By Rafi Adeen, Contributing Editor, The Rahnuma Daily (therahnuma.com)
Hyderabad (Rahnuma) The Former External Affairs Minister Late Sushma Swaraj on 01 March 2019, addressed the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting at Abu Dhabi as a guest of honor. In her address she recited a couplet of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism. Quoting Guru Nanak Dev, Swaraj said, “First, Allah created light; then, by his creative power, he made all mortal beings. From that one light, the entire world came into being. So, who is good, and who is bad?”
Late Swaraj read the couplet from the holy book Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Nanak’s own conception of God was close to Islamic monism (Concept of God). The word Allah is used 12 Times in the Guru Granth Sahib by Baba Farīd al-Dīn Masʿūd Ganj-i-Shakar of Chisty order. Guru Nanak Devji, Guru Arjan, and Saint Kabeer used the word Allah 18 times.
Thomas Patrick Hughes was a British missionary who worked in India from 1865 to 1884. He wrote many books including “Dictionary of Islām” wherein he added an article about “Sikhism”. The reason offered by him for adding an article about Sikhism in a book about Islam is that: “…it is enough for the purposes of this article to have established the fact that Sikhism, in its inception, was intimately associated with Muhammadanism; and that it was intended as a means of bridging the gulf which separated the Hindus from the believers in the Prophet.”
By the time of Guru Nanak (1469-1539), Muslims had become the most visible section of the social order in Punjab. They consisted mainly of the Sunnis, represented by the ulama who upheld the Islamic law (shariat), and the various orders of the mystics of Islam (the Sufis) who represented a parallel interpretation of religious beliefs and practices. Guru Nanak came into close contact with Islam during his 10-year stay in Sultanpur, and later at several places during his travels. He brackets Islam with the major religious systems of India in the early 16th century.
In terms familiar to Islam, Guru Nanak says: “Baba! Allah is inscrutable, He is boundless; His abode is holy and His are the holy names; He is the true sustainer. His Ordinance (hukam) cannot be comprehended; it cannot be described adequately; not even a hundred poets coming together can describe the smallest fraction of it. All hear and talk about Him, but none really appreciates His worth. There are pirs, paighambars, saliks, sadiqs, faqirs and shahids; there are shaikhs, qazis, mullas and dervishes—all adore Him through their prayers (durud), in the hope of blessings (barakat). But Allah does not consult anyone when He makes or unmakes, or when He gives or takes away; He alone knows His power (qudrat); He alone is the doer. He watches everyone and bestows His grace on whomsoever He wills.” In another composition, the term Maulah (Master) is used for Allah. Maulah is the great Creator who has made the universe beautiful and green.
Islam was associated by Guru Nanak with the Kaliyuga. On the whole, Guru Nanak talks mainly of Allah and the concept of God. He refers to some of Muslim’s most important practices and shows a comprehensive understanding of Islamic beliefs. The Islamic conception of God is close to Guru Nanak’s own.
Rafi Adeen is a Contributing Editor for The Rahnuma Daily (TheRahnuma.com), the online English daily edition of The Rahnuma-E-Deccan Daily (ReDD), India’s oldest Urdu daily print newspaper. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org