'Baba Nanak Shah Faqir. Hindu Ka Guru. Musalman Ka Pir'

So why do some of our muslim brothers say Guru Nanak Dev Ji was a muslim?

Summary points at a glance
An incorrect statement is often made by some scholars who observe the Sikh faith only from a distance.  The scholars often state that Sikhism is a combination of good points from Hinduism and Islam, such misleading statements conceal the fact that Sikhism is a sovereign faith revealed by God through Guru Nanak Dev Ji and the next nine Gurus. It is understandable that some beliefs can be similar however Sikhism has no links with the beliefs of other faiths including Hinduism and Islam.

One can find great similarities between Christianity and Islam, does that mean Islam is a part of Christianity? As proclaimed by God, Guru Nanak Dev Ji introduced a true immaculate way in order to attain salvation and be one with God.  Whoever followed the way of Guru Nanak Dev Ji was known as Sikh. Many Hindus and Muslims renounced their faith to become Sikh and follow Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s teachings.

Sikhism has a concept called sewa. Sewa means to do selfless service to your Guru or the congregation (sangat). As the Guru resides in the congregation as ‘Guru Sangat’ then any service to the sangat is service to the Guru. Other faiths have service, the Christians have soup kitchens and so on, but the concept in Sikhism is unique. From the outset Guru Gobind Singh Ji declared that he would reside in the sangat and if any one wished to meet him then they should do selfless service to the sangat and it would reach him. Hence in the Gurdwaras across the world individuals busy themselves dusting and cleaning the shoes of the sangat, they stand in the Gurdwara wafting large fans over the sitting congregation, they clean and wash and sweep in true devotion. The free kitchen (langar) in which any person can partake extends from this basic concept. All offerings that you bring to the gurdwara that are used in the langar and end up in the mouths of the sangat ultimately reach Guru Sahib Ji. This concept is not found in any other faith on Earth. In the free kitchen all are expected to sit side by side and eat the same simple meal. In Islam you are not allowed to enter many of their sites, women are also restricted. A Hindu Brahmin will not sit next to a Suddra or low caste, yet in Sikhism when Emperor Babur came to pay his respects he was first asked to sit with the common man and eat langar before Guru Ji would meet him.

The whole idea of Naam Simran is unique to Sikhism. There is no such thing in any of the Semitic faiths, the closest would be Hinduism but this is also greatly lacking. The path as described by Guru Nanak Dev Ji is unique, it is full of love and devotion for the Almighty. It expects not only true and clean living by an individual but also to remember the Lord with each and every breath. To simar, repeat, His name with ones soul, so that countless lifetimes of sins can be washed away.

The concept of God is unique in Sikhism.

My Lord Himself in the tablet, Himself the pen, and Himself the writing upon it. He Himself is the balance, Himself the weights and Himself the weigher. He Himself sees, judges, and is the trader. God Himself is the author, pen, book and the reader. He Himself is the plot and the characters. There is nothing anywhere that is not the Lord. Whatever we see, hear, or touch, it is all He. (ang 1291)

God dwells in everyone’s heart and is imminent in the whole universe. God is everywhere all the time. He is the ocean in which we, His little fish, play and live our lives. He is the centre of each heart, He is the eternal companion. Seated in everyone’s heart, God sees all and, with a look of grace, moves all. This concept rules out any links with Islam as their vengeful God created the world but lives apart, hence how can Sikhism be an amalgamation of Islam and Hinduism?

The ordinary Sikh regards all humanity as friend and loves to socialize with the Hindu as well as with other fellow human beings, this sentiment sadly is not reciprocated.

One question may be asked of these people, the whole world knows that Christ was born in a Jewish family and thus Christianity sprang out of Judaism. In the Holy Qur’an the prophets of Judaism and Christianity have been remembered with great respect and regard, could the zealots of the new found Indian nationalism say on this basis that the Muslim is a Jew, or the Jews are nothing but Christians? All middle-East Religions are accepted as different and distinct from each other. But the punishment to Sikhism for using the names of Ram, Krishna and the inspiring episodes of their lives is that Sikhs should brand themselves as Hindus!

But the pivot of Sikh thought frame is Sri Guru Granth sahib Ji, the only Indian scripture which, after having salvaged the Indian people from the bottom of ritualistic delusions, teaches us the art of dignified living. Guru Granth Sahib Ji opens the gates of equality for all so-called high and low people. To respect somebody and to accept him as God are altogether different aspect. It is one of the basic premises of Sikhism that God is self born and, by his nature, cannot be born or die in a human form – as an Avatara. Yet Sikhism does not show any disrespect to the mythical gods of great epics who are held in veneration in the hearts and minds of people for various temporal acts of benevolence, and came to be hailed as gods and goddesses.

