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Islam and Sikhism

Islam is an Abrahamic religion with approximately 1.6 billion followers, founded in Arabian peninsula by Prophet Muhammed in the 7th century CE. Sikhism is a Dharmic religion with approximately 30 million followers, founded in the Punjab region by Guru Nanak in the 15th century CE.

Islam is a verbal noun (an action) meaning voluntary submission to god. The term 'Muslim' refers to one who performs this act.[1] The word Sikh is derived from a Hindu word meaning 'disciple', or one who learns.[2]

Islam is monotheistic, while Sikhism has been called as monotheistic as well as pantheistic.[3][4] Islam restricts primary sources of teachings to the Quran and the Hadith.[5] Sikhism believes in a plurality of Gurus, multiple texts, and is openly accepting of spiritual wisdom from other religions.[3][6]


Sikhism believes that God does not take any human forms, and rejects the idea of gods.[3] Sikhism has been called a form of pantheism,[4] as well as monotheism.[3]

Islam's doctrine of tawḥīd is of a single transcendental god beyond any comprehension or bounds. Tawhid places an emphasis on unity of god, and is against idols or other gods.[7]

Guru, Messengers, Prophets

Sikhism believes that there were many rightful messengers, include Krishna, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed and the ten human Gurus of Sikhs.[3]

Muslims believe that there were many prophets and messengers messages for specific 'ummah'.[8] Explicitly these include Jesus and Moses, but implicitly many others around the world.[9] Muslims believe Muhammad was the final and definitive messenger, and that the Qur'an (word of God) and Sunnah (life of the prophet) represent complete and timeless guidance for all of humanity.[5]

Social beliefs

Sikhism has an ambivalent attitude towards miracles and rejects any form of discrimination within and against other religions.[10][11] Sikhism does not believe in rituals, but is permissive of traditions.[6] Sikhism rejects asceticism and celibacy.[12] Sikh guru Nanak accepted reincarnation.[12] Adi Granth of Sikhism includes spiritual wisdom from saints of other religions.[6]

Because Islam considers itself to be a perfect and final religion, [13] it does not accept doctrinal wisdom or spiritual practice from other religions, and warns against innovation (bid‘ah).[6] Islam also rejects asceticism and celibacy.[14] Islam relates and reiterates miracles and testimonials from other specific Abrahamic faiths, adherents to which are granted status as people of the book. Implicit status has been applied to Sikhs and other Dharmic religions by past rulers.[15] Islam has severe punishments in the afterlife (akhirah) for those who do not submit, who understand and reject Islamic teachings (kafir), polytheists, idolatry, and 'unbelievers'.


Islam does not accept Sikh views on reincarnation,[12] but has resurrection on Yawm al-Qiyāmah (Arabic: يوم القيامة) or the "Day of Resurrection/Judgement Day", which is a core part of the faith.


Sikhism believes in predestination, and what one does, speaks and hears is already pre ordained, and one has to simply follow the laid down path per God's fiat or Hukum.[16]

Islam also believes in predestination, or divine preordainment (al-qadā wa l-qadar), God has full knowledge and control over all that occurs.[17][18] According to Islamic tradition, all that has been decreed by God is written in al-Lawh al-Mahfūz, the "Preserved Tablet".[19][full citation needed]

Differences between Islam and Sikhism

Articles of Faith

The Five Pillars of Islam (Arabic: أركان الإسلام‎) is the term given to the five duties incumbent on every Muslim. These duties are Shahada (profession of faith), Salat (prayers), Zakat (giving alms), Sawm (fasting during ramadan) and Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). Different Shi'a groups have additional practices which usually substantially overlap with the five Sunni pillars.[20][21]

The Three Pillars of Sikhism Guru Nanak formalised three basic guidelines for Sikhs: Naam Japna (focus of God), Kirat Karni (honest living) and Vand Chakna (sharing with others).[citation needed]


For Sikhs, prayers consist of script recitation. For most Sikhs there are five daily prayers which are recommended, but not strictly obligatory (depending on particular branch of Sikhism). There are three morning prayers, one evening prayer, and one bedtime prayer.

