"It's difficult to
be called Mussalman....
And when, O Nanak,
he is merciful
to all beings will
he be entitled to
call himself a
Guru Nanak's hymns
were, in fact, composed when the Sufi movement in Islam had
ushered in a renaissance of religious thought to be matched by
the Bhakti movement around the same time. Sikhism, thus, became
a happy Sangam or fusion of the two parallel streams, even as it
carved out its own identity in its own sui generis form.
Kabir, a Muslim
weaver emerged as a Sufi Bhakti singer of timeless songs, and he
finds, thus, an honoured place in the Guru Granth Sahib. Later,
the tenth Sikh Guru was to reaffirm the message of Kabir and
Farid which emphasised that man originates from one single
source, and that all religions were but different manifestations
of the same Creator. Consider the following lines which loosely
rendered read thus:
five prayers, and accordingly five hours of the day for namaz,
the five having five names. Let, then, the first be
truthfulness, the second honest living and the third charity -
all in the Name of God. Let the fourth be goodwill towards all,
and the fifth the praise of the Lord God. Your kalma is only
your good deeds, and this alone entitles you to call yourself a
Muslim, O, Nanak, the false obtain falsehood, and nothing but
comprehensive definition leaves no room for doubt. A good Muslim
can only vindicate his faith and himself if he observes the
virtues his daily namaz proclaims.
shining example of Hindu-Muslim affinities at the level of
godhead echoed a similar sentiment when moving along the banks
of the holy Ganga in Benaras he recited in ecstasy songs of the
oneness of God and the brotherhood of man.
noor upae-aa, Kudrat key sabh bandey,
ek noor tey sabh
jag upjia-aa, kaun bhaley ko mandey...
created the Light. Then by His Creative Power He made all mortal
beings. From that One Light, the entire universe came into
being. So, who is good and who's bad, indeed?....
Gobind Singh was along with his entire family was persecuted
mercilessly by the bigoted Emperor Aurangzeb, called upon the
true Muslims to repudicate those rulers and masters who had
turned Islam into an aggrandising, militant, conquering
religion. He himself authenticated Kabir's call for the
fundamental unity of all mankind:
mediates on the ever-radiant
Light day and
night, and rejects all
else but the one
As for Sheikh
Farid (A.D. 1173), his shlokas spurred into song not only Guru
Nanak, but also Guru Amar Das, Guru Ram Das and Guru Arjan, the
great compiler of the Guru Granth. His boundless pity and
compassion, his loving concern for the poor, the lowly, and the
dispossessed are reflected in several profound shlokas:
hearts are jewels,
to distress them
is by no means good;
if thou desire the
distress no one's
Why I elected to
write on the place of Islam in Sikh scriptures was to bring out
briefly that face of Islam which, grievously enough, has come to
stay in the popular, uninformed Indian mind. That image now
deeply imbedded in Hindu-Sikh corporate consciousness has, over
the centuries, assumed a grim aspect so that shadows and
hobgoblins and old wives tales have replaced the truth as still
seen by the perceptive Indian scholars.
This is no place
for going deeply and extensively into the nature of the assault
and battery by the conquering Islamic rulers, and the trauma and
hatred thus engendered. But we may not deny that fact that
through the fanatical, jehadi proselytization of Islam by its
mullahas and maulvis, as also by their rationalising
intellectuals and ideologues, the Muslims in India find
themselves alienated in their own motherland. As a result, they
have retreated into psychological ghettos and taken shelter
under repressive Shariat doctrines as preached by their
political elders and betters.
On the other hand,
Pakistan a by-blow of the Indian freedom movement and British
machinations was, as we know, conceived in hatred, nurtured in
hatred, schooled in hatred from the days of its birth. And the
pernicious two-nation theory spawned by some Muslim ideologues
and appropriated by Jinnah was drilled into the minds of the
Pakistani nationals from the start. As a consequence, the new
state developed several psychic 'fixations', and began to slide
into the state of permanent crisis, as it were.
Thus, the genesis
and the raison d'etre of Pakistan made the fledgling state a
natural nursery of Islamic jehadi or crusading fundamentalists
and terrorists. No wonder, India part, it began to export
suicide-squads and saboteurs to all parts of the world.
to the Kashmir imbroglio, I take the liberty of quoting one of
the many dissident Pak intellectuals on the communal views that
had infected its bodypolitic. I was invited recently, along with
a number of such commentators, to write on the Kashmir issue.
All these articles appeared in an international journal called
Peace Initiatives, and I select a piece by a respected media
person, Fasihuddin Ahmed, to illustrate my point.
"Pakistan", he wrote in The News (February
10,1995): "had Bangladesh. Having lost it, it is seeking to
regain lost territory in Kashmir.....", and he goes on to
quote from the Beatle, John Lennon's little poem,
"Imagine": "Imagine there are no countries, It is
easy if you try, Nothing to live or die."
The moral is clear
enough. Not even the conquest of the Kashmir Valley through
deadly terrorism is worth the horrendous costs involved. That
"paradise on earth", to recall Babar's words, would
eventually be the graveyard of Pakistan's napaak dreams....
Such, such are the ironies of history!