Tag Archives: sikh

Hindu Muslim Unity: a Sufi and Sikh spread a message of love

Mian Mir shrine, Lahore

Mian Mir shrine, Lahore

LAHORE: During recent travels, I happened upon the shrine of renowned Sufi saint Hazrat Mian Mir of the Qadariyyah Sufi order in Lahore.

The goal of human life, according to Sufis, is to realise the divinity within; irrespective of cast, creed and religion. Harminder Sahib, in this sense, is more of a cultural hub for the people of Punjab; it is a place where self-actualisation is promoted. It is also marked as a Gurdawar — literally meaning Lord’s door or the door of the Guru.

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Hindu Muslim Unity: Pakistan’s Sufis, Jains, and Sadhus

Traveling Malang

Traveling Malang

The tomb of the Sufi saint Daud Bandagi Kirmani is a typical Mughal construction with an octagonal base and a round bulbous white dome. The shrine is covered by a protective wall and there are several other graves in this courtyard, some of his descendants and others of rich people from the city who paid or vied to be buried close to the saint, hoping to achieve salvation through their proximity.

The shrine is located in the centre of this city of Shergarh, a historical city located about 100 kilometers south of Lahore. The city as well is protected by a fort like wall. Whereas such walls of larger cities in India were razed down by the British after 1857, they remained untouched in smaller cities. The entire city was celebrating the annual 3 day celebration of the urs of the saint. All streets and roads in here had been converted into a makeshift bazaar. Smell of freshly prepared samosa lingered in the air. Some were selling eatables to those who did not want to partake in the langaar at the shrine. Most of the shops were selling religious paraphernalia – sacred threads, bangles, rings with special stones, items one is likely to encounter outside major Hindu temples. In fact to an unacquainted visitor this might as well be the threshold of a Hindu temple. The only difference would be the posters. All the posters here represented iconic Muslim saints like Daud Bandagi, Baba Farid, and Shahbaz Qalandar, while posters outside Hindu temples sell Hindu images. Women, men, children, old and young, all throng to the shrine for these festivities.

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Hindu Muslim Unity: Bhakti and Sufi traditions unite India and Pakistan

Sufi Muslim offering prayer in Rajasthan, India

Sufi Muslim offering prayer in Rajasthan, India

The Sufi and Bhakti tradition in Pakistan and India are two such trends from within Islam and Hinduism respectively, that are focused more on the unity of humanity as a whole, overcoming sectarian divides.

The saints from these traditions had massive appeal among people of different religions and they were away from the centers of power, unlike the clergy. We have seen rich traditions of people like Kabir, Tukaram, Narsi Mehta, Shankar Dev, Lal Dedh, clearly from within the Hindu tradition, while Nizamuddin Auliya, Moinuddin Chishti, Tajuddin Baba Auliya Ajan Pir, Nooruddin Noorani (also known as Nund Rishi) coming from a clear Sufi tradition and Satya Pir, Ramdev Baba Pir, having a mixed lineage, where Bhakti and Sufi themselves are deeply intertwined.

Sant Guru Nanak did try a conscious mixing of the two major religions of India. He traveled up to Makkah to learn the wisdom of Islam and went to Kashi to unravel the spiritual moral aspects of Hinduism. His first follower was Mardan; and Miyan Mir was the one who was respectfully invited to lay the foundations of the Golden Temple of the holy Sikh Shrine. Guru Granth Sahib has an inclusive approach to religious wisdom. No wonder people referred to him as, ‘Baba Nanak Sant Fakir, Hindu ka Guru Musalman ka Pir’ (Saint Nanak is a saint for Hindus and a pir for Muslims).

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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.”

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Hindu Muslim Unity: Pakistani rickshaws promote peace

rickshaws in Lahore, Pakistan promote messages of tolerance

LAHORE: What started off as a humble attempt to provide a counter narrative to extremism and hate speech has turned into a campaign reaching out to hundreds of people through advertisements promoting social and religious coexistence using rickshaws.

The campaign is run by the Institute of Peace and Secular Studies (IPSS) – a society working for tolerance, equality and peaceful coexistence. It has spread the message through 2,400 flexes pasted on rickshaws across the city. The flexes were designed for free thanks to volunteers. Discounts were available for printing.

“Our message is not radical. We use mild language and promote peaceful co-existence citing Islamic traditions and sayings of the Quaid-i-Azam,” says Diep, member of IPSS.

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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.

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Hindu Muslim Unity: Sikh symposium promotes communal harmony

While Sikhism is a distinct religion from Hinduism & Islam it has made major contributions to inter-religious harmony

AMRITSAR: “Sikhism is a Panth which was founded on the principles of interfaith understanding, mutual respect and harmony” said former Jathedar during the inaugural address of symposium on Contribution of Sikhism.

Dr. Singh said politicians were dividing the people in the name of religion for their own benefits. He said that the holy scripture, Sri Guru Granth Sahib was not only on for Sikhs but for the whole humanity. He also stated that the divine teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib provide directions to lead balanced life and being a good human.

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Sikhism & Religious Unity
Muslims offered prayer space in Gurdwara
10th guru on Hindu-Muslim Unity
Sikhs & Hindus rebuild mosques

Hindu Muslim Unity: Muslims offered prayer space in 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:

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

Hindu Muslim Unity: feasting together on Diwali and Eid

feasting on holidays

feasting on holidays

KASHMIR: Kashmiri Pandits to invite their Muslim brethren to feast with them during this and other major Hindu festivals. Likewise, Muslims entertain their Hindu neighbours during their festivals, especially on Eid.

“We organised Eid and Diwali Milan on the same day to give a message to the outside world that we are still together and we will be together, no matter what,” Tickoo told Khabar. “Our Muslim friends and neighbours visit our homes and we celebrate the festival together. During Eid, we too visit our neighbours and share the food together.” Srinagar resident Shaban Mohammad told Khabar that local Muslims take part in every non-Muslim festival. “We have political uncertainty in Kashmir, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t take part in the non-Muslim festivals. Every year, I visit homes of Kashmiri Pandits and even Sikhs during their festivals,” he said.

Read more: Communal Harmony

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.

Hindu Muslim and Sikh Unity in Pakistan: Sikhs and Hindus restore mosques destroyed during Partition

Joga Singh with a maulvi outside the mosque in Sarwarpur that his brother Sajjan helped reconstruct

Sikhs and Hindus are helping restore mosques destroyed during Partition

Around 200 mosques across Punjab have been repaired, rebuilt or built from scratch with the help of Sikhs and Hindus in the last 10 years. Many destroyed during Partition riots are now being restored by village communities.

Read more: Communal Harmony