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Shri Guru Granth Sahib – Its relevance for Muslims


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Shri Guru Granth Sahib – Its relevance for Muslims

Nanak Singh Nishter

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Adopted from a paper presented by the author at the Fifth Global Conference (2007) on Shri Guru Granth Sahib hosted by Devi Ahilya University & Sri Guru Granth Sahib Vichar Manch, Indore (India).

No Islamic literature could dare to present the strongest contempt for those Muslims who do not offer Nimaz as said by Hazrat Baba Sheikh Farid in Shri Guru Granth Sahib. Hazrat (1175-1265) expired about two and a half-century before Shri Guru Nanak Sahib. Guru Sahib met his eleventh successor Hazrat Ibrahim Farid-I-Sani i.e., the 2nd Farid, collected and preserved his hymns. There is no trace of his hymns anywhere else. After about a hundred years it was included in Shri Guru Granth Sahib, when it was known as “Shri Aad Granth Sahib â€, otherwise this most valuable treasure would have been lost forever.

On page No.1381 it is inscribed that, “O Benimazi (prayer less) dog, this is not a proper way of life. You never come to the Mosque for five times prayers. Get up O Farid, wash your face, hands and legs, and offer the Nimaz in the morning. The head, which does not bow to the Sayeen (God), cut it off (own head) and remove that head. The head, which does not bow before the Sayeen, what is the use of such head? Burn it under the earthen pot in place of firewoodâ€. I have quoted this verse as one example. Otherwise there are many more instructions for Muslims even by the Sikh Gurus to become a true Muslim in accordance with the basic tenet of the Quran in its true letter and spirit.

Shri Guru Granth Sahib is an inter-religious and multi-lingual Universal Scripture of mankind that preaches a Muslim to be a true Muslim and a Hindu to be a true Hindu. And for the Sikh to be above the discrimination of gender, caste, creed, religion, region, nation and breed, a true

Shri Guru Granth Sahib is an inter-religious and multi-lingual secular, spiritual and God fearing perfect human being. In Shri Guru Granth Sahib you will find the teachings for Muslims not only by the Muslims, but also by Sikh Gurus and others, which proves the basic Sikh tenet of respecting other religions. The text reveals how Muslims are to follow their own Scriptures and rituals in true letter and spirit. In the same way Hindus are advised to follow their own Scriptures and rituals in true spirit.

In the title “ Shri Guru Granth Sahib †prefix “ Shri †indicates mark of respect. “ Guru †means Spiritual Guide. Granth means book and the suffix “ Sahib †again marks respect. This title was chosen in the year 1708 by the 10th Guru Shri Guru Gobind Singh to eternally continue the sacred mission of Shri Guru Nanak Sahib for uniting people of all religions. The Sikh place of worship is called a Gurdwara. It means the door to approach the Guru. Shri Guru Granth Sahib is kept open, covered with linen and with utmost respect on a high pedestal in the hall; this process of installing the Granth is called to light (Prakash) the Scripture. The Sikhs receive the light of spiritual guidance from here. People of all religions, castes and creeds, men and women are entitled to enter a Gurdwara. Even during the period of menstruation, which is God’s anatomical mechanism, women are not prohibited to perform any religious functions. Regarding the greatness of women it is questioned, how she who gives birth to kings and saints can be considered impure? In Gurdwara no worship is performed, only recitation of Gurbani (path) is done. No idol, picture or object is kept. Obeisance is offered only before Shri Guru Granth Sahib as a living spiritual guide, and different shastar (arms) are kept before it. Without a Kirpan nobody is entitled to be called a Sikh, nor his prayer is complete. The Sikh and the Kirpan [for protecting the weak against injustice and tyranny] can never be separated. Shri Guru Gobind Singh has specifically ordered, “Not to come before him without shastarâ€.

Sikhism is a unique combination of strength and worship. Shri Guru Nanak Sahib himself had laid down the mental and psychological foundation of this philosophy. It is ignorant distortion of facts to describe that his successor Gurus had adopted the marshal way deviating from the worshipping way of life. To know the real facts of any religion, history can never be a reliable source of information. Only the Scriptures, its contents, and the performance of the followers can lead us to conclusions, which can never be denied. Histories of the olden days or of the present day are manipulated at the behest of the rulers or to please them and often it is not related to the real facts. Whoever wrote factual history was victimised by the rulers and the histories were destroyed. This has happened with the Sikh history too.

To colour as anti-Islam and anti-Muslim, Hindus have presented the Sikhs as a community born to protect them and fight against Muslims. The Muslims have liberally projected the Sikhs as their dead enemies as there was sequence of battles between Sikhs and Muslim rulers, even though there were many Muslims who were devoted to the Sikh cause and suffered with them. Most Hindu writers have spent their entire energy to assimilate the Sikhs as Hindus or declare them as an offshoot of Hinduism. Independent India has put the last nail in the coffin by declaring Sikhs as Hindus in the Constitution of the country.