You tear off the leaves, O gardener, but in each and every leaf, there is life. That stone idol, for which you tear off those leaves - that stone idol is lifeless. In this, you are mistaken, O gardener. The True Guru is the Living Lord.
Brahma is in the leaves, Vishnu is in the branches, and Shiva is in the flowers. When you pluck these leaves, three gods are torn off - then whose service are you performing?
The sculptor carves the stone and fashions it into an idol, placing his feet upon its chest. If this stone god was true, it would devour the sculptor for this!
Rice and beans, candies, cakes and cookies - the priest enjoys these, while he puts ashes into the mouth of the idol. The gardener is mistaken, and the world is mistaken, but I am not mistaken. Says Kabeer, the Lord preserves me; the Lord, my King, has showered His Blessings upon me. (Guru Granth Sahib Ji)

I do not keep fasts, nor do I observe the month of Ramadaan. I serve only the One, who will protect me in the end. The One Lord, the Lord of the World, is my God Allah. He administers justice to both Hindus and Muslims. I do not make pilgrimages to Mecca, nor do I worship at Hindu sacred shrines. I serve the One Lord, and not any other. I do not perform Hindu worship services, nor do I offer the Muslim prayers.

I have taken the One Formless Lord into my heart; I humbly worship Him there. I am not a Hindu, nor am I a Muslim. My body and breath of life belong to Allah - to Raam - the God of both. Says Kabeer, this is what I say: meeting with the Guru, my Spiritual Teacher, I realize God, my Lord and Master. (Guru Granth Sahib Ji)

It is a recognised trait in our Muslim brother(s) that he will always try to big-up his faith, this may be due to personnel insecurities but this is to such an extent that much time is wasted in false propaganda. They also say that Jesus was a muslim, that Moses was a muslim, that the next incarnation of Vishnu, as Kalki Avatar, is none other than the Prophet Mohammad, it therefore comes as no surprise that they have now turned their attention on the Saint of Saints, the King of Kings, Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

Again much time has been wasted in false meaningless effort to try to convince the general public that Guru Nanak Dev Ji was muslin. This can easily be dismissed by the simple fact that Guru Nanak Dev Ji himself said that "there is no Hindu and there is no musallman." But in order to counter these silly arguments we now have to go through the whole rigmarole of laying out in simple language to these people why Guru Nanak Dev Ji was infact the Guru of all mankind and propagated the true faith of Sikhism.

When Guru Nanak Dev Ji had his first communion with God, the Almighty blessed him and sent him to this world to spread His message, the first words uttered by Guru Sahib Ji was “Neither am I Hindu nor Muslim” from the outset Guru Sahib Ji distanced himself from these faiths as both were found lacking.

Many times in Guru Sahib Jis bani the mussalmaan is admonished and chastised for his bigoted nature.

Aasaa Mahala 1:

I am Your humble servant, Lord; Your Praises are pleasing to my mind. The Lord, the Primal Being, the Master of the poor, does not ordain that they should be oppressed. ||1||

O Qazi, it is not right to speak before Him. ||1||Pause||

Keeping your fasts, reciting your prayers, and reading the Kalma, the Islamic creed, shall not take you to paradise.

The Temple of Mecca is hidden within your mind, if you only knew it. ||2||ang 480

Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born into a Hindu family, his father was Mehta Kalu and mother was Mata Tripta Ji, Guru Ji was blessed with two sons, Sri Chand Ji and Lakhmi Das Ji. Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s name comes from the prevalent names of the times but cannot by any stretch of the imagination be interpreted as a muslim name. When a person converts to Islam then the first thing they do is give him a muslim name, so Casius Clay became Mohammad Ali, Cat Stevens became Yusef Islam. Guru Ji was named Nanak Dev and Guru Ji kept this name throughout his life. All preceding Gurus used the name, Nanak as nom-de- plume in their bani or sacred compositions.

So straight away the argument the Guru Ji was muslin falls down in a big heap.

Guru Ji’s children had very traditional names , Siri Chand and Lakhmi Daas, and again in no stretch of the imagination can they be said to be muslim names. Although born into a Hindu family Guru Nanak Dev Ji rejected its customs and traditions. Guru Ji refused to wear the ‘janeu’ sacred thread and refused ‘tilak’ on his forehead. Guru Nanak Dev Ji enjoyed the company of holy persons, be they Hindu or muslim this did not matter because Guru Ji recognised the divine spirit present in all.

