Sikhism 101: A crash course on the youngest religion


By Amandeep Singh  | Contributing Writer

On my first day at WSU, I met a young Greek man whom I have since befriended. One day he asked me why I wear a turban and keep a beard. It was an obvious question. Most of the people on campus have the same question but are left with no answers. Many mistakenly think me and others like me to be Muslims. And being most unaware of the relatively young religion called “Sikhism,” I gave my friend some insight into the Sikh way of living and what lies in its roots.

A progressive religion well ahead of its time, Sikhism was founded over 500 years ago. The Sikh religion today has a following of more than 20 million people worldwide and is ranked as the world’s fifth largest religion.

Sikhism preaches a message of devotion and remembrance of God at all times, truthful living, equality of mankind, and denunciation of superstitions and blind rituals. Sikhism is open to all through the teachings of its 10 Gurus (teachers) enshrined in the Sikh Holy Book and Living Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

Guru Nanak, the first teacher of the Sikh religion, declared, “God is one, and only one.” It is a mistake to assume that a devout Sikh, Christian, Hindu, Jew, etc. is not devoted to the same Allah that a Muslim worships. He stated that "non-believers" should not be treated as if they are not fellow human beings.

Guru Nanak gave a way of life to follow, and Guru Gobind Singh, who was the last Guru of the Sikhs in human form, created the Khalsa, a spiritual brotherhood devoted to wholesomeness of thought and action.

He gave the Sikh a distinctive external form to remind them of their pledge and to help them maintain an elevated state of realization.

Furthermore, he stopped any physical human form from being a teacher and, for spiritual matters, the highest position in religion was given to the "Sri Guru Granth Sahib,” the holy book of Sikhs.

Sikhs are seekers of truth. Sikhs are taught to bow only before God and to link themselves to the teacher, the Light of Truth, who stays in direct notice of God with no separation. Basically with words and by example, the teacher demonstrates to followers how to experience God within themselves and brings them from darkness into Illumination.

Sikhism teaches one to be a humble bearer of this Light of Truth.

Sikhism teaches to discard superstition, injustice and hypocrisy and inspires seekers through divine songs.

Sikhism did not put its own people on an elevated podium in its holy book. Its teachings do not rotate around a nation, its history, or its future. It did not scare people with a fear of an everlasting hell after death.

A Sikh respects all saints and messiahs. According to the teacher, all paths that take us towards God are acceptable in their own place.

It is a religion of perfect and universal love totally free from manmade barriers of color, caste, creed and status. It is a religion that radiates with a deep thirst for the divine and with the highest gospel of purity of heart, mind, body, speech and deeds.

Uncut hair and beard, as given by God to sustain him or her in higher consciousness, and a turban, the crown of spirituality, is what gives a Sikh his or her identity. The way Sikhs tie their turban is unique, and such is their way of living and learning.

It is a religion that establishes brotherhood of the whole global community regardless of color, caste, creed, race and nationality, purely on the basis and foundation of love and equality, all being the children of the same loving God.

So this is how I answered my friend’s question, and now he seems to be aware of what he didn’t know at his first class at Wayne State.

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