Monday, 26 May 2014

Muslim and Sikh Dialogues


I had the pleasure of participating in an interfaith discussion at Aston University in Birmingham on Wed. Mar. 5, 2014. What was unique for me about this event is that for the first time I engaged in a panel in which the Sikhs were represented.

The similarities between Sikhism and Islam were especially highlighted when I referred back approvingly to what the Sikh representa
tive said more than once. The similarities are due, of course, to the fact that the founder of Sikhism seemed to have intended to incorporate some aspects of Islam and some aspects of Hinduism into his new religion. Thus we find that Muslim monotheism and Hindu reincarnation both find a place in Sikhism. It was also admirable, in my opinion, that many of the Sikh young men in the gathering had donned their turbans. Surely, most people like to fit in with their environments, and it is a sign of their deep commitment to their faith that these youths dared to be different.

Just to be clear, however, we should point out that Islam does not specify a particular style of clothing. Muslims are basically free to wear whatever is customary in a land. The main stipulations are that a Muslim should not wear the religious garb of another faith, should not cross-dress, and should, obviously, cover themselves in accord with the demands of decency in society.

For me, the most important point arising from this experience is this: I feel that we as Muslims have not done enough to share the message of Islam with the Sikh youth. My feeling is that the older generation will be very much against any attempt to share this message with them. But the youth who are so dedicated to their faith may have open minds. The ideas of Islam which are so rational, and the ways of Islam which are so practical, are bound to appeal to some of them. They want to please their creator. The Quran is a revelation from that creator telling us how to please him. Why are we so reluctant to share this message with our brothers and sisters in humanity?
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