[Rumbold's note- this is from an earlier thread but I decided to reprint it in full in this post]
I think a few more things need to be stated for the record in relation to Rajinder Singh [the Sikh who is supporting the BNP]. While his reaction is understandable from a “flawed human nature” perspective, considering the apparent loss of his father during Partition, it isn’t justifiable, either from a general moral perspective or indeed from a specifically Sikh perspective. Let me give an example of another Sikh who suffered immense personal tragedy at the hands of Muslims, in some cases explicitly claiming to be acting in the name of Islam.
Guru Gobind Singh, the last human spiritual leader of the Sikhs 300 years ago, lost his father, Guru Tegh Bahadur, when he was only 9 years old. The Mughal administration at the time was attempting to force the Kashmiri Brahmin population to covert to Islam; the latter were on good terms with the Sikhs and therefore asked Guru Tegh Bahadur to help them. The Guru travelled to the Mughal capital of Delhi with a couple of companions in order to intervene on the Kashmiri Brahmins behalf. They were subsequently arrested by members of the Mughal administration; after some discussions with Emperor Aurangzeb, the latter ordered that the Guru should be forcibly converted to Islam. He was kept in a cage, tortured, and since he refused to convert, subsequently executed; he was beheaded in full view of the public in the Chandni Chowk area of what is now called Old Delhi. Due to threats of retribution from soldiers present, ordinary Sikhs who witnessed this couldn’t even openly reclaim the body; later on, a Sikh managed to recover the decapitated body and burned down his own house as a cover to cremate it, and another Sikh rescued the head and took it to Anandpur Sahib in Punjab, where it was formally cremated by the young Guru Gobind Singh (at the time called “Gobind Rai”).
Years later, when the conflicts with the Mughal administration had escalated into all-out warfare, Guru Gobind Singh’s two older teenage sons died on the battlefield. His two younger sons, both less than 10 years old, were captured (along with Guru Gobind Singh’s mother) by Mughal officials in Sirhind, Punjab. The Governor of Sirhind tried to force the two boys to convert to Islam and, when he failed, subsequently had them executed, despite the forceful protests of one of the Muslim noblemen present who desperately tried to intervene on their behalf. Guru Gobind Singh’s mother died of shock soon afterwards. There was also a time when Guru Gobind Singh himself found himself completely cut off from his family and his remaining followers, hunted by the Mughal army, during what was one of the darkest periods of his life.
And yet… Guru Gobind Singh never used any of this as an excuse to attack, demonise, caricature and stereotype Islam as a whole or Muslims en masse. He did not scream vengeance against the entire Muslim population of the Mughal Empire. He did not launch attacks against mosques or Sufi shrines. He did not ban Muslims from entering gurdwaras (Sikh temples). He did not initiate any kind of “voluntary repatriation with a firm incentive” of Muslims from territories governed or dominated by Sikhs. He did not order his followers to dig up and remove the foundation stone of what is now called the Golden Temple in Amritsar, which one of his predecessors had invited a Muslim saint called Mian Mir to lay (Mian Mir was the spiritual instructor of the liberal and cultured Prince Dara Shukoh, son of Emperor Shah Jahan of “Taj Mahal” fame, the latter’s chosen heir, and ultimately murdered by his brother Aurangzeb during the war of sucession). Guru Gobind Singh did not remove the verses originally written by Muslim saints such as Baba Farid which had been incorporated into the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhism and whose final version the Guru was responsible for compiling and editing; he did not remove any of the Islamic names for God which the scriptures contain; he did not add any material attacking ordinary Muslims en masse or denigrating Islam as a whole. He did not support or condone anyone else who was bigotted against Muslims either. He certainly did not promote hatred, prejudice, or the notion of “collective guilt”.
In fact, Guru Gobind Singh actively promoted the notion of desiring the wellbeing and happiness of the entire human race without any kind of distinction or bias regarding people’s individual religious affiliations (or ethnic background, for that matter). He explicitly promoted the teaching that people should “view the whole of humanity as one race”. He was actively assisted by ordinary Muslims trying to save his life when he was completely isolated and being hunted by the Mughal army. He had Muslim officers in his own Khalsa army, including Mughal generals who had defected to his cause in the middle of battles. He explicitly ordered the soldiers in his army not to molest any Muslim women they came across after battles. His entire military and political strategy refrained from attacks on civilians. On the battlefield, he would even use arrows which were mounted with a small amount of gold in order to provide financial assistance to the families of those he killed or, alternatively, to enable the wounded soldier to buy medical assistance if he survived Guru Gobind Singh’s attack.
And after a series of atrocities suffered by the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh wrote a lengthy and extremely forceful letter to Aurangzeb condemning him for his hypocrisy and bigotry, but which simultaneously included a list of what the Guru regarded as the emperor’s genuine positive qualities (albeit with the damning caveat “but true spiritual righteousness is very far from you”), and the promise that the Guru would be happy to meet the Emperor, reconcile with him and “speak some kind words” to him if he would sincerely reconsider his attitude and actions; as confirmed by the authenticated historical records of Aurangzeb’s memoirs and letters to his sons, the Emperor did subsequently experience something of an epiphany and immediately ceased all hostilities with the Sikhs (along with Hindus and other groups he’d been persecuting). Aurangzeb and Guru Gobind Singh were even in the process of formally arranging to meet each other but the aged emperor died before that could occur. And during the subsequent war of succession, Guru Gobind Singh subsequently gave military support to Bahadur Shah I, one of Aurangzeb’s sons and ultimately the next Emperor.
The BNP’s cynical exploitation of Rajinder Singh is unfortunate but not unexpected. However, along with his fellow BNP supporter “Ammo Singh”, he is completely the wrong person to refer to if one wishes to find an example of the true teachings of Sikhism and the correct attitude Sikhs are supposed to have in this matter. If anyone is looking for the latter, they should go right to the source, because Guru Gobind Singh himself suffered far greater personal tragedy throughout his own life than Rajinder Singh did, and by his own example and teachings Guru Gobind Singh obviously embodied a very, very different message to the opportunistic, hate-filled, divisive, sectarian propaganda & agenda the BNP are now trying to promote.
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Filed in: History,Muslim,Religion,Sikh,The BNP