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Sikhs in the Middle East


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I wrote this some 2 years ago. The only addition I've made is the second last paragraph about Captain Amrinder Singh as that happened later.

What I am going to write is based on what I have heard and read from other fellow Sikhs. Since Sikhs in the Middle East have no media of their own, I have to rely on this information as the final word and don’t have any solid back up as evidence. Also, most of this is my own personal experience living as a Sikh in the Middle East. The country I am going to focus primarily on is the United Arab Emirates, which is where I am currently residing.

Sikhs have been here even before this country became a federation, which was in December 1971. Not just Sikhs, but basically Indians from different parts of India are known to have come and settled here as early as the 1940s. There are a number of Gurdwaras here, some of them are authorized and legal, while the others are not. In my initial 18 years of stay here before I left for the US in 1998, I came across 3 Gurdwaras getting closed down. I must point out that the Muslims or Arabs are not solely responsible for the Gurdwaras being closed down. As sad as it is to say this, rather than the Muslims it was few of our own power hungry fellow Sikhs who caused this to happen. Even false complaints were made to the concerned authorities by such so-called Sikhs who got the Gurdwaras closed down only because they were unable to gain power by other means.

What impresses me, however, is that a good number of Sikh families have very well enshrined basic Sikh values in their kids. Most of the Sikh girls in my college always dress up in the traditional salwar-kameez. As for the guys, they gel and tie their beards rather than trimming them. I have come across only one Sikh in my college who trims his beard, and even smokes, and another who is haircut and clean shaven.

A good number of Singhs here are construction laborers and truck drivers. They are the ones you will usually see with open beards and orange turbans, with Khandas on their trucks, making your day early in the morning when you get going to your daily destination. The Singhs do loads of sewa in the Gurdwaras. A good number of jathas also visit this country. Keertan, kathas and even Amrit Sanchaars take place I heard. The Prakash Utsav of Guru Nanak Dev Jee as well as Vasakhi are celebrated with great zeal, although we don’t have the freedom to have a Nagar Keertan.

One of my Sikh friend’s father is a professor in a university in Oman, another country in the Middle East. I met him twice when I was in the US. He told me that Oman is by far the most liberal country in terms of religious freedom, the other I guess is Bahrain. In Oman, Hindus and Sikhs have their places of worship without any kind of legal obstructions. I myself saw on TV several years ago the king of Bahrain gifting a golden pot lined with pearls to Swami Narayan, a prominent Hindu saint hailing from the western Indian state of Gujarat when he visited Bahrain. Another story I came across from this gentleman is about how the Sikhs saved the life of one of the kings of Oman when he had a tussle for the throne with his own brother. After he came to power, he offered the Sikhs citizenship of Oman, something totally unheard of in other Arab countries as non-Muslims cannot be citizens. But the Sikhs politely refused the offer. This further makes it clear as to how much the Sikhs are respected over here.

Even in the UAE, Sikhs are respected as hard working, honest and peaceful people. There are wealthy Sikh businessmen as well as construction workers and truck drivers. One thing pretty interesting is that there isn’t a single Sikh cab driver in this part of the world. The reason remains unknown to me. Another thing I heard is that Sikhs are not allowed in Saudi Arabia, and even if they are, it is only in limited and controlled numbers. No non-Muslim is allowed within a radius of some specified kilometers around the holy Kaabaa in Mecca. There are close to 500 Sikh families in Iran and there also they enjoy the respect of the local population.

Punjab’s former chief minister Capt. Amrinder Singh had a tie-up with one of UAE’s leading property builders who were to construct complexes in Chandigarh, but the Singhs in Dubai told him that the government doesn’t allow constructing Gurdwaras, so how could he being a Sikh have them make money from Punjab? Captain took the matter with the Dubai authorities, and Sikhs were allowed a Gurdwara. I have visited this place myself in November 2006 on the occasion of Sahib Sri Guru Nanak Dev Jee’s parkash utsav. This is going to be the UAE’s very first licensed as well as registered Gurdwara. There are other licensed ones but this is the very first one that is registered. It will have ground floor for parking, 1st floor for langar hall, and second floor will be Gurdwara. They plan on making it based on the design of the new Gurdwara in Southall, UK. What delighted me the most was the sign boards on the roads, having a Khanda sign with Gurdwara written under it, and an arrow pointing to the direction. I asked myself “Is this real the Middle East?â€

In the end, I would like to conclude by saying that Sikhs are a very respected lot over here. Those who disagree will only have to come here and see as well as experience for themselves. I myself have personally come across a number of Arabs and Pakistanis who were total strangers to me, yet who showered me with respect and affection only because I am a Sikh.

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I wrote this some 2 years ago. The only addition I've made is the second last paragraph about Captain Amrinder Singh as that happened later.

