Due to the rise of Jihad in the West it is becoming increasingly common for Sikhs to be persecuted by people mistakening Sikhs for Muslims.
The Sikh faith was founded during a time of persecution by Muslims to others – namely Hindus – Sikhism is founded on the principles of standing against oppression and defending the right to worship.
In the 15th century, Sikhism was born within Punjab, during a time of great strife across Hinduistan. The strife was between Hindus and Muslims.
The first Sikh Guru, Nanak, made a distinction that in Sikhism:
“There is no Hindu and there is no Musalman”
It is disputed that Sikhism was a bridge between Hinduism and Islam at the time, however Muslims opposed Sikhism and although the first Guru said that there is only one God and denounced polytheism and idol worship, the Muslims would not accept Sikhs.
At that point in time, there was great persecution towards the Hindus, led by the Muslim Emperor (reign 1658-1707), Aurangzeb of the Mughals.
Temples were destroyed, people were subjugated and ordered to pay the Jizyah; within the Islamic scriptures, Jizyah is only accepted from Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians, but this was of financial benefit to the Muslims at the time as the rate had drastically increased, plus Muslim power had grown in numbers, imposing the Jizyah on all could have drastically effected the way the state was run due to the support needed from the non-Muslim community.
Aurangzeb was a fearsome ruler of tyrany and true bigotry. He wanted to abolish idol worship and for all to be under Allah’s rule, at his crowning ceromony he stated he was ruler of the world.
Aurangzeb had a department within his government for censorship of morals – Muhasib – these men checked within the villages the laws laid down in the Qura’n and Sunnah of Muhammad were being strictly adhered to.
The punishment of the following crimes in Islam lay with the Muhasib officer, drinking of alcohol, heretical opinions, blasphemy of Muhammad, morality, dress code, neglecting the five prayers a day or fasting during Ramadan, he was also charged with demoliting new temples.
In 1644 during Aurangzeb’s viceroyalty of Gujarat he converted the Jain temple of Chintaman in Ahmadabad after killing a cow inside the temple.
The temple was restored to the community by Aurangzeb’s father, Shah Jahan in 1648, worship was never resumed there due to the sacred place being desecrated, Shah Jahan would have been aware worship was no longer allowed due to what had taken place at the temple.
Sikh scriptures also record many temples being demolished during this period.
At one point forced conversions were widespread, Aurangzeb ordered the local officers in every town and village of Orissa from Katak to Medinipur to pull down temples, even clay huts. Anything built between the last 10-12 years, was to be pulled down and no old temples could be repaired.
In between 1661-62 a large temple at the heart of the Hindu community in Mathura was destroyed and a mosque erected at that site.
There was a news report recently of an MP from the BJP party in India stating the Jama Masjid in Mathura is in fact built on the site of Jamuna Devi temple which was destroyed during Mughal rule.
This is not confirmed, but not unlikely as tens of thousands of temples were destroyed during Mughal rule, the material was then plundered or used to build another mosque on that site or in the close vicinity.
The plaque below is situated at the the Quwwatt-ul-Islam/the might of Islam mosque in Delhi. The plaque explains the mosque was built from the material of 27 Hindu and Jain temples. This was before the rule of Aurengazeb so evidences persecution of other faiths before his rule.
The Keshavo Deo temple was demolished under Aurangzebs rule in 1669 and a mosque built in its place. The Keshavo temple is sacred in Hinduism, its believed to have been built over the prison where Krishna, the Hindu deity was born. There is now a temple adjacent to the mosque, as seen in the picture below, however this took many years of legal wrangling with Shahi Igdah mosque and the Muslim community and the matter of land and property rights is still not resolved.
Gyanvapi Mosque at Varanasi was formerly Kasi Viswanath Temple. The bricks from the original temple walls can still be seen in the mosque structure
Gyanvapi Mosque at Varanasi, formerly Kasi Viswanath Temple
The 9th Guru of the 17th century was named Tegh Bahadur, he became Guru in 1664 shortly before the order to destroy temples.
The Guru believed people should be able to practice their faith, without persecution.
There was pressure placed on Hindus to convert to Islam, it was suggested the Hindus seek protection from the Muslims by approaching Guru Tegh Bahadur.
The Hindus said to the Muslims, if the Guru converts, we will convert too.
Guru Tegh Bahadur took this challenge, before he could travel to Aurangzeb, he was arrested on the orders of Aurangzeb and brought to him, along with three Sikh worshippers.
Guru Tegh Bahadur was put in a cage and starved, the worshippers were each tortured and then killed in front of him.
The first one – Bhai Mati Das – was sawn in half, from his head down to his groin, the second – Bhai Sati Das – wrapped in cotton wool and burnt alive, the third, who had some choice words to say about the assassination of his companions- Bhai Dyal Das – was boiled alive in a cauldron of oil.