Five daily prayers (or salat) are prescribed in detail in Islam. These consist of ritual cleanliness (wudu), script recitation, and ritual prostration in the direction of the qiblah. They are performed at five times: pre-dawn, post-noon, and specific parts of of sunset. Salat is one of the pillars of Islam, and is obligatory for Muslims.[22]


Muslims must only consume halal foods, which include sacrificial ritual and reduced meat consumption. Muslims fast for the month of Ramadan. Sikhs are strictly prohibited from eating meat killed in sacrifice (kutha meat) as it's considered inhumane. Sikhs must eat approved (or 'jhatka' meat). Many Sikhs including Gurudwara langar are lacto-vegetarian.[23]

Grooming & Public Appearance

Sikh men and women follow the the five Ks to distinguish their appearance. They may not cut their hair (kesh) and men must wear turbans. Men and women must also carry a wodden comb, a metal bracelet, wear kachera underwear, and carry a kirpan (defensive sword). Sikh do not practice circumcision.

Muslim males are circumcised, required to grow their beards and body hair, old men are encouraged to colour their hair, and men have modest dress restrictions. Muslim women are required to conform with hijab. Muslim men and women practice adab at all times, including gender segregation.

Work, Taxation & Charity

Sikhism, not having a legal system, does not have any views on taxation, but encourages alms-giving and hard work.[24] Sikh community gurdwara provide free food for all visitors.

Islam compels payment of a special tax called Jizya from dhimmi, non-Muslim believers living in Muslim states.[25][26] In practice, Jizya has been a tool of social stratification and subordination of non-Muslims,[26] in some cases creating financial and political incentives to convert to Islam, and in others providing incentives for the ruling class to conceal Islam.[26][27] Muslims are encouraged to work, and all Muslims are always obligated to pay alms of 2.5% wealth (i.e. assets, income) yearly (zakat).


Islam is a religion with strict laws. These laws are interpreted by qualified legal scholars, called Ulama. Free interpretation of the religion is considered Bid‘ah, a sin. Apostasy or vocal heresy may be punishable by death in an Islamic state.[28][29]

Sikhism allows apostasy and free interpretation.[30]

Holy sites

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The Harmandir Sahib (also known as the Golden Temple).

The Golden Temple Amritsar India (Sri Harimandir Sahib Amritsar) is not only a central religious place of the Sikhs, but also a symbol of human brotherhood and equality. The four entrances of this holy shrine from all four directions, signify that people belonging to every walk of life are equally welcome. The Golden Temple is a holy site for Sikhs.[31]

Mecca in Saudi Arabia is the central religious place in Islam.[32][33] Mecca is regarded as the holiest city in Islam,[34] and a pilgrimage to it, known as the Hajj, is one of the pillars of Islam.


Sikhs do not believe in pilgrimages.

Muslims consider Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) one of the five pillars of Islam.

Sufis and Sikhs

The Sikh Gurus had coordial relations with many Islamic sufi saints. The words of Baba Farid that resonates with panenthiestic Sikh Philosophy were included in Guru Granth Sahib by fifth Guru Guru Arjan Dev for example

"Fareed, the Creator is in the Creation, and the Creation abides in God. Whom can we call bad? There is none without Him. ||75|| "(Guru Granth Sahib)

In December 1588, a Sufi saint of Lahore, Mian Mir,[35][36] who was a close friend of Guru Arjan Dev, initiated the construction of the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) by laying the first foundation stone.[37][better source needed]

Peer Buddhu Shah and Shah Bhikhan were very close to tenth Guru Guru Gobind Singh .,[35][38][39][40][41][41][42][43][44][44]

Historical persecution

File:Guru ArjanDev.jpg
Guru Arjan was executed by a Mughal emperor in 1606 CE, amid rising persecution of Sikhs.[47] The execution is considered a watershed event in the history of Sikhism.[47]

During the Mughal Empire, Sikh gurus were persecuted along with other non-Muslims. The fifth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Arjan was executed by Jahangir.[48]

Guru Hargobind, (sixth Guru of the Sikhs), after the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev saw that it would no longer be possible to protect the Sikh community without the aid of arms.[49] He built Akal Takhat the Throne of the Immortal and it is the highest political institution of the Sikhs and he also wore two swords of Miri and Piri.[50]