Veer ji, I fully agree with you. infact I have met some people in Dubai they are even taking the construction of a full architectural type of Gurudwara, 3-story.

but this is UAE....

In UAE there are night clubs that run after 11pm and up until 3 am. You can drink in UAE.. there are prostitutes in UAE.

UAE is like another European country, where many whites live. So I wouldnt say anything about UAE.

but talk about Iran ! ... ... Iran and UAE are totally different veer ji...they are not even similar one-bit.

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Veer ji, overall middle east countries are not good for kids, they make your kids go dumb, bcoz there is no extra-ciricular activites.. it is just going to school, homework, eat food and sleep and the same for the working class also, only work-eat-sleep-work-eat-sleep..

yes there are some malls and outdoors you can go, but no natural beauty. ..and the weather is plain hot.

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I don't know Veer Ji. At my uni we have many Iranian studies studying medicine and they all did extra curricular activities like painting, music and sport. And they all studied and lived in Iran before they came here.

Also Veer Ji you say:

"In UAE there are night clubs that run after 11pm and up until 3 am. You can drink in UAE.. there are prostitutes in UAE.

UAE is like another European country, where many whites live. So I wouldnt say anything about UAE. "

These things are anti-gurmat and in Khalsa Raj these things would be forbidden too. Why do you think Iran is a bad country if they ban such sinful things?

I am just trying to understand.

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I don't know Veer Ji. At my uni we have many Iranian studies studying medicine and they all did extra curricular activities like painting, music and sport. And they all studied and lived in Iran before they came here.

Also Veer Ji you say:

"In UAE there are night clubs that run after 11pm and up until 3 am. You can drink in UAE.. there are prostitutes in UAE.

UAE is like another European country, where many whites live. So I wouldnt say anything about UAE. "

These things are anti-gurmat and in Khalsa Raj these things would be forbidden too. Why do you think Iran is a bad country if they ban such sinful things?

I am just trying to understand.

Kavita Kaur ji

by middle east i meant to say countries like "Saudi-UAE-BAHRAIN-QATAR" etc..... Iran-Iraq are left out ..those are big countries... but ppl who live in UAE-Bahrian-qatar, oman these countries are usually considered one council... they can roam around free.

Yes drinking, clubbing is anti-gurmat. .... but then again Gurmat doesnt force itself on anyone. Gurmat doesnt say that you have to kill someone who drinks. it doesnt say you have to ban disco clubs...

Gurmat is to be followed by personally by ourselves and not to be used as a "LAW" to force others and thats where freedom and democracy comes in. Every individual has to decide fro him/herself

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Veer Ji when Khalsa Raj arrives all these things will be banned. Gurbani does in many cases promote violence against sinners. Rahitname have precise instructions on fines and corporal punishments for public drinking, visiting prostitutes.

The way I see it any country that bans sinful things follows God's Hukam whatever religion they are.

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Veer Ji when Khalsa Raj arrives all these things will be banned. Gurbani does in many cases promote violence against sinners. Rahitname have precise instructions on fines and corporal punishments for public drinking, visiting prostitutes.

The way I see it any country that bans sinful things follows God's Hukam whatever religion they are.

Veer ji,

What are you saying? Sikhism is a path to goto God , it has nothing to do with being a set of laws or a sharia-type thing to govern people in a country.

The rehitnamas, the rehat... is to be followed personally as everyone is at a different state of englightenment, it is not to be forced on someone and someone should not be forced to follow also.

If someone drinks alcohol... I'd tell him to start doing simran and path at the sametime also.. so that he will get enlightened though simran and ultmately be able to have the strenght of leaving alcohol be it in this life or the next.

If you are talking about punishment and banning things.. I would say you are going to become the Next Mr. Taliban.

Guru ji did not punish anyone for such doings, but Guru ji just concentrated saved everyone with love and not with punishment or by force and nor did Guru ji force anyone to do anything.

I know Maharaja Ranjit Singh was punished a couple of times.. but that was he also had shardha, he peshed and he accepted the punishment, it was not like someone picks up someone and executes them.

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but this is UAE....

In UAE there are night clubs that run after 11pm and up until 3 am. You can drink in UAE.. there are prostitutes in UAE.

UAE is like another European country, where many whites live. So I wouldnt say anything about UAE.

Is this what you call 'freedom'? Freedom to get druink in public in the middle of the night, and to use prostitutes? So because there is all-night boozing in UAE, and prostitution, you won't say anything bad about UAE? Anything bad that happens because of an abuse of power in UAE you will turn a blind eye to, because they don't care if you're an alcoholic kerb crawler? Is that all it takes to buy your loyalty?

I think I know exactly where you're coming from. By implication perhaps you would be happy for your daughter or sister to be a prostitute 'where many whites live', because that's freedom isn't it?

As I said in the other thread, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) always acted honourably in his dealings with women, and following his example, so this type of conduct is not allowed in Iran.