Guru Tegh Bahadur would not convert, no matter what the emperor ordered be done to him and was imprisoned in the cage for months. After refusing to perform miracles, he was beheaded by executioner Jalal-ud-din Jallad.
Afterwards, the Sikhs would not initially retrieve the Gurus severed head through fear, eventually they did retrieve his head and body and went through the correct procedure to pay respects to their respected Guru.
At the time, only Sikh Gurus were required to wear Turbans. Aurangzeb the Muslim emporer had decreed that anyone, other than Muslims wearing a Turban would be killed. This was ordered to show the superiority of Muslims, no one else is equal to a Muslim.
Muslims are to be held in the highest regard in Islam and everyone else is made to feel inferior, and equality is non-existent, as detailed in the Qur’an and the hadith.
And whoever desires other than Islam as religion – never will it be accepted from him, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers. (Qur’an, 2/85)
Aishah narrated that:
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours (i.e. Islam) that is not part of it, will have it rejected.”(Sunan Ibn Majah, Sahih)
A city named Anandpur – originally know as Chakk Nanak – was founded by Guru Tegh Bahadur in 1665.
This is believed to be where Guru Tegh Bahadur was cremated. Kesgarh Sahib temple now stands there which is one of the holy sites for all Sikhs to this day.
The 10th Guru, Gobind Singh, realised there needed to be change and militarised Sikhism.
On 30th March 1699 – Baisakhi Day – Guru, Gobind Singh founded the Khalsa order which decreed the five articles of faith for Sikhism. It is apparent by the five articles of faith, plus other decrees that persecution by Muslims to Hindus and Sikhs had influenced the order.
Keshgarh Sahib temple at Anandpur is where the change came. The Khalsa order was founded there by Guru, Gobind Singh on 30th March 1699.
The Khalsa order, the five K’s
Kesh – Sikh men are not to cut their hair or beard (Muslims are to follow the Sunnah of Muhammad and one of the Sunnahs is to not cut the beard), It can be assumed, due overwhelming evidence of restrictions on dress and specific haircuts being imposed of non-Muslims in Islamic history, Sikhs were ordered to cut theirs previously.
In addition to this, Sikh men were now to wear a Turban, previously only Gurus wore a turban.
One, to show Unity, that the Sikhs are brothers and sisters of one another.
Two, to show strength, and leadership, that a Sikh will defend their faith and do their very best to never allow Muslims and in fact anyone, to dominate or subjugate them again.
Three, to show distinction, that a Sikh is proud of their faith and will be proud enough to show they are Sikh, no matter if they could be subject to persecution.
The other four articles of faith were:
A ceremonial sword, symbolizing readiness to protect the oppressed , and defend against any injustice and persecution.
The kirpan is usually worn with a cotton shoulder strap called a gatra. In the West it is sometimes worn on a necklace, similar to a charm, this is due to weapons being restricted in some countries. The kirpan exemplifies the character of a warrior of a Sikh.
A steel bracelet, symbolizing strength and integrity.
Steel being symbolic of strength yet withstanding stress. The bracelet is circular and has no beginning, nor no end. It also signifies standing against oppression.
A small wooden comb, which symbolises order cleanliness.
The kangha is used to keep the hair clean and is normally tucked neatly in one’s uncut hair, it is paired with Kesh.
Cotton boxer shorts, symbolizing self-control and chastity; prohibition of adultery.
The shorts are specially made with drawstring to enable a Sikh to defend their faith day and night, even if a Sikh couldn’t fully clothe in the event of an attack, having no worry of exposing theirself, thus retaining chastity.
It was also decreed that when Sikh man is baptised, he will be named “Singh” and a Lady named “Kaur”. Singh meaning Lion and Kaur meaning princess or lioness.
Another decree was that a Sikh will never eat food slaughtered in the Islamic way; Halal.
There are clear distinctions between a Muslim and Sikh and a definitive reason why.
From the founding of Sikhism to this day, Sikhs stand against oppression to any faith and believe in freedom of worship for all faiths.
After Guru Tegh Bahadurs execution Sikhism changed considerably and the Sikh baptism – Amrit Sacha – is the day that marks a Sikhs obedience to their god and all the principles laid down by the founding Guru and later Gurus such as Guru, Gobind Singh.
Every year there is a day to commemorate Guru Bahadur’s martyrdom.
“be fearless in their pursuit of just society: he who holds none in fear, nor is afraid of anyone, is acknowledged as a man of true wisdom. ” (A quote from Guru Tegh Bahadur within the sacred Sikh scriptures of Guru Granth Sahib 1427)
A history of the Sikhs, Hari Ram Gupta
A history of Aurengezab