Some thoughts on Guru Arjan’s martyrdom

All faith traditions have at their core a deep sense of piety and duty but all have in history succumbed to degrees of fanaticism -DR GURNAM SINGH

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Members of Muslim community perform namaz at the Malerkotla gurdwara. – Photo: The Tribune
By Gurnam Singh | OPINION |

The below article showing Muslims celebrating Eid al-Fitr at a Gurdwara offers a glimpse of the true spirit of Sikhi. Not only do we seek to feed the world, we are even happy to provide facilities for people of other faiths, or none, to pray or simply contemplate at any the Gurdwara in the world. I have seen videos of Muslim preachers form the Malerkotla area of East Punjab show more devotion to the Sikh Gurus than many so called Sikhs.

Muslims offer namaz in Malerkotla gurdwara, attend Roza opening party

By Parvesh Sharma (Tribune News Service)

Setting another example of communal harmony, namaz and gurbani path were performed simultaneously in Gurdwara ‘Sahib Haa Da Naara’ (Regd) at Muslim majority town of Malerkotla of the district.

Members of gurdwara management committee, Namdhari Mission, Sanatan Dharm community and police officers jointly organised a party for the members of Muslim community on the opening of 29 Roza (fast) last night, but by taking care of social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“The gurbani path was going on in main hall while namaz was offered in another hall of gurdwara by our Muslim brothers. The main purpose of organising the party was to reconfirm that we all are united,” said Narinderpal Singh, Head Granthi of Gurdwara Sahib.

Members of Muslim community said visiting the historic gurdwara was not a new thing for them as they had been coming to this gurdwara since their birth.

“Every time whenever pass this gurdwara, we bow our head because our religion has been teaching us to respect all religions,” said a local member of Muslim community after offering namaz in gurdwara.

It is not first time that local gurdwara has taken steps to strengthen their ties with local Muslims, but after the lockdown in March, the gurdwara management committee had started serving langar to a local Madrassa, where students of others states were stuck.

Apart from serving langar to Madrassa students, gurdwara management committee had also served langar to around 1,000 other needy and poor residents of city during lockdown.

“We have defeated corona in Punjab because we have the blessings of all religions. Last night’s party was another example of brotherhood,” said Manjit Singh Brar, SP Malerkotla. (Source: The Tribune, 24 May 2020)

Sikhi does not believe in proselytism (i.e. the practice of religious conversion) and it is clear in Sikh teaching that we respect freedom of belief and expression as long this does not threaten others. Perhaps the most powerful demonstration of this tolerance towards other faiths can be found during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh across a huge part of the Northern Indian subcontinent. Rather than suppressing Islam and Hinduism and favour Sikhi, Ranjit Singh, like Emperor Akhbar did in an earlier period, patronised all the great faiths and promoted religious freedom and tolerance.

Actually all faith traditions have at their core a deep sense of piety and duty but all have in history succumbed to degrees of fanaticism. But it is these acts of kindness, solidarity and sharing that can provide an antidote to hate, religious or otherwise. And so whether you are commemorating the martyrdom of Guru Arjan or celebrating Eid al-Fitr, may you be blessed with good wishes, good health and good deeds!

[Gurnam Singh is an academic activist dedicated to human rights, liberty, equality, social and environmental justice. He is an Associate Professor of Sociology at University of Warwick, UK. He can be contacted at Gurnam.singh.1@warwick.ac.uk]

* This is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.

 

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