It is not that the Sikhs have not protested. Their voice was not heard in the drum beatings of the society and state. During every period of history, the Sikhs have struggled through protests, writings and speeches for own independent and separate identity and constantly offered great sacrifices and suffered untold humiliations. In the recent times, such an attempt was maligned as a political revolt against the country and a secessionist Khalistan movement. In 1984 the Blue Star Operation by the military was chosen on the Martyrdom day of Shri Guru Arjan Sahib, the compiler of Shri Guru Granth Sahib and founder of the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple). On this occasion not even an inch of space is available in any Gurdwara due to a heavy rush of visitors. The Golden Temple and 74 other Gurdwaras were stormed, desecrated, plundered and thousands of Sikhs were massacred. To suppress people who wanted their identity to be preserved, they were hunted all over the world. The state and society have played a great role and successfully divided the community in so-called moderates and so-called fundamentalists.

A Sikh does not belong to any religion. He is a believer of humanism and spiritualism and an Inter-Religious “ Sovereign Person of the Wondrous God †(Wahguru Ji Ka Khalsa). So no Sikh could have any ill feelings with other human being. The Sikh is bowing his head since more than 400 years, before Shri Guru Granth Sahib in which the saints of Muslims, the untouchables and Hindus from different communities are also seated. He is the convinced follower of the teachings of all these saints equally, and reveres it as Gurbani, and can never be attracted by one religion or hatred for another. This is the reason Sikhs could not become a party to any communal riots, except during the emotionally charged provocative event of partition of the country. Earlier than this or after this, even after the genocide of 1984, the Sikhs have never exhibited any revenge, hatred or ill feelings against the community responsible for the carnage. The basic reason for such an attitude lies in the teachings of Shri Guru Granth Sahib.

There is a most glaring example of Sikh-Muslim relations. The Sikhs have ruled for 84 years in Punjab including present Pakistan, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, parts of Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring foreign lands of Afghanistan and China, but cared and nursed a small Muslim State of Malerkotla in Punjab, not even touching it during the partition riots. After independence, Nawab of Malerkotla was elected more than once on Akali Dal ticket to the Legislative Assembly. (Muslims of Malerkotla have taken an oath along with Sikhs at Shri Akal Takhat Sahib and participated in the Akali agitations on several occasions.) This was in token of the gratitude towards Nawab Sher Mohmmad Khan.

In December 1705 Wazir Khan, Governor of Sarhind, got imprisoned 81 years mother of Guru Sahib Mata Gujjar Kaur and younger sons, Sahibzada Zorawar Singh of 9 years and Sahibzada Fateh Singh of 6 years. He wanted to convert these children into Islam by giving incentives and threats. On their refusal they were tortured for four days before being bricked alive. During the proceedings in the court of the Governor, Dewan Suchha Nand Khatri, was emitting venom against Guru Sahib and pleaded for severe punishment. On the other hand Nawab Sher Mohmmad Khan of MalerKotla, has strongly protested. Upon this the Governor reminded him that, they are the children of the Guru who has killed his brother Nahar Khan in the battle of Chamkour from where he was just returning. The Nawab replied, I would settle my scores with the Guru in the battlefield, but putting any harm to these innocents was against Islam.

These facts had been deliberately or ignorantly distorted, but how can anybody deny the facts, which are very much existing in present scenario and evidently speaking the truth of history. On 16th February 1994 at Gurdwara Akal Gadh, Ludhiana, in a historical conference, President of United States Mr. Bill Clinton was conferred the title “Nawab Malerkotla†for his sympathy towards the innocent and indiscriminate killings in Punjab. The Nawab who protested against the killing of younger sons of Guru Sahib.

The Sikh movement was initiated to eradicate the misunderstandings created between Islam and Hinduism and harmonise their relations. Though faith in God is fundamental in both the religions, the vested interests created a wedge by finding faults in rituals and customs to separate and divide them by searching disparities, contradicting and opposing each other. Sikhism came into existence to unite them, project their basic similarities and draw their attention towards the fundamental philosophy of worshipping the Only Creator and respect its Creation in whatsoever manner and language. The forces with vested interest, particularly the rulers and historians have not spared any attempt to distort the independent and separate identity of this Most Humane Movement of Sikhism.