In some of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s compositions Guru Ji uses the names Khudda or Allah, however in others Guru Ji uses Har, Raam, Kartaar, all referring to the multi-facets of the Almighty. This is the misconception many Hindu and Muslim friends have, just because Guru Ji uses the names of God that are traditionally used by Islam (or Hinduism) then it is somehow regarded as in praise of Islam however many times Guru Ji admonishes the Musallman for his intolerance and misguided ways.

First Mehla:

The clay of the Muslim's grave becomes clay for the potter's wheel.

Pots and bricks are fashioned from it, and it cries out as it burns.

The poor clay burns, burns and weeps, as the fiery coals fall upon it.

O Nanak, the Creator created the creation; the Creator Lord alone knows. ||2|| Ang466


He did not dress like a muslim as some people try to portray, Guru Sahib Ji dressed as a holy man, which meant a chola or garb of khuddar, rough low grade material, and a pair of wooden sandals or Kharama. On his travels Guru Sahib Ji did travelled westwards, but never to a Hajj.

This is a very important point as many people say that only muslims are allowed to go to Mecca / Madina and Guru Ji would have been barred from entering. Here is an excerpt from a document about the Mughal-ottoman relations during the reign of Akbar :

An early document state that:

'No Muslims and believers in the unity of God', proclaims an Ottoman imperial firman, 'should be hindered in any way if he wishes to visit the Holy Cities and circumambulate the luminous Ka'ba.'42

42. M.D., vol. 6, f. 17, firman no. 39, 1564-5, quoted by Faroqhi, op. cit. 147.

Notice there not a distinction between muslims and non-muslim monotheists. One of the 4 sunni schools also say that only polytheists (idol worshippers) are banned from the city of Mecca. In the Hanafi school, it is permitted for non-Muslims to enter all mosques, including the Haram of Mecca, as they interpreted the Quranic verse,

“ 009.028 O’you who believe! The idolaters only are unclean. So let them not come near the Inviolable Place of Worship after this their year.”

to be a specific prohibition against them entering as they did before Islam in the Days of Jahiliyya, in which they entered the complex with their idols, manifested their polytheistic worship, and engaged in reprehensible actions such as performing tawaf while naked. This is what is prohibited not a blanket ban. [Sarakhsi, Sharh al-Siyar al-Kabir, 1.134-135; Ibn al-Humam/Marghinani, Fath al-Qadir `ala al-Hidaya, 10.63] As for the idolaters being unclean (najas), that refers to spiritual uncleanness due to their beliefs rather than physical uncleanness.

So from this it is safe to say that at the time of Guru Nanak Dev Ji Mecca was not a closed site to non-muslims, so the notion that Guru Ji was on a Hajj cannot be true.

The journey to Mecca must be seen in its context; Guru Ji had previously travelled east to the great pilgrimage sites of the Hindus - Hardward, Benaras, Varanasi, and other places of Hindu importance. Guru Ji then travelled into the Himalayas and even as far as Tibet and Nepal to sites of Buddhist importance, always blessing all who flocked to Guru Ji’s feet and showing them the True path. Are we now to also assume that Guru Ji was a Hindu or a Buddhist because he visited these places ?

The truth is that Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s mission, as propagated by God, was to travel the four corners of the land and promote the True path. It is to Guru Ji’s credit and true conviction that he travelled to places that were often hostile and dangerous, populated by ignorant zealots. But with Guru Ji’s unique way of teaching even the hearts made of stone were melted.

Guru Ji clearly states :

ਹਜ ਕਾਬੈ ਜਾਉ ਨ ਤੀਰਥ ਪੂਜਾ ॥ ਏਕੋ ਸੇਵ ਅਰੁ ਨ ਦੂਜਾ ॥ ੨ ॥

ਪੂਜਾ ਕਰਉ ਨ ਨਿਵਾਜ ਗੁਜਾਰਉ ॥ ਏਕ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰ ਲੇ ਰਿਦੈ ਨਮਸਕਾਰਉ ॥ ੩ ॥

"I do not make pilgrimages to Mecca, nor do I worship at Hindu sacred shrines. I serve the One Lord, and not any other. ||2|| I do not perform Hindu worship services, nor do I offer the Muslim prayers. I have taken the One Formless Lord into my heart; I humbly worship Him there. ||3||” (Ang 1136)

After this how can anyone be in doubt that the reason to travel to Mecca was not for hajj but to put those people who put so much faith in blind ritual on the true path of God. Guru Sahib Ji travelled to the west from the Punjab making his way towards the muslim places of learning and putting people on the path of God. The city of Mecca was not developed during the time of the Guru. It was a vast desert land and people could commute freely unlike now.

