harmony

 

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Hindu Muslim Unity: UAE Gurdwara holds iftar

Sikhs hold iftar for fasting Muslims
Sikhs hold iftar for fasting Muslims

DUBAI: Representatives of Al Manar Islamic Centre ended their fast on Monday evening at the Jebel Ali-based Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara during an iftar organised by the temple committee that represents 250,000 members of the Sikh community. The iftar followed a religious discourse where scholars exchanged ideas.

Both Sikh priests and Islamic scholars exchanged ideas on the oneness of humanity and existence of one God before a gathering of more than 100 people.

Surinder Singh Kandhari, chairman of the Gurudwara, told Gulf News: “We consider the month of Ramadan an excellent time to observe interfaith harmony and bond with the community. Our religion has taught us the importance of the oneness of all human beings and the important role that the community kitchen at the gurudwara plays in bringing people together to share a meal. Every day we hold a langar (free meal for the community) for 1,000 people at the Sikh temple and on Fridays for 10,000 people. This iftar, which has become an annual feature since last year, is an excellent opportunity for us to forget our egos and come together and share a meal with our Muslim brothers.”

Read more: Communal Harmony

Hindu Muslim Unity: American gurdwara promoted interfaith relations in California

Stockton Gurdwara 1912
Stockton Gurdwara, circa 1912

At the turn of the century, several thousand Indians settled in regions like Northern California. It’s the largely untold story of the migration of Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims from pre-partition India from the late 19th century up until the passage of the Asian Exclusion Act (which was passed to limit Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, and Indian migration). At the time, about two-thirds of Indian immigrants in California were Sikh, and as a result, the Pacific Coast Khalsa Diwan Society – a gurdwara – opened in Stockton in 1911.

Because Hindus and Muslims in the region were still small in number, and unable to get the approvals to build any sites of worship, the Stockton gurdwara served as a place of worship for all three religions. While Hindu-Sikh co-worship was common in northern India for centuries, a place for all three groups in the United States was created by circumstance and sustained through interfaith bonds.

Over the next three decades, the Khalsa Diwan hosted Hindu leaders and Muslim leaders alike, including the Hindu leader Swami Yogananda, who founded the Self-Realization Fellowship and authored Autobiography of a Yogi. Moreover, it served as a meeting ground for those seeking to build support for the Indian freedom struggle, especially those involved with the Ghadar Party. Despite having different religions, Sikhs, Muslims, and Hindus still felt strongly connected to India and identified strongly with Indian nationalism.

Read more: Communal Harmony

Related links:
Sikhism and Religious Unity
Sikhism’s 10th Guru on Unity

Hindu Muslim Unity: Malaysian Hindu promotes interfaith understanding

Interfaith and inter-ethnic tour group visit Chinese Buddhist temple
Interfaith and inter-ethnic tour group visit Chinese Buddhist temple

KUALA LUMPUR: In 2010, Uthaya Sankar decided to create a safe space for Malaysians of all faiths and ethnicities to discuss religion and race. He began organising interfaith walks, giving young Malaysians the chance to tour mosques, churches and temples. About two-thirds of all Malaysians are Bumiputera – ethnic Malays and indigenous groups. About a quarter of the population is of ethnic Chinese origin and about 7% of Indian origin. Malay Muslims form the majority, alongside sizeable Hindu, Christian, Sikh, and Buddhist communities.

At a Chinese Buddhist temple, Buddhists stood next to other Muslims and Hindus and burned incense as an offering. “It’s important for Malaysians to see that it is okay for people of all faiths to visit these places of worship,” he said.

Read more: Communal Harmony

 

Hindu Muslim Unity: Muslims offered prayer space in gurdwara

Gurdwara

JOSHIMATH: Every year local Muslims congregated at a local park to offer Eid prayers. But because of heavy rains, many were unable to pray on the muddy ground so the Sikh community offered their gurdwara as a prayer space.