Shri Guru Granth Sahib has played a significant role to unite Hindus and Muslims for co-existence. Right from the days of Shri Guru Nanak Sahib, all the first five Gurus have been collecting and preserving the hymns from the nook and corner of the country in the original languages of the Muslim Sufis, so-called untouchable and Hindu Bhagats for 135 years, to include in a single source of guidance to the entire mankind. For example, Hazrat Baba Sheikh Fariduddin Masood Gunj-I- Shakar (1175-1265) of Punjab in Punjabi, and Bhagat Jai Dev (1201-1245) of Bengal in Sanskrit, expired about two and a half-century before the 1st Guru Shri Guru Nanak Sahib was born. Guru Sahib himself personally collected their authenticated hymns, when he visited their places. This Scripture consists upon the wisdom and experience of 36 pious souls revealed to them during 500 years from Hazrat Baba Sheikh Fariduddin Masood Gunj-I-Shakar (1175-1265) to the 9th Guru Shri Guru Tegh Bahadar (1621-1675). 5th Guru Shri Guru Arjan Sahib himself compiled it in 5 years from 1599 to 1604. Later 10th Guru Shri Guru Gobind Singh has added the compositions of the 9th Guru Shri Guru Tegh Bahadar in the year 1705. He bestowed Guruship to this Scripture in the year 1708.

It is a misconception that this Scripture is in Punjabi language. This is in multi-lingual communicative spoken languages of the country in addition to Sanskrit, Shaskriti and Persian. A separate Script is invented by the 2nd Guru Shri Guru Angad Sahib to scribe these collections of different languages in one simple Script, which is known as “Gurmukhi†and now recognised as a Script for Punjabi language. In those days Punjabi language was written in local scripts in rural areas and in Urdu Script in urban areas and in Pakistan it is still written in Urdu Script.

There are 36 contributors from various walks of life in this Scripture. Among them only 6 are Sikh Gurus, 2 are so-called untouchable Bhagats, 7 are Muslims and remaining are from different communities from among the Hindus. The Muslim contributors are, Bhagat Sheikh Kabir Jolaha Quddisa Sirra-hu a weaver and Bhagat Sheikh Bhikan were of Uttar Pradesh. Bhagat Sadhna was a butcher from Sind. Rai Satta, Rai Balwand, Bhai Mardana and Hazrat Baba Sheikh Farid of Punjab.

The Sufi saints preached Islam through love, affection, equality and spiritual knowledge and thousands of Hindus embraced Islam. The living evidence can be witnessed at the Dargahs all over the country, where Hindus in many folds outnumber Muslims in paying their obeisance. Among them Hazrat Baba Sheikh Farid has a distinct place, who was instrumental in en-bloc converting hundreds of villages in the north-west belt of the country. After formation of Pakistan, several Pakistan newspapers have written editorials stating that, actually the foundation of Pakistan was laid down eight hundred years back by Hazrat Baba Sheikh Farid when this belt was changed into Muslim majority area. Though Shri Guru Nanak Sahib and the Sikh movement were the champions of equality of human beings, religious freedom for all and resisted oppressions and forcible conversions by sacrifices and sword, but they were great admirers of Hazrat Baba Sheikh Farid. This is the living evidence that the Sikhs were against oppression by the Society and the State, but never against Muslims and Islam.

The recent incident of “Guru Ki Masjid†may be fresh in the minds. The 6th Guru Shri Guru Hargobind constructed a Mosque at village Hargobind Pur of Gurdas Pur district of Punjab. This was constructed with the contributions of Daswandh of the Sikhs and they built it with their “Kar Seva†(voluntarily service by hands), which was famous as “ Guru Ki Masjid â€. In 1947 after the partition, the Muslim population migrated from the village, and the Masjid was abandoned. The Sikhs took over the premises and established a Gurdwara and the name of Masjid continued as “ Gurdwara Guru Ki Masjid â€. In the year 2003 some Muslims came to the village for settlement. Then the Sikhs, voluntarily, handed over that structure for restoring the Mosque again. Now the same “Guru Ki Masjid†stands as a symbol of religious tolerance of the Sikhs. Now a days when Mandir – Masjid conflicts and hatred are spread all over the world, this exemplary gesture of the Sikhs is a shining example of their belief of oneness of God and oneness of humanity.

In today’s civilised society some individuals and organisations of Hindu, Muslims, Boudhi and Christian are trying to prove their religion superior to all other religions. To convert others to their own religion, apart from other legitimate or illegitimate means, people spread hatred and negate the religion of others. This situation has created an atmosphere of unrest and bloodshed. Thus society is divided into two groups of people. The Fundamentalists think other religions are much inferior to their own. And the Secularists discard religion as source of all evils and are proud to be called moderates and irreligious. This attitude is responsible for producing a generation without the spiritual base necessary for life.

Today humanity is exploring the unseen in the sky and in the depths of the earth and the sea, but it is unaware of itself. The circumstances demand that every right thinking person should come forward to save human race from this degradation and let people follow their own Scripture in true letter and spirit.

The study of Shri Guru Granth Sahib if done as Scripture of the Sikhs can never convey the real message it intends to spread. But if it is studied with the object to know about the Creator and its Creation, the correct perspective and message can be understood. My trilingual book “Shri Guru Granth Sahib – Teachings for Muslimsâ€, with Gurbani in Urdu script, and explanation in Urdu and English was very well received.

May the God Almighty bless us with the vision to search for similarities among ourselves and not let our differences divide us?

Copyright ©2008 Nanak Singh Nishter. About The Author

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