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Sikhi And Sufism: A Spiritual Connection?


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
This article turned up as part of a conversation on another network. The problem put to the forum can be summarized as follows: Both Sikhs and Sufis suffered mightily at the hands of Muslim overlords in northern India. In spite of this shared history, Sikhs and Sufis do not seem to connect culturally or spiritually. Is this perception correct? Or do Sikhs feel the same way about Sufis as they may feel toward contemporary muslim fundamentalists among the Shia and Sunni? The reply was informative and is posted below.

Post by truthseeker » Fri Oct 08, 2010 6:30 pm

... As far as I know, there is a significant Sufi population in India and Pakistan. That would negate the hypothesis that links between the two groups have not been established due to distance. (Reference: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\10\09\story_9-10-2010_pg3_1 . Militants in Pakistan recently attacked a Sufi shrine)

By way of preface: the sincere Sikh will realize that labels are artificial and are inescapably inaccurate; calling someone a Sufi, Hindu, Muslim, or Sikh is difficult because spiritual experiences are, to some extent, shaped by personal circumstance and individual and personal discretion is unavoidable in free societies. I believe it was Gandhi who said that he had never met two men who shared the same religion. Although many forces attempt to homogenize religious/spiritual practices, an honest assessment demonstrates that diversity within any spiritual label with persist as long as oppression and coercion is kept at bay. If you were to research Sikh and Sufi practices practiced by the masses within each label, you would no doubt find at least some degree of inconsistency. So don't get kept caught up labels; they're ancillary. Side note: I am not interested in responding to the normative question of whether such differences within a religious group should be permitted. That question is not relevant to this discussion).

On to the question you posed. As you may know, the Guru Granth Sahib (GGS) contains writings by a diverse range of individuals, including those of low caste, high caste, individuals from different states, and religions. Verses by Farid and Kabir are contained in the GGS. According to Wiki and I imagine at least a few other sources, Farid was a pivotal Sufi saint. Kabir's personal history seems to indicate that he was altogether above such labels. In the end, of course, such labels do not matter because the spiritual processes and understanding advocated by these two 'Sufi' poets was shared by the Sikh Gurus and thus were included in the GGS. So at least textually and to some extent spiritually, there are SOME connections between the two groups. (I have not read much by Rumi, the Persian Sufi, but I know that he advocated the practice of dhikr, which closely resembles the Sikh practice of Nam Japna).

During the time of the Gurus, Sikhs and Sufis had close relations (according to Wiki and the associated sources). Ex: 'In December 1588, the Sufi saint of Lahore, Mian Mir,[32][34] who was a close friend of Guru Arjan Dev, initiated the construction of the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) by laying the first foundation stone.[35].' (Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_and_Sikhism)

Of course, Partition likely contributed to the deterioration of Sufi-Sikh relations (if my hypothesis that many Sufis relocated to Pakistan is true and that they, like Sikhs, partook in the violence & mayhem that followed the partition decision). So the above post maybe correct in asserting that distance (but in truth politics and a politically motivated border) created distance between the two groups. Then again, I would refute that assertion with the following: Sufis also share with Sikhs the inclination to join sangeet/music and spirituality. Sufis in Pakistan are renown for a style of spiritual music known as qawwali. It is truly riveting music and the singers are of the highest quality. In the past few decades, renown qawwali-ist such as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Chand Afzaal Qawwal have sung Gurbani (both by Sufi poets and the Sikh Gurus) in gurdwaras throughout India and England (videos of these performances are on youtube). To what extent this crossover has brought the two groups together is unknown to me, but it is a tremendous example of the potentially close relationship that could flourish between these two groups. (Of course, certain forces, for the purposes of homogeneity, political power, the coherence of narratives, and/or some other temporal motivation, would prefer to keep these two groups completely apart).

In summation, because of the textual, spiritual, and musical kinship shared by the two 'labels', one could conclude that relations between the two groups are and should be civil. (I won't say with certainty, however, that relations have always been civil. It only takes one oddball and one isolated individual to mess things up.)

In my opinion, you raise a significant concern. IMHO, Sikhs have failed to sufficiently connect with their spiritual (and aspiritual) brothers & sisters and unite these disparate forces under the banner of humanity. More needs to be done to spread the message of tolerance and mutual appreciation and opposition to extremism and oppression, not only by Sikhs, but by all people. Commonalities exist between moderates and they need to be emphasized and strengthened in order to repel the extremism that plague ALL spiritual/political groups.



ਨਾਮ ਤੇਰੇ ਕੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਲਗਾਈ (Previously namjap)
Jul 14, 2007
This is what the great saint, Maulana Rumi, once said: "O man, circumabulate the secret Kaaba of the heart, unlike the Kaaba of Khalil - for God made the Kaaba of the human heart."

Sheikh Saadi, a Muslim divine, affirms:" The Grace of God never descends until ye love His creation; God forgives only those who work for the good of His creation."

"The Creator and His creation are one. Do no injury to His creation, O Nandlal, and incur not the wrath of God." -Bhai Nand Lal

"The Nameless One has many names. He doth attend, by whatsoever name He is addressed." - Maulvi Rumi

Al-Nisaee affirmed: "For me the whole world is a holy mosque; wherever the fixed time of prayer comes up, my followers may perform their prayers then and there."

Hafiz of Shiraz spoke in the same terms: "The object of my going to the temple or the mosque is to unite with thee, O Lord! Except this, there is no other idea in it." Again he maintained: "Say not that Kaaba is better than a temple. In fact, that place alone is the best where one may witness the glory of his Beloved."

(Source: SPIRITUALITY-- What it is)