Guru Nanak Sahib Ji is neither the first nor the last non-Muslim to visit or infiltrate Mecca.

One famous incident of a non-Muslim visiting Mecca was the visit by the British explorer Sir Richard Burton in 1853. Burton disguised himself as an Afghani Muslim to visit and write Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al Madinah and Mecca. Therefore, how can it be impossible for Guru Nanak Sahib Ji, who is ‘Akaal Roop’, the embodiment of the Divine Light of God, to visit Mecca? The whole land belongs to God, so how can the Living Image of God, Guru Nanak Sahib Ji be stopped travelling anywhere in the world. God or God’s power cannot be limited.

As Guru Ji approached Mecca the sun was setting and Guru Ji decided to rest a while. Guru Sahib Ji slept deliberately with his feet towards the Kaaba, this was not an insult to Islam as some would think but a way to gently provoke peoples beliefs. Would a muslim ever deliberately point his feet to the kaaba?

When challenged by the local Imam called Jiwan, Guru Ji replied “point my feet where God is not.” Incensed the man roughly pushed Guru Ji’s feet the opposite way, the Imam found to his surprise that Guru Ji’s feet were still pointing towards the Kaaba. He did it again and again but each time the feet were still pointing to the Kaaba, thus showing that God resided everywhere and that is was our minds that saw him in one place or in one set of people, hardly the actions of a Muslim.

This incident is doubted by some, “How can this happen? How can Mecca rotate like this?”

One must first understand the stature of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Guru Ji was the embodiment of the divine light, spinning Mecca was a simple way to show the people that God resides in all places

Bhai Gurdas Ji, eminent Sikh scholar whose compositions’ have a very special place in Sikhism writes about this incident in Vaar number one.

In these verses Bhai Gurdas Ji describes the visit of Baba Nanak to the city of Mecca. “Donning blue clothes, holding a stick in one hand and a lota (jug) Baba reaches Mecca and points his feet towards the Mehrab at night. Mullah named Jiwan hits him with his leg saying that who is this Kafir keeping his feet towards the house of God and holding Nanak's legs pulls them to change their direction and sees the "Mecca moving in the same direction". They asked Baba Nanak to open and search in his pothi and tell them as to who is better, Hindu or Muslim. Baba replied to the Hajj Pilgrims that without good deeds both would come to grief. Both Hindus and Muslims would not be accepted in the court of the Lord. In their verbal duals they denounce Raam and Rahim, the world is following the ways of evil. Baba won over everyone. Wherever you go in the world you would not find a place where Baba was not known. From East to the West, all nine divisions of the earth bowed to him (Nanak).

Again a muslim would never condemn Islam, Guru Ji here brings both faiths of Hinduism and Islam on par, unless the Hindu and the Mussalman realise God then both will not be accepted in the court of the Lord.

On Guru Ji’s travels through Bhagdad his companion Mardana would play the rabab and Guru Sahib Ji would sing about the infiniteness of God and His Creation, wherein occurred the following expression:

“ there are numerous patals (earths) and innumerable akashs (sky).”

This is in total contradiction to what Islam believes which only has knowledge of seven earths and seven skies. So Guru Ji could not have been a muslim because again Guru Ji’s view is totally contradictory to Islam, Guru Ji states that there are numerous, countless earths and countless sky.

When a Muslim who was listening realised what was being sung he reported the blasphemy to the Sajjdanashin of the Shrine of Pir Dastagir, Abdul Qadir Jilani. Meanwhile an agitated crowd gathered on the spot. The people were on the verge of throwing stones when they heard the Guru’s divine invocation. The people in remorse went to their Pir and told him of the presence of a holy man. The Pir, having reached the place, enquired from Mardana who the holy man was. He was told that he was Nanak who had rejected all others except one God who was all pervading on earth, sky and in all four directions.

Guru Nanak Dev Ji had many discourses with the holy men and they were convinced that Guru Ji was truly and man of God. Before his departure Guru Ji was presented with a chola (robe) as a token of respect and the high regard the holy men held Him, on which verses in Arabic were inscribed. This chola lies preserved in the Gurdwara at Dera Baba Nanak, in Pakistan. The chola was given to Guru Sahib Ji by his devotees in Bagdhad and Guru Sahib Ji took it in the spirit in which it was given, no more. Pir Babhol, a Sufi saint was also deeply influenced by Guru Nanak Dev Ji.


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