Guru Tegh Bahadur (ninth Guru) was beheaded at Chandni Chowk, Delhi for protecting Kashmiri Pandits who were forced to convert to Islam by Aurangzeb, along with fellow devotees Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Sati Das and Bhai Dayala.[51] Tenth Guru Guru Gobind Singh formed Khalsa known as Army of Akal Purakh (Immortal) and Gave 5 Ks to Khalsa . Two of the younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh aged only 9 and 7 were bricked up alive by the Muslim governor Wazir Khan in Sarhand (Punjab). When Guru Gobind Singh was in South India, he sent Banda Singh Bahadur to chastise the tyrannical Mughal faiy`dar of Sirhind. Banda Singh captured Sirhind and laid the foundation of Sikh empire[52][53]

During Mughal Emperor Akbar's rule, diverse religions were temporarily accepted. Akbar visited third Sikh Guru, Guru Amardas at Goindwal and taken Langar ie free kitchen there and offered donations for Langar.[54][55]

Recent relations

During the partition of India in 1947, there was much bloodshed between Sikhs and Muslims, there was mass migration of people from all walks of life to leave their homes and belongings and travel by foot across the new border, on trains and on land people were killed in what was felt to be revenge attacks.[56] Millions of Sikhs left Pakistan and moved into India, while millions of Muslims left India and moved into Pakistan.[56]

Since 9/11 Sikhs in America have been mistaken for Muslims and endured countless hate crimes, denied employment, bullied in schools and profiled in airports.[57]

In the UK, there have some instances of tension between Sikhs and Muslims on allegations that some Sikhs have been forced to convert to Islam.[58][59]

In 2009, the Taliban in Pakistan demanded that Sikhs in the region pay them the jizya (poll tax levied by Muslims on non-Muslim minorities).[60]

In 2010 the Taliban attacked many minorities including Sikhs resulting in two beheadings.[61]

Ahmadiyya Muslims and Sikhism

Sikhs and Ahmadi Muslims have historically had very good relations. A lot of Sikh religious representatives are often invited to the Ahmadiyya National Jalsa in Qadian, India.[62] Even today Sikhs have very good relations with the Ahmadi Muslims.[63] The Fourth Calif of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community referred to Sikhs as his own brothers. In 2005 the fifth Calif of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community visited Qadian India where he met several Sikh leaders who showed him great love and affection due to their historical strong ties with Ahmadies.[64] Ahmadies view Guru Nanak as a very holy person and a great Saint. Thus Guru Nanak serves as a great uniting factor between Ahmadi Muslims and Sikhs. In fact Sikhism as known today was started around 200 years after the Gurus death. Guru Nanak did not teach the 5 k's of Sikhism. These were introduced by the 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, who also introduced the element of militancy into Sikhism. They claim that Guru Gobind Singh had political problems with the Moghuls (who were Muslims) some of whom at times unfairly persecuted non-Muslims. As a result of these political wars some people of the Punjab region started resenting the Moghuls and all that they stood for; which of course included their religion Islam.[65][66][67] Overtime the movement against Moghuls became stronger and stronger and the hatred towards Moghuls also turned into hatred towards Islam by some Sikhs. Guru Gobind Singh played a key role in organising a military against the Moghuls and introduced the 5 k's to them as well.[68] At the time of Guru Nanak's death there were no Sikhs as known today. At his funeral only Muslims and Hindus were present and both demanded the body of Guru Nanak. Hindus wanted to burn it as they claimed that he was born into a Hindu family. Muslims wanted to bury the body .[69] The founder of the Ahmadiyya, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, also wrote a book called Sat Bachan in the late 19th century in which he defended Guru Nanak against attacks by a prominent Hindu leader of the time. In his book, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad demonstrates that Guru Nanak was not a person of bad character as claimed by some Hindus at the time but was a very pious holy saint.[68][68][70]

