World Religion: Islam ☪ and Sikhism
Islam is the second largest religion in the world with almost 1 billion followers. It was developed in 7th century in the Middle East. The word Islam means to submit or surrender to the will of mighty God. Islam was founded by the Prophet Muhammad. The sacred book of Islam is Quran. It consists of teachings of Prophet Muhammad, which were reveled to him from Allah. According to Islam, Allah is the one and only mighty God with no equality. Islam has two main divisions into Sunni and Shia. Both branches claim different religious authorities. According to belives of Islam people are created equal in the sight of Allah, so there is no superiority or inferiority. Human beings are the creation of Allah and they are the sign of richness of all mighty God. Prophet Muhammad said that Allah never looks at individual’s face or body, but he looks at hearts and deeds of a person. Islam teaches people to be moderate in their life. The main characteristic of Islam is the five Pillars, which means the fundamental practices of Islam. These Pillars include ritual prayer, fasting, hajj (a pilgrimage to Mecca), charity and ritual profession of faith. Many Muslims pray to Allah five times a day and gather at mosques to pray or worship Allah. The prime places of Islam are Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem and it is the dream of every Muslim to visit Mecca at least once in a whole life. Islam does not have strict aspects of life but it a Muslim should serve all mighty Allah and will be rewarded at the end of life for being obedient to God. Religion of Islam is expanded all over the world including Africa, Europe, Asia and America. It has understandable rules and regulations as it preaches justice, peace, tolerance, love, forgiveness, patience, sincerity and truth.
Sikhism is a progressive religion, which was founded over 500 years ago. It is the 5th largest religion in the world today. Sikhism preaches a message of remembrance of God and truthful living. According to Sikhism all human being are equal. They do not believe in caste, gender and creed. The meaning of Sikh is disciple of student of guru. Sikhs believe that a real Sikh should devote himself to God. Sikh religion was founded by Guru Nanak. The religion is about the teachings of ten gurus from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh. In ancient time Guru spread his teachings while travelling. After Guru Nanak Guruship was passed down through nine other gurus, who are believed to have divine light of God with them. The teachings of these Gurus are immersed in the Sikh holy-book “Guru Granth Sahib ji”. The state Punjab of India is known as the homeland of Sikhs. Guru Nanak illustrated the basis of a Sikh’s life, which states to work honestly and carefully, pray and meditate to God regularly and share the fruit of your good works with others. The main principles of Sikhism are justice, truth, Karma, Equality and freedom. Selfless service is one of the main roles of Sikhism. In Sikh holy place “Gurudwara” visitors from different religious background are welcomed and they are always served with vegetarian food. Sikhism does not believe in miracles. They believe that most of our results in life are caused by our karma. In Sikhism both men and women are equal. Guru Nanak improved the status of women in the society. He told that women are main source to develop our future generation. Therefore, he promoted the women’s rights and equality in the society. Sikhism teaches to respect all religions equally. During a Sikh prayer Guru added pray for the welfare of humanity.
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Five K’s in Sikhism
Sikh people can make public commitment in Sikhism by the process of Amrit ceremony. It is a process of special baptism of Sikhs. After baptism a Sikh is called a member of Khalsa or a member of baptized Sikhs. They adopt five symbols of Sikh, which is also called five K’s. These symbols are the sign of a baptized Sikh as well as it is a symbol of powerful soul of faith.
These five K’s are the five items of dress and physical appearance or a sort of uniform, which was introduced by Guru Gobind Singh.
- Kirpan. It is a type of sword, which is a tool to defend the fine line of the truth. The Khalsa community does not want to refer Kirpan as knife or dagger as both of these tools are used for violence. Kirpan is worn as the reminder of courage, symbol of bravery and faith of God. For many Khalsa members Kirpan is the symbol to fight the enemy within a human being that is the weakness of their own character.
- Kara. It is a type of bangle usually made of iron or steel. Khalsa members wear it on right hand wrist. The steel is a symbol of strength and power. Its round shape is the symbol of eternity and unity of Sikh religion.
- Kangha. It is a type of wooden comb, who is symbol of discipline and tidiness. Sikh Gurus believe in cleanliness and tidiness. Sikhs wake up early in the morning and washes their hair every day. After washing comb it with Kangha and wind it into a topknot, which is covered by a turban. It represents discipline of a Sikh in all aspects of his life.
- Kachera. It is a type of short trouser usually worn as undergarments. It is a symbol of modesty. It is also a part of Sikh uniform which was worn by Guru Gobind Singh first.
- Kesh. It means uncut hair. According to Sikhism a baptized Sikh should not cut his hair and beard. It is a natural state of a man, which is also a symbol of devotion to God. Some Sikhs allow to grow beard freely whereas some others use beard net to keep the beard out of the way. Guru Govind Singh always encouraged Sikhs not to cut their hair and beard as a symbol of devotion and fidelity.
The Sikh Sacred Practices
A Sikh should pray to God many times a day. It is called “Sadhana”, a daily discipline prayer and meditation. Sikhs are prohibited from worshipping icons, images and creating idols. Every morning Sikhs should clean their body by taking cold rinse. In meditations they always remember the connection of God and their soul. Some of the Sikhs start their day by doing yoga. Sikhs recite five different types of prayer in different time of the day. Each prayer has specific meaning and purpose. During prayer they cover their head and remove their shoes or sandals. Sikhs practice selfless services or volunteer works in the Gurdwara, which is the Sikh’s holy place in daily or weekly basis. In order to support the financial necessities, Sikhs donate one-tenth of their earnings to the Sikh holy places. These are the some of the practices made by Sikhs (Sodhi n.d).