Watch to learn more:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PL3p-cB0Jk&feature=youtu.be

Note: Sikhism is a distinct and separate religion from Hinduism & Islam but this piece is being shared in the spirit of communal harmony

Related stories:
Sikhism and Religious Unity
Sikhs & Hindus restore mosques
Sikhism’s 10th guru on Hindu-Muslim Unity

Sikhism and Religious Unity

Guru Granth Sahib
The Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh scriptures) contains 1430 pages of devotional poetry written by Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims

by Sonny Singh (guest writer)

As a brown man with a beard and turban, I am usually perceived as Muslim.  Unfortunately, more often than not, that perception comes with a whole lot of Islamophobic bigotry, but that’s a post for another time.  If someone (politely) asks me if I’m Muslim and I say no, the follow up question is usually, “What are you, Hindu?”

I, along with the vast majority of turban-wearers in this country, am a Sikh (properly pronounced “Sick(h)”).  Many readers would likely recognize me as a Sikh if you saw me walking down the street, but even many of those who know that man + turban = Sikh (gotta love Goodness Gracious Me) nevertheless have been misinformed (or just not informed) about Sikhism.

 The most common misconception I hear from other South Asians about Sikhi is that it is a sect of Hinduism.  Perhaps a warrior caste even (ironic, given that Sikhi from its inception was an anti-caste revolution).  Another more understandable misconception, or oversimplification, is that Sikhism is a blend of Hinduism and Islam.  The reality is that Sikhism is an independent faith with almost 30 million followers, making it the fifth largest religion in the world.

But first, let’s back up.  Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak, a mystic poet, saint, and revolutionary who was born (to Hindu parents) in Punjab in 1469.  Around the age of 30, after emerging from having disappeared for three days while bathing in a river, Guru Nanak stated, “Na koi Hindu, Na Koi Mussalman” (there is no Hindu, there is no Muslim).

This provocative statement wasn’t intended to be a diss to Hinduism and Islam.  As Sikh scholar Nikki Guninder Kaur states, “Guru Nanak was not making a value judgment about, nor refuting, the religious life of the Hindus and Muslims of his day.  He was pointing to the oneness of the Trascendent that translates into the oneness and equality of humanity… He was not asking people to abandon their faith and adopt another, but stressing the fundamental, common truth underlying the diverse faiths and systems of belief.”

Like his contemporary Kabir and other saints associated with the radical bhakti movement, Guru Nanak saw religious divisions and rigidity as obstacles to the Divine.  South Asia at the time was under the rule of the Mughal Empire, which was often at odds with Hindus.  He saw a society brimming with hypocrisy, intolerance, caste oppression and sexism, all in the name of God.  Guru Nanak traveled around Asia and the Middle East engaging the people he met about questions of God, religion, injustice, and love, while singing his devotional poetry, accompanied by a Muslim musician, Bhai Mardana.

Golden Temple, Amristar

Almost two hundred years later, Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth and final living Guru of the Sikhs continued to emphasize unity:
…Hindus and Muslims are one.
The same Reality is the Creator and Preserver of all;

Know no distinctions between them.
The monastery and the mosque are the same;
So are the Hindu worship and the Muslim prayer.
Humans are all one!

Of course, contemporary Sikh institutions have not been immune to the powerful ideologies (and pathologies) of arrogance, sectarianism, and patriarchy (I write about some of these contentious issues in our community at The Langar Hall).  Perhaps if Guru Nanak were alive today he might say, “There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim, there is no Sikh.”

Despite the problems inherent in most religious institutions, we Sikhs in the end rely on the poetry of the Guru Granth Sahib to inspire us.  The Guru Granth Sahib is a 1430 page collection of devotional poetry written by six of the Sikh Gurus and nineteen Hindu and Muslim saints from the Radical Bhakti and Sufi traditions (including Kabir, Sheikh Farid, Namdev, and Ravidas).  Indeed, you don’t have to look any further than the Sikh scriptures to see Hindu-Muslim (and Sikh) unity embodied.

artist depiction of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak and Mardana, Muslim musician and companion

Sahas tav nain, nan nain hah tohe kau, sahas murat nanaa ek tohi.
Sahas pad bimal, nan ek pad, gandh bin, sahas tav gandh, iv chatal  mohi.
Sabh maih jot jot hai soe.
Tis de chaanan sabh mai chaanan hoe.

You have a thousand eyes yet without eye are You,
You have a thousand faces yet without face are You,
You have a thousand feet yet without foot are You,
You have a thousand noses yet without nose are You,
I am enchanted by Your wonders.
There is a Light in all, and the Light is You,
By that Light we are all illuminated.