See also


  1. ^ Islam: The Religion and The People. Wharton. 2009. p. 8. ISBN 9780132230858.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  2. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 2015-05-25. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Johal, Jagbir (2011). Sikhism today. Continuum. pp. 1–2. ISBN 978-1-4411-8140-4. 
  4. ^ a b Sikhism in Its Relation to Muhammadanism, p. 12, at Google Books
  5. ^ a b Gülen, Fethullah (2005). The Messenger of God Muhammad : an analysis of the Prophet's life. p. 204. ISBN 978-1-932099-83-6. 
  6. ^ a b c d Gurapreet Singh (2003). The soul of Sikhism. p. 18. ISBN 978-81-288-0085-6. 
  7. ^ "From the article on Tawhid in Oxford Islamic Studies Online". 2008-05-06. Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  8. ^ "Surat Yunus [10:47] - The Noble Qur'an - القرآن الكريم". Retrieved 2015-05-25. 
  9. ^ Wheeler. Historical Dictionary of Prophets in Islam and Judaism. pp. "Prophets". 
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b c Carmody, Denise (2013). Ways to the center : an introduction to world religions. p. 339. ISBN 978-1-133-94225-2. 
  13. ^ Juergensmeyer, Mark (2006). The Oxford handbook of global religions. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-976764-9. 
  14. ^ "Islamic Marriage". Retrieved 2015-05-24. 
  15. ^ The Chach Nama English translation by Mirza Kalichbeg Fredunbeg. Delhi Reprint, 1979.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  16. ^ Gurapreet Singh (2003). The soul of Sikhism. pp. 127–128. ISBN 978-81-288-0085-6. 
  17. ^ See:
    • Quran 9:51
    • D. Cohen-Mor (2001), p.4: "The idea of predestination is reinforced by the frequent mention of events 'being written' or 'being in a book' before they happen: 'Say: "Nothing will happen to us except what Allah has decreed for us…" ' "
    • Ahmet T. Karamustafa. "Fate". Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an Online.  : The verb qadara literally means "to measure, to determine". Here it is used to mean that "God measures and orders his creation".
  18. ^ A Dictionary of Islam: By Thomas Patrick Hughes ISBN 81-206-0672-8 Page 591
  19. ^ Farah (2003), pp.119–122; Patton (1900), p.130; Momen (1987), pp.177,178
  20. ^ See: * Mumen (1987), p.178 "Pillars of Islam". Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. 
  21. ^ Knight, Ian; Scollins (23 March 1990). Richard, ed. Queen Victoria's Enemies: India No.3. Men-at-arms (Paperback ed.). Osprey Publishing; illustrated edition. p. 15. ISBN 0-85045-943-5. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  22. ^ Fisher, Mary (1997). Living religions : an encyclopedia of the world's faiths. p. 353. ISBN 978-1-86064-148-0. 
  23. ^ In pictures: Sikhs in Britain
  24. ^ Rai, Priya (1989). Sikhism and the Sikhs. Greenwood Press. p. 230-233. ISBN 978-0-313-26130-5. 
  25. ^ John Louis Esposito, Islam the Straight Path, Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 33-34
  26. ^ a b c Anver M. Emon, Religious Pluralism and Islamic Law: Dhimmis and Others in the Empire of Law, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0199661633, pp. 99-109
  27. ^ Majid Khadduri (2010), War and Peace in the Law of Islam, Johns Hopkins University Press; pp. 162–224; ISBN 978-1-58477-695-6
  28. ^ Ali, Kecia (2008). Islam : the key concepts. Routledge. pp. 10–11. ISBN 978-0-415-39638-7. 
  29. ^ Esposito, John (2003). The Oxford dictionary of Islam. Oxford University Press. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-19-512559-7. 