FYI even in the western countries, prostitution is illegal.

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Singho,

Are you muslim? pls tell the truth.

i repeat, freedom is not about forcing people into doing htings you like.. and whatyou feel right, ... religion and politics should be kept seperate..thast best !!!

as for ppl geting drunk.. we always the police to handle such situation, but you want to execute them just for getting drunk !!!! and you want to give them 50 lashes for it !!!

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singho, do you believe in the veil? i have heard of afghan women getting executed just cos they didnt want to wear the veil....

so tell me do you believe in the pardha system also, veil system also... and you like to force your ideas on people and if they dont follow you then punish them??

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Sorry Veer ji but during the times of Maharaja Ranjit people would receive corporal punishment for prostitution,cutting their kesh. These rules are laid down in the rahitname. Didn't Maharaja Ranjit Sing have to receive punishment from Akali Phula Singh? Veer ji the picture you paint is too one sided. Sorry i am not taking sides just stating facts.

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Kavita that is a very interesting fact about the Sikh rule in India.. thank you. Cutting a Sikh's kesh is to cause a very grave injury, you are right. It is indeed gratifying when a sister takes objective perspective on cultural relativism.

w-bol it is becoming apparent that you are incapable of addressing any of the issues raised in this discussion in a rational, coherent manner. Instead of facts and logic, you have to resort to unsubstantiated emotive comments without a shred of proof to support your vehement anti-Iran anti-Shia position. This brings to mind the old adage: 'empty bottles make the most noise'. So perhaps you are beginning to realise now, that your position is untenable. As Niranjana said, nobody cares about personalities here. Instead, it is becoming interesting the way you are consistently avoiding the issue of the sigheh unions, and even the existence of the pro-women's movement in Iran headed by Shirin Ebadi. You tell me: if it's so bad in Iran, then how come he hasn't been taken out of circulation? After all, this is what you say happens to any Iranian in Iran who speaks ill of the Iranian regime.

On the matter of the rule in Iran, and the way the rules are selected and enforced, this has nothing to do with people 'forcing' anyone to act according to their will, like you said. Rather, it is the rules of Islam as revealed by the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and his family. So, these rules come from God and not from man.

My question to you: what position does Sikh take on prostitution? You accept that prostitution is bad thing - fine. In the western countries, it is not tolerated. It is punished by imprisonment and fines. So, in the Sikh scriptural or doctrinal authority, is there any document concerning the way prostitutes are to be dealt with? Is it an offense to Sikh and if so what is the penalty? IF there is no Sikh reference dealing with the matter of prostitutes, then which law will you refer to? Surely, given that Satguru Nanak Dev ji was a Sufi, and the khalsa an institution belonging to a wider network of similar including Shia, the answer is: the law of God as revealed in the Holy Qu'ran to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) concerning the ways in which men and women are to be treated? Do you at least accept this?

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As per bhai Gurdas ji, Nanak nirmal panth chalaya

Therefore I don't know how can Sikhi be an extension of Shia Islam or Sufism.

Also, calling SatGuru Jee a Sufi or Shia Muslim means He is being placed lower than Hazrat Muhammad Sahib and Imam Ali. But Gurbani says Sab Te Vadda SatGur Nanak Jin Kal Raakhi Meri.

I don't have any knowledge, just trying to respond in the light of Gurbani. Please do not try to propagate the view that SatGuru Jee was a Muslim based on certain facts that view SatGuru Jee as a mere mortal rather than a divine illumination who came to remove spiritual darkness of ignorance. We can have a million questions "How can this happen", "How can this be", because we are mere humans. Gurujee was jaagdi jot. Trying to make judgments by classifying Him as a mere human being is the first and biggest error one can do while discussing.

bhul chuk maaf

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My apologies if I inadvertently causing offense with my remarks. Truly, if you read my post again you will see that there is no offensive remark about Baba Nanak. However, it does seem strange to say that Satguruji was not also a human being. Alternative view does exist but that doesn't mean there is conflict.

'Baba Nanak Shah Fakir, Hindu Ka Guru, Mussalman Ka Pir'

I believe this quotation represents the mainstream position. I am not making assertions about mundane hierarchies of 'higher' or 'lower', just merely trying to have a coherent discussion with w-bol about Iran, with some sense of continuity. Perhaps a separate thread can be made to discuss Satguruji in the context of Shia-Sikh?

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Thank You Singho for your comments. Now I can better understand with whom I am dealing with. Perhaps you should listen to the Suleman Tape which can tell you better about your Prophet PBUH, reference is made in there.

Now as for prostitution. I have mentioned in my previous post that sikhi is a path that leads man to God. It is not an political or a governing body to govern the lifes of people.

Now as for your comments on SatGuru Nanak, let me tell you who SatGuru Nanak was.