  30. ^ Pal Kaur, Apostasy: A sociological perspective, Sikh Review, 45(1), 1997, pp. 37-40
  31. ^ The Sikhism Home Page: Sri Guru Granth Sahib
  32. ^ Historical value of the Qur'ân and the Ḥadith A.M. Khan
  33. ^ What Everyone Should Know About the Qur'an Ahmed Al-Laithy
  34. ^ Nasr, Seyyed. Mecca, The Blessed, Medina, The Radiant: The Holiest Cities of Islam. Aperture. 2005
  35. ^ a b c d e f Harban Singh; Punjabi University (1998). Encyclopedia of Sikhism. Punjabi University. ISBN 81-7380-530-X. 
  36. ^ A Gateway to Sikhism | The Sikh Saints:Mian Mir – A Gateway to Sikhism
  37. ^ Harmandir Sahib Amritsar, Swarn Mandir India, Golden Temple India, Swarna Mandir Amritsar, Swarn Mandir In Punjab
  38. ^
  39. ^ Deol, Harnik (2000). Religion and Nationalism in India. London and New York: Routledge. The case of Punjab; 189. ISBN 978-0-415-20108-7. 
  40. ^ A Punjabi saying of those times was "khada peeta laahey daa, te rehnda Ahmad Shahey daa" which translates to, "what we eat and drink is our property; the rest belongs to Ahmad Shah."
  41. ^ a b Pak delegation arrives to celebrate Bhai Mardana's 550 birth anniversary
  42. ^ Sikh Personalities
  43. ^ A Gateway to Sikhism | Early Gursikhs: Bhai Mardana – A Gateway to Sikhism
  44. ^ a b Sikh Bhagats :Bhagat Bhikhan Ji
  45. ^ Bhagat Beni Ji
  46. ^ A Gateway to Sikhism | Sikh Bhagats : Baba Sheikh Farid Ji – A Gateway to Sikhism
  47. ^ a b Pashaura Singh (2005), Understanding the Martyrdom of Guru Arjan, JPS 12:1, pp. 29-62
  48. ^ Singh, Prof. Kartar (2003-01-01). Life Story Of Guru Nanak. Hemkunt Press. p. 90. ISBN 978-81-7010-162-8. Retrieved 26 November 2010. 
  49. ^ V. D. Mahajan (1970). Muslim Rule In India. S. Chand, New Delhi, p.223.
  50. ^
  51. ^ Kohli, Mohindar (1992). Guru Tegh Bahadur : testimony of conscience. p. 33-61. ISBN 978-81-7201-234-2. 
  52. ^ Singh, Prithi Pal. The history of Sikh Gurus. Lotus Press. p. 158. ISBN 81-8382-075-1. 
  53. ^ Abel, Ernest. "Life of Banda Singh". 
  54. ^ Singh, Inderpal; Kaur, Madanjit; University, Guru Nanak Dev (1997). Guru Nanak, a global vision. Guru Nanak Dev University. ASIN B0000CP9NT. Retrieved 26 November 2010. 
  55. ^ Shah, Giriraj (1999). Saints, gurus and mystics of India. Cosmo Publications. p. 378. ISBN 81-7020-856-4. Retrieved 26 November 2010. 
  56. ^ a b Pandey, Gyanendra (2001). Remembering partition violence, nationalism, and history in India. Cambridge University Press. pp. 1–19, 83–88, 153–158. ISBN 978-0-521-00250-9. 
  57. ^
  58. ^ "Forced" Conversions: An Investigation
  59. ^ Protest march over 'conversions'
  60. ^ "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India – World". Retrieved 2010-03-09. 
  61. ^ "Pak Sikhs seeks security, Indian citizenship". 2010-02-23. Retrieved 2010-03-09. 
  62. ^ Ahmadiyya as viewed by others – Kashmira Singh (Punjabi). YouTube (2008-01-25). Retrieved on 2011-05-14.
  63. ^ Ahmadiyya as viewed by others – Mr. Inderjeet Opal. YouTube (2008-01-25). Retrieved on 2011-05-14.
  64. ^ Hazrat Khalifa Tul Massih V in Qadian. YouTube (2007-04-21). Retrieved on 2011-05-14.
  65. ^ Surinder Singh Kohli, Sikhism and Major World Religions Singh Brothers, Amritsar, 1995, page 96. ISBN 81-7205-134-4
  66. ^ N.D. Ahuja
  67. ^ Daljeet Singh, page 227.
  68. ^ a b c Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Retrieved on 2011-05-14.
  69. ^ Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Retrieved on 2011-05-14.
  70. ^ Urdu Question – Is there anything common between Sikhs and Muslims? Guru Baba Nanak. YouTube (2009-09-29). Retrieved on 2011-05-14.

Further reading

External links