First I would like to tell you that there is No Difference between Satguru Nanak and God... God came in the form of Satguru Nanak and this has been mentioned in our bani... So Satguru Nanak was not a muslim, hindu, christain or even a Sikh.. He was JAGAT-GURU.. OR THE TRUE GURU, TRUE MASTER.

SatGuru Nanak was the only Guru who during the time period of 1400s travelled all over india, travelled high up in the himalayas, travelled to saudi arabia, iran, iraq, afghanistan, pakistan and Iraq. An odinary human being or a sufi saint cannot travel that much on his feet.

In Iraq He showered his grace on a muslim fakir who had sat in samadhi in cold winters and summers and his grave is still there in the Gurudwara where he visited. During the Iran-Iraq war many people who believed in Guru Nanak would visit that place in iraq and take the dead bodies of their relatives first to that place and then burry it.

Some facts about Guru Nanak , if you didnt know :

1)Guru Nanak never use to sleep, never use to eat. When Guru Nanak said it was day. The night use to turn to day.

2)Guru Nanak was born enlightened. Guru Nanak knew everything about God from the time of his birth. He didnt goto any school, because He knew everything about the subjects taught in his school. To get his formal intiation he disappeared into a river for three days and came out with the Jap Ji Sahib. I suggest you read Jap Ji Sahib and tell me if you had read anything like that before.

Guru Nanak dev ji is still present in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib today. People who believe this have seen this.

Did you know that there was a doctor who had cancer and there was no cure. So some people asked this doctor to start reciting the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. As this doctor was reciting the SGGS continuously he saw a light coming from the SGGS and his cancer was cured. This story is all over the news.

The holiest place of the Sikhs is the Golden Temple-Amritsar and I just remember three days ago I watched on star news how a blind girl who had faith in the Guru got cured instantly when she was praying at the Golden Temple

Now Let me tell you some facts about Sikhs.

Did you know that sikh women were asked to convert, but when they refused to leave sikhi... their kids were taken and slaughtered into pieces and were made to put as necklaces in their neck and these sikh women would not even shed a single tear in their eyes... thats how strong our women are ! so borther ..forget it.. i suggest you goto a christain or a hindu forum who will follow you.

Man I suggest you and your brother javanmard stop trying to distract my brothers-and-sisters from the path of sikhi, cos you are really wasting your time... cos your persian ancestors and your aurangzeb tried to do that exactly ..but never succeeded.

and please Singh means lion... it doesnt suit you... try changing your name to somthing like "paki"

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w-bol thank you for 'sharing' that diatribe with us here, but to be honest I'm being very kind by entertaining your odious brand of bigotry, racism and Islamophobia by keeping up this discussion with you here as if you had the common manners of an ordinary person when in fact you don't, and I hope you appreciate my generosity and patience.

I don't care whether you're a particularly credulous fanatic with your absurdly exaggerated ghost stories and make-believe, or whether you like to pass racist comments like 'Paki' to make yourself feel like a brave 'Singh' (a Farsi i.e. a Persian word FYI, as is 'khalsa'), but I think your comments do speak volumes about your level of intelligence and your education, or rather your lack thereof. May I suggest you try sikhsangat.com instead? If you want to stay here and discuss this civilly under Formal Debates section then try to answer my post. Here:

My question to you: what position does Sikh take on prostitution? You accept that prostitution is bad thing - fine. In the western countries, it is not tolerated. It is punished by imprisonment and fines. So, in the Sikh scriptural or doctrinal authority, is there any document concerning the way prostitutes are to be dealt with? Is it an offense to Sikh and if so what is the penalty? IF there is no Sikh reference dealing with the matter of prostitutes, then which law will you refer to? Surely, given that Satguru Nanak Dev ji was a Sufi, and the khalsa an institution belonging to a wider network of similar including Shia, the answer is: the law of God as revealed in the Holy Qu'ran to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) concerning the ways in which men and women are to be treated? Do you at least accept this?

So Sikh has nothing to say on the matter of prostitution, hence the Islamic or Indian brahmanical law takes precedence, right?

(P.S. Read the rules on Formal Debates section before posting here again)

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Vaaheguroo! Dhann Guru Nanak! Veerjee where you read that? :)

Mehtaab Singh ji, I did not read that, but I read Bani, I listen to my Kirtan and I know how my Guru was and is.

When I said Guru Nanak Dev ji never use to eat, I meant to say that he had no hunger for food ! ofcourse he ate the dry and sukhi roti of Bhai Lalo and he ignored and rejected the good looking food of that brahmin in that same village. Guru Nanak Dev ji ate whatever sukhi , missi roti that his lovers had to give Him.

BUT

Guru Nanak Dev ji did not have any hunger for food. He was satisfied. He was not bounded by the worldly needs such as foods, sleep, water. He was Giver